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  1. #41
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    West will soon have to accept
    nuclear Iran, lawmaker declares


    8 April 2012 / REUTERS, DUBAI
    http://www.todayszaman.com/news-2767...-declares.html

    A senior Iranian lawmaker warned Western powers they would soon have to accept the reality of the country's nuclear advances, Iran's state news agency reported late on Saturday, days before talks are set to re-open on its disputed nuclear program.

    The head of the parliamentary committee for national security and foreign policy, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, was speaking at a ceremony in Mashhad in memory of what Iran describes as its nuclear martyrs; at least four scientists associated with Iran's nuclear program have been assassinated since 2010 and a fifth was wounded in a bomb attack.


    Western countries suspect Tehran of covertly developing a nuclear weapons program, accusations Iran has repeatedly denied. Both sides are set to take part in negotiations this week in an effort to find a solution to international concerns, though even the location of the talks has not yet been agreed.

    Boroujerdi said the P5+1 group of countries needed to change their policy because “confronting the Islamic Republic will not be to their benefit,” the IRNA news agency quoted him as saying.

    “Honorable Iran will continue the debate about peaceful nuclear energy, and that moment isn't far away when the world will see that arrogant countries, led by America and Europe, will accept the reality of nuclear advances and Iran's membership into the nuclear club.”

    He added that despite the climate of threats and sanctions, Iran had made great progress in its nuclear capability and was proficient in all stages of enrichment from mining raw uranium in Iranian mines, producing yellow cake (concentrated uranium powder), building centrifuges and injecting uranium gas into them.

    In February Iran announced it had loaded domestically made fuel rods into the Tehran Research Reactor, which produces radio isotopes for medical use and agriculture.

    Iran has repeatedly pointed out that under its membership of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it has the right to engage in peaceful nuclear activities.

    Boroujerdi emphasized that Iran's nuclear program was solely for peaceful needs, but that if the International Atomic Energy Agency did not keep to its commitments, “then no doubt our enthusiastic young scientists will build a reactor inside the country.”

    Speaking in the presence of families of scientists who were killed, Boroujerdi warned that assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists was pointless.

    “Iran's advances have forced the Zionist regime [Israel], the Arabs and America to turn to eliminating our nuclear scientists. But they should understand that such evil deeds will lead nowhere, because thousands of university students and professors in Iran will continue along the road of nuclear science.”

    A recent report by the IAEA said Iran had tripled its production of higher grade enriched uranium, which has caused further concern that there is a military motive to its activities.

    While some analysts remain doubtful about Iran's claims, experts say that uranium enriched to 20 percent represents most of the technical effort needed to attain the 90 percent threshold required for nuclear explosions.

    The Islamic Republic says the more highly refined uranium will replenish dwindling stocks of special fuel for a Tehran reactor that produces much-needed medical isotopes for thousands of cancer patients across the country.

    The United States and its allies have imposed new sanctions against Iran's financial and energy sectors to force Tehran to abandon its enrichment activities.

    Israel has threatened Iran with pre-emptive strikes to stop it getting the bomb, but US President Barack Obama has emphasized the importance of trying to find a diplomatic solution.

    The next round of talks between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries comprising the permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany had been due to take place this Friday, April 13.






    =
    "We Have Done With Hope and Honor, We are lost to Love and Truth.
    We are Dropping down the ladder rung by rung;
    And the measurement of our torment is the measure of our youth.
    God help us; for we knew the worst too young."


    ~~~~Kipling~~~~

    http://ms.essortment.com/dutchmanflying_rrqy.htm
    ~~~ The Flying Dutchman~~~

  2. #42
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    More than 100 killed in Syria
    ahead of ceasefire deadline


    Apr 7, 2012, 18:17 GMT
    http://news.monstersandcritics.com/m...efire-deadline

    Beirut - More than 100 people - most of them civilians - were killed across Syria on Saturday, according to opposition activists, three days before a United Nations-brokered ceasefire is to go into effect.

    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 70 civilians, 16 army soldiers and 17 security personnel were killed.


    'Forty of the civilians were killed in al-Latmana Hama (province). The others died in the provinces of Homs and Idlib,' said Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the London-based group, referring to key opposition strongholds.

    Activists from Hama reported mass executions in the suburb of al-Latmana.

    'Young men were lined along the walls and shot,' said Saleh al-Hamawi, an activist based in the area.

    News from Syria is difficult to verify as the government has barred most foreign media from the restive areas since a pro-democracy uprising erupted in March 2011.

    The surge in violence came despite sharp criticism of the Syrian government from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

    In a statement late Friday, Ban deplored the assault by Syrian troops on 'innocent civilians, including women and children, despite the commitments by the government of Syria to cease all use of heavy weapons in population centres.'

    Anas Airout, a member of the opposition Syrian National Council, Saturday warned: 'The Syrian regime will intensify attacks in the coming 24 hours to make as many gains as possible on the ground before the April 10 deadline.'

    He told dpa, 'This regime has no mercy. It is bent on killing anyone who dares to say, 'No'. But we tell the regime: 'You will never succeed God willing'.'

    Syria has said it accepted a peace plan proposed by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan aimed at ending the conflict, in which more than 9,000 have been killed, according to UN estimates.

    Annan's plan calls on the regime of President Bashar al-Assad to pull back its troops and heavy weapons from civilian areas, and for all parties, including the opposition, to cease violence within 48 hours of this withdrawal.

    It also calls for the release of detainees, access to humanitarian services, and talks between the government and opposition.

    The official news agency, SANA, Saturday said Damascus had sent letters to Ban and the president of the UN Security Council, US Ambassador Susan Rice, telling them that 'terrorist acts' were on the rise.

    'The terrorist acts committed by the armed terrorist groups in Syria have increased in the last few days, particularly after reaching an understanding on Kofi Annan's plan,' SANA quoted the letter as saying.

    Damascus has demanded a written commitment that the opposition would not take advantage of the withdrawal to make territorial gains, according to SANA.

    Meanwhile, a Lebanese bus carrying pilgrims to Iraq was attacked by unknown gunmen near a border crossing with Syria, the Lebanese National News Agency reported Saturday, wounding dozens of passengers.

    Lebanese LBC television reported that seven people - six Syrians and one Lebanese - were killed in the attack, when gunmen fired at the bus from the Syrian side of the border at the eastern Al-Jusiyeh crossing, according to the report.

    In Syrian capital Damascus, thousands of loyalists of al-Assad demonstrated on Saturday in a show of support to mark the 65th anniversary of the ruling Baath Party.

    Similar rallies were held in other cities, according to SANA.

    Syrian state media, meanwhile, reported that Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem was expected to visit Moscow on Monday for talks on the latest developments in the country.

    Russia, a main supplier of arms to the Syrian government, has along with China vetoed two UN Security Council resolutions against Damascus.






    =
    "We Have Done With Hope and Honor, We are lost to Love and Truth.
    We are Dropping down the ladder rung by rung;
    And the measurement of our torment is the measure of our youth.
    God help us; for we knew the worst too young."


    ~~~~Kipling~~~~

    http://ms.essortment.com/dutchmanflying_rrqy.htm
    ~~~ The Flying Dutchman~~~

  3. #43
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    Turkey warns of 'steps' if Syria mayhem doesn't end

    April 08, 2012 12:49 PM
    http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Mid...#axzz1rMeR3AXz

    ANKARA: Alarmed by a swelling number of refugees fleeing the year-long unrest in Syria, Turkey has warned of unspecified steps if Damascus fails to abide by an April 10 deadline to cease violence.


    "We will patiently follow the process until April 10," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying by daily Hurriyet on Sunday.

    But "we will implement steps" if violence does not stop after that, he added.

    The Turkish premier did not specify what measures his government would take, but several scenarios are being floated by the press, including the setting up of a buffer zone along the border to protect large numbers of refugees.

    Escalating violence has triggered a sharp surge in the number of Syrian refugees crossing into Turkey.

    A record number of around 4,000 Syrians have entered since last Thursday to escape a helicopter-backed assault by Syrian troops.

    The latest arrivals pushed the number of refugees on Turkish soil to 24,564, according to official figures provided by the Ankara government.

    Fighting in Syria has raged on despite Damascus accepting an April 10 deadline to withdraw forces from protest hubs as part of a ceasefire plan brokered by the UN and Arab League peace envoy, former UN chief Kofi Annan.

    Nearly 130 people were reported killed across Syria on Saturday -- three days ahead of the deadline to cease fire and pull back.

    On Saturday, Annan called Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to get an update about the situation on the border. Davutoglu told the envoy that he could visit whenever he wished "to see the situation of Syrian victims" fleeing the unrest.

    Annan accepted the invitation in principle, a foreign ministry diplomat earlier told AFP.

    Last month the envoy visited Turkey for meetings with Turkish officials as well as the Syrian opposition based in Turkey, but his tight schedule prevented him from seeing the refugee camps near the border.

    Turkey fears refugee arrivals could soar in a scenario similar to that which brought half-million Iraqi Kurds escaping Saddam Hussein's repression during the 1991 Gulf War.

    "The numbers are continuously increasing. We are taking measures, we have no thought of closing our doors," said Erdogan urging the United Nations particularly Annan to take a stronger stance.

    Turkey maintains an open-door policy toward all Syrians escaping Assad's crackdown but refuses to call them refugees to emphasise the temporary nature of their asylum on its territory.

    Fleeing Syrians are mainly housed in camps near the border, while authorities keep ready additional accommodation in Sanliurfa province, located about halfway along the 910 kilometre (560 mile) Turkish-Syrian border.

    Ankara, a former ally to Damascus, cut off contact with Assad and voiced support for the Syrian opposition and rebels after its calls for an immediate halt to bloodshed went unheeded by the regime.



    Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Mid...#ixzz1rSRuqj6p
    (The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)




    =
    "We Have Done With Hope and Honor, We are lost to Love and Truth.
    We are Dropping down the ladder rung by rung;
    And the measurement of our torment is the measure of our youth.
    God help us; for we knew the worst too young."


    ~~~~Kipling~~~~

    http://ms.essortment.com/dutchmanflying_rrqy.htm
    ~~~ The Flying Dutchman~~~

  4. #44
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    2012-04-08


    Iran cannot wait until beginning of
    talks: All West’s demands rejected


    Tehran says it will neither close its Fordo nuclear
    bunker nor give up higher-level uranium enrichment.


    Middle East Online

    ‘Last chance’ talks fail before they begin

    http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=51627

    TEHRAN - Iran on Sunday rejected demands the West is reportedly to submit at talks due to take place in days, saying it will neither close its Fordo nuclear bunker nor give up higher-level uranium enrichment.

    Those two demands, outlined by European and US diplomats to The New York Times newspaper, were "irrational," the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, Fereydoon Abbasi Davani, told ISNA news agency in a lengthy interview.


    Fordo, an underground bunker near the holy city of Qom, "is built underground because of sanctions and the threats of attacks," he pointed out.

    "If they do not threaten us and guarantee that no aggression will occur, then there would be no need for countries to build facilities underground. They should change their behaviour and language," he said.

    Iran's enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity would likewise continue, despite unease from members of the P5+1 group -- the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany -- that it produced uranium stock just a few steps short of military-grade 90-percent purity, Abbasi Davani said.

    "We do not see any rationale for such a request from the P5+1," he said.

    But, he added, "We will not produce 20 percent enrichment fuel more than what we need, because it is not in our benefit to produce and keep it."

    Iran says it needs 20-percent enriched uranium to produce medical isotopes in its Tehran research reactor, and lower, 3.5-percent enriched uranium for electricity generation in its Bushehr reactor.

    It insists that its entire nuclear programme is for exclusively peaceful ends.

    The United States and its European allies, however, fear the higher enrichment is part of a drive to develop a nuclear weapons capability.

    The New York Times quoted unnamed US and EU diplomats as saying the West would call for Fordo to be closed immediately and dismantled, and for uranium enrichment to 20 percent to be halted and for existing stockpiles to be shipped out of Iran.

    The demands would be the opening move in what US President Barack Obama has called Iran's "last chance" to resolve the showdown over the nuclear issue diplomatically, the report said.

    "We have no idea how the Iranians will react," the paper quoted one senior administration official as saying. "We probably won't know after the first meeting."

    Israel has threatened to launch an attack if Iran is deemed to be about to enter a "zone of immunity" that would put its atomic activities beyond the reach of Israeli missiles.

    The United States has said military action is a last option, and has put its energies into tightening the sanctions noose on Iran while trying to engage it diplomatically.

    Talks between the P5+1 and Iran are seen as a chance to defuse tensions and find ways to overcome mutual suspicions.

    But while both sides agree the planned two days of negotiations should begin on Friday, there is still no agreement on the venue.

    Iran had initially proposed Istanbul -- the host of the last round of talks, which failed in January 2011 -- but then dropped it after Turkey lent backing to the opposition in its chief ally Syria, and suggested Baghdad or Beijing instead.

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a statement on his official website: Iran is ready for negotiations and welcomes any suggestion for cooperation."

    He said "Iran has practical suggestions for the upcoming meeting," but did not elaborate.

    Ahmadinejad stressed again that his country was not seeking atomic weapons and he noted that Iran's nuclear activities were under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

    He also underlined that the United States was promoting the interests of Israel, the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear weapons state.

    "The parties who are against the Iranian people have very close relations with some nations who have atomic bombs, but they are constantly pressuring us on some pretext of Iran supposedly building an atomic bomb in the far future," he said.

    Iran, Ahmadinejad said in a separate speech carried by his website, "will continue with force on the path it has embarked on."






    =
    "We Have Done With Hope and Honor, We are lost to Love and Truth.
    We are Dropping down the ladder rung by rung;
    And the measurement of our torment is the measure of our youth.
    God help us; for we knew the worst too young."


    ~~~~Kipling~~~~

    http://ms.essortment.com/dutchmanflying_rrqy.htm
    ~~~ The Flying Dutchman~~~

  5. #45
    Posted for fair use and discussion.
    http://www.debka.com/article/21901/

    Russian radar in Armenia to block an US/Israeli strike on Iran from the north
    DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis April 8, 2012, 12:26 PM (GMT+02:00)
    Tags: Sergey Lavrov Syrian uprising Iran nuclear US-Russia US missile shield
    Russia's S-400 Triumf missiles posted in Kaliningrad

    Moscow has stepped into the vacuum created by US President Barack Obama’s decision to stay out of any potentially incendiary Middle East involvement while campaigning for a second term. After blocking the way to direct Western and Arab military intervention in Syria through the Mediterranean, Russia sent its Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov last week on a round trip to the capitals of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan – an expedition designed to secure Iran against a potential US/Israeli attack via its northern and eastern neighbors, debkafile’s military sources report.

    On his return to Moscow, April 6, the Russian army let it be known that highly-advanced mobile S-400 surface-to-air missiles had been moved into Kaliningrad, the Baltic enclave bordered by Poland and Lithuania, its response to US plans for an anti-Iran missile shield system in Europe and the Middle East.

    In Yerevan, the Russian minister finalized a deal for the establishment of an advanced Russian radar station in the Armenian mountains to counter the US radar set up at the Turkish Kurecik air base, our sources disclose.

    Just as the Turkish station (notwithstanding Ankara’s denials) will trade data on incoming Iranian missiles with the US station in the Israeli Negev, the Russian station in Armenia will share input with Tehran.

    Moscow remains deeply preoccupied in Syria, successfully fending off Western and Arab pressure against its ruler Bashar Assad. debkafile’s sources hear that Assad will not meet the April 10 deadline for moving his heavy armor and battalions out of Syrian cities.

    Monday, April 8, he sent his foreign minister Walid Moallem to Moscow for instructions for getting him off the hook of failing to comply with his commitment to the UN envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan, starting with a truce.

    Lavrov, rather than US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton is evidently regarded these days as the senior Middle East power broker. In a thumbs-down on Russia’s deepening footstep in the region, the London-based Saudi Sharq al Awsat captioned a Sunday op-ed item, “Nor do we want a ‘Sheikh’ Lavrov.”

    For the first time since the Cold War ended, the management of a major world crisis has passed into the hands of the Kremlin in Moscow and the UN Secretariat in New York.
    Weeping crocodile tears, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Saturday that the April 10 date for a Syrian truce “was not an excuse for continued killing” by the Syrian regime, ignoring the fact that “the continued killing” could have been avoided were it not for the strategy pursued by Kofi Annan, the special envoy he shares with the Arab League, with Moscow’s back-stage wire-pulling.

    This is because President Barak Obama is advised by his campaign strategists that the way to the American voter’s heart in November is through burnishing his image as a “balanced and responsible” multinational diplomat, in contrast with his Republican rivals’ hawkish support of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear program.

    In the case of Syria, the White House finds itself on the same side as the UN and the Kremlin. They all share the common goal of obstructing Western and Arab military intervention in Syria at all costs.

    Hundreds of Syrian protesters are still paying the price in blood - although its dimensions of the butchery are frequently exaggerate by the opposition. After brutalizing his population for thirteen months, Bashar Assad is more or less on top of the revolt in Syria’s main cities, excepting the Idlib province and one or two pockets in and around Homs. He used the extra days afforded him by Kofi Annan’s deadline for the ruthless purge of the last remnants of resistance in small towns and villages, certain that Moscow, the UN secretary - and Washington, by default - would do nothing to stop him.

    Should current circumstances shoot off in unforeseen directions – for instance, a Syrian government poison chemical or biological weapon attack causing hundreds of dead, over and above the 9,000 confirmed by UN figures – Obama might be forced to resort to limited military action, pulling in the Turkish army. This has not yet happened.

    That the Russians are not letting the grass grow under their feet, turning Middle East bushfires to their advantage and closing one American Middle East option after another, appears to be a minor consideration in Washington up until November.

  6. #46
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    For links see article source....
    Posted for fair use.....
    http://www.the-american-interest.com...cfm?piece=1245

    April 4, 2012
    A Hegelian Moment in the Middle East
    Adam Garfinkle

    Update: Today, April 6, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad declared an independent state in northern Mali, the first assertion of Tuareg control of Timbuktu, their old capital, since 1591

    What do you think of when you see or hear the word “Tuareg”? Most Americans, I think, are left utterly blank by the sight and the sound of this noun. Those who do find some association with the word probably tend to think of a car, specifically a Volkswagen of recent vintage, but spelled “Touareg” for some no doubt very sensible Germanic reason. Most Americans do not read a newspaper or consult any other serious news source on a daily basis, so their heretofore blank Tuareg slates are unlikely to have been marked by the recent copy in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Associated Press dispatches in a host of other papers and electronic news sources. That copy, if read, arrests attention—or should.

    It’s about events in and around Mali, where not only has there been a rare display of regional pressure on the two-week-old coup leaders of that country, but where, much more significantly and not at all coincidentally, the entire northern part of that vast land has fallen under the control of Tuareg rebels. Rebel control extends as of this past weekend to Timbuktu, that fabled city on the southern edge of the Sahara immortalized by the anonymous English-language phrase “from here to Timbuktu.” Reports from the Malian capital, Bamako, say that the Malian state has essentially ceased to exist in the vast northern part of the country. (Americans familiar with “Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?” of course know where Bamako is.)

    What does seem to exist, so far in unclear relationships, are two rebel groups now in loose control: the long-established and mainly secular National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, and a smaller Islamist group that sports a black flag as its banner, Ansar ud-Din. A series of questions, all of which start with the word “why”, may come to mind. Why was there a coup against the democratically elected government of Mali about two weeks ago? What does the coup have to do with rebel success in the north? Who or what is a Tuareg anyway, when it, he or she is not being a Volkswagen, and why should Americans care one way or the other about any of this?

    These are all good questions, but before beginning to suggest an answer in brief to some of them, let me point out that the attempt to connect some of the many dots in this story reminds me of Hegel. Hegel once made a reference to “the phenomenology of fools.” What he meant by this phrase, if memory serves me correctly, is that it is a mostly worthless conceit of mediocre philosophers to insist that everything is related to everything else. In some way maybe it’s true, yes, but what Hegel was trying to point out is that this is a truth of a particularly useless sort. It gives one no purchase on any practical or philosophical problem, leaving one instead in a flattened plain of causal possibilities in which any supposition is as good as another. Hegel never said that connections don’t matter; he simply tried to point out that not all connections are created equal, or are equally obvious. Which of course leads us to Libya.

    What is going on in Mali is a direct consequence of what went on over the past year and a half in Libya. Back on October 27, in the third of a four-part series on the Libya escapade, I noted in passing as just one of the problems that might arise in the post-regime chaos:

    The Tuareg part of the country, toward the southwest, was aligned with the old regime and furnished part of Qaddafi’s shock troops. They may cause trouble or even in time try to secede if a new regime is not to their liking.

    Since I mentioned the Tuareg only in passing, I did not stop at the time to comment on the situation in Mali, Niger, Chad and other neighboring countries. But I will say this now: If the Tuareg manage to dig in and set up shop in northern Mali, they will eventually set their sights on parts of southwestern Libya. The Azawad, as they call themselves in their Berber-family language, have an image of a homeland that stretches over several countries. If state structures are too weak to stop them, the Tuareg will take what they can while the taking is good. They are in the midst of what looks to be what the anthropologist Anthony F. C. Wallace called in 1956 a “revitalization movement.” Chances are that they won’t stop until someone stops them, because important congealing social purposes are being served by their effort. (They parallel to some degree those of the Berber revival in North Africa, that of the Amazigh: See Bruce Maddy-Weitzman’s excellent essay for The American Interest.)

    Those congealing purposes also may explain something about Ansar ud-Din, for revitalization movements are most often bound up in religion and religious symbols. Not a great deal is known in the public domain about this group. The U.S. military has undertaken fairly quiet anti-terrorist training in Mali, Niger and elsewhere over the past eight or so years, and there has been some concern about al-Qaeda, or local al-Qaeda franchises, operating in this part of the world. So now we have evidence that at least one such franchise is up and running—indeed, prospering by the looks of things.

    My guess is that the French intelligence services know as much or more about this group than we do, but just one note from an American, please, about the name. Arabic is redolent in historical-religious connotations, the vast majority of which go right past even most Westerners engaged as part of their day job in such matters—military personnel, intelligence community officials, aid workers, and so on. The word “ansar” means “helpers”, but it refers specifically to the earliest allies of Muhammad, those without whom Islam could not have come into being. The ansar are deeply revered figures, faithful and pious, and any organization that takes for itself that word to use in its name is doing so in order to borrow from its symbolic sanctity. The word “din” is notoriously hard to translate into American-mentality English. It means law, but it also means faith in a generic sense and it also means religion, because in the Islamo-Muslim world there is not as much difference between law and faith and religion as there is in the West. Islam, like Judaism, is a law-based system. There is no Arabic word that means “religion” as Americans understand the concept. What about the “ud-“? It just means “the”, as in “helpers of the faith”, but in Arabic the consonant before the noun in this indication of a coming direct object accommodates the first consonantal sound of the noun. So since “din” begins with a “d” sound, you get “ud-” in transliteration. That’s also why it’s properly “Anwar as-Sadat” in transliteration, not “Anwar el-Sadat”, “Haroun ar-Rashid”, and so on. (More than you ever wanted to know about Arabic grammar, right?)

    Anyway, to return to the main storyline, the collapse of the Qadaffi regime in Libya is what energized the Tuareg. They lost their main protector in Libya, and, grabbing as many weapons as they could carry––which was evidently quite a few truckloads of we’re still not sure exactly what––they set about helping their brethren in Mali to carve out a new safe area for themselves. As the Tuareg bore down on Timbuktu, the military in Mali begged the government to let them have at the rebels. For whatever reason, the government’s response disappointed the military, which decided to take matters into its own hands before it was too late. Alas, the chaos caused by the coup seems to have accelerated the determination of the Tuareg to seize control before authorities in Bamako could figure out which way was up. Their control now looks to be something of a fait accompli.

    One wonders what French officials these days are privately thinking about that. Mali used to be part of Afrique Occidental Francaise. When the French left sub-Saharan Africa, unlike the British, they didn’t really leave––at least not to nearly the same extent. Historically, too, the French had some very nasty run-ins with the Tuareg, not least in the southern parts of Algeria back toward the end of the 19th century. Every French student of history knows tales like the one where the Tuareg scouts amiably volunteer to lead the French expeditionary force south into the countryside, pointing out safe pathways between water wells, only to cut them off once deep into desert tribal areas and slaughter them by the hundreds. Oh to be a fly on the wall, so to speak, in a certain room on the Champs Elysées about now.

    My guess is that French officialdom will not look kindly on the destruction of one of their successor Francophone African states. But it was their insistence on “doing” Libya that caused it, and it’s not clear by any means what they can do about it now. And if you want to read about the complete mess that Libya is these days, as its fragmented politics become increasingly militarized in advance of an election season, you can consult the New York Times, “Libyan Militias Turn to Politics, a Volatile Mix.” (The late Anthony Shadid wrote the prequel to this article on February 8, giving rise to my comments in “Remember Libya?”) No, everything is not connected to everything else; Tuareg in Mali have been raiding and rebelling for years. But Mali is most certainly connected to Libya now. It took the other day’s New York Times article until the very last paragraph to mention this, but I suppose better last then not at all.

    I, however, feel duty-bound to mention this loudly in the spirit of unvarnished schadenfreude, because, as my readers know, I opposed the Libyan operation from the very beginning and have warned of dire outcomes now for more than a year. Some people, however, still don’t want to listen. A friend of mine, an officer in the United States Air Force who will remain unnamed here, still thinks that Libya was a nifty little war. No Americans got killed. The bad guy did get killed. We won, you see. More important, as he explained to me, from the U.S. military’s point of view––and to some extent from the White House’s point of view––the real justification for U.S. participation in this escapade was to respond to pleas from our European allies to help them out in a pinch. The basic idea is, look, we unwittingly suckered them into Afghanistan, which has proved neither militarily nor politically a very happy place to hang out, so now we have to help them out in their hour of need. (This same narrative, by the way, appears in James Mann’s forthcoming book The Obamians.) One hand washes the other; alliance comity prevails, everyone feels chummy, and anyway all’s well that ends well.

    Except it hasn't ended and things are not really so wonderfully well: read, most recently, black flags flying over Timbuktu. I understand the argument, and I don’t want to diminish the extent to which this motive actually functioned in U.S. decision-making. I was at least dimly aware of it at the time when the decisions were made. But I never elevated it to a first-priority motive because it never made any sense to me to repay one foolish set of decisions by reciprocally supporting another foolish set of decisions. If that is what NATO solidarity has come down to, God help us all. (I think I saw the movie: It was called Dumb and Dumber.)

    And finally for today let us come to Syria. As many have noted, Syria ought to be connected to Libya, but it isn’t. The Administration told us that it went to war in the Libyan case not for the sake of NATO comity but to prevent genocide in Benghazi. (Were they kidding us?) No one has ever been able to seriously argue that there was a vital national interest anywhere to be seen in Libya. In Syria the humanitarian crisis is, if anything, greater. It certainly is larger; far more innocent civilians have been murdered by the regime than ever was the case in Libya, and the numbers we have now are most certainly underestimates. The strategic stake is obviously great, too, for what is going on in Syria, if you like an historical metaphor or analog, is the Spanish Civil War-phase of a larger struggle looming on the horizon between the United States and its Middle Eastern alliance system on the one side and that of Iran on the other. Syria’s future is a key tipping point in this struggle. If after our declaring (foolishly perhaps) that Assad must go he ends up hanging on, then Iran wins and the United States loses this prelim.

    This is why it is so puzzling at first glance that the United States would contract out its Syria policy to, of all parties, Russia, a country that has armed Syria and whose basic policy goals are directly in opposition to our own. The Russians only support Kofi Annan’s mission because they know it is completely hopeless—just in practice a means for Assad and his thugs to buy time to “mop up” the rebels. So much for diplomacy when there is obviously no will to mutual compromise, and the good intentions of the clueless, very predictably because hardly for the first time, morph into valuable assets for murderers.

    But it is puzzling only at first glance. It might seem strange that United States would go to war in a Middle Eastern case where no strategic vital interests are at stake, but refuse to do so in a case where there are such interests (despite, admittedly, many other differences between the two cases). If that were all this is about, then Henry Kissinger’s plaint in last Sunday’s Washington Post––that we seem to have substituted pseudo-humanitarian goals determined by internet fads for an analysis of national interest––would suffice. But Henry, I think, knows better than that.

    The reason that the Obama Administration has stiff-armed the Turks and refused to arm the Syrian opposition, doing everything it could below the line of sight at the April 1 “Friends of Syria” meeting in Istanbul to harm that opposition, is that the White House has made it clear: no military excitement in or near the region before the first week in November, lest oil prices spike and the President fail to get reelected. That’s the relevant connection here; this is about politics in its rawest form.

    Every President, indeed every national democratic leader, can plausibly make the argument to himself and his supporters that his failure to get reelected would be a national security catastrophe, and national leaders in democratic countries often sincerely believe this. Barack Obama is no innovator here, nor have Republican incumbents been immune to this particular temptation. But any rationale that puts partisan political interests ahead of the national interest is still ultimately an argument of scoundrels. I wonder what Hegel, the discerner of History itself, would say about that.

  7. #47
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    http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/...ca_635509.html

    Tuareg Nation Upsets U.S. Policy in Africa

    Azawad proclaims independence in North Mali.
    Roger Kaplan
    April 7, 2012 9:25 AM



    In the latest turn of events in the decade-long war on terror, U.S. counter-terrorism policy in Africa was dealt a blow – or an opportunity – with the declaration of independence of the Azawad, the territory claimed by the Tuareg tribes of northern Mali.

    The Tuareg national movement, the MNLA (National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad), declared independence on April 5 for the Colorado-sized region north of the Niger river, following the withdrawal of Mali Defense Force troops from Kidal, Gao, and the legendary city of Timbuctu (in reality,, rather shabby in recent centuries), after weeks of combat.

    Spokesmen for the Mali government and the MDF refer to the losses last month of the principal northern cities and hamlets, notably the important garrison town of Tessalit and the capture by the rebels of its nearby air-strip (used in February by the USAF to resupply the besieged garrison), as “tactical retreats,” but if reports are correct, the Tuareg fighters routed their opponents, sending hundreds of government soldiers into neighboring Niger and creating a civilian refugee crisis. According to the ICRC at least 100 thousand northern Malians are either internally displaced or have sought refuge from the fighting in Niger and Mauritania, which border Mali’s north to the east and west, respectively. The commanding officer of the Mali forces in Tessalit, Col. Elhadji Ag Galou, himself a Tuareg, reportedly defected to the MNLA following its troops’ capture of Kidal.

    In the midst of the fighting, Mali army soldiers overthrew the democratically-elected and U.S.-supported government of President Amadou Toumani Toure, vowing to fight more vigorously for the restoration of their country’s territorial integrity and at the same time “clean up” what they described as an inefficient and corrupt regime. Since March 22 when the mutineers seized the presidential palace and the radio-TV building in Bamako, Mali’s capital, located on the Niger river in the southeast, Toure has been reported variously to be a prisoner of the junta, which calls itself the National Committee for Revival, Democracy, and the Strengthening of the State. (CNRDR, Comite National pour le Redressement, la Democratie, et la Restauration de l’Etat, in French), a refugee in the U.S. embassy (which its spokesperson denies), or in a safe location guarded by loyal troops, evidently the most likely.

    The U.S., France, and ECOWAS (Economic Organization of West African States) have cut off aid to Mali, demanding the restoration of constitutional order. Mali’s borders and airports are closed. The U.S. and France expressed support for ECOWAS, and the French government indicated Thursday it would “support logistically,” though send no troops, should the organization decide to intervene militarily both against the junta and the new Tuareg nation. The U.S. State Department through Africa bureau spokesperson Hilary Renner announced the U.S. was cutting off aid to education and health programs, as well as military assistance, as long as the junta remains in power.

    The reflex in favor of legitimacy and territorial integrity are to be expected, according to observers of African affairs, but the situation in northern Mali contains a number of contradictions which the U.S. and France and their African partners will have to consider. The leadership of the Azawad, speaking through MNLA spokesman Mossa Ag Attaher and the MNLA secretary general Billal Ag Acherif, insist they have been engaged in an anti-colonial struggle since before even Mali’s independence from France in 1960, and point out that they are, today, resolutely opposed to the Saharan jihadists of AQIM and the Tuareg jihadist movement Ansar Edine (“sons” or “guardians” of Islam).

    Mali’s government, as well as the junta that overthrew it in March, insist on the contrary that the MNLA and the jihadists were in practice, if not always in spirit, allied in their war against Mali and the non-Tuareg peoples residing in the north. Although censuses in the region are inexact, observers count about half a million Tuareg in Mali and perhaps again that many in neighboring countries, give or take a quarter million. There are perhaps the same number of Songhai, Arab Moors, Peuls, and other groups in the north of Mali, whose entire population is between 12 and 15 million. The Tuareg, whom specialists in this sort of thing relate to the Berbers of North Africa, are indigenous to the Saharan-Sahel region and generally consider themselves quite distinct from sub-Saharan Africans (the feeling is mutual.)

    As fighting ebbed in recent days with the retreat south of the Niger of the MDF, there have been reports of jihadists occupying certain neighborhoods in Gao, Timbuctu, and other localities. Their proclaimed goal is the creation of an Islamic state in the north, eventually in all of Mali and throughout the Sahel.

    Both the legitimate authorities in Bamako and the putschists – who at least in the past two weeks seem to have enjoyed considerable popular support, largely on the strength of their proclaimed goal of taking back the north – continue to refer to the Tuareg forces of the MNLA as little better than “armed bandits” closely associated with the highwaymen, drug smugglers, and gun runners who long have used the southern Sahara as a sanctuary and hideout. Indeed, the jihadist forces, too, are regularly accused by regional authorities of being drenched in criminality, specializing in kidnapping and other heinous but lucrative acts.

    The U.S., while recognizing the sharp differences among the regional powers, has for at least 10 years sought to encourage military and political cooperation across the region on the basis of a common interest in eradicating terrorism from the Sahara and preventing the contagion of jihadism to spread into sub-Saharan Africa, beginning with the Sahel.

    This extremely poor region of desert and savannah is presently very much in play, with U.S. (as well as French) special forces fighting against terrorists in cooperation with regional militaries from Uganda, Kenya, and South Sudan in the east to Niger, Mali, and Mauritania in the west, passing by Nigeria’s north. The major regional power, Algeria, has received strong marks from the U.S. government for its assistance and cooperation in this policy. Several Algerian consular officials in Gao were taken prisoner, reportedly, by Ansar Edine elements, following the fall of the city. The assault appears to have been designed to impress U.S. assistant secretary of state Johnnie Carson, conferring even as it happened with the president and foreign minister of Algeria in Algiers.

    The MNLA denies any responsibility in this affair and indeed regional observers are attentive to whether the anti-colonial and jihadist “tactical allies,” if such they were, are about to fall out among themselves now that the MDF has been defeated in the north – or if, on the contrary, their alliance turns out to be durable.

    U.S. policy is at the very least likely to suffer a serious setback if instability persists in Mali and, per chance, spreads to its neighbors. Sources close to the Azawad leadership, however, hope that the U.S. will take seriously the national movement’s declarations of commitment to democratic and secular government, with all the strategic consequences that follow.

    Related Stories

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    More by Roger Kaplan

    Another African Democracy Goes Under
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    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp...69da75b738.4f1

    Easter bomb attack near Nigeria church kills at least 20


    By Victor Ulasi (AFP) – 9 hours ago

    KADUNA, Nigeria — A car bombing near a church in northern Nigeria as services were being held on Easter Sunday killed at least 20 people, wounded 30 others and put the country on alert over fears of further attacks.

    The explosion, a stark reminder of Christmas Day attacks that left dozens of people dead in Africa's most populous nation and largest oil producer, hit the city of Kaduna, a major cultural and economic centre in the north.

    Motorcycle taxi drivers and residents who had stopped at a stall in the area to buy tea appeared to have borne the brunt of the blast, and body parts littered the area.

    As news of the attack spread, security forces boosted patrols in key areas, including in the capital Abuja, where soldiers were sent to reinforce police posted near churches, an AFP correspondent reported.

    There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

    Details were still emerging of the blast, but at least one car said to be driven by a suicide bomber was believed to be involved. A rescue official speaking on condition of anonymity said two vehicles packed with explosives detonated.

    "Now we have 20 dead from the twin explosions," the rescue official, who was not authorised to speak publicly, told AFP. "Bombs concealed in two cars went off just opposite this church."

    Police later confirmed the death toll of 20 and said 30 others were wounded.

    A police officer at the scene said a man believed to be a suicide bomber driving a car was stopped at a checkpoint near the Evangelical Church of West Africa, and turned back.

    He then drove to a nearby area in front of a hotel, close to the Assemblies of God church, and detonated the bomb. The church did not appear to have any significant damage.

    Services were ongoing at both churches at the time of the blast, but worshippers did not appear to be affected. Other cars in the area were damaged, but it was unclear if they were also carrying explosives, police at the scene said.

    A spokesman for the national emergency management agency said most of the victims appeared to be motorcycle taxi drivers. One resident said the explosion was strong enough to shake his house and cause his ceiling to cave in.

    Islamist group Boko Haram carried out a series of attacks on churches and other locations on Christmas day, the bloodiest at a church outside Abuja, where 44 people died.

    The Nigerian authorities as well as foreign embassies had warned of the possibility of an attack on Easter Sunday.

    Boko Haram's increasingly bloody insurgency has left more than 1,000 people dead since mid-2009. Police and soldiers have often been the victims of such attacks, though Christians have been targeted as well.

    Sunday's bombing came as Pope Benedict XVI condemned "savage terrorist attacks" against churches in Nigeria as part of his Easter message.

    Boko Haram also claimed responsibility for the August suicide bombing of UN headquarters in the capital Abuja which killed 25 people.

    Its deadliest attack yet occurred in the northern city of Kano on January 20, when coordinated bombings and shootings claimed at least 185 lives.

    An attempt to hold indirect talks between Boko Haram and the government last month appears to have collapsed, with a mediator quitting over leaks to the media and a spokesman for the Islamists saying they could not trust the government.

    Nigeria's 160 million population is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominately Christian south.

    Despite a number of high-profile arrests and heavy-handed military raids, Nigerian authorities have been unable to stop the attacks.

    President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the oil-producing Niger Delta region, said in his Easter message that "as people of faith, we must never succumb to hopelessness and despair."

    There has been intense speculation over whether Boko Haram has links to outside extremist groups such as Al-Qaeda's north African branch.

    Diplomats say such links so far appear limited to training for some Boko Haram members in northern Mali with Al-Qaeda elements, without significant evidence of operational ties.

    Analysts say deep poverty and frustration in Nigeria's north has fed the violence, pushing young people toward extremism.

    Copyright © 2012 AFP. All rights reserved. More »

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  9. #49
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    http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Afric...eat-to-Nigeria

    How to respond to Boko Haram’s evolving threat to Nigeria

    Guest blogger G. Pascal Zachary argues that Nigeria must treat the Islamist militant group Boko Haram as a homegrown threat, fueled by decades of unaddressed regional grievances.


    By G. Pascal Zachary, Guest blogger / April 8, 2012

    A version of this post appeared on the blog "Africa Works." The views expressed are the author's own.

    J. Peter Pham released a timely paper this week on Boko Haram, tracing the history of the insurgent Nigerian movement in useful detail. Pham, who directs an Africa studies program at the Atlantic Council, concludes that the Nigerian government should “deal forthrightly with the threat” of violent Islamic extremism.

    Pham is right. At the very least, Nigeria should, and the US government should help. The question is how. What objectives should the Nigerian government have in addressing Boko Haram? Pham offers few clues on specific policy options open to a Nigerian government that, to put it politely, has badly handled the Islamicist threat over the past decade. Pham provides a few disturbing reasons why. First, elements in the Nigerian state may be covertly helping Boko Haram, which of course would make reducing acts of terror sponsored and carried out by the group more difficult. And Pham cites the emergence of critical leaders of Boko Haram who possess non-Nigerian roots. He singles out Chadian-born Mamman Nur, who is believed to have trained with al-Shabab in Somalia and, according to Pham, returned to Nigeria in 2011 — in time to direct a deadly attack on a United Nations building in Abuja.

    While Pham’s account is important, policymakers still lack a clearer sense of how Boko Haram fits into the longstanding regional differences in Nigeria, especially between the Muslim North and the largely Christian “South South,” the Delta region, home to Goodluck Jonathan’s Ijo people and the larger Igbo grouping that my wife, Chizo, claims allegiance to. Boko Haram as a movement may ultimately be shown to be a foreign import, a formation alien to the political culture of Nigeria. Such is the suggestion by Pham and others, motivated in part by the need to find a justification for “internationalizing” the problem (i.e., calling on the U.S., the African Union and others to help reduce and, ultimately, end terrorism in Nigeria).

    Nigeria does need outside help in responding to Boko Haram. But we can support security aid to Nigeria without working overtime to create imagined enemies of the Nigerian state. But what is equally possible, and probably more disturbing than anything Pham identifies, is that Boko Haram may represent a destructive and dysfunctional, but authentic, movement of resistance, homegrown in Nigeria, and fueled by 50 years of festering, simmering and ultimately unaddressed regional differences, which are made more complicated because these regional differences often masquerade as religious ones.

    G. Pascal Zachary is a professor of practice at Arizona State University, in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism who blogs at Africa Works.

    The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of Africa bloggers. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here

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  10. #50
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    This is happening all over, not just in the US's "backyard".....

    For links see article source.....
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    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/08/wo....html?ref=asia

    April 7, 2012
    China Buys Inroads in the Caribbean, Catching U.S. Notice
    By RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD
    Comments 251

    NASSAU, the Bahamas — A brand new $35 million stadium opened here in the Bahamas a few weeks ago, a gift from the Chinese government.

    The tiny island nation of Dominica has received a grammar school, a renovated hospital and a sports stadium, also courtesy of the Chinese. Antigua and Barbuda got a power plant and a cricket stadium, and a new school is on its way. The prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago can thank Chinese contractors for the craftsmanship in her official residence.

    China’s economic might has rolled up to America’s doorstep in the Caribbean, with a flurry of loans from state banks, investments by companies and outright gifts from the government in the form of new stadiums, roads, official buildings, ports and resorts in a region where the United States has long been a prime benefactor.

    The Chinese have flexed their economic prowess in nearly every corner of the world. But planting a flag so close to the United States has generated intense vetting — and some raised eyebrows — among diplomats, economists and investors.

    “When you’ve got a new player in the hemisphere all of a sudden, it’s obviously something talked about at the highest level of governments,” said Kevin P. Gallagher, a Boston University professor who is an author of a recent report on Chinese financing, “The New Banks in Town.”

    Most analysts do not see a security threat, noting that the Chinese are not building bases or forging any military ties that could invoke fears of another Cuban missile crisis. But they do see an emerging superpower securing economic inroads and political support from a bloc of developing countries with anemic budgets that once counted almost exclusively on the United States, Canada and Europe.

    China announced late last year that it would lend $6.3 billion to Caribbean governments, adding considerably to the hundreds of millions of dollars in loans, grants and other forms of economic assistance it has already channeled there in the past decade.

    Unlike in Africa, South America and other parts of the world where China’s forays are largely driven by a search for commodities, its presence in the Caribbean derives mainly from long-term economic ventures, like tourism and loans, and potential new allies that are inexpensive to win over, analysts say.

    American diplomatic cables released through WikiLeaks and published in the British newspaper The Guardian quoted diplomats as being increasingly worried about the Chinese presence here “less than 190 miles from the United States” and speculating on its purpose. One theory, according to a 2003 cable, suggested that China was lining up allies as “a strategic move” for the eventual end of the Castro era in Cuba, with which it has strong relations.

    But the public line today is to be untroubled.

    “I am not particularly worried, but it is something the U.S. should continue to monitor,” said Dennis C. Shea, the chairman of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a bipartisan Congressional panel. But, he added, “With China you have to be wary of possible policy goals behind the effort.”

    This archipelago, less than a one-hour flight from Florida, has gotten particular attention from the Chinese. Aside from the new stadium, with its “China Aid” plaque affixed prominently at the entrance, Chinese workers here in the Bahamas are busy helping build the $3.5 billion Baha Mar, one of the region’s largest megaresorts.

    Beyond that, a Chinese state bank agreed in recent weeks to put up $41 million for a new port and bridge, and a new, large Chinese Embassy is being built downtown.

    The new stadium here, Bahamian officials said, was in part a reward for breaking ties with Taiwan in 1997 and establishing and keeping relations with China.

    It is one of several sporting arenas that China has sprinkled in Caribbean and Central American nations as gratitude for their recognition of “one China” — in other words, for their refusal to recognize Taiwan, which Chinese officials consider part of their country.

    “They offered a substantial gift and we opted for a national stadium,” said Charles Maynard, the Bahamian sports minister, adding that his government could never have afforded to build it on its own.

    In this enduring tug of war with Taiwan, others have switched, too, with a little financial encouragement. Grenada ended relations with Taiwan in 2004, and it is now in talks with China about getting a new national track and field stadium. The parting has not been entirely amicable; Taiwan and Grenada are now locked in a financial dispute over loans that Grenada received to finance the construction of its airport.

    Determined not to be sidelined, Taiwan is seeking to solidify its existing relationships with countries like Belize, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Lucia — which in 2007 broke relations with China in favor of Taiwan — with a bevy of projects, many of them agricultural, including an agreement signed with Belize in recent weeks to develop the fish farming industry there.

    Still, Taiwanese diplomats in the region conceded that they could never keep up with China’s largess but continued to make strategic investments in the Caribbean.

    There are some commodities in the region that China wants. In August, a Chinese company, Complant, bought the last three government sugar estates in Jamaica and leased cane fields, for a total investment of $166 million. Last year, Jamaica for the first time shipped its famed Blue Mountain Coffee to China.

    The Jamaican government has also received several hundred million dollars in loans from China, including $400 million announced in 2010 over five years to rebuild roads and other infrastructure.

    “In order to be prosperous you need to build roads first,” said Adam Wu, an executive with China Business Network, a consulting group for Chinese businesses that has been making the case for China in several Caribbean countries.

    Several analysts in the Caribbean say they believe that China eventually will emerge as a political force in the region, with so many countries indebted to it, at a time when the United States is perceived as preoccupied with the Middle East and paying little attention to the region.

    “They are buying loyalty and taking up the vacuum left by the United States, Canada and other countries, particularly in infrastructure improvements,” said Sir Ronald Sanders, a former diplomat from Antigua and Barbuda.

    “If China continues to invest the way it is doing in the Caribbean, the U.S. is almost making itself irrelevant to the region,” he added. “You don’t leave your flank exposed.”

    In some places, Chinese contractors or workers have stayed on, beginning to build communities and businesses. So many have opened in Roseau, Dominica, that local merchants have complained about being squeezed out.

    Trinidad and Tobago has had waves of Chinese immigration over the past century, but locals are now seeing more Chinese restaurants and shops, as well as other signs of a new immigrant generation.

    “I am second-generation Trinidadian-Chinese, and like most of us of this era, we have integrated very well in society, having friends, girlfriends, spouses and kids with people of other ethnicities,” said Robert Johnson-Attin, 36, a mechanical engineer now with his own successful business. “It’ll only be a matter of time before it happens with the Chinese coming in now.”

    Here in the Bahamas, Tan Jian, the economic counselor at the Chinese Embassy, said he that believed “it’s only the start” of the Chinese presence across the Caribbean, casting it as one developing country using its growing economic power to help other developing ones.

    The Bahamian government, he said, “cannot afford to build huge projects by itself.”

    While the Chinese built the stadium, the Bahamas is responsible for utility hookups and the roads and landscaping outside it.

    The $35 million gift “is costing us $50 million,” said Mr. Maynard, the sports minister. “But at the end of the day it will pay for itself” by putting the Bahamas in position to host major sporting events and reap the tourism revenue that comes with that.

    For Baha Mar, the Chinese Export-Import Bank is financing $2.6 billion, nearly three-quarters of the cost, and China’s state construction company is a partner.

    The Bahamas agreed to allow up to 8,000 foreign workers, most of them Chinese, to work on the project in stages, but it also required employment for 4,000 Bahamians, dampening concerns that Chinese workers were taking jobs. American companies will also take part in building and running it.

    Mr. Jian played down any economic competition with the United States, whose tourists, he asserted, stood to benefit from China’s presence in the Caribbean. The Chinese workers here live in barracks behind the project fences, largely shielded from public view.

    “We hardly know they are here,” said James Duffy, watching a track practice next to the stadium one recent afternoon, adding with a chuckle: “Except for the big things they build.”

    Karla Zabludovsky contributed reporting from Mexico City, Camilo Thame from Kingston, Jamaica, and Prior Beharry from Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago .

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    Middle East could collapse into full conflict if international talks fail next week
    Started by China Connection‎, Today 06:31 AM
    http://www.timebomb2000.com/vb/showt...fail-next-week

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    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/08/op...me&ref=general

    April 7, 2012
    The Other Arab Spring
    By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
    Comments 143

    ISN’T it interesting that the Arab awakening began in Tunisia with a fruit vendor who was harassed by police for not having a permit to sell food — just at the moment when world food prices hit record highs? And that it began in Syria with farmers in the southern village of Dara’a, who were demanding the right to buy and sell land near the border, without having to get permission from corrupt security officials? And that it was spurred on in Yemen — the first country in the world expected to run out of water — by a list of grievances against an incompetent government, among the biggest of which was that top officials were digging water wells in their own backyards at a time when the government was supposed to be preventing such water wildcatting? As Abdelsalam Razzaz, the minister of water in Yemen’s new government, told Reuters last week: “The officials themselves have traditionally been the most aggressive well diggers. Nearly every minister had a well dug in his house.”

    All these tensions over land, water and food are telling us something: The Arab awakening was driven not only by political and economic stresses, but, less visibly, by environmental, population and climate stresses as well. If we focus only on the former and not the latter, we will never be able to help stabilize these societies.

    Take Syria. “Syria’s current social unrest is, in the most direct sense, a reaction to a brutal and out-of-touch regime,” write Francesco Femia and Caitlin Werrell, in a report for their Center for Climate and Security in Washington. “However, that’s not the whole story. The past few years have seen a number of significant social, economic, environmental and climatic changes in Syria that have eroded the social contract between citizen and government. ... If the international community and future policy makers in Syria are to address and resolve the drivers of unrest in the country, these changes will have to be better explored.”

    From 2006-11, they note, up to 60 percent of Syria’s land experienced one of the worst droughts and most severe set of crop failures in its history. “According to a special case study from last year’s Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction, of the most vulnerable Syrians dependent on agriculture, particularly in the northeast governorate of Hassakeh (but also in the south), ‘nearly 75 percent ... suffered total crop failure.’ Herders in the northeast lost around 85 percent of their livestock, affecting 1.3 million people.” The United Nations reported that more than 800,000 Syrians had their livelihoods wiped out by these droughts, and many were forced to move to the cities to find work — adding to the burdens of already incompetent government.

    “If climate projections stay on their current path, the drought situation in North Africa and the Middle East is going to get progressively worse, and you will end up witnessing cycle after cycle of instability that may be the impetus for future authoritarian responses,” argues Femia. “There are a few ways that the U.S. can be on the right side of history in the Arab world. One is to enthusiastically and robustly support democratic movements.” The other is to invest in climate-adaptive infrastructure and improvements in water management — to make these countries more resilient in an age of disruptive climate change.

    An analysis by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, published last October in the Journal of Climate, and cited on Joe Romm’s blog, climateprogress.org, found that droughts in wintertime in the Middle East — when the region traditionally gets most of its rainfall to replenish aquifers — are increasing, and human-caused climate change is partly responsible.

    “The magnitude and frequency of the drying that has occurred is too great to be explained by natural variability alone,” noted Martin Hoerling, of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory, the lead author of the paper. “This is not encouraging news for a region that already experiences water stress, because it implies natural variability alone is unlikely to return the region’s climate to normal.”

    Especially when you consider the other stresses. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, the executive director of the Institute for Policy Research and Development in London, writing in The Beirut Daily Star in February, pointed out that 12 of the world’s 15 most water-scarce countries — Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Israel and Palestine — are in the Middle East, and after three decades of explosive population growth these countries are “set to dramatically worsen their predicament. Although birth rates are falling, one-third of the overall population is below 15 years old, and large numbers of young women are reaching reproductive age, or soon will be.” A British Defense Ministry study, he added, “has projected that by 2030 the population of the Middle East will increase by 132 percent — generating an unprecedented ‘youth bulge.’ ”

    And a lot more mouths to feed with less water than ever. As Lester Brown, the president of the Earth Policy Institute and author of “World on the Edge,” notes, 20 years ago, using oil-drilling technology, the Saudis tapped into an aquifer far below the desert to produce irrigated wheat, making themselves self-sufficient. But now almost all that water is gone, and Saudi wheat production is, too. So the Saudis are investing in farm land in Ethiopia and Sudan, but that means they will draw more Nile water for irrigation away from Egypt, whose agriculture-rich Nile Delta is already vulnerable to any sea level rise and saltwater intrusion.

    If you ask “what are the real threats to our security today,” said Brown, “at the top of the list would be climate change, population growth, water shortages, rising food prices and the number of failing states in the world. As that list grows, how many failed states before we have a failing global civilization, and everything begins to unravel?”

    Hopefully, we won’t go there. But, then, we should all remember that quote attributed to Leon Trotsky: “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.” Well, you may not be interested in climate change, but climate change is interested in you.

    Folks, this is not a hoax. We and the Arabs need to figure out — and fast — more ways to partner to mitigate the environmental threats where we can and to build greater resiliency against those where we can’t. Twenty years from now, this could be all that we’re talking about.
    Last edited by Housecarl; 04-08-2012 at 11:49 PM. Reason: added thread link

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    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/...esident-egypt/

    Mubarak intel chief to run for president of Egypt

    By Abraham Rabinovich - Special to The Washington Times
    Sunday, April 8, 2012
    Comments

    JERUSALEM — The former intelligence chief of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak filed papers Saturday to be a candidate in the country's soon-approaching presidential election, a surprise move viewed by many as an attempt by Egypt's military rulers to promote one of their own and block a government takeover by Islamist parties.

    Gen. Omar Suleiman, who said less than a week ago that he would not seek the post, was the last candidate to file paperwork, just hours before the deadline Saturday.

    Egyptians who spearheaded the popular uprising that ousted Mr. Mubarak a year ago expressed outrage at Gen. Suleiman's candidacy.

    "I find it incomprehensible that one of the top figures of the old regime, who should be on trial right now as a criminal, is actually considering running for president," activist Mohammad Radwan said.

    Another activist, Mohamed Fahmy, said Egyptian youth will never permit Gen. Suleiman to become president. "The revolution is still alive, and we will march to Tahrir Square again, if necessary," he said.

    That sentiment raises the specter of resumed clashes between protesters and military, while Gen. Suleiman's action suggests that Egypt's military leaders intend to take on Islamists directly at the ballot box.

    Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and the hard-line conservative Salafists won about two-thirds of the seats during parliamentary elections last year. The Brotherhood earlier said it would not enter the presidential contest, but last week it fielded a candidate to counter what it called the military's intransigence in ceding power to a civilian government.

    The military chiefs reportedly fear the Islamists will seek to shrink the army's economic empire, reduce its political influence, impose Sharia law and endanger Egypt's relations with the West by threatening to rescind Cairo's peace treaty with Israel.

    A former Israeli consul in Egypt, Eli Avidar, suggested on Israel Radio that the May 23-24 presidential election likely will be rigged.

    "If the military elite has decided to run a candidate, then they can't permit him to lose," he said.

    Arab affairs analyst Ehud Ya'ari said on Israel's Channel Two that Gen. Suleiman's candidacy reflects "panic" on the part of the military establishment over the prospect of an Islamist government.

    There is a general fear in Egypt that the economy, which has declined sharply since the uprising, will deteriorate even more if a radical government emerges from the elections.

    In announcing his decision, Gen. Suleiman said he was responding to demonstrations by supporters, many of them carrying placards reading, "Suleiman, save Egypt" and "We don't want the Islamists."

    Unlike other figures in the Mubarak regime, the former intelligence chief has been untainted by allegations of corruption, presumably one of the reasons the military regime urged him to run.

    Gen. Suleiman is well regarded in Israel for the years in which he served as an intermediary between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as his efforts to curb Hamas' militancy. If he were elected, it likely would ease Israeli fears that have risen since the Egyptian uprising brought Islamist elements to the forefront.

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    http://www.thestar.com/news/world/ar...eoul-says?bn=1

    North Korea may test nuclear device as well as launch rocket, Seoul says
    Published 1 hour 21 minutes ago
    Choe Sang-Hun New York Times



    A soldier stands guard in front of the Unha-3 (Milky Way 3) rocket sitting on a launch pad at the West Sea Satellite Launch Site on April 8,2 012. On Sunday, there were reports in South Korea that the North also is also planning its third nuclear test.
    BOBBY YIP/REUTERS

    SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA—North Korea appears to be preparing for its third underground nuclear test even as it presses ahead with assembling a long-range rocket for its planned launching of a satellite this month, a South Korean government spokesman said Sunday.

    Unconfirmed South Korean news reports in the past two years have claimed that North Korea was digging new tunnels at its Punggye-ri nuclear test site in Kilju, near the northeastern tip of the country, to follow up on two underground tests it conducted there in 2006 and 2009.

    PHOTOS: North Korea’s rocket dreams

    On Sunday, the government spokesman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he said he could not talk on the record about intelligence matters, said satellite images showed a growing pile of earth near the entrance of one tunnel.

    Government analysts said they considered it a potential sign of preparations for a test. A large amount of earth is needed to seal a tunnel before detonating a nuclear device inside.

    The spokesman was confirming reports carried Sunday by the South Korean national news agency, Yonhap, and other national news outlets. The domestic news media reports were identical in their wording and details. South Korean television stations also carried satellite images showing the pile but did not reveal who had provided them.

    The main opposition Democratic United Party accused the government’s National Intelligence Service of leaking the information to the domestic news media ahead of Wednesday’s parliamentary elections. Party officials said they suspected that the spy agency was trying to help the conservative governing party by emphasizing the North’s nuclear threat.

    “North Korea has been hinting at a possible nuclear test for a month,” said Park Yong-jin, a spokesman for the opposition party. “We wonder why the National Intelligence Service was highlighting this to the people and news media now, only three days before the election.”

    During a campaign speech on Sunday, Park Geun-hye, leader of the governing New Frontier Party, sought to consolidate conservative support by mentioning the news reports about a possible North Korean nuclear test and the planned satellite launching.

    The spy agency, which denies meddling in domestic politics, declined to comment on the opposition’s claim.

    North Korea’s planned satellite launching, scheduled for sometime between Thursday and next Monday, had already deepened international tensions. The United States and its allies have warned that launching a missile would further isolate the North by prompting more severe enforcement of international sanctions.

    The South Korean government spokesman also confirmed that the latest satellite images showed all three stages of a rocket placed on the North’s launching pad. In a dispatch from the Tongchang-ri launching site, Associated Press also confirmed the rocket was in position. The AP’s journalists are among the foreign reporters invited to observe the launching.

    North Korea’s two previous nuclear tests involved plutonium devices. If the country attempts a third test, analysts have said, it may use a nuclear device fuelled by highly enriched uranium. North Korea revealed an advanced, industrial-scale uranium enrichment plant in 2010, though it is unclear how much highly enriched uranium it has acquired.

    North Korea says it has been planning its satellite launching for several years to coincide with national celebrations of the 100th birthday this year of Kim Il-sung, its revered national founder and the grandfather of its new leader, Kim Jong-un. But American officials say they believe that North Korea’s satellite program is a cover for developing intercontinental ballistic missiles that might someday be able to deliver nuclear warheads.

    North Korea conducted its two previous nuclear tests after the United Nations Security Council imposed more sanctions to punish it for a long-range missile test in 2006 and its Kwangmyongsong-2 satellite launching in 2009.

    Many analysts have feared a repeat of the cycle of confrontation if North Korea launches a new satellite this month.
    Last edited by Housecarl; 04-08-2012 at 11:57 PM. Reason: Added lnk to Norbert Brugge's Space Launch Vehicle site's page on the Unha-3 and images

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    http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2...t.html?cmp=rss

    North Korea moves rocket into place for launch
    Firing long-range rocket would violate UN resolutions
    The Associated Press
    Posted: Apr 8, 2012 9:20 PM ET
    Last Updated: Apr 8, 2012 9:24 PM ET

    North Korean space officials have moved all three stages of a long-range rocket into position for a controversial launch, vowing Sunday to push ahead with their plan in defiance of international warnings against violating a ban on missile activity.

    The Associated Press was among foreign news agencies allowed a firsthand look at preparations under way at the coastal Sohae Satellite Station in northwestern North Korea.

    North Korea announced plans last month to launch an observation satellite using a three-stage rocket during mid-April celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the birth of North Korean founder Kim Il-sung. The U.S., Japan, Britain and other nations have urged North Korea to cancel the launch, warning that firing the long-range rocket would violate UN resolutions and North Korea's promise to refrain from engaging in nuclear and missile activity.

    'Our side made clear there's only a moratorium on long-range missile launches, not on satellite launches.'—Jang Myong Jin, general manager of the launch facility

    North Korea maintains that the launch is a scientific achievement intended to improve the nation's faltering economy by providing detailed surveys of the countryside.

    "Our country has the right and also the obligation to develop satellites and launching vehicles," Jang Myong Jin, general manager of the launch facility, said during a tour, citing the UN space treaty. "No matter what others say, we are doing this for peaceful purposes."

    Experts say the Unha-3 rocket slated for liftoff between April 12 and 16 could also test long-range missile technology that might be used to strike the U.S. and other targets.

    North Korea has tested two atomic devices, but is not believed to have mastered the technology needed to mount a warhead on a long-range missile.
    Media given tour of launch pad

    On Sunday, reporters were taken by train past desolate fields and sleepy farming hamlets to North Korea's new launch pad in Tongchang-ri in North Phyongan province, about 50 kilometres south of the border town of Sinuiju along North Korea's west coast.

    All three stages of the 91-ton rocket, emblazoned with the North Korean flag and "Unha-3," were visibly in position at the towering launch pad, and fueling will begin soon, Jang said. He said preparations were well on track for liftoff and that international space, aviation and maritime authorities had been advised of the plan, but did not provide exact details on the timing of the fueling or the mounting of the satellite.

    Engineers gave reporters a peek at the 100-kilogram Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite due to be mounted on the rocket, as well as a tour of the command center.

    'North Korea needs to show some tangible achievements to its people to solidify Kim Jong-un's leadership.'—Koh Yu-hwan, professor of North Korean studies in Seoul

    About two weeks before North Korea unveiled its rocket plan, Washington announced an agreement with the North to provide it with much-needed food aid in exchange for a freeze on nuclear activity, including a moratorium on long-range missile tests. Plans to send food aid, as well as a recently revived project to conduct joint searches for the remains of U.S. military personnel killed during the Korean War, have now been suspended.

    Jang denied the launch was a cover for a missile test, saying the relatively diminutive rocket and fixed Sohae station would be "useless" for sending a mobile intercontinental ballistic missile.

    "During the recent senior-level North Korea-U.S. talks, our side made clear there's only a moratorium on long-range missile launches, not on satellite launches," he said. "The U.S. was well aware of this."

    Japan and South Korea, meanwhile, said they are prepared to shoot down any parts of the rocket that threaten to fall in their territory — a move North Korea's Foreign Ministry warned would be considered a declaration of war.

    The launch is scheduled to take place three years after North Korea's last announced attempt to send a satellite into space, a liftoff condemned by the UN Security Council. North Korea walked away from nuclear disarmament negotiations in protest, and conducted an atomic test weeks later that drew tightened UN sanctions.
    Significance of launch

    It is meant to show that North Korea has become a powerful, prosperous nation, celebrate the centenary of founder Kim Il-sung's birth, and usher in a new era under his grandson, Kim Jong-un, said Koh Yu-hwan, a professor of North Korean studies at Seoul's Dongguk University.

    "North Korea needs to show some tangible achievements to its people to solidify Kim Jong-un's leadership," he said. "North Korea intends to provide its people with a sense of pride."

    Kim Jong-un took power following the December death of his father, longtime leader Kim Jong-il, and is expected to assume more top posts during high-profile political and parliamentary meetings later this week — a step analysts say will formally complete the country's second hereditary power transfer.
    A soldier stands guard in front of the Unha-3 (Milky Way 3) rocket sitting on a launch pad at the West Sea Satellite Launch Site, during a guided media tour by North Korean authorities in the northwest of Pyongyang on Sunday. A soldier stands guard in front of the Unha-3 (Milky Way 3) rocket sitting on a launch pad at the West Sea Satellite Launch Site, during a guided media tour by North Korean authorities in the northwest of Pyongyang on Sunday. (Kyodo/Reuters)

    The satellite is designed to send back images and information that will be used for weather forecasts as well as surveys of North Korea's natural resources, Jang said. He said a western launch was chosen to avoid showering neighboring nations with debris.

    He said two previous satellites also named Kwangmyongsong, or Bright Shining Star, were experimental, but the third will be operational.

    However, Brian Weeden, a technical adviser at Secure World Foundation who is a former Air Force officer at the U.S. Space Command, questioned whether North Korea truly has the technology to successfully send a satellite into orbit.

    "The end goal is to test and develop their ballistic missile program and show their people and the world that they are strong," Weeden said from Washington.
    © The Associated Press, 2012

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    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/...U4S_story.html

    U.S. policy on Iraq questioned as influence wanes, Maliki consolidates power
    By Liz Sly, Updated: Sunday, April 8, 6:41 PM The Washington Post
    Comments 23

    BAGHDAD — On the face of it, Iraq’s first springtime since American troops withdrew in December is turning into the most peaceful and promising the country has witnessed in a decade, offering what U.S. and some Iraqi officials say amounts to a vindication of President Obama’s Iraq policy.

    A feared collapse of order have not materialized. Although the group al-Qaeda in Iraq has continued to stage headline-grabbing attacks, they are diminishing in frequency and intensity. Oil is being pumped at record levels from the refurbished fields of the south. Iraq’s government has not rushed into the arms of Iran and, instead, has been wooing its Arab neighbors.

    But the appearance of calm that has endured for four months has come at a price, many Iraqis say, in the form of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s increasingly authoritarian behavior. Maliki, they say, has been moving steadily to consolidate his control over the country’s institutions and security forces with the apparent acquiescence of the Obama administration.

    Since U.S. troops withdrew in December, Maliki has extended his reach to take on his political rivals, drawing accusations from Iraq’s Sunni and Kurdish minorities that he is intent on establishing a dictatorship. An arrest warrant issued just days after the U.S. pullout for Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi — the top Sunni official in Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government — has been followed more recently by challenges to the autonomy enjoyed by the Kurdish region in the north, provoking threats by Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani to sever ties with Baghdad.

    Sunnis and Kurds, angered by what they see as Maliki’s efforts to exclude them from power, accuse the United States of doing little or nothing to restrain his excesses or to press him to implement agreements under which he pledged to share power.

    Although overall levels of violence have fallen, as measured by a record-low death toll of 112 in March, according to the Associated Press, Sunnis say they live in fear of the Maliki-controlled security forces. Dozens — some say hundreds — were detained in recent weeks in an effort to secure Baghdad ahead of an Arab League summit late last month, and many have not been released.

    Disgruntled Sunnis say their sense of disenfranchisement has never been greater, and Kurds, too, cite increasing alienation from the central government, with worrying implications for the future of Iraq’s stability.

    “They are not doing nothing, but they need to do more,” Alaa Mekki, a senior lawmaker with the mostly Sunni Iraqiya bloc, said of the U.S. role in Iraq. “Their goal of a united, democratic Iraq is now under threat because of what we describe as the dictatorship attitude.”

    The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, the largest in the world despite recent cutbacks, still wields enormous influence, said Omar Mashhadani, a former spokesman for the Iraqi parliament.

    “But they’re not using it,” he said. “They seem to be content with Maliki, and Maliki is careful not to do anything to affect their interests.”

    Rift over Obama nominee

    Sunni concerns have crystallized in recent weeks around Obama’s nomination of Brett McGurk, 38, a lawyer who has frequently advised the U.S. Embassy but is not a diplomat, to be the new ambassador to Iraq. As the chief adviser to Ambassador James F. Jeffrey and former ambassador Christopher R. Hill, McGurk is closely associated with the United States’ controversial 2010 decision to support Maliki’s candidacy as the better hope for future stability over that of Ayad Allawi, the head of the Iraqiya bloc, which narrowly won the most seats in parliament.

    Iraqiya has backtracked on a threat to boycott McGurk should he be confirmed, but Sunnis nonetheless say they would be deeply unhappy with an appointment that they suspect points to a likely continuation of unconditional U.S. support for Maliki.

    “Some Iraqiya leaders feel that this choice represents a preference for some political directions inside Iraq,” said Mekki, the Iraqiya politician. “They feel that in previous years Brett should have supported the whole political process and not discriminated between some people and others.”

    The U.S. Embassy has staunch*ly defended McGurk’s nomination, and former and current colleagues say he could be well placed to exert influence on Maliki because of the close relationship he forged with him during negotiations in 2008 on the Status of Forces Agreement and last year’s failed talks on extending the U.S. troop presence. Moreover, they say, Mc*Gurk was not the architect of the decision to back Maliki in 2010 and merely implemented a policy decided in Washington.

    Maliki’s aides say they are happy with McGurk’s nomination and, more broadly, with a U.S. policy toward Iraq that they describe as far less intrusive than it was when American troops were present.

    “All American interference in the internal situation of Iraq is over. They are not interfering at all,” said Khaled al-Asadi, a lawmaker with Maliki’s Dawa party who has close ties with the prime minister. Asadi described Iraq’s relationship with the United States as “better than ever.”

    “They don’t put pressure on us; they only offer advice. And because they are friends, we listen to their advice,” he said. “Sometimes we take their advice, but only when it benefits our interest and it is positive.”

    ‘We’re hanging on’

    Whether the United States could or should be doing more is in question. With the troops gone, U.S. influence has dwindled, and the Obama administration has further squandered leverage by not exploring the possibility of future agreements with the Iraqi government for U.S. military trainers and other advisers that would give muscle to the United States’ role, said Kenneth M. Pollack, director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. “We’ve surrendered so much of our influence,” he said.

    U.S. officials in Baghdad won’t address directly the allegations that they favor Maliki, but they say the United States is exerting more influence than is recognized to ease the political tensions.

    Jeffrey has met with Maliki more than a dozen times this year. Obama has weighed in on Iraq several times in the past two weeks, including a phone call to Maliki last week and an encounter with Barzani in Washington in which the president made it clear that the United States would not support a Kurdish bid for independence over its commitment to a unified Iraq.

    “It’s a roller coaster ride, but we’re hanging on,” said an American official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the issue of U.S. influence is considered sensitive. “The place is still holding together, and we have a role in that.”

    Officials in Washington go further, describing Iraq as an unparalleled success story.

    “Iraq today is less violent, more democratic and more prosperous — and the United States more deeply engaged there — than at any time in recent history,” Antony Blinken, Vice President Biden’s national security adviser, told a forum in Washington last month.

    But the tensions of the past few months call into question whether the U.S. support for Maliki will over time help stabilize Iraq, some analysts say.

    “Maliki is heading towards an incredibly destructive dictatorship, and it looks to me as though the Obama administration is waving him across the finishing line,” said Toby Dodge, an Iraq expert at the London School of Economics. “Meanwhile, the most likely outcomes, which are either dictatorship or civil war, would be catastrophic because Iraq sits between Iran and Syria.”

    More world news coverage:

    - Muslim Brotherhood candidate aims to cement transition in Egypt

    - India, Pakistan leaders pledge improved relations

    - Peace plan for Syria appears close to collapse over government demand

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    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/...83706N20120408

    Fugitive Saddam deputy urges resistance in video

    By Suadad al-Salhy

    BAGHDAD | Sun Apr 8, 2012 7:36am EDT

    BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The most senior member of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's entourage still at large has criticized the present government and urged former Iraqi Baathists to reorganize their resistance to it, according to a video broadcast on Baathist websites.

    The video appeared to show Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, the head of Saddam's Baath party and the highest-ranking member of his government still at liberty. Saddam, a Sunni, was toppled and his party banned after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

    The broadcast was not dated and Douri's identity could not be independently confirmed. Douri released a recording last year criticizing Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki for rounding up former Baath party members in Iraq.

    "We have to restart immediately... to rebuild the revolutionary Baath party," he said in the video broadcast on the 65th anniversary of the formation of Iraq's Baath party.

    The video showed a man closely resembling Douri sitting in a Saddam-era uniform in front of the old Iraqi flag, flanked by a group of bodyguards, just as he did when delivering speeches in the past.

    After the invasion, Douri was ranked sixth on the U.S. military's list of 55 most wanted Iraqis and a $10 million reward was offered for his capture.

    In the video, he criticized the present Shi'ite Iraqi government and the Arab governments that backed it and accused them of treason and conspiracy against Iraqi insurgents who fought against the U.S. military after the invasion. U.S. officials have accused him of organizing the insurgency.

    "Nine years have passed since the invasion and occupation and these corrupt traitors have turned their backs on the heroic Iraqi resistance," Douri said.

    He also warned Sunni Arab countries over what he called the "invasion of Safavid" - an apparent reference to Shi'ite Muslim Iran's growing influence over Iraq's government, in a region increasingly divided along a Sunni-Shi'ite faultline.

    "We put it before your eyes and in your hands, the Safavid Persian enemy today stands at the doorstep," he said.

    Baathists were banned from politics after the 2003 invasion, but the government says many former party members have organized into insurgent groups resisting the rise to power of the Shi'ite majority following the fall of Saddam.

    Maliki ordered the arrest of hundreds of former Baathists last year just before the last American troops left the country, causing a crisis that threatened to unravel a fragile power-sharing deal among Sunni, Shi'ite and Kurdish blocs.

    Many Sunni Iraqis now fear Maliki is trying to consolidate his position by ousting their leaders from the power-sharing agreement, depriving the Sunni minority of a voice in government.

    Douri was the deputy head of Iraq's Revolutionary Command Council under Saddam, and took over the Baath Party leadership after Saddam was executed in 2006.

    He has seldom been seen since 2003. In a statement in 2009, he called on Sunni insurgent groups to move into politics.

    (Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Tim Pearce)


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    http://www.thehawkeye.com/story/Iraq-040812

    published online: 4/8/2012
    Unstable Iraq has signs of authoritarian rule
    After a year away from Baghdad, correspondent finds accusations of corruption and extravagance easy to find.

    By HANNAH ALLAM
    McClatchy Newspapers

    BAGHDAD - It was sunset, and the pedestrian-only streets around Baghdad's famous double-domed Kadhemiya shrine were clogged with Iraqi families and Iranian pilgrims shopping, eating popcorn or making their way toward the glittery sanctuary.

    The only signs that nearly a decade of war and occupation interrupted such leisurely evenings were the concrete blast walls surrounding the shrine and a cluster of Iraqi soldiers wearing castoff gear as they lounged in an office of the militant anti-American Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

    Then a terrifying noise - more a loud click than a boom - scattered the pigeons and set off a stampede among panicked worshippers who'd been crowding the entrance of the shrine. When they realized moments later the disturbance had been just a large generator switching on, people in the crowd laughed and cracked jokes about being scared of even balloons.

    An Iraqi politician's face darkened the next day when I recounted the bomb-scare episode during a tour of his family's centuries-old gardens.

    "You have to find the fly in the ointment," he complained, before switching the talk back to date palms and orange blossoms.

    Chaos churns under surface

    Iraqi leaders are trying their best to prove wrong all the naysayers who predicted the U.S. military's withdrawal last December would precipitate the country's immediate collapse and de facto annexation to Iran. They tout a decline in terrorist attacks, vibrant entrepreneurship and, above all, the recent Arab summit, which was billed as Shiite-led Iraq's return to the region's mostly Sunni Arab fold.

    However, 10 days in Baghdad, after an absence of more than a year, made it apparent post-American Iraq remains an unstable, deeply sectarian state that's verging on authoritarianism under the veneer of a U.S.-friendly Muslim democracy.

    Many Iraqis - Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds alike - fear the U.S. withdrawal has given Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a conservative Shiite Islamist, free rein to consolidate power and turn himself into an intractable strongman.

    Those worries were only compounded last month when the White House named Brett McGurk the new U.S. ambassador to Baghdad. As adviser to the past three envoys, McGurk garnered a reputation among Iraqi political elites as a die-hard al-Maliki booster who turns a blind eye to the prime minister's emerging dictatorial streak.

    "They basically sent someone from Maliki's office," one Sunni politician grumbled privately about the Obama administration's choice.

    Iraqi officials emphasized the fact the Arab League, the region's premier diplomatic organization, convened its annual summit in Baghdad late last month. They said it was a sign Iraq was back in the Arab fold after decades of isolation from its neighbors during more than eight years of American occupation. That made the conference's price tag - in excess of $500 million - worth every penny.

    But behind the scenes, the summit was utter chaos, with the long-simmering mistrust between the Kurd-led Foreign Ministry and the Shiite-led Interior Ministry exploding into arguments over the slow issuing of badges, a lack of accommodations for hundreds of accredited journalists and hours-long convoy delays at checkpoints.

    The manager of one of the conference hotels said the summit reeked of corruption. The hotel he oversaw cost more than $20 million to renovate, but there was no way all that money went into the project, he said, pointing out the many imperfections. He said his company could've built an 800-room deluxe hotel in Dubai for that price.

    "So where did all the money go? In the bellies!" he said with a laugh, patting his midsection for emphasis.

    On social media platforms, Iraqi leaders were ripped as tasteless for serving VIP guests a dessert of dates dipped in 24-karat gold in a war-ravaged country where thousands of women were forced to sell their gold to pay their husbands' and sons' kidnap ransoms.

    On Baghdad streets, the reaction was more nuanced. Many Iraqis acknowledged the public-relations value of the summit and its goal of restoring the country's regional ties at a time when the Arab world is grappling with a wave of rebellions and conflicts.

    "If the intentions of the summit were good, then maybe Iraq can stand on its feet again," said Bassam al-Bahrani, 48, who lamented sales in his clothing store dropped 50 percent in the past two months. "Now that the Americans are gone, things should stabilize. There are no more excuses."

    Too frighted to complain

    Sectarian and ethnic tensions still run deep, though, and politicians of all backgrounds said al-Maliki was resorting to heavy-handed, sectarian-based tactics to fend off attempts to weaken his grip. Iraqi politics are beset with entrenched internecine battles that continue to prevent any semblance of a unity government.

    Just before the summit, Sunni politicians said, security forces swept through Sunni enclaves, rounding up hundreds of young men who've yet to be charged or released. The families are too scared to complain to the Shiite-led authorities.

    The pattern of targeting or marginalizing young Sunni men left one of my Sunni colleagues debating whether to transfer her 18-year-old son to a school in a mixed-sect district, so the Shiite-dominated college selection boards wouldn't automatically dismiss his application as being from a Sunni neighborhood.

    With sectarianism so institutionalized now, my friend said, it was doubtful any of the government's halfhearted national reconciliation initiatives could blunt the leftover pain from years of civil war.

    "It's like when trust is lost between husband and wife," she told me one night as our car was stopped at a checkpoint outside the Kadhemiya shrine. "You can try to patch it up, to make it better, but I doubt it will ever be whole again."

    The day the conference ended, routes that had been scrubbed of Shiite iconography for the Sunni rulers' visit once again were adorned with posters of the militia commander al-Sadr or renderings of the revered imams Ali and Hussein. Even state properties - bus terminals, a train depot, for example - casually display Shiite flags or portraits, sending an unmistakable message to any Sunnis with business in those buildings.

    "The message is: 'Get out,'â "â said Omar Mashhadani, a Sunni, the former spokesman for Parliament.

    Al-Maliki has his supporters. Ismail Zayer, an Iraqi newspaper editor and pro-government commentator, said he didn't agree with everything the prime minister was doing but justified such tough measures as serving a national rather than sectarian agenda: to prevent Iraq from fragmenting in the aftermath of a devastating U.S.-led military occupation.

    "If there's anyone who divided Iraq into Sunnis and Shiites, it was the Americans," Zayer argued. "What did they do in Korea? Two Koreas. Vietnam? Two Vietnams."

    Anthem declared anti-Islamic

    The constantly expanding powers of conservative Shiite Islamists have inspired a backlash among some concerned Iraqi communities; not just Sunnis, but also secular Shiites, liberals and artists, as well as the few remaining Christians.

    They wonder what happened to all those promises from 2003 about Iraq becoming a pluralistic nation with Western-style guarantees of civil liberties. Instead, they said, Iraqis got a country where the once-treasured national orchestra can't even play for fans in the southern Shiite cities of Najaf and Karbala because religious authorities have deemed musical performances un-Islamic.

    Hatif Farhan, a 46-year-old photographer, couldn't resist a mischievous chuckle as he described the local art community's latest act of sedition against the self-appointed censors: an exhibition in a famous Baghdad gallery composed solely of nudes. Farhan, sounding proud, said, "Even the veiled women came."

    "We insist on doing this as a reaction," he said. "I took photos and put them on Facebook so that people outside would know that not everything is closed down. We are still here."

    Allam, who's now based in Cairo for McClatchy Newspapers, was Baghdad bureau chief from 2003 to 2006.

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    First Published: 2012-04-07

    Sectarian division: Will Syria’s unrest turn into Shiite-Sunni conflict?

    Experts say conflict in Syria, pitting Sunnis against Shiite rulers, is increasing sectarian tension that is closely linked to regional political discord.

    Middle East Online

    By Mohamad Ali Harissi – BAGHDAD

    Arabs have agreed not to agree

    The conflict in Syria, pitting majority Sunnis against rulers from an offshoot of Shiite Islam, is increasing sectarian tension that is closely linked to political discord in the region, experts say.

    Thousands of people have died in a crackdown by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, a member of the Alawite sect, on a mainly Sunni uprising against his rule that erupted in March 2011.

    Protests began peacefully but the movement gradually took on a militant face and has evolved into an armed revolt, though demonstrations are still held.

    How to respond to the violence in Syria has split the Arab world. Influential Sunni-ruled Gulf states Saudi Arabia and Qatar want to arm the Syrian rebels and Shiite-majority Iraq opposes the move.

    The Middle East is seeing "tension and regional escalation" -- part of it between Iran and Gulf Arab states -- "and another part sectarian, and they are intertwined with each other," said Paul Salem, the director of the Carnegie Middle East Center.

    "The situation in Syria is fuelling the Arab division," Salem said.

    Iraqi analyst Ibrahim al-Sumaidai also warned of a "major division" between states led by Saudi Arabia and the so-called Shiite crescent led by Iran, that is underpinned by sectarian differences.

    "The tension between them is especially centred on ... states like Saudi Arabia and Qatar that are trying to end Bashar al-Assad's regime because of a sectarian mindset," he said.

    At last month's Arab summit in Baghdad, all the Gulf states except Kuwait sent low-level delegations to the meeting, and Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem Al-Thani said that was a "message to the government of Iraq."

    Without elaborating, he went on to accuse Iraq of "neglecting" some parts of its population, including minority Sunnis, in the formation of its government.

    "Iraq is a very important state in the Arab world, but we do not agree with some of the policies against a specific component," an apparent reference to Sunnis.

    On Sunday, Iraqi premier Maliki criticised the Qatari and Saudi stance on Syria, saying: "We reject any arming (of Syrian rebels) and the process to overthrow the (Assad) regime, because this will leave a greater crisis in the region."

    "We are against the interference of some countries in Syria's internal affairs," the Iraqi leader said.

    Fugitive Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, who took refuge in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region in December to avoid charges of running a death squad, left for Qatar on Sunday and then moved on to Saudi Arabia.

    Baghdad slammed Doha for receiving him and called on Qatar to hand him over, but it declined to do so.

    Saudi and Qatari newspapers lashed out at Maliki on Tuesday, calling for a boycott of him and his government, with one accusing him of bias against Sunnis and asking whether he was "a voice for Iran or the ruler of Iraq."

    Qatar University professor Mahjub al-Zuwairi said the region "entered into a type of sectarian dispute since 2003," when a US-led coalition overthrew Saddam Hussein. That ended decades of rule by Iraq's minority Sunnis and brought the Shiite majority to power.

    The Jordanian academic referred to a "unified Gulf stance" regarding Iraq, a country he said is seen as "supporting Iran in its stance on Syrian events."

    "Iraq is afraid that there will be a Salafi (fundamentalist Sunni) system after Bashar al-Assad," Sumaidai said.

    Iraq is well aware of the dangers of Sunni fighters entering from Syria, having accused Damascus in the past of letting Sunni insurgents and arms transit the country for attacks inside Iraq.

    Former Iraqi national security adviser Muwaffaq al-Rubaie, a Shiite, said "the (Sunni-ruled) countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council are playing with fire that will burn the whole region."

    "These countries take a sectarian direction in their efforts, and consider the Syrian regime as Shiite, and this is a big mistake," he said.

    Uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt over the past 16 months have brought Islamists to power, replacing Arab nationalist regimes.

    And Sumaidai said that those Islamic movements and parties are ready "to send fighters to other states such as Syria ... because there are those on the other side of the same sect."

    While the Sunni-Shiite divide is a major factor in the Syrian crisis, it has also surfaced violently in Bahrain and even in Saudi Arabia itself.

    Last year, Bahrain's Sunni ruling family crushed Shiite-led protests calling for reform, with backing from forces from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that entered the tiny Gulf kingdom.

    Maliki warned at the time that the intervention in Shiite-majority Bahrain by its Sunni neighbours risked a sectarian war in the region.

    And protests in Saudi Arabia's eastern oil-rich region, which has a significant Shiite population, have been violently put down.

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    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-17649526

    8 April 2012 Last updated at 07:28 ET

    Afghan night raids: Kabul signs deal with US forces
    night-vision image of raid US Marines on a night raid in Helmand province - the raids are extremely unpopular with Afghan civilians

    The Afghan government has signed a deal on the conduct of night raids by US special forces, bringing the operations under Afghan leadership.

    Under the agreement signed by the Afghan defence minister and the US commander, US forces will play a supporting role in the raids.

    The US military say night raids are a valuable way of finding and detaining suspected militants.

    But many Afghans say the raids violate privacy and disrespect women.

    The operations, currently carried out by Nato and Afghan special forces, have been a growing cause of friction between the Afghan government and the US military.
    'We own the night'

    The agreement comes ahead of the planned withdrawal of US and other foreign troops from Afghanistan in 2014.

    The BBC's Bilal Sarwary in Kabul says the Afghan government wants to ensure that these operations are entirely led by its forces and that they give explicit permission for other troops to take part.

    A senior Afghan general told the BBC that while the insurgents had the upper hand in daylight, "we [Afghan National Security Forces] and Nato own the night.

    "These night raids have broken the backbone of the the Taliban and various other insurgent groups," the general said.

    The deal will also allow Afghan judges to review the operations and decide whether to hold detainees after the raid.

    Afghan officials told the BBC that last-minute discussions were still taking place over interrogation of detainees.

    More on This Story
    Related Stories

    Q&A: Foreign forces in Afghanistan 11 MARCH 2012, SOUTH ASIA
    Nato's crisis of trust in Afghanistan 01 MARCH 2012, ASIA
    Why Taliban are so strong in Afghanistan 02 FEBRUARY 2012, ASIA

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    http://www.2point6billion.com/news/2...-13-10966.html

    China Claims 90% of Spratly Islands, Actually Controls 13%

    Posted on Monday, April 9, 2012 by 2point6billion.com

    India launches first nuclear sub as tensions grumble on over Spratly Islands

    India Defense Minister A.K. Antony launches the INS Chakra

    Apr. 9 – China suffered a blow at the recent ASEAN meetings in Phnom Penh, losing a motion not to have South China Sea disputes discussed during the summit. China is a not a member of ASEAN, but has been granted observer status and the request to interfere with the ASEAN agenda did not seem to sit well with the 10 countries that make up the Southeast Asian bloc. In particular, four ASEAN countries – Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines – are directly engaged in disagreements with China over ownership of the Spratlys.

    China has long held a view that the South China Sea is Chinese, and that disputes should only be settled with Beijing directly on a bilateral basis. ASEAN, however, provides a multilateral forum and a bloc that allows disputes to be discussed collectively. Much of the debate focuses on the Vietnamese government’s decision to allow a joint venture between an Indian oil drilling company in blocks controlled by Vietnam. China has criticized the move, suggesting that significant “economic and political risks” await both Vietnam and India should exploration commence.

    “China will not dilute its claims over the disputed islands…because nationalism strongly prevails in China,” commented Wu Shicun, president of the state-funded National Institute of South China Sea Studies.

    Of the islands and sandbars themselves, China only actually controls a small percentage. The 52 Spratly Islands plus smaller territories are currently controlled by Vietnam (40), the Philippines (9), China (7), Malaysia (5) and Taiwan (1).

    In related news, India launched its first nuclear powered submarine last week, the INS Chakra, joining an elite club made up of the United States, Russia, Great Britain, France and China with such technologies. India expects to be operating a fleet of five such submarines by 2020. The INS Chakra is weaponized and will undertake surveillance and deterrence operations off the Indian coast.

    “As peace and stability in the region are crucial to peace in the world at large, it is imperative that the Indian Navy maintains a strong and credible naval presence in the region,” Defence Minister A. K. Antony said while speaking at the induction ceremony.

    Related Reading

    China’s Territorial Disputes with India

    China’s Territorial Disputes in the South China Sea and East China Sea

    China’s Tibet Price: the South China Sea

    China Considers Diverting the Brahmaputra River

    Pakistan Offers China a Naval Base on Indian Ocean

    China, Vietnam Trade Blame in Recent South China Sea Incident

  21. #61
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    http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/0...lobalCoverage2

    Mali's president resigns, neighbours discuss north

    By Bate Felix and Laurent Prieur

    BAMAKO/NOUAKCHOTT | Mon Apr 9, 2012 8:13am IST

    (Reuters) - Mali's President Amadou Toumani Toure resigned on Sunday, paving the way for the soldiers who ousted him in a coup to stick by a deal to restore civilian rule and hand power to the president of the National Assembly.

    Neighbouring states meeting to discuss turmoil in Mali's north, a major reason for the military's ousting of Toure, said they would seek dialogue with the northern rebels, a mix of Tuareg separatists and Islamists with links to al Qaeda, but warned they would consider military intervention if it failed.

    The twin crises - a coup in the capital that led to a rebel seizure of vast tracts of the north - have threatened Mali's previous reputation for democracy and widened a security void that regional and Western nations fear will exacerbate regional instability, terrorism and smuggling.

    Already bracing for a food crisis that is set to hit millions across the Sahel this year, over 200,000 civilians have fled their homes in northern Mali and many are short of food and healthcare as the rebel push has swept with it looting.

    In a brief statement on his resignation, Toure said: "I am doing it without any pressure, I am doing it in good faith and most of all for the love that I have for this country."

    A Reuters journalist at the villa where he met the mediators said Toure, who has been in hiding since his presidential palace was attacked by mutinous soldiers, was dressed in a white flowing boubou robe and matching hat, and looked relaxed after the meeting.

    Djibril Bassole, Burkina Faso's foreign minister and a leading mediator for West Africa's ECOWAS bloc, confirmed the resignation and said the appropriate steps would be taken.

    After three days of negotiations and growing international pressure to step down, Mali's junta announced late on Friday it would begin a handover of power in return for an amnesty from prosecution and the lifting of trade and other sanctions.

    According to the agreement signed with mediators, the junta must now make way for a unity government with Mali's parliament speaker Diouncounda Traore as interim president.

    It is not clear when elections, which had been due on April 29, can be held as the north is increasingly lawless and in the hands of separatist Tuareg-led MNLA rebels and Islamist fighters seeking to impose sharia, Islamic law, across Mali.

    A resident in Gao, one of the three northern towns seized, said a Tuareg gunman had his throat slit on Sunday by Islamist gunmen for trying to rob a bus.

    To the south, eyewitnesses said a truck loaded with 100 people fleeing the town crashed on Saturday, killing about 10.

    Most aid groups have fled the area but a grouping of northerners resident in the south met on Sunday and said they planned to dispatch aid up north.

    REGIONAL DILEMA

    Frustrations over Toure's handling of the north are at the heart of Mali's crisis, with soldiers complaining that they were ill-equipped to fight rebels bolstered by guns and fighters returning from Libya's war last year.

    Mali's neighbours have also long complained that Toure did not do enough to strengthen his grip on Mali's north.

    After a day of security meetings, Mohamed Bazoum, Niger's foreign minister, said Mali's northern neighbours expected Bamako to shoulder its burden of responsibility for security in the region, an implicit dig at perceived weakness under Toure.

    Bazoum said dialogue would be sought but force remained an option: "For those (groups in the north) who do not want to organise or take part in dialogue, we are convinced that what needs to be done (...) is to defeat them and to do so by the appropriate means," he said.

    Mauritania, Algeria, Niger and Mali had set up a joint military command headquarters before the lightning rebel push, although it had struggled to coordinate efforts against what they see as an Islamist threat in the Sahara.

    The separatist MNLA have declared an independent state of "Azawad" but they do not have any international backing or the control over large chunks of areas they claim, a zone the size of France in Mali's desert north.

    They have an uneasy relationship with Ansar Dine, another Tuareg-led group that swept south but wants to impose sharia. Experts say Ansar Dine has links with al Qaeda's regional wing, AQIM, which has made millions of dollars from ransom payments for kidnapped Westerners.

    Underscoring deepening confusion in the area, seven Algerian diplomats were kidnapped in Gao last week.

    Algeria's El Watan newspaper reported on its website on Sunday that the diplomats had been freed, but Algerian officials in Nouakchott were unable to confirm that.

    (Additional reporting by Adama Diarra in Bamako; Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Myra MacDonald)

    Related:

    Mali's president resigns, neighbours discuss north
    8:13am IST
    Peace Corps leaves Mali, new US travel warning issued
    5:06am IST
    Libya struggles to contain tribal conflicts
    Sun, Apr 8 2012
    Mali's neighbours back junta exit plan
    Sat, Apr 7 2012

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    http://www.npr.org/2012/03/31/149727...s?sc=17&f=1001

    To Keep Protesters Away, Egypt's Police Put Up Walls

    by Merrit Kennedy
    March 31, 2012

    Egypt's revolution has brought with it unrest, including clashes in Cairo in the areas around the Interior Ministry, a hated symbol of the former regime.

    After five days of skirmishes in early February, Cairo's police chiefs ordered the construction of a series of 10-foot walls, seven of them in all, to block off access to the ministry.

    Other walls have sprung up throughout the area, too, following other bouts of violence. Vibrant neighborhoods have been transformed into a maze of checkpoints and concrete blocks. Now residents are trying to get adjusted to the new, imposing barriers that have virtually paralyzed a large section of downtown Cairo.
    Walls Around The World
    IRbaghdadAQ/YouTube

    As Egyptians are beginning to do, Iraqis also turned concrete barriers into canvases. Artists painted the walls that had been erected to protect buildings from bombs after the U.S. invasion. The murals include scenes of desert landscape, animals and blue water. Baquir al-Sheik told USA Today in 2007 that the walls could serve more than one purpose.

    "We want people to feel their environment, to remember their history," he said. "Hopefully it will remind some people that there is good news in this country, not all bad."
    Tourists take photographs of the murals painted onto the section of the Berlin Wall known as the "East Side Gallery" in central Berlin, on Nov. 7, 2009.
    Enlarge AFP/Getty Images

    The Berlin Wall, too, was famously given a new look after it fell in November 1989. More than 100 artists painted murals on the east side of the wall, now called the East Side Gallery. As the BBC reports, "The East Side Gallery is the longest remaining section of the Berlin Wall, billed as the world's biggest open-air art gallery."

    Artist Rosemarie Schinzler was among those chosen to paint the wall. She told the BBC that the gallery can be educational for those who did not experience living in a "divided country."

    "It's important for all Germans to learn about the negative and positive aspects of their history," she says.

    -Dana Farrington

    How Long Will The Walls Remain?

    Mohsen Issa is the owner of a pet store that has been in business in the city for more than half a century. When he returned to his shop after clashes in November, he found a horrific scene.

    "I came to see the animals, and of course they were all dead. I had many fish and a Rottweiler, and cats — all were suffocated. I tried to get to the shop earlier but I couldn't," he says.

    He says the animals died because of exposure to tear gas. Like other shop owners in the area, Issa says the new walls have hurt his business, but he worries that the security situation might be worse if they weren't there.

    "The walls are necessary until we have a new president, and then all this will be removed," he says. "So we should wait for two months, and it's OK, we can just go around."

    But others here are not prepared to wait. Khaled el-Balshy, the editor-in-chief of Al-Badeel newspaper, says the walls have turned his neighborhood into a sort of green zone — a reference to the heavily fortified section of Iraq's capital Baghdad, established after the U.S. invasion.

    Balshy has sued the head of Egypt's ruling military council and other prominent figures, calling for the removal of one particular wall that stands between his home and his office.

    "I'm accusing the government of the same things that they accuse protesters of doing — disrupting traffic and slowing down the economy," Balshy says.

    Concrete Divisions

    Mohamed Elshahed, an urban planning expert, says that the walls are symbolic of a long history of troubled relations between Egyptian police and civilians.

    "In a way, they are new and unprecedented in their physical manifestation, but they reflect divisions that had already existed long before — between rulers and ruled, state institutions and the population," he says. "Now that the security apparatus has been weakened so much, the division had to be manifested in a literally concrete way — which is walls."

    Mohammed Kadry Said, a retired major general and a senior analyst at the Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, says that the walls provide a limited solution.

    "Either you go out and shoot the crowd who are attacking the building of the Ministry of Interior and can put a fire on it, or you can make a shield, so at least you are safe." A long-term solution, Said says, will only come by improving the relationship between police and citizens.

    On a recent afternoon, a group of artists took on the task of removing the walls — figuratively if not literally — by painting the barriers with images of the streets behind them.

    "We are symbolically removing the walls," said Salma al-Tarzy, one of the artists. "Therefore we are painting streets in perspective or whatever anyone wants to do, but the thing is these are not walls. We are refusing the walls physically and as a symbol of the regime of the military."

    Neighborhood residents gathered to look at the painted image of the streets beyond the walls — a reminder of what has been lost.

    Editor's Update 3/31: A small group of protesters tore down one of the walls on Friday night. Security forces confronted the demonstrators, but there was no serious violence. The remaining walls are still in place. The editorial curation site Storyful has videos and more from the night's events.

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    http://www.strategypage.com/qnd/chin.../20120408.aspx

    The Prudent Man Seeks An Exit

    April 8, 2012: China is treating North Korea like a colony. China lets the local thugs (the "workers party" of the Kim family) run the place while China supplies enough food to prevent mass starvation and enough fuel to keep the lights on in the capital. China pays for this with a network of mining contracts in North Korea. For the last five years China has built and operated these mines, on very attractive (to China) terms. The North Korean government can't complain about the arrangement because China is the only ally North Korea has (unless you want to count Cuba, Venezuela and Burma, and the latter has been unreliable of late). China props up the North Korean tyranny because that's cheaper than letting the North Korean government collapse and taking over and running North Korea as an extension of northeast China. It would also be very expensive. That could run into a nasty outbreak of Korean nationalism, and a call for the other Chinese nightmare; a united Korea. That would probably be on South Korean terms and China does not want a prosperous democracy on its borders. So turning North Korea into an exploitable prison camp, run by some of the prisoners, is a suitable solution. The only downside is that the North Korea officials often do outrageous things (like make and break deals with South Korea, Japan and the United States). The current outrage, over North Korean efforts to renege on a recent aid deal and launch a space satellite, annoys China, who really can't do anything since they have allowed the inmates to run the asylum known as North Korea.

    In the first two months of this year, Chinese tourists to Taiwan reached a record 150,000 a month. This is over 20 percent of the total visitors, who mainly come from other countries in the region. China has allowed it citizens to freely visit Taiwan (and vice versa) since 2008. This was part of a diplomatic effort to make unification with China seem more reasonable. It has done that, to a certain extent, but many Chinese tourists go home wishing China were more like Taiwan.

    The government has shut down two major, pro-Maoist communist web sites. The closures appear to be temporary, to persuade the site operators to tone down their attacks on the ruling Communist Party. This is more fallout from the arrest last month of Bo Xilai, a popular, but corrupt, regional official in the southwest.

    One side effect of China's booming economy is increased efforts by newly rich Chinese to buy an escape plan. This usually consists as dual citizenship in a foreign (preferably Western) country. This usually requires buying property and starting a business in that country. That's not a problem, as the newly wealthy Chinese know that all is not well in China and a prudent man prepares for that.

    April 6, 2012: The official Chinese military newspaper, the Liberation Army Daily, openly warned troops to disregard Internet rumors about disloyalty in the military. This is result of popular politician Bo Xilai being removed from office for corruption. Bo Xilai was a rare official who preached a return to communist ideals, while also delivering better government in the southwestern city of Chongqing (population 28 million). What really brought Bo Xilai down was too much publicity, and the fact that the majority of the Chinese leadership has accepted that communism in China is dead in fact, if not in fiction. Bo Xilai though his well-publicized efforts to deliver more efficient government would start a nationwide movement to restore communism, but it only united the national leadership against him. Bo Xilai was popular in the military because he spoke out against the many corrupt officers in the military. This sort of thing has been going on in the Chinese military for thousands of years, despite many attempts to stamp out the stealing and favoritism. After Bo Xilai was removed on March 12th, rumors began appearing on the Internet. One of these rumors had mutinous troops marching on Beijing to overthrow the government. In response, more restrictions were placed on what could be said on the Chinese Internet. But the incident frightened many senior officials. What also frightens officials is how leftist politicians like Bo Xilai stir up enthusiasm for failed communist movements of the past, like the Maoist "social revolution" (which killed over 10 million Chinese and accomplished nothing positive). At the same time, Chinese leaders do not hesitate to say, often and in public, that the biggest danger China faces is corrupt officials.

    Early today nine Somali pirates captured a Chinese cargo ship as it approached an Iranian port on the Indian Ocean. China requested that Iran rescue the ship, and its 28 Chinese sailors, from the pirates. Later that day, two Iranian warships caught up with the much slower Chinese ship and told to the Somalis to surrender or die. The Somalis, knowing how bloody minded the Iranians and Chinese could be, didn't try to use the Chinese crew as hostages, but threw weapons overboard and surrendered. China has been urging other nations participating in the anti-piracy patrol to be more aggressive, and this appears to have played a part in the EU (European Union) recently authorizing its members to have their ships and aircraft attack pirate bases on the Somali coast.

    China openly demanded that Pakistan turn over six members (identified by name) of ETIM (East Turkestan Islamic Movement), an Islamic terror group hostile to China that has long found sanctuary in Pakistan's tribal territories along the Afghan border. Pakistan denies this sanctuary exists despite much evidence to the contrary. Denying it to the Americans is one thing, denying it to the Chinese is another matter. China has pledged to come to Pakistan's aid if there is another war with India. China can withdraw that support if Pakistan continues to refuse to capture and turn over Islamic terrorists threatening China. The main problem here is that going after the ETIM members would spark a fight with the Pushtun tribes, and get a lot of soldiers killed. Pakistan has to decide which outcome is worse.

    April 5, 2012: China admitted that hundreds of its government web sites had recently been hacked by the AnonymousChina group. This was difficult to deny, as the results were obvious to thousands of people who encountered the defaced sites. AnonymousChina claims to have hacked 485 sites belonging to the Chinese government or companies that work closely with the government. In some cases, documents were taken and these soon began to be made public. The attacks began on March 30th.

    Western Internet security researchers continue to release more details about who, and how, Chinese hackers have been plundering foreign government and companies of data and valuable information in general. The victims are believed to be striking back quietly, and taking much data. But there is a lot more valuable stuff to steal in the West than in China. Another worrisome aspect of the Chinese hacking is that it also targets political groups inside and outside of China that the Chinese government opposes. For example, groups supporting Tibetan independence are frequent targets of the Chinese hackers. One side effect of all this Chinese hacking is increased reluctance to allow Chinese investors to buy tech firms in the West. Because of the hacking, and all the lies that accompany it, the Chinese are not trusted.

    April 4, 2012: Taiwan has delayed its plan to shrink the armed forces strength from 275,000 to 210,000 troops and eliminate conscription. Instead of doing this by 2014, it will be completed by 2015. The delay was caused by bureaucratic and political feuding, not by any change of mind. Conscription is unpopular, but it will cost more to go all-volunteer, even with a smaller force.

    April 1, 2012: China put more restrictions on microblogging services (the local equivalent of Twitter, which is banned in China), arrested six bloggers and threatened Internet users with arrest if they "spread rumors" (like the recent ones that the some army units had tried to overthrow the government because of the recent arrest of popular, but corrupt, government official Bo Xilai.) Actually, it's unclear if Bo Xilai himself was corrupt, but members of his family and administration certainly were.

    March 30, 2012: In Tibet, two more Buddhist monks set themselves on fire. This tactic has so far failed to trigger a large scale uprising in Tibet. This is mainly because the Chinese security services have reinforced police and intelligence forces in Tibet and kept one step ahead of any potential uprising. So far, that is.

    March 22, 2012: The government has ordered 3,300 members of the security forces to the capital for retraining and indoctrination. The 3,300 used to work for recently arrested Communist Party official Bo Xilai (who had some radical ideas about restoring communist practices). It turned out that Bo Xilai has a lot of enthusiastic followers in the city of Chongqing (population 28 million), which he had been running for the last five years.

  24. #64
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    http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art...ll-attack-iran

    Why Israel Will Attack Iran

    by Adam Harmon

    Journal Article | April 7, 2012 - 7:36am

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    I’ll save you the suspense. Israel is going to attack Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities.

    Of late, many have been discussing the virtues, challenges, risks, and potential consequences of an Israeli strike on Iran. Depending who you ask, a preemptive attack is an absolute necessity, the lesser of two evils, unwise, or reckless. Unfortunately, no well-informed and intellectually honest individual could say that they know the right course of action. There are rational arguments on all sides of this debate, but I’m not going to discuss why I think Israel should or shouldn’t attack. I’m going to tell you why they will attack. It’s already a done deal.

    First, Israeli leaders believe that a nuclear Iran poses an existential threat to Israel and the Israeli public agrees. 90% think Iran is building nuclear weapons and 43% of the country support a military strike. Israeli leaders genuinely believe that they have a responsibility to keep the Jewish people safe and take a threat of this magnitude very seriously. The phrase “Never Again” isn’t just rhetoric and Israeli leaders aren’t just posturing when they say that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable.

    Second, Israeli leaders know that world powers will not stop Iran. Israeli warnings have been ignored for a decade. The sanctions being imposed now may have had an impact, if they had been instituted ten years ago when Israel first sounded the alarm. For the Israelis, it’s too little too late. By time sanctions take full effect in July, the Iranian nuclear program will be so deep underground that even the world’s most powerful munitions may not be able to reach it. The Israelis know that the US is not going to attack Iran. The US fears an increase in Iranian-sponsored attacks on US forces in the Middle East more than they fear a nuclear armed Iran. Israel knows that it is on its own.

    Third, Israeli citizens are willing and able to face the repercussions of an attack on Iran. The Israeli public has demonstrated tremendous resiliency in the face of daily missile and terror attacks. Even though Israelis rightly expect that thousands of missiles will be launched from Lebanon and Gaza, Hezbollah and Hamas might not attack. Hezbollah and Hamas know they will pay a heavy political price for instigating devastation on Lebanon and Gaza just to please Iran. Both terror organizations have restrained themselves over the last five years because they each lost power and influence after the last time they picked a fight with Israel. They know another attack on Israel will further diminish their power at home. In any event, Israeli leaders aren’t letting concerns about a Hezbollah and Hamas retaliation impact their decision because they know the Israeli public will endure the repercussions of a strike on Iran.

    Fourth, Israelis like proving that every challenge can be overcome. As with Iran today, many experts believed that Israel could not destroy the Iraqi Osirak nuclear plant. It was deemed too far and complicated given the distance and Israel’s resources. Israel gleefully proved them wrong. Syria used one of the world’s most sophisticated anti-aircraft systems to protect its secret nuclear facility. In 2007, Israel essentially found the defense system’s off switch and destroyed the facility in minutes. Iranian facilities are highly distributed and much better protected than anything the Israeli military has encountered before, but Israeli planners will come up with an innovative solution to the problem. They always do. Only time will tell if it works, but Israeli leaders will believe that success is possible and that will give them the confidence needed to authorize IDF commanders to strike.

    Fifth, Israeli security depends on a strong deterrence. Israel makes the price of attacking it so high that its enemies think twice before attacking again. This deterrence is the reason why Arab nations stopped conducting all-out wars with Israel. In 1973, when Israel overcame the surprise attack and decimated the Arab armies, the Arab nations finally understood that attacking Israel was a pointless exercise. This is why Sadat came to Israel and signed a peace agreement. Hamas and Hezbollah have been restraining themselves since their last fight with Israel. A successful attack on Iran – especially if it also includes successful operations against Hezbollah and Hamas – will significantly strengthen Israeli deterrence. Israeli leaders also recognize that they have been talking about the Iranian threat and Israel’s readiness to preemptively strike for years. If Israel does nothing and Iran builds a nuclear weapon, the Israeli military will appear weak. Israeli leaders believe inaction will lead to a surge in attacks from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon and perhaps even Egypt and Jordan.

    Israelis see the Iranian nuclear program as an existential threat, they know that the world community will not stop the Iranians, they believe they have a way to accomplish the mission, they see themselves as being prepared for the backlash, and they think that the price of failing to act is much higher than the price of taking action. For these five reasons, Israel will attack the Iranian nuclear facilities. Given the timelines leaked to the media, it looks like Israel will strike soon - most likely in the next three months.

    Related Content:
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    About the Author
    Adam Harmon

    Adam Harmon has served with Israeli Paratrooper and Special Operations units since 1990. As an expert on the Middle East, Harmon has participated in premiere US military war games, briefed the US defense community on counter-terrorism best practices, and been a guest on dozens of NRP, CNN, and Fox programs – including Larry King and Hannity. He is the author of Lonely Soldier, which details his experiences with the Israeli military between 1990- 2003. His next book, Unstoppable: Making Success Inevitable by Adopting the Core Principles of the IDF, will be published by Penguin.

    To learn more about Adam, visit: www.adamharmon.com or http://www.linkedin.com/in/adamharmon
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    by Outlaw 09 | April 9, 2012 - 1:25am

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    Just a side comment to think about---why is there no discussion about the Israeli nuclear weapons---it seems this conversation is one sided. It seems to be about yes we can have them no you cannot have them--can anyone give me an answer to Why that is?

    Still remember the Israeli attack on a US vessel costing us massive losses in US lives in an incident we the US did not start--you honestly think the State of Israel really cares about US security interests in the ME if they attack Iran?

    Maybe in some aspects this is what the Israeli handliners really want-the simple fact is that Israel would not have to deal with any Arab state for the next 20 years if they attack-with the US having to carry the full load in human/financial costs--it is a valid thought.

    Is it worth it from a US perspective?---some say that if the Israelis had been serious in discussions with the Arab world about issues that do intersect them we might not be at this point.

    Plus another side comment---an attack would really cement the various AQ groups in the ME for years to come.

    The AQ perspective if an attack is carried out--is one that we should give some thought to-as some are indicating that in fact rather than falling apart in some aspects their decentralization is becoming a strong point and they are slowly recovering-IMO
    by Rick | April 8, 2012 - 11:16am

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    Rebonjour ADTS: To be candid, I am not knowledgeable on what book(s) are or are not good choices for open source material on the 1981 Israeli attack on the Osiraq reactor. I suspect “Raid on the Sun” is as good as any.

    Having recently returned from Israel, it isn’t clear to me that Israel will accept Iran's attainment of a deliverable nuclear weapons capability, although just as it did in 1981, the public debate goes on, as it is reported it also is within Bibi's cabinet.

    However, I think it’s fair to say the IAF has developed and exercised plans to attack selected Iranian nuclear facilities, and, although the likelihood of a successful attack ain't great, at some point they’ll have to make a decision whether to take that option, as time will take the option off the table...possible something Bibi may think Obama is stalling him on?

    Have a fine Easter Sunday.
    by ADTS | April 8, 2012 - 9:30am

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    Rick - and actually, more or less anyone else; everyone seems very knowledgeable:

    As long as I'm soliciting information, I regularly receive emails from Tel Aviv University - INSS detailing their research. Are there any other think tanks (in Israel or elsewhere) you'd care to highlight with respect to Osirak-related issues?

    Thanks again,
    ADTS
    by ADTS | April 8, 2012 - 9:20am

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    Rick:

    You seem fairly knowledgeable about the attack on Osirak. I don't think any attack on Iran will resemble the attack on Osirak for a variety of reasons, but obviously there are good reasons to be familiar with what happened. I own Claire, "Raid on the Sun," and have pieces by CFR (Simon) and CSIS (Cordesman and Toukan) and in IS (Rass and Long) that reference the attack. Any other reading you recommend?

    Thanks
    ADTS
    by Rick | April 8, 2012 - 7:02am

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    Entropy - The attack on the Osiraq reactor during the First Gulf War by Iran was only carried out by two of aircraft diverted for that purpose...it was only handy and more likely meant to slow Iraq down.

    Although at the time, there was no open source reporting that Israel was contemplating an attack themselves, they had been in intense international diplomatic negotiations over Iraq's nuclear program, to no avail. Just as they view the situation today.

    Finally, as to how difficult attacking a known fixed intallation was or is, isn't the point. It was logistics: Israel had to detach fuel tanks from the aircraft to facilitate carrying the ordnance load needed, while also coming-up with the escort aircraft...the mission was scrubbed once that we know of prior to Operation Opera's final success.

    Interestingly, the attack had consequences, in that countries saw they would have to harden and disperse sites in the future, which is what now adds to the complication of deciding what fixed installions are most important, since Israel can only launch one strike, with little margin for error...although their wild card may be their most capable submarine fleet.

    Israel understands their time factor for any attack is wanning, as Iran further hardens its most important sites, putting them out of Israel's capability. Israel further understands the Obama Administration would rather they hold-off before the November election, since the likely resultant soaring oil prices wouldn't be helpful for Obama's re-election campaign...but the weather now lends itself to an attack, and I'm not sure Bibi really trusts Obama, who may view the situation as one of containment, a luxury Israel doesn't have.
    by Entropy | April 8, 2012 - 11:01am

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    Rick,

    Actually, the important difference is the path to a nuclear weapon - either uranium or plutonium. A plutonium-based program is more vulnerable to attack since it requires a reactor which is difficult to hide, easily attacked, and is the sole source for fissile material. The attack on Syria's al kibar reactor, for example, effectively ended Syrian ambitions. No reactor, no fissile material, no bomb.

    Uranium is much more difficult, especially when enriched with centrifuges. Production of fissile material does not have to be concentrated in one easily-attacked location. Energy requirements are modest and cascades are relatively small and easy to hide. If you bomb a state's existing centrifuge facilities (ie. Natanz and Fordo), then the state can build more centrifuges and setup additional cascades in other locations. Unless one can effectively destroy existing centrifuges and the state's capacity to make more, then bombing a uranium-based program can only delay the inevitable. Is that within Israel's capabilities? In my judgment, no. The time factor for an Israeli attack isn't waning - it passed long ago. Iran's capabilities are, in all likelihood, already dispersed.
    by Entropy | April 7, 2012 - 1:52pm

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    Tagging onto Mark Pyruz's comment, I think the author glosses over the difficulty of actually achieving success in a strike.

    Osirak and al Kibar were easy because they were one target, requiring a handful of aircraft at a relatively close range. The Iranian program is much more dispersed and distant which is a huge complication for planners, but that isn't the main problem with an attack. The main problem is that Israel can only damage Iran's program, not destroy it. Iran knows how to build uranium centrifuges and that technology is easily hidden. Iran can build more centrifuges and they certainly would if attacked. So, in the best-case scenario, a tactically successful strike would only delay Iranian capabilities. What will Israel do in a few years when the program is reconstituted, better protected and hidden?

    There are other problems with this essay. This is simply wrong:

    As with Iran today, many experts believed that Israel could not destroy the Iraqi Osirak nuclear plant. It was deemed too far and complicated given the distance and Israel’s resources. Israel gleefully proved them wrong.

    That's just not true. Israel, ironically, gave Iran intelligence and Iran bombed the reactor but failed. And complicated? An airstrike against a large, fixed facility is about as uncomplicated as one could ask for.

    Secondly, an airstrike against Osirak wasn't publicly discussed at all - I just went back and look at the press reporting two years prior to the attack and a strike wasn't even hinted at. So who, exactly, are these "many experts" that declared a strike beyond Israeli capabilities?

    Israeli silence was an advantage - it was thanks to such secrecy that Israel achieved not only tactical surprise, but strategic surprise as well. With Iran, Israel will achieve no strategic surprise and all of Israel's talk has made tactical surprise more difficult. If planners really had an "innovative" solution to the tactical problem then it wouldn't have given away strategic surprise and spent the last couple of years very loudly and obviously trying to get the US to do the strike for them. If there was an "innovative" solution the Israelis would have remained silent and we'd wake up one morning to news reports about it. If you have an "innovative" solution to a difficult tactical problem you don't screw yourself my announcing your intentions to the world. Iran isn't dumb - they surely have taken steps to insure the continuity of their program in the event of an attack.

    A successful attack on Iran – especially if it also includes successful operations against Hezbollah and Hamas – will significantly strengthen Israeli deterrence.

    And what about an unsuccessful attack on Iran? What will that do for Israeli deterrence? Israeli talk about an attack have done two things: 1) They've decreased the chances of a successful attack at both the tactical and strategic level and 2) They've put Israel in a position where it looks weak if it does nothing. Israel has already weakened its deterrence and put itself in a position where it will look weaker.

    Ultimately this situation exposes the strategic bankruptcy of Israeli doctrine. It's not 1973 anymore and Israel cannot continually attempt to destroy enemy capabilities or inflict pain through military action in order to achieve what Israel calls "deterrence," which is, in reality, just kicking the can down the road. Mr. Harmon mentions Hezbollah and Hamas, two groups that, ironically, owe their existence to previous Israel attempts to establish deterrence. A strategy that temporarily weakens enemies only to create new ones or make existing enemies stronger in the long term is not a strategy for a safe and secure Israel.
    by Rick | April 8, 2012 - 11:42am

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    Salute Entropy: I must admit all I know about nuclear material is that I had a lensatic compass once that had some in it, making it glow, and will concede the technical to you. However, Israel also understands what you’ve stated, and further, that they only have a one strike capability. . .a limited one at that, even including submarine launched missiles, but may be willing to settle on only setting Iran’s program back temporarily until another solution is found.

    Although I am not advocating for an Israeli pre-emptive strike on Iran, as I think in the end a good risk analysis would show nothing good will come of it for anyone. Israel often looks at issues within the context of the Holocaust experience, and may view Iran’s possible acquisition of a deliverable nuclear weapons stockpile as unacceptable, and take a risk for a short term gain?

    Keep in mind, in 1981, Israel took everyone by surprise and there may be a lesson here: as long as the Israelis are talking, nothing will happen. It may be that when the rhetoric ceases, an operation is being executed. . .maybe it already has, but was scrubbed?
    by ADTS | April 7, 2012 - 1:32pm

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    I recently remarked on Peter Munson's blog that the recent SWJ article advocating civilian graduate business school (e.g., Harvard Business School) for developing disruptive thinkers in the military was a bit rah-rah, with respect to its admiration for capitalism. And I recently remarked, in response to the SWJ article putting forth reading selections by which to understand the Arab Spring, that I have perhaps been ornery and cantankerous on SWJ of late.

    Well, this article is more rah-rah by at least an order of magnitude, if no more, except this time with respect to the qualities possessed by some nominal archetypal Israel, and hence I will not cease being ornery and cantankerous.

    I would simply note three problems with respect this article.

    First, Israelis society strikes me as fairly fractious - Sabras versus newcomers, Sephardim versus Ashkenazim, religious versus secular, to name just a few divides, in addition (perhaps) to socioeconomic divisions resulting from Israel's relatively recent turn away from its socialist origins and turn toward free market capitalism. Yet this author's article has no problem positing some ideal-type Israeli. Moreover, this ideal-type Israeli miraculously possesses a great abundance of admirable traits - up for a challenge, etc. This caricature simply does not square with reality, and acknowledgment of complexity and diversity is warranted.

    Second, this article exhibits glaring omniscience when I think cautious concessions as to imperfect information would be more justifiable. The author professes to know how Israel's adversaries perceive Israel and Israeli policies (e.g., deterrence). Yet misperceptions regarding Israeli policy do not necessarily appear any less likely than in any other domain. I personally have been quite taken by Nasrallah's comment that he did not anticipate the reaction that would ensue after Hezbollah kidnapped Israeli soldiers, initiating the 2006 War. What other misperceptions, miscalculations and misunderstandings currently exist or may evolve?

    Third, one should seek to understand the relationship of mass opinion to elite decision-making. Yet here there is a striking congruence between mass preferences and ultimate outcomes. It does not seem inconceivable to me that there are divides between "the public" and "decisonmakers" (to say nothing of divisions between decisonmakers - for example, not all former IDF commanders think alike or, indeed, get along; Ehud Barak and Gabi Ashkhenazi* do not like each other, nor, it seems, do Ehud Barak and Meir Dagan* seem necessarily to be of the same mind regarding Iran and the bomb). Modesty when engaging in the Israeli equivalent of Kremlinology is called for, and for purposes of clarity of analysis, one should be explicit about the constructs one possesses and is utilizing when pursuing that exercise. Precisely who needs to think or do what for Israel to pursue a strike or set of strikes or wage an air campaign against Iran's WMD programs (and/or, say, to facilitate such a raid, attempts to destroy Iran's integrated air defense system)?

    *These are purely illustrative examples; I recognize that Ashkenazi is, with respect to this decision, "out of the loop," and Dagan seems possibly to be attempting some form of complex end-around, utilizing his status and position to influence mass opinion, as well as perhaps American elites, in order to ultimate realize a second-order effect of influencing Israeli elite decision-making.

    ADTS
    by AmericanPride | April 7, 2012 - 12:56pm

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    First, if the Israeli public is "willing and able" to endure an Iranian retaliation, then the Israeli government is failing to properly inform the public of Iran's capabilities and Israel's ability to defeat them. The selected media coverage of the Iron Dome's success in the last year helps inflate a false confidence in Israel's defensive capabilities; a similar one shared by the American military leadership about their own ability to intercept Iraq's Scuds with Patriot batteries. We haven't seen Arrow in use yet -- is the Israeli government willing to put this system to the test by betting the lives of their own people?

    Second, Israeli security is not guaranteed by its deterrence capabilities. Israeli deterrence has failed at every opportunity in which Arabs and Palestinians perceive an advantage in actually attacking Israel. Arab countries have stopped attacking Israel because the old coalition that enabled those attacks no longer exist as a result of shifting global and regional political alliances. Having to repeatedly demonstrate Israeli military superiority through military operations only demonstrates that no deterrence credibility really exists.
    by Mark Pyruz | April 7, 2012 - 10:53am

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    At first glance, I was full of hope this piece would provide a perspective on the details of an IDF/AF attack on Iran, particularly when the author states "I’m not going to discuss why I think Israel should or shouldn’t attack."

    But then what follows is simply a list of exactly that: why he thinks Israeli leaders think Isreal should attack Iran. The actual mechanics of the attack are not mentioned, nor the latest public poll result showing a majority of Israelis against an attack.

    There's plenty of whoppers in this piece, as well, such as "Israeli planners will come up with an innovative solution to the problem. They always do." Where was the innovative solution to the Lebanese rocket artiller campaign during the 33-Day War? There wasn't one, and the Israelis were forced to accept a ceasefire and withdraw.

    And then there's the myth of Osirak, which wasn't part of an actual progressing nuclear weapon program when it was bombed, but the attack prompted an Iraqi nuclear weapon program in earnest, thereafter.

    So we're still looking for an Israeli advocate piece that puts forward a realistic assessment on the actual mechanics of an IDF/AF strike against Iran.

    BTW: Uzi Rubin, Israel's missile expert has recently put forward a very sober minded assessment on Iranian SSM capabilities and the limitations of Israeli ABM systems. And former IDF/AF Commander Dan Halutz has publicly stated his opposition to an Israeli strike. These two individuals expertise lay within the realms of a potential Israeli strike, where Harmon's does not.
    by Rex84 | April 7, 2012 - 10:04am

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    Maybe at some point, but I doubt there will be a strike before the US November elections.

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    http://thewasat.wordpress.com/2012/0...flies-in-mali/

    Sourced from Insurgent Media: Part 5
    The Black Flag Flies in Mali

    April 6, 2012 by Andrew Lebovich 5 Comments

    Less than two weeks after a group of Malian junior officers led a coup against the government of president Amadou Toumani Touré, Mali’s war in the north has fallen apart. In a three-day period that ended Monday, Tuareg rebels had seized the three major northern towns of Kidal, Gao, and Timbuktu, victories unparalleled in the past.

    On Thursday, a spokesman for the Malian Tuareg rebel group the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad (known by its French acronym the MNLA) said that the group’s fighters had arrived “at the frontier of the Azawad” – a mostly scrub and desert territory the size of France that comprises a diverse ethnic population – and declared a halt to military operations. Later the same day, the group declared the unilateral independence of the region. In a dizzying flourish of events, the war that Tuareg rebels had fought since January 17, the fourth in a series of rebellions that began in 1963, appeared at first blush to be over. Instead, the real fight over the Azawad may have just begun.

    The rush to capitalize on the dissolution of Mali’s army in the north has brought to the fore deep conflicts between the MNLA and the salafist-inspired Ansar Al-Din, and brought two terrorist groups who call northern Mali home – Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and its “splinter” group the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA) out of the woodwork.

    The scant reporting and witness statements emerging from the north paint a confusing and complex picture of events there, one complicated by conflicting agendas and a sheer lack of information, credible or not. But with some reports depicting scenes of destruction, looting, and even rape in Gao and Timbuktu, the imposition of harsh tenets of sharia law in Kidal and Timbuktu, and a possible struggle for control in all three cities, events in northern Mali appear more than ever to be shrouded, to appropriate a phrase used by Tuareg expert Baz Lecocq, in a “haze of dust.”

    Known unknowns

    As Lecocq astutely pointed out when writing this week about the situation in the north, much of what we see now is based heavily on slim reporting, nearly impossible to confirm witness statements, and assumptions. But with those caveats aside, it is possible to trace at least the broad outlines of how we have arrived at this conflicted point, and where things may go from here.

    According to a pro-MNLA writer Andy Morgan, at a meeting in October 2011 in the desert oasis of Zakak, a group of Tuareg leaders met to decide their future course of action in Mali. Comprised of local notables, past rebels, and commanders and fighters recently returned from Libya, this group would soon be known publicly as the MNLA. But at the meeting, Iyad Ag Ghali – the leader of Tuareg rebellions in the 90’s, and later a Malian diplomat in Saudi Arabia and interlocutor in hostage negotiations with AQIM – purportedly presented himself to be head of the MNLA.

    Iyad lost that attempt, as Bilal Ag Cherif was appointed the Secretary General of the MNLA. He also reportedly lost a subsequent attempt to lead the Ifoghas tribe, towhich he belongs. Alghabass Ag Intallah, the middle son of the current amenokal, or leader, of the Ifoghas was appointed the tribe’s “chief executive.” It should be noted that Morgan appears to be the sole available source for these particular claims, and the full story is likely far more complicated.

    Once known for his love of wine, women and song, Iyad, who grew more religious over the years, went into seclusion after these defeats. In December news leaked that Iyad had created a new Salafist Tuareg group – Ansar Al-Din. Yet little was known or heard from or of Iyad until after the violence broke out in January. Following a siege of the military base at Aguelhoc at the end of January, photos and reports out of the city spoke of “summary executions” of nearly 100 Malian soldiers at Aguelhoc, and France and the Malian government suggested that extremist elements ranging from Iyad’s group to AQIM may have been involved.

    Although rumors abounded about the presence of Iyad’s fighters and even those belonging to his cousin, AQIM sub-commander Hamada Ag Hama (Abdelkrim el-Targui), there was little hard proof of Iyad’s role in the north throughout February and early March, even as the MNLA advanced rapidly, picking off border towns with Algeria and Mauritania and harassing towns south of Timbuktu. The MNLA acknowledged quietly that Ansar Al-Din had fought with them at Aguelhoc and elsewhere, but categorically denied links to AQIM, even suggesting that Iyad had helped bring a number of Tuareg AQIM fighters back into the fold and away from jihadist militancy.

    It was not until the strategic town of Tessalit was seized March 11 that cracks began to show. Soon after the MNLA claimed victory at Tessalit, Ansar Al-Din made its media debut on YouTube. The group’s 12-minute video showed images of Iyad leading his men at prayer juxtaposed with images of fighting at Aguelhoc and a message from another historical rebel figure, Cheikh Ag Aoussa, calling for the implementation of sharia not in an independent Azawad, but throughout Mali. A week later the group is said to have released a statement to journalists calling for the implementation of sharia in Mali by “armed combat” if necessary – far from the MNLA’s message of a secular, democratic Azawad. The move prompted the MNLA to distance itself from and then denounce Ansar Al-Din. Tension mounted as the latter claimed responsibility for a series of key victories in the north, which the MNLA and pro-MNLA sources denied vigorously.

    Yet it appears that this outward animosity did not stop elements or commanders from these groups from working together, at least in some capacity. As Mali’s army dissolved from within following the March 22 coup d’état, MNLA and Ansar Al-Din forces surrounded Kidal, reportedly pushing into the city from opposite sides after negotiations for its surrender failed. Just a day later the key southern city of Gao fell with hardly a fight, again with reports that a group of fighters entered and seized parts of the city – the MNLA, Ansar Al-Din, and even the AQIM dissident group MUJWA, which according to some reports seized one of Gao’s two military camps, as the MNLA seized the other.

    Just a day later Timbuktu, the last military bastion in the north, fell without a fight. While the MNLA had negotiated a peaceful transition with the local Bérabiche (Arab) militia protecting the town, Iyad soon swooped in, reportedly pushing MNLA forces to Timbuktu’s airport, and announcing first to the city’s religious and political leaders – and then on Wednesday, its people – his intention to implement sharia and fight those who oppose it.

    Worse still are the reports that Iyad was acoompanied by several very important AQIM commanders: Mokhtar Belmokhtar, Abou Zeid, Yahya Abou al-Hammam, and close Belmokhtar aide Oumar Ould Amaha (spelled Oumar Ould Hama in some reports).

    While the MNLA has forcefully denied being expelled from Timbuktu, Iyad’s statements and a number of eyewitness reports appear to confirm his takeover of the city and efforts to enforce the veiling of women, shutter shops and hotels selling alcohol, and even exact harsh punishment on looters and “vandals”. He is also said to have lowered and burned the MNLA’s flag, replacing it with a black “Islamist” flag.

    Emerging from the shadows

    One of the more startling elements of the reports out of Timbuktu is the aggressive emergence of AQIM on the scene. While AQIM and its predecessor groups, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) and the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) have long operated in the Sahara, and have attacked regional armed forces and other targets in Mauritania, Mali, and Algeria, AQIM is known much more for smuggling (drugs, cigarettes, weapons, and more) and the kidnapping of Westerners across the region, operations that may have netted the group tens of millions of dollars.

    If true, reports of AQIM leaders appearing so openly in public – let alone this many of them, together – would be unprecedented. Yet it is extremely difficult even to assess these claims. While various accounts cite Timbuktu residents and participants at the Monday meeting identifying the AQIM leaders by sight, eyewitness accounts are notoriously unreliable. Moreover, it would be an extraordinary circumstance for so many key leaders to be in the same place, even if only for a short time. This is especially true given the reputed rivalry between Abou Zeid and Belmokhtar, though I have cast doubt on the extent of their supposed divisions in the past.

    Nonetheless, it seems apparent that there is at the moment a sizeable AQIM presence in the city, operating openly alongside Ansar Al-Din and possibly searching for Westerners. Additionally, it makes at least anecdotal sense that AQIM would be both present in the city and useful in supporting Ansar Al-Din.

    As I previously mentioned, many analysts believe blood ties exist between Iyad and the AQIM subcommander Abdelkrim el-Targui, who analysts believe is close to Abou Zeid and organized the kidnapping of two French men in the Malian town of Hombori last November. And the two groups share a broad worldview about the implementation of sharia and pursuit of jihad, though significantly less is known about Ansar Al-Din’s core ideology, having only given a small number of public statements.

    More apparent, though, is the clear benefit AQIM brings Ansar Al-Din. On the one hand, AQIM can provide dedicated, hardened fighters, a significant factor if estimates that Ansar recently only possessed a few hundred men are correct. More importantly, AQIM may offer Ansar a bridge allowing the group to operate in Timbuktu; both Belmokhtar and al-Hammam have operated for several years in and around Timbuktu, and in particular to the north of the city. Just last month, Mauritanian aircraft struck a convoy they thought included al-Hammam less than 100 km north of the city. And Belmokhtar has, according to most accounts, married a Berabiche woman from a prominent family in or near Timbuktu. Given that Berabiche Arabs are predominant in the city, these longstanding transactional and personal ties – not to mention fear of the organization – could help the primarily Tuareg Ansar Al-Din avoid conflict and exert its influence in the city. It is too early to tell, however, if the tenuous calm in Timbuktu will hold for long.

    Less easy to decipher are the gains to be reaped by AQIM or MUJWA from this arrangement. Reporting on the group since the Tuareg uprising has been scarce, though various unconfirmed reports placed Belmokhtar in Libya while others were believed to have fled into southern Algeria, perhaps to pursue business opportunities or simply wait until the instability settled and a clear winner emerged in the north.

    The return of AQIM to the battlefield would indicate that they believe that a winner has emerged – though it is difficult to say if AQIM seeks a greater safe haven in which to operate, tighter control over smuggling routes in northern Mali, or simply the chance to spread its own version of Islamic practice. Still, this kind of active and open AQIM presence marks a serious break with past practice, and could herald a shift in AQIM’s behavior, goals, and operations.

    This leaves us with MUJWA. The group announced that it had splintered from AQIM in December 2011, criticizing its predecessor organization’s lack of dedication to jihad and promising to spread its operations into West Africa. Interestingly, though, its only known leadership are from Mauritania and Mali, and the group’s only two operations before last week were in Algeria (the October 20 kidnapping of three aid workers from the Polisario-run Rabouni camp) and against an Algerian target (the suicide bombing of the gendarmerie headquarters in Tamanrasset).

    The group’s self-proclaimed heavy involvement in the attack on Gao, like with AQIM in Timbuktu, represents a surprisingly overt involvement in the Mali conflict. Unlike AQIM, however, MUJWA has gone out of its way to show off its presence, even appearing before an Al Jazeera camera team in Gao.

    We know significantly less about MUJWA, making it harder to discern their motives for playing such a purportedly important role in Gao. It is worth pointing out, however, that one of the group’s leaders, Sultan Ould Badi, is believed to be from north of Gao, which could again be a sign of MUJWA operating, like AQIM, where they have more local support or ties.

    And we may get a better sense of MUJWA’s trajectory if allegations that the group was behind the ransacking of Algeria’s consulate in Gao, as well as the abduction of seven Algerian diplomats. Al Jazeera released a video Friday purporting to show MUJWA fighters taking the consul away, as well as shots of the group’s black flag flying over the consulate. This attack shows an unusual focus on Algeria for a group nominally committed to propagating jihad in West Africa, and might indicate that MUJWA remains close in important ways to AQIM.

    Iyad and the MNLA

    While the rapid expansion of Ansar Al-Din and other jihadist elements is a major concern to Western countries with a stake in the stability of the Sahel, they pose the most immediate threat to the MNLA’s efforts to secure an independent state in the Azawad.

    Ansar’s growing public presence last month caused some to begin to doubt the control the organization said it possessed in the north, especially after a Red Cross convoy invited to Tessalit by the MNLA was turned back by armed men, widely believed to be Ansar Al-Din fighters. The MNLA’s failure to secure Kidal and Gao and the embarrassing loss of Timbuktu only reinforced for many this sense that the MNLA had perhaps exaggerated its fighting strength or leadership in the rebellion.

    This fracturing of the Tuareg rebel movement has a few potential explanations. The first is simply that expert estimates of the size of the MNLA fighting force (perhaps as many as 3,000 men, according to Tuareg expert Pierre Boilley) were not accurate. The balance of forces also could have been impacted by the fact that Ansar Al-Din fighters have concentrated their forces on individual battles in Tessalit, Kidal, Gao, and now Timbuku, while MNLA fighters have ranged across northern Mali, from Ménaka in the east to Léré in the west, and from Tessalit in the north to Youwaru in the south.

    Another possibility is that the MNLA, despite having a clear structure on paper and an impressive media organization centered primarily (but not exclusively) around Francophone Europe-based diaspora intellectuals, is not a truly coherent fighting organization on the ground. Unfortunately, there is not enough reporting to confirm or deny this theory, though it is telling that the MNLA has sought the help of Ansar Al-Din when engaging in most of its major battles or sieges since January. And in the face of clear affronts, the MNLA has thus far staunchly avoided any action that would lead to violence with Iyad.

    In part, this is because taking on Iyad directly poses several potential problems for the MNLA. Setting aside questions about the relative strength of both groups (which we can’t answer at this time) attacking Iyad directly could further erode the MNLA’s cohesion. Despite having compromised with the Malian government after the 1990’s rebellions, Iyad remains an influential figure, owing both to his reputation as a former rebel leader and his position within the Ifoghas, the minority tribe that has nonetheless held sway in Kidal for several centuries (a fact aided by colonial France’s decision to maintain and entrench Ifoghas dominance). While the MNLA and its base of support is not just Ifoghas-based, an attack on such a prominent figure could undercut Ifoghas support.

    However, I think the theses that privilege the MNLA’s apparent weaknesses ignore important mitigating factors that could help explain the group’s behavior.

    For one thing, it is possible that the MNLA decided that it was better to finish its project of securing the borders of its new state, as it announced Thursday, before moving to solidify its internal position. While this is a risky proposition given the rapid and very public steps Iyad and his allies have taken, it may not be an entirely bad strategy; French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé on Thursday made a clear distinction between the MNLA and its erstwhile allies, calling for talks between Mali’s neighbors and Tuareg rebels combined with efforts to combat terrorism in Mali’s north. Reading between the lines, his remarks hold out the prospect of some sort of international recognition for the MNLA’s cause, especially when seen in the context of past vows by MNLA leaders to deal with AQIM if given an independent state.

    Additionally, despite some very visible setbacks, the MNLA hasn’t actually left the field. Radio France Internationale reports, for instance, that the MNLA is quietly trying to restore order in Gao, and meeting with traditional and religious leaders in the city. And despite being pushed out of central Timbuktu, the group still holds the airport, and is, according to some (admittedly pro-MNLA) reports, encircling the city. They have also entered Timbuktu since Ag Ghali’s takeover to spirit three Western expatriates to safety in Mauritania.

    Time is running out

    The situation in northern Mali remains fluid, and the MNLA may not have time for complicated machinations. Until today it had seemed increasingly possible that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) would send a peacekeeping detachment to Mali, though the contours and rules around an eventual deployment were never clear. Reports indicate that ECOWAS and the Malian junta reached a deal for Captain Amadou Sanogo to step aside in favor of an interim transitional government to be led by parliamentary speaker Diouncounda Traore. In return, ECOWAS will remove travel and trade sanctions put in place following the coup.

    Regardless of what’s going on in the south, though, the north will likely remain unstable, and the MNLA must move quickly to reassert its position in northern Mali. If not, it may find itself shut out of the major power centers in the newly “liberated” Azawad, left to contend with an increasingly assertive and entrenched “desert fox.”
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    5 Responses to The Black Flag Flies in Mali

    Ron Broxted (@BroxtedMax) says:
    April 7, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    The west (i.e America) fears Islamic fundamentalists will get a hold in the Sahel.
    Reply

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    Maduka says:
    April 8, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    West Africa’s problem isn’t Al Qaeda or even Islamic fundamentalism. A combination of massive youth unemployment, badly drawn colonial boundaries, decades-old grievances, poverty and inter-ethnic rivalry is the root cause of all we see today.

    To focus obsessively on Al Qaeda is extremely counter-productive, there are tens of millions of easily impressionable young men there, you can’t stop it from forming. We should focus more on conflict resolution, political rehabilitation and economic rejuvenation.

  26. #66
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    ETA: Note, this article was written prior to the foreign media tour today hence the lack of info regarding the full assembly of the "launch vehicle" at the pad...Housecarl

    ETA2: NK-Long Range Rocket in Position on launch pad
    Started by ejagno‎, Today 12:05 AM
    http://www.timebomb2000.com/vb/showt...-on-launch-pad

    For links see article source.....
    Posted for fair use......
    http://defense-update.com/20120408_n...et_launch.html

    US And Pacific Allies Prepare For North Korean Rocket Launch
    Richard_Dudley April 8, 2012 04:01 0 comments

    April 7, 2012: Unha-3 satellite launcher positioned on the launch pad at Tongchang ri, west of Pyong Yang, on the western coast of North Korea. Photo: Imagesat International



    In response to North Korea’s recent preparations to launch a satellite into orbit, the Japanese government deployed three Aegis-armed destroyers and Patriot missile batteries as a defensive measure to protect Japanese property and lives.

    The North Korean regime claims that the satellite launch, scheduled for some time between 12 and 16 April, is a major display to highlight the nation’s strength and technological advances in celebration of the centennial observance of Kim Il Sung’s, birthday on 15 April. Kim Il Sung is revered as the nation’s founder and the 100th anniversary of his birth is cause for nationwide celebrations and demonstrations of the North’s “coming of age” as a nation of international influence and importance.

    North Korea’s state-controlled media has announced that this launch is designed to place an “Earth observation” satellite, the Kwangmyongsong-3, into a polar orbit to study weather patterns, agricultural conditions, and to locate promising natural resources. This satellite is expected to relay “remote data in the UHF band and video in the X-band.” The Unha-3 launch vehicle is aimed to fly a trajectory directly south of the launch site in the interest of protecting property and lives in neighboring nations, according to the North’s media announcements.

    The North says that the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite is fitted with enhanced video equipment designed to transmit video images and related data to the General Satellite Control and Command Center. The satellite is believed to weigh approximately 100 kilograms and will reportedly fly a solar-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 500 kilometers. The satellite is reported to have an expected operational lifespan of two years.

    The North Korean rocket is expected to pass over or near the Sakishima Islands forming the southernmost portion of Okinawa Prefecture. The North’s state-sponsored media has reported that the rocket’s first stage is expected to come down in the waters somewhat west of South Korea. The second stage is expected to overfly open airspace near the Japanese Ishigaki and Sakishima islands eventually falling into open waters to the east of Luzon Island in the Philippines.

    The three deployed Japanese destroyers are equipped with RIM-161 Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) interceptors, a short- to intermediate range missile that is part of the Aegis Ballistic Missile System. This missile was used successfully in 2008 by the US Navy to shoot down a crippled American satellite at an altitude of 133 nautical miles (247 kilometers) above the Pacific Ocean. One shot, one missile, one kill.

    Japan's missile defense assets deployed to Intercept the North Korean missile on its ascent trajectory. Illustration: Daily Yomiuri
    Japan has also deployed Patriot PAC-3 missile batteries to the islands of Ishigaki and Miyako and the principal island of Okinawa as a second line of defense. The government also deployed Patriot batteries in the vicinity of the Ministry of Defense’s Tokyo headquarters.Should the order be issued to shoot down the North Korean rocket, the SM-3 shipboard interceptors, as the first line of defense, will aim to bring down the rocket while it is above the Earth’s atmosphere. Should the SM-3 shipboard missiles miss the target, the PAC-3 missile batteries will attempt to shoot down the rocket, or any remnants of the rocket, as it reenters the atmosphere.

    Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) has also been ordered to ready F-15s to provide air cover for the Aegis destroyers.

    South Korea has also issued a public warning that the South stands ready to destroy the North Korean rocket should it violate South Korean airspace. South Korean sources have confirmed that two destroyers have been deployed to the West Sea to track the rocket’s trajectory. ROKS Sejong the Great (DDG-991), a 7,600-ton Aegis-armed destroyer, is one of the ships deployed.

    A spokesperson for the South’s Ministry of National Defense confirmed that the Ministry is prepared to track the rocket and shoot it down if it appears to represent a threat to life or property. The deployed destroyers will be ordered to fire their Standard Missile-2 (SM-2) missiles to bring the rocket down if it fails to follow the planned trajectory or fails to function properly.

    South Korea also announced that Patriot PAC-2 missile batteries have been deployed as a second line of defense, the PAC-2s were acquired secondhand from Germany in 2007 and have been integrated with an Israeli Super Green Pine early warning radar system.

    The North’s new Sohae launch site at Tongchang-ri on the northwestern seacoast presents a new challenge to the South’s missile defense array as the new site can be placed into operable condition much more quickly than the older launch site. Also, the angle of trajectory from this new site increases the level of difficulty for seaborne missile systems to acquire, target, and hit a rocket launched from this location.

    Despite the US Navy’s 2008 success in shooting down a rogue US rocket, some doubt exists regarding the ability of Japanese and South Korean forces to bring down the North’s Unha-3 launch vehicle. Very little is known about the Unha-3, but it is believed to be an advanced version of the Unha-2 with a length of approximately 35 meters and a projected range estimated to be anywhere between 5,000 and 9,000 kilometers. A scarcity of verifiable data makes it impossible to do any more than estimate the rocket’s capabilities on the basis of data gleaned from previous rocket launches.

    Newly released satellite imagery indicates that North Korea has moved the first stage of the Unha-3 rocket to the Sohae launch site. Although not visible in the satellite photos, the Associated Press is reporting that an analysis provided by the US/Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies indicates that the first stage of the Unha-3 may already be in place within a gantry on the launch platform. The support gantry on the platform is a closed structure and is likely obscuring a clear view of the rocket.

    Analysts with the Institute also believe that fueling activities have been completed. Satellite images seem to indicate that the empty fuel and oxidizer tanks have been removed and the area around the launch pad has been cleared of loose objects and mobile equipment. The road leading to the launch site is now blocked by a newly erected barricade and it appears that a heightened level of security has been instituted.

    With evidence that the Unha-3 rocket is nearing completion for launch, the US Department of Defense activated the nation’s global missile shield. This action accelerates electronic monitoring, authorizes the deployment of Aegis-equipped interceptor ships, and raises the level of radar tracking activities in the Pacific region. Three US interceptor ships deployed near Japan and the Philippines have been alerted as well as land-based missile batteries in the zone of greatest perceived danger. These assets, according to unnamed sources, will be given the order to bring down the North Korean rocket should it deviate from its announced path of trajectory or should sensors indicate the rocket represents a danger to life or property.
    Based on the content of this article, you might be interested in the following posts:


    Japan Orders Shoot Down of North Korean Rocket “If Necessary”Japan Orders Shoot Down of North Korean Rocket “If Necessary”
    North Korea Positions Rocket For Launch, Threatens Retaliation For InterferenceNorth Korea Positions Rocket For Launch, Threatens Retaliation For Interference
    North Korea Announces Plan To Launch Long-Range RocketNorth Korea Announces Plan To Launch Long-Range Rocket
    EROS B Satellite Unveils North Korean Preparations for Missile Launch at Tongchang-DongEROS B Satellite Unveils North Korean Preparations for Missile Launch at Tongchang-Dong
    North Korean 'smoking gun' spotted: Rocket Launchers in Positions aimed at South Korean Yeonpyeong islandNorth Korean 'smoking gun' spotted: Rocket Launchers in Positions aimed at South Korean Yeonpyeong island
    Last edited by Housecarl; 04-09-2012 at 02:30 AM.

  27. #67
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    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/04/09...#ixzz1rXCPYRW4

    US Navy deploys 2nd aircraft carrier to Gulf amid Iran nuke tensions

    Published April 09, 2012

    AP

    March 8, 2012: In this photo, Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Joseph, carries his daughter Maleah, 1, to his re-enlistment ceremony aboard the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise at the Norfolk Naval Station in Norfolk, Va.

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The U.S. Navy says it has deployed a second aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf amid rising tensions with Iran over its nuclear program.

    Cmdr. Amy Derrick-Frost of the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet said on Monday that the deployment of the nuclear-powered USS Enterprise along the Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group marks only the fourth time in the past decade that the Navy has had two aircraft carriers operating at the same time in the region.

    Derrick-Frost says the two carriers will support the American military operations in Afghanistan and anti-piracy efforts off Somalia's coast and in the Gulf of Aden.

    The battleships will also patrol the Gulf's strategic oil routes that Iran has threatened to shut down in retaliation for economic sanctions


    I was under the impression that we already had multiple carriers in the Gulf. This story surprised me.
    In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people. Source – The Declaration of Independence

  28. #68
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    Could the NorKs missile hurt the US? If so, how?

    Quote Originally Posted by Housecarl View Post
    ETA: Note, this article was written prior to the foreign media tour today hence the lack of info regarding the full assembly of the "launch vehicle" at the pad...Housecarl

    ETA2: NK-Long Range Rocket in Position on launch pad
    Started by ejagno‎, Today 12:05 AM
    http://www.timebomb2000.com/vb/showt...-on-launch-pad

    For links see article source.....
    Posted for fair use......
    http://defense-update.com/20120408_n...et_launch.html

    US And Pacific Allies Prepare For North Korean Rocket Launch
    Richard_Dudley April 8, 2012 04:01 0 comments

    April 7, 2012: Unha-3 satellite launcher positioned on the launch pad at Tongchang ri, west of Pyong Yang, on the western coast of North Korea. Photo: Imagesat International



    In response to North Korea’s recent preparations to launch a satellite into orbit, the Japanese government deployed three Aegis-armed destroyers and Patriot missile batteries as a defensive measure to protect Japanese property and lives.

    The North Korean regime claims that the satellite launch, scheduled for some time between 12 and 16 April, is a major display to highlight the nation’s strength and technological advances in celebration of the centennial observance of Kim Il Sung’s, birthday on 15 April. Kim Il Sung is revered as the nation’s founder and the 100th anniversary of his birth is cause for nationwide celebrations and demonstrations of the North’s “coming of age” as a nation of international influence and importance.

    North Korea’s state-controlled media has announced that this launch is designed to place an “Earth observation” satellite, the Kwangmyongsong-3, into a polar orbit to study weather patterns, agricultural conditions, and to locate promising natural resources. This satellite is expected to relay “remote data in the UHF band and video in the X-band.” The Unha-3 launch vehicle is aimed to fly a trajectory directly south of the launch site in the interest of protecting property and lives in neighboring nations, according to the North’s media announcements.

    The North says that the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite is fitted with enhanced video equipment designed to transmit video images and related data to the General Satellite Control and Command Center. The satellite is believed to weigh approximately 100 kilograms and will reportedly fly a solar-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 500 kilometers. The satellite is reported to have an expected operational lifespan of two years.

    The North Korean rocket is expected to pass over or near the Sakishima Islands forming the southernmost portion of Okinawa Prefecture. The North’s state-sponsored media has reported that the rocket’s first stage is expected to come down in the waters somewhat west of South Korea. The second stage is expected to overfly open airspace near the Japanese Ishigaki and Sakishima islands eventually falling into open waters to the east of Luzon Island in the Philippines.

    The three deployed Japanese destroyers are equipped with RIM-161 Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) interceptors, a short- to intermediate range missile that is part of the Aegis Ballistic Missile System. This missile was used successfully in 2008 by the US Navy to shoot down a crippled American satellite at an altitude of 133 nautical miles (247 kilometers) above the Pacific Ocean. One shot, one missile, one kill.

    Japan's missile defense assets deployed to Intercept the North Korean missile on its ascent trajectory. Illustration: Daily Yomiuri
    Japan has also deployed Patriot PAC-3 missile batteries to the islands of Ishigaki and Miyako and the principal island of Okinawa as a second line of defense. The government also deployed Patriot batteries in the vicinity of the Ministry of Defense’s Tokyo headquarters.Should the order be issued to shoot down the North Korean rocket, the SM-3 shipboard interceptors, as the first line of defense, will aim to bring down the rocket while it is above the Earth’s atmosphere. Should the SM-3 shipboard missiles miss the target, the PAC-3 missile batteries will attempt to shoot down the rocket, or any remnants of the rocket, as it reenters the atmosphere.

    Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) has also been ordered to ready F-15s to provide air cover for the Aegis destroyers.

    South Korea has also issued a public warning that the South stands ready to destroy the North Korean rocket should it violate South Korean airspace. South Korean sources have confirmed that two destroyers have been deployed to the West Sea to track the rocket’s trajectory. ROKS Sejong the Great (DDG-991), a 7,600-ton Aegis-armed destroyer, is one of the ships deployed.

    A spokesperson for the South’s Ministry of National Defense confirmed that the Ministry is prepared to track the rocket and shoot it down if it appears to represent a threat to life or property. The deployed destroyers will be ordered to fire their Standard Missile-2 (SM-2) missiles to bring the rocket down if it fails to follow the planned trajectory or fails to function properly.

    South Korea also announced that Patriot PAC-2 missile batteries have been deployed as a second line of defense, the PAC-2s were acquired secondhand from Germany in 2007 and have been integrated with an Israeli Super Green Pine early warning radar system.

    The North’s new Sohae launch site at Tongchang-ri on the northwestern seacoast presents a new challenge to the South’s missile defense array as the new site can be placed into operable condition much more quickly than the older launch site. Also, the angle of trajectory from this new site increases the level of difficulty for seaborne missile systems to acquire, target, and hit a rocket launched from this location.

    Despite the US Navy’s 2008 success in shooting down a rogue US rocket, some doubt exists regarding the ability of Japanese and South Korean forces to bring down the North’s Unha-3 launch vehicle. Very little is known about the Unha-3, but it is believed to be an advanced version of the Unha-2 with a length of approximately 35 meters and a projected range estimated to be anywhere between 5,000 and 9,000 kilometers. A scarcity of verifiable data makes it impossible to do any more than estimate the rocket’s capabilities on the basis of data gleaned from previous rocket launches.

    Newly released satellite imagery indicates that North Korea has moved the first stage of the Unha-3 rocket to the Sohae launch site. Although not visible in the satellite photos, the Associated Press is reporting that an analysis provided by the US/Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies indicates that the first stage of the Unha-3 may already be in place within a gantry on the launch platform. The support gantry on the platform is a closed structure and is likely obscuring a clear view of the rocket.

    Analysts with the Institute also believe that fueling activities have been completed. Satellite images seem to indicate that the empty fuel and oxidizer tanks have been removed and the area around the launch pad has been cleared of loose objects and mobile equipment. The road leading to the launch site is now blocked by a newly erected barricade and it appears that a heightened level of security has been instituted.

    With evidence that the Unha-3 rocket is nearing completion for launch, the US Department of Defense activated the nation’s global missile shield. This action accelerates electronic monitoring, authorizes the deployment of Aegis-equipped interceptor ships, and raises the level of radar tracking activities in the Pacific region. Three US interceptor ships deployed near Japan and the Philippines have been alerted as well as land-based missile batteries in the zone of greatest perceived danger. These assets, according to unnamed sources, will be given the order to bring down the North Korean rocket should it deviate from its announced path of trajectory or should sensors indicate the rocket represents a danger to life or property.
    Based on the content of this article, you might be interested in the following posts:


    Japan Orders Shoot Down of North Korean Rocket “If Necessary”Japan Orders Shoot Down of North Korean Rocket “If Necessary”
    North Korea Positions Rocket For Launch, Threatens Retaliation For InterferenceNorth Korea Positions Rocket For Launch, Threatens Retaliation For Interference
    North Korea Announces Plan To Launch Long-Range RocketNorth Korea Announces Plan To Launch Long-Range Rocket
    EROS B Satellite Unveils North Korean Preparations for Missile Launch at Tongchang-DongEROS B Satellite Unveils North Korean Preparations for Missile Launch at Tongchang-Dong
    North Korean 'smoking gun' spotted: Rocket Launchers in Positions aimed at South Korean Yeonpyeong islandNorth Korean 'smoking gun' spotted: Rocket Launchers in Positions aimed at South Korean Yeonpyeong island
    I have a question for anyone that has experience with Russian/Chinese/Iranian missile nose cones/re-entry vehicles...

    A recent, as of this last weekend's press cycle is concerned, photo of the NorK's latest test missile on it's launch tower, is on Drudge. IF that is the missile the NorKs plan to launch soon, does the payload shroud appear to be "normal" for a missile it's size/"scientific" payload, or does it look to be a "standard" design for a nuclear re-entry vehicle? It is said to be a third stage, liquid propellent, Iranian design. Last time the missile was tested by the NorKs, was 2009, when the first stage failed...

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...ts-rocket.html

    Loup Garou, do you, or anyone else, have any idea what sized payload either the NorKs or Iranians could lift into orbit?

    Also, for consideration, what's on the calendar for the NorK's, Iranians, or Chinese, if this were somehow to be a device intended to somehow harm US infrastructure? Yes, I've copied Loup's detailed analysis of EMP, and am not arguing with it, or him... What else could the NorK's be planning? Is there any device that via the Chinese or Russians, that could conceivably harm the US? I'm open to suggestions, as if there is something that could be used that nobody's openly concerned, that we might be able to prep for...

    Thanks for your time, consideration, and skull sweat...

    OA, out...
    Last edited by OldArcher; 04-09-2012 at 08:34 AM. Reason: additional information
    "Confess with your mouth, that 'Jesus is Lord,' believing in your heart that God raised Him from the Dead, and you will be saved, for with the heart, man believes and is justified, and with his profession of faith, he is saved." Romans 10:9-10.

  29. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by fairbanksb View Post
    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/04/09...#ixzz1rXCPYRW4

    US Navy deploys 2nd aircraft carrier to Gulf amid Iran nuke tensions

    Published April 09, 2012

    AP

    March 8, 2012: In this photo, Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Joseph, carries his daughter Maleah, 1, to his re-enlistment ceremony aboard the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise at the Norfolk Naval Station in Norfolk, Va.

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The U.S. Navy says it has deployed a second aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf amid rising tensions with Iran over its nuclear program.

    Cmdr. Amy Derrick-Frost of the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet said on Monday that the deployment of the nuclear-powered USS Enterprise along the Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group marks only the fourth time in the past decade that the Navy has had two aircraft carriers operating at the same time in the region.

    Derrick-Frost says the two carriers will support the American military operations in Afghanistan and anti-piracy efforts off Somalia's coast and in the Gulf of Aden.

    The battleships will also patrol the Gulf's strategic oil routes that Iran has threatened to shut down in retaliation for economic sanctions


    I was under the impression that we already had multiple carriers in the Gulf. This story surprised me.
    This story is all OVER the MSM today.

    Didn't we folks here pick up on the fact that the Enterprise was being deployed to the Gulf WEEKS ago?

    So.....WHY is it suddenly receiving so much attention in the MSM--as if this were NEW "news"?

    Any speculation?

    My own---could they be preparing the American public for imminent "action"?
    The only "change" I CAN believe in: I Corinthians 15: 51-52!

  30. #70
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    Yes, we knew awhile back that the Big E had left. I though today's news was letting us know that the Big E has now arrived. A heads up for those who look at the news and just in time for the "talks" later this week.
    "I care not much for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it" -- Abraham Lincoln

  31. #71
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldArcher View Post
    I have a question for anyone that has experience with Russian/Chinese/Iranian missile nose cones/re-entry vehicles...

    A recent, as of this last weekend's press cycle is concerned, photo of the NorK's latest test missile on it's launch tower, is on Drudge. IF that is the missile the NorKs plan to launch soon, does the payload shroud appear to be "normal" for a missile it's size/"scientific" payload, or does it look to be a "standard" design for a nuclear re-entry vehicle? It is said to be a third stage, liquid propellent, Iranian design. Last time the missile was tested by the NorKs, was 2009, when the first stage failed...

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...ts-rocket.html

    Loup Garou, do you, or anyone else, have any idea what sized payload either the NorKs or Iranians could lift into orbit?

    Also, for consideration, what's on the calendar for the NorK's, Iranians, or Chinese, if this were somehow to be a device intended to somehow harm US infrastructure? Yes, I've copied Loup's detailed analysis of EMP, and am not arguing with it, or him... What else could the NorK's be planning? Is there any device that via the Chinese or Russians, that could conceivably harm the US? I'm open to suggestions, as if there is something that could be used that nobody's openly concerned, that we might be able to prep for...

    Thanks for your time, consideration, and skull sweat...

    OA, out...
    The payload shroud is about what you'd expect, it doesn't have the look of an exposed RV IMHO.



    vs Minuteman 2's Mk-11C reentry vehicle...





    The Iranian Simorgh SLV and the Unha series are at a minimum first cousins and the Simorgh is capable of putting a 60-kilogram (130 lb) payload into a 500-kilometer (310 mi) low Earth orbit, and has done so. There's a web site I linked to in a prior WoW weekly thread that had a formula with a +/- 10% estimate of launcher performance with different payloads. When I get a chance I'll repost it in this thread.

  32. #72
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    Well this could "light the fuse" as it were....

    For links see article source....
    Posted for fair use.....
    http://www.voanews.com/english/news/...146653835.html

    April 09, 2012
    Gunfire From Syria Wounds 5 in Turkey

    VOA News
    Comments

    Turkish officials say Syrian forces fired across the border at a refugee camp, wounding at least five people Monday, a day before a U.N.-brokered cease-fire is supposed to take effect.

    According to Syrian activists, two people were killed in the attack near a refugee camp in the southeastern Kilis region. About 25,000 refugees are currently housed in camps in Turkey's three provinces bordering Syria.

    The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the incident began early Monday when Syria's armed opposition attacked President Bashar al-Assad's security forces at a border checkpoint. Activists said Syrian rebel fighters killed at least six members of Syria's security forces.

    Monday's border incident is the first of its kind since Turkey began sheltering thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing a bloody crackdown on a 13-month anti-government uprising, but similar attacks have occurred along Syria's border with Lebanon.

    Lebanese media reported Monday that a television journalist was shot dead in crossfire in the border region. Lebanon's Al-Jadeed satellite television blamed the Syrian army for the death of cameraman Ali Shaaban, saying troops opened fire at its crew, which was on Lebanon's side of the border. There was no independent confirmation of the shooting circumstances.

    [IMG]http://media.voanews.com/images/300*300/voa_gold_syria_turkey_kilis_300.jpg[/IMG]
    Map showing town of Kilis, Turkey, on border with Syria.

    Annan Turkey visit scheduled
    International envoy Kofi Annan is to visit one of the Syrian refugee camps in Turkey on Tuesday in a previously scheduled trip.

    Annan's six-point peace plan, including a cease-fire, is to go into effect on Tuesday, but Syria's violence has escalated in recent days with the killing of about 175 people.

    A video released Monday via a social media network purports to show a spokesman from the Free Syrian Army joint command, Col. Qassem Saad Eddin, announcing the rebels' commitment to the impending cease-fire.

    "The joint command of the Free Syria Army inside Syria announces its complete commitment the U.N. envoy Kofi Annan, in line with the U.N. Security Council resolution which calls for a cease-fire from all parties," the speaker said on video. "We will honor this promise if the regime remains committed to the initiative."

    Assad's government said Sunday it wants iron-clad "written guarantees" that insurgents would stop fighting before it withdraws troops from cities.

    But the commander for the rebel Free Syrian Army, Riad al-Asaad, said it will not give guarantees to the Syrian government.

    In Beijing, China's Foreign Ministry urged the Syrian government and opposition groups to abide by pledges for a cease-fire.

    Separately, an international rights group said Syrian forces have summarily executed more than 100 people, mostly civilians, during the past four months, mostly in March. Monday's report by Human Rights Watch said this includes several mass executions in the restive provinces of Homs and Idlib. The New York-based group said report authors included only cases corroborated by witnesses, but that they received more reports of similar incidents.

    U.N. officials have said more than 9,000 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising began more than a year ago.


    Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

  33. #73
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    For links see article source.....includes video and slides....
    Posted for fair use....
    http://www.voanews.com/english/news/...146635775.html

    April 09, 2012
    N. Korea Prepares 'Space Launch' Amid Reports of Plans for Nuclear Test

    Steve Herman | Seoul
    Comments

    A crowd of media gather around a North Korean official on a road in front of North Korea's Unha-3 rocket, slated for liftoff between April 12-16, stands at Sohae Satellite Station in Tongchang-ri, North Korea, April 8, 2012
    Photo: AP
    A crowd of media gather around a North Korean official on a road in front of North Korea's Unha-3 rocket, slated for liftoff between April 12-16, stands at Sohae Satellite Station in Tongchang-ri, North Korea, April 8, 2012.

    North Korea has placed a three-stage rocket on the launch pad at a new, more sophisticated facility facing the Yellow Sea. It plans to launch what it calls an earth observation satellite as early as Thursday. There are also indications the reclusive and impoverished country is preparing for a third nuclear weapons test, as well.

    Satellite imagery, taken last week, shows piles of dirt near a newly excavated tunnel entrance at North Korea's nuclear test site. A summary of a South Korean intelligence report accompanying the photos, obtained by VOA says the excavation at the Punggye-ri test site is in its final stages.

    Analysts say Pyongyang wants to demonstrate to the world that it is capable of carrying out a nuclear test at any time.

    Meanwhile, North Korea, at a separate site, has placed on the launch pad what it is calling the Unha-3 rocket. It appears virtually identical to the three-stage liquid-fueled ballistic missile it fired over Japan three years ago.

    The United States, South Korea, the European Union and Japan are condemning the planned launch, saying it will clearly violate United Nations sanctions forbidding Pyongyang from utilizing ballistic missile technology.

    Jang Myong Jin, the general manager of the launch site, says North Korea has a sovereign right to carry out a space launch.

    Speaking to correspondents taken to the launch site, Jang says, in recent talks between his government and U.S. officials, North Korea made clear that its moratorium pledge applied to long range missiles, but not satellites.

    Senior research fellow Baek Seung-joo, at the Korea Institute for Defense Analysis in Seoul, says Pyongyang's scientists have had a lot of time since their last attempt to put a satellite into space to greatly improve their ballistic missile capabilities.

    Baek says North Korea, in the interim, has likely exchanged technology with Iran which has made three successful satellite launches. And, Baek says, the North Korean engineers seem to have a high level of confidence their third attempt will succeed.

    Additional international sanctions were imposed on North Korea following its second missile launch and nuclear test in 2009.

    [IMG]http://media.voanews.com/images/300*300/north_korea_rocket_trajectory_300_09april2012.png[/IMG]
    Graphic of projected trajectory of North Korea missile.
    VOA


    Related Articles

    Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) land-to-air missiles are deployed at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo, April 7, 2012.
    Japan Heightens Military Alert for North Korean 'Space Launch'

    It is perhaps highest state of readiness for Japan's military since World War II, called direct threat for Japan's security

    S. Korea Report Says Pyongyang Preparing for Third Nuclear Test

    ETA: Graphic sourced by VOA from Reuters....

    Last edited by Housecarl; 04-09-2012 at 01:35 PM.

  34. #74
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    http://www.nationalreview.com/articl...tan-leif-babin

    April 9, 2012 4:00 A.M.
    Waiting to Lose in Afghanistan
    The United States needs a president who is determined either to win or to bring the troops home.
    By Leif Babin
    Comments 8

    After a decade of fighting in Afghanistan, at tremendous cost in American blood and treasure, many Americans are now asking: Why are we there? What do we have to show for our efforts? The answers are troubling: A government, under President Hamid Karzai, that is corrupt, largely incompetent, and of questionable loyalty; inept Afghan security forces that regularly turn their weapons on their American and NATO advisers; and a resurgent Taliban poised to regain control of the country after U.S. forces withdraw. Many look at these facts and conclude that the U.S. can’t win in Afghanistan and should therefore get out. But few have examined the dire consequences of losing.

    What would it mean to lose in Afghanistan? The U.S. invaded the country in 2001 with the stated objective of vanquishing al-Qaeda and the Taliban regime that harbored it. When we finally withdraw all forces in 2014, the Taliban influence in Afghanistan is likely to be substantial, if not paramount. Should the Taliban retake much of Afghanistan, whether we label our withdrawal a defeat or call it something more appetizing (a draw, for example) is immaterial: Our enemies will view this as an American defeat, and learn lessons that will bode ill for our future.

    The Soviet Union did not acknowledge defeat in Afghanistan in the war that spanned much of the 1980s. Yet the withdrawal of Soviet troops in 1989 rallied tens of thousands of militant Islamists to the cause of jihad, and gave birth to al-Qaeda and a new generation of emboldened international Islamic terrorists that quickly trained their sights on America and the West. The first attack on the World Trade Center in New York City took place only four years later. Why should we expect a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, amid failure to establish security there, to yield a better result? Leaving Afghanistan with a resurgent Taliban poised to retake control of much of the country will only empower and embolden America’s enemies, like Iran, and all but ensure that America will have to fight very costly and potentially far deadlier wars.

    Many say that the American people, after ten years, are tired of the war in Afghanistan. But I believe Americans — and certainly the U.S. military — are tired of not winning. The U.S. is in dire need of a serious shift in strategy — from one that props up a corrupt and incompetent Afghan government and simply trains and equips its security forces, to one that smashes our enemies, the Taliban and al-Qaeda. America must allow U.S. combat forces, now largely restricted to defensive actions, to take the offensive, rout the enemy from safe havens in Afghanistan and the Pakistani tribal areas, radically reduce the Taliban’s military capability, and then declare victory (which, be it noted, President Obama failed to do in Iraq) and bring our troops home.

    Winning in Afghanistan does not mean that we must build a strong central government and economic prosperity — a virtual “Little America” — in that country. This was always an unrealistic project. Winning simply means that we defeat the insurgency so that, as in Iraq, our enemies know that they were defeated, cannot be emboldened by our departure, and show no imminent threat of toppling the government. Then, U.S. forces can withdraw and leave Afghans to rebuild whatever nation they see fit for themselves, with the warning: If we have to come back here again, there will be hell to pay. Why are we fighting in Afghanistan at all, if not to establish peace and deter the possibility of future war? Yet it would seem that the U.S. exit strategy currently being pursued will likely achieve the opposite.

    Today, the Obama administration is pursuing a strategy in Afghanistan that amounts to America’s waiting to lose. It is a strategy that is unacceptable on any playing field. Imagine this: The U.S. is locked in a close football game with a determined opponent for three bruising quarters. The game can go either way, yet our leaders have virtually directed our combat forces to take a knee for the last minutes of the game because they have decided we can’t win. No sports fan would tolerate this, and neither should the American public. Most disturbingly, this closely resembles the “Vietnamization” strategy employed to extract America from Vietnam. President Nixon called that effort “Peace with Honor,” but as the North Vietnamese Army marched victoriously into Saigon, the rest of the world called it “defeat.”

    President Obama’s timetable for complete U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014 is based not on military-operational considerations, but on domestic politics. The announcement of the withdrawal of surge forces in September 2012, prior to the November election, and plans to end “combat operations” next year — which means that U.S. combat troops will be severely restricted from taking the offensive, though still every bit as much in harm’s way as they are now — makes this all too clear. Our courageous combat forces will continue to fight valiantly for as long as they remain in Afghanistan. But if President Obama and America’s generals have decided they don’t have the will to win, let’s not simply wait until 2014, but bring those troops all home immediately and brace ourselves for the future.

    America is in dire need of a president and senior military commanders who boldly tell the truth. On Afghanistan, the truth is that Americans want to win; they want the tremendous sacrifices our sons and daughters have borne in Afghanistan to not have been in vain. And for that, we need leadership in the White House that is willing to empower our military leaders, down to the lowest level, to do what they do best: fight to win.

    — Leif Babin is a former Navy SEAL officer and decorated combat veteran who served three tours in Iraq, earning a Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and a Purple Heart. He is the co-founder of Echelon Front, LLC, a leadership- and management-consulting firm.

  35. #75
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    Hummm.....

    For links see article source....
    Posted for fair use....
    http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columni...aspx?id=265321

    The Region: The Iraqi model: as good as it gets.

    By BARRY RUBIN
    04/08/2012 22:11
    Yet I suggest that with all these shortcomings, “Iraqi model” is best that can be expected for Middle East.

    Iraq is in a mess. Violence continues.

    Factionalism leads to endless bickering.

    Corruption is at high levels. Christians live in fear or flee altogether. Islamism is constantly creeping forward. Yet I would suggest that with all these shortcomings the “Iraqi model” is the best that can be expected for the Middle East.

    What’s the worst-case scenario? Iran, Afghanistan, Gaza, Sudan, or the permanent civil war situation in Syria, Yemen, and probably Libya.

    It isn’t that democracy is theoretically impossible or incompatible in principle with Islam or Arab society. The problem is that it just isn’t going to happen at this particular point in history. What you or I or small groups of moderate democratic Arabs, or naïve Western journalists want isn’t relevant here.

    The reporters can pal around with Muslim Brotherhood members every day of the week and talk about how moderate they are but that won’t make them moderate.

    Tens of thousands of well-financed, fanatical, hard-working, and tactically creative cadre are laboring long hours throughout the region to bring revolutionary Islamist dictators in each country.

    They are opposed by dozens of moderates who are concentrated in the capital cities, have hardly any money, usually don’t know how to relate to the masses, have no strategic sense, are more badly divided than the Islamists and confuse writing an op-ed piece or holding a demonstration with organizing a mass movement to seize state power.

    Wishful thinking has no place in political analysis or statecraft or journalism. The fact that the moderates are so much “like us” is not an advantage for them–except in getting favorable media coverage–but a fatal disadvantage in their own societies.

    Personally, I would prefer that the moderates win, but then I grew up watching the Washington Senators baseball team finish in last place in the American League every year.

    The model usually put forward, including by the Obama Administration, is the Turkish regime. It is rare in history for a democratic state to promote a foreign government that is so antithetical to its own interests in almost every way. There are some positions in common but far more that are different. Two put it as briefly as possible, there are two problems.

    The first problem is that the Turkish regime is boosting radical Islamist movements and governments that are America’s biggest enemy. These include Iran, the Gaza Strip (Hamas), and the current government in Lebanon (Hizballah). The Turkish regime has tried to back the Muslim Brotherhood but has been rebuffed, since the Brotherhood has no interest in following non-Arab leadership. And in Syria, the Turkish regime has been backing the Islamists in the opposition, intending to produce an anti-American regime in Damascus.

    The Turkish regime also loathes Israel and supports radical Islamist forces against it. Only regarding Iraq do US and Turkish interests basically coincide.

    The second problem is that the Turkish regime has systematically reduced democracy at home. Hundreds of moderates have been arrested on ridiculous charges. The armed forces, formerly the guardian of secularism and the basic democratic system, have been broken. The media is intimidated.

    Radical Islamists have been infiltrated into all parts of the government. This well-coordinated creeping tendency toward dictatorship has barely been reported in the West.

    What is the Turkish model in terms of the Arabic-speaking world? It is a formula for radical Islamist groups to seize state power and fundamentally transform their societies while appearing to be moderate.

    It is a step by step process, the equivalent of the Russian revolutionary movement graduating from anarchism to Bolshevism precisely a century earlier.

    The most surprising thing is not that the West has been taken in by this trick but that it has happened so thoroughly.

    At a time when even Lebanon is governed by a combination of Islamists and radical clients of Tehran and Damascus, Tunisia has a mostly Islamist government, and when the secular Turkish republic is being transformed by Islamists there is not much of an alternative.

    In Morocco and Jordan, as usual, the kings have brilliantly maneuvered to provide the appearance of democratic pluralism and even Islamist participation while he holds the reins. In Algeria, as usual, the army is running things. In Saudi Arabia and the small sheikdoms of the Persian Gulf (Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Oman), as usual, traditionalist regimes rule but they are now not so much intimidated by radical Arab nationalist threats as horrified by radical Islamist threats.

    And at a moment when President Barack Obama has transformed America from being leader of the Free World to reflecting the effect, unrealistic elite from the Brie World, there’s not much hope from that quarter.

    So that brings us to Iraq. As I’ve outlined above, the situation there is far from ideal.

    Yet there are some significant advantages.

    Internally, there are elections that mean something, a real element of pluralism, space for freedom of speech, and some working decentralization.

    Of the greatest importance is the fact that Islamist elements have been defeated (in the Sunni case) or held at bay (in the Shia case). Things can certainly get worse but some stability seems to have been achieved at this time.

    Another key factor is that Iraq is acting more “normally” as a state by minding its own business. It is not subverting neighbors or trying to take over the Middle East.

    Iraq also has decent relations with the West. This is a country that is trying to deal with its own problems. And if there is factionalism and corruption, at least it appears to be clear that no force can monopolize power and establish a repressive dictatorship.

    Call it chaotic pluralism as an alternative to Islamist dictatorship. And, yes, that appears to be the best that can be expected in those countries not still dominated by traditionalist monarchies. It is certainly preferable to the “Turkish model.” Yet I don’t expect many people in the West to appreciate that point.

    Is my assessment too pessimistic? Well, you are free to be optimistic. You can imagine an Israel-Palestinian peace based on a comprehensive treaty ending the conflict and establishing a two-state solution.

    You can fantasize about moderate Muslim Brotherhood leaders pragmatically getting down to solving Egypt’s problems by creating jobs, building housing, and establishing new industries. You can pretend that various forces will be grateful to America and President Obama for demolishing several dictatorships.

    But none of this is going to happen. It is vital to understand why and to comprehend what must be done in the face of this situation.

    By pretending to soar to the heights of democracy, the Islamists are on the road to autocracy, and an anti-Western, regionally destabilizing autocracy at that. By being so gullible, the West is assisting at the domination of the region of a repressive, anti-Western force that will set the region back 60 years (to the origin of radical Arab nationalist hegemony) if not 600 years.

    The writer is the Director of Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center http://www.gloria-center.org

  36. #76
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    http://insightcrime.org/insight-late...ary-deployment

    Monday, 09 April 2012 12:01
    Mexico Presidential Front-Runner Supports Military Deployment
    Written by Geoffrey Ramsey

    The leading candidate in Mexico’s presidential elections has said that he will use the army and navy to combat organized crime, raising questions over how much his security policies would differ from those of the current administration.

    After months of criticizing the security strategy of current President Felipe Calderon, Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) has declared support for the role of the armed forces in taking on drug trafficking organizations. In a press conference on Sunday, Peña Nieto praised the army and navy, crediting the two branches with improving security in some parts of the country.

    The candidate also said that if he were to win the election this July, he would maintain a military presence in areas most affected by crime. According to him, the armed forces should remain deployed until the country has “a police force with enough training and professionalism, as well as adequate equipment.”
    InSight Crime Analysis

    The statement is something of a shift in tone for Peña Nieto, who is leading in opinion polls. For the past several months, he has criticized the hard-line approach that Calderon has taken against organized crime. While he has offered no timeline for doing so, he has expressed support for gradually withdrawing the military from the streets.

    The apparent change may reflect Peña Nieto’s acknowledgement the country’s police force has been extensively infiltrated by criminal networks, and thus may not capable of taking over from the military. It may also herald that, if elected, Peña Nieto's security strategy may not differ dramatically from Calderon's. So far the three presidential candidates have only spoken vaguely of what their security policies would look like. This may be partly because while it is relatively easy to criticize Calderon for the violence resulting from the “drug war,” it is far more difficult to lay out a realistic alternative to his strategy.
    Tagged under

    Mexico

    Latest from Geoffrey Ramsey

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  37. #77
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    http://www.thestar.com/news/world/ar...lizing-cocaine

    Why Latin America is looking at legalizing cocaine
    Published On Sun Apr 08 2012
    Comments 38

    By Oakland Ross
    Feature Writer

    What does celebrated Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa have in common with the president of Guatemala and the editors of The Economist magazine, not to mention a century-old U.S. toothache remedy?

    Simple: legal cocaine.

    The Peruvian is for it, as is Guatemalan leader Otto Perez, as well as a growing assembly of influential Latin Americans.

    I think it is important for us to have other alternatives. ... ” Perez told CNN en Español earlier this year. “We have to talk about decriminalization of the production, the transit and, of course, the consumption.”

    As for The Economist, the venerable British publication has long advocated removing criminal sanctions from cocaine, arguing this is the only way to reduce the otherwise relentless toll of death, corruption and social disintegration the drug has engendered on account of being illegal.

    On April 14 and 15, heads of state and government from across the Americas, including U.S. President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and their Latin American and Caribbean counterparts, will gather for a two-day summit in Cartagena, Colombia, and the so-called war on drugs will figure near the top of their agenda — for one overriding reason.

    It isn’t working.

    In Mexico alone, more than 50,000 people have perished in a violent campaign against narcotics that began five years ago, when President Felipe Calderón threw down the gauntlet in a do-or-die battle against Mexico’s mighty drug cartels.

    Since then, some parts of Mexican territory have degenerated into lawless, quasi-feudal regions where criminals exert as much influence as the state. Basic human rights protections have been weakened or abandoned altogether. Law-abiding folk have fled or now dwell in fear. Thousands of people have simply disappeared. And the cocaine trade? It marches on, as insidious and profitable as ever.

    In the makeshift republics of Central America, the situation is even worse, while Colombia, Peru and Bolivia — the main cocaine-producing nations — are also obliged to suffer the corrosive effects of the narcotics trade.

    “Organized crime is our reality,” says José Gil Olmos, a reporter for the Mexican newsmagazine Proceso. “It’s a Medusa.”

    All this, thanks to a leafy and otherwise harmless shrub endemic to South America, called coca, from which cocaine is refined.

    Oh, and that toothache remedy?

    Roughly a century ago, the Lloyd Manufacturing Co. in the United States produced a treatment for oral complaints that promised an “instantaneous cure,” sold for just 15 cents a package, and whose principal ingredient was none other than cocaine.

    Many such products were available back then, for the simple reason that cocaine used to be legal in the United States and Canada, as were opium and marijuana. The makers of Bayer pharmaceutical products marketed a cough remedy derived from heroin.

    Coca-Cola owed its trademark kick to the presence of a discreet dash of cocaine in each and every bottle.

    Somehow, civilized society managed to survive these substances, when they were legal.

    Now they are illegal — and witness the result.

    The international trade in narcotics has become a massive criminal enterprise that corrupts police forces, cripples judicial systems and undermines the integrity of entire states, against a backdrop of ruthless violence.

    “For the first time, there is widespread recognition that present policies have failed and there need to be new alternatives,” says Coletta Youngers, a senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America, a privately funded think-tank. “Latin American countries have basically forced the U.S. into agreeing to discuss other alternatives, including legalization.”

    Nobody expects the Barack Obama administration to turn its back on a century-old U.S. regimen of strict narcotics prohibition — or certainly not soon, and especially not in an election year — but Latin Americans have spent decades paying for that regimen with cash, criminality and blood, and they have just about run out of patience.

    “The administration is well aware that the debate on drug legalization is roaring like an express train,” says Larry Birns, director of the Washington-based Council on Hemispheric Affairs. “It’s not going to be easily stopped.”

    For its part, Canada seems to be no more forward-looking on the narcotics file than is Washington.

    “The Canadian approach is simple,” says Marcel Martel, a history professor at York University and an expert on organized crime. “It’s repression. Stephen Harper hasn’t indicated he plans to revisit the way Canada handles illegal drug use.”

    But leaders in many Latin American capitals have been forced by circumstance to do precisely that, or else watch their countries degenerate into narco-republics, governed by fear, payola and hit men, a slide already well under way in some cases.

    Desperate for solutions, many Latin Americans now favour legalizing cocaine and other drugs, including heroin, ecstasy and marijuana. That, they argue, would put the drug traffickers out of business.

    But would it? Even assuming such a measure were politically feasible — a huge assumption in the case of the United States and Canada — would legalizing narcotics somehow solve a problem that has so far resisted all other strategies?

    Many experts insist it would not, or not on its own.

    “Those who favour legalization say, if you legalize, then the criminals will be bankrupt,” says Vanda Felbab-Brown, a U.S. expert on the global drug trade and author of Shooting Up: Counterinsurgency and the War on Drugs. “That’s a hugely optimistic outlook.”

    For one thing, the feuding drug cartels would not simply ride off into a peaceful retirement if their main sources of revenue were to be stripped from the criminal code.

    “Drugs are not the only illegal activity in Mexico,” says Carlos Adolfo Gutiérrez Vidal, director of the school of communications at the University of the Cloister of Sister Juana in Mexico City.

    Even now, the narcotraficantes supplement their earnings from drugs with other revenue streams, including human trafficking, kidnapping, extortion, auto theft and contract killing, among others. Legalizing narcotics would not reduce those activities.

    In fact, says Felbab-Brown, the measure might well cause increased violence, because criminal organizations would need to compete that much harder for control of their remaining businesses or to develop new sources of income.

    Some experts are promoting a third course that would more or less tolerate drug trafficking without making it legal, a compromise similar to the so-called Pax Mafiosa that prevails in parts of Italy.

    Under such an arrangement, the drug trade would remain formally illegal but would face little government interference, as long as the cartels dramatically reduced present levels of violence.

    “I think people would prefer this,” says Gil Olmos at Proceso.

    Felbab-Brown thinks otherwise.

    That sort of accommodation, she says, is effectively the system that prevailed in Mexico from the 1940s until the 1980s, a time when the country was ruled by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which operated in those days as a sort of corporate dictatorship headed by an all-powerful presidency.

    She believes the arrangement worked then because the criminal ringleaders genuinely feared the PRI. But times have changed, and Felbab-Brown doubts the old entente between Mexico’s politicians and its drug lords can or should be restored.

    “I do not believe a deal is achievable or even wise. It was precisely this deal that compromised the police and the judicial system in Mexico.”

    The situation is even more parlous in Central America, where small states with frail institutions are largely helpless before the drug lords, whose activities they barely try to curtail.

    Instead, corrupt and incompetent police forces spend their days and nights rounding up shiftless youths on minor or trumped-up charges and cramming them into overcrowded prisons, merely worsening an already grim state of affairs.

    “Those prisons are universities for delinquents,” says Javier Martinez, outgoing mayor of the Salvadoran town of Suchitoto. “These are not criminals. They don’t represent a threat to society.”

    Not now, maybe. But chances are they will.

    Clearly, such measures are not working.

    Martel at York University says they have never worked. In one form or another, the war on drugs has been waged for more than a century, he says, ever since the early 1900s, when U.S. and Canadian authorities succumbed to pressure from radical Christian groups and declared opium illegal.

    Cocaine was banned a few years later and marijuana in the 1920s.

    All these embargoes sprang in part from a racist motivation, says Martel, because the drugs were depicted as an external menace, foisted upon God-fearing white North Americans by Chinese or Hispanic “aliens.”

    Alcohol was prohibited, too. But that ban was suspended in 1933 and for a simple reason — it didn’t work.

    The sanctions against narcotics have been no more effective, yet they have remained in place.

    “The U.S. and Canada have enrolled the rest of the world in their crusade against drugs,” says Martel.

    At least some Latin American governments have concluded that the crusade has gone on long enough. It’s time to try something else.

    But, if criminal penalties have failed, if legalization is not the answer, and if a Pax Mafiosa won’t work either, then what is left?

    According to Felbab-Brown, there is no quick fix but only a sustained and tortuous exercise in state-building — the gradual creation of effective police forces, judicial systems and other institutions in countries where those agencies are now so deeply emaciated by fear and graft that they barely function.

    “This will be an enormous project for Mexico and an order of magnitude greater for Central America,” she says. “We really need to think of organized crime as a competition in state-making.”

    Unfortunately, it’s the drug lords who enjoy the preponderance of money, guns and savagery. They won’t go down soon or without a fight — if they go down at all.

    “The Latin American drug story is not going to have a happy ending,” predicts a sorrowful Birns at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs. “There is no way out.”

    Here’s hoping he’s wrong. But what if he’s right?

  38. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by Housecarl View Post
    The payload shroud is about what you'd expect, it doesn't have the look of an exposed RV IMHO.



    vs Minuteman 2's Mk-11C reentry vehicle...





    The Iranian Simorgh SLV and the Unha series are at a minimum first cousins and the Simorgh is capable of putting a 60-kilogram (130 lb) payload into a 500-kilometer (310 mi) low Earth orbit, and has done so. There's a web site I linked to in a prior WoW weekly thread that had a formula with a +/- 10% estimate of launcher performance with different payloads. When I get a chance I'll repost it in this thread.
    Hi Housecarl,

    Thank-you for your hard work and attention to detail, Sir.

    I have been resorting/arranging and prioritizing my preps, and have been making some headway... Not nearly where I want to be, but progress is, well, progress...

    I have this niggling little annoyance, vis-a-vis whenever the NorKs, Chinese, Russians, or Iranians start to "disturb the Force..." I'm more uneasy today, than I've been in several years. I don't know why, but it's there, and SOMETHING is bugging me... No, it's not the psoriatic arthritis, though my track record IS better than the local weather folks... Doug McArthur was right, we should have bombed them back into the Stone Age, though in some ways, I don't think that they've progressed much...

    Again, Thanks, Housecarl...

    OA, out...
    "Confess with your mouth, that 'Jesus is Lord,' believing in your heart that God raised Him from the Dead, and you will be saved, for with the heart, man believes and is justified, and with his profession of faith, he is saved." Romans 10:9-10.

  39. #79
    Posted for fair use and discussion.
    http://www.debka.com/article/21905/

    Exclusive: Secret US-Israeli accord to Iran keeping low 3.5 enriched uranium plus 1,000 centrifuges
    DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 9, 2012, 7:37 AM (GMT+02:00)
    Tags: US-Israel US-Iran Iran nuclear Barack Obama Binyamin Netanyahu
    Ahmadinejad celebrates Nuclear Day

    debkafile’s Washington sources disclose exclusively that the Obama administration and Netanyahu government have secretly agreed on “Formula of 1,000” as their final concession at the end of the forthcoming Six Power nuclear talks with Iran which starts Saturday, April 14. In substance, this formula would let Iran keep 1,000 centrifuges for enriching uranium up to 3.5 percent and stock 1,000 kilograms of the same grade uranium while, aside from a small amount for medical research, giving up its store of 20-percent grade uranium which can be jumped quickly to weapon quality.
    US sources told debkafile that Russia and China have accepted the deal.

    According to our Iranian sources, Tehran was informed of this formula through its back-channel contacts with Washington (which debkafile has been tracking since mid-February). That is why in Iranian public statements in the last couple of days have harped on the issue of uranium enriched to 20 percent. US-Israeli permission to keep 3.5 percent grade is in the bag before the talks begin, so Iran is treating it as the starting-point for bargaining, not the end result, and concentrating on raising the ante through the negotiating process to come.

    The concession Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak made to the Obama administration, to let Iran to continue to enrich uranium, has not been brought before any Israeli government or military forum. Their remarks Sunday, April 8, conveyed the mistaken impression that there were at odds on the nuclear issue in the run-up to international talks.

    Netanyahu said Israel would satisfied with nothing less than the total discontinuance of uranium enrichment and the removal of all quantities out of Iran, while Barak’s words came closer to the secret deal with Washington when he spoke of consenting to Iran continuing to produce low-enriched uranium and holding on to a few hundred kilos.

    At his meeting with the new Italian prime minister Mario Monti in Jerusalem, Netanyahu repeated that Israel had not changed its position and that the Six Powers must make Iran stop enrichment entirely.

    But in fact, as debkafile reveals here, Israel’s position has undergone a dramatic transformation and given in to Iran except for medical research on a major point of principle, i.e. enrichment.

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad walked through the door this opened for him Sunday night and slapped down three fresh demands which Tehran would put before the
    Six Power negotiators in Istanbul Saturday:

    1. Clearance for the new system about to be activated for converting 3.5 percent enriched uranium to nuclear fuel rods in the first stage and nuclear plates in the second.

    Producing 20 percent uranium from nuclear plates is relatively fast, efficient and cheap.

    2. Permission for homemade production of nuclear fuel rods for the heavy water plant under construction at Arak.
    This would provide Tehran with the option of plutonium in addition to enriched uranium for making weapons.

    3. Iran’s first nuclear reactor at Bushehr is now operating at 75 percent capacity under the management of the Russian engineers who built it. Tehran wants Iranian engineers to take over the reactor’s management in full in seven months.
    Iran is putting those three demands on the table to counter the US-Israeli insistence on shutting down the underground nuclear plant at Fordo, near Qom.

    debkafile’s sources add that the Israeli prime minister, by giving crucial ground on the major sticking point of uranium enrichment, appears to have calculated that after going the extra mile, Obama will not be able to block Israeli military action against Iran’s nuclear sites if Tehran continues nonetheless to play games and cheat the International Atomic Energy Agency and its inspectors.

    Netanyahu may have miscalculated the odds. His concession gave Obama enough rope to pull the Iranians to the negotiating table through his back channel to Tehran. That channel will remain open and the US is more likely to be induced by Iranian wiles to make more concessions than it is to give Israel the nod for military action.

  40. #80
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    48,867
    Quote Originally Posted by OldArcher View Post
    Hi Housecarl,

    Thank-you for your hard work and attention to detail, Sir.

    I have been resorting/arranging and prioritizing my preps, and have been making some headway... Not nearly where I want to be, but progress is, well, progress...

    I have this niggling little annoyance, vis-a-vis whenever the NorKs, Chinese, Russians, or Iranians start to "disturb the Force..." I'm more uneasy today, than I've been in several years. I don't know why, but it's there, and SOMETHING is bugging me... No, it's not the psoriatic arthritis, though my track record IS better than the local weather folks... Doug McArthur was right, we should have bombed them back into the Stone Age, though in some ways, I don't think that they've progressed much...

    Again, Thanks, Housecarl...

    OA, out...
    You're welcome Old Archer...

    Huh, one of the programs I came across from MIT, MIT's GUI_Missile_Flyout (http://web.mit.edu/stgs/downloads.html) has been removed...interesting....I'll keep looking...

    Housecarl

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