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WAR 02/23/2013 to 03/01/2013____****THE****WINDS****of****WAR****
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  1. #1
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    02/23/2013 to 03/01/2013____****THE****WINDS****of****WAR****

    (47) 01/31/2013 to 02/07/2013____****THE****WINDS****of****WAR****
    http://www.timebomb2000.com/vb/showt...*of****WAR****

    (48) 02/08/2013 to 02/15/2013____****THE****WINDS****of****WAR****
    http://www.timebomb2000.com/vb/showt...*of****WAR****

    (49) 02/16/2013 to 02/22/2013____****THE****WINDS****of****WAR****
    http://www.timebomb2000.com/vb/showt...*of****WAR****

    _____

    Sorry everyone, the meat world wouldn't give me a break to get this started earlier....

    _____

    For links see article source....
    Posted for fair use....
    http://www.voanews.com/content/egypt...t/1609428.html

    Breaking News
    Egypt's ElBaradei Calls for Election Boycott
    February 23, 2013

    A top Egyptian opposition figure has called for a boycott of the nation's upcoming parliamentary elections.

    Mohamed ElBaradei said Saturday that he refuses to take part in the elections called by Islamist President Mohamed Morsi earlier this week.

    Mr. Morsi called for the voting to start on April 27, but officials announced Saturday that he is considering changing the dates after objections from members of the Coptic Christian minority. The original schedule would overlap with Christian holidays.

    ElBaradei, a former chief of the U.N. nuclear agency, described the poll as "an act of deception."

    Islamists have managed to win every election since the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak.

    Other opposition leaders have not yet said whether they agree with ElBaradei's call.

    ElBaradei noted on his Twitter account that he had called for a similar boycott of polls in 2010 under Mr. Mubarak, who was ousted the following year.

    The voting will take place in four stages across a country deeply divided between the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood party that has ruled since the ouster of Mr. Mubarak and the more secularist opposition.

    As scheduled, the voting would end in late June with the parliament scheduled to hold its first meeting on July 6.

    This will be Egypt's first election since an Islamist-backed constitution was adopted in December. Critics say the constitution - drafted without opposition input and approved in a hastily organized referendum - fails to provide adequate human rights protections and fails to curb the power of the military establishment.

    Violent protests have rocked Egypt for months.
    Last edited by Housecarl; 02-23-2013 at 09:02 PM. Reason: added thread links

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    http://www.voanews.com/content/obama...a/1609322.html

    News / Asia
    Obama, Japanese PM Focus on North Korea, Maritime Issues

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    President Barack Obama shakes hands with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the end of their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Feb. 22, 2013.President Barack Obama shakes hands with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the end of their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Feb. 22, 2013.

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    Meredith Buel

    February 22, 2013
    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama and Japan’s new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have pledged a strong response to North Korea’s recent nuclear test. The two leaders met Friday at the White House, where they also discussed economic issues.

    The president and Prime Minister Abe agreed to pursue additional economic sanctions against North Korea following that country’s nuclear test and missile launches.

    During a speech following the meeting, Abe said such actions by North Korea cannot be accepted.

    “Their nuclear ambition should not be tolerated. Unless they give up developing a nuclear arsenal, missile technologies and release all the Japanese citizens they abducted, my government will give them no reward," he said.

    Abe said the U.S.-Japan alliance in the Pacific is a stabilizing factor and could be helpful in settling Japan’s dispute with China over the Senkaku islands in the East China Sea.

    The Japanese prime minister had strong words for the Chinese government.

    "We simply cannot tolerate any challenge now, and in the future. No nation should make any miscalculation about the firmness of our resolve. No one should ever doubt the robustness of the Japan-U.S. alliance. At the same time, I have absolutely no intention to climb up the escalation ladder."

    Abe began his second term as prime minister in December. He campaigned, in part, on a pledge of closer relations with the United States amid perceived threats from China's territorial claims.

    Obama said he and the prime minister spent much of their meeting discussing ways to boost economic growth, which he called their number-one priority.

    “…and steps that we can take in our respective countries to encourage the kind of trade, expanded commerce and robust growth that will lead to greater opportunity for both the United States and Japan,” said Obama.

    The U.S. and Japanese leaders also discussed the question of Japan joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a new U.S.-led free trade group.

    Speaking through a translator, Abe said he will discuss the proposal with his political coalition when he returns to Tokyo.

    “And based on that, whether to decide to take part in the negotiation, it should be left to the government and we would like the parties concerned to leave this to us,” he said.

    Abe is Japan’s fifth prime minister since Obama took office in 2009.

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    http://www.voanews.com/content/pakis...r/1609460.html


    Live streams
    News / Asia
    Pakistan to Seek Interpol Help in Extraditing Taliban Commander

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    4 Militants Killed in Search Operation in Pakistan
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    Taliban Claims Responsibility for Pakistan Attacks

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    Sharon Behn
    February 23, 2013

    ISLAMABAD — Pakistan says it will seek international help in extraditing a Pakistani Taliban commander held in Afghanistan. Pakistan's interior minister is appealing to the international police organization Interpol to ask Afghanistan to hand over senior Taliban commander Maulvi Faqir Mohammad, who was recently captured in Afghanistan. Faqir Mohammad was once the Pakistani Taliban's second in command.

    Interior Minister Rehman Malik is reaching out to Interpol to help in the extradition of the Taliban commander, Maulvi Faqir Mohammad, captured earlier this week by Afghan security officials in eastern Afghanistan.

    He says he is referring this matter to Interpol, so through Interpol we can convince Afghanistan that Faqir has the blood of so many Pakistanis on his hands and he is involved in a number of crimes, to deport him, as he should be tried in Pakistan under local laws.

    The Afghan government, so far, has declined to hand over the militant leader.

    Faqir Mohammad in 2010 was the second in command of Pakistan's Taliban, and is believed to be behind a number of deadly attacks in Pakistan. He reportedly fell out of favor within the militant network when he suggested talks with the government, and took refuge in neighboring Afghanistan.

    But the Pakistani Taliban recently has offered to sit down with the government to discuss an end to the violence that has afflicted the country for almost a decade.

    Islamabad government officials have yet to accept, or reject, the Tehrik-e-Taliban's offer of peace talks.

    Malik says the Taliban first should prove its desire for peace by laying down its weapons.

    "The Taliban will have to demonstrate how serious it is about these talks, such as announcing a negotiating team. It would be good if they denounce terrorism. If [leaders] Hakimullah Mehsud and Waliur Rehman surrender, we will give them amnesty according to law," he said.

    Repeated military operations have failed to completely uproot the militants from their bases in tribal areas along the Afghan border.

    Security analyst Ayesha Siddiqa says Pakistan's insistence that Afghanistan hand over Faqir Mohammad could have more to do with trying to bring more radical members of the Taliban to the table.

    "He was one of those bad Taliban who had apparently turned mild or favorable toward the Pakistani state. Now, if you are asking for him from the Afghan government, it's either you are building his credibility or need him to talk to the other bad Taliban, and is therefore critical," he said.

    Interior minister Malik's high profile push for the Taliban commander comes as the government is about to face national elections.

    Opposition parties have put pressure on the government to consider the Taliban outreach. Past peace deals with Taliban factions drew international criticism for eroding rights in Taliban-held areas and not delivering sustainable peace.

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    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/...9bd439ae164d8d

    Battle for Syria's Aleppo airport intensifies

    By By BARBARA SURK, Associated Press – 9 minutes ago

    BEIRUT (AP) — The battle for Syria's second-largest airport intensified Saturday as government troops tried to reverse recent strategic gains the rebels have made in the northeast in their quest to topple President Bashar Assad.

    Assad's forces have been locked in a stalemate with rebels in Aleppo since July when the city, the largest in Syria, became a major battlefield in the 2-year-old conflict the United Nations says has killed at least 70,000 people. For months, rebels have been trying to capture the international airport, which is closed because of the fighting.

    Rami Abdul-Rahman, director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights activist group, said the current fighting was focused on a section of a highway linking the airport with Aleppo, the commercial hub of the nation.

    The rebels have cut off the highway, which the army has been using to transport troops and supplies to a military base within the airport complex. Rebels have made other advances in the battle for the airport in recent weeks, including overrunning two army bases along the road to the airport.

    The rebels also control large swaths of countryside outside Aleppo and whole neighborhoods inside the city, which is carved up into areas controlled by the regime and others held by rebels. Months of heavy street fighting has left whole neighborhoods of the storied city in ruins.

    On Friday, regime forces fired three missiles into a rebel-held area in eastern Aleppo, hitting several buildings and killing 37 people, according to the Observatory. Some bodies were recovered from the rubble of apartments flattened in the strike, which apparently involved ground-to-ground missiles.

    A similar attack on Tuesday in another impoverished Aleppo neighborhood killed at least 33 people, almost half of them children.

    In Damascus, government forces shelled several rebellious suburbs Saturday as part of their efforts to dislodge opposition fighters who have used the towns and villages surrounding the capital as a staging ground for their attempts to push into the center of the city.

    Recent rebel advances in the suburbs, combined with the bombings and three straight days of mortar attacks earlier this week, marked the most sustained challenge to the heart of Damascus, the seat of Assad's power.

    A suicide car bombing on Thursday near the ruling Baath Party headquarters in central Damascus killed 53 people and wounded more than 200, according to state media. Anti-regime activists put the death toll at 61, which would make it the deadliest bombing of the revolt in the capital.

    The different tolls could not be reconciled.

    Nobody has claimed responsibility for the attack. Car bombs and suicide attacks have been a hallmark of Jabhat al-Nusra, an Islamic militant group that is one of the myriad factions fighting on the rebel side. Nusra fighters, the most effective group on the battlefield, have led assaults on military installations and control swaths of territory in the north, including parts of Aleppo.

    The fighting has increasingly taken on sectarian overtones with members of Syria's Sunni Muslim majority dominating the rebel ranks, who are fighting Assad's regime that is mostly made up of Alawites, an offshoot Shiite group.

    Efforts to stop the bloodshed in Syria so far have failed, leaving the international community at a loss of how to end the civil war.

    Russia, one of Assad's closest allies, and the Arab League proposed on Wednesday to broker talks between the Syrian opposition and Assad's regime. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem will lead a delegation to Moscow on Monday, and Russia had been expecting a visit in March from opposition leader Mouaz al-Khatib.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the Kremlin and the League were trying to establish direct contact between the Syrian regime and the opposition. The Western-backed opposition umbrella group, the Syrian National Coalition, long rejected any talks as long as Assad remains in power.

    In a sharp turnaround, al-Khatib said earlier this month he would meet with members of the regime if that would help end the bloodshed. His comments, however, drew pointed criticism from several opposition figures who said al-Khatib spoke for himself, not the group.

    On Friday, the Coalition announced after two days of meetings in Cairo that it would welcome U.S. and Russian mediation to negotiate a peace deal to end the country's civil war but insisted it would not allow Assad or members of his security services to participate in the talks.

    But the SNC then said in a statement posted on its Facebook page late Friday that its leaders would not travel to Washington or Moscow for any talks. It said the decision was taken to protest the international community's "silence over crimes committed by the regime" against Syrian people in Aleppo and other cities across the country.

    The Coalition also lashed out at Russia, saying it bears "special responsibility" because it supplies the regime with weapons.

    The statement also said that the opposition leaders would boycott a meeting next month in Rome of the Friends of Syria, which includes the United States and its European allies.

    Associated Press writer Ryan Lucas in Beirut contributed to this report.

    Copyright © 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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    Iran claims it captured a foreign drone during military exercise
    - @AP

    27 mins ago from bigstory.ap.org by editor

    http://bigstory.ap.org/article/iran-...gn-enemy-drone

    Update: Palestinian officials demand international investigation into death of Palestinian detainee who died in an Israeli jail - @Reuters

    29 mins ago by editor

    Prison spokeswoman: Palestinian prisoner dies in Israeli jail - @AlArabiya_Eng

    http://english.alarabiya.net/article...23/267937.html

    1 hour ago from english.alarabiya.net by editor
    So when's the Revolution? God or Money? Choose.

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    Hummm....

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    http://allthingsnuclear.org/markus-s...ha-3-launcher/

    Markus Schiller’s Analysis of North Korea’s Unha-3 Launcher
    David Wright, co-director and senior scientist
    February 22, 2013

    North Korea’s launches of its Unha-3 rocket in April and December 2012, along with the recovery and analysis of debris from the December launch, have provided a lot of new information that was not previously available. That information has allowed me and others to reassess our earlier conclusions about Pyongyang’s rocket, and has led to some significant changes.

    Some of the most detailed analysis based on this new information has been done by Markus Schiller and Robert Schmucker, two aerospace engineers working in Munich. They bring real-word, hands-on experience with rockets to this work. (For a report on North Korea’s missiles Markus published last year as a fellow at RAND, click here.)

    Last week Markus gave a webinar and talked about his current understanding of the Unha-3. His webinar is available at the link below. Here is a summary of some of his main points:

    (1) The first stage has now been shown, as expected, to use Scud fuel—kerosene and nitric acid. It uses a cluster of four Nodong engines, each with a thrust of about 27 tons. The body is made of a lightweight aluminum-magnesium alloy.

    Steering engine recovered from Uhna-3

    (2) The South Korean analysis of debris from the launcher showed that the first stage also included four small steering engines. South Korea’s assessment is that each of these four engines can deliver a thrust of 3 tons. While these look similar to the small engines of the Iranian Safir satellite launcher’s upper stage, Markus notes that close examination shows they are entirely different in design and construction. While he does not have enough information about these engines to estimate their thrust, he believes the way they are connected to the fuel feed system could allow them to each deliver a thrust of 3 tons. (Note that this is a different conclusion than reported previously.) He also points out that steering engines have been used in missiles for more than 50 years so it’s not surprising that North Korea would have developed them for this launcher.

    (3) Markus and Robert’s analysis of the second stage is the most interesting. Based on the amount of fuel, the burntime of the stage, and the launcher’s trajectory, they believe it also uses Scud technology, burning kerosene and nitric acid rather than more advanced propellants. More surprisingly, they find it is powered by a small engine—similar to a Scud engine—with a relatively low thrust of 13 to 14 tons, rather than a larger Nodong engine. This finding is particularly interesting for two reasons:

    -Claims that the second stage of the Unha is based on the Soviet SSN-6 missile appear to be completely wrong. Ted Postol and I made this claim after the 2009 Unha-2 launch, based on the size of the stage and our computer modeling, which used information available at the time. Based on new information we no longer believe this stage was related to the SSN-6. This is an important change because it means that, despite speculation for many years about North Korea acquiring SSN-6 missiles or production equipment from the Soviet Union/Russia, North Korea has still not flight tested such a missile. While the Unha third stage and Iranian Safir second stage use small engines that appear similar to SSN-6 steering engines, there is no physical evidence that North Korea or Iran have acquired or can build the SSN-6 main engine.

    -Markus points out that a low-thrust, long-burntime second stage is exactly what you would design for a satellite launcher, since you want a long boost phase to allow the satellite to reach high altitude before inserting the satellite into orbit. For a ballistic missile, on the other hand, such a design would cost you more than 1,000 km in range compared to using a Nodong engine in this stage. If you were designing a ballistic missile, you would therefore build it with a high-thrust, short-burntime second stage to maximize its range with a given payload.

    (4) The third stage uses more advanced fuels—UDMH and NTO. While this stage looks similar to the upper stage on Iran’s Safir, there are differences in the details of the two stages, so they are not identical. The origin of the small engines in this stage is not known. While they may be components from a Soviet SSN-6 missile, these engines are simple enough that Markus thinks it is also possible that North Korea and/or Iran could have built and possibly designed them. So they may not be evidence of the transfer of SSN-6 missiles to Iran and North Korea. More information is needed to pin this down.

    Markus and Robert are developing range-payload curves that should be available soon. Given the low thrust of the second stage, the ranges may be significantly shorter than some current estimates.

    Based on their analysis Markus notes that in designing the Unha, North Korea made choices that are useful for a satellite launcher but decrease its ability as a ballistic missile. So while developing and testing the Unha gives North Korea experience with technology that can be used for a ballistic missile, reports that the launch was really a ballistic missile test parading as a satellite launch are not true.

    Link to video: The recording of the Markus’ Feb. 14 webinar is 36 minutes long. We have posted it as a self-extracting 7-zip file that you can download and extract by double-clicking on it. The download may set off virus warnings since it is an .exe file, but it’s safe. The video is a shockwave (.swf) file. The best way to view it is to open it in a web browser. Current versions of Google Chrome and Firefox seem to work, but I have had problems with IE. Note that for some reason the second slide does not appear, but the rest do. The file is about 5 Mb.

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    Arab militia kills 50 in Sudan's Darfur - @AFP

    8 mins ago from english.alarabiya.net by editor

    http://english.alarabiya.net/article...23/267949.html


    Tens of thousands of Spaniards march to protest deep austerity, the privatization of public services and political corruption
    - @Reuters

    13 mins ago by editor
    So when's the Revolution? God or Money? Choose.

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    http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/nati...00800315F.HTML

    2013/02/24 10:32 KST

    Military beefs up security ahead of presidential inauguration

    SEOUL, Feb. 24 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's military on Sunday beefed up security ahead of President-elect Park Geun-hye's inauguration to deal with any possible provocations from North Korea.

    Monitoring of activities taking place in North Korea have been stepped up with all commanders having been ordered to remain on standby and be ready to return to their posts within an hour if any alarm is sounded, military sources said.

    Without going into details, defense ministry insiders said tactical reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft have been deployed along with the E-737 Peace Eye airborne early warning and control airplane.

    The Air Force's F-15K and KF-16 fighters are to maintain round-the-clock air patrols near Seoul with the Navy's surface combatants to be stationed offshore to deal with any North Korean provocation in a swift manner.

    In addition, all divisions will operate an emergency response team on Monday with the country's anti-terrorism personnel kept in readiness in case of an emergency situation.

    "The high state of readiness will be maintained even after the inauguration ceremony that begins at 11 a.m. is completed, with things going back to normal only after authorities are certain there are no security threats," a military officer stressed.

    Park will assume control of the military as the country's first female commander-in-chief just after midnight, and she has emphasized the need to maintain strong deterrence against North Korean aggression.

    yonngong@yna.co.kr
    (END)

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    http://news.yahoo.com/iran-says-brou...001234191.html

    Iran says it has brought down a foreign spy drone
    Reuters – 2 hrs 46 mins ago

    LONDON (Reuters) - Iran's Revolutionary Guards have brought down a foreign surveillance drone during a military exercise, the official Islamic Republic News Agency said on Saturday.

    "We have managed to bring down a drone of the enemy. This has happened before in our country," the agency quoted war games spokesman General Hamid Sarkheli as saying in Kerman, southeast Iran, where the military exercise is taking place.

    The agency gave no details on who the drone belonged to.

    In Washington, a Pentagon spokesman said he had seen the reports. He noted that the Iranians did not specifically claim that the drone was American.

    In the past, there have been incidents of Iran claiming to have seized U.S. drones.

    In early January Iranian media said Iran had captured two miniature U.S.-made surveillance drones over the past 17 months.

    Several drone incidents over the past year or so have highlighted tension in the Gulf as Iran and the United States flex their military capabilities in a standoff over Iran's disputed nuclear program.

    Iran said in January that lightweight RQ11 Raven drones were brought down by Iranian air defense units in separate incidents in August 2011 and November 2012.

    (Writing by Stephen Powell; Editing by Jon Hemming)

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    http://news.yahoo.com/more-fighting-...191048474.html

    More fighting erupts in Sudan's Darfur region
    Reuters – 7 hrs ago

    KHARTOUM (Reuters) - New fighting erupted between Arab tribes in Sudan's troubled Darfur region, tribal leaders said on Saturday, threatening to displace more people after clashes last month killed more than 100 and forced around 130,000 to flee.

    Law and order has collapsed in swathes of the arid western region since mainly non-Arab tribes revolted against the Arab government in Khartoum in 2003, accusing it of neglect.

    Violence has ebbed since 2004 but picked up again in recent months. Arab tribes, armed by the government to help quell the Darfur insurgency, have turned their guns on each other in battles for control of a gold mine and other resources, while banditry has spread across the vast region.

    Fighting broke out in January between the Bani Hussein and Rizeigat tribes over the mine in Jebel Amer in North Darfur, displacing 100,000 people, according to the United Nations. Clashes between the army and a rebel group in central Darfur forced another 30,000 to flee.

    On Saturday, a Bani Hussein leader said Rizeigat fighters attacked El Sireaf in North Darfur from three fronts, killing 53 people and wounding 83. Fighting had started on Thursday, breaking a ceasefire mediated by tribal leaders in January.

    "The attack lasted for several hours," the tribal leader said, asking not to be named. "Then the army arrived and helped repulse the attack but until now no medical aid has arrived to treat our wounded."

    Army spokesman al-Sawarmi Khalid could not be reached for comment but a Rizeigat leader confirmed fighting in the area.

    "Unfortunately new fighting broke out but this is not violence between the Rizeigat and the Bani Hussein," said Mohammed Aissa Aliu, a Rizeigat leader.

    He said the attackers were militias armed by the government. "They were armed and left to themselves. The government is responsible for what is happening."

    In 2003, Khartoum armed and unleashed Arab tribes to help put down the insurgency of African tribes. Human rights groups and the United Nations estimate hundreds of thousands of people have died in the Darfur conflict. The government says around 10,000 people have been killed.

    The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and some aides to face charges of masterminding war crimes in Darfur. They deny the charges and refuse to recognize the court.

    Events in Darfur are hard to verify as Sudan restricts travel by journalists, aid workers and diplomats. Authorities denied Reuters in January a travel permit to attend a government-sponsored disarmament conference in West Darfur.

    (Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Rosalind Russell)

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    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa...819792689.html

    Heavy casualties in northern Mali fighting
    At least 13 Chadian troops and 65 rebels killed in fierce clashes in Ifoghas mountains, Chad's military says.
    Last Modified: 23 Feb 2013 07:36

    At least 13 Chadian soldiers have been killed in fighting in northern Mali, the heaviest casualties sustained by French-led African troops since the launch of a military campaign against rebels last month, Chad's army has said.

    Sixty-five rebel fighters were also killed in the clashes that began before midday on Friday in the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains near the border with Algeria.

    "The provisional toll is ... on the enemy's side, five vehicles destroyed and 65 terrorists killed," said a statement from the army general staff read on state radio. "We deplore the deaths of 13 of our valiant soldiers."

    Earlier this month, Chad deployed 1,800 soldiers in the northern city of Kidal to secure what had been the rebels' last urban stronghold, putting itself in the frontline in the fight against the rebels.

    Also on Friday, two suicide car bombers targeted ethnic Tuareg forces in the northern town of Tessalit, killing three people.

    "The two [suicide bombers] were killed and in our ranks there were three dead and four seriously wounded," Mohamed Ibrahim Ag Asseleh, a spokesman for the ethnic Tuareg rebel group, the MNLA, in Burkina Faso confirmed.

    Tuaregs in the north, who have long sought greater autonomy, rebelled against the federal government and swept across northern Mali in April last year, taking advantage of a power vacuum left by a military coup.

    However, the MNLA and other Tuareg groups were sidelined by armed groups such as the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), who took over major towns of northern Mali and imposed Islamic law.

    The MNLA blamed Friday's car bomb attacks on the MUJAO.
    In-depth coverage of intensifying confrontation in north

    The MUJAO made no comment on the latest attacks, but on Thursday it said that it was responsible for another car bomb in Kidal.

    US drones

    France intervened in its former West African colony on January 11 to stop a southward offensive by the rebels who seized control of vast swaths of the north in April last year.

    Troops from neighbouring African nations - including from Chad - have since deployed to Mali and are set to take over leadership of the operation when French forces begin a planned withdrawal next month.

    However, continuing violence since the rebels were driven from major urban areas highlights the risk of French and African forces becoming entangled in a prolonged conflict as they try to help Mali's weak army counter bombings and armed raids.

    A US defence official said on Friday that Washington had deployed several Predator drones to Niger to fly surveillance missions in support of French forces in Mali.

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    https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/commenta...dly-connection

    Hanin Ghaddar
    February 22, 2013

    Hezbollah’s deadly connection

    Recent developments in Syria indicate that Iran has increased its support for the regime of President Bashar al-Assad on more than one level. As Iran seems to have taken over military and logistical decisions, Hezbollah’s involvement has also expanded and intensified. This is very bad news for Lebanon, and unless the Lebanese government and the Shia community take drastic measures to dissociate themselves from Hezbollah, Lebanon will not be spared from an imminent, region-wide sectarian war.

    Last month, in a significant prisoner exchange between the Syrian rebels and the Assad regime, forty eight Iranians were hand-picked by the regime for release by the rebels, and not a single Syrian. This caused a wave of discontent among Assad supporters and fighters, who felt betrayed. Assad no doubt realizes that ill will among his already-shrinking popular base will not help his cause. This questionable decision indicates that Assad had no real say in the matter, and probably doesn’t on other issues either.

    Then last week, Iranian official Hojjatoleslam Mehdi Taeb, head of the Ammar Strategic Base and a former Basij commander said that “Syria is [Iran’s] 35th [district] and a strategic province… If the enemy attacks us and intends to occupy either Syria or Khuzestan, the priority is that we keep Syria.” He also added that Iran suggested the Syrians establish their own Basij. “Syria then [must] set up its own Basij with an initial force of 60,000 Hezbollah forces and they [could] replace the regular army in dealing with the urban warfare."

    If this statement had come out a month ago, no one would have believed Taeb. However, it has become obvious today that Hezbollah is involved in the bloodshed in Syria up to its neck, whether under a “Basij” or in a different form.

    This dangerous reality has been acknowledged by Hezbollah officials who claim they are defending Shiite residents of Syria. This reality has put Lebanon and the Lebanese at a new crossroads that can only lead to bad scenarios. Hezbollah in Syria versus Jihadist groups like Jabhat al-Nusra is a story that will not have a happy ending. Both are sectarian armed groups that will do anything and kill anyone to protect their presence and the power of their founders and funders. A Sunni-Shiite war is now no longer a scenario. It started when Hezbollah sent its fighter into Syria.

    Hezbollah’s sending militants to Syria to fight against the rebels has a number of dangerous implications.

    Hezbollah is not, as it claims to its supporters, a Lebanese party whose mission is to protect Lebanese people and territories. It is a militia which uses Lebanon as a geographical base from which to launch attacks against Iran’s enemies no matter where or who they are. This means that Hezbollah will probably fight Iran’s war on other fronts as well. If Iran gets attacked by Israel or others, Hezbollah could retaliate.

    Many Lebanese believed that the Party of God would never confront Israel if Iran was attacked because its leaders do not want to lose their arms or credibility among their supporters. Iran also prefers this scenario. However, becoming militarily involved in Syria raises this concern again, especially that this involvement will probably expand and increase.

    The involvement so far is probably limited to the Shiite villages along the Lebanese-Syria border, and could have been stretched to Homs in order to link the Syrian coast to Damascus and Lebanon. This means that the Syrian regime, with major Iranian support, could be planning an Alawite/Shiite enclave that will be connected to Lebanon. However, this enclave can only hold up if it is protected militarily for years to come, to avoid possible ethnic cleansing. Hezbollah, in this scenario, could be asked to stay around to protect and defend this area to preserve the linkage to Lebanon, mainly to Shiite areas.

    Their involvement in terms of presence and use of arms could develop and grow as the crisis does. The Party of God could find itself managing a war against Sunni Jihadists for a very long time, mainly because these jihadists can no longer see the difference between Assad’s regime and Hezbollah.

    So Hezbollah has decided to be part of an upcoming regional war, and to drag Lebanon into it. The war between Alawite/Shiite fighters and Sunni jihadists will not stay within the parameters of Qusayr along the Lebanese-Syrian borders. The spillover of the Syrian crisis to Lebanon will possibly take the form of increased military clashes in more than one area in Lebanon. Jihadists from both groups will not limit their clashes to Syrian territories and become friends back at home.

    The problem is that entire Sunni and Shiite communities in Lebanon will be dragged into this war. Al-Nusra and other Jihadists groups in Syria have already defined themselves along sharp sectarian lines. And Hezbollah entered the sectarian game the moment they claimed they are defending the Shia in Syria.

    By ‘defending Shiites in Syria’ Hezbollah is exposing the Shiites in Lebanon, as usual, to a very dangerous front. This time the price is going to be very high, as no Shiite will ever be trusted, and no Shiite will be spared.

    It is convenient to blame Hezbollah for the dark days to come, but if we look inside, it is unsettling to see that the Lebanese government is not doing anything about it. The Shiites are not really doing anything about it either. Some actually believe that Hezbollah needs to protect this bridge in Syria to secure the passage of arms, while others are just afraid to look the other way. They do not want to see the reality, or do anything about it.

    If the Shiites in Lebanon don’t do anything now, in the context of a strong condemnation of Hezbollah’s behavior, they will have only themselves to blame when things get bloody.

    Hanin Ghaddar is the managing editor of NOW. She tweets @haningdr

    Shiites mourn a fallen Hezbollah fighter in Baalbek. (AFP)

    "If the Shiites in Lebanon don’t do anything now, in the context of a strong condemnation of Hezbollah’s behavior, they will have only themselves to blame when things get bloody."

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    http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Opinion/...#axzz2Lj2Nc9EI

    Columnist
    Syria’s breakup is a Levantine norm
    February 23, 2013 12:37 AM
    By Rami G. Khouri
    The Daily Star

    The talk about Syria by knowledgeable friends and colleagues whose views I respect has turned increasingly pessimistic in recent weeks, with expectations ranging across a span of many bad outcomes. These range from Syria becoming a Levantine Somalia, where power is in the hands of hundreds of local warlords and tribal chieftains, to a totally fractured state defined by a combination of raging civil war and sectarianism that pulls in interested neighbors and perhaps ignites new regional wars.

    Speculation about the future of Syria is a growth industry these days, for good reason: What happens in Syria will have an impact on the region, given its central role in the political geography, ideologies and security of the Levant and areas further afield. The events in recent years in Iraq and Libya remind us that developments in one state in the region can have repercussions in neighboring countries, sometimes immediately and sometimes a few years down the road.

    The longer Syria’s domestic war goes on, the more fragmented the country becomes, alongside three other dangerous trends: Sectarianism increasingly becomes the option of choice for Syrian citizens who seek security but cannot get it from the state; revenge killings will become a more likely occurrence after Bashar Assad’s downfall; and militant Salafists may increasingly take root in local communities across the country as they prove to be well organized and funded adversaries of the Assad regime.

    Next month we will mark two years since the outbreak of protests against the regime, as the domestic battle continues to rage. Syrians have paid a very heavy price for their desire to remove the Assad regime and replace it with a more democratic and accountable system of governance, but there are no signs that either side is tiring of this fight. Despite the destruction of the economy and urban infrastructure, Syrians seem determined to keep fighting until one side defeats the other. The chances of a negotiation or dialogue to end the fighting and usher in a peaceful transition of power seem slim, given the wide gap between Assad and the opposition groups.

    The trend on the ground seems to favor the slow advances of the opposition groups, whose access to more sophisticated weapons and control of key facilities around the country sees the Assad regime’s sovereignty footprint shrinking by the week. The regime has reverted to what has always been its vital core: thousands of armed troops in just a few parts of the country, controlled by officers from, or close to, the extended Assad family, disproportionately anchored in the Alawite minority community. This is a recipe for imminent collapse.

    Yet the timing and nature of the transition to a new governance system in Syria both remain highly speculative. I personally expected the Assad regime to have fallen long ago, but clearly its staying power is great. The weakness and lack of unity of the opposition forces make it impossible to predict a post-Assad scenario.

    More and more analysts expect chaos, violence, sectarian revenge killings and deep fragmentation to occur, and these become more likely with every passing month of fighting. Some analysts expect a post-Assad Syria to be dominated by Islamists, whether mainstream Muslim Brotherhood types or more militant Salafists who are now playing a major role in the military resistance against Assad.

    Others, including myself, are more sanguine, expecting Syria’s 5,000 years of cosmopolitan history and more recent legacy of inter-communal coexistence to shape the new governance system that emerges from the wreckage of the current war.

    Syria’s problem, like Iraq’s and Lebanon’s, is that the nature of its pluralistic population means that major demographic groups have strong ties with fellow populations in nearby countries, such as Alawites, Kurds, Druze, Sunnis and even Christians. The main lesson of the current situation in Syria strikes me as being the fragility of the modern Arab state in the Levant and beyond, where countries like Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Palestine in the past three generations have alternated between strong or shattered central governments. These have been either fragmented states or centralized police states since the 1940s, with no chance to live as normal states where citizens agree on the rules and values of national governance.

    We are now passing through a period in which fragmenting states are forcing us to discuss Lebanon, Syria and Iraq in terms of Alawites, Druze, Shiites and Sunnis, rather than in terms of coherent states with satisfied citizenries. The slow-motion destruction of the centralized Syrian state will enhance this trend toward the retribalization of the Arab Levant, until the day comes when the many distinct tribes can sit down and agree on how to reconnect as citizens of single states, governed by the rule of law that they can define themselves in meaningful constitutions.

    Rami G. Khouri is published twice weekly by THE DAILY STAR. He can be followed on Twitter @RamiKhouri.


    A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 23, 2013, on page 7.

    Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Opinion/...#ixzz2Lo2u2UIi
    (The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)

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    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/23/wo...base.html?_r=0

    New York Times
    February 22, 2013
    New Drone Base in Niger Builds U.S. Presence in Africa
    By ERIC SCHMITT and SCOTT SAYARE
    Comments 166



    WASHINGTON — Opening a new front in the drone wars against Al Qaeda and its affiliates, President Obama announced on Friday that about 100 American troops had been sent to Niger in West Africa to help set up a new base from which unarmed Predator aircraft would conduct surveillance in the region.

    The new drone base, located for now in the capital, Niamey, is an indication of the priority Africa has become in American antiterrorism efforts. The United States military has a limited presence in Africa, with only one permanent base, in Djibouti, more than 3,000 miles from Mali, where insurgents had taken over half the country until repelled by a French-led force.

    In a letter to Congress, Mr. Obama said about 40 United States military service members arrived in Niger on Wednesday, bringing the total number of those deployed in the country to about 100 people. A military official said the troops were largely Air Force logistics specialists, intelligence analysts and security officers.

    Mr. Obama said the troops, who are armed for self-protection, would support the French-led operation that last month drove the Qaeda and affiliated fighters out of a desert refuge the size of Texas in neighboring Mali.

    Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world, signed a status-of-forces agreement last month with the United States that has cleared the way for greater American military involvement in the country and has provided legal protection to American troops there.

    In an interview last month in Niamey, President Mahamadou Issoufou voiced concern about the spillover of violence and refugees from Mali, as well as growing threats from Boko Haram, an Islamist extremist group to the south, in neighboring Nigeria.

    French and African troops have retaken Mali’s northern cities, including Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal, but about 2,000 militants have melted back into desert and mountain hideaways and have begun a small campaign of harassment and terror, dispatching suicide bombers, attacking guard posts, infiltrating liberated cities or ordering attacks by militants hidden among civilians.

    “Africa Command has positioned unarmed remotely piloted aircraft in Niger to support a range of regional security missions and engagements with partner nations,” Benjamin Benson, a command spokesman in Stuttgart, Germany, said in an e-mail message on Friday.

    Mr. Benson did not say how many aircraft or troops would ultimately be deployed, but other American officials have said the base could eventually have as many as 300 United States military service members and contractors.

    For now, American officials said, Predator drones will be unarmed and will fly only on surveillance missions, although they have not ruled out conducting missile strikes at some point if the threat worsens.

    American officials would like to move the aircraft eventually to Agadez, a city in northern Niger that is closer to parts of northern Mali where cells of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and other militant groups are operating. Gen. Carter F. Ham, the leader of the Pentagon’s Africa Command, visited the base last month as part of discussions with Niger’s leaders on closer counterterrorism cooperation.

    The new drone base will join a constellation of small airstrips in recent years on the continent, including one in Ethiopia, for surveillance missions flown by drones or turboprop planes designed to look like civilian aircraft.

    A handful of unarmed Predator drones will fill a desperate need for more detailed information on regional threats, including the militants in Mali and the unabated flow of fighters and weapons from Libya. General Ham and intelligence analysts have complained that such information has been sorely lacking.

    As the United States increased its presence in Niger, Russia sent a planeload of food, blankets and other aid to Mali on Friday, a day after Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov warned of the spread of terrorism in North Africa, which the Russian government has linked to Western intervention in Libya.

    Mr. Lavrov met on Thursday with the United Nations special envoy for the region, Romano Prodi, to discuss the situation in Mali, where Russia has supported the French-led effort to oust Islamist militants. But Russia has also blamed the West for the unrest and singled out the French in particular for arming the rebels who ousted the Libyan leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

    “Particular concern was expressed about the activity of terrorist organizations in the north, a threat to regional peace and security,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement after the meeting. “The parties agreed that the uncontrolled proliferation of arms in the region in the wake of the conflict in Libya sets the stage for an escalation of tension throughout the Sahel.” The Sahel is a vast region stretching more than 3,000 miles across Africa, from the Atlantic in the west through Sudan in the east.

    In a television interview this month, Mr. Lavrov said, “France is fighting against those in Mali whom it had once armed in Libya against Qaddafi.”

    On Friday, suicide attackers detonated two car bombs near Tessalit, a town in Mali’s far north, according to news reports, while Islamist fighters clashed with Malian soldiers farther south in Gao, where fighting has flared in recent days.

    The twin suicide bombings in Tessalit killed three fighters for the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, known as the M.N.L.A., an ethnic Tuareg armed group that has allied with the French forces, a spokesman for the group said, according to Agence France-Presse. The attackers were killed as well. On Thursday, a guard and an attacker were killed in a car bombing in Kidal, south of Tessalit, that appeared to have targeted a civilian fuel depot, France’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.

    Responsibility for that attack was claimed by the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa, an offshoot of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. The group said it would continue to press its fight and also intended to retake Gao, hundreds of miles to the south.

    In central Gao late Thursday morning, Malian and French forces killed about 15 militants from “infiltrated terrorist groups” that had seized the town hall and court, according to the French Defense Ministry. The initial firefight involved only Malian soldiers and militant fighters, the ministry’s statement said, but several French armored vehicles and two helicopters were later involved.

    Two militants were killed outside a checkpoint north of the city after “sporadically” attacking the Nigerien soldiers standing guard, the Defense Ministry said. As many as six Malian soldiers were reported wounded.

    On Friday, sporadic gunfire and at least two rebel rocket attacks were reported in Gao, according to a Malian officer cited by The Associated Press. Most of the militants fled to the east of the city aboard seven vehicles, the officer said.

    Russian officials have pointed repeatedly to the unrest in North Africa and the political turmoil in Egypt as evidence that the Western-supported Arab Spring has created a dangerous and chaotic situation and potential breeding grounds for terrorists. Russia has also used the examples of Libya and Egypt to justify its opposition to any Western effort to oust the government of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

    Eric Schmitt reported from Washington, and Scott Sayare from Paris. David M. Herszenhorn contributed reporting from Moscow.

    Related

    At War Blog: A Modern Medal Is Met With Modern Protest (February 22, 2013)

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    http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2013....html?ref=asia

    Insurgents Launch 4 Attacks in Afghanistan
    By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Published: February 23, 2013
    Updated: February 24, 2013 at 1:30 AM ET

    KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A series of early morning attacks hit eastern Afghanistan Sunday, with three separate suicide bombings in outlying provinces and a shootout between security forces and a would-be attacker in the capital city of Kabul.

    The deadliest attack was a suicide car bombing at a state intelligence site just after sunrise in the eastern city of Jalalabad. In that attack, a car approached the gate of a compound used by the National Directorate of Security and exploded, killing two guards and wounding three others, said regional government spokesman Ahmad Zia Abdulzai. The building was damaged in the attack, he added.

    Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the bombing.

    Shortly before the Jalalabad attack, an assailant detonated a van packed with explosives at a highway police checkpoint in Logar province, also in the east. That explosion wounded three police officers but no one was killed, said Deputy Police Chief Rais Khan Abdul Rahimzai.

    In Kabul, meanwhile, police shot and killed a would-be suicide bomber who was trying to attack an intelligence agency office downtown, according to the city's deputy police chief, Gen. Mohammad Daud Amin. Intelligence agents spotted the bomber before he could detonate the explosives in his vehicle and shot him, Amin said.

    The explosives in the vehicle were later defused, he added.

    Later in the morning, a man wearing a suicide vest blew himself up outside the police headquarters for Baraki Barak district in Logar province. The man was stopped by police as he tried to force his way into the building, but still managed to detonate his vest, said Din Mohammad Darwesh, the provincial government spokesman.

    One policeman was wounded in the Baraki Barak attack, Darwesh said.

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    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/23/wo....html?ref=asia

    Ethnic War in Myanmar Has China on Edge
    By EDWARD WONG
    Published: February 22, 2013

    Chinese Army units have been undergoing intense training near the border with Myanmar in anticipation of an ethnic war there spilling into southwest China, according to official Chinese news media reports on Friday.

    The training has been taking place in the hills of Yunnan Province. It borders Kachin State in northern Myanmar, where a civil war between an ethnic Kachin rebel army and the Burmese Army has been unfolding. The fighting intensified in late December, and Chinese officials and news organizations reported that shells had landed in China and that Kachin refugees had begun living in hotels and the homes of family and friends in Yunnan.

    Last month, the Myanmar government announced a cease-fire with the rebels of the Kachin Independence Army in order to hold peace talks, but foreigners in the area reported continuing attacks by the Burmese Army in the days after. One Chinese news report on Friday said there had been “no significant improvement” in the peace talks.

    The goal of the military training in Yunnan was to ensure that the Chinese army units can “fight a battle, and be victorious in battle,” according to a report on Thursday by Xinhua, the state news agency, that was cited by several other news Web sites.

    The Xinhua report said the training began this month, after the start of the Lunar New Year, and has focused on preparing border guards for “real combat.” Among other things, the soldiers have trained to march in bad weather and work in areas that have blind spots for communications signals.

    The report said the hilly terrain in Yunnan presented special challenges, and troops were training to fight in the jungle, ravines and water. Some units have been setting up communications posts along the border.

    Earlier, Yunnan military leaders set up a command center in the area. An article in January on the Web site of People’s Daily, a newspaper that speaks for the Communist Party, said border guards and police officers could be seen throughout one border town, Nabang, checking the identification cards of civilians. Many businesses had shut down because transportation was halted, and artillery fire could be heard through the night, the article said.

    Chinese leaders have been emphasizing in general that the Chinese military should be prepared to fight and should proceed vigorously with modernization. Xi Jinping, the new leader of the Communist Party, visited army and navy units in southern China late last year and spoke of the need to strengthen the military.

    The current round of fighting in Kachin State has centered on the town of Laiza, from which the Kachin army controls an autonomous area of the state. This winter, the Burmese Army has been pressing an offensive to capture Laiza or crucial military positions around it. The army has deployed fighter jets and heavy artillery, and residents have said civilians were killed.

    Until a flare-up in tensions in June 2011, the Burmese military and Kachin rebels, who insist on maintaining autonomy, had been adhering to a 17-year cease-fire.

    Chinese officials have expressed concern this winter over the violence, especially artillery shells falling within Yunnan; at least four have landed since Dec. 30. There are also worries about a potential flood of refugees.

    Thousands of Kachin, who are mostly Christian, entered Yunnan after the war started again in 2011. Chinese Christians went to the refugee camps to provide aid, as did ethnic Kachin living in China, who are called Jingpo in Mandarin. Then in August, officials in Yunnan forced most of the refugees to leave the camps and return to Kachin State.

    Thein Sein, the president of Myanmar and a former general, has been trying to introduce democratic practices to the nation’s authoritarian political system. But ethnic civil wars have afflicted the country for decades, and the conflicts raise questions about whether the demands of ethnic minorities like the Kachin will be given serious consideration by the evolving ethnic Burmese-dominated government.

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    http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/rise-...militant-group
    <a href="http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/rise-new-nigerian-militant-group">The Rise of a New Nigerian Militant Group</a> is republished with permission of Stratfor.

    The Rise of a New Nigerian Militant Group
    February 21, 2013 | 1003 GMT
    Stratfor

    By Matthew Bey and Sim Tack

    In the past week, 14 foreigners have been kidnapped in northern Nigeria and Cameroon in two separate attacks. No group has claimed responsibility for the second attack, which occurred Feb. 19 in Cameroon, but the location is adjacent to Boko Haram's core territory in northeast Nigeria. Ansaru, a splinter group of Boko Haram, claimed responsibility for the first attack and could be responsible for the second since, unlike Boko Haram, it has a history of kidnapping foreign nationals. If Boko Haram conducted the second attack, it would signal a significant shift in the group's targets and tactics.

    As Stratfor noted, Boko Haram's capabilities in 2012 were limited to soft targets near the group's base of operations in northeastern Nigeria. Ansaru has emerged over the past year and appears to have surpassed Boko Haram in its range of tactics and targets. Ansaru has relied on armed attacks for kidnappings rather than suicide bombings. Ansaru's targets have included foreigners and those involved with the intervention in Mali, while Boko Haram's targets have been Nigerian.

    Nearly all of the Ansaru attacks since December 2012, as well as the unclaimed kidnapping in Cameroon, have targeted French nationals or those supporting French operations in Mali. This has raised the fear that widespread kidnappings will be fallout from the Mali intervention. A continuation of this violence could harm foreign interests in Nigeria and the surrounding countries and strengthen militant jihadism throughout the region.

    Ansaru's Origins and Connections

    Not a lot is known about the origin of Ansaru, but following Boko Haram's attacks on Kano -- a predominately Muslim city in Nigeria -- that killed almost 200 people in January 2012, Ansaru publicly split from Boko Haram, denouncing the killings of innocent Muslims. However, the group's formation began earlier in connection to two kidnappings.

    The first was in May 2011, when a group claiming to be al Qaeda in the Land Beyond the Sahel and a faction of Boko Haram kidnapped two engineers -- one British and one Italian -- in Birnin Kebbi, Nigeria. On Dec. 1, 2011, a video was sent to Agence Nouakchott d'Information, Mauritania's state media outlet, demanding a 5 million-euro (about $6.7 million) ransom. Demanding millions in ransoms is a strategy employed by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb; Nigerian militants' demands do not typically reach this level. Agence Nouakchott d'Information is known to have close contacts with al Qaeda's North African branch and served as the mouthpiece for Mokhtar Belmokhtar during the January 2013 attack on the Ain Amenas plant in Algeria. The mediator in the ransom negotiations, Mustafa Ould Limam Chafi, also negotiated many of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb's previous hostage ransoms, including the release of U.N. Special Envoy to Niger Robert Fowler, the Canadian diplomat who was kidnapped in Niger in 2008. The connections to Agence Nouakchott d'Information and Chafi suggest that the group responsible for the May 2011 kidnappings in Nigeria -- Ansaru or its predecessor faction within Boko Haram -- has close ties with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

    The man behind the May 2011 operation was trained by Khalid al-Barnawi, whom the U.S. State Department designated a global terrorist in June 2012 because of his ties to Boko Haram and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Al-Barnawi's connection with North African jihadist groups includes time spent with the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, where he worked with Belmokhtar. He also set up kidnapping training camps in Algeria. It is unclear what the link is between al-Barnawi and Ansaru. Some experts have told news media that Abu Usmatul al-Ansari, who claims to be Ansaru's leader, could be a pseudonym for al-Barnawi. Al-Ansari surfaced earlier as Boko Haram's commander in Nigeria's northeastern states, which has been Ansaru's primary area of operation.

    The second kidnapping was the January 2012 abduction of a German engineer in Kano. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility in a video sent to Agence Nouakchott d'Information, but it is more likely that a local group kidnapped the engineer. The hostage was killed during a rescue attempt by German special operations forces in Kano; al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb typically transports hostages to the mountains of northern Mali. According to a Stratfor source, just two weeks after the rescue attempt, the same German special operations forces group targeted a convoy of four cars in northern Nigeria, possibly to disrupt a rumored meeting between a representative of al Shabaab and Abu Zeid, a prominent al Qaeda commander in the Sahel. It is likely that the German special operations forces obtained relevant intelligence in the rescue attempt and acted on it. If such a piece of intelligence was found in Kano, then links between the group behind the operation and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb must be fairly robust, which would mean that al-Barnawi was almost certainly involved with the operation.

    Since the death of Boko Haram leader Mohammed Yusuf in 2009, internal tensions have risen between nationalist factions aligned with present Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau and transnational factions. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has long sought a connection with Boko Haram, and it appears that the group has established ties with Ansaru and that the tensions between national and transnational factions of Boko Haram led to the split.

    Targets and Tactics

    Attacks in Nigeria and Cameroon


    Ansaru's first claimed attack was in November 2012, when 40 gunmen assailed the Special Anti-Robbery Squad detention facility in Abuja. After claiming responsibility, al-Ansari stated that Ansaru would target foreigners. The next attack was by 30 gunmen on a French company's compound in Katsina, Nigeria, resulting in the kidnapping of a French engineer. Afterwards, al-Ansari said the attack was because of France's support for an intervention in Mali. This was also the first attack against a Western target in the region since the August 2011 Abuja U.N. bombing, which remains Boko Haram's only transnational attack.

    In January, Ansaru ambushed a military convoy bound for Mali -- its second consecutive attack with a transnational objective. Ansaru followed this with an abduction of seven foreign nationals in Bauchi, Nigeria, on Feb. 16. While kidnappings of foreigners are rare in northern Nigeria and Boko Haram has never claimed responsibility for one, Ansaru appears to be focusing on kidnapping operations similar to those carried out by al Qaeda's North African branch.

    Boko Haram's tactics can be broken down generally into two categories: suicide bombings (typically using vehicle-borne explosives) and motorcycle ambushes. Boko Haram's target set typically constitutes churches, the police, the military, religious leaders and political institutions. Since November 2012, Boko Haram has attacked a church in a military compound in Kaduna state, made an assassination attempt on the emir of Kano and bombed two churches on Christmas Eve. In December 2012, vehicle-borne suicide bombers targeted offices of two international phone service providers, but this was because the companies were assisting authorities, not because Boko Haram was making a move toward international targets.

    Ansaru's attacks, on the other hand, have consisted of raids by gunmen against hardened targets. A platoon-sized element typically assaults the compound where hostages will be abducted, or prisoners freed, before withdrawing. Explosives have not been used in Ansaru raids, except to breach barriers. Such attacks require different capabilities and preparations than Boko Haram's suicide bombings do.

    It is becoming increasingly clear that Boko Haram and Ansaru have distinct agendas and different tactics and target sets. There is a long history in using militancy to achieve political ends in Nigeria. Boko Haram -- or at least some of its factions -- satisfies political objectives in the north against President Goodluck Jonathan's administration, and two northern senators have been accused of helping the group. At least presently, Ansaru does not appear to have any of these connections. Its operations do not appear to directly influence Nigerian politics.

    Boko Haram's use of suicide bombs, car bombs and other attacks means that it remains the more dangerous group overall. However, Ansaru's more transnational scope of attacks means that the group could pose a greater danger to Western targets and could have the ability to coordinate with other groups operating in West Africa.

    Ansaru's Future

    Documents recently found in Timbuktu, originating from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb's leadership, describe how the group's contacts with local militants, such as Ansar Dine in Mali, are to be kept quiet. The same could be true for relations between al Qaeda's North African branch and Ansaru. Based on the history of those allegedly involved in Ansaru and the group's stated allegiances, it is very likely that al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb will in some ways attempt to direct Ansaru's activities in Nigeria. Ansaru offers the al Qaeda branch further reach into northern Nigeria, which it has long sought.

    If ties between the organizations do exist, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb may work more closely with Ansaru in an attempt to orchestrate its activities into a broader strategy. A Boko Haram offshoot with an aggressive stance toward foreign targets within Nigeria could attract like-minded Boko Haram leaders, such as Mamman Nur (the architect of the U.N. compound attack), and increase the complexity of the group's operations. Although Ansaru is not known to use Boko Haram's tactic of suicide bombings, shifting allegiances within Boko Haram-affiliated groups could bring elements into Ansaru that might expand on the current type of operations the group conducts.

    Ansaru's development is significant, and while the group has not been responsible for a large number of attacks, its operations reach beyond Nigeria's borders. Ansaru could also extend al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb's network farther south, possibly into Cameroon, and the group's rise could easily negate the gains made against militants in northern Mali. Regardless of eventual developments in the region, the risk of kidnappings near northern Nigeria is increasing.

    Read more: The Rise of a New Nigerian Militant Group | Stratfor

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    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/...91N00G20130224

    Insight: Spiral of Karachi killings widens Pakistan's sectarian divide
    By Matthew Green

    KARACHI | Sun Feb 24, 2013 12:28am EST

    (Reuters) - When Aurangzeb Farooqi survived an attempt on his life that left six of his bodyguards dead and a six-inch bullet wound in his thigh, the Pakistani cleric lost little time in turning the narrow escape to his advantage.

    Recovering in hospital after the ambush on his convoy in Karachi, Pakistan's commercial capital, the radical Sunni Muslim ideologue was composed enough to exhort his followers to close ranks against the city's Shi'ites.

    "Enemies should listen to this: my task now is Sunni awakening," Farooqi said in remarks captured on video shortly after a dozen gunmen opened fire on his double-cabin pick-up truck on December 25.

    "I will make Sunnis so powerful against Shi'ites that no Sunni will even want to shake hands with a Shi'ite," he said, propped up in bed on emergency-room pillows. "They will die their own deaths, we won't have to kill them."

    Such is the kind of speech that chills members of Pakistan's Shi'ite minority, braced for a new chapter of persecution following a series of bombings that have killed almost 200 people in the city of Quetta since the beginning of the year.

    While the Quetta carnage grabbed world attention, a Reuters inquiry into a lesser known spate of murders in Karachi, a much bigger conurbation, suggests the violence is taking on a volatile new dimension as a small number of Shi'ites fight back.

    Pakistan's Western allies have traditionally been fixated on the challenge posed to the brittle, nuclear-armed state by Taliban militants battling the army in the bleakly spectacular highlands on the Afghan frontier.

    But a cycle of tit-for-tat killings on the streets of Karachi points to a new type of threat: a campaign by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and allied Pakistani anti-Shi'ite groups to rip open sectarian fault-lines in the city of 18 million people.

    Police suspect LeJ, which claimed responsibility for the Quetta blasts, and its sympathizers may also be the driving force behind the murder of more than 80 Shi'ites in Karachi in the past six months, including doctors, bankers and teachers.

    In turn, a number of hardline Sunni clerics who share Farooqi's suspicion of the Shi'ite sect have been killed in drive-by shootings or barely survived apparent revenge attacks. Dozens of Farooqi's followers have also been shot dead.

    Discerning the motives for any one killing is murky work in Karachi, where multiple armed factions are locked in a perpetual all-against-all turf war, but detectives suspect an emerging Shi'ite group known as the Mehdi Force is behind some of the attacks on Farooqi's men.

    While beleaguered secularists and their Western friends hope Pakistan will mature into a more confident democracy at general elections due in May, the spiral of killings in Karachi, a microcosm of the country's diversity, suggests the polarizing forces of intolerance are gaining ground.

    "The divide is getting much bigger between Shia and Sunni. You have to pick sides now," said Sundus Rasheed, who works at a radio station in Karachi. "I've never experienced this much hatred in Pakistan."

    Once the proud wearer of a silver Shi'ite amulet her mother gave her to hang around her neck, Rasheed now tucks away the charm, fearing it might serve not as protection, but mark her as a target.

    "INFIDELS"

    Fully recovered from the assassination attempt, Farooqi can be found in the cramped upstairs office of an Islamic seminary tucked in a side-street in Karachi's gritty Landhi neighborhood, an industrial zone in the east of the city.

    On a rooftop shielded by a corrugated iron canopy, dozens of boys wearing skull caps sit cross-legged on prayer mats, imbibing a strict version of the Deobandi school of Sunni Islam that inspires both Farooqi and the foot-soldiers of LeJ.

    "We say Shias are infidels. We say this on the basis of reason and arguments," Farooqi, a wiry, intense man with a wispy beard and cascade of shoulder-length curls, told Reuters. "I want to be called to the Supreme Court so that I can prove using their own books that they are not Muslims."

    Farooqi, who cradled bejeweled prayer beads as he spoke, is the Karachi head of a Deobandi organization called Ahle Sunnat wal Jama'at. That is the new name for Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, a forerunner banned in 2002 in a wider crackdown on militancy by Pakistan's then army ruler, General Pervez Musharraf.

    Farooqi says he opposes violence and denies any link to LeJ, but security officials believe his supporters are broadly aligned with the heavily armed group, whose leaders deem murdering Shi'ites an act of piety.

    In the past year, LeJ has prosecuted its campaign with renewed gusto, emboldened by the release of Malik Ishaq, one of its founders, who was freed after spending 14 years in jail in July, 2011. Often pictured wearing a celebratory garland of pink flowers, Ishaq has since appeared at gatherings of supporters in Karachi and other cities.

    In diverse corners of Pakistan, LeJ's cadres have bombed targets from mosques to snooker halls; yanked passengers off buses and shot them, and posted a video of themselves beheading a pair of trussed-up captives with a knife.

    Nobody knows exactly how many Shi'ites there are in Pakistan -- estimates ranging from four to 20 percent of the population of 180 million underscore the uncertainty. What is clear is that they are dying faster than ever. At least 400 were killed last year, many from the ethnic Hazara minority in Quetta, according to Human Rights Watch, and some say the figure is far higher.

    Pakistani officials suspect regional powers are stoking the fire, with donors in Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-dominated Gulf countries funding LeJ, while Shi'ite organizations turn to Iran.

    Whatever factors are driving the violence, the state's ambivalent response has raised questions over the degree of tolerance for LeJ by elements in the security establishment, which has a long history of nurturing Deobandi proxies.

    Under pressure in the wake of the Quetta bombings, police arrested Ishaq at his home in the eastern Punjab province on Friday under a colonial-era public order law.

    But in Karachi, Farooqi and his thousands of followers project a new aura of confidence. Crowds of angry men chant "Shia infidel! Shia infidel" at rallies and burn effigies while clerics pour scorn on the sect from mosque loudspeakers after Friday prayers. A rash of graffiti hails Farooqi as a savior.

    Over glasses of milky tea, he explained that his goal was to convince the government to declare Shi'ites non-Muslims, as it did to the Ahmadiyya sect in 1974, as a first step towards ostracizing the community and banning a number of their books.

    "When someone is socially boycotted, he becomes disappointed and isolated. He realizes that his beliefs are not right, that people hate him," Farooqi said. "What I'm saying is that killing them is not the solution. Let's talk, let's debate and convince people that they are wrong."

    CODENAME "SHAHEED"

    Not far from Farooqi's seminary, in the winding lanes of the rough-and-tumble Malir quarter, Shi'ite leaders are kindling an awakening of their own.

    A gleaming metallic chandelier dangles from the mirrored archway of a half-completed mosque rising near the modest offices of Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslemeen - known as MWM - a vocal Shi'ite party that has emerged to challenge Farooqi's ascent.

    In an upstairs room, Ejaz Hussain Bahashti, an MWM leader clad in a white turban and black cloak, exhorts a gaggle of women activists to persuade their neighbors to join the cause.

    Seated beneath a portrait of Ayatollah Khomeini, the Shi'ite cleric who led the 1979 Iranian revolution, Bahashti said his organization would not succumb to what he sees as a plan by LeJ to provoke sectarian conflict.

    "In our sect, if we are being killed we are not supposed to carry out reprisal attacks," he told Reuters. "If we decided to take up arms, then no part of the country would be spared from terrorism - but it's forbidden."

    The MWM played a big role in sit-ins that paralyzed parts of Karachi and dozens of other towns to protest against the Quetta bombings - the biggest Shi'ite demonstrations in years. But police suspect that some in the sect have chosen a less peaceful path.

    Detectives believe the small Shi'ite Mehdi Force group, comprised of about 20 active members in Karachi, is behind several of the attacks on Deobandi clerics and their followers.

    The underground network is led by a hardened militant codenamed "Shaheed", or martyr, who recruits eager but unseasoned middle-class volunteers who compensate for their lack of numbers by stalking high-profile targets.

    "They don't have a background in terrorism, but after the Shia killings started they joined the group and they tried to settle the score," said Superintendent of Police Raja Umar Khattab. "They kill clerics."

    In November, suspected Mehdi Force gunmen opened fire at a tea shop near the Ahsan-ul-Uloom seminary, where Farooqi has a following, killing six students. A scholar from the madrasa was shot dead the next month, another student killed in January.

    "It was definitely a reaction, Shias have never gone on the offensive on their own," said Deputy Inspector-General Shahid Hayat.

    According to the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee, a Karachi residents' group, some 68 members of Farooqi's Ahle Sunnat wal Jama'at and 85 Shi'ites were killed in the city from early September to February 19.

    Police caution that it can be difficult to discern who is killing who in a vast metropolis where an array of political factions and gangs are vying for influence. A suspect has yet to be named, for example, in the slaying of two Deobandi clerics and a student in January whose killer was caught on CCTV firing at point blank range then fleeing on a motorbike.

    Some in Karachi question whether well-connected Shi'ites within the city's dominant political party, the Muttahida Quami Movement, which commands a formidable force of gunmen, may have had a hand in some of the more sophisticated attacks, or whether rival Sunni factions may also be involved.

    Despite the growing body count, Karachi can still draw on a store of tolerance. Some Sunnis made a point of attending the Shi'ite protests - a reminder that Farooqi's adherents are themselves a minority. Yet as Karachi's murder rate sets new records, the dynamics that have kept the city's conflicts within limits are being tested.

    In the headquarters of an ambulance service founded by Abdul Sattar Edhi, once nominated for a Nobel Prize for devoting his life to Karachi's poor, controllers are busier than ever dispatching crews to ferry shooting victims to the morgue.

    "The best religion of all is humanity," said Edhi, who is in his 80s, surveying the chaotic parade of street life from a chair on the pavement outside. "If religion doesn't have humanity, then it is useless."

    (Editing by Robert Birsel)

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    SKorea's new leader faces NKorea nuke crisis

    Feb 24, 1:56 AM (ET)

    By FOSTER KLUG and HYUNG-JIN KIM

    (AP) In this Feb. 22, 2013 photo, South Korean President-elect Park Geun-hye, left, listens to Deputy...
    Full Image

    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - Even before she takes office Monday as South Korea's first female president, Park Geun-hye's campaign vow to soften Seoul's current hard-line approach to rival North Korea is being tested by Pyongyang's recent underground nuclear detonation.

    Pyongyang, Washington, Beijing and Tokyo are all watching to see if Park, the daughter of a staunchly anti-communist dictator, pursues an ambitious engagement policy meant to ease five years of animosity on the divided peninsula or if she sticks with the tough stance of her fellow conservative predecessor, Lee Myung-bak.

    Park's decision is important because it will likely set the tone of the larger diplomatic approach that Washington and others take in stalled efforts to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons ambitions.

    It will also be complicated by North Korea's warning of unspecified "second and third measures of greater intensity," a threat that comes as Washington and others push for tightened U.N. sanctions as punishment for the Feb. 12 atomic test, the North's third since 2006.

    That test is seen as another step toward North Korea's goal of building a bomb small enough to be mounted on a missile that can hit the United States. The explosion, which Pyongyang called a response to U.S. hostility, triggered global outrage.

    Park has said she won't yet change her policy, which was built with the high probability of provocations from Pyongyang in mind. But some aren't sure if engagement can work, given North Korea's choice of "bombs over electricity," as American scientist Siegfried Hecker puts it.

    "Normalization of relations, a peace treaty, access to energy and economic opportunities - those things that come from choosing electricity over bombs and have the potential of lifting the North Korean people out of poverty and hardship - will be made much more difficult, if not impossible, for at least the next five years," Hecker, a regular visitor to North Korea, said in a posting on the website of Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation.

    As she takes office, however, Park will be mindful that many South Koreans are frustrated at the state of inter-Korean relations after the Lee government's five-year rule, which saw two nuclear tests, three long-range rocket launches and attacks blamed on North Korea that killed 50 South Koreans in 2010.

    Park's policy calls for strong defense but also for efforts to build trust through aid shipments, reconciliation talks and the resumption of some large-scale economic initiatives as progress occurs on the nuclear issue. Park has also held out the possibility of a summit with new North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

    Much is riding on Park's conclusion.

    "The overall policy direction on North Korea among the U.S., Japan and South Korea will be hers to decide," said Victor Cha, a former senior Asia adviser to President George W. Bush. "If Park Geun-hye wants to contain, the U.S. will support that. But if Park Geun-hye, months down the road, wants to engage, then the U.S. will go along with that too. "

    Engagement by Park would provide a sharp contrast with the rule of her father, Park Chung-hee, whose antipathy toward Pyongyang during his 18-year rule in the 1960s and '70s prompted a failed attack on the Blue House by 31 North Korean commandos in 1968. In 1974, Park's wife was shot and killed by a Japan-born Korean claiming he was acting on assassination orders by North Korea founder and then leader Kim Il Sung.

    Critics say Park Geun-hye's North Korea policy lacks specifics. They also question how far she can go given her conservative base's strong anti-Pyongyang sentiments.

    But Park has previously confounded ideological expectations. She travelled to Pyongyang in 2002 and held private talks with the late Kim Jong Il, the father of Kim Jong Un, and her gifts to Kim Jong Il are showcased in a museum of gifts to the North Korean leaders. During the often contentious presidential campaign, she responded to liberal criticism by reaching out to the families of victims of her father's dictatorship.

    She said in her 2007 autobiography that she visited Pyongyang because she thought her painful experiences with the North made her "the one who could resolve South-North relations better than anyone else." She also wrote that Kim Jong Il apologized for the 1968 attack.

    "I don't think this latest spike in the cycle of provocation and response undermines her whole platform of seeking to somehow re-engage the North," said John Delury, an analyst at Seoul's Yonsei University. North Korea wants a return of large-scale aid and investment from South Korea.

    Before the election, Pyongyang's state media repeatedly questioned the sincerity of Park's engagement overture. Since the election, however, although regular criticism of Lee as "human scum" continues, the North's official Korean Central News Agency hasn't mentioned Park by name, though her political party is still condemned.

    Pyongyang sees the nuclear crisis as a U.S.-North Korea issue, Delury said. "From a North Korean mindset, ramping up the tension and hostility with the U.S. does not equal jettisoning relations with the South."

    Park may take a wait-and-see stance in coming months.

    A possible positive turning point could come if North Korea resists tests or launches during April, when it celebrates two state anniversaries - Kim Il Sung's birthday and the army's founding anniversary - according to analyst Hong Hyun-ik at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea. Pyongyang conducted a failed long-range rocket launch during last year's celebrations.

    Hong predicts that the United States will seek nuclear talks with North Korea in a few months, something that could help Park's efforts to engage North Korea.

    "The nuclear test sets back and complicates but does not necessarily doom her engagement efforts over the long term," said Ralph Cossa, president of Pacific Forum CSIS, a Hawaii-based think tank.

    Park warned after the test that North Korea faces international isolation, economic difficulties and, eventually, a collapse if it continues to build its atomic program. She also pressed Pyongyang to respond to her overtures.

    "We can't achieve trust with only one side's efforts. Isn't there a saying that 'We need both hands to make a clapping sound?'" she said.

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    Mali radicals recruited child soldiers at schools

    Feb 23, 11:20 AM (ET)

    By KRISTA LARSON

    (AP) In this photo taken Monday, Feb. 18, 2013, children attend a class in a madrassa in Gao, northern...
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    GAO, Mali (AP) - The radical Islamic fighters showed up at Mohamed Salia's Quranic school, armed with weapons and demanding to address his students.

    The leader, named Hamadi, entered one of the classrooms, took a piece of chalk and scrawled his message on the blackboard.

    "How to wage holy war," he wrote in Arabic. "How to terrorize the enemy in combat," the lesson plan continued.

    Then his mobile phone rang, and he stepped away to answer. Salia urged his students to pose some questions of their own when he returned: Where had he come from and what did he want with a bunch of young people?

    (AP) In this picture taken Monday Feb. 18, 2013, children gather at the door of Mohamed Salia's madrassa...
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    Hamadi told the students that people didn't ask questions like that where he was from. Islam knows no nationality, he replied and then left - and did not return before the French-led military operation ousted him and his fighters from power last month.

    "I told my students to be careful: that these men may be well-versed in the Quran but their Islamic point of view is not the same as ours," the teacher recalled.

    Nearly a month after the al-Qaida-linked militants were driven out of Gao and into the surrounding villages, students are now returning to the city's Quranic schools.

    Many classrooms, though, are still half full, as tens of thousands of people fled the fighting and strict Islamic rule the extremists.

    However, other pupils left Gao not with their families but with the Islamic fighters when they retreated, say human rights activists and local officials.

    (AP) In this photo taken Monday, Feb. 18, 2013, Mohamed Salia teaches in his Madrassa in Gao, northern...
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    The experience of the Gao schools illustrates how the extremists used madrassas in northern Mali to indoctrinate young people and to recruit child soldiers.

    The Islamic radicals attacked Gao several times this week, their second assault on the strategic city since they retreated in the face of French and Malian military, and their young recruits appear to be part of the strategy of MUJAO, or Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa.

    "MUJAO took many of the students from the Quranic schools because they speak Arabic and are easier to convert and manipulate," Gao Mayor Sadou Diallo told The Associated Press. "Between 200 and 300 children have disappeared with the jihadists."

    "The schools were all complicit. They didn't have a choice - if you didn't collaborate with MUJAO you died," Diallo said.

    An untold number of children are believed to have been killed in the January fighting in central Mali, he said, and when jihadist strongholds were bombed in Gao during the military intervention last month.

    (AP) A Malian schoolgirl listens to her teacher as schools reopen in Gao, northern Mali, Monday Feb. 18,...
    Full Image
    Dozens of child soldiers were believed to be living in a government customs building that was later bombed during the military offensive, residents say. The Islamic fighters took away their wounded before it could be determined how many casualties there were at the site.

    The rubble of the building is littered with tiny children's shoes, and notebooks and pieces of wood on which the children copied Quranic verses. The children's writing in pen on notebook paper depicts verses seeking protection from evil.

    Imams and directors of the Quranic schools in Gao say it was here that the youths were radicalized, while the existing schools continued their regular curriculum.

    Students who were plucked from classrooms in Gao and the surrounding communities came to the customs building to study and prepare for war.

    At the Adadatou Alislamiatou madrassa in Gao, pupils are now back in class after the disruptions caused by the fighting and a Feb. 10 attack when the militants re-invaded the city in a show of force before being forced back into the bush by French and Malian forces.

    (AP) A Malian schoolgirl stands at the blackboard as schools reopen in Gao, northern Mali, Monday Feb....
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    As the afternoon sun bakes the ground outside the classroom hut, 10-year-old Abdoulaye Ousmane leads his classmates in reciting Quranic verses while their teacher attends prayers at the nearby mosque.

    Sporting a soccer jersey and flip-flops, Abdoulaye sings out the words as he traces the Arabic script in chalk with his pointer, and an exuberant group of nearly 50 other children loudly sing back to him loudly.

    They sit cross-legged on mats on the sand floor of the thatched hut - the girls on one side all wearing headscarves with some carrying Hannah Montana backpacks, too.

    As these students return to school after the MUAO occupation, their teachers say many have been traumatized by the gunfire and fighting. Religious instructors are also confronted with how best to guide their students who have been exposed to the extremist ideology of al-Qaida-linked militants.

    During the reign of the MUJAO, the Islamic fighters amputated hands of suspected thieves in public squares. Billboards displayed around town ordered women to cover themselves in public.

    The Islamic militants capitalized on the city's poverty, offering sign-on bonuses and monthly salaries to those who joined their cause, imams said.

    Abdourhamane Maiga, assistant director of the Adadatou Alislamiatou madrassa, recalls one student who dropped out of school after being asked to repeat a grade.

    The next time Maiga saw the pupil, he was wielding a firearm with the Islamic fighters at their police headquarters downtown.

    "They didn't come here to practice Islam," he says of the extremists. "The prophet never would have accepted a child of 10 years old waging jihad and taking up arms."

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    Hyderaqbad Blasts: A Quick review

    Paper No. 5407
    Dated 24-Feb-2013
    By Col R Hariharan

    [This background paper was used for a TV discussion by Col Hariharan on February 22, 2013. It was based on open source information]

    BACKGROUND INFORMATION

    Two improvised explosive devices (IED) kept in tiffin boxes strapped to bicycles had exploded minutes apart, in Dilsukh Nagar, a congested Hyderabad suburb, around 7 pm on February 22. So far 17 people are reported to have died. Over 100 people were injured – some of them seriously – in the explosions. The area, which was also the scene of an earlier terrorist strike, has two cinema theatres. The explosions occurred 200 yards from a popular Sai Baba temple which is located in the area where devotees throng on Thursdays.

    Forensic evidence from the site is being collected. NIA and NSG teams have reached Hyderabad and to assist local police in investigations. Delhi and Maharashtra police are also in close touch with Andhra Pradesh police to help their investigations with their own input. In fact Maharashtra police is sending a seven-member team to Hyderabad. Media reports indicate Ammonium nitrate, freely available for agricultural use, was used in the IEDs triggered by timers. The media cited a Delhi Police interrogation report of November 2011 in which Maqbool, an IM suspect had revealed that he and Imran had reconnoitred Dilsukhnagar and Begum Bazaar localities of Hyderabad on the instructions of IM founder Riyaz Bhatkal. While media has played up this angle, police appear to be not so sure of IM involvement in the explosions.

    At the government level there were contradictory statements from different functionaries in the same department as well as at the Centre and State. Both the political class and the Police (perhaps prodded by them) have been reactive to the barrage of media conjectures which could prejudice objective analysis.

    COMMENTS

    Intelligence failure

    Everyone talks of intelligence failure in this incident because that is the easiest way of explaining all other shortcomings. Terrorists, unlike other kinds of extremists, operate in extremely secretive ways. Many times the operatives may not know the whole scheme of things in carrying out a particular strike. They also plan lone wolf operations involving only one person. So the question of predicting terror strikes with 100 percent accuracy is near impossible. Ideally there should be a central structure to correlate all inputs and analyse them to evolve to identify preventive and offensive strategies in vulnerable areas and on likely targets. In the current terrorist strike, it is too early to objectively assess as all investigative reports will have to be studied.

    Strengths and weaknesses

    The level of cooperation between the Centre and states both vertically and laterally is better than before. Time delay in the sharing process can be reduced by using networked information sharing, but information instead of being routine can be addressed to specific persons earmarked in the state for counter-terrorism. In this case the available information was apparently treated in a routine manner. However, it must be stressed ultimately it is the state authorities’ responsibility to take a call on acting upon the information. So there is no point in blaming AP Police for not taking adequate follow up action because we do not know what action was taken. It would appear the police were either looking for corroboration of the information about IM suspect recceing the target area last year, or decided take limited action when they failed to validate the information. This would show lacunae in intelligence gathering and decision making at the state level. This should be rectified. But this is an ongoing process and there is no end to it.

    The other weakness is political; in every incident both opposition and ruling parties try to score brownie points. There is a requirement for mature and informed discussion between parties in normal times for evolving broad based counter terrorism strategies. Otherwise with opposition parties ruling in some states, there will always be suspicion that the Centre is trying to impinge upon their powers. This suspicion is one of the reasons the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) proposed by Mr P Chidambaram has not seen the light of the day. This is a political issue that requires attention.

    Lastly, both Centre and states have to resolve their problems in credibly communicating to the public. Had the Prime Minister spoken on the subject before the Home Minister dished out a pedestrian statement in parliament, it could have sent a message that the government was taking the matter seriously. The problems at the state level were similar but appeared to have been managed better as the situation developed.

    Suggestions for further action

    Media’s role: With the spread of news at the speed of light, it is natural TV channels compete in nit picking. However this confers on them greater responsibility to ensure larger interests of the nation are not trifled with. There is an apparent refinement in their process since 26/11 with different anchors specialising in different subjects. This is welcome. However, even in analysing current topics, much time is wasted in discussing the hardy perennials – Islamic vs Hindu “terrorism,” historical grievances of communities and prejudices of ideology, dogma and creed. Talk show anchors should aim at choosing the right guys relevant to the issue rather than allowing religious/caste constituencies and political pundits taking control of every issue. Ultimately such discussions should inform the public objectively rather than ending up in increased decibel levels.

    Public confidence: The objective of terrorism is to destabilize the state by carrying out daring acts of huge magnitude affecting the ordinary people. Every terrorist act succeeds in chipping away public confidence in the government and themselves little by little. To counteract, this the government must carry out a thorough analysis of the whole incident and the actions taken, identify failures and acts of negligence and take follow up action to rectify them. After a period these details should be summarised made them available to the public in a transparent way. This is our biggest weakness; we do not believe our government is taking the right action because we do not know whether they did. This is what has happened in Hyderabad just as it happened in other places where terrorists struck. So to an extent terrorists have already succeeded; can we expect the government to take action?

    (Col. R Hariharan, a retired Military Intelligence specialist on South Asia, is associated with the South Asia Analysis Group and the Chennai Centre for China Studies E- mail:colhari@yahoo.com Blog: www.colhariharan.org)

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    ‘Israel’s strike on Syria last
    month killed top Iranian general’


    Hassan Shateri, whose death was announced
    last week, actually died in January bombing
    of Hezbollah-bound weapons convoy, says UK report


    By Gabe Fisher
    February 24, 2013, 8:31 am8
    http://www.timesofisrael.com/top-ira...rike-in-syria/

    Hassan Shateri, the Iranian general whose killing was reported last week, was actually slain last month in an alleged IAF airstrike that was said to have targeted a weapons convoy heading from Syria to the Lebanese group Hezbollah, Britain’s Sunday Times reported.


    Iran was quick last week to blame “mercenaries and supporters” of Israel for Shateri’s death, although it made no indication that he had been killed in the January airstrike. Tehran “will take revenge on Israel for the killing of a Quds Force general in Syria,” said Ali Shirazi, liaison for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to the Revolutionary Guards’ elite Quds Force.

    Shateri was a high-ranking member of the Quds Force, which is tasked with international operations, and was instrumental in Iran-Hezbollah relations, overseeing the reconstruction of Hezbollah’s armaments in the wake of the 2006 Second Lebanon War, Sunday’s report said.

    For Israel, he was long a “prime target,” according to an Israeli security figure quoted by The Times.

    The report described how, despite the tight security surrounding Shateri, Israeli agents spotted him in Damascus and trailed him as he boarded the convoy headed for Lebanon, after which the airstrike option was utilized.

    According to Israeli and Western defense officials quoted by the foreign press at the time, the convoy was delivering Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles that, in Hezbollah’s hands, would be considered game-changing in that they would disrupt Israel’s ability to carry out reconnaissance flights over Lebanon.

    But according to Sunday’s report, even the specter of advanced surface-to-air weaponry in the hands of Israel’s sworn enemy would not be sufficient, without further cause, to merit a risky strike deep in Syrian territory.

    A senior Israeli source was quoted as saying that Shateri was the real target of the strike and that “a weapons convoy to Lebanon is not on its own a good enough reason for Israel to risk its pilots in an attack through a heavily protected air defense zone.”

    Bracing for Iranian relation, Israel has been operating on high security alert, especially internationally, since the January strike, the report said.

    Iran condemned the alleged Israeli airstrike at the time, with a top official saying that Israel would regret its “latest aggression” on Syria and calling on the entire Muslim world to defend the Syrian people.

    “Just as it regretted its aggressions after the 33-day, 22-day and eight-day wars, today the Zionist entity will regret the aggression it launched against Syria,” said Saeed Jalil, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, evoking past wars between Israel and Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas group.

    Israel has not officially acknowledged having carried out an airstrike in Syria, although Defense Minister Ehud Barak alluded to Israeli involvement, saying, “What happened in Syria… that’s proof that when we say something we mean it.”







    =
    "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~~~

  23. #23
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    Hamid Karzai, president of Afghanistan, has ordered US Special Forces to withdraw from Wardak and Logar provinces in 2 weeks
    - @AJELive

    30 mins ago by editor

    French photographer Olivier Voisin wounded in Syria has died
    - @AFP

    17 mins ago by editor

    Iran's Revolutionary Guard denies previous report that it captured a foreign drone
    - @AP

    1 hour ago from hosted.ap.org by editor

    Around 3,000 Palestinian prisoners refuse food after death of fellow inmate - @AJELive

    2 hours ago from www.aljazeera.com by editor

    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middle...=MasterAccount
    So when's the Revolution? God or Money? Choose.

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    Iran tests suicide drones
    in ongoing military drill


    Updated: 2013-02-24 05:35
    ( Xinhua)
    http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/world/2...t_16251316.htm

    TEHRAN - The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Ground Force tested different asymmetric tactics and various types of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAVs), including its suicide drones, in ongoing military drill in eastern country, semi- official Fars news agency reported on Saturday.


    The IRGC started a 3-day military drill, code-named the Great Prophet 8, in the east of Iran on Saturday.

    The spokesman for the drill, General Hamid Sarkheili, told reporters that "For the first time, our special modern warfare task forces are conducting specialized operations," and the IRGC forces tested targeting hypothetical enemies' drones and used different types of UAVs in the first day of the drill.

    In the drill, "the reconnaissance as well as suicide drones, which are capable of attacking the enemies, have been used and their operational capabilities came under assessment," the spokesman was quoted sa saying.

    Earlier on Saturday, Sarkheili said that at the first stage of the drill the participating IRGC units started "stable regional defense" tactics after they were joined by Basij (volunteer) units.

    "In this phase, units entered the battlefield backed by aerial and artillery firepower and intelligence support by UAVs in a bid to fulfill the (designated) objectives and bring the targets under direct fire," Sarkheili was quoted as saying by Fars.

    Also, the IRGC's electronic warfare systems successfully identified and thwarted the hypothetical enemy's electronic jamming campaign at this phase of the drill.

    Commander of the IRGC Ground Forces, Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour, said Wednesday that the 3-day drill would cover areas in the east of Iran including the cities of Kerman, Siriz and Sirjan, aiming at testing the latest military equipment of the IRGC, maintaining the forces' preparedness and carrying out asymmetric warfare techniques.







    =
    "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~~~

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    Iran claims it has captured a foreign
    ‘enemy drone’ during military exercise


    By Associated Press,
    Published: February 23
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/...a66_story.html

    TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard said Saturday that it had captured a foreign unmanned aircraft during a military exercise in southern Iran.

    Gen. Hamid Sarkheili, a spokesman for the military exercise, said the Guard’s electronic warfare unit spotted signals indicating that foreign drones were trying to enter Iranian airspace. Sarkheili said Guard experts took control of one drone’s navigation system and brought it down near the city of Sirjan where the military drills began on Saturday.


    “While probing signals in the area, we spotted foreign and enemy drones which attempted to enter the area of the war game,” the official IRNA news agency quoted the general as saying. “We were able to get one enemy drone to land.”

    Sarkheili did not say whether the drone was American.

    In Washington, a CIA spokeswoman declined to comment on the report.

    Iran has claimed to have captured several U.S. drones, including an advanced RQ-170 Sentinel CIA spy drone in December 2011 and at least three ScanEagle aircraft.

    State TV said the Guard’s military exercise, code-named Great Prophet-8, involved ground forces of the Guard, Iran’s most powerful military force. State TV showed tanks and artillery attacking hypothetical enemy positions. He said various systems, including unmanned planes that operate like suicide bombers, were tested.

    “Reconnaissance as well as suicide drones, which are capable of attacking the hypothetical enemies, were deployed and their operational capabilities were studied,” the semi-official Fars news agency quoted him as saying.







    =
    "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~~~

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    Falklands unease over Argie missile

    From Sunday Times of London
    Last Updated: 4:46 AM, February 24, 2013
    Posted: 11:08 PM, February 23, 2013
    http://www.nypost.com/p/news/interna...U1MdhwT9tJQUxM

    LONDON — At a time its relationship with Iran appears to be warming, Argentina is developing missile technology that could threaten Britain’s Falkland Islands.


    Military scientists in Argentina are building a rocket capable of being fired into space to an altitude of about 250 miles, sources say.

    Experts believe such technology could be developed to produce a missile with a range of up to 370 miles. The Falklands are 300 miles from Argentina, which fought a war vs. Britain over the islands in 1982.







    =
    "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~~~

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    Syria’s endgame

    Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheg
    Sunday 24 February 2013
    Last Update 24 February 2013 11:20 am
    http://arabnews.com/columns/syria%E2%80%99s-endgame

    I write this week from New York, where the buzz is that the Syrian conflict is approaching the endgame. With that, key players are trying to position themselves to gain the most, or at least minimize losses, from the imminent collapse of the regime. On the other hand, the Syrian regime itself is unleashing unprecedented terror in an attempt to force an end to the revolt.


    The United States and European allies appear to be trying to cobble together a solution before the collapse, to avert dismemberment of the country and disintegration of its key institutions.

    Next week, John Kerry the new US secretary of state, will visit the Middle East, with the crisis in Syria on top of his agenda. As his first challenge, the outcome of the Syrian crisis will shape the rest of his term at the State Department.

    US pundits are pointing out differences in style, if not substance, between Kerry and Hillary Clinton, his predecessor. Her initial trip and much of her legacy was related to managing America’s relationships in Asia. With Kerry, they expect greater emphasis on the Middle East, consistent with traditional US priorities. Since taking office, Kerry's first calls were to leaders in the region and his first overseas trip will take him through the Middle East and the Gulf, after meeting with some allies in Europe, to discuss Middle East crises. However, it is notable that Kerry is bypassing Israel and Palestine, indicating that they are not his priorities on this trip.

    On Syria, Kerry is reported to be contemplating a negotiated solution to end the 2-year-old bloody war that has killed over 70,000 civilians. The plan would include the exit of Bashar Assad, followed by the formation of an independent national unity government and national dialogue. That new plan would likely to be discussed by Kerry with leaders of the Syrian opposition. He is expected to meet in Rome with Moath Al-Khatib, the Syrian National Coalition leader, to discuss the plan.

    In addition, Kerry is expected to meet this week with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. Russia has been key in propping up the regime militarily. Just as important, it has blocked all efforts at the United Nations Security Council toward international action to stop the Syrian bloodshed and has single-handedly led efforts to shield the regime from global censure at United Nations institutions.

    The Syrian regime, on the other hand, seems to be living in a parallel universe, in which it is still in control. Over the past few weeks, it has unleashed what has remained of its air force, tanks, heavy guns and missiles against civilians. It is trying to force an endgame of its own, by crushing the opposition and proving its fantasy to be true.

    Watching Syria's "People's Assembly," you cannot help the feeling that you are watching an Orwellian farce. Deputies express their loud unconditional loyalty to Big Brother, while the regime's quixotic minister of information called on the opposition to come back to Syria to enter into yet another dialogue, where he would personally guarantee their safety.

    The regime's allies, Iran and Hezbollah, have plans of their own. In Iran, Hojjat al-Islam Mehdi Taeb, the head of the Ammar Strategic Base (a propaganda organization) declared last week that, “Syria is the 35th province (of Iran) and a strategic province for us. If the enemy attacks us and wants to appropriate either Syria or Khuzestan (in southern Iran), the priority is that we keep Syria.”

    Highlighting the priority Iran is attaching to the Syrian war, Taeb added: “If we keep Syria, we can get Khuzestan back too, but if we lose Syria, we cannot keep Tehran."

    Taeb agreed that the Syrian Army has failed in ending the revolt and asserted that it could not possibly win a war inside Syria’s cities. Therefore, he maintained, it was up to Iran to come up with the solution. He said that Iran had already advised the Syrian government that "in order to manage an urban war you must form a Basij," referring to the Iranian-style irregular militias that were used in the war with Iraq. He added: "The Syrian Basij has been formed with 60,000 (members) of Hezbollah, who will take over the war in the streets from the army.”

    The Lebanese Hezbollah appears to be already implementing Iran's plan. Its fighters have been fighting street battles with the Syrian Free Army. In Lebanon, it has been doing a rear action by attacking and intimidating Syrian refugees. It is threatening to mobilize tens of thousands of new irregular fighters from Lebanese villages to join the fray.

    Russia seems to be placing bets all over the place. The hurried evacuation of its nationals from Syria has rattled the regime, but speeding up delivery of heavy weapons has helped the regime unleash its latest deadly onslaught on its people. On the other hand, Russian officials are publicly expressing doubts that the Syrian regime could prevail and as a result counseling a negotiated solution. They are also keen to engage with the United States to reach such a solution.

    This coming week promises to be pivotal for the Syrian crisis. If efforts toward a peaceful conclusion to this bloody conflict fail, the Iranian plan may try to force a bloodier course, in a vain attempt to crush the popular revolution. The Syrian regime will be more than happy to lend a hand to put that plan into effect.






    =
    "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~~~

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    US and British plans to seize
    Syria's chemical weapons


    British and American military commanders
    have drawn up plans to seize or destroy Syria’s
    chemical weapons if the country slides into further chaos.


    By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent
    9:00PM GMT 23 Feb 2013
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...l-weapons.html

    They fear that nerve agents and chemical weapons held by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime could fall into terrorists’ hands if the government collapses entirely.

    Senior officers have also held talks on a range of “rogue state” contingency plans to prevent chemical, biological or nuclear weapons from being seized by terrorists, which they fear could also happen if Pakistan or North Korea’s regimes were to collapse.


    Iran, which according to one senior British source is “bent on developing nuclear weapons”, is also causing great concern to western governments.

    British intelligence believes Syria has amassed an extensive arsenal of WMD including nerve agents such as Sarin – one of the most deadly weapons ever created – and chemical weapons such as mustard gas.

    They have so far not been used and are currently considered to be well guarded by the Syrian security forces.

    However militant Islamist groups are already inside Syria fighting against the government and would be perfectly placed to raid WMD stockpiles, according to intelligence sources.

    Sources have said that the most likely option to prevent WMD falling into the hands of extremists would be to destroy stockpiles in a series of air strikes.

    Alternative options include the use of special forces and troops trained in chemical warfare to secure WMD sites in Syria if and when the government eventually collapses.

    An RAF Regiment unit called the Defence Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Wing based at Winterbourne Gunner, Wilts, has already been warned that it should be prepared to work alongside the SAS in securing WMD sites in the Syria at short notice.

    Last week a US-based body known as the Strategic Working Group began rehearsing how WMD stockpiles would be secured in both the Middle East and the Pacific in the event of an international emergency.

    The group is composed of military personnel from the US Army, Marine Corps, Navy as well as British and Australian officers and government officials.

    The senior officers tested a variety of plans at a classified war gaming session called Unified Quest 2013 at the US Army Staff College at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.

    The scenario focused on a failed state that has lost control of its WMD stockpiles, forcing the United States and other countries to intervene.

    The location of the game was classified, but informed opinion suggested that North Korea was the target country.

    One source who took part in the war games said: “We need to have plans in place so that we can properly prepare our soldiers for this job. It’s a dangerous and messy business.

    "Soldiers will be driving into potentially contaminated areas, possibly under fire while handling hazardous material.”

    MI5, Britain’s security service has repeatedly warned that it is “only a matter of time” before extremist groups carry out a “chemical, biological or radiological attack” on a western city.

    Such an attack was also identified as a “Tier Two Priority Risk” in the 2010 National Security Strategy.

    Defence sources said that one of the unintended consequences of the Arab Spring was the huge volume of illicit weapons which have entered the illegal arms market, increasing concerns about what could happen if Assad lost control of his WMD.

    A source said: “After Libya collapsed thousands of man portable air defence weapons went missing and these can bring down an airliner.

    "We know Syria has a pretty extensive armoury and a lot of chemical weapons. We need to ensure these do not enter the terrorist food chain.”

    Both British and US commanders agree that the West has paid “lip service” to training troops in WMD scenarios and has focused almost solely on counter-insurgency operations such as those undertaken in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    One senior British source added: “Syria has a sizeable arsenal of chemical weapons including nerve agents and mustard gas.

    "Pakistan and North Korea have nuclear weapons and it is widely believed that Iran also intends to develop a nuclear weapon.

    “These are all unstable or unpredictable states and the potential for WMD ended up in the hands of terrorists is very real. We need contingency plans to deal with a wide variety of scenarios.”







    =
    "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~~~

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    Al Nusra:
    Al Qaeda's Syria Offensive


    by Bruce RiedelFeb 23, 2013 1:15 PM EST
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/article...offensive.html

    The terror group's Syrian front, al Nusra, is not only
    attacking Assad, but building a base from which it can
    threaten U.S. interests in the region.
    By Bruce Riedel

    Al Qaeda’s franchise in Syria, just one year old, is now the fastest growing al Qaeda front in the world, attracting fighters from across the Islamic world. Jabhat al Nusra, translated variously as the Victory Front or the Support Front for the Syrian People, was founded in January 2012, almost a year after the first demonstrations against the dictatorship of President Basher al Assad. It was created with the assistance of the al Qaeda franchise in Iraq that was formed nearly a decade ago during the American invasion. The Iraqi base provided a safe haven for setting up the front in Syria and still provides sanctuary for the Syrian group to this day.



    The Syrian franchise has also gotten crucial support from the al Qaeda core in Pakistan. Al Qaeda’s Amir Ayman Zawahiri issued a public call in February 2012 in which he demanded that “every Muslim and every free and honest person in Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon to rise and help their brothers in Syria with everything they have and can do.” Zawahiri’s call, just after the announcement of the creation of the al Nusra front and its first major attacks in Aleppo, was clearly coordinated with the fighters on the ground. Since Zawahiri’s call at least one senior member of the al Qaeda shura council in Pakistan has traveled to Syria to further coordinate plans and operations with the core hiding in Pakistan. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton termed the exchanges of messages between al Qaeda in Pakistan and al Nusra in Syria as “deeply disturbing” in one of her final interviews in office.


    Estimates of the size of the al Nusra organization vary but they may now account for up to a quarter of the opposition fighters in Syria. The al Qaeda presence is stronger around Aleppo and the north than around Damascus, but it is becoming a national phenomenon. Without doubt, they are among the most effective fighters in the resistance to the Assad regime and the most willing to use multiple simultaneous suicide bombings, an al Qaeda trademark. Al Qaeda in Iraq has a wealth of experience in developing large sophisticated bombs – experience that has been exported into Syria.


    And the front is attracting more fighters rapidly, not just among Syrians but from across the Muslim world. A recent review of jihadist websites found over a 130 martyrdom notices -- that is, obituaries posted on extremist websites “celebrating” the martyrdom of fighters in Syria. Most are relatively new -- 85 of the 130 were posted in the last four months. The majority of these were for fighters in the al Nusra front. They came to Syria from Libya, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Palestine, Lebanon, Australia, Chechnya, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Kosovo, Azerbaijan, France, Iraq, and Spain.


    The Danish press reported this week that a 39-year-old Danish citizen, Slimane Hadj Abderrahmane, along with another unnamed Danish citizen, were killed fighting in Syria. Abderrahmane, the son of a Danish mother and an Algerian father, had served two years in Guantanamo, Cuba after being captured by American forces in Afghanistan in 2002. Danish reports say at least thirty Danish Muslims have gone to fight with al Nusra in Syria. Senior European intelligence officials have told me that there is a wave of angry young Muslim men from all across Western Europe going to Syria to join al Qaeda and fight Assad.


    Al Qaeda in Iraq has a wealth of experience in developing large sophisticated bombs – experience that has been exported into Syria.


    Assad, of course, from the beginning of the uprising against his tyranny, has blamed it all on terrorists and al Qaeda. But the truth is that by refusing to give up power and by resorting to a brutal war against his own people, he has created a self-fulfilling prophecy and brought al Qaeda to Syria. The longer the war goes on now, the stronger al Qaeda will get in Syria.


    The Syrian group has also tried to export its violence to Jordan. Last October the Jordanian intelligence service foiled a plot based in Syria by al Qaeda to stage a mass-casualty terror attack in Amman that was apparently modeled on the 2008 attack by Pakistani terrorists on Mumbai, India. The attack would have begun with suicide bombings in two shopping malls in Amman; then, when the security forces rushed to deal with those, other attackers would attack the American embassy and other Western diplomats in the city.


    Jordanian authorities believe that the planned attacks were scheduled to coincide with the anniversary of the November 9, 2005, terrorist attacks in Amman, in which 60 people were killed and 115 injured in multiple hotel bombings. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attacks, citing its rejection of Jordan’s alliance with the United States and its 1994 peace treaty with Israel. Jordanian intelligence said that group nicknamed its terror plot “9/11 the second” after the 2005 bombings. Among those arrested were two cousins of the Jordanian founder of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musaib al Zarqawi, who planned the 2005 attack.


    For now the jihadists are focused on Syria and winning the war against Assad. But their ambitions are much larger. With a base in Syria they can threaten American interests in the entire Levant region, Europe, and our allies in Turkey, Jordan and Israel. The worst danger is that the al Nusra front will get control of some of Syria’s large chemical weapons arsenal. Bashar’s father, Hafez al Assad, built major chemical weapon capability in the 1980s, including the deadly nerve agent Sarin, which was first developed by the Nazis. Al Qaeda has been trying to get a weapon of mass destruction for years. Now in Syria it may be closer than ever.







    =
    "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~~~

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    More: Afghan Gov. accuses US forces in Wardak province of 'harassing, annoying, torturing and even murdering innocent people'
    - @AJELive

    1 min ago by editor
    So when's the Revolution? God or Money? Choose.

  31. #31
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    Hummm.......

    For links see article source....
    Posted for fair use....
    http://www.themoscowtimes.com/opinio...cy/475982.html

    China's Secret Foreign Policy
    24 February 2013 | Issue 5075
    By Richard Lourie

    Everyone is afraid of China. One reason is an instinctive reflex to avoid anything enormous moving at great speed. But even more important is that China's true intent can't be gauged. Is China a threat to the world order, or at least to its region? Is it a rival to the U.S. or an enemy? Should it be balanced or contained? Or should China be envied and admired for its achievements in accruing wealth and power?

    China is difficult to decipher because China itself has not yet made up its mind about its true direction and aspirations. China, however, most likely will have to make those decisions during the next decade under its new leader, Xi Jinping. External conditions — threats to China's energy sources, territorial disputes, the North Korean nuclear gnat — combined with internal tensions — restive populations in Tibet and Xinjiang, anti-corruption protests and social media, the budgetary issues caused by an aging population — will cause the country, or at least the regime, to show its true colors.

    In some respects, China is a natural candidate for a vengeful nationalism because of its deep-seated feeling of humiliation, which New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman calls "the single most underrated factor in international relations." Just as European textbooks routinely refer to the Hundred Years' War, Chinese texts and maps routinely refer to the "Hundred Years of Humiliation," the foreign domination during the opium wars of the mid 19th century to the Japanese occupation in the mid-20th century.

    One answer to the Chinese enigma lies in how the Chinese overcome that humiliation. Will China settle accounts with the West by building a society that is more productive and stronger than the deadlocked democracies of Europe and the U.S.? Or will China need to humiliate the West by turning it into a servile debtor while pilfering its economic secrets from its computers?

    In that sense, the Russians are lucky. Except for some fighter jets and weapons systems that the Chinese haven't yet reverse-engineered, Russia has few R&D secrets worth stealing. Moscow's worries concern the population imbalances in the Far East: sparse on the Russian side of the border, burgeoning on the Chinese.

    The recent revelations about the Chinese government-backed hacking of U.S. business and institutions are about more than saving money on research and development. They are part of a three-pronged foreign policy strategy in which China will combine cyberespionage with economic pressure to bring the West under its sway while projecting traditional military might in its own region. The third prong is nuclear. Currently, China is in the same league as England and France but is pushing ahead with intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-based missiles. You can't be a superpower without them.

    China is also investing heavily in its navy, which is the only way to protect the flow of energy and raw materials into China, and the export of finished goods. Besides protecting its economic lifeline, naval power allows China to deny or delay U.S. access to the South China Sea and East China Sea in the event of a crisis over Taiwan. Beefed up naval power will also help in negotiations over the various disputed islands.

    For all the money Beijing is pouring into modernizing its armed forces, it still spends more on domestic security than on defense. According to official figures, since 2010 the budget for the police, the state security forces, the courts and prisons has exceeded the money spent on the military. Even China is afraid of China.

    Richard Lourie is author of "The Autobiography of Joseph Stalin" and "Sakharov: A Biography."

    The Moscow Times

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    More: Karzai: All US special forces are out of Wardak province within 2 weeks; cites allegations of disappearances and torture
    - @NBCNews

    25 mins ago by editor

    Report: Syrian rebels capture the site of a suspected nuclear reactor which Israeli warplanes destroyed 6 years ago
    - @Reuters

    35 mins ago by editor

    Update: US special forces have been ordered by Kabul to leave only 1 province, Wardak, not 2
    - @AFP

    51 mins ago by editor

    10 Chadian soldiers were killed in operations targeting al-Qaida-linked Islamist rebels along Mali's border with Algeria
    - @Reuters

    57 mins ago by editor
    So when's the Revolution? God or Money? Choose.

  33. #33
    Posted for fair use and discussion.
    http://www.debka.com/newsupdatepopup/3762/

    « Breaking News »
    Syrian opposition will boycott talks after Scud strike kills 23 in Aleppo
    DEBKAfile February 23, 2013, 7:25 AM (GMT+02:00)

    The Syrian National Coalition decided Saturday to suspend participation in the US-led Rome conference of the Friends of Syria and decline the invitation to Moscow negotiations with the Syrian government due to open next week. This is in protest over the Scud missile strikes on Aleppo in which “hundreds of civilians were killed.”
    According to anti-government activists, some 23 people were killed and dozens more wounded by rockets which hit two eastern Aleppo districts held by rebels Friday. DEBKAfile: Substantial talks will almost certainly open next month. The Syrian opposition is now maneuvering for position by inflating casualty figures.

  34. #34
    Posted for fair use and discussion.
    http://yeshuaarmy.wordpress.com/2013...n-one-another/

    Israel’s enemies turn on one another
    24 Feb

    Both Hamas and Hezbollah find themselves at risk of open warfare with rival Islamist groups in Gaza and Lebanon-Syria

    Thursday, February 21, 2013 Israel Today Staff

    It is a given that without the common enemy of Israel, many of the Middle East’s factions would be warring with one another. This is becoming more apparent as a result of the various “Arab Spring” uprisings.

    Two of Israel’s most active foes – Hamas and Hezbollah – are currently in danger of being swept up in intra-Arab violence that could cripple their respective ability to threaten the Jewish state.

    In Gaza, Hamas has of late found itself in competition with groups affiliated with Al Qaeda and Global Jihad for the hearts of minds of local Palestinians. In response, Hamas has reportedly started rounding up and jailing its rivals.

    The information arm of Global Jihad has issued a warning that if Hamas does not cease this activity, it’s cells in Gaza will target Hamas interests and reignite violence with Israel, thereby inviting an Israeli assault on the Hamas regime. That according to Israeli monitoring group Terror Watch.

    Along the Lebanon-Syria border, Syrian rebels battling the regime of Bashar Assad are becoming fed up with Hezbollah’s support for the embattled dictator. Hezbollah forces have crossed into Syria and are said to be taking part in battles against the rebel Free Syrian Army. More recently, Hezbollah began firing artillery across the border.

    Free Syrian Army officials told the AFP that if the cross-border fire does not stop within 48 hours, Syrian rebel forces will return fire and might even invade Lebanon in order to eliminate the Hezbollah threat.

  35. #35
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    Duh:


    6 are killed in attack in northern Nigeria, Islamic extremists suspected
    - @AP

    20 mins ago from bigstory.ap.org by editor

    -----------

    6 killed in attack in northern Nigeria

    Feb. 24 11:40 AM EST

    MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria's military says that at least six people have been killed in an attack in northeastern Nigeria, a region under attack by Islamic extremists.

    Lt. Eli Lazarus said Sunday the attack happened Saturday night in Ngalda, a town in Yobe state.

    Lazarus said no one has been arrested for the attack. However, local residents say they suspect the radical Islamic sect known as Boko Haram carried out the attack. Boko Haram is blamed for attacks which killed 792 people in 2012, according to a count by The Associated Press.

    http://bigstory.ap.org/article/6-kil...rthern-nigeria
    So when's the Revolution? God or Money? Choose.

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    Palestinian officials say a Palestinian detainee who died in an Israeli prison was tortured before his death
    - @Reuters

    5 mins ago by editor

    Remote Algerian gas plant at the center of deadly hostage crisis last month partially resumes production
    - @BBCNews

    9 mins ago from www.bbc.co.uk by editor

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-21568475
    So when's the Revolution? God or Money? Choose.

  37. #37
    Good to see you post Dutch. And thank you to all our other news gatherers too. Your tireless work is greatly appreciated.

    Issy

  38. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by Issy View Post
    Good to see you post Dutch. And thank you to all our other news gatherers too. Your tireless work is greatly appreciated.

    Issy
    Ditto.
    Asato Ma Sad Gamaya
    Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya

    Leave illusion, come to the Truth
    Leave the darkness, come to the Light

  39. #39
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    http://english.alarabiya.net/views/2...25/268170.html

    Last Updated: Mon Feb 25, 2013 08:05 am (KSA) 05:05 am (GMT)
    The Egyptian army’s true frontline battle

    By Abdel Latif el-Menawy
    Monday, 25 February 2013

    I know a sizable portion of Egyptians were disappointed at the country’s army owing to the expectations they had and which did not materialize for several reasons and now is not the time for listing them. I also know that a sizable portion of army officers were disappointed at the insults and accusations to which they had been subjected at a certain stage, namely when all political factions abandoned the army, thus falling into the trap set by the Muslim Brotherhood, which deceived military leaders into believing it is the only ally they had got.

    At the time, I knew that several political factions, made up of youths and liberals, embarked on serious initiatives to communicate with the army. In fact, a project that aimed at politically empowering youths had at some stage been a viable alternative. However, those factions swallowed the Muslim Brotherhood’s bait and the gap kept widening between them and the army until any cooperation with the army came be seen as a betrayal of the revolution. Consequently, those factions deprived themselves and the country from the possibility of cooperating with the only remaining powerful institution that was capable of joining forces to protect the civilian, moderate character of the state. But not everything we wish for comes true.

    The Brotherhood managed to isolate other political factions from the army against which accusations of plans to usurp power kept leveling. I, once more, know that this was absolutely groundless, for the army had no plans to remain in power but the propaganda machine of those who wanted everyone to believe that succeeded in doing so and this coincided with the interests of foreign powers. So, the Brotherhood managed to come to power then started crushing all rivals, former allies, or any faction it considers an enemy while allowing the army’s image to be tarnished abroad, which actually bore fruit with a lot of Western politician and journalists and I personally bore witness to that.

    ‘Brotherhood-ization’ project
    The “Brotherhood-ization” project is attempting to encompass the army so that it ends up as the group’s military wing or as a weaker and less independent institution through having its ranks infiltrated by Brotherhood loyalists
    Abdel Latif al-Menawy
    The outcome is what we see right now. The “Brotherhood-ization” project is attempting to encompass the army so that it ends up as the group’s military wing or as a weaker and less independent institution through having its ranks infiltrated by Brotherhood loyalists. This plan has already started as demonstrated by both public statements and leaks. We have not forgotten the statements made by the Brotherhood’s supreme guide and in which he derided the army and its leaderships then claimed his words were taken out of context. Add to that the test balloon of dismissing Minister of Defense General Abdel Fattah al-Sissi.

    Our ancestors said that no rumor is baseless. Therefore, what is being said now reflects a real desire or an action that transcends desire to control the army. What is important is that the army is aware of this desire or action, which means this plan will be eventually aborted.

    I also bear witness to something else. At an early stage, military leaders had tried to take all the necessary precautions to make sure that political allegiances do not infiltrate the Armed Forces and this is what I kept asserting whenever the issue of the army’s loyalty was brought up. For me, the army’s stance was clear from the very beginning, but the real challenge lied in dealing with the pressure exercised by the Muslim Brotherhood, which has access to the presidency and whose member is at the head of the state.
    Imposing its will?

    I was not surprised by a statement attributed to a military source and which implied the previous meaning, for it confirmed the truth and seriousness of the stance taken by military leaders, yet it also pointed to the pressure that has obviously started a while ago and that seems to have reached high levels. This source stressed that “all members of the Armed Forces reject ‘Brotherhood-ization’ or the like,” that “neither the Muslim Brotherhood nor any other political faction will succeed in infiltrating the army,” that “army officers stir clear of political allegiances and army regulations prohibit engaging in politics inside the Armed Forces,” that “army officers are subjected to yearly investigations and if any of them is proven to belong to any political faction he would be referred to a disciplinary committee and can even be dismissed,” that “the Military Academy chooses students with no political affiliations and those students pledge allegiance to Egypt and not any other party.”

    It is then obvious that the Muslim Brotherhood is trying to impose its own will, yet found out it is faced with strong resistance, which was obvious in a statement by anonymous military sources following the rumor about dismissing the defense minister and which stressed that any action by the Muslim Brotherhood against the army would constitute political suicide for the former. Add to that the statement I mentioned earlier in the article. What does that means? And what is to be done at this stage?
    Army as the only power

    The answer is that the Muslim Brotherhood realizes that the only power capable of keeping the state intact is the army. It is also the only institutions that can stop attempts at monopolizing power. It is the only institution with which all political factions were ready to engage in a national dialogue contrary to what happened when the call came from the presidency, which is indicative that political factions are now aware of the role and the value of the Armed Forces and which were earlier questioned by some of them.

    The statement issued by Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and in which he warned that the state could collapse if the current political tension persists proves that the army is monitoring the situation and is aware of its responsibility towards the country even if it seems determined not to be involved in politics.

    There is the battle for the army and the battle of the army. After most Egyptians realized the reality of the military institution, it is now imperative to overcome that state of disappointment and anger that has been prevalent and to rally behind the common purpose of protecting the army as a national entity that cannot be monopolized or subjected to “Brotherhood-ization.” It is the duty of all Egyptians to stand behind the army and support it, for it is the only remaining power that can save the country when it is faced with the ramifications of the current regime’s policies. As for the battle of the army, it revolves around restoring the civilian and moderate character of Egypt.

    Abdel Latif al-Menawy is an author, columnist and multimedia journalist who has covered conflicts around the world. He is the author of "Tahrir: the last 18 days of Mubarak," a book he wrote as an eyewitness to events during the 18 days before the stepping down of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Menawy’s most recent public position was head of Egypt’s News Center. He is a member of the National Union of Journalists in the United Kingdom, and the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate. He can be found on Twitter @ALMenawy

  40. #40
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    http://www.brecorder.com/general-news/172/1157220/

    Egypt protesters block doors to Cairo administrative hub
    February 25, 2013
    RECORDER REPORT
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    Protesters on Sunday blocked the doors to Cairo's main administrative building as part of a growing campaign of civil disobedience around the country against Islamist President Mohamed Morsi. A group of protesters closed the doors of the Mugamma, a massive labyrinth of bureaucratic offices on the edge of Tahrir Square, leaving only a side exit for employees to leave, employees told AFP.

    "This is a call for civil disobedience... We want the implementation of the goals of the revolution such as social justice as well as a delay of parliamentary elections," which is set for April 22, one of the protesters told AFP, declining to give his name.

    "We must break the monopoly of the state by Brotherhood," he said of the Islamist movement from which Morsi hails.

    Since a November decree that pushed through an Islamist-drafted constitution, Egypt has been deeply divided between Morsi's Islamist supporters and a wide-ranging opposition that accuses the president of betraying the uprising that brought him to office and consolidating power in the hands of his Muslim Brotherhood. Outside the Mugamma, the protesters threatened to extend their protest, adding that the next step could be to close down the television building which also houses the information ministry.

    In the northern city of Kafr el-Sheikh, hundreds of quarry workers stormed the governorate headquarters to protest against working conditions and forced employees out of the building, chanting against governor Saad al-Husseini, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

    A crippling economic crisis has also fuelled the anger.

    Bakeries across Egypt have threatened to go on strike on Thursday due to rising wheat prices, a potentially devastating move in a country where many rely on subsidised bread as the main food staple. Thousands are employed at the Mugamma, which houses passport offices, tax offices and various other government agencies.

    "A small group of young people closed the main doors of the building and they are not letting anyone in," one employee told AFP from inside the building.

    The protesters "did not enter the building," the employee said.

    "They have left a door open and said employees who finish their shift must leave and that they won't let anyone in," a witness said.

    The Mugamma has been closed before, most recently during protests marking two years since the ouster of president Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising.

    A general strike in the canal city of Port Said, meanwhile, entered its second week on Sunday, with most shops and factories closed down.

    Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013

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