Thursday, July 28, 2005

Definitely forget the terror war

Definitely it’s time to say goodbye to the GWOT- the Global War on Terror. It is apparently over because the idea is not playing well in the polls. That war's mission has now been revised with a new enemy that its likely to prove more popular better in the media. (and in the mind of Thomas Friedman.) Call it "violent extremism" a concept that is at once vaguer and more pervasive and something that violent extremists on all sides can understand..Bush Aide Karen Hughes now has to sell the new war and help us forget the old. Down with VE's - repeat after me.

Get Them Violent Extremists. It’s probably easier. And who are they? Fox's Bill O'Reilly named some in a recent outburst of bloated Bill-sized baloney as passed on by FAIR:

"You must know the difference between dissent from the Iraq War and the war on terror and undermining it. And any American that undermines that war, with our soldiers in the field, or undermines the war on terror, with 3,000 dead on 9/11, is a traitor. Everybody got it? Dissent, fine; undermining, you're a traitor. Got it? So, all those clowns over at the liberal radio network, we could incarcerate them immediately. Will you have that done, please? Send over the FBI and just put them in chains, because they, you know, they're undermining everything and they don't care, couldn't care less."

There has always been, for me, a very bad smell about 9/11. I don't know if it’s the PNAC declaration that it will take a "Pearl Harbour like incident to mobilize the American public for war in Iraq" back in 1998, or the testimony of former FBI agents such as Sybil Edmonds and Kathleen Crowley, who testified before the 9/11 commission. It seemed that the outlines of the 9/11 plot were discovered by 4/11. However, after 9/11, those within the FBI who actively tried to prevent it were either demoted or fired, while those who actively or passively prevented the FBI from acting on the information were promoted.

“I have always believed that decisions of promotion and demotion are closely linked to the goals of the organization. What exactly were the goals of the FBI before and after 9/11?
Something is not kosher, and everybody knows it.
Write: LuisB

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Objective: The War on Tourism

Call it the terrorists' War on Tourism - a war waged by jihadists that long predates 9-11, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Last week's terror attacks on Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh resorts left nearly 90 dead. The attacks also sent an economic and political shockwave throughout the rest of Egypt.

Jihadist terrorists wage a war to create and maintain poverty. In Egypt, damaging the tourist industry does just that. Tourists climbing the Pyramids, sailing on the Nile and sipping coffee in Cairo are a source of very good jobs.

In 1992, the jihadists launched an "insurrection" against the Egyptian government, and the tourist industry was an immediate target. Since 1992, there have been at least 15 major attacks on tourists - an advertising campaign of high explosive and bullets designed to undermine the Egyptian economy.

For example, in 1993, jihadists targeted Cairo's Tahrir Square, killing a Swede, a Turk and an Egyptian. Eighteen were injured. In 1997, six terrorists massacred 58 foreign tourists (many of them Germans) and four Egyptians in an attack at Luxor's Temple of Hatshepsut. Islamist extremists argue that "pagan" temples desecrate Muslim lands, so if the jihadists ever take power in Egypt, Luxor might be razed. Don't laugh - the Taliban blew up the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan.

Here's a sketch of the terrorists' counter-tourism strategy: Attacks on foreign visitors guarantee instant international headlines, especially in the visitors' home nations. All terrorist attacks are designed to sow doubt in the local government's ability to protect lives, property and businesses, but the tourist industry is a very international industry and attacking it is an easy way to discourage international investment.

These attacks also isolate and impoverish individuals who work in tourist industries -people who tend to be multilingual and aware that "foreigners aren't devils."

Jihadist assaults on tourists aren't confined to the Middle East. The October 2002 Bali nightclub terror blasts killed 202 people. Suddenly, Bali's hotels were empty and thousands of Indonesians were without paychecks. Jemaah Islamiya - Al Qaeda's Southeast Asian "subsidiary" - took credit for that attack.

A year later, Jemaah Islamiya detonated a car bomb outside Jakarta's Marriott Hotel and killed 12 people. Abu Sayyaf - another Al Qaeda affiliate - has kidnapped tourists visiting the Philippines and Malaysia. Terror attacks launched against visitors in predominantly Muslim countries, however, aren't solely aimed at bikini-clad Swedes skin-diving in the Red Sea or Germans examining Egyptian ruins. Jihadists also slaughter Muslim pilgrims, when it suits their political and media interests.

A pilgrim is a religious visitor, and in the Middle East pilgrims are big business - just ask your travel agent.

In November 1979, Islamist terrorists belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood attacked Mecca's Grand Mosque. The terrorists planned to launch a religious-based revolt against the Saudi government. Even if it failed to ignite a popular revolution, the 1979 attack had an information objective: It would demonstrate Saudi weakness by sending the message that the Saud regime wasn't capable of protecting Mecca and other Muslim holy sites.

There is some evidence that a relative of Osama bin Laden helped organize the 1979 Mecca attack. The attack didn't start a revolt, but it did produce a bitter siege. Several Middle Eastern political analysts say the Saudis' ultimate counter-attack was a reasonably successful military operation, but a political disaster.

The Saudis know pilgrims matter. When Al Qaeda set off bombs in Riyadh in November 2003, the Saudis reinforced Mecca with 5,000 soldiers and police to protect the 2.5 million Muslims visiting during Ramadan.

Subsequently, the Saudis discovered an Al Qaeda cell in Mecca. Two of the terrorists blew themselves up to evade capture. Saudi police feared the terrorists were planning to attack a festival celebrating the end of Ramadan.

The jihadists are at war with Muslims and with Muslim countries. Their war, with Muslim pilgrims as pawns, began before the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan and long before the United States invaded Iraq. This past Sunday, 1,000 Egyptians in Sharm el-Sheikh demonstrated against terrorism. The Christian Science Monitor reported the demonstrators chanted:
"There is no God but God; terrorism is the enemy of God."


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

All my Live...

All my Live I just live for pronouncements like this:

"Washington (CNN) -- President Bush told reporters Monday that if anyone committed a crime in connection with the leak of a CIA agent's identity, 'they will no longer work in my administration.'"

No one asked the President about laws he may have violated in invading Iraq nor did he include himself in that commitment to fire law violators in his midst.

Nuclear proliferation anyone?
President Bush has agreed to share nuclear technology with India, reports the Washington Post:
"President Bush agrees to share civilian nuclear technology with India, reversing decades of U.S. policies designed to discourage countries from developing nuclear weapons."

Congress must approve this "exception." India has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The ups and downs of the terror war
The Arabic news media corporation Al-Jazeera reports:

"Pakistani intelligence agents have arrested eight senior Taliban leaders, including a deputy to fugitive Taliban chief Mullah Mohammed Omar, a security official says... the arrests were made on Monday after security agents made raids on several homes in northwestern Pakistan."

At the same time
The same network advises:

"Four Arab al-Qaeda members who escaped a few days ago from a heavily fortified U.S. prison in Afghanistan, have reached a Taliban haven safely, according to a spokesman for the group.

"'The Taliban found and recovered four al-Qaeda mujahidin this morning,' the group's spokesman, Abdul Latif Hakimi, said on Thursday from an undisclosed location."

"A U.S. Chinook helicopter has crashed west of the city of Asadabad during an anti-Taliban operation in eastern Afghanistan."

London think-tank fears more terror attacks
The New York Times reports today – 19.07.05 - that an intelligence memo, "less than a month before the London bombings, said no group had the intent or the ability to strike."

Yesterday, the British think-tank Chatham House issued another kind of report:
"Riding pillion to the U.S. in order to tackle terrorism is a high-risk policy, according to a new report by Chatham House and the Economic & Social Research Foundation."

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


The largest military installation on the globe is now open to tourists
Facility 825 GTS
The largest military installation on the globe is now open to tourists who like to walk on the wild side

Our correspondent has visited the site of what used to be the largest military facility on earth – an underground complex for servicing Soviet submarines hidden in Balaklava, a sea port in South Crimea.
The ancient town of Balaklava turned into one of the most restricted and mystic locations of the U.S.S.R due to that highly classified facility.

Going deeper underground
The underground complex for servicing submarines was referred to as "Facility 825 GTS" in the Soviet-era documents. Josef Stalin reportedly ordered the construction of a national antinuclear defense facility of the first grade after he had been deeply impressed by the range of devastation inflicted by American A-bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. He believed the facility was a must for protecting the Soviet subs in case the nuclear hell broke loose and a guarantee for delivering a retaliation nuclear strike.
The construction kicked off four years following the death of Stalin. It was completed in 1961.

The town of Balaklava features a uniquely located harbor that is long and deep.
One side of the harbor is lined by the picturesque ruins of Cembalo, a medieval Genoa fortress while the other one is topped by Mount Tauros, the name stands for "empty" in Turk. It's the mountain that hosted an entire underground facility inside. The concrete walls covering the premises hollowed out in the rock were 56 meters thick.

The facility was made to withstand the effect of a direct nuclear strike measuring up to 100 kilotons. The thick doors were to seal off the area in case of a nuclear threat thus enabling some 3,000 strong personnel to survive and operate for 3 years. The facility was equipped with machines providing an independent air supply, a number of powerful diesel power generators, and fuel and water pipelines. It also had an underground Railroad track to service the needs of transportation, not to mention perfectly equipped command posts, bakeries, storage areas for lube and fuel, a hospital and living quarters, mess halls, galleys, bathrooms and shower rooms, even the recreation rooms for the personnel. All the above made it totally independent from the ground defense network.
The Facility 825 GTS was a combined water canal in terms of military engineering. It had a dry dock, repair workshops, warehouses for storing torpedoes and other weapons. There were two exit ways on either side of the mountain. There was an entrance way to the gallery from the harbor. The entrance way could be blocked by a inflatable boat lock as required. The other boat lock was mounted on the northern side of the mountain to seal the seaward gates. The both orifices in the rock were skillfully covered with camouflaged and nets.

I must reveal a few figures at this point just to make you realize how cyclopean the facility was. The total length of an underground tunnel was half a kilometer while a utility gallery housing main workshops ran for 300 meters. The flashlights we used for lighting our steps around the facility weren't strong enough for us to estimate the length of the canal stated by our tour guide – 360 meters. But we were really impressed by the size of a concrete arch measuring 12 m wide by 18 m high. None of the tourists of our group dared approach the edge of the canal after being told that its depth was at least 7 meters.

Small wonder the underground galleries could easily accommodate 7 submarines of basic Soviet designs or up to 14 subs of different classes if need be. The estimated period of a complete overhaul of a submarine is said to have planned for 3 weeks maximum. The repair programs are said to have been conducted always on time during those 30 years of operations of the underground facility.

Weary subs
Today's tourists are unable to witness the wonders produced by the Soviet navy installation hidden underground . Its glory belongs to the past.

The unique facility was vandalized in broad daylight during the division of the Black Sea Fleet. In 1991, submarines were removed from the installation, its unique equipment was dismantled and moved away, traces of secret technologies were destroyed. The rest of the equipment, namely pipework, cables, tanks, and all the metal objects including stairways and handrails were brutally ripped off and stolen. Who was behind those hideous acts of vandalism is still unknown.

Tourists today can only shine their flashlights over the concrete moldy walls with some twisted iron parts sticking out. A few instructions on handling the torpedoes are still around but the paint on them almost peeled off. There's also a railroad track with a trolley for carrying weapons in sight. And the hermetically sealed doors are also rusting in peace. No thieves will ever be able to take them away. The canal disappearing in the dark holds still waters that look dead like in a river of oblivion. The facility of gigantic proportions that took a great deal of time, effort, and money to build in the past, these days it looks like a huge shabby relic of the Soviet military power. The picture strikes everyone that steps inside.

"I still remember the times when we were afraid of the Soviet Union.
Now I'm sure that we did it with reason," said John Hinkley from Connecticut, on emerging from the gallery. I met the American while touring the facility. It's just amazing to find out that scores of tourists from Poland, Canada, U.S.A., Israel, Holland, France, Germany have already went down for a little bit of a nerve-racking experience even though a permanent ticket office is yet to be set up and guided tours became available not a long time ago.

If you want to learn more about the underground navy facility, you can ask around the local fishermen. All of them claim to have worked there. They just love telling you tall stories spiced with most incredible details, the ones that are normally left unsaid by the tour guides.

For example, the locals say that in days of old the sea approaches to the Balaklava facility were protected by specially trained dolphins and members of the navy special forces akin to the U.S. Navy Seals.
The repair workers were escorted around the premises by armed seamen at all times while at work. Submarines entered and exited the harbor at nighttime only, so the electricity in the town of Balaklava was regularly shut off in those hours of harbor maneuvering. Rumor has it that a dry dock was swarming with live fish once the water was discharged after putting a sub put into place. The workers reportedly used some ingenious methods for smoking the fish to keep it from wasting away. As a result, a trail of zesty smoke was coming from the mountain as a sure sign of yet another weary sub coming under repairs for all the spies to see despite a cloak of secrecy hanging above the place.

Monument or museum or amusement park
It's still unclear what this place is going to look like some day in the future. Is it going to be a museum? A monument to the Soviet military valor? A symbol to pacifism? According to a concept plan by the Central museum of Ukrainian armed forces, a museum will be filled with expositions covering several subjects, such as the history of the town itself, the Crimean War, the role of Sevastopol in the Great Patriotic War and the history of the Ukrainian navy. A number of dummy subs will be put afloat on the empty canal for effect.

Total area of the underground installation beneath Sevastopol is said to be 350 thousand square meters. A special commission formed by the city officials conducted search operations from 1984 to 1987 in order to recover information on every underground facility of the city. The commission took stock of more than 600 facilities located underground: command posts, communications centers, onshore artillery positions, storage rooms for torpedoes, missiles, bombs, powder- magazines, storage areas for military equipment and victuals, shelters for personnel and local population.
We won't exaggerate much by saying that Soviet-era holiday-makers enjoying the Crimean sunshine and the sea were actually sleeping on a volcano.
Write: by Valentina Gatash. November 2004

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Russia to Arm New Iraq
Iraq’s army will be equipped with soviet-era made weapons, as agreed upon a meeting between Russia’s Genshtab Chief, Gen.Yuri Baluev, and NATO Chief-in-Staff, Gen. James Johnes.
Write: by LuisB. November 2004

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Nigeria stores up future trouble
Nigeria's government has lost the latest battle in its war against the unions. The government has bowed to pressure and moderated its planned petrol price rises. But economists say the government is storing up trouble for itself in the future.

Motorbikes on street in Lagos
The cost of transport is highly contentious
There are two things guaranteed to anger the average Nigerian: Firstly, the fact that their oil-rich country relies on fuel imports and secondly, the price of petrol.
Nigeria exports about 2.5 million barrels of crude oil a day, but is then forced to buy back petrol, diesel and other refined fuels from non-oil producing countries, such as Spain, at a far higher price.

Foreign investors
Nigeria's government has reaped an estimated $280bn from oil in the past 30 years but has failed to invest enough money in its own oil industry to ensure efficient refineries and a proper supply network to distribute the fuel to service stations.

In light of the fuel reduction we decided to suspend the strike John Odah of the Nigeria Labour Congress

Why Nigerian unions called off the strike
The restoration of Nigeria's decrepit refineries - owned by Nigeria's state-owned oil company - has been a priority for a succession of ministers.
But chronic mismanagement, years of corruption and a string of political appointees has left the refineries in a worse state than ever.
As President Olusegun Obasanjo started his second term, he embarked on a different tactic altogether: wooing foreign investors to come and build their own refineries and distribution networks.

Bitter pill
Nigeria's downstream oil industry holds substantial appeal to international oil firms. The country has a population of 130 million and a large number of people with money to spend on fuel.

Is it right to force people to pay higher petrol prices?

In pictures
The problem has been compounded by the fact that oil prices have been rising steadily since President Obasanjo was re-elected, thus pushing the gap between the true price of petrol and the price at which it is sold in Nigeria ever wider.
But there is one obstacle preventing their entry into the marketplace: the heavy subsidies on fuel prices which amount to about $2bn a year.
That is why the government has been trying to press ahead with the highly unpopular measures of raising petrol prices, a move that is broadly supported by economists.
It is only when Nigeria's petrol prices come into line with their true value on the international marketplace that the foreign investors will finally arrive.

Angry drivers
President Obasanjo has been trying to persuade people of the benefits of removing the subsidies by convincing them that the money could be spent instead on improved education or health care.
Indeed, the amount of money spent subsiding fuel is a huge drain on the budget and could be spent much more effectively elsewhere. Subsidies, after all, benefit the rich as much as the poor.
But there is no easy way of weaning people off cheap fuel, and the promise of future investment in social services is hardly able to sway people who are facing an immediate rise in petrol prices they simply cannot afford.
The cost of fuel already accounts for an unwieldy proportion of people's pay packets. The prospect that fuel prices may double again is met with incredulity and, increasingly, anger.

Long-term fears
Two thirds of Nigeria's population is sill living on less than $1 a day, and the proposed fuel price increases are crippling large swathes of society, preventing people getting to work and threatening some small businesses with bankruptcy.

Nigerian two-wheel taxi drivers at fuel pump
The government wants to raise petrol prices by 25 per cent
The government's plans have been strenuously opposed every step of the way: people are weary of hearing that they must swallow a bitter pill for their own future good.
And that bitter pill is made virtually impossible to swallow by the knowledge that vast amounts of cash have been squandered or stolen during the 1980s and 90s.
This time, the threat of another general strike - and the union's promise to deliberately target oil exports - caused the government to back down on its policy at the eleventh hour.
Avoiding the hugely unpopular petrol price rises is undoubtedly a huge relief for many Nigerians in the short term.

But it is one step backwards in the long-term goal of breaking the cycle that makes Nigeria reliant on imported petrol, which leads to the equally unpopular fuel shortages.
Source: BBC News in Lagos. November 2004
Write: by Briony Hale

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U.S. conducts successful test of anti-ballistic missile laser
The United States has reported a successful ground-based test of an airborne laser meant to intercept ballistic missiles.

The Missile Defense Agency said the megawatt-class laser underwent a successful test on Nov. 10. The Pentagon agency said the laser was operated in a ground-based demonstration at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

Officials said this marked the first time that a directed energy weapon meant for use in a Boeing 747 aircraft has been demonstrated.

The test, which lasted a fraction of a second, involved the simultaneous firing of all six laser modules and associated optics that comprise the Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser. Officials said the modules, built by Northrop Grumman, performed as expected.

Officials said the test was conducted in the framework of the Airborne Laser project. "It was the first time that multiple modules of the powerful laser had ever been fired while linked together as a single unit," the Missile Defense Agency said in a statement on Nov. 10. "In the test, the laser light produced by the six modules was fired into a wall of metal called a calorimeter or beam dump. The temperature rise of the metal was used to validate that laser power was generated."

The ABL program has undergone a two-year delay in wake of the failure to develop a laser weapon that could be fitted into the nose of a Boeing 747-400F aircraft. The Pentagon has acknowledged that the laser system developed in 2002 was too heavy for flight.

The ABL, a program expected to reach $4 billion through 2008, has been designed to autonomously detect, track and destroy enemy ballistic missiles.

The high-power laser was meant to focus a basketball-sized spot of heat that can destroy a missile in the boost-phase of launch at a range of hundreds of kilometers.

Officials said the ABL was meant to intercept ballistic missiles from such countries as Iran and North Korea. Israel has expressed interest in the ABL and was said to be seeking to cooperate with the United States in a scaled-down version of the program.

The Nov. 10 test was said to have verified the integration, operation and control of six laser modules in flight configuration. Officials said the laser would be installed in the 747, integrated with the beam control/fire control system and eventually tested in flight.

Officials said the ABL prototype, termed YAL-1A, has resumed preparations for its first flight test. In December 2002, the aircraft was removed from service for modifications to the airframe to ensure the installation of the laser beam control system.

In early 2005, officials said, the ABL Track Illuminator Laser and Beacon Illuminator Laser would be installed. This would be followed by a flight of the YAL-1A that would include the test of the full beam control system.

At a later stage, the Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser would be installed on the Boeing 747, followed by additional ground and flight tests. Officials said no date has been set for the first ABL attempt to intercept a ballistic missile.
Write: LuisB. November 2004

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Study Examines Iraq Oil-For-Food Program
Saddam Hussein's regime made more than $21.3 billion in illegal revenue by subverting the U.N. oil-for-food program - more than double previous estimates, according to congressional investigators.

``This is like an onion - we just keep uncovering more layers and more layers,'' said Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., whose Senate Committee on Government Affairs received the new information at hearing Monday.

The new figures on Iraq's alleged surcharges, kickbacks and oil-smuggling are based on troves of new documents obtained by the committee's investigative panel, Coleman told reporters before the hearing. The documents illustrate how Iraqi officials, foreign companies and sometimes politicians allegedly contrived to allow the Iraqi government vast illicit gains.

The findings also reflect a growing understanding by investigators of the intricate schemes Saddam used to buy support abroad for a move to lift U.N. sanctions.

Coleman said the probe is just beginning and that officials aim to discover ``how this massive fraud was able to thrive for so long.'' He said he is angry that the United Nations has not provided documents and access to officials that investigators need to move ahead.

``Saddam Hussein attempted to manipulate the typical oil allocation process in order to gain influence throughout the world,'' Mark L. Greenblatt, a counsel for the Senate panel's permanent subcommittee on investigations, said in prepared testimony obtained by The Associated Press.

``Rather than giving allocations to traditional oil purchasers, Hussein gave oil allocations to foreign officials, journalists, and even terrorist entities, who then sold their allocations to the traditional oil companies in return for a sizable commission.''

The reference to terrorist groups referred to evidence that the regime had allocated oil to such organizations as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Mujahadeen Khalq, a group seeking to overturn the government of Iran, Greenblatt said.

Previous estimates - one from the General Accountability Office and the other by the top U.S. arms inspector Charles Duelfer - concluded that Saddam's government brought in $10 billion illicitly from 1990 to 2003, when sanctions were in place.

But congressional investigators found that vastly more oil - totaling $13.7 billion - was smuggled out of Iraq than previously thought. Investigators also raised the GAO's estimate of $4.4 billion in oil-for-food kickbacks by $200 million, and said the regime made $2.1 billion more through a scheme where foreign companies imported flawed goods at inflated prices.

According to the documents, the Iraqi government signed deals to import rotting food and other damaged goods with the full understanding of the exporting companies, who accepted payments for top quality products while kicking back much of the price difference to the Iraqi regime.

The panel estimated that such substandard goods accounted for 5 percent of all goods imported under the oil-for-food program, which was put in place in 1996 amid concerns that the Iraqi population was suffering from lack of food and medicines under the sanctions. The rough estimate ``is drawn from anecdotal information provide by officials of the former Iraq regime, the United Nations, and U.S. government officials,'' the panel said.

The total estimate of illegal revenue also includes $400 million from interest earned from hiding illicit funds in secret bank accounts. Another $400 million in illicit revenue grew out of pricing irregularities and kickbacks in the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq.

The Senate panel is conducting one of several congressional probes into alleged illegal profiteering in the oil-for-food program after allegations of corruption came to light earlier this year when Saddam was driven from power during the U.S.-led invasion. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker heads a panel that's conducting an independent investigation.

The new documents offer examples of how Saddam's regime - sometimes the former Iraqi president himself - awarded lucrative oil allocations to garner political favors.

In one document, Russian ultra-nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky - who campaigned for the lifting of sanctions on Iraq - invites an oil company to negotiate a price for an oil allocation the Iraqi government awarded him.

Zhirinovsky and other foreign officials and political figures implicated in the scandal so far - mostly from Russia, France and China - deny any wrongdoing.

In Zhirinovsky's case, the Russian allegedly used his political party's letterhead to invite an international oil company to Moscow to negotiate a deal to buy oil allocated to him.

The Iraqi government allocated 80 million barrels of oil to Zhirinovsky and his party, according to the panel, at a time when the Russian politician was backing Baghdad publicly.
Write: by Pauline Jelinek, Associated Press Writer. November 2004

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News Analysis: What next in the battle for Iraq?
U.S. military commanders say the weeklong assault that has wrested most of Falluja back from insurgent control achieved nearly all their objectives well ahead of schedule and with fewer pitfalls than anticipated. But where do the United States and the government of the interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, go from here? In the coming weeks, the two allies must still combat a resilient and dangerous insurgency operating in most of Iraq, accelerate a huge economic reconstruction effort and lay the groundwork for elections to be held in January. . One goal of the offensive in Falluja was to eliminate a major safe haven for insurgents, a hub for assassinations, car-bombings and ambushes from Ramadi to Baghdad and beyond. Another was to allow the city's 250,000 residents to participate in elections scheduled for January. . Registration is already under way elsewhere in Iraq, so commanders will face pressure to secure areas to permit Iraqi electoral commission employees to conduct their work. . Commanders and U.S. diplomats in Iraq are hoping that once rid of insurgents, cities in the Sunni heartland north and west of Baghdad will join the political process, despite calls by some Sunni groups last week to boycott next year's elections. . But obstacles remain. . "The Falluja operation will be a military success, but whether it's the key to political success will remain to be seen," Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, a member of the Armed Services Committee who visited Iraq on Friday and Saturday, said in a telephone interview. "The insurgents are working hard to derail this, and commanders are expecting widespread violence leading up to the elections in January." . Military commanders point to several accomplishments in Falluja. A bastion of resistance has been eliminated, with lower than expected U.S. military and Iraqi civilian casualties. Senior military officials say up to 1,600 insurgents have been killed and hundreds more captured, altogether more than half the number they estimated were in the city when the campaign began. . . But U.S. and Iraqi officials still face daunting tasks. . Falluja clearly will require a lot of effort even after the final pocket of insurgents is eliminated in the city, a senior U.S. general in Iraq said in an e-mail message.

"Lots of challenges - infrastructure, basic needs for returnees, security forces, and governance, not to mention elections. Assume the insurgents will continue to try to make life tough there as well.”

Outside Falluja, the insurgency rages on, amid intelligence reports that the battle has become a big recruiting draw for young Arab men in mosques from Syria to Saudi Arabia. . In Baghdad, where attacks were increasing even before the Falluja offensive, U.S. soldiers said that insurgents in at least one part of the capital shifted their tactics last week, massing in limited numbers in their attacks on Americans instead of shooting from the shadows and rooftops or laying ambushes with roadside bombs. . Sergeant Rowe Stayton, an infantry fire-team leader in northern Baghdad, said in an e-mail message that his troops had killed 15 insurgents and wounded 6 others, without suffering a casualty. . "Over all, yes, the anti-Iraqi forces have been more aggressive or stupid, depending on one's perspective," Stayton said. But commanders say they are baffled over how to combat an insidiously effective intimidation campaign that insurgents are waging against Iraqis from political leaders and police chiefs to the women who do the laundry for troops at U.S. bases.

"People are affected every day by criminality," Reed said.

"The situation has not - is not - turning around." U.S. officials say that about 100,000 Iraqi security forces have been trained and equipped, and that many are fighting side by side with U.S. forces. "The good news is that significant numbers of Iraqi security forces are standing their ground and fighting all over north-central Iraq," Major General John Batiste, the commander of the 1st Infantry Division based in Tikrit said in an e-mail message on Saturday. "Our hard work is paying off.”.

But not everywhere.
Last week, scores of police officers in Mosul fled their stations under insurgent attacks, allowing militants to loot half a dozen stations and steal dozens of police vehicles and uniforms and hundreds of weapons, all enough to set up an impostor police force, U.S. officer’s fear. Many senior officers grumble that reconstruction aid in Iraq, while beginning to flow to finance nearly 1,000 projects is still slowed by bureaucratic wrangling. . With most international aid organizations having withdrawn from Iraq because of the dangerous conditions, and many contractors skittish about sending workers into areas vulnerable to insurgent attacks, more and more U.S. troops will be called on to provide security to allow reconstruction to move ahead. . The Pentagon has extended the tours of about 6,500 troops to help with security, and senior commanders say that for now, the more than 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq should be enough.

But enough for what exactly?
The experience of Falluja in the next few may weeks may be instructive. . "The operational lesson is that 'taking' cities is comparatively easy, but that 'holding' them is harder and ultimately decisive," said an army officer who just returned for a year's duty near Falluja. "And that fight is largely one for Iraqis, not Americans, to win." .
Write: by Eric Schmitt, The New York Times. November 2004

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Somalia undeterred by peacekeeper opposition
Somalia's new government is determined to seek foreign peacekeepers to help stabilise the country despite a high-profile murder widely seen as a warning not to deploy them, the prime minister said.

"My government will not be demoralised by the killing of Gen. Mohammed Abdu," Mohammed Ali Geedi, prime minister of Somalia's new Transitional Federal Government (TFG), told Reuters late on Sunday.

"We will not despair. The government needs protection. So it is inevitable to bring protection forces for the government into the country, until disarmament is carried out."

Somalia's new president, Abdullahi Yusuf, has asked the African Union (AU) to send 20 000 peacekeepers to help disarm the militias who rule the damaged country of up to 10 million and collect the millions of small arms owned by Somalis.
The AU is considering the request but its fledgling peacekeeping department is already overstretched by trying to monitor a ceasefire in Sudan's troubled Darfur region.

General Mohammed Abdu Mohammed was shot by unidentified assailants in Mogadishu on November 5 in an attack seen by diplomats as a warning to the AU not to deploy the troops. He was flown to Kenya for treatment but died early last week.
The general, a prominent and respected figure who served in the long-defunct National Army of ousted Somali dictator Mohamed Siad Barre, was shot several days after he expressed support for the deployment of AU forces in media interviews and at seminars.

Several militant Islamist groups in Mogadishu long hostile to Yusuf have expressed opposition to the deployment of foreign forces, saying without elaborating that their use would be against Islam and they would transmit "diseases".
Yusuf was elected by a reconciliation conference held in Kenya last month seeking to end the chaos that has gripped the country since Siad Barre's overthrow in 1991. He picked Geedi, a former academic, as prime minister on November 3 and he and Geedi are due to pick a cabinet by December 2.

Geedi said the government had yet to get any funding from the international community and this would be forthcoming only when the cabinet was chosen. "There is a (funding) pledge but the condition is to set up governmental structures," he said.
Yusuf has yet to return to his Horn of Africa nation, where militias have ruled by the gun for the past 13 years.

Geedi was speaking after a luncheon for Somali politicians in Nairobi where powerful warlords Muse Sudi Yalahow, Osman Ato and Mohammed Qanyare pledged support for Yusuf's government.
A militant Somali Islamist, Hassan Dahir Aweis, has pledged to reject any attempt by Yusuf to return to Mogadishu, accusing him of being a puppet of neighbouring Ethiopia.

Aweis, who holds influence among militia allied to the city's Islamic courts, recently resurfaced after vanishing amid heightened US scrutiny of Somalia after the September 11 attacks.
Write: by Muse Sheikh Omar

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Arms Control Glance
A look at some Bush administration non-proliferation activities:- Proliferation Security Initiative: Begun in 2003, this calls on countries to work together to intercept components of weapons of mass destruction.
- Global Threat Reduction Initiative: Introduced this year, this provides assistance for nations to remove and secure high-risk radioactive materials so they can't be used by terrorists.
- Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program: This 1991 program initiated by Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and then-Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., provides funding for the dismantling of weapons of mass destruction in the former Soviet Union and finding work for former weapons scientists.

In 2003, it was expanded to other nations and President Bush recently approved using Nunn-Lugar money to destroy chemical weapons in Albania, the first time for use outside the Soviet Union.

With support from the administration, Lugar is proposing changes to the program intended to remove bureaucratic obstacles and proposing a new program for the dismantling of conventional weapons.
- Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty: This long-debated treaty would ban production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons. The administration supports the treaty but says verification is not possible and that trying to develop verification procedures would delay approval of the treaty. Some arms control advocates say the treaty would be meaningless if compliance can't be verified.
- Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty: The administration supports an additional protocol to the treaty intended to make it harder for countries to use civil nuclear programs as a cover for nuclear weapons programs.

- U.N. Security Council Resolution 1540: Approved in April, this resolution sought by the administration required all U.N. members to pass laws preventing "non-state actors" such as terrorists and black marketeers from making or trafficking in weapons of mass destruction or the materials, the materials to make them and the missiles and other systems to deliver them.
Write: by LuisB. November 2004

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Trial of Kosovo Albanians begins
Kosovo Albanian women hold portraits of relatives missing since the 1999 war The court has so far dealt with abuses against ethnic Albanians Three Kosovo Albanians accused of committing war crimes during the Kosovo conflict have gone on trial in the International War Crimes tribunal.

The former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army are accused of atrocities against Serb and ethnic Albanian civilians in Kosovo in 1998.

Fatmir Limaj, Haradin Bala and Isak Musliu deny responsibility for torture and murder in the KLA's Lapushnik camp.

It is the first time that the tribunal has tried Albanians from Kosovo.
Prosecutors accuse the three men of detaining 35 Serb and Albanian civilians in the Lapushnik prison camp.
The indictment says that 14 were murdered before Serb forces took control of the area in eastern Kosovo in 1998 and that the KLA then killed 10 ethnic Albanian detainees accused of collaborating with Serbs.

Inhuman conditions
The charges against Mr Limaj, 33, a commander at the camp, include the murder of 10 Serbs and Albanians.
Former camp guard, Mr Musliu, 57, is accused of participating in the murder of four detainees in July 1998.
Mr Bala is, 54, accused of taking part in the execution of 11 detainees in the same month as Serb forces were in the process of retaking the Lapushnik region.

According to the charge sheet, the three men "contributed to maintaining inhuman conditions in the camp... and participating in acts of torture and physical cruelty inflicted on detainees".
The Hague tribunal is often accused of being biased against Serbs and not bringing more ethnic Albanians to trial.
The tribunal's chief prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, said she would issue a new indictment against KLA leaders before the end of the year.
She criticised the international community and the local authorities in Kosovo for their lack of co-operation with her investigation of alleged crimes committed by the KLA.

Specific crimes
The prosecutor said it was difficult to build indictments against Kosovo Albanians, because witnesses were afraid to testify.
A relative of one of the men on trial recently appeared in court accused of intimidating witnesses in this case.
Tribunal spokesman Jim Landale defended the court's record.

"It's clear from our records that we've had trials involving Serbs, Croats, Bosnian Muslims and now Kosovar Albanians, among others," he said

"What's important, however, is that the tribunal is putting on trial individuals charged with specific crimes - crimes that come within our jurisdiction - and in this particular case, violation of the laws and customs of war and crimes against humanity."

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False Security: Armored Cars
In late October, the assassination of Ansar Tebuev, the deputy prime minister of the Karachaevo-Cherkessia Republic, an autonomous republic in the North Caucasus. Tebuev, a former counterterrorism official, was ambushed at an intersection near his office at the Ministry of the Interior in the republic's capital of Cherkessk.

At the time of the attack, Tebuev was riding in an armored Niva sedan. Sources in the North Caucasus-based Russian law enforcement community say the assassins blocked Tebuev's car with their own vehicle, from which two gunmen jumped out and opened fire with AK-47 assault rifles. They reportedly targeted the radiator of the Niva first, and then concentrated their fire on its windshield. Several of the bullets struck the laminated window, and at least one of them penetrated the pane, killing Tebuev. Witnesses also said that as the attack unfolded, Tebuev's chauffeur jumped out of the vehicle and fled on foot.

Several aspects of the case - including the behavior of the driver - have authorities investigating whether Tebuev was killed in a terrorist plot or by other types of criminals. However, the fact that he was murdered despite the apparent protection of his armored vehicle raises several points that bear discussion.

Contrary to popular belief, whether the threat is one of kidnapping in Mexico City or terrorism in the Caucasus, an armored vehicle in and of itself does not provide complete security for its passengers. Instead, it is only one aspect of a total security strategy.

As the Tebuev case shows, armored vehicles are not designed to withstand concentrated fire from high-powered rifles. Repeated hits in a small area will eventually penetrate the ballistic glass or the metal armor in the body. Attacks such as the 1988 assassination of U.S. naval attache Capt. William Nordeen, killed by November 17 militants in Athens, have shown that armored vehicles do not necessarily withstand large improvised explosive devices, and the 1989 killing of Deutsche Bank Chairman Alfred Herrhausen in Germany demonstrate that they also do not protect against smaller devices at a closer distance, especially if the device uses a shaped or plate charge, which focuses the force of the explosion.

In a kidnapping scenario, if the vehicle is stopped or disabled, assailants can place an explosive device on it, forcing the occupants to open the door - a tactic witnessed several times in Latin America
- or they can pry it open like a can of sardines if given enough time. Since most armored vehicles use the car's factory-installed door-lock system, techniques used by car thieves, such as using master keys or punching out the locks, can also be used effectively.

Armored vehicles are designed to protect the occupant from an initial attack and to give them a chance to escape from the attack zone. Even the heaviest armored vehicles on the market do not provide a mobile safe haven in which one can merely sit and wait out an attack. If assailants know their target is using an armored vehicle, they will bring sufficient firepower to bear to achieve their goals. If the driver does not get the vehicle off the "X" of the attack site, the assailants essentially can do whatever they please.

That said, what else must be done to protect the armored vehicle's passenger?

The first and most crucial factor to consider is the driver: The car is only as good as its driver, so it is critical that the chauffeur be alert, motivated and willing to be trained. It is foolish to place an expensive security system - and the life of the principal target - in the hands of a minimum-wage employee. In addition to technical competence, the driver needs to clearly understand that he or she is responsible for the principal's safety, and that they are not merely "Driving Miss Daisy."

The next step is ensuring the driver is properly trained. Returning to the Tebuev case, the driver's reaction -fleeing as the gunmen opened fire -- reportedly has brought him under suspicion as being part of the plot. However, it is also quite possible that the driver merely panicked, froze and then fled to save his own skin - the typical reaction of an untrained person amid the shock of an armed attack.

A professional who has been trained in attack recognition and taken part in a number of emergency action drills usually can overcome the initial shock much more quickly - and even if not capable of executing a textbook-perfect maneuver, will be able to react. They are trained to get off the "X," and even an imperfect response is better than no response at all. For example, an U.S. security professional who was ambushed several years ago in Cairo by a group called Egypt's Revolution was actually shot in the head during the initial salvo of gunfire, but given his training, was able to floor the accelerator and point his car at the gunmen - who threw away their weapons and fled. Had he frozen on the "X," both he and his passenger would have been killed.

Periodic refresher training courses are also important for VIP drivers, to keep their skills polished and alertness elevated. Tactical training also can help them avoid the tendency to worry about damaging the often expensive vehicle they are driving - another common reaction among drivers. Many times they freeze rather than scratch a fender, not recognizing that their lives and that of their protectees are much more important than the paint job.

Third, protective teams assigned to VIPs must take serious steps to vary the times and travel routes the person uses, and to protect information about the principal's schedule. An armored vehicle can create a false sense of security that can be deadly. If someone is in a situation that requires an armored vehicle for protection, the most basic tenet of security must be acknowledged: A predictable travel route and schedule make an assault much easier to execute -- and as discussed earlier, an armored vehicle simply does not provide absolute protection from attack.

A final factor to consider is that in any type of assault, from a kidnapping to a terrorist assassination, preoperational surveillance must be conducted in order for the assailants to succeed. It is during this period that operatives are most vulnerable to detection and interdiction - and thus, that professional security programs begin to implement proactive security measures such as counter surveillance. Once an assault has begun, only reactive measures are left -- and the assailants, who have the element of surprise, will likely succeed.
Write: by LuisB. November 2004

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Thursday, October 07, 2004


Iraq WMD Team Head Leaves Many Questions Open
Head of Iraq Survey Team Charles Duelfer asserted Wednesday in testimony and report to the US Senate Armed Forces Committee that no WMD stockpiles were found to exist in Iraq in 2003. However, Iraq was producing missiles beyond UN-imposed limits and could have fitted them with warheads very quickly. The ICG team found no active nuclear program and no conclusive findings on biological programs. However, by 2003, Iraq had capabilities for producing chemical or biological weapons in months and retained the intellectual capacity to reconstitute WMD programs.

The ISG team found no evidence of mobile biological weapons facilities but cannot be sure they will not turn up to negate its report on this question. Duelfer warned of the danger that Iraqi WMD expertise could be transferred to other hands. Iraqi insurgents have indeed tried to develop WMD, but their efforts have been stopped.

In answer to a question, Duelfer said Saddam chose not to have banned weapons at the particular point of time before the war, given the frame of reference after 9/11 including sanctions, isolation, reduced revenues. All in all, it was the ICG chief's view that those conditions were not sustainable. Had he stayed in power, his advisers and most Iraqis were sure he would have pursued WMD. In fact he said he would.

Speaking analytically, Duelfer maintained the world is better off with Saddam gone.

Duelfer could not say definitively that Iraqi weapons were not transferred out of Iraq before the 2003 war. But many questions ared still unanswered.

ICG has just obtained mass of new documents as large as the collection already in hand.

Senator McCain: Every intelligence agency in the world, US, British, French, Israeli, came to the same conclusion that Iraqi had WMD. How do you account for that?

Only Saddam knows the full truth of his WMD.

Duelfer referred to many conversations he had with Iraqis, top Saddam regime officials and Saddam himself. He pointed out that the deposed Iraqi ruler was deliberately ambiguous and misleading in a speech he made on June 200. When questioned by the ICG head in his prison cell, Saddam explained that he had tried to impress Iran that he had more than he did.

Most Iraqis believed he had banned weapons. "Why wouldn't he? Twice they saved him?"

But the types of logic that apply in the West don't apply in Iraq, Duelfer pointed out.
Author: by Yuumei. October 2004

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Venezuela's Paper Army
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has announced the purchase of Russian attack helicopters at a cost of $40 million to reinforce army units deployed along his country's border with Colombia. However, the helicopters - if they arrive - will be too little, too late to make a difference. Venezuela's armed forces are a hollow shell, so weakened by years of defense spending cuts that soldiers patrolling the border region frequently lack uniforms, boots, helmets, body armor and ammunition for their assault rifles.

Venezuelan Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel is in Moscow negotiating the purchase of Russian attack helicopters to reinforce Venezuelan army units deployed along the border with Colombia. President Hugo Chavez announced the $40 million deal after five Venezuelan army soldiers and a woman engineer with state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) were killed in a Sept. 17 ambush by rebels with the 10th Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

The ambush occurred in the Venezuelan border state of Apure in a sector called Mata de Cana between the towns of La Charca and La Victoria, less than 15 miles from the border with Colombia. Colombian rebel groups, cross-border drug traffickers and other smuggling organizations have long overrun the area.

Although the Chavez government immediately imposed an information blackout on the incident, Venezuelan military sources say it appears the FARC killed the soldiers by mistake. The soldiers were traveling in a curiara, or indigenous canoe, and were so poorly dressed that from a distance of 50 to 100 yards they likely appeared to be civilians, possibly criminal smugglers. From the FARC's perspective, this would make them competitors for control of criminal enterprises along the border, and therefore legitimate targets.

If the FARC unit had identified the soldiers as members of Venezuela's military, it is likely the rebels never would have fired at the canoe. The FARC has a tacit non-aggression pact with the Chavez government, and the rebels would not have violated that pact consciously.

Chavez has maintained for several years that Venezuela's side of the border is heavily defended by some 20,000 to 30,000 soldiers reinforced with armor, air and ground transport and electronic surveillance systems designed to locate and identify potential enemies, including Colombian rebels. This claim is inaccurate. The truth is, operational readiness levels within the Venezuelan army, air force and navy are so critically low that if war with Colombia were to break out today the Colombian army could easily capture and hold large swathes of Venezuelan territory, such as the state of Zulia, which accounts for close to 40 percent of Venezuela's total crude oil production.

Venezuela's armed forces (FAN) are among the poorest, least prepared military institutions in Latin America, despite the country's substantial oil revenues. The FAN is tactically and operationally incapable of keeping Colombian rebel groups outside Venezuelan territory. On paper, the army has close to 70,000 soldiers, but actual troop strength is closer to 40,000.

The army's troubles did not begin when Chavez assumed the presidency in early 1999. For example, in 1990 a 150-man company was commanded by one captain, two lieutenants, three sub-lieutenants and 10 sergeants. However, by the time Chavez became president the same 150-man company was commanded by one captain, one sub-lieutenant and two sergeants. Moreover, in 1999 the average frontier battalion had 740 soldiers on paper, but actual troop strength was only 320 men commanded by one lieutenant colonel, 10 officers and 10 sergeants. These ratios have grown much worse since Chavez assumed the presidency and slashed defense spending by more than 40 percent in order to weaken the FAN and dilute its capacity to launch a successful coup.

According to a classified study done in mid-2001 by the army's military intelligence division and obtained recently by Stratfor, the army was a hollow shell three years ago. International defense standards for developing countries state that operational readiness levels for 11 key measures of military offense and defense capabilities should never drop below 70 percent. In Venezuela's case, however, the army's capabilities in nine of 11 key measures of operational readiness levels were far below that 70 percent floor in 2001. The situation today is far more critical, sources say.

For example, in terms of troop strength the Venezuelan army's operational readiness levels in 2001 were only 56.69 percent. In terms of food supplies, its readiness levels were only 40.25 percent, and weapons capabilities were only 23.22 percent. Several lower-ranking officers who have commanded army forces on the border during the past three years say their soldiers lacked uniforms, boots, helmets and body armor. They also say their troops were sent on combat patrols without sufficient ammunition to engage hostile forces such as the FARC, drug traffickers, paramilitary groups and other border bandits. The officers add that border unit commanders frequently had to rent privately owned commercial vehicles from local residents to transport patrol troops into high-risk border areas.

The classified study done in 2001 also rated the army's communications capabilities at only 20.90 percent, combat medevac capabilities at 44.48 percent, ground transport capabilities at 39.36 percent and armored vehicle capabilities (including tanks) at only 48.92 percent.

On paper, Venezuela's armored offensive capabilities are significantly more substantial than Colombia's. For example, Venezuela's army as of May 2003 had an armored component that included 81 AMX-30 main battle tanks, 36 AMX-13 light tanks, 80 British-made Scorpion-90 light tanks, 75 M18 Hellcat tank destroyers and nearly 300 U.S.-, French- and Brazilian-made personnel carriers. The Venezuelan army also was equipped with more than 100 105-mm and 155-mm self-propelled and towed artillery howitzers, 175 106-mm recoilless rifles and more than 220 Brandt 120 mm and 81 mm mortars.

The classified army readiness study obtained by Stratfor states that as of mid-2001, the army's armored operational readiness levels were only 48.92 percent overall. Of 528 armored vehicles, including main battle tanks such as the AMX-30 and light tanks such as the Dragoon 300 and the Scorpion, 336 were operational and 189 were inoperative. Individual weapons systems readiness levels on paper looked good for systems such as the AMX-30 battle tank (71.76 percent) and the Dragoon 300 and Scorpion tanks (97.03 percent and 97.62 percent, respectively). However, these averages do not tell the full story.

Army sources say retrofitting work done in recent years on the AMX-30 battle tanks by Metalurgica Van Dam, a Venezuelan metallurgical firm with no prior experience in modifying tanks, effectively destroyed the combat capabilities of these systems. A battle tank's turret must rotate 360 degrees, but Van Dam's "retrofitting" work made it impossible for the tank turrets to rotate more than 80 degrees in either direction.

This means in combat the tanks can be flanked and destroyed easily from the sides and rear by infantry units armed with light anti-tank rockets. Van Dam also cut through the armor of the AMX-30 tanks in such a way that the tanks were split completely in two. As a result, the armor of these tanks can now be penetrated by ammunition as light as a .30-caliber machine gun bullet, according to military sources. This means an infantry soldier armed with a rocket-propelled grenade
(RPG) can penetrate the turrets of these tanks and kill the crews inside with as much ease as a hot knife slicing through butter if the rocket impacts directly on the welding seam.

In addition, the Dragoon 300 and Scorpion light tanks might show adequate operational readiness levels on paper, but they lack munitions. These tanks can be deployed, as some were deployed in April 2002 to protect Chavez in Miraflores from the 900,000 unarmed protesters who marched to the presidential palace demanding his resignation. However, in an armed engagement these tanks would quickly run out of ammunition, which in effect would make them useless.

The only two measures where the army exceeded the 70 percent floor were air transport (73.91 percent) and electronic warfare (80.05 percent). However, more than half of the army's helicopters are not equipped with weapons systems capable of providing close air-ground support. In effect, the army's air transport command is used mainly to ferry generals around the country on official and personal missions.

Moreover, the army's electronic warfare systems have been withdrawn from border regions and redeployed mainly to Caracas and central Venezuela, where they are used to conduct electronic surveillance of all communications inside Fort Tiuna, Palo Negro and other bases. Instead of intercepting Colombian communications, the Chavez government is using its electronic surveillance systems to spy on Venezuelan army units in a permanent effort to locate and identify officers that could be conspiring against him.
Author: by LuisB. October 2004

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Taxing questions . . . and misfires
Have you noticed the press tends to ask the candidates the same old tired questions, whether at a press conference, interview or debate? Yet there are many basic questions on tax policy (and other topics) Americans should have answers to before they vote.

Here are some of those questions, which I am urging reporters with access to Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry, including the debate moderators, to ask.

To Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry:
1 - What is the maximum federal income tax rate you think any American should pay?
2 - On what basis did you select that number?
(Note: The average federal tax rate for all Americans is now about 15 percent, and surveys over the years indicate most Americans do not believe it is fair for anyone to pay more than 20 percent.)

To Mr. Kerry: Even though you have failed to produce income tax returns for yourself and Mrs. Kerry, the information you did produce indicates your wife's effective federal income tax rate was less than 12 percent (less than that for the average American). If your tax rate proposals were current law, what would be your and Mrs. Kerry's effective tax rate? (Note: It appears from the limited tax information the Kerry campaign has provided, most of the Kerry’s' wealth is in tax sheltered investments - such as tax-free municipal bonds - which would not be affected by Mr. Kerry's tax increase proposals.)

To Mr. Kerry: You have proposed increasing the maximum federal income tax rate to almost 40 percent for many small business owners and other working Americans. This tax rate is far higher than what you and Mrs. Kerry appear to pay or would pay under your proposals. Is this fair, and if so why? (Note: The Kerry’s are reported to be among the 400 richest Americans.)

To Mr. Kerry: You have said you want the wealthiest Americans to pay more taxes. However, under your proposals, many people who clearly are not wealthy and some with even negative net worth’s would have their taxes increased, while many wealthy people would not pay more in taxes. Is this fair? (Note: The Kerry rhetoric confuses wealth and taxable income, and these are not the same. For instance, people who borrow to start or grow businesses, or have serious and very expensive medical problems often have negative net worth’s, even though they may earn $200,000 a year. These people are not wealthy. However, many very wealthy people may receive little in taxable income, because they bought tax free municipal bonds or did other - totally legal - things to tax shelter their income. One can be a billionaire and not pay an additional penny of tax under the Kerry tax proposals.)

To Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry: Some economists believe the decline in U.S. manufacturing employment is partly due to our allowing imports to come into the country tax free (because foreign producers rebate their consumption taxes at the border) and compete against taxable U.S. goods, and yet require our exports to compete globally against foreign goods with U.S. taxes included in the price. Do you agree there is a problem? If so, what would you do to address it?

To Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry: Many fine economists, such as Nobel Prize winner Robert Lucas, have argued the single best thing we can do to improve economic performance and job creation is eliminate taxes on capital, such as taxes on capital gains, interest and dividends. Do you agree? Why or why not?

To Mr. Kerry: Your economic adviser, former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, endorsed a proposal whereby the United Nations would be able to directly tax American citizens and businesses. Do you agree with your adviser that the U.N. should be able to directly tax Americans, rather than only receive a grant from the U.S. government?

To Mr. Kerry: In the summer of 2000 - before President Bush was elected president - he proposed cutting taxes immediately to reverse the decline in the economy that resulted in the recession at the end of the Clinton administration. As economists know, the recession caused the job losses about which you have been so critical. We understand you and the Clinton administration do not believe, as Mr. Bush and his advisers did, that the recession could have been avoided if the proper tax cut had been enacted in 2000. However, the question remains, what would you have done to avoid the recession, and why did you not propose your alternative at the time?

Democracy functions best when the voters are informed, and that, in turn, requires the press to demand specific answers from the candidates rather than slogans.
Author: Richard W. Rahn is a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute and an adjunct scholar of the Cato Institute. October 2004

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Illegal Immigration into Europe; Analyses
German Intelligence services estimate that at least 500,000 illegal immigrants arrive each year in Europe and receive about 5 billion euros in annual social welfare benefits, a sum that ranks just behind drug trafficking and arms smuggling receipts.

As of August 2004, there have been 9904 illegal immigrants turned back at Europe's borders.

In the above diagram, yellow arrows represent routes taken by illegal immigrants via sea, blue represents land routes, and red represents air routes.
Immigration Routes from the Middle East
The first destination for illegal immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Turkey, or Kurdistan is Istanbul, Turkey. From there, they depart for either Brindisi or Bari, Italy or Frankfurt, Germany, and then on to France, Spain, or the United Kingdom.

Sea Routes
From Istanbul, the route is by "zodiac" boats with the immigrants leaving from the coasts of the Aegean Sea. The cost of passage averages 1500 euros.

Air Routes
Forged passports and tourist visas can be bought in a travel agency for approximately 4,000 US dollars with about eight days wait time. Air travel is usually from Istanbul to Frankfurt, where an immigrant seeks political asylum.

Land Routes
Illegal immigrants travelling from Istanbul to Germany
-Usually by truck - normally pass through Greece, Bulgaria, and Romania. The Bulgarian border is considered to be the most permeable

Immigration Routes from East Africa
Illegal immigrants from East Africa travel via Istanbul, or Brindisi. Such immigrants usually come from Sudan, Chad, Ethiopia, Egypt, Somalia, Kenya, or Niger.

Via Italy
Libya has become a major hub for illegal African immigrants whose destinations are EU countries, especially Italy, as Tripoli no longer requires a transit visa for travellers from the "brother countries" of continental Africa.

Via Turkey
Departing from Sudan, frequently in cargo ship containers originating in Eastern Europe, illegal immigrants arrive in Turkey; they proceed on their way to the Ukrainian port of Odessa, then via land route through Moldavia, and on to Galati in southeast Romania.

Immigration Routes from West Africa
The typical route for illegal immigrants is via Algeria, with Tamanrasset as the first point of entry. Immigrants then travel through Algeria by car or truck and cross the Moroccan border at either Oujda or Nador. The goal is to reach the enclave of Melilla, also known as "little Spain" or Ceuta, on the Moroccan coast. Immigrants taking this route are from Niger, Mali, Nigeria, Cameroun, Togo, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea, and Liberia.

The passage north to Gibraltar is usually made at night in overcrowded boats called "pateras." Passage is organized by traffickers who charge 600 to 2,000 euros per person. Once in Spain, immigrants can travel to other destinations within the EU.

Immigration Routes from Asia
Illegal immigrants from Asia, travelling by air or by land, come primarily from China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. Immigrants from Russia and the Federated Republic of Chechnya travel primarily by land routes.

Air Routes
Some Chinese immigrants fly directly to Paris, using false Japanese or South Korean passports that cost approximately 15,000 euros.

Land Routes
Illegal immigrants from China cross the Ukraine, Poland, and the Czech Republic by truck, proceeding on foot across the Czech-German border into Germany. Chinese immigrant networks are using Belgrade as a hub.

From East to West Europe
Illegal immigrants taking the East-West route come mainly from Russia, Ukraine, Moldavia, Belarus, Georgia, and the Caucasus.

Land Route
Traveling by truck, car, and by foot, illegal immigrants travel through Slovenia seeking to reach Italy as their port of entry to the European Union. Leaving from Chisinau, Moldova, they travel to Italy by train, car, or by foot at night, crossing the Romanian and Albanian borders.

Sea Route
Illegal immigrants from Albania who arrive on the Italian coast sail in small, flat, light-weight boats called "scafi" that can travel below radar. Most often, they arrive either in Lecce, in southern Italy, in San Foca, a resort opposite the Albanian coast, or in Bari, Brindisi, or Otranto.

European Legislation Countering Illegal Immigration
Current legislation being studied by the European Commission includes the negotiation of a common asylum rights policy; harmonization of penalties for those who aid in human trafficking, those who aid or organize coordinated transits through the EU, and penalizing employers who overlook irregularities on work visas. Sri Lanka, Macao, and Hong Kong have already signed cooperation accords with the EU to combat illegal immigration. The EU is negotiating with an additional six countries - Morocco, Ukraine, Russia, China, Pakistan, and Algeria - to sign agreements on immigration policies.

The European Commission is also discussing the implementation of a Europe wide database of all temporary visas issued for the countries of the Schengen zone and the creation of a European agency to control borders.

The G5
Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and the UK meet annually to discuss the undertaking of immigration projects and legislation by the group such as:
- Establishing a list of countries from which immigrants to Europe are ineligible to claim asylum
- Intensifying international cooperation to discover and dismantle illegal immigrant and human trafficking networks
- Requiring airlines to provide passenger data before arrival UK Legislation. In the United Kingdom, an illegal immigrant can stay for an unlimited period while being processed for political asylum. During this time, the asylum seeker is provided with publicly-funded legal services and housing.

Recent legislation includes a November 2002 law providing for the reinforcement of border inspections with France and Belgium, fines and penalties for transportation companies caught carrying illegal immigrants, wittingly or not, and the creation of reception centers for asylum seekers.

The law also provides for the naturalization of some 50,000 immigrants who requested political asylum three years or more prior to November 2002. The law also enacted stricter penalties for asylum seekers who have lost or misplaced their paperwork and made visas obligatory for nationals of the 18 countries with the highest number of immigrants to the UK.

According to the Home Office, the majority of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants come from Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Zimbabwe followed by China, Iran, and Pakistan. It reported 61,050 requests for asylum from undocumented and illegal immigrants in 2003. While this is the highest number within the EU, it is 43 percent less than the previous year, when the new asylum law was enacted.

German Legislation
At this time, an illegal immigrant can remain in Germany for only 18 months while processing for political asylum.

A law adopted on 9 July 2004 restricted even legal immigration to Germany - requiring an immigrant's dossier to be re-examined after three years, providing for the automatic expulsion of immigrants sentenced to prison, the construction of deportation centers, and the automatic expulsion of any immigrant deemed a threat to national security.

According to the Interior Ministry, the majority of illegal immigrants come from Turkey, Serbia and Montenegro, Iraq, the Russian Federation and China. The ministry reported that 50,600 immigrants in Germany requested asylum in 2003.

Italian Legislation
Italy allows an illegal immigrant to remain in the country for only two months while processing asylum documentation. The "Bossi-Fini" law of 2002 required the intensification of border patrols, digital fingerprinting of all illegal immigrants, and immediate expulsion of, or one year imprisonment for repeat offenders. Although Italian employers classified 634,728 immigrants as documented workers in 2003, residence permits will no longer be given to immigrants not possessing valid work contracts. Italy is currently negotiating an immigration treaty with the Balkan countries (including Albania) and Libya, under which Italy will have a fixed quota system for immigrants. The countries, with which Italy is negotiating, are being asked to institute mechanisms to reintegrate returning illegal immigrants.

Italy saw a 40 percent decrease in reported cases of illegal immigration in 2003 compared to the year prior (14,331 vice 23,719).

According to the Interior Ministry, the majority of illegal immigrants to Italy come from Sri Lanka, Iraq, the former Yugoslavia, and Turkey. The Ministry reported that 7,280 immigrants requested asylum in 2002.

Spanish Legislation
Spain allows 40 days for an illegal immigrant to begin processing the documentation needed to remain in country. However, the law of 29 October 2003 provided a statute of limitations on clandestine immigration. The law provides local and federal police the power, for up to 10 years, to bring charges against a person who has entered the country illegally and continues to reside within the country, even though he or she may be a citizen at the time of prosecution. Procedures are being negotiated to make it more difficult for family members to rejoin each other once asylum status has been granted to one member. There will be severe penalties for immigrants caught trying to enter the country illegally and for businesses that knowingly employ illegal immigrants. In addition, transportation companies, such as airlines, buses, and trains, will be required to supply information on passengers who do not use their return trip ticket on a round trip purchase.

The Spanish and Moroccan police reportedly will increase cooperative efforts to patrol the Straits of Gibraltar and implement the Integrated Border Patrol System (SIVE), a string of radar stations capable of picking up the movement of small marine craft.

The Spanish Ministry of the Interior stated that of the more than 70,000 immigrants deported in 2003, 16,000 entered Spain via clandestine coastal landings. In 2002, there were 6,179 requests for political asylum in Spain from immigrants coming primarily from Morocco, Algeria, Nigeria, Cuba, and Colombia.

Austrian Legislation
Considered to be one of the most extreme in the EU, a law adopted on 23 October 2003, which allows only two months to begin processing for residency status, does not permit demands for asylum to be made at Austria's borders and bars additional evidence to the court of appeal once the appellate court has rendered its decision. An immigrant can also be deported during the appellate process for any reason.

The Austrian Ministry of the Interior reported 32,400 demands for asylum in 2003, with the majority of the requestors originating from Russia, Turkey, India, Serbia and Montenegro, and Afghanistan.
Author: LuisB. October 2004

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Turkey – come on in
The European Commission's green light to accession talks with Turkey, if endorsed by European leaders in December, heralds a potential transformation in Europe as momentous as this year's great eastward expansion.

Turkey would not join for at least a decade. But if and when it is admitted to the EU, this comparatively poor and fast-growing Muslim country of 70 million people is likely to become the largest single member.

There is alarm at this prospect, especially in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Austria. Having turned back the Turks at the gates of Vienna in 1683, they ask, why should we be inviting them back into Europe? Will Europe not become awash with poor farmers, or open itself to more terrorism?

Such fears are understandable, but should be rejected. Turkey is a member of the Council of Europe and Nato, and is now fast adopting European models of government. Civilian authority over the coup-prone military has been reasserted; the death penalty has been abolished; the notorious state security courts have been scrapped; torture is less widespread; there are greater safeguards for freedom of the press; Kurdish language and cultural rights are being recognised; and Turkey has exerted pressure on Turkish Cypriots to approve a UN peace plan for the divided island.

What is more remarkable is that the changes are being brought in by the Islamist-inspired Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, who was educated in an Islamic seminary and whose wife wears the veil. The Turks clearly have a long way to go before they are ready to join the EU.

Their civil rights record, for instance, still leaves much to be desired. But they have done more than enough to deserve to begin membership talks. The best way to encourage further reform is for the EU to keep its word, and make clear that it is not an exclusive Christian club.

And if the EU can make Islamists adopt democratic values, then it will have shown that its "soft power" is as important as America's military "hard power" in undermining the political base of Islamist terrorists.
Author: LuisB. October 2004

Friday, July 30, 2004


Namibia On the Brink of a Serious Crisis
Namibia and the rest of southern Africa face one of the world's most serious humanitarian crises, a top United Nations official has warned. Fresh from visits to Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique and Swaziland, James Morris, the UN Secretary General's special envoy for humanitarian needs in southern Africa, has warned of serious consequences if nothing is done to stem the crisis.

"The numbers of food-insecure and vulnerable households tell of an extraordinary human tragedy and southern Africa must still be considered the location of one of the world's most serious humanitarian crises," Morris wrote in a report to the UN.
When he was in Namibia last month, Morris urged Namibia to play a greater role in combating the effects of HIV-AIDS and to offer improved access to services for the rapidly growing number of orphans and vulnerable women.

He said the Government needed to step up efforts to deal with the "humanitarian crisis" in the country.

"I am particularly concerned about the plight of orphans and women and their inability to access critical necessities such as food, clean water, education, and health care," he said.

Morris came to review how the international community could more effectively assist Namibia in battling HIV-AIDS, food security and the drain of human resources.

"An expedited implementation of commitments is required if Namibia is to get through this crisis without losing an entire generation," said Morris.

Namibia ranks among the top five countries in the world most affected by HIV-AIDS. The virus has become the country's leading cause of mortality with nearly a quarter of a million people infected. Average life expectancy will decline to around 40 years of age by the end of 2005 - 25 per cent lower than without HIV. There are already more than 120 000 orphans and vulnerable children in Namibia and the number will reach 250 000 by the year 2020.

The World Food Programme, Unicef and the Namibian Government recently put together a joint appeal of US$5,8 million to help over 600 000 orphans and other vulnerable children and women suffering from the combined effects of erratic weather, severe poverty and worsening HIV-AIDS rates.
However, funding has been slow and this has had a serious effect on the UN's ability to adequately support the most vulnerable groups.
Source; The Namibian (Windhoek). July 04
Write: by Christof Maletsky

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Zambia wants 15-25 year jail terms for hackers
Zambia's government is to present a tough bill on cyber crime to parliament on Friday that will see convicted hackers and other offenders face harsh sentences ranging from 15 to 25 years in jail.

The Computer Misuse and Crimes Bill enjoys strong backing from bankers and the Computer Society of Zambia, a group of professionals promoting computer use, who say hacking into dormant accounts has become a problem in this poor southern African country.

"We feel this law will help to deal with the increasing number of electronic frauds and hacking especially in the financial sector," said Milner Makuni, president of the Computer Society of Zambia.

The most famous cyber offence in Zambia was committed by a young computer whizkid who hacked the State House website and replaced the picture of then president Frederick Chiluba with a cartoon.

He was arrested and charged with defamaing the head of state but the case failed to succeed because there was no law in Zambia which deals with cyber crimes.

"The bill, once passed, will help to deal with high tech cyber crimes that our current legal system cannot address," said Bob Samakai, a ministry of communication permanent secretary.

But some cyber experts worry that the measure is likely to be abused by the authorities to curb access to the Internet.

"It is difficult to regulate the use of computers and Internet because we are dealing with a world wide web," said Brenda Zulu, a renowned cyber journalist who specialises in online reporting.

She said the country should first develop a policy on Information Communication Technology (ICT) before rushing to enact legislation on computers.

Currently, the Zambian government is seeking public input in the draft ICT policy, which is yet to be adopted.

"This law is very vague and not necessary for Zambia at the moment," said Lloyd Himambo, an editor of Zambia's online newspaper, The Watchdog.

He said regulating the use of computers will be a difficult undertaking and wondered how such a law will be enforced in Zambia, a country where computers are a preserve of the rich.

About 1 in 1,000 Zambians owns a computer, according to unofficial estimates.

The Computer Society of Zambia agrees that enforcing such a law will be difficult, but pledged to help train police officers to understand cyber crimes.

"I think what people should be fighting for is to upgrade their security features on their websites to deal with hacking but not to criminalise it," said Zulu, adding that hacking a site can be done outside Zambia making it difficult to track the offenders.

A senior Zambian lawyer, who has studied the bill, said it is an "import of the British Act" and lacks local input.

"I think this law is very advanced for the Zambian society and government should not rush it through parliament before reaching consensus," he said, on condition of anonymity.
Source; AFP. July 04
Write; by Dickson Jere

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Church pair caught in the act
A Malawian court convicted a Catholic priest and a nun of disorderly conduct on Thursday after they were caught engaged in a sexual act in a parked car with tinted windows. The Malawian priest, 43, and the 26-year-old nun from neighbouring Zambia spent the night in police cells after being caught in the act on Wednesday, police said. A court in the capital Lilongwe handed down suspended jail sentences of six months with hard labour after the pair pleaded guilty to charges of disorderly conduct.

"These people were caught in a sex act," Assistant Superintendent Kelvin Maigwa told Reuters.

Officials in the Church, whose priests are barred from sex or marriage, declined to comment. Passers-by alerted police at Lilongwe International Airport after the parked Toyota Corolla, which had tinted windows, began shaking in what police described as "a funny manner".
Source; Independent Online. July 04

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What were SA men doing in Pakistan?
Islamabad and Johannesburg - The two South Africans held in Pakistan by intelligence agents were caught with a top al-Qaeda operative after a fierce gunbattle at the weekend.

The operative, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, is of the world's most wanted men with a $25-million (about R157-million) price on his head.

He was in custody in Pakistan on Friday for his suspected role in the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.

'It is a big achievement for our security forces'
On Thursday Pakistan's high commissioner in Pretoria, Akbar Zeb, expressed doubt that the two South African men being held captive on suspicion of terrorism activities were only tourists.

They had been granted visas on July 10 to visit Pakistan for "tourism" purposes.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Aziz Pahad called Zeb in to insist that South Africa's high commission in Pakistan be given consular access to the men.

Zeb assured Pahad that the high commission in Islamabad would be given consular access to the two men "very soon" - once his government's intelligence authorities had completed their initial investigations.

The two South African suspects, believed to be 20-year-old Islamic-studies student Zubair Ismail of Laudium and Feroz Ganchi, reported to be from Fordsburg, were arrested on Sunday along with Ghailani and 13 others.

He is wanted for the death of Americans
They were arrested in a house in the city of Gujrat after a 14-hour gunbattle. Police seized firearms, ammunition, grenades and maps.

But the families of the men in South Africa claim Ismail was in Pakistan to study while Ganchi, a doctor, was there for relief work.

Others said the men were on a hiking expedition.

Zeb dismissed speculation in the South African media that there had been a muddle over the men's identities or that the men arrested had stolen passports from Ganchi and Ismail.

According to Sapa, Pahad met the Ganchi family, at their request, on Wednesday to tell them what the government was doing.

"Ghailani and the others were arrested after the firefight in Gujrat, about 175km south-east of Islamabad, Pakistan Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat said.

"It is a big achievement for our security forces," he said.

The US's $25-million reward for the capture of the Tanzanian national is the same bounty offered for al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and 19 others on the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Most Wanted Terrorist List.

Ghailani is probably the most senior al-Qaeda operative caught in Pakistan since the arrest in March 2003 of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

"He is wanted for the death of Americans," said an official in Washington on condition of anonymity.

Ghailani, who is in his early 30s and goes by the nicknames "Foopie" and "Ahmed the Tanzanian", was indicted in New York in 1998 for the synchronised blasts that blew up the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 224 people.

Washington blamed al-Qaeda for the devastating bombings and carried out a missile attack on Afghan military training camps run by Bin Laden shortly afterwards. Bin Laden escaped unhurt.

Four al-Qaeda supporters were sentenced to life in prison in October 2001 by a Manhattan federal judge for the bombings.

The FBI and the Manhattan US Attorney's office had no immediate comment on Ghailani's arrest.

Hayat said Pakistani security forces had been acting on a tip-off when they raided a suspected militant hideout in Gujrat. One policeman was slightly wounded in the gunbattle, he added.

Hayat said Ghailani, his Uzbek wife and up to eight other foreigners, including two South Africans, were among those arrested.

Those held included four men, three women and five children, Pakistan's Nation newspaper said today.

"They were strangers, and they acted as such, keeping mostly to themselves," the newspaper said, quoting neighbours.

Pakistan had not yet received a request from the US for Ghailani's extradition, Hayat said.

"He has been in Pakistan for some time. We have to establish the exact nature of his activities and scope of his network in Pakistan.

"Only after we have exhausted our inquiries shall we be able to hand him over to the US."

US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage praised Pakistan's pursuit of al-Qaeda-linked fighters during a visit to Islamabad this month.

US officials suspect that Bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri and other al-Qaeda supporters are hiding somewhere in rugged tribal areas along the Afghan border and have pressured Pakistan to pursue foreign militants in the lawless region.

Up to 600 fighters, including Arabs, Chechens and Uzbeks, are believed to be in the tribal belt, many of them sheltered by tribesmen who have also been involved in fierce clashes with Pakistani troops this year.

Pakistani forces launched two major operations this year in the region after President Pervez Musharraf vowed to clear the country of foreign militants accused of attacks in Pakistan, including two attempts on his life in December, and strikes on US-led forces in Afghanistan.

Pakistan says it has arrested hundreds of al-Qaeda fighters and handed them over to the US since it joined the US-led war on terror in the wake of September 11. - Reuters and Independent News Service.
Source; The Star. July 04
Write; by Zeeshan Haider, Beauregard Tromp and Peter Fabricius

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Uzbek Blasts Hit U.S., Israeli Embassy, Prosecution
Explosions struck the U.S. and Israeli embassies and the prosecutor's office in the Uzbek capital Tashkent on Friday, causing a number of casualties.
"An explosion has occurred outside the prosecutor's office," said Svetlana Ardykova, head of the prosecution's press service.
Russia's Interfax news agency quoted an official at the U.S. embassy as saying the blast had been caused by a suicide bomber with explosives attached to his waist.
Israel radio said an explosion had hit its embassy in the capital of the ex-Soviet Central Asian state, killing two local people.
Fifteen people are now standing trial in Tashkent on charges of trying to overthrow the ex-Soviet state in connection with attacks in February that killed nearly 50 people.
The defendants were said to have been followers of the extreme Islamist al Qaeda organization.
Uzbekistan was a staging post for the U.S. operation that ousted the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan and has allowed Washington the use of an air base.
The administration of Uzbek President Islam Karimov, who unabashedly uses tough methods to root out Islamic extremism, stands accused by rights groups of widespread human rights violations.
Source; Reuters. July 04

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Lebanese national arrested in connection with March 11 bombs
Spanish police arrested a Lebanese national on Wednesday evening for his alleged connection with the perpetrators of the March 11 terrorist attacks in Madrid.
The man, Semaan Gaby Eid, had reportedly been in contact with Jamal Ahmidan, El Chino, considered a mastermind behind the Madrid blasts and one of the terrorists who killed themselves in April's Leganés explosion. Gaby Eid is also believed to have played a role in the purchase of the explosives used in the attacks. At the time of his arrest in Madrid's Carabanchel district, Gaby Eid was carrying forged papers.
Source; El Pais. July 04
Write; by Marta Zhein

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'Terror' Against the Press
The curious saga of the Boston FBI's 'unconfirmed reports' of a right-wing threat to the media July 29th, 2004 4:25 PM BOSTON-It looks like the FBI's Boston field office faked a threat of domestic terrorism just before the start of the Democratic National Convention by leaking "unconfirmed" reports of white supremacist groups readying an attack against media vehicles in Boston. Fox News, for one, reportedly was wildly trying to disguise its trucks by covering up its logos.

The effect of this probably was to make the press even more suspicious of anti-war demonstrators than it already is-to even view them as possible terrorists, and if not actual terrorists, then a crowd within which terrorists could operate.

All of this is taking place in an atmosphere of fear and tension whipped up by the Bush administration, with its reports of Al Qaeda "sleeping cells" preparing to strike against America in the midst of the presidential campaign. (See my July 16 article on a chilling Election Day scenario.)

The white supremacists on the far right have never shown any great interest in the war on terror, and they usually try to use the press, not attack it. Mark Potok, editor of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report, which tracks the far right, told Glynn Wilson of the serious-minded Southerner Daily News blog, "We have had no indication whatsoever, not an inkling, that there is any kind of violent action planned by the radical right in Boston. We follow these groups quite closely."

ABC News said last week (basing its report on anonymous sources) that, just before the convention opened on July 23, statements by a domestic group of college-age people in the Midwest triggered the FBI warning, according to Wilson. The ABC report said the group's members had not gone to Boston, Wilson noted. Other warnings of "a very real concern" about impending "violent action by white supremacists" emanated from the Secret Service, the Boston Joint Terrorism Task Force, and Boston police, Wilson said.

CNN reported July 23 that "authorities fear that some protesters are preparing to target the media" and that the "Boston Joint Terrorism Task Force is investigating." According to the CNN story, the FBI's Boston office issued a statement saying it had "unconfirmed information" that, as CNN put it, "a domestic group plans to attack media vehicles, possibly with 'explosives or incendiary devices.' "

Special Agent Gail A. Marcinkiewicz, the public affairs coordinator for the Boston FBI office, told the Southerner that the report of a "radical domestic terrorist group" planning an attack on media trucks in Boston was "unconfirmed."

Wilson noted that Boston authorities, according to ABC, were worried about two right-wing white supremacist groups in particular: Volksfront and White Revolution. Potok told Wilson that some members of Volksfront pleaded guilty last year in the beating death of a homeless black man, and the Volksfront online bulletin board recently carried a posting urging members to go to Boston and "rally."

"But there was no suggestion whatsoever of any violence," Potok told Wilson, "let alone violence against media trucks. . . . I find it extremely difficult to believe that White Revolution or Volksfront would be involved in an action like this."

Overall, the racist far-right would just love to get some publicity from the war on terror, but these people are stuck in the Stone Age when it comes to weaponry and ideas, and they are definitely not into suicide bombings. Such groups have always tried to manipulate the press, not attack it-except for such rare cases as the neo-Nazis' murder of Denver talk-radio host Alan Berg in 1984.
Source; Mondo Boston. July 04
Write; by James Ridgeway

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Colombian Bishop Is Freed
Marxist rebels of the National Liberation Army on Tuesday released a Roman Catholic bishop, Misael Vacca, two days after his kidnapping prompted condemnation from Pope John Paul II and a rescue operation by Colombia's army.
Church officials told reporters that Bishop Vacca, of the city of Yopal, was found safe in a small town northeast of Bogotá, the capital.
Rebels of the Liberation Army, which was for years led by a Spanish priest, had said they planned to release him with a message to give to the government. But President Álvaro Uribe, whose father was killed by guerrillas, did not wait and ordered troops and helicopters into rugged mountains in northeastern Colombia.
Source; NYT. July 04

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Arms Trade Booming in Northern Kenya
Nairobi Women and children are used as conduits for trans-border trade in guns and ammunition in the northern Kenya, a new study reveals.
The guns and the bullets are then transported to various parts of the country including Nairobi by donkey carts, trucks and, sometimes, government vehicles.
The research, which is a campaign against small arms by Oxfam - a British development and charitable organisation - says that the weapons come from Ethiopia, which borders Kenya to the North and Somalia which borders Kenya to the East. Others come from Uganda and the volatile Democratic Republic of Congo.
The weapons are picked at the Manyatta Burji-Moyale in Ethiopia. Most of these are normally destined for markets in Eastleigh and Kariobangi North estates in Nairobi, the study, done early this year, says.
Most of this thriving business goes on under the noses of border officials who either look the other way or are too ignorant to know what goes on.
In Mandera, the source of the ammunition and guns is the Suftu area of Ethiopia and Gedo region of Somalia. The entry point is Suftu, Mandera/Somalia border and several other secret routes. The weapons are ferried using donkeys, human couriers and lorries. Most of these find markets in Wajir, Isiolo, Meru, Marsabit and, occasionally, West Pokot.

Unlike in Moyale, ammunition sale in Mandera is done more discreetly. The sale, most of the time, takes place in the middle of the night as opposed to Moyale where business is transacted throughout the day.
The source of ammunition that comes through Wajir is Lower Juba region, Kismayu and Mogadishu
The main entry point is Diff, and through numerous cut lines paved during the oil exploration in the mid 1980s.

The mode of transport is lorries that ferry uncustomed goods from Somalia and human couriers.
Most of the ammunition from Somalia that comes through Mandera is readily gobbled up by Mandera, southern Moyale, eastern part of Marsabit and Wajir north.

In Isiolo, the source of the arms is the Oromo Liberation Front rebels. Others come from Wajir due to the differences between the Ajuran and Degodia community, and also from Kenya Police through the regular and Kenya Police Reservists (homeguards).

The entry points are Merti, Garba Tulla, Modogashe and Habaswein.
In Garissa, the source of the weapons is Somalia, especially the Upper Shabelle and Lower Juba.
The traffickers get in through Diff, Liboi and Daadab and carry their deadly cargo by bus and lorries. Others are disguised as livestock traders.

Most of these arms find their way into Ijara, Tana River, Ukambani and Nairobi.
West Pokot gets its arms from the Democratic Republic of Congo and also Karamojong in Uganda.

The guns, which are used in cattle rustling, enter Pokot through Kacheliba, Alale and Turkwel. A brand new AK-47, the Oxfam report says, can go for as little as Sh10,000 while a bullet can go for even Sh50.
In Samburu, gunrunners get their products from West Pokot, Isiolo, Turkana, Uganda and Sudan.
They come through Nyahururu, Barsaloi, Baragoi, South Horr, Ngurunit and Archer's Post and find a ready market in Maralal, Barsaloi and Baragoi.

The string of world-class tourist hotels and lodges that dot the banks of Ewaso Ng'iro in Samburu district is a clear testimony that development can flourish in the arid and semi-arid areas. Interestingly, these investments are never attacked despite being in a bandit-prone area.
A member of the Moyale Peace and Reconciliation Committee says that the government's indifference and vast and porous Ethiopian border largely contribute to the spread of small arms in district.
In Moyale this "business" is monopolised by women and truck loaders who transport it to Nairobi concealed as jerry cans carrying old engine oil. Every other day a convoy of nine lorries depart from Moyale carrying an estimated 560 rounds of ammunition.

"I can afford to buy food for my children and that is the basic thing I should provide for them. The rest, like going to school, are luxuries I can't afford to give to them. I don't beg and neither does my husband rob other people," says Marre Hirbo, 38, speaking of her bullet business.

She carries them disguised in a bag of maize seeds and crosses the border nonchalantly in the morning.
She normally picks them from her younger sister's house, a few metres from Moyale-Ethiopia's police headquarters, sandwiched between a mosque and the Ethiopian military barracks.
On the Kenyan side at Manyatta Burji village where her house is, somebody is waiting on the tail of a convoy travelling to Nairobi. Marre buys a jerry can and half fills it with engine oil where her 60 ammunition are dipped, then hidden in the back of a truck for the long journey to Nairobi.
She justifies her trade again: "The government has failed to develop Moyale, what are we expected to do?"
There are more than 16 police roadblocks from Moyale to Nairobi during the day and twice the number at night. Yet the bullets arrive in Nairobi unnoticed.

In Wajir, an intelligence officer monitoring terrorism and other related activities confided that as long as the cut-lines paved during the exploration of oil in the mid-1980's are there, it will be a gigantic task to stop the small arms trade in Wajir and Garissa besides the act of terror itself.
The officer says the region is sitting on a time bomb, adding that there are many illegal activities based on local and cross-border politics as well as others of economic dimension controlled from Somalia going on and can easily be missed by a undiscerning eye.

"Every transaction here is so intricate that it needs a trained eye, a lot of patience and intensive networking to understand and uncover," he adds.
Those who sell their animals to livestock markets in Garba-Tulla, Merti, Modogashe and Sericho transport arms. A bullet normally costs Sh100, says the report.

The guns and ammo are used to protect the animals while on transit to market centres. Once they reach the market, the guns and ammo are sold at the same time the animals are disposed of.
"We have to pay school fees and other needs during the dry season when the prices of our livestock are at the lowest. So once in a while we sell them out of the stock that we keep for emergency," says Aden, a former school teacher.

The proximity of Wajir to Somalia, the little presence of the government and the vastness of the area has made trade in small arms and ammunition so lucrative that it offers alternative employment to local youths.
The proliferation of arms in the area is also attributed to suspicions and conflicts among the four clans that inhabit the district. Each clan controls a constituency.
The story of Garissa will never be complete without mentioning one of the most bloody conflicts in the entire province between the Ogaden/Auhlian and the Abdalla clans of the then greater Garissa before its split into Garissa and Ijara districts.

Two former senior government officials incited leaders of their respective clans to take up arms in what started as a fight over resource control but ended up as territorial battle. Ijara became a district as a result of the bloody war that claimed the lives of many of the "midwives" involved in its birth. Hundreds of arms and thousands of rounds of ammunition were bought from Somalia to the greater Garissa district.
The embers of these clan differences still smoulder, sometimes fanned by the winds from resource pressure, drought and land. However, after the 1997 General Election, there was a lull on the battlefront and peace took root thanks to the Pastoralists Peace and Development Initiative and the posting of Mr Mohammed Saleh, who comes from the region, as Provincial Commissioner. But this initiative was cut short after the transfer of the PC in 2002. Trafficking in ammunition seems to have been reactivated.

Isiolo is in the middle of Kenya. Its position is therefore of strategic importance. Due to its terrain and proximity and easy and fast access to major urban areas, Isiolo is a dream of every military commander. Its weather is ideal for desert warfare. The open spaces are best for the infantry and artillery.
Its seasonal rivers and sandy nature are the most important training ranges for the tanks and combat engineers and the British Army brings its troops for training there too, hence the town is surrounded by four military institutions namely School of Infantry (SOI), School of Combat Engineering near Archer's Post, the 78th Armoured Brigade and the 75th Artillery Battalion based at School of Artillery.

The Isiolo/Moyale Highway is one of the major arteries in the road network systems whose notoriety as a conduit for small arms and ammunition trade is well known to the authorities.
Isiolo is also a rendezvous for arms dealers, traders, travellers and livestock traders from the northern region except Turkana and Tana River. Its location in the heart of Kenya, therefore, is of significant strategic importance.
Ewaso Ng'iro traverses four provinces as it flows and drains into Lorian Swamp in North Eastern Province. The river, which forms one of Kenya's largest basins, is the lifeline of the agriculturists in the upper catchment, the wildlife and tourism in the middle and the pastoralists in the lower area.
These combined factors attract other pastoralists who bring their livestock to Isiolo and hence much pressure is put on the land leading to conflicts. For this reason, many of these pastoralists buy arms to protect themselves or to raid others.

A G3 in Isiolo goes for Sh30,000 while an AK-47 sells at Sh20,000. Bullets from police officers after an operation go for between Sh30-60 but when there is no operation they costs Sh100. They are also sold further afield to the Samburu in Wamba, Archer's Post, Serolipi, the Rendilles of Marille and Laisamis and Turkanas of Baragoi transported by lorries that ferry goods to Marsabit on the Nairobi/Addis Highway.

In 1997, Isiolo was a battle front between the Degodia clan from Wajir West and the Borans after the Degodia, who had come in search of water and pasture for the livestock most of which had been wiped out by a prolonged drought. However, they extended their welcome and the Borans were not amused. The Degodias were armed and so for the Borans to tackle them, they sought weapons from the Ethiopian cousins in the Oromo Liberation Front. A war erupted killing many.

In Samburu East constituency, the British Army had pitched camp and its Artillery and Infantry units practise three times in a year at the Laresoro range a few kilometres outside the sleepy town of Archer's Post.
"The guns in Samburu came from North Eastern Province. The Samburus bought them from the Somalis after we came under attack from several neighbouring tribes," says Sammy Leshore, Samburu East MP. The chairman of the Samburu Peace Committee, Mr S. Lenairoshi also says people buy bullets from policemen and homeguards. In Alale sub-district of West Pokot the weapons are bought from Uganda - they just walk across the border and back without any hindrance.
In 2003 alone, more than 32,000 people were displaced in Kerio Valley and areas bordering West Pokot due to banditry and cattle rustling activities, recalls Oxfam.
Source; The Nation (Nairobi). July 04
Write; by Mburu Mwangi and Said Wabera

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The new 'Great Game' in Central Asia
Geostrategic considerations, the struggle against terrorism, and concrete economic interests are among the intertwining strands of a new 'Great Game' in Central Asia, with the US inheriting Britain's imperial role and trying to consolidate its post-Cold War sphere of influence.

About two years ago, I visited the US airbase in Bagram, some thirty miles north of the Afghan capital Kabul. A US Army public affairs officer, a friendly Texan, gave me a tour of the sprawling camp, set up after the ouster of the Taliban in December 2001. It was a clear day, and one Chinook helicopter after the other took off to transport combat troops into the nearby mountains. As we walked past the endless rows of tents and men in desert camouflage uniforms, I spotted a wooden pole carrying two makeshift street signs. They read "Exxon Street" and "Petro Boulevard”. Slightly embarrassed, the PA officer explained, "This is the fuel handlers' workplace. The signs are obviously a joke, a sort of irony." As I am sure it was. It just seemed an uncanny sight as I was researching the potential links between the "war on terror" and US oil interests in Central Asia.

Strategic struggle for Wild East
I had already traveled thousands of miles from the Caucasus peaks across the Caspian Sea and the Central Asian plains all the way down to the Afghan Hindu Kush. On that journey I met with and interviewed warlords, diplomats, politicians, generals, and oil bosses. They are all players in a geo-strategic struggle that has become increasingly intertwined with the war on terror: the "New Great Game". In this re-run of the first "Great Game," the nineteenth-century imperial rivalry between the British Empire and czarist Russia, powerful players once again position themselves to control the heart of the Eurasian landmass, left in a post-Soviet power vacuum. Today the US has taken over the leading role from the British. Along with the ever-present Russians, new regional powers such as China, Iran, Turkey, and Pakistan have entered the arena, and transnational oil corporations are also pursuing their own interests in a brash, Wild East style. Since 11 September 2001, the Bush Administration has undertaken a massive military buildup in Central Asia, deploying thousands of US troops, not only in Afghanistan but also in the republics of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia. These first US combat troops on former Soviet territory have dramatically altered the geo-strategic power equations in the region, with Washington trying to seal the Cold War victory against Russia, contain Chinese influence, and tighten the noose around Iran.

Oil giants covet Caspian riches
Most importantly, however, the Bush Administration is using the "war on terror" to further US energy interests in Central Asia. The bad news is that this dramatic geopolitical gamble involving thuggish dictators and corrupt Saudi oil sheiks is likely to produce only more terrorists, jeopardizing US prospects of victory. The main spoils in today's Great Game are the Caspian energy reserves, principally oil and gas. On its shores, and at the bottom of the Caspian Sea, lie the world's biggest untapped fossil fuel resources. Estimates range from 85 to 190 billion barrels of crude, worth up to US$5 trillion. According the US Energy Department, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan alone could sit on more than 130 billion barrels, more than three times the US reserves. Oil giants such as ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, and British Petroleum have already invested more than US$30 billion in new production facilities. The aggressive US pursuit of oil interests in the Caspian did not start with the Bush Administration, but under Clinton who personally conducted oil and pipeline diplomacy with Caspian leaders. US industry leaders were impressed. "I cannot think of a time when we have had a region emerge as suddenly to become as strategically significant as the Caspian," declared Dick Cheney in 1998 in a speech to oil industrialists in Washington. Cheney was then still CEO of the oil-services giant Halliburton. In May 2001 Cheney, now US Vice President, recommended in the Administration's seminal National Energy Policy report that "the President make energy security a priority of our trade and foreign policy," singling out the Caspian Basin as a "rapidly growing new area of supply."

Chemical dependency
Keen to outdo Clinton's oil record, the Bush Administration took the new Great Game into its second round. With potential oil production of up to 4.7 million barrels per day by 2010, the Caspian region has become crucial to the US policy of "diversifying energy supply”. The other major supplier is the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea, where both the Clinton and the Bush administrations have vigorously developed US oil interests and strengthened ties with corrupt West African regimes. The strategy of supply diversification is designed to wean the US off its dependence on the Arab-dominated OPEC cartel, which has been using its near-monopoly position as leverage against industrialized countries. As global oil consumption keeps surging and many oil wells outside the Middle East are nearing depletion, OPEC is in the long run going to expand its share of the world market even further. At the same time, the US will have to import more than two-thirds of its total energy needs by 2010, mostly from the volatile Middle East. Many people in Washington are particularly uncomfortable with the growing turmoil in Saudi Arabia, whose terror ties have been exposed since the 11 September 2001 terror attacks. As the recent bombings and attacks on oil installations have shown, there is a growing risk that radical Islamist groups could topple the corrupt Saud dynasty, only to then stop the flow of oil to "infidels." The consequences of 8 million barrels of oil - 10 per cent of global production - disappearing from the world markets overnight would be disastrous. Even without any such anti-Western revolution, the Saudi petrol is already, as it were, ideologically contaminated. To supply the ideological deficit left by lack of democracy, the Saudi ruling elite relies on the fundamentalist Wahhabi version of Islam - many of whose preachers see no room for compromise with nations like the US.

Tapping new veins
To escape its Faustian pact with Saudi Arabia, the US has tried to reduce its dependence on Saudi oil sheiks by seeking to secure access to the fabulous oil and gas resources in the Gulf of Guinea and the Caspian. Central Asia, however, is no less volatile than the Middle East, and oil politics are only making matters worse: Fierce conflicts have broken out over pipeline routes from the landlocked Caspian region to high-sea ports. Russia, still regarding itself as imperial overlord of its former colonies, promotes pipeline routes across its territory, notably Chechnya, in the North Caucasus. China, whose dependence on imported oil increases with its rapid industrialization, wants to build eastbound pipelines from Kazakhstan. Iran is offering its pipeline network for exports via the Persian Gulf. By contrast, both the Clinton and Bush administrations have championed two pipelines that would avoid both Russia and Iran. One of them, first planned by the US oil company Unocal in the mid-1990s, would run from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to the Pakistani port of Gwadar on the Indian Ocean. Several months after the US-led overthrow of the Taliban regime Afghan President Hamid Karzai, a former Unocal adviser, signed a treaty with Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf and the Turkmen dictator Saparmurat Niazov to authorize construction of a US$3.2 billion gas pipeline through the Herat-Kandahar corridor in Afghanistan, with a projected capacity of about 1 trillion cubic feet of gas per year. A feasibility study is under way, and a parallel pipeline for oil is also planned for a later stage. So far, however, continuing warlordism in Afghanistan has prevented any private investor from coming forward. Construction has already begun on a gigantic, $3.8 billion oil pipeline from Azerbaijan's capital of Baku via neighboring Georgia to Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. British Petroleum Amoco, its main operator, has invested billions in oil-rich Azerbaijan and can count on firm political support from the Bush Administration, which stationed about 500 elite troops in war-torn Georgia in May 2002.

Pipeline perpetuates instability
Controversial for environmental and social reasons, as it is unlikely to alleviate poverty in the notoriously corrupt transit countries, the pipeline project also perpetuates instability in the South Caucasus. With thousands of Russian troops still stationed in Georgia and Armenia, Moscow has for years sought to deter Western pipeline investors by fomenting bloody ethnic conflicts near the pipeline route, in the Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan and in the Georgian breakaway regions of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Adjaria. Washington's Great Game opponents in Moscow and Beijing resent the dramatically growing US influence in their strategic backyard. Worried that the US presence might encourage internal unrest in its predominantly Muslim Central Asian province of Xingjian, China has recently held joint military exercises with Kyrgyzstan. The Russian government initially tolerated the US intrusion into its former empire, hoping Washington would in turn ignore Russian atrocities in Chechnya. However, for the Kremlin, the much-hyped "new strategic partnership" against terror between the Kremlin and the White House has always been little more than a tactical and temporary marriage of convenience to allow Russia's battered economy to recover with the help of capital from Western companies. It is unthinkable for the majority of the Russian establishment to permanently cede its hegemonic claims on Central Asia. Russia's Defense Ministry has repeatedly demanded that the US pull out of Russia's backyard within two years. Significantly, President Putin has signed new security pacts with the Central Asian rulers and last October personally opened a new Russian military base in Kyrgyzstan. It is the first base Moscow has set up outside Russia's borders since the end of the cold war. Equipped with fighter jets, it lies only thirty-five miles away from the US airbase.

Strange bedfellows
Besides raising the specter of interstate conflict, the Bush Administration's energy imperialism jeopardizes the few successes in the war on terror. That is because the resentment US policies cause in Central Asia makes it easier for al Qaida-like organizations to recruit new fighters. They hate the US because in its search for antiterrorist allies in the new Great Game, the Bush Administration has wooed some of the region's most brutal autocrats, including Azerbaijan's Heidar Aliev, Kazakhstan's Nursultan Nazarbaev and Pakistan's Musharraf. The most tyrannical of Washington's new allies is Islam Karimov, the former Stalinist dictator of Uzbekistan who allowed US troops to set up a large and permanent military base on Uzbek soil during the Afghan campaign in late 2001. Ever since, the Bush Administration has turned a blind eye to the Karimov regime's brutal suppression of opposition and Islamic groups. "Such people must be shot in the head. If necessary, I will shoot them myself," Karimov once famously told his rubber-stamp parliament. Although the US State Department acknowledges that Uzbek security forces use "torture as a routine investigation technique," Washington in 2002 gave the Karimov regime US$500 million in aid and rent payments for the US airbase in Khanabad. Though Uzbek Muslims can be arrested simply for wearing a long beard, the State Department also quietly removed Uzbekistan from its annual list of countries where freedom of religion is under threat. Even though the US this year held back US$18 million in aid, Powell assured Karimov he was still in their good books. "Uzbekistan is an important partner of the United States in the war on terror and we have many shared strategic goals. This decision does not mean that either our interests in the region or our desire for continued cooperation with Uzbekistan has changed," the State Department said. The current US policy of aiding Central Asian tyrants for the sake of oil politics repeats the very same mistakes that gave rise to bin Ladenism in the 1980s and 1990s because their disgusted subjects increasingly embrace militant Islam and virulent anti-Americanism. Tellingly, Uzbekistan has recently seen a sharp increase in terrorist activities, with several bomb attacks shaking Tashkent in April, including the first-ever suicide bombings in Central Asia. More than forty people died in gun battles between the terrorists and security forces.

Alternatives to fossil fuels needed
The 11 September attacks have shown that the US government can no longer afford to be indifferent toward how badly dictators in the Middle East and Central Asia treat their people, as long as they keep the oil flowing. So, while the war on terror may not be all about oil, certainly in one sense it should be about just that. A bold policy to reduce the addiction to oil would be a wise strategy to win the epic struggle against terrorism. In the short term, this means saving energy through more efficient technologies, necessary anyway to slow the greenhouse effect and global warming. The Bush Administration's old-style energy policies of yet more fossil-fuel production and waste are continuing in the wrong direction. It is time to realize that more gas-guzzling Hummers on US highways only lead to more Humvees (and US soldiers) near oilfields. What is urgently needed instead - for security reasons - is a sustainable alternative energy policy. Ultimately, no matter how cleverly the US plays its cards in the New Great Game in Central Asia and no matter how many military forces are deployed to protect oilfields and pipelines, the oil infrastructure might prove too vulnerable to terrorist attacks to guarantee a stable supply anyway. The Caspian region may be the next big gas station but, as in the Middle East, there are already a lot of men running around throwing matches.
Write; by Yuumei. July 04