June 25, 2005

US Crackdown on American Jews ,Smuggling Nuclear Weapon

United States Begins Long Awaited Crackdown on American Jews as Massive Israeli Spy Network Suspected Of Smuggling Nuclear Weapon into Western Part of America

By: Sorcha Faal, and as reported to her Russian Subscribers

SOURCE : http://www.whatdoesitmean.com/index771.htm

Being kept hidden from the American public, and according to Russian Intelligence Analysts, is that the United States Intelligence Organization the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has begun a crackdown against Jewish peoples living in the United States, but suspected of being a part of what is being described by Russian Security Forces as “the largest spying operation ever discovered in America”, and as we can read as being confirmed by the Israeli Haaretz News Service in their article titled "Something is bothering the FBI" and which says;

"It is a mistake to think the FBI has concluded its investigations after indictments were served against Pentagon employee Lawrence Franklin for leaking classified security material to people close to Israel. Franklin, an intelligence investigator and an expert on Iran, has been linked to Naor Gilon, a diplomat at the Israeli embassy, and to two senior officials in the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee). Apparently the FBI investigations have widened, and are now focusing on another Pentagon official and his connections. It is clear that something is disturbing those in charge of the FBI investigation regarding Israel and those close to Israel in the United States. Many of those being interrogated are Jews.

One doesn't have to be an expert detective to understand that some of the material against Franklin was also based on wiretapping of the Israeli embassy in Washington. Why was it necessary to conduct a "sting operation" against the Jewish lobby that was designed to reveal not only how the information flows but that also included deliberate steps to trip up AIPAC? It is clear that the FBI is aiming to create conflict between Steve Rosen and the organization in which he has worked for some 23 years. Perhaps it hopes that Rosen, in his anger, will point to others, so that the FBI will be able to widen its investigations. The FBI has made an effort to talk with wealthy Jews as well, apparently in order to deter them from supporting Rosen financially."

The increasing hostilities between the United States and Israel is also not being reported to the American peoples, though to the Israeli peoples it is the cause of much alarm, and as we can see as evidenced by the Israeli National News Service in their article titled "Is the USA Really Israel's Ally?" and which says;

"With friends like them, we don't need enemies. Sorry, but facts prove the myth a lie. The United States of America is not a friend of Israel. The United States didn't aid Israel in its war for independence; arms had to be smuggled out of America by pro-Israelis. Individual Jews and non-Jewish supporters donated money to Israel. Any American "aid" was for American benefit; and the eventual military aid only succeeded in damaging Israel's own military and aircraft industry. The United States demands full control over any arms Israel develops with parts bought from the states. We would do much better without American "help".

Today, Israeli society is experiencing an internal struggle. Some of us want to be truly independent of foreign rule and others are afraid. Are we a "Western democracy" or a "Jewish State"? Do we need a foreign "patron"? And most importantly, do we owe our existence to another country? We are at a crossroads. If we don't rid ourselves of foreign control, then we will cease to exist. Israel won't be viable without Judea, Samaria and Gaza. G-d forbid the government succeeds in its plans to amputate our Land; we will find ourselves defenseless, locked in fragile ghettos. There is no foreign country we can depend on. We must look to G-d and to our own strength. And for our survival, we must send the American busybodies back to Washington. If they're such experts at making "peace", then they should invite Cuba's Castro to the White House for a festive banquet."

But to the United States greatest concern are the ever increasing concern is that their Homeland is about to become another battleground in this Secret War with Israel, especially with the reports that both the American FBI and CIA are frantically searching for a former Mossad Officer named David E. Lipman to uncover the whereabouts of a Nuclear Weapon smuggled into the United States. News reports from the Israeli Newspaper the Jerusalem Post clearly show the targeting of this Mossad Agent by the Military Leaders of the United States in their article titled "Missing Arizona rabbi faces child abuse charges" and which says;

"Rabbi David E. Lipman has disappeared without a trace from his home and Reform synagogue in Prescott, Arizona, missing since May 20 after two teenage girls from his congregation accused him of fondling them. Prescott police have no leads on the whereabouts of Lipman, who is reported to be proficient in several languages and who spent time in Israel during his studies at Hebrew Union College."

But not to abusing children is Mossad Agent Lipman’s real crime, but for a number of cross border meetings with the International Arms Dealer Arif Durrani is he wanted, and as we had previously reported on in our June 23ed report titled "Mossad Attack upon the United States ‘Imminent’ As Massive Power Struggle Erupts In Washington over Israeli Lasers Provided To Iraqi Insurgents and Israel Draws Closer To China" and wherein we had stated;

“As the United States also places further sanctions upon the Israeli Government for both their massive spying operations being uncovered at the highest levels of American Political, Economic and Media leaderships and the passing onto China of some of the most secret United States weapons technology, the Israeli Government has decided to abandon its support of American and switch its allegiance towards the Chinese, and as we can read as reported by the Jerusalem Post News Service in their article titled "China, Israel discuss expanding defense ties" and which says;

"Expansion of defense ties with Israel was on the agenda during talks with his Israeli counterparts this week, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing said Tuesday. Li, who spoke at the start of a meeting with the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, did not go into detail about the current dispute between Israel and the US over the Israel upgrade of Chinese Harpy drones. He said that during his visit he had held talks on expanding ties in the fields of "trade, army, culture, education and tourism."

Of the greatest concern to the Americans however is what the Mossad had recently transported to the United States from Mexico under the direction of one of Israel’s most known and trusted arms dealers who has been arrested in Mexico, and as we can read as reported by the Mexidata News Service in their article titled "Intrigue behind arrest of Pakistani arms dealer in Mexico" and which says;

"Convicted Pakistani arms dealer Arif Durrani was captured in Rosarito Beach, Baja California, Mexico, by a special team of agents sent from Mexico City, on June 12. And while Mexican government officials initially gave out little information on why he was detained, once the decision was reached to deport Durrani (on immigration charges), according to the Associated Press a statement was made: “Durrani faces an arrest warrant in the U.S. for trafficking in anti-aircraft missiles.”

Durrani, who following his arrest was taken to Mexico City, was put on a June 15 flight that made a stop in Los Angeles, California. Upon landing in the U.S., Durrani was taken into custody by federal officials for illegally exporting military aircraft parts, according to a 1999 indictment unsealed the following day.

Yet there are other possible scenarios that could clarify the arrest: Durrani was still trafficking in illicit arms; he was organizing a Mexico-based terrorist plot against the U.S.; or he was about to go public with allegations regarding the Iran-Contra affair.

Durrani is definitely a shady character, an international arms dealer from Pakistan who once served prison time for selling arms to Iran in the Iran-Contra scandal. As well, his mere presence in Rosarito Beach, located just south of the U.S.-Mexico border from San Diego, is suspicious. During his residency in Rosarito Beach, Durrani could have been shipping contraband across the border, or even organizing a terrorist plot.

But if he was a national security threat, why did U.S. authorities allow him to openly live in Rosarito Beach for over one year? Following Durrani’s release from prison and deportation from the U.S., he ultimately moved to Rosarito Beach where he operated openly. And without doubt U.S. authorities knew where he was. In fact, Durrani well may have been in Mexico with the tacit agreement of the U.S. government.

Professor Alan Block at Pennsylvania State University states, “there was a deal made with the U.S. immigration authorities that permitted him to live in Baja California. I am absolutely certain that they knew he was there.” As well, Durrani was once seen in Rosarito Beach driving a Mercedes with U.S. government license plates, which he said belonged to a friend. Could the U.S. authorities have allowed a known arms trafficker to operate freely along the border for over one year? Another possibility is that U.S. officials did not consider him a threat because Durrani had worked for them. Durrani has long maintained that he worked for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, and that he sold arms to Iran per instructions that came from Oliver North when the latter was with the National Security Council. Durrani’s legal defense is that he was North’s “fall guy” in the Iran-Contra affair."

The uncovering of this latest Mossad plot against the United States was due to the CIA’s granting immunity to one of the worlds most wanted terrorists named Amer Haykel, and who has long been suspected by American Intelligence Agencies of being linked to both the Israeli Mossad and numerous Muslim terrorists organizations, but who once again is now a free person, and as we can read as reported by the United States Forbes News Service in their article titled "Mexico releases UK man arrested on suspicion of Sept 11 connection" and which says;

"Mexican authorities yesterday released a UK man who was arrested after it was believed he was wanted by the US in connection with the Sept 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, immigration authorities said. Amer Haykel, who was arrested on Tuesday, in Baja California state in northwestern Mexico, 'does not represent a threat for the security' of Mexico or the US, according to the Mexican Migration Institute. 'Once it was corroborated that the Briton Amer Haykel does not represent any threat for national security, and is not wanted by authorities in any country, his detention was ended,' the institute said in a statement."

Also taking the Americans by surprise surrounding these events was the Israeli pressure upon Italy to expose the CIA Agents responsible for the uncovering of this latest plot against them by the Mossad by having International Arrest Warrants issued against them, and as we can read as reported by the United States Chicago Tribune News Service in their article titled “Italy charges CIA agents" and which says;

"In rare act by ally, officials seek arrests of U.S. agents in kidnapping of imam who allegedly was tortured in Egypt. The move was no less extraordinary for coming from a country whose prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, is one of the few European leaders who support the U.S.-led intervention in Iraq and which has contributed 3,000 troops to that effort.

Current and retired CIA officers, none of whom agreed to be quoted by name, said they could not remember one of their own having been charged abroad with a crime other than espionage, and certainly not in a country friendly to the U.S. Although the CIA refuses to talk about the Milan abduction or even acknowledge that it occurred, documents obtained by the Tribune clearly link the intelligence agency with the identities, addresses and cell phones used by several of the American operatives.

The existence of the CIA's supersecret abduction squads has come to light since the events of Sept. 11, 2001, although the agency's practice of snatching suspected criminals abroad goes back at least to the Reagan administration."

This latest crackdown on the Jewish peoples living in the United States also evidences the growing frustration of the American Military Leaders with the Israeli factions operating within their own government, and who have been assisting Mossad Agents operating within their country to escape, and as one such example we can read about as reported by the Liberty Post News Service in their article titled "Israeli Moving Van Mystery Deepens; 'Mover' is son of top Likud Official" and which says;

"The leader of the two Israelis arrested after leading police on a high speed chase in a moving van last Saturday in rural Tennessee is the son of the spokesman for the Likud Party of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the MadCowMorningNews has learned. The arrested Israeli 'mover,' Shmuel Dahan, 23, is himself a former spokesman, for the National Union of Israeli Students which represents the country's 150,000 university students. News that one of the two Israeli 'movers' belonged to that country's political elite might have proven useful in the criminal investigation underway in rural North Carolina and Tennessee, where the two men led authorities on a high-speed chase in a rented moving van last weekend. However, the investigation was halted Wednesday, after the men were released from Unicol County Jail to the custody of federal officials from the INS, where they face only a deportation hearing. "They’re taking it out of my jurisdiction,” stated Sheriff Kent Harris, who apprehended the men last Saturday after a high speed chase on a little-used state highway. “We may never know what they were doing.”

But to ‘what they were doing’ should really be no surprise to the America peoples as the evidence of past actions of the Mossad against them is actually well documented, and as evidenced by the reporting of the American News Organization What Really Happened in their report titled "The Five Dancing Israelis Arrested On 9/11" and which says;

"A Mossad surveillance team made quite a public spectacle of themselves on 9-11. Police received several calls from angry New Jersey residents claiming “middle-eastern” men with a white van were videotaping the disaster with shouts of joy and mockery. "They were like happy, you know … They didn't look shocked to me" said a witness. Witnesses saw them jumping for joy in Liberty State Park after the initial impact (5). Later on, other witnesses saw them celebrating on a roof in Weehawken, and still more witnesses later saw them celebrating with high fives in a Jersey City parking lot."

Sadly about all these events is that the whole world will be witnessing, once again, in the coming weeks, thousands of dead Americans, and also once again ‘dancing Israelis’.

Also, and as it has been said many times throughout history, ‘those not learning the lesson from history will be doomed to repeat them’ is the most tragic event of all occurring to the once great nation of the United States, and perhaps best stated by an American Minister named Chuck Baldwin in his editorial titled "Remembering the lessons of Germany's past" and which says;

"For years, I struggled to comprehend how the good people of Germany could allow someone such as Adolph Hitler to lead them into what became World War II. After all, before Hitler's rise to power, Germany had a rich Christian heritage. The Reformation out of the Dark Ages had its roots deeply imbedded in Germany and surrounding countries.

Furthermore, Germany has long produced some of the most intelligent and creative people on the planet! Many of the world's greatest engineers and scientists have come from Germany and Austria. When it comes to knowledge and education, the Germanic people take a back seat to no one. How, then, could the good, intelligent people of Germany follow and support someone such as Hitler? For years I struggled to find the answer to that puzzle. Now, I believe I understand.

The German people were convinced that their country was under attack and that Hitler was the leader who could protect them. Consider the statement of one of Hitler's most trusted cabinet members, Hermann Goering, "The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger."

Compare Goering's statement to former Attorney General John Ashcroft who, in defending the USA Patriot Act (which does much the same thing as Hitler's "Enabling Act") said, "To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists, for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve."

Is it only a coincidence (or a repeat of history) that Republicans have introduced a bill in Congress to nullify the 22nd Amendment thereby opening the door for President George W. Bush to become permanent president? (Source: U.S. House of Representatives, H.J. Res. 24 "Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the 22nd amendment to the Constitution" introduced February 17, 2005.) Add to H.J. Res. 24 the World Net Daily report that "A former Bush team member during his first administration is now voicing serious doubts about the collapse of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

"Morgan Reynolds, former chief economist for the Department of Labor during President George W. Bush's first term, says the official story about the collapse of the Twin Towers is 'bogus' and that it is more likely that a controlled demolition destroyed them and adjacent Building No. 7." WND quotes Reynolds as stating further, "Only professional demolition appears to account for the full range of facts associated with the collapse of the three buildings." Whether the Twin Towers and Building 7 were brought down via "an inside job" or not, one thing is certain: the attacks of September 11, 2001 became the catalyst that propelled Congressmen to quickly pass the USA Patriot Act even though none of them had read it.

Once again, please remember that the German people believed Hitler to be a patriotic, Christian man. As a result, Hitler had the unflinching support of Germany's conservative Christian ministers. How else would they be persuaded to follow Hitler into the nightmare of the Nazi regime? Remember, also, that to most German ministers, the Nazi Party was "God's Party." They really believed they were being faithful to God by being faithful to Hitler. Therefore, should we not be concerned today when we hear of Christian ministers excommunicating church members who do not support President Bush or the Republican Party? Should not "red flags" go up in our minds when we hear Christian ministers excuse Bush's unconstitutional conduct by proclaiming, "Bush is God's man for America, therefore, we cannot criticize him!"?

Yes, my friends, it is now obvious to me how Adolph Hitler seized power in Germany, because the same principles that Hitler used in the 1930's are being used by America's leaders today. Am I saying that I believe President Bush is another Hitler? Of course not. I am saying, however, that the same tactics and strategies being used by President Bush are eerily similar to those of the former German leader's. Certainly, we all pray for a fate far better than that of Hitler's Germany. But to obtain a better future for America, it is obligatory that we remember the lessons of Germany's past."

KASHMIR : Three Indian Army personnel killed in blast

Press Trust Of India


Posted online: Friday , June 24, 2005 at 1723 hours IST

Srinagar, June 24: At least three Army personnel were killed and 20 people injured in a massive explosion that ripped apart a civil vehicle carrying troops at the famous Nishat gardens along the banks of Dal lake near here today, official sources said

Nuggets from the Urdu press of Pakistan

Ice cream was better option

Reported in Khabrain, the Allama Iqbal Town explosion that destroyed three buildings and killed 29 was witness to strange behaviour among the local people. The truck unloading the gas cylinders went many feet up in the air when the cylinders exploded. All around the buildings property was destroyed including one truck loaded with ice cream. People went for the ice cream and started gorging themselves as people buried under the debris kept pleading with them to rescue them. As they ate ice cream they noted that a copy of the Quran was miraculously recovered undamaged from the debris.

Wasim Akram in ‘trubbel’

Reported in Khabrain, Wasim Akram allowed someone to put red colour on his forehead during his visit to his father’s birthplace in a village in Amritsar in India. The reaction of the ulema in Pakistan was recorded to put Wasim Akram in trouble. Jamaat Islami leader and MNA Abdul Malik said that Wasim Akram had become an apostate after accepting a Hindu tilak on his forehead. Maulana Sarfraz Naeemi said that Wasim Akram had wounded the hearts of the Muslims by letting Hindus put a tilak on his forehead. Ahle Hadith leader Ibtisam Elahi Zaheer said that Wasim Akram had given a chance of shuddi (reconversion) to the Hindus.

Al Qaeda agent caught in Karachi

Daily Pakistan reported that one Sirajul Haq was caught from a madrasa in Malir Karachi on reports from Afghanistan. Sirajul Haq was an Al Qaeda gent who had killed Afghan commander Abdul Haq on the orders Osama bin Laden.

Al Qaeda bans music in Waziristan

Reported in Jang, pamphlets issued by Al Qaeda told the shops and hotels of Miran Shah in North Waziristan that all video and audio cassettes should be destroyed and those who showed pictures and played music after five days would be dealt with.

Importing vegetables from India

Columnist Abdul Qadir Hassan wrote in Jang that the latest action by a banker prime minister to import vegetables from India was not only a bad decision undermining the agriculture of Punjab but was also a badge of dishonour. India had heavily subsidised its agriculture and was forcing Pakistan to open trade to undermine Pakistan’s farmers. It was a great dishonour to be thus surrendering to India. It was a tilak of kalank (dishonour) which was recently put on his forehead by a cricketer (Wasim Akram) when he visited his village in India.

The great ‘shutarmurgh’ fraud in Fort Abbas

Reported in Khabrain, the people of Fort Abbas complained that a company of Okara sold them small ostrich birds for 8,000 and took them back after three months for 18,000. The business caught on and the inhabitants of the city bought 60 lakhs worth of baby shutarmurgh, but after a few moths the company disappeared and the buyers were left with dead birds. The birds were said to be imported from Canada and they fell sick after being subjected to cold weather on the way. The birds were okay at the time of buying but sickened and died within three months.

‘India, get ready for nuclear war!’

According to Nawa-e-Waqt Mr Majid Nizami said at Hamdard Hall Lahore that Pakistan should tell India to either hold a plebiscite in Kashmir or get ready for nuclear war. He said that those who did not tire of talking about the ‘core issue’ were now talking about everything except Kashmir. He said basant had been accepted by them; now they were also celebrating holi and diwali.

American-Pakistani cleric’s wisdom

Reported in daily Pakistan, America-based cleric Maulana Zakiuddin Sharafi said in Lahore that the religious parties should not quarrel over democracy but tend to the spread of an Islamic system. He said if the clergy compromised with the government on some matters many problems would be solved. He said sectarianism was a fearful problem and was spread by Americans and the Jews. He said marathon and basant was also their doing. Cutting back on armament on the recommendation of a foreign power was against Islam. He said that in America some crazy groups had stepped outside the pale of Islam while accepting imamat of women. He said in America 90 percent Muslims were getting coloured by local culture but they were unhappy after 9/11. He said difference between jihad and qitaal should be maintained.

Mammoth meeting of sobs

Reported in Khabrain a mammoth meeting of Dawat Islami (Green Turbans) Islamabad ended in sobs as those who attended raised laments about their bad faith and begged for forgiveness from Allah. Half a million Barelvi Muslims gathered in the capital city and heard sermons which told them that Muslims had forsaken their true goal and had forgotten the care of the Hereafter. The sermons also told them that they should not follow Yuhud-o-Nisara (Jews and Hindus). The atmosphere was extremely spiritual, according to the newspaper.

Girl can marry at 15

Daily Pakistan reported that the Lahore High Court let off a man for marrying a girl of 15, holding that a Muslim girl could marry at less than 15 if she had attained puberty. The court said it was not happy about girls marrying after running away from home.

June 24, 2005

Terrorism Monitor , Scanning around the world

New brigade for ‘Iraqi' suicide bombers

Al-Zarqawi's group Qaedat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn issued a statement on June 20 declaring that it had formed a sub-branch of the Al-Bara bin Malek Brigade dedicated to suicide operations. The audio posting by the head of the new group Abu Dujana al-Ansari, indicated that "a unit of martyrs named al-Ansar, belonging to the Martyr Brigades of Al-Baraa bin Malek, has been formed." The Wahdat Istish-hadiyin ‘Iraqiyin (Iraqi Martyrdom Unit), as reported on the Mufakkirat al-Islam website, is made up exclusively of native volunteers. The formation of the unit, the statement outlined, came "due to strong insistence from our Iraqi brothers and their desire for Paradise," and that volunteers had applied "in their tens to sign their names to meet their Maker" [www.islammemo.cc].

The announcement comes at a time of increased violence, in which ordinary Iraqis are increasingly involved, and of waxing criticism of the methodology of the resistance. A recent statement, purported made by al-Zarqawi, defending the killing of non-combatant Muslims excited much comment on the jihadi forums, which relayed the debate on the lawfulness of his action, or deplored the attempt being made to ‘drive a wedge between the mujahideen and the Ulema' [www.alsakifah.org]. It also coincides with criticisms aired in the media as to the ethnicity of the majority of suicide bombers, illustrated by comments by Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari that most of the suicide bombers behind attacks in Iraq were foreign nationals. One report aired by the New York Times on June 22 suggested that the nationalist and jihadist camps of the resistance were falling out, given increasing evidence of armed fire exchanges between them.

Al-Qaeda ideologue killed in al-Qaim

A June 23 posting to an Islamist website presented the text of an announcement from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi concerning the death of Sheikh Abdullah Mohammad Rashid al-Rashoud in the Iraqi town of al-Qaim.

In customary fashion the statement, as posted on the jihadist Al-Qal'a forum, celebrated the death as a victory: "Let the Islamic Nation rejoice in the martyrdom of one of the most outstanding standards of beneficence, jihad and knowledge." The eulogy went on to describe his ‘participating in the battles of al-Qa'im" explaining that the Sheikh met his end as a result of air strikes on mujahid positions, thus joining the ‘caravans of the martyrs ridden before by Sheikh Abu Anas [al-Shami]. The forum entries following this entry are filled with expressions of congratulations and prayers for his soul. [www.qal3ati.net]

Sheikh al-Rashoud was one of the most influential ideologues for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, famous for his January 2004 Bayan ila al-Umma al-Islamiyya (Declaration to the Islamic Nation), in which he challenged the Saudi government's legitimacy in terms of Islamic Law and was featured on the 26 most wanted list issued by the security authorities.

His disappearance from the scene in Saudi Arabia last summer was the cause of much speculation. It was thought that Al-Rashoud had been killed alongside al-Qaeda field commander of the time Abd al-Aziz al-Muqrin in June 2004 following an armed confrontation with the security forces. However, this was denied by Saudi authorities at the time and the mystery was compounded by a later story, published by the Saudi daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat on March 15, which quoted ‘informed sources' stating that Al-Rashoud had actually been slain by his mujahid colleagues. This apparently had been due to differences with Al-Muqrin on the Islamic propriety of the commander's military actions, which were targeting non-combatant Muslim civilians. Al-Muqrin and Faysal al-Dakhil were said to have driven him to an isolated place to effect a cure of his ‘madness', following which the Shaykh was never seen again [www.aawsat.com].

The present announcement does little to resolve that mystery, but his claimed exit from Saudi Arabia to al-Qaim, is symptomatic of the tightening squeeze placed by the authorities on jihadist activities in the Kingdom, as demonstrated by the raid on the Sawt al-Jihad publishing house late last year, which in the pages of its Sawt al-Jihad online magazine published regular ideological treatises from the Sheikh relative to the jihad.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq endorses their cohorts in Algeria

On June 15 the "Media Department of al-Qaeda Organization in the Land of the Two Rivers," the Iraqi affiliate of al-Qaeda, issued a statement that included an endorsement of the Algerian mujahideen. Its statement "May Allah bless the work of those heroes who took upon themselves to fight the apostates in Mauritania" in particular fixes the object of the endorsement as the Groupe Salafiste pour la Prédication et le Combat (GSPC), which claimed responsibility for an attack upon a Mauritanian military outpost on June 3-4. This, the GSPC claimed, was an act of "revenge for our brothers who were arrested by the apostate Mauritanian regime over the recent period, and as a support for the oppressed Muslims there." That attack was later established as having been carried out by the GSPC sub-group led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, termed the Groupe salafist libre, which operates independently of the GSPC (See Focus Vol II, issue 11).

The endorsement opens up a number of issues relating to the coherence of the jihadist groups in the region. Last December an Algerian group announced on the al-Ma'sada jihadist forum how it was transferring its allegiance to Osama bin Laden, calling itself "TheOrganization of al-Qaeda in the Land of the Berbers" [www.alm2sda.net]. More recently, on May 8, the Qa'idat al-Jihad fi al-Jaza'ir (al-Qaeda [base] of the Jihad in Algeria) announced its appearance on the jihadist Kalimat al-Haqq site [www.rightword.net], citing the demoralization of the jihadist groups in Algeria, their bad name through association with massacres of civilians, and the questionable motivation and loyalty of the leaders to the cause. The statement encouraged the irredentist remnants to join ‘a new cause.'

The present endorsement may be a positive response to attempts by GSPC remnants to restore credibility. Indeed the attack on the Mauritanian outpost may be partly seen in this light. The Mauritanian attack came after pressure from the government at Nouakchott against camps training mujahideen for the Iraqi theatre. In Algeria the number of foreign Islamist militants arrested has increased in recent months, an unusual development which has worried the authorities. On the same day of the endorsement by al-Qaeda, six Yemeni students were arrested in eastern Algeria, suspected of belonging to an unnamed network linked to al-Qaeda.

This incident, and the message from al-Qaeda in Iraq, suggest that a greater degree of co-ordination is being attempted, either in the form of direct links between the groups, or at least as an attempt to re-package the activities as part of one ‘global jihad' movement. Whatever the exact explanation, the Algerian jihadi theatre, as proclaimed by the GSPC statement on the Mauritanian attack, looks set to expand. Attacks in Algeria, despite a net decline, have peaked recently, and there have been renewed clashes on June 12-13 between GSPC militants and the Mauritanian military in the desert area near the border with Mali. Soldiers are now to be deployed in greater strength along the border areas with Mali and Algeria [www.mapeci.com].

New Jihadist group emerges in Syria

The Syrian news agency (SANA) reported on June 9 that security authorities had been engaged in a three-hour armed confrontation resulting in the death of Abu Umar, the leader of a cell of the previously unknown Tanzim Jund al-Sham lil-Jihad wal-Tawhid, (Organization of the Army of [Greater Syria] for Jihad and Monotheism). Alongside a stash of weaponry, documents seized at the scene of the raid, at a residential apartment in southern Damascus, indicated that the new group was engaged in preparing areas in Damascus and the surrounding region for future operations and for sending its members abroad for training [www.sana.org].

The 42-year-old shopkeeper and leader of the group killed in the June 9 assault, Abu Umar, was a radical takfiri, anathematizing not only the Syrian state and its institutions, but also the shaykhs of mosques and the institution of the Friday prayer. The raid on the apartment follows closely on an earlier raid which first established the existence of a wide-ranging takfiri Islamist organization bearing the title Tanzim Jund al-Sham lil-Jihad wal-Tawhid, replete with publications, administrative structure and weaponry. Syria has been witness recently to a growing takfiri threat, as evidenced by the death of Sheikh Muhammad al-Khiznawi. Suspected of being tortured and killed in custody, a report by the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat indicates he died at the hands of takfiri members who claimed his death was due to ‘cultural differences' [www.daralhayat.com].

According to details given in the Saudi newspaper Al-Watan, the Tanzim Jund al-Sham lil-Jihad wal-Tawhid group is said to have already divided up Syria into five zones, each constituting an ‘Islamic emirate' with its own emir and organizational structure. However, the scope of the group was also said to extend beyond Syria's borders to the area not only of ‘Greater Syria' (which includes Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan) but also Iraq and Egypt [www.alwatan.com.sa]. The division of Syria into operational zones suggests an Algerian model. Algeria has been similarly divided up by the mujahideen and the close connection between members of jihadist groups in the two countries was illustrated recently by the capture at Damascus on May 25 of Sakir Adil, the Algerian webmaster of the GSPC website [www.jihad-algeria.com].

Syrian security had been tracking the group for some time, according to some reports ever since November last year, when a member was killed attempting to plant a roadside bomb. One report states how a valuable lead came from the mother of the would-be bomber, who is said to have alerted the authorities after overhearing her widowed daughter-in-law discussing with Abu Umar using the granddaughter as a live bomb.

The obscurity surrounding the group provoked speculation as to whether its existence was a fabrication of the Syrian secret services, designed to curry favor abroad and improve the regime's image as a ‘victim' of terrorism. However, a Saudi analyst writing for Al-Hayat highlighted how the group's name goes back to 1999 and Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi's training camp, which he set up in the western Afghan city of Herat. The name ‘Jund al-Sham' dates from this time and indicated the future theatre of action envisaged by the group. The analyst focuses on the nature of the doctrinal literature discovered in the raided apartment. In particular on the use of the Qur'anic verse: "Fight those of the disbelievers who are near to you, and let them find harshness in you" [IX:123] as opposed to the emblematic sura used by bin Laden: "Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you" [II:190] [www.daralhayat.com and www.elaph.com].

The group should be distinguished from others bearing similar names, such as Tanzim Jund al-Sham that claimed responsibility for the bombing at the Doha theatre in Qatar in March, or the Jund al-Sham that operated in the Ain al-Helwa Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and which claimed the killing of a Hezbollah member.

Latest video from al-Zawahiri challenges political reforms

The latest al-Qaeda video, aired in part by al-Jazeera television on June 17, and the first to appear since last February, bore the stamp of a commentary of the political reform-related events currently occurring in Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Palestine. As such it is of considerable interest in demonstrating the sensitivity of the organization to the language and the political vocabulary of the moment.

Sensing the threat of potential change being conducted without reference to al-Qaeda's vision of reform, the organization's number two Ayman al-Zawahiri was at pains to downplay the possibility of reform by peaceful means ("Reform and expelling the invaders from the countries of Islam will not happen except through fighting for God's sake"). In a clear reference to recent scenes in Lebanon and Egypt (the May 25 referendum demonstrations in Cairo are directly alluded to), al-Zawahiri insists that "expelling the marauder Crusader and Jewish forces cannot be done through demonstrations and hoarse voices". He also warned the Palestinians (here referring to Hamas and Islamic Jihad) against being "dragged into the secularists' election game under a secular constitution."

Though essentially a familiar call to maintain the culture of violent jihad' al-Zawahiri's presentation of an alternative program for reform adopts the watchwords of the reformists to make his point. ‘True reform,' according to Al-Zawahiri, has to be based on three premises:

· Hakimiyyat al-Shari'ah (The rule of Islamic law)
· Hurriyyat Diyar al-Islam min al-Muhtall (Freeing the lands of Islam from the occupier)
· Hurriyyat al-Umma al-Islamiyya fi Idarat Shu'uniha (Freeing the Islamic Nation's to run its own affairs) – specifically the freedom to set up instruments to enforce the ‘promotion of virtue and prevention of vice.'

The use of the language of ‘freedom' is not a natural constituent of al-Qaeda ideology, a point which is made in an interesting analysis in the June 18 edition of the pan-Arab daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat. Here the commentator Mushari al-Dhayidi notes how the three premises are low in substance, but are carefully phrased to highlight terms which happen to be relevant to the present political climate [www.aawsat.com]. The point is illustrated by looking at the previous sound recordings sent to Arabic satellite channels. On February 22 al-Zawahiri focused his talk on the Guantanamo scandal as a means of pouring scorn on U.S. claims to democratic freedoms (but where no criticism was implied on the concept of freedom and democracy as such). In an earlier recording made on November 29, 2004, bin Laden delivered a text focused on the pragmatic advantages of the United States working with the Islamic world in a way that would serve their mutual interests. Conspicuously absent was the language of "permanent jihad until all sovereignty on Earth belongs to God alone" where mutual interests are irrelevant. Earlier, in June 2004, al-Zawahiri took issue with the ‘Reform Summit' at Tunis and its agreement to promote Washington's program for democracy in the Middle East, as being "of no advantage to the Arab world."

Both the timing of these transmissions, and their vocabulary, serve to underline – in strategic terms – how al-Qaeda is increasingly being forced to operate within, and as a response to, political realities, instead of re-defining them. With each transmission there appears evidence of al-Qaeda's fear of the argumentation of reform, the organization's distrust of its own ideological pull — when openly stated — and its fears of increasing marginalization from the political debate.

One footnote to the latest recording is also worthy of interest. In the course of the video communiqué, Zawahiri launched an unprecedented attack on the Sudanese government. According to the Sudan Tribune, quoting Hani al-Siba'i the director of Al-Maqrizi Research Centre in London, the cause of the invective was Khartoum's handing over of "files with photographs for most of the leadership of al-Qaeda and the Egyptian Jihad" who up to 1995 were based in the Sudanese capital. Bin Laden moved to Sudan after being expelled from Saudi Arabia in 1991 for his anti-government activities, as a result of Riyadh's decision to admit U.S. troops on Saudi soil in order to reverse Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. Bin Laden worked with other exiled radical groups in Sudan until 1995, when he decamped to Afghanistan, after Khartoum expelled him under pressure from the United States. While, according to Al-Siba'i, the leadership at the time used fictitious names or forged passports for security reasons, "the Sudanese government knew their identities by virtue of a special agreement between the security bodies and the leaders of the Islamic groups" [www.sudantribune.com]. Al-Zawahiri's sensitivity to the documents may give some indication of their continuing value.

Indonesia braces for more terror attacks

Judging from the nervous reports emanating from U.S. and Australian advisories, Indonesia is bracing itself for an imminent renewed cycle of anti-Western bomb attacks. "We continue to receive a stream of credible reporting" the Australian advisory posted on June 10 suggesting that terrorists are in the very advanced stages of planning attacks in Indonesia" [www.smarttraveller.gov.au]. It followed an earlier warning from the U.S. embassy in Jakarta advising Americans to be prepared as of June 1 for an attack expected around noon on an unspecified date, as part of a strategy by extremists to "conduct bomb attacks targeting the lobbies of hotels frequented by Westerners" [www.usembassyjakarta.org].

Indonesian police continue their warnings of the imminent strike by two key members of the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah, the Malaysians Noordin Top and Azahari bin Husin. These were part of the group responsible for a number of attacks in Indonesia, including the October 2002 Bali bombings, the 2003 bombing of the JW Marriott hotel in Jakarta, and the 2004 bomb outside the Australian embassy. The tally of fatalities of these bombings totaled 234. "According to our intelligence feedback" Indonesian police chief Da'i Bachtiar stated, as reported in the daily Media Indonesia, "terrorists Azahari and Noordin are now in Jakarta and ready to blow up their targets after failing to do so in May" [www.mediaindo.co.id]. The two Malaysians are believed to be in the vicinity of Jakarta recruiting followers for their next operation.

The security authorities do appear to be being tested. According to the Indonesian daily Koran Tempo, quoting a military communiqué, Indonesian soldiers on June 13 were hunting in West Java for five cars believed to be carrying bombs made by recruits of Noordin Top [www.korantempo.com]. Two days later came the report that Indonesian police had found a partly assembled explosive device at a south Jakarta train station [www.alertnet.org].

That Indonesia is likely to face a threat from increasingly sophisticated terrorism comes from the results of investigations into a recent armed attack on a mobile brigade post in Indonesia's eastern province of Maluku (see Focus II, issue 10). State run news agency Antara reported that evidence from the capture and interrogation of several suspects involved indicate that the planners came from outside Maluku province (although they used "local people in carrying out their missions") and was not simply a product of local communal tensions. The attack was mounted by highly trained guerrillas, who were allegedly part of a network responsible for a series of violent incidents in the provincial capital of Ambon, and who evidenced links with al-Qaeda [www.antara.co.id]. The same diagnosis — outside agents provocateurs aiming to stir up communal violence — has been made for the serious event of May 28 when twin bomb attacks on a market in Tentena, Central Sulawesi killed 22 and injured 50, the deadliest terror attack in Indonesia since the 2002 Bali bombings. So far the finger is pointing at Jemaah Islamiya, or at least local groupings inspired by Jemaah Islamiyah's agenda. The site for igniting tension is well chosen, since Tentena lies in an area that witnessed three years of Muslim-Christian fighting which, up until a peace agreement in late 2001, accounted for 2,000 fatalities [www.thejakartapost.com].

"The Pious Caliphate Will Start From Afghanistan":

Is al-Qaeda's Long-Held Afghan Strategy Now Unfolding?

By Michael Scheuer

Amid Pakistani President's Musharraf's claims that al-Qaeda's "back is broken," and those by U.S. officials that Al-Qaeda is focused on Iraq, the Arabic daily Al-Quds al-Arabi has described "a noticeable increase in the attacks on U.S. forces in various parts of Afghanistan." Explanations for the attacks range from better weather, Pakistani interference in Afghan affairs; and increased aid to the insurgents from "regional powers." This article examines these claims, assesses their validity, and suggests a fourth cause for the violence -- that al-Qaeda is simply pursuing its long-term Afghan strategy.

Rites of Spring, Pakistani Designs, and Foreign Conspiracies?

The jump in violence in Afghanistan is being been attributed to several factors. Senior Coalition officials say the spike was "predictable" after the spring thaw. U.S. General Eric Olson minimized the threat posed by the attacks, saying they "lack cohesion" and will "fade [even] in traditional Taliban strongholds." [1] Perhaps hedging their bets, Coalition military officials followed Olson's analysis by announcing that two-to-five thousand more NATO troops would deploy to Afghanistan later in 2005.

Departing U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, on the other hand, said on 18 June that the attacks in Afghanistan are directed from abroad because Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar are not in Afghanistan. (4) Khalilzad did not say where the two men are, but none-too-subtly pointed to Pakistan. "If GEO [Television] can get in touch with them [Taleban leaders]," Khalilzad said, "how can the intelligence service of a country which has nuclear bombs and a lot of military and security forces, not find them?" [2] Simultaneously, senior Afghan scholar Morab Boresh and presidential spokesman Jafar Rasuli excoriated Pakistan. "The Pakistanis will never stop interfering in Afghanistan's internal affairs," Baresh told Kabul‘s Tolu Television. "We still have Pakistani elements within our own [Afghan] government… I do not know when they will stop [interfering]" On 20 June, DCI Porter Goss also hinted that bin Laden and Omar are in Pakistan. [3]

Other Afghan officials saw multiple foreign hands at work. President Karzai, for example, said the violence was caused by an external "conspiracy [that] will increase against our country" as parliamentary elections near. [4] "It looks," Defense Minister Rahim Wardak added, "like there has been a regrouping of al-Qaeda, and [that] they have changed their tactics to concentrate on Iraq, but Afghanistan too." [5] Wardak and Karzai's spokesman Jawid Luran also claimed "foreigners" and "regional powers" were promoting the attacks through increased support for the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Luran said the killing of pro-Karzai cleric Mullah Fayyaz and the bombing of a U.S. Reconstruction Team's base -- both in Qandahar Province -- was the work of non-Afghan "terrorists." [6] Qandahar governor Gul Agha Shurzai supported this judgment. After the bombing of the mosque conducting Fayyaz's funeral, Shurzai said police "found documents on the [bomber's] body that showed he was an Arab." Shirazi said this proved "Arab al-Qaeda teams had entered Afghanistan and had planned terrorist attacks." [7]

Al-Qaeda: Staying its Course in Afghanistan

Each of these contentions contains some truth. That said, the increased violence is mainly due to Taliban and al-Qaeda insurgents having emerged relatively unscathed from the deadliest period of Coalition military activity, October 2001-March 2002. They have since regrouped, reinforced, retrained, and rearmed. They also benefited from a two-plus-year respite resulting from the Coalition keeping its conventional units in garrison and chasing the insurgents only with Special Forces and intelligence officers. The Taliban acknowledged this respite in May 2005 when it posted "night letters" condemning Karzai for giving the U.S. permanent bases and seeking a "strategic partnership" with Washington. The letters told Afghans that "the principle duty of the mujahideen [e.g., fighting infidels] has just started." [8]

The recent attacks fit bin Laden's strategic goal of ensuring "the pious Caliphate will start from Afghanistan." [9] In 1998, bin Laden pledged personal loyalty to Mullah Omar, describing him as "our chief" and "the legitimate ruler of the state of Afghanistan … [the] embodiment of Islamic respect." [10] These facts are downplayed by Western leaders who say bin Laden was paying lip service to Omar and that al-Qaeda is now solely focused on the jihad in Iraq. No one, however, should doubt bin Laden's resolve to help retake Afghanistan for Mullah Omar. In June 2000, Bin Laden stressed Afghanistan's central place in al-Qaeda's strategy"

"Any aggression by the United States today against Afghanistan would not be against Afghanistan itself, but against the Afghanistan that hoists the banner of Islam in the world, the true, mujahid Islam, which fights for the sake of God… Allah has blessed Afghanistan, the people of Afghanistan… They were able to unify the country under the Taliban and under the leadership of Amir ul-Mu'mineen [Commander of the Faithful] Mulanna [our Mullah] Omar. So today, Afghanistan is the only country in the world that has the Shari'ah. Therefore, it is compulsory upon Muslims all over the world to help Afghanistan. And to make hijra to this land, because it is from this land that we will dispatch our armies to smash all kuffar all over the world." [11]

Time and setbacks have not dulled bin Laden's resolve. After the 9/11 attacks, for example, bin Ladin said Afghanistan would be the site of "one of Islam's immortal battles." [12] "[U]nder the leadership of our mujahid Amir … Mullah Muhammad Omar," bin Laden wrote, "we are firm on the path of jihad for the cause of God." Bin Laden said Omar knew "the United States was not against me. It was not even against the Taliban. It was against Islam." [13] In late 2004, bin Laden again stressed the Afghans' courageous hospitality and the strategic importance of restoring Taliban rule. He used poetry, which he employs for topics of great importance, to assert that Allah had made Afghanistan "a door of sustenance" for all Muslims:

"The love of Hijaz is deep in my heart.
But the rulers there are wolves.
In Afghanistan, I have a home and companions.
And from Allah comes a door for sustenance.

Like friends, horses are few.
Even if they appear many, in the eyes of the inexperienced.
And anyone who appreciates kindness is loved.
And any place where glory is home grown, is blessed." [14]

Consistent with al-Qaeda's tactical doctrine for aiding Islamist insurgencies, Taliban leaders are taking the lead in discussing and claiming credit for the increased violence. Al-Qaeda's doctrine is clear: Support the insurgents fully and offer advice, but stay in the background, do not dictate, and allow local leaders to run operations as they see fit. Thus, on 15 June 2005, senior Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Usmani told GEO Television about the state of the Afghan insurgency. Usmani said bin Laden was, "thanks be to God … absolutely fine, in good health and fit," but said no more about him. Usmani, who was charged in 2003 with reorganizing Taliban forces, then moved to Omar, calling him "our leader and chief," asserting that "no one [in the Taliban] is against him," and saying Omar instructs him regularly by telephone. Usmani also said the Taliban is reorganized and it,

"is in all areas [of Afghanistan]. In some areas, it is working more; in some areas, it is working less. However, it is present and working in all provinces… Almost 80 percent of the [Afghan] people are with us; they were not in the past, but now they are because when they consider U.S. atrocities and actions, they come to understand the United States is their enemy… Now our fighting is increasing. It may increase manifold this year... We also have weapons. We do not need anything. [15]

Conclusion

It is not yet clear that the increased insurgent attacks in Afghanistan are the start of a sustainable, al-Qaeda-backed, Taliban-led offensive. The attacks, however, fit al-Qaeda's strategic goal of returning Mullah Omar‘s to power, and its tactical policy of helping the insurgents while leaving them in charge and in the spotlight. For now, al-Qaeda's main contributions are its public fealty to Omar and provision of Arab suicide bombers which -- if used in numbers similar to Iraq -- would present an unprecedented challenge to the Coalition.

Finally, Taliban and al-Qaeda military efforts are being augmented by what Al-Quds al-Arabi described as "conditions in Afghanistan [which] are deteriorating at a terrifying speed and returning to the state of chaos similar to the one that prevailed before [the] Taleban took over power…." This, at day's end, is the insurgents' strongest ally, and one the Coalition can do little to defeat without country-wide military operations and massive infusions of economic aid.

Michael Scheuer served in the CIA for 22 years before resigning in 2004. He served as the Chief of the bin Laden Unit at the Counterterrorist Center from 1996 to 1999. He is the once anonymous author of Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror and Through Our Enemies' Eyes: Osama bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America.

Notes
1. Amin Tarzai and Kathleen Ridalfo, "Arab Boost for Afghan Resistance," Asia Times, 61 June 2005
2. "Interview of Zalmay Khalilzad," GEO Television [Dubai], 18 June 2005
3. Tolu Television [Kabul], 16 June 2005.
4. Sayed Salahuddin, "Afghan leader predicts violence as NATO pledges troops," Reuters, 15 June 2005.
5. Paul Haven, "Afghan minister says al-Qaeda regroups," Associated Press, 17 June 2005
6. Ibid. and "Problems in Afghanistan Emanate Abroad," Eslah [Kabul], 16 June 2005.
7. Amin Tarzai and Kathleen Ridalfo, "Arab Boost for Afghan Resistance," Asia Times, 61 June 2005.
8. Ibid.
9. Mufti Jamal Khan, "Bin Ladin: Expel Jews, Christians from Holy Places," Jang [Pakistan], 18 November 1998.
10. "Hero of Modern Times," The Nation, Lahore Edition (Internet version), 21 August 1998.
11. "Usama Speaks on Hijrah and the Islamic State," Al-Jihaad Newsletter, Issue No. 4, 22 June 2000.
12. "Letter by Usama Bin Ladin to the Pakistani People," Al-Jazeera TV, 24 September 2001.
13. Hamid Mir, "The War has not yet begun; Detailed interview with Usama bin Ladin," Ausaf [Pakistan], 16 November 2001.
14. "Osama Bin Laden's December 16,2004, Statement to the Saudi Rulers," jihadunspun.com
15. "Interview with Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Usmani," GEO Television [Dubai], 15 June 2005; Rahimullah Yusufzai, "Taliban commander Usmani in limelight after GEO interview," The News [Pakistan], 16 June 2005; and Safaqat Jan, "Taleban Chief: Bin Laden alive and well," Associated Press, 15 June 2005.

US war with Iran has already begun , Azerbaijan forward bases in use

-- Scott Ritter is a former UN weapons inspector in Iraq

The reality is that the US war with Iran has already begun. As we speak, American over flights of Iranian soil are taking place, using pilotless drones and other, more sophisticated, capabilities.

The violation of a sovereign nation's airspace is an act of war in and of itself. But the war with Iran has gone far beyond the intelligence-gathering phase.

President Bush has taken advantage of the sweeping powers granted to him in the aftermath of 11 September 2001, to wage a global war against terror and to initiate several covert offensive operations inside Iran.

The most visible of these is the CIA-backed actions recently undertaken by the Mujahadeen el-Khalq, or MEK, an Iranian opposition group, once run by Saddam Hussein's dreaded intelligence services, but now working exclusively for the CIA's Directorate of Operations.

It is bitter irony that the CIA is using a group still labelled as a terrorist organisation, a group trained in the art of explosive assassination by the same intelligence units of the former regime of Saddam Hussein, who are slaughtering American soldiers in Iraq today, to carry out remote bombings in Iran of the sort that the Bush administration condemns on a daily basis inside Iraq.
Perhaps the adage of "one man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist" has finally been embraced by the White House, exposing as utter hypocrisy the entire underlying notions governing the ongoing global war on terror.

But the CIA-backed campaign of MEK terror bombings in Iran are not the only action ongoing against Iran.

To the north, in neighbouring Azerbaijan, the US military is preparing a base of operations for a massive military presence that will foretell a major land-based campaign designed to capture Tehran.

Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld's interest in Azerbaijan may have escaped the blinkered Western media, but Russia and the Caucasus nations understand only too well that the die has been cast regarding Azerbaijan's role in the upcoming war with Iran.

The ethnic links between the Azeri of northern Iran and Azerbaijan were long exploited by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and this vehicle for internal manipulation has been seized upon by CIA paramilitary operatives and US Special Operations units who are training with Azerbaijan forces to form special units capable of operating inside Iran for the purpose of intelligence gathering, direct action, and mobilising indigenous opposition to the Mullahs in Tehran.

But this is only one use the US has planned for Azerbaijan. American military aircraft, operating from forward bases in Azerbaijan, will have a much shorter distance to fly when striking targets in and around Tehran.

In fact, US air power should be able to maintain a nearly 24-hour a day presence over Tehran airspace once military hostilities commence.
No longer will the United States need to consider employment of Cold War-dated plans which called for moving on Tehran from the Arab Gulf cities of Chah Bahar and Bandar Abbas. US Marine Corps units will be able to secure these towns in order to protect the vital Straits of Hormuz, but the need to advance inland has been eliminated.

A much shorter route to Tehran now exists - the coastal highway running along the Caspian Sea from Azerbaijan to Tehran.

US military planners have already begun war games calling for the deployment of multi-divisional forces into Azerbaijan.

Logistical planning is well advanced concerning the basing of US air and ground power in Azerbaijan.


Given the fact that the bulk of the logistical support and command and control capability required to wage a war with Iran is already forward deployed in the region thanks to the massive US presence in Iraq, the build-up time for a war with Iran will be significantly reduced compared to even the accelerated time tables witnessed with Iraq in 2002-2003.

America and the Western nations continue to be fixated on the ongoing tragedy and debacle that is Iraq. Much needed debate on the reasoning behind the war with Iraq and the failed post-war occupation of Iraq is finally starting to spring up in the United States and elsewhere.

Normally, this would represent a good turn of events. But with everyone's heads rooted in the events of the past, many are missing out on the crime that is about to be repeated by the Bush administration in Iran - an illegal war of aggression, based on false premise, carried out with little regard to either the people of Iran or the United States.

Most Americans, together with the mainstream American media, are blind to the tell-tale signs of war, waiting, instead, for some formal declaration of hostility, a made-for-TV moment such as was witnessed on 19 March 2003.

We now know that the war had started much earlier. Likewise, history will show that the US-led war with Iran will not have begun once a similar formal statement is offered by the Bush administration, but, rather, had already been under way since June 2005, when the CIA began its programme of MEK-executed terror bombings in Iran.

Scott Ritter is a former UN weapons inspector in Iraq, 1991-1998, and author of Iraq Confidential: The Untold Story of America's Intelligence Conspiracy, to be published by I B Tauris in October 2005.

The opinions expressed here are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position or have the endorsement of DefenceTalk.com

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US : "Silent preparation for war" against IRAN and N Korea

According to Jeffrey Steinberg , of EIR , " A number of well-informed sources in Israel, the U.S.A., and the Arab world have warned this news service of growing evidence that a "silent preparation for war" is now under way in Washington and Tel Aviv, which could blow up Southwest Asia in the immediate weeks ahead. Among the leading elements of the picture assembled from discussions with these sources, between June 7-9, are these:

* Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, according to an Israeli source, is intent on instigating a crisis with Lebanon and Syria. On June 8, Israeli fighter jets and reconnaissance planes spent two hours conducting flights over Lebanese territory, as far north as Batroun, north of Beirut, and into the Bekaa Valley near the Syrian border, drawing anti-aircraft fire. The Israeli incursions came just days after Hezbollah candidates scored dramatic election victories in southern Lebanon.

In a May 29 interview with Lally Weymouth of the Washington Post, Saad Hariri, the son of the slain former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and a leading candidate to be named Prime Minister after the ongoing Lebanese parliamentary elections, declared that he would seek to bring the Shi'ite party Hezbollah into any coalition government he formed. Hariri told Weymouth that he would oppose any immediate disarmament of the Hezbollah militias, because they are the key force preventing an Israeli seizure of the disputed Sheba Farms border area. He warned that if Hezbollah were to be disarmed, and the Sheba Farms conflict continued, it could lead to a full-scale war between Israel and Lebanon. "


The Israeli source emphasized that Prime Minister Sharon is increasingly concerned that U.S. President George Bush is becoming a lame duck, and is coming under pressure to pull American troops out of Iraq, as casualties mount and the situation on the ground becomes more chaotic. Sharon is convinced that the conditions must be set for decisive military actions against both Syria and Iran, before an American military withdrawal from Iraq.

* The same Israeli source claimed that, in recent days, after the reported Syrian test-firing of new Scud missiles, some Sharon aides had pressed for a direct military attack on Damascus, but French and German pressure on Israel forestalled that for the time being.

* At the same time that Israeli provocations have escalated against Syria and Lebanon, some members of Sharon's war cabinet have been pressing for Israeli "breakaway ally" strikes against some nuclear targets inside Iran. The recent Iranian testing of a new medium-range missile using solid fuel was propagandistically seized upon by some Israeli hawks as a "red line," a development which accelerates the need to knock out, or seriously degrade, Iran's purported nuclear weapons program.

David Ivry, the former Israeli Ambassador in Washington, and the architect of the 1981 Israeli Air Force bombing of the Osirak nuclear reactor near Baghdad, told Reuters on May 30 that he favored Israeli attacks on Iranian nuclear sites. "You cannot eliminate an idea, a national will. But you can delay progress on a nuclear program with the appropriate military action. That is a valuable objective in itself," Ivry admitted.

The United States and Israel have different assessments of the Iranian nuclear program. Some Israeli military analysts claim Iran is just months away from obtaining all the technology needed to build a nuclear weapon, and Ivry told Reuters that Israel must act when "the threat has become insufferable. You set a deadline beyond which you believe you will lose the option of acting."

U.S. intelligence agencies reject the Israeli claim of an imminent Iranian nuclear arms breakout, making the assessment that Iran is several years away from obtaining the capacity to build and deliver a nuclear bomb. And factions in the Bush Administration are pressing for a diplomatic solution to the Iran issue. The uniformed military is dead set against any kind of American military action against Iran, arguing that the 150,000 American troops presently in Iraq would be, in effect, hostages to a potential Iranian or other Shi'ite retaliation. And the Bush Administration recently dropped its opposition to Iran's joining the World Trade Organization, and to building the pipeline through Pakistan to India. Just a month ago, in a visit to New Delhi, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had warned India not to go ahead with the oil pipeline deal with Tehran.

* A U.S. intelligence source warned that Israeli provocations against Syria could impel hardliners in Damascus to increase their assistance to the most violent factions of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Any acceleration of attacks on Israeli targets from within the Palestinian territories would be seized upon by Sharon to stall the Gaza withdrawal, scheduled to begin in August. Or he could insist on a "Gaza only" policy, meaning no Israeli pullout from the West Bank, after a Gaza withdrawal. The source also cited the upcoming Palestinian parliamentary elections, where a strong showing by Hamas could give the Israeli right wing the excuse to walk away from any peace deal with the Palestinian Authority

" .. the people who use Cheney are also desperate, and are accelerating crises around the globe, from Southwest Asia to the Korean peninsula.

One senior American military historian pointed to the escalated rhetoric of Cheney and Rumsfeld recently against North Korea as one indicator that the Cheney crowd might be contemplating simultaneous provocations against North Korea and Iran. The historian pointed to the parallels to 1956, when Britain, France, and Israel invaded and seized the Suez Canal, at the same moment that the Hungarian Revolution erupted against the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe.

The Israeli source also noted that Cheney is well aware that if the United States launches a pre-emptive attack on North Korea, using mini-nuclear weapons, the international outcry will be so great that no near-term opportunity will exist to take on Iran. So, an American attack on North Korea, coinciding with an Israeli limited strike on Iran cannot, the two sources insisted, be ruled out "

"X Committee"


The term "X Committee" refers to senior Reagan-era Pentagon officials suspected of deploying Israeli spy Jonathan Jay Pollard, but never caught. Among those still playing pivotal roles today in Washington are Richard Perle, Michael Ledeen, Paul Wolfowitz, Frank Gaffney, and Douglas Feith.

A number of these X Committee figures wrote the July 1996 report titled "A Clean Break" for incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, spelling out a regional war scheme to knock out the governments of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. It is that plan, passed from the X Committee gang in Washington into Israel, that is still playing out today, and is behind the "Israeli" provocations against Syria and Iran.

One possible pathway to halting these "silent preparations for war" will be open soon in the Federal Courthouse in Alexandria, Va. On June 13, former Pentagon Iran analyst Lawrence Franklin will appear in court for the unsealing of grand jury indictments, which are expected also to name two "former" AIPAC (American Israel Political Affairs Committee) senior employees, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman. The three, possibly along with several Israelis, are expected to be charged with espionage-related crimes, involving the passing of classified information to an Israeli embassy official, Naor Gilon, whom former U.S. intelligence officials have identified as the Mossad station chief in Washington.

Larry Franklin was the Iran desk officer at the Pentagon's Near East South Asia policy unit headed by William Luti, now a White House Special Assistant to the President. Luti came out of Cheney's VP office and was part of an X Committee cell at the Pentagon that reported directly to Cheney chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, according to eyewitness accounts. Other members of the cell, who apparently used Franklin as their patsy, included outgoing Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy Doug Feith, one of the co-authors of "A Clean Break."

''The Coming World Realignment''

Since the U.S. intervention in Iraq revealed the limits of Washington's ability to implement its security strategy of becoming the unquestioned political and military arbiter of the globalizing world economy, the underlying tendencies towards a multipolar configuration of world politics have crystallized into hard and obvious fact.

The scenario of U.S. power dominating in every region of the world for generations to come was always an ideological construction that was bound to be contradicted by the rise of regional power centers with interests at variance with Washington's aims; the difficulties encountered in the occupation of Iraq simply hastened the awareness of competing power centers that Washington could be opposed effectively without incurring unacceptable costs.

In the summer of 2004, the drift towards multipolarity was evident, but the balance of power in which it would eventuate was still uncertain. A year later, the configuration of multipolar world power is coming into focus and shows signs of settling into a stable alignment in the short term that promises a period in which no great power has an interest in taking major military initiatives -- an era of relative peace in which some powers attempt to regroup and retrench to make up for their loss of momentum, and others try to accelerate their ascent by continuing their economic growth and enhancing their military capabilities.

The short term likelihood of global stability does not prefigure a similar result in the medium and long terms; it is a consequence of a specific conjuncture in which all the major regional power centers are constrained to turn inwards in order to cope with domestic political strains and to fit themselves for achieving their more ambitious strategic aims in the future. The present moment of stasis is just as likely to be a prelude to a period of intensified conflict as it is to presage long term peace.

Assessment of the geopolitical future is broken down into short (up to five years), medium (five to ten years) and long term (10-20 years) scenarios, with any projection longer than 20 years sheer guess work. It is obvious that confidence in projections diminishes rapidly when they move beyond the short term because possible contingencies multiply at a geometrical progression. Even the short term prediction of relative stability could be disturbed by current and possible developments, including nuclear proliferation and intimidation, actions by Islamic revolutionaries, local wars in Africa and perhaps the Middle East, a more drastic turn towards the left in South America, increased tensions between India and Pakistan or mainland China and Taiwan, and a more militaristic policy in Russia, to name just a few.

The Current Power Centers

The short term interest in stability that is apparently shared by all of the major power centers is based on particular circumstances in each case and is actuated either by a perceived need to retrench or by the goal of protecting processes of economic and military development. The restorationist power centers include the United States, the European Union and Russia; the rising power centers are China, India and Brazil.

With the limits of its former military-based geostrategy revealed, Washington has emerged from an ensuing policy void and has begun to craft -- under the leadership of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice -- a classic balancing strategy dependent upon partnering with regional allies against perceived or potential adversaries. The U.S. remains a genuine world power with global reach, but Washington no longer nurses the illusion that it can act alone, which accounts for its turn towards multilateral diplomacy in dealing with nuclear proliferation in North Korea and Japan, and its reluctance to exert decisive pressure against Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.

Major aims of Washington's current policy include partnering with Tokyo to contain Beijing, restoring its influence in South America in the face of resistance from Brasilia, stabilizing Iraq and Afghanistan, encouraging further pro-Western movements in Russia's near abroad, and leaguing with the peripheral states in the E.U. to balance the Franco-German combine. None of those goals depends for its realization on further military interventions.

Having based its geostrategy on economic and cultural power, rather than military might, the E.U. has at least temporarily reached its limits of integration and, perhaps, expansion towards the east with the failure of referenda on the European Constitution in France and the Netherlands, and the cancellation of a referendum in Great Britain. The complex issues behind the constitution's rejection that primarily concern the future of the Western European welfare state demand that the European political class rethink its geostrategy of making the E.U. a power bloc balancing the U.S. and gaining greater leverage in negotiating with China. Adjustment to the E.U.'s loss of momentum towards consolidation and expansion does not spell its decline as a power center, but it does inhibit any bold and potentially destabilizing initiatives, handing an advantage to Washington and taking some pressure off Moscow.

Faced with successful pro-Western reform movements in its "near abroad" in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, Moscow is occupied with cutting its losses, growing its economy and rebuilding its military. Lacking the resources for a proactive foreign policy, Russia is the most compromised of the regional power centers and, therefore, in the short term, the one that threatens global stability the most if its political class takes a more defiant stance as its geopolitical losses mount.

Following its 20-year geostrategic plan of export-driven economic development and military renovation, Beijing sees itself as a rising power that needs time to realize its potential as the dominant factor in East Asia. It is unlikely to take precipitous military action that would threaten its export markets or invite U.S. intervention that it is not yet prepared to handle successfully, particularly over the issue of incorporating Taiwan. Both Washington and Beijing are aware that they are on a collision course in the long term, but Beijing has no interest at present in a confrontation.

Similarly to Beijing, New Delhi is pursuing a policy of economic development and militarization that is not yet complete. India is not ready to force the issue of Kashmir with a nuclear-armed Pakistan that is receiving military aid from Washington and has chosen to implement a dual-track strategy that contains elements of détente and military advantage. Again, like Beijing, New Delhi believes that time is on its side and it will probably remain patient and exercise restraint.

The most dynamic of the regional power centers is Brasilia, which has been emboldened by the rise of left-center governments in the southern cone of South America that do not acquiesce in Washington's neoliberal economic model, and by the stabilization of the Chavez administration in Caracas that has opted for a more socialist approach to globalization, to bid for dominant influence in its region against Washington. Leading the movement for south-south cooperation, advancing a trade agenda adverse to Washington's, offering Mercosur as an alternative to the Free Trade Area of the Americas and experimenting with industrial policies that undercut Western pharmaceutical and software multinationals, Brasilia need simply follow the course that it is taking to achieve its geostrategy aims.

Based on the way in which each of the major regional power centers perceives its interests, assesses its relative power and calculates its future power, a period of short term stability is likely in global politics. After that, the long term strategic aims of the players have the potential of coming into more intense conflict.

The Second Wave

This conflict will no doubt be stoked by actors that are "below the radar" of prevailing geopolitical thinking. Major intelligence and sociological studies are predicting a drastic rise in populations of several states that are currently either regional powers, or are themselves under strong influence or domination by the world's major states. These new geopolitical players will be affected as much by the conditions that may potentially limit the growth and development of the main players, as well as by the unique blend of circumstances indigenous to a specific region.

The formula that supports the emergent geopolitical prominence of several countries in the coming decades incorporates solid governance, strong state institutions (not necessarily run along democratic-capitalist lines), government control over military and internal affairs, as well as strong economies capable of competing in global terms. The absence of one or more of such conditions may render the state incapable of providing safety and security for its population, leaving the door open to possible subversion or influence by outside forces.

One other important factor that will ensure the power of states will be access to natural resources such as oil, gas and various metals and minerals. Additionally, given the strong population growth projections for China, India and a number of other states, access to and management of the agricultural products inside the states or on the international market will likewise be a determinant of states' abilities to secure their populations and to fully participate in world trade.

While the U.S. government, in its intelligence projections, gives due attention to the rise of the E.U., China, India, Brazil and possibly Russia to world power status, other states will soon be in a position to either emerge as the "second power wave" or become problematic obstacles to global stability and security.

One such state is Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, and currently the fourth most populous state on the planet. The C.I.A.'s projections for 20 plus years into the future place Indonesia at such crossroad. Its current population of over 200 million people is expected to rise in the coming decades. Its growing market economy and international presence is a reflection of its government's pragmatic policies. While currently it is presently a U.S. partner in the global war on terrorism, Indonesia's overall stability can be elusive, as a combination of secessionist movements, internal dissent and natural disasters remain powerful impediments to the country's continuing development. Increasing population in the coming decades will put a strain on the country's limited natural resources, potentially forcing it to look to other countries to supplement its diminishing supplies.

Given Jakarta's powerful military establishment and continuing investment in military hardware and development, Indonesia will emerge as an even more powerful player in Southeast Asia. If the state is able to hold together in the face of the mounting social, economic and natural challenges, it will potentially emerge as an even more powerful regional player. If Indonesia is unable to maintain stability and cohesion, it will generate instability in the entire region that will affect its neighbors to the north and the south, especially Australia.

Other potential powers whose status will begin to crystallize by the year 2015-2020 are Egypt and Iran, each with populations approaching the 100 million mark, and each with its own set of geopolitical ambitions. Egypt is already one of the most important players in the Middle East, and is a current U.S. partner on Arab-Israeli issues and the war on terrorism. Iran is an emerging powerbroker in the region, with well-established political, religious and social connections to states such as Syria, Lebanon and beyond. Both countries face a similar dilemma -- their rapidly increasing populations will generate demand for jobs and economic growth, a demand that the government may not be able to satisfy.

Most importantly, both countries have powerful and growing militaries, with the Egyptian military fielding American-made high-tech hardware. The U.S. is already concerned about Iranian geopolitical moves, and it is still uncertain about what steps Iran will take as it attempts to respond to the growing political and social-ethnic pressure of its population. It will be difficult for any other Middle Eastern state to match Egypt and Iran in either military strength, the size of their populations, or their possible economic potential. If the current American efforts to spread democracy in the region do not take root (possibly mitigating the coming pressures on both states), it is likely that these two states will attempt to forge their distinct geostrategies that will not necessarily mesh with those currently deployed by the United States or Europe.

Africa is the clearest case where the emergence of more powerful players will generate frictions along economic and social fault lines. Nigeria, the current powerbroker in Western and Central Africa, will be joined by several states with increasing populations and growing ambitions backed by robust military establishments. The Democratic Republic of Congo (D.R.C.), Ethiopia and Uganda are expected to more than double their populations by 2025. All three were, until recently, involved in military conflicts either on their territory or through participation in civil wars involving other states. Uganda, together with Rwanda (itself expecting a vast population increase in the coming decades), is still involved in low-level fighting over vast natural resources in the D.R.C.

Rising populations in these states have a strong potential to trigger a new round of devastating wars over access to diminishing land and natural resources. Since the international community has been unable to put a stop to weapons trafficking and illicit trade in the vast Central African region, there is a powerful impetus for the powerbrokers in the region to resort to armed struggle to achieve necessary economic and social gains. Nigeria itself is expected to nearly double in population by 2025, and given its military strength, finite resources and the potential for internecine and interreligious violence may generate an implosion that will be difficult, if not impossible, to manage through the current international mechanisms.

Other potential powers that will seek to redress their own grievances will be Vietnam and the Philippines, with populations passing the 100 million mark by 2020. They will face similar problems as the other countries already mentioned -- diminishing resources, limited natural space, and the coming difficulties of satisfying the economic desires of their growing populations. Both states have robust militaries that have already confronted growing Chinese ambitions over access to natural resources in the South China Sea.

Vietnam, in particular, has been living "in the shadow" of China and even fought a brief war with Beijing in 1979. Both countries may not shy away from a confrontation in order to safeguard access to much-needed natural resources, and both will attempt to maintain their own spheres of influence for that purpose. Vietnam already acts as a regional powerbroker when it comes to the domestic and foreign affairs of Cambodia and Laos, which are states with much less geopolitical clout. It is not at all unlikely that Vietnam will attempt to rebuff growing Chinese ambitions across East Asia in order to ensure that its own population can survive the coming economic and social pressures.

Managing Geopolitical Uncertainties

The United States has made public its possible plans for dealing with the stronger and more ambitious India, China, and possibly the European Union. Preparations for dealing with the internal and international demands of these states are being made by the current presidential administration, and will continue to be developed by successive ones as well.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has recently hinted that Washington will help India to become a global power, possibly to counter a much stronger China by the year 2020. Yet, the emerging geopolitical trends hint at another pattern of development, one that will not just involve major and upcoming powers in international competition for power and influence, but the large, populous states of the current third world that may become increasingly more ambitious, or reckless, in pressing their demands.

In particular, some of these states may eschew their current political connections and strategies if they are unable to satisfy their growing needs and concerns. Additionally, a more complex geopolitical picture may invite players other than the U.S., Western Europe, Russia or Japan to compete for influence over these "second wave" powers. Great potential exists for China, India, Brazil and a handful of other states to establish strong links with these countries undergoing similar "growing pains" that the new powers themselves went through in the 1960s and 1970s. Thus, U.S. and European influence may be undermined in the regions that will be hard pressed to deal with the dangers of diminishing natural resources, slow economic development and rising ethnic and social pressures.

If the "second wave" powers consider that the current international mechanisms and laws are unsuitable to dealing with unique pressures prevalent in each country in question, then a new set of political paradigms may emerge that will be better suited to solving problems unique to each country. This possible development demands that Washington and other power centers around the world prepare themselves not just for the more obvious geopolitical challenges stemming from rapidly emerging new powers, but also for the upcoming difficulties and uncertainties in dealing with a dozen new regional players. This new "multifaceted multipolarity" will generate new sets of both setbacks and opportunities, and today's preparation, far-reaching policy implementation and planning will encourage more peaceful problem solving in the increasingly complex world of the coming decades.


Report Drafted By:
Dr. Michael A. Weinstein, Yevgeny Bendersky



The Power and Interest News Report (PINR) is an independent organization that utilizes open source intelligence to provide conflict analysis services in the context of international relations. PINR approaches a subject based upon the powers and interests involved, leaving the moral judgments to the reader. This report may not be reproduced, reprinted or broadcast without the written permission of inquiries@pinr.com. All comments should be directed to content@pinr.com.

Shahabuddin unfazed by Siwan DM's arrest warrant



DARBHANGA, JUNE 23 (PTI)

http://www.outlookindia.com/pti_news.asp?id=306173

Unfazed by the arrest warrant issued against him, RJD MP Mohammad Shahabuddin today attended a public function here to felicitate him saying he had the independence to move anywhere.

''If a warrant of arrest has been issued against me, does it mean that I should hide myself ... There are 2-4 warrants always against me. I have the independence to move anywhere,'' Shahabuddin told reporters in reply to a question relating to Siwan DM Santosh Kumar Mal issuing the arrest warrant against him yesterday.

Mal had asked Siwan superintendent of police Ratan Sanjay to arrest Shahabuddin and produce him in his court on or before July 1 for examinations in a matter related to book him under the Bihar Control of Crimes Act (CCA) for his criminal activities post February 18, the day he was externed by the then Siwan DM C K Anil from Siwan for six months.

Shahabuddin, the RJD MP from Siwan was here to attend a function organised by the 'District Moharram Committee' in his honour. Union Minister and local MP M A A Fatmi accompanied Shahabuddin to the function.

In an apparent reference to Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) President Ram Vilas Paswan making all-out efforts to woo Muslims in his party's favour in the coming assembly polls, Shahabuddin said ''Nobody can lure Muslims for their political gains. The efforts to woo Muslims for personal gains will not yield any result, the Muslim community is wholeheartedly behind RJD, which has always stood with them.

CIS COLLECTIVE SECURITY TREATY ORGANIZATION HOLDS SUMMIT

On June 22-23, Moscow hosted a meeting of the heads of state of the CIS Collective Security Treaty Organization (Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan) and concurrent meetings of the CSTO countries' ministers of foreign affairs, defense ministers, and secretaries of the national security councils.

The meetings approved a framework plan on CSTO development in two stages -- through 2010 and beyond -- as well as plans to upgrade the Collective Rapid Deployment Forces in Central Asia and to create an inter-state commission for handling deliveries and servicing of military equipment at preferential prices. These measures have been on the agenda for several years but hardly showed any results.

Far more significantly, this summit decided to separate the CIS Joint Air Defense System (nominally of ten countries) from that of the CSTO's planned United Air Defense System (six member countries). The Joint System consists of forces under national command, exercising periodically under coordination from a center in Russia, and regards each country's airspace as distinct and sovereign. The planned United System consists of forces under a single -- that is, Russian -- planning system and command, and it only recognizes a single CSTO airspace. Russian officials explained the need for separating the two systems by noting that certain CIS countries are not CSTO members and aspire to join NATO.

Russian officials moved unobtrusively but unmistakably to exploit American discomfiture over Uzbekistan. Thus, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov, and CSTO Secretary-General Nikolai Bordyuzha all characterized the recent "events" in Andijan unambiguously as an assault by international terrorism and radical Islam against Uzbekistan. Citing international obligations to assist states under terrorist attack, they announced Russia's support for the Uzbek leadership's efforts to stabilize the situation in Andijan and throughout the country. These statements form part of an intensifying exchange of political overtures between Moscow and Tashkent in the wake of the Andijan rebellion, which by the same token has deepened the misunderstandings between Tashkent and Washington.

With President Vladimir Putin joining in, those same Russian officials criticized the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan for failing to suppress "terrorist training bases, including those supported by certain intelligence services" (Putin) and for tolerating the booming export of Afghan heroin to Russia and Europe. Rating the coalition's efforts as "very ineffective thus far," Putin and other Russian officials hinted that the CSTO is prepared to consider stepping in. The meeting discussed possible measures to increase and coordinate assistance to Afghanistan, as well as setting up "a working group to coordinate with Afghan structures" and a joint anti-drug authority.

Kyrgyzstan's post-revolution defense minister, Ismail Isakov, was authorized by the defense ministers' session to tell the press that the creation of a second Russian military base in Kyrgyzstan is intended. It will, apparently, carry a CSTO label. The CSTO's Russian-led military staff has been tasked to determine the possible missions, troop level, and armament of such a base, and whether it should be designated as temporary or permanent. Another post-revolution leader, Felix Kulov, had publicly called last month for the deployment of a second Russian military base in Kyrgyzstan, to be located in Osh.

By contrast, Kazakhstan opposed a Russian initiative -- presumably supported by others -- to create a joint standing conventional military force for Central Asia within the CSTO's framework. Kazakh Defense Minister General Mukhtar Altynbayev told the press, "Creating a cumbersome force for permanent stationing would be worthless." Due to Kazakhstan's position, further discussion of this issue was deferred until the next meeting some months from now (Interfax, June 23).

In the session of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, certain countries that were not publicly identified successfully resisted proposals on financing the CSTO. One defeated proposal would have collected long-overdue contributions from Central Asian member countries to the CSTO's budget from the years 1996-2003. Another, more topical measure that was defeated would have required member countries to co-finance the development of command-and-control systems for the Collective Rapid Deployment Forces in Central Asia. The only financial issues that appeared to be resolved would increase salaries of CSTO Secretariat personnel by 20% -- provided that the extra funding is taken out of other items of the CSTO budget, so as to avoid a net increase.

Loyalists had their day, however. Armenian President Robert Kocharian professed to find comfort "in the CSTO's lineup, one in which we do not disagree among ourselves, but strive for practical results" (Interfax, June 23). Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenka praised the CSTO as one of the centers of power that provide counterweights to the "unipolar dictatorship of a single super-power" [the United States]. Igor Ivanov rewarded his ally by denouncing "the external forces' threats of interference in Belarus, where they are trying to impose political decisions. We reject this kind of actions" (RIA, June 22).

For the first time in the CSTO's history, the Russian military now plans to hold joint ground-force exercises in the organization's "western region" and "southern region" -- that is, in Belarus and in Armenia. These exercises are scheduled to be held on the command-and-staff level in 2006. Thus far, the CSTO has only held joint ground-force and combined exercises in its Central Asian region.

At this summit, Putin took over the chairmanship of the Collective Security Council (the top political authority of the CSTO) from Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev. That and other CSTO posts are supposed to rotate annually in the Russian alphabetical order of the member countries' names. In this case, Kyrgyzstan was unceremoniously skipped. Next year, moreover, the CSTO summit will be held in Belarus, and the honor of chairing the organization will devolve to Lukashenka.

(Interfax, RIA, June 22, 23).

--Vladimir Socor

POST-PUTIN RUSSIA: POLITICAL RUMBLINGS, POTENTIAL PRESIDENTS

Politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum. Confounding skeptics who saw him as weak and isolated, President Vladimir Putin has succeeded in eliminating all serious, organized political challenges to his "vertical power structure." But new political forces are now surfacing and jostling to fill the political vacuum that he has created. The opportunity that is the source of inspiration for these maneuverings is the Y-2008 problem – the question of Putin's political succession once his constitutionally mandated two terms expire.

At first glance the two obvious candidates to replace Putin are Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov and Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov. Both men are close to Putin, are Kremlin insiders, and have high public visibility. The trouble is that they are deeply unpopular, not only with the public at large but also with the very elite groups that form their natural constituencies. Complicating the situation, according to many observers, is the fragmentation of political factions within the Kremlin. Rather than a simple split between liberals and siloviki, Stanislav Belkovsky argues there are 10 to 12 distinct clans (Komsomolskaya pravda, June 3).

In recent weeks there have been relentless media attacks on Fradkov, who is blamed for the sluggish economic growth (trending 5% this year); persistently high inflation (above 10%); and bungled social reform. When he was appointed in March 2004 he was regarded as a transitional placeholder; he is now seen as having overstayed his welcome (Profil, June 13).

Ivanov, the former intelligence officer Putin brought in as the first civilian defense minister, faced hostility from the military establishment from the very beginning. Senior military officials have publicly criticized the social benefits reform, which saw servicemen lose some crucial in-kind benefits, and they complain about the number and quality of new conscripts. According to a VTsIOM poll of servicemen, only 11% expressed trust in Ivanov; and 48% did not approve of his performance as minister (Nezavisimaya gazeta, June 15).

Then in late May Colonel-General Alexander Savenkov, the Military Procurator General, spoke out about the rising crime rate in the armed forces, including the persistent hazing problem that leads to murders and suicides. After criticism from Ivanov, Savenkov released more data on June 14, revealing that there had been 46 non-combat serviceman deaths in the previous week. Ivanov has also been damaged by a scandal surrounding his son, who was involved in a fatal traffic accident (Novye izvestiya, June 16).

Fradkov and Ivanov aside, there are no insider candidates with sufficient experience and stature to be credible. A possible successor would need to be promoted to a more responsible position ahead of 2008 – which would leave him open to the sort of media denigration, presumably instigated by their political rivals, that is being unleashed on Fradkov and Ivanov. Names raised as possible successors include Finance Minister Alexander Kudrin, State Duma Speaker and United Russia leader Boris Gryzlov, Krasnoyarsk Governor Alexander Khloponin, and Vladimir Yakunin, a "friend of Putin" recently appointed head of Russian Railroads.

Looking outside the Kremlin walls, the opposition is also marshalling its forces, in part inspired by the wave of populist revolutions that have swept from Tbilisi to Andijan. The "color revolutions" toppled unpopular regimes that had tried to stay in power through rigged elections, only to find that they could not rely on the security forces to quell dissent through mass repression. All of these characteristics apply to the Kremlin, though there are some important differences – most notably the personal popularity of Putin. Still, in a survey of 162 by Vox Populi, the proportion believing that a "color revolution" is possible in Russia doubled from 25 to 58% between December and April (Nezavisimaya gazeta, May 27).

On the liberal wing, chess master Garry Kasparov has created a new movement, the United Civic Front. He says, "The regime is scared, and does not have an exit strategy" for a peaceful transfer of power in 2008. He explains that efforts to unite the two main liberal parties, Union of Right Forces and Yabloko, foundered because of differences between their leaders on the question of relations with the Kremlin -- even though both parties' supporters in the provinces wanted to unite. The Union of Right Forces leadership, especially Anatoly Chubais, is determined to have the party play the role of a "loyal opposition." According to Kasparov, "The dividing line in Russia today is not between the right and the left, but between those who are prepared to resist the Putin regime, which is turning into a dictatorship, and those who continue to service the regime" (Nezavisimaya gazeta, June 20).

The favored standard-bearer for the oligarchs-in-exile is former prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov, who is being cultivated as a would-be Russian equivalent of Ukraine's Viktor Yushchenko – another ousted prime minister who staged a comeback, with Western support. But Russia is not Ukraine, and Kasyanov is not Yushchenko (Izvestiya, June 17).

Given the absence of liberal parties from the Duma and their low level of public support, the liberals represent more of an annoyance than a threat to the Kremlin. A more substantial challenge may come from the left, in the form of Dmitry Rogozin's Rodina (Motherland) party. Rodina was created by the Kremlin as a "disposable" party that would draw support away from the Communists in the December 2003 election. It did better than expected, and under Rogozin's energetic leadership it has taken on a life of its own. Contrary to the initial intentions of the Kremlin's political technologists, Rogozin adopted a nationalist rather than leftist rhetoric. He has also skillfully seized on social unrest, staging an 11-day hunger strike with four other deputies in January to protest the social benefits reform.

Rogozin says, "Everyone knows that the present regime is corrupt -- and therefore vulnerable." Yevgeny Zherebenkov writes that with the Communist Party and Rodina cooperating, "The idea of United Russia losing control over the next Duma also seems a realistic possibility" (Itogi, June 14). Such a leftist victory in the 2007 parliamentary election would set up Rogozin as a viable candidate for the presidential election the next year. And if the Kremlin lost control over the State Duma, that would eliminate the possibility of constitutional tinkering (such as a shift to a prime ministerial government) that would be one way to keep Putin in power.

Putin found "managed democracy" difficult to manage; but the system of centralized power that he replaced it with has brought its own set of problems: fragmentation at the center and the breakdown of ties between the regime and the masses.

--Peter Rutland