April 28, 2007

Attack on Chinese workers in Ethiopia -- Analysis

Chinese Oil Workers Targeted in Latest Terror Raid in Ethiopia
At least 74 people, including nine Chinese nationals, have been confirmed as having been killed during an attack by armed men on an oilfield in Ethiopia's eastern Somali province in the early hours of 23 April.

Global Insight Perspective

Significance
Ethiopia has witnessed a spate of terrorist attacks in recent months, but the attack on the oil facility is by far the deadliest yet.

Implications
The separatist rebel group—the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF)—has claimed responsibility for the attack, describing it as a military operation against the Addis Ababa government.

Outlook
As is often the case, the government was quick to implicate neighbouring Eritrea, with whom it is still technically at war, in the attack, accusing it of backing “anti-peace elements”–a euphemism it uses to categorise all anti-government and insurgent groups in the country.




At least 74 people (nine Chinese and 65 local Ethiopians) have been confirmed as having been killed during an attack by armed men on an oilfield in Ethiopia's eastern Somali province.

Seven Chinese men and unknown number of Ethiopians were also abducted during the same incident. According to reports, the men were killed during a raid on the oil facility in the Abule area of Degehabur zone in Somali state where China's national oil company (NOC) Zhongyuan Petroleum Exploration Bureau (ZPEB), a unit of Sinopec, was exploring for oil.

The separatist rebel group—the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF)—has admitted responsibility for the attack, which it claimed was a military operation targeting three units of the TPLF (Tigrean People Liberation Front—the dominant party in the governing Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front) regime that were guarding an oil exploration field. In a statement issued on its website, ONLF defended its action by citing the forceful displacement of local ethnic Somalis from their homes as well as the closing-off of large grazing areas to establish a security perimeter in order to allow the exploration for oil to proceed.

The statement, however, suggests that the killing of the Chinese nationals was accidental, caused by munitions explosions during the battle with government soldiers. It also admitted to holding six Chinese workers (as opposed to the seven reported missing by ZPEB) and an unknown number of Ethiopians, but claimed that they are being held for their own safety and are being treated well.

Low-Level Insurgency

The group, which claims to be fighting for the rights and self-determination of the “citizens” of the disputed Ogaden region against the “colonial Ethiopian Empire state”, has been involved in a low-level insurgency war with the Ethiopian government for the past two decades, with its activities restricted to occasional hit-and-run attacks against government troops in the vast sparsely populated Ogaden region which is located in the Somali region.

The group issued a reminder of its continued presence a year ago when it issued a warning to two Indian oil firms—the Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL) and the Gujarat State Petroleum Corp. Ltd (GSPC)—against their plans to develop onshore gas fields in the south-eastern Ogaden region bordering Somalia a year ago, warning that it would not tolerate developing gas fields "in what is essentially a combat zone" (see Ethiopia: 25 April 2006: Insurgent Groups Warn against Oil Exploration in Ethiopia's Ogaden Region). However, keen to develop the region’s as yet untapped natural riches, the government in the capital, Addis Adaba, downplayed the threats by claiming that the situation in the area is peaceful, dismissing the ONLF's threat as ”hollow” and ”nothing new” (see Ethiopia: 26 April 2006: Insurgent Threat to Oil Explorers Downplayed in Ethiopia).

The Ethiopian authorities have also blamed the “self-styled” ONLF as being responsible for the attack, accusing it of being “part of the terrorist wing which is part of the front of destruction led by the Eritrean government”.

Outlook and Implications

There have been a number of localised terrorist incidents throughout Ethiopia over the past decade, serving as a continuing reminder that the problem of terrorism is never far away. The attacks seem to have increased in their frequency, indiscriminate nature, and deadliness since the disputed May 2005 general elections. The government has, as in the case of the latest incident, often blamed the attacks on "anti-peace elements”—a euphemism it uses to categorise its domestic political opponents and the various insurgent movements that continue to operate in the country. The government has linked the terrorist attacks with Eritrea—with whom it is still technically at war as a result of the still unsettled border conflict—almost without any exception, accusing the government in the Eritrean capital, Asmara, of being the real mastermind behind all the atrocities.

ZPEB is no stranger to the country, having drilled an exploration well in the Gambella region in western Ethiopia in May 2006 after it was contracted by Malaysian oil and gas company Petronas. After the news of the Chinese deaths, a Sinopec spokesman told Dow Jones "Since the central government has asked our company to go overseas to secure more oil assets, we won't retreat from Africa on the attack”.

China's NOCs have been buying up acreage throughout sub-Saharan Africa in order to secure energy supplies for the East Asian giant’s rapidly expanding economy. China has invested heavily in OPEC members Angola and Nigeria in recent years; however, it has also started prospecting for oil in African countries in that do not have a history of producing oil. For example, China has built up Sudan's oil sector from the ground and was willing to invest in the country when international oil companies, on the basis of Sudan's gross neglect of human rights and more recently the crisis in Darfur, decided against doing so. China's oil companies are searching for the next big play and are believed to be near to reaching an agreement with Chad to prospect for oil there.

However, Chinese workers face a difficult working environment in many countries when prospecting for oil in Africa because of local conflicts or militant activity. Most notably, there have been several incidents over the past year in which Chinese nationals have been kidnapped while working in Nigeria's oil producing region, the Niger Delta.

Following the attack on the Abule oilfield, the Chinese government issued a strong condemnation, calling on the Ethiopian authorities to take concrete and effective measures to ensure the safety of Chinese workers in the country. China has a low tolerance level when its workers are put in danger and its reaction to the Ethiopian attack is consistent with previous its denunciations of violence towards its workers elsewhere in Africa. It remains to be seen whether or not China will continue to risk lives in volatile areas such as the Ogaden region, with the ONLF insisting that it is not a safe environment for any oil exploration to occur.

China and India Will Lead Growth in the Mobile Market by 2011

United States Will Remain Largest Market by Revenue
Global Insight Report Launches New Telecoms Service


Waltham, MA 19 April 2007 — Global Insight, the world's leading company for economic and financial analysis and forecasting, announced the findings of its inaugural report produced by Global Insight's new Telecoms Intermodal Forecasting Service. The report concluded that China and India will remain the world's growth engine for wireless services, accounting for 60% of the 1.2 billion predicted new mobile subscribers over the next five years. The report compares the world's 20 leading developed and emerging markets between 2006 and 2011, and predicts that over the next five years, market penetration of wireless services will grow from 34.8% to 69.1% in China; and from 13.4% to 31.0% in India.

According to the report, China will also outpace the other 19 markets in terms of broadband growth, accounting for more than one-third of the 350 million-plus new broadband subscriptions anticipated over the next five years. By 2011, China, with broadband revenues of more than US$19 billion and four times the subscribers, will surpass Japan as the world's second-largest broadband market. However, the United States will continue to maintain its position as the world's largest mobile and broadband market by revenues over the forecast period.

"The bulk of the revenues for the sector will still come from the developed markets. Another notable conclusion is that the so-called death of the landline has been overstated, even if traditional landline revenues will take a massive hit," stated Julian Watson, director of Global Insight Telecom Products and author of the Special Report, "Substitution Shakes Up the Telecoms Sector."

More than US$50 billion in revenues will be lost world-wide over the forecast period due to fixed-line subscriber declines and the migration of voice traffic to mobile and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) networks. A 4.5% decline is predicted in traditional fixed-line accesses as the growth in the China and India markets fail to offset the erosion of traditional accesses in markets like Japan, South Korea, and Europe; the latter of which has already seen extensive migration of accesses from fixed lines to mobile.

"Primarily as a result of substitution, the next five years will see a fundamental shift in the revenue make-up of the global telecoms industry. In these 20 markets, fixed-line's share of total telecoms revenues will collectively fall from 39% in 2006 to 21% in 2011; while by the end of 2011, mobile will account for over two-thirds of total telecoms revenues in those markets," Watson said. "But as our research shows, disparate local regulatory, competitive, and economic conditions will mean that the pace of substitution will vary greatly across the 20 markets. Traditional telcos are seeking to offset or reduce substitution effects by moving into multimedia and convergent markets such as IP TV (Internet Protocol Television) and Fixed-to-Mobile Convergence (FMC), but this will not always be sufficient to protect and enhance their revenues," he concluded.

Global Insight's new Telecoms Intermodal Forecasting Service is the only international intermodal/convergence forecasting service available to the telecoms industry. The service initially covers the following 20 markets, with additional markets to be added: China, India, Japan, South Korea, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Russia, Spain, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Canada, and the United States. The service provides ongoing analysis of the latest trends in intermodal substitution and convergent technologies and services. For an extract of the special report and more information about the service, please visit: http://www.globalinsight.com/telecomsintermodal.

Contact:
Julian Watson, Director, Telecoms Products, Global Insight
+ 44 (0) 20-7452-501 (julian.watson@globalinsight.com)

Catarina Walsh, Media Relations, Global Insight [Intern'l]
+ 44 (0) 20-7452-5183 (catarina.walsh@globalinsight.com)

Jim Dorsey, Media Relations, Global Insight [United States]
+ 1 (781) 301-9069 (jim.dorsey@globalinsight.com)

About Global Insight
Global Insight, Inc. (http://www.globalinsight.com/) is a privately held company that brought together the two most respected economic information companies in the world, DRI and WEFA. Global Insight provides the most comprehensive economic and financial information available on countries, regions and industries, using a unique combination of expertise, models, data and software within a common analytical framework to support planning and decision-making. Through the world's first same-day analysis and risk assessment service, Global Insight provides immediate insightful analysis of market conditions and key events around the world, covering economic, political, and operational factors. The company has over 3,800 clients in industry, finance, and government with revenues in excess of $95 million, over 600 employees and 23 offices in 13 countries covering North and South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

China's First National Climate Change Assessment

Controversy Surrounds China's First National Climate Change Assessment
State authorities have shelved the launch of China's first official climate change policy this week, after consultations across the country's sprawling public sector failed to yield agreement over its final content.

Global Insight Perspective

Significance
The official release of China's first National Climate Change Assessment that was due to take place this week has been delayed indefinitely.

Implications
There looks to be a lack of consensus regarding China's climate change strategy and, in the absence of a major public policy shift, China's commitment to economic development means that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will continue to grow virtually unabated.

Outlook
As and when the climate change action plan is actually released, little by way of change to "business as usual" should be expected. State authorities are unwilling to take concrete steps to address China's contribution to global warming in any meaningful form.


Shelved

It is perhaps fitting that in a week where the security issues surrounding climate change in Asia have received unprecedented attention, where the country's future economic development itself has been seen to be at risk through global warming, China has been unable to deliver on the long-awaited promise of a national policy on climate change. Originally due for official release on Monday (23 April), China's first-ever National Climate Change Assessment Report has now been delayed indefinitely.

So what happened? State officials have been tight-lipped about the circumstances surrounding the roll-out, but it has been offered that wide-ranging consultations on the report failed to deliver a clear endorsement. A few details have been picked up here and there by the international press since the weekend, and these shed some light on the matter. The report offers a description of climate change effects seen in China to date, along with those expected in the near term. These include the warning that by 2020, the average temperature in China will increase by between 1.1 and 2.1 degrees Celsius (°C), causing worsening droughts in northern China and extreme weather that will have grave effects on agricultural production sites and the country's coastal regions. The report goes on to outline the steps China should take to adapt to the threat posed, including making improvements to its agricultural infrastructure, enhancing water treatment systems, and developing increased forestation and better ecological monitoring. It is unlikely that these sorts of passages, covering issues such as human security, food security and water security, were the bone of contention that precluded the necessary consensus across the state ministries and different levels of government required for the official launch to go ahead. This is common-sense material that would elicit broad subscription.

Symptomatic

Although no official explanation has been offered, one can surmise that it was the report's strategic energy use content, covering what China can and should do to curb its contribution to the clear social and economic threat posed by climate change, that proved contentious. This should be no real surprise, because while China can do much, the state's foregoing commitment to rapid and stable economic development implies that it in fact should do little. Let us be under no illusions here. Given the prevailing orientation towards growth, the role of specific energy inputs in furthering economic development, and the structure of China's energy industry, the country faces a clear choice: continue to develop or forfeit the established pace and scale of economic progress for the sake of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions.

That may sound dramatic, but considers the following. Despite an unprecedented wave of environmental policies, there has been no discernable shift towards an alternative model of energy use in the Chinese economy. Markets remain irrationally priced and inefficient, where there is next to no incentive for conservation and waste is actually encouraged. What tentative objectives have been put forward, including the loose targets for reductions in energy (4% per annum) and GHG (2% per annum) intensity under the 11th Five-Year plan, have been insufficiently supported by regulations and overwhelmed by the sheer scale of China's annual economic growth. State authorities have been unwilling to diversify the energy supply mix to any meaningful degree. There are new pilot programmes for alternatives, and some less carbon-intense technologies and supplies are being incorporated here and there, this is true. Nevertheless, when one considers that demand for coal—already accounting for over three-quarters of the country's total energy consumption—is growing even faster, the impact of these tentative steps is rendered meaningless in practical terms. The established approach to policymaking has not proven at all effective, and while China desperately needs a strategic plan for climate change to level the playing field, it has made a different choice. However, as the report's own suggested content indicates, short-term economic self-interest is paving the way for a desperately threatening future. China's state policymakers have gambled on being able to outrun the consequences of the economic growth model they have adopted, but the odds are looking increasingly stacked against that result.

Outlook and Implications

Treating major policy initiatives in such a casual manner does little to improve China's image as a responsible member of the international community, and the delay in China's National Climate Change Assessment bodes ill for the forthcoming international negotiations on developing country commitments to GHG reductions. The adoption of some, any, mandatory emissions targets may have fed into that dialogue, but China's persistence with the business-as-usual model can be seen as a blow to the United Nations (UN)-sponsored climate change control regime. First and foremost though, the country's GHG emissions profiles will continue to grow largely unabated. That heightens risks of climate change at both the local and global level.

Recent estimates have suggested that China will surpass the United States as the world's largest annual emitter of carbon dioxide much faster that previously thought. That acceleration is a function of the poor environmental policymaking that this week's developments have made all too plain. China is perhaps well within its rights to state that economic development comes first. After all, the history of the economic development enjoyed across the economies comprising the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is littered with similar calculations and indifference to consequences that lay beyond their national borders. As a result, one cannot be too quick to judge, especially from the point of view to which the greatest historical responsibility for climate change has been rightly assigned. Still, this feels like a missed opportunity to improve climate change policymaking and set an example for other emerging economies. That is difficult to stomach, even if it is readily understood. The report does not look to include any mandatory GHG targets, though Reuters has reported that it proposes cutting GHG emissions per unit of economic output by 40% by 2020. It is well established that such an approach will not yield the sort of cuts necessary to curb GHG emissions growth, let alone bring about substantive reductions. In the simplest of terms then, by failing to set a firm cap on carbon dioxide and the like, supported by adequate policies and measures, China has made a clear choice. Development it is and the atmosphere be damned.

High-Skill Immigration Trends Across U.S. States



Source: Global Insights
Despite much national attention on low-skill immigrants, high-skill immigration has significant consequences for the U.S. economy.

Immigration has received a lot of attention recently, grabbing headlines and keeping legislators busy at both the state and federal levels. While much of this focus has been on immigrants from Mexico, the Caribbean, or other NAFTA partners who come to the United States for low-skill, low-wage jobs, there is another aspect of immigration that has significant consequences for the U.S. economy: H1B visas.

These visas allow temporary immigration into the United States contingent on an existing job offer. A domestic firm acts as sponsor for the applicant, who must possess skills in a specialty occupation, theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge, and at least a bachelors degree or its equivalent. The annual U.S. quota for H1B visas is 65,000, with an additional quota of 20,000 for those who have earned their masters degree in the United States. It is notable that the large majority of these positions are in the services sector (most often science or technical occupations) and require a higher level of education and work experience. More prevalent occupation types sought in visa applications are IT related, such as software engineers, programmers, and system analysts, or business related, such as accountants and specialists in finance, marketing, and business development.
Research on H1B visas is still in its early phases. However, one of the data sets available is the Labor Condition Application (LCA), which is used by employers as supporting evidence for the petition for an H1B visa. Regional patterns in the LCA data show some interesting trends. For the fiscal year 2006 (October 2005 to September 2006), there were 644,779 applications filed online (90% of total applications). In the map below, these applications are broken down by state and then weighted by total employment (to control for size) to show which states are most active in seeking out foreign labor for technical service positions.

State Ratios of H1B Applications to Employment




There is a clear trend of coastal states taking greater advantage of the H1B program compared with inland states. This can be attributed to these areas having more densely developed science and IT-related sectors, more internationally diverse demographics, and more interaction with foreign-based firms. Moreover, the East Coast metropolitan areas have a near monopoly on applications for employment. The anomalies in this group are Arizona, Illinois, and Michigan—noncoastal states that also show great demand for international workers. This may be explained by the fact that both Illinois and Michigan have close proximity to Toronto's large labor pool, and that Arizona is adjacent to Mexico. For these states, knowledge of and easy access to skilled labor across the border, coupled with existing business relationships to customers and suppliers, increases local demand for H1B visas.




Most states with a ratio less than 1.50 are in the interior of the country. There are a few outliers, those that are coastal but have a low frequency of applications relative to employment: Oregon, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Maine. Three of these are in the Southeast region of the United States; Louisiana and Mississippi may still be suffering the aftereffects of Hurricane Katrina.




With U.S. policy focused on immigration and protectionism, this is sure to be a closely watched issue. It has certainly piqued the interest of the private sector—applications for 2008 reached their cap limit on the first day (April 2) that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began allowing submissions.

by Stephen Houdlette

Pakistan : Fatwa issued against author Syed Jamaluddin

Mr.Syed Jamaluddin , author of "DIVIDE PAKISTAN TO ELIMINATE TERRORISM" who lives in Aubervilliers (place near Paris) received fatwa from Islamic fundamentalist organizaton . The was book publication in USA, Syed Jamaluddin was forced to leave Pakistan after military coup of General Pervez Musharraf in 1999. Syed Jamaluddin has been an active writer on issues concerning Pakistan's involvement in terrorist activities in the region. He has revealed in his upcoming book that Pakistan's ISI has several hidden plans to implement in the coming years. He has suggested that in order to combat the growing terrorist threats emanating from Pakistan, Pakistan should be disintegrated in 5 parts. His proposed geography for South Asia has been mentioned in his upcoming book "Divide Pakistan To Eliminate Terrorism" which advocates 5 new countries.

Intellibriefs received this copy from Mr.Syed Jamaluddin , we are reproducing this for our readers .


Pakistan's Radical Women

Dressed in Black: A Look at Pakistan's Radical Women

Source: Jamestown Foundation

By Farhana Ali

Radical women in Pakistan are increasingly being used by male jihadi groups and extremists, including religious political parties, to serve their interests and promote their cause. This year's protests by women clad in black burqas of the Jamia Hafsa seminary in front of the Lal Masjid, in the capital city of Islamabad, is proof of a trend that is becoming more alarming, threatening and unprecedented in Pakistan's history [1]. The women's illegal acts include seizing a children's library, kidnapping a brothel owner and forcing her to renounce her sect and demanding the closure of video shops for selling movies deemed inappropriate to a Muslim audience (Dawn, March 31; Daily Times, March 26). The women of the Jamia Hafsa madrassa have violated the law by illegally encroaching on public land and threatening the Pakistani government with suicide attacks should the state refuse to comply with Islamic law.

Hundreds of women cloaked in the niqaab—the ultra-conservative Muslim women's dress which reveals only a woman's eyes—have threatened suicide attacks unless Pakistan accepts their demands. According to the women, "We are ready to give our lives for our religion. If any commando action is taken, it will be retaliated. We are ready for Fedai (suicidal) attacks" (Daily Times, February 2). Among their demands, the women of the seminary call for the release of imprisoned terrorists and shout slogans praising Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar (South Asian Analysis Group, March 30) [2].

How radical women, who before went unnoticed and played an auxiliary role in jihad, have come center stage in Pakistan forces the question of who is behind them and how serious the international community should view their threats of suicide attacks. Only until recently have the women in black captivated world audiences for the potential threat they pose to Pakistan's internal security and the inspiration they could offer to other women in patriarchal societies equally disenchanted with their government's alliance with the West and U.S. foreign policies in the Muslim world.

The Birth of Female Jihadi Groups

The "Talibanization" of women in Pakistan occurred years ago. During the Afghan jihad, while men fought on the battlefield, women played key roles as mothers, daughters and wives of male jihadis. Traditionally, they provided logistics and facilitation support to their men. Articles by and for women during and after the Afghan war against the Soviets figured prominently in jihadi magazines published in Peshawar. In one editorial, a woman indicated, "We stand shoulder to shoulder with our men, supporting them, helping them…We educate their sons and we prepare ourselves…We march in the path of jihad for the sake of Allah, and our goal is Shahada [martyrdom]." Like the women supporting the Afghan jihad, the Jamia Hafsa women indicated their right to conduct suicide attacks against "those who are against Islam. We are oppressed and an oppressed community has the right to register its protest" (Daily Times, February 2).

Muslim women fighting alongside Muslim men in other conflicts in the Islamic world also share the same spirit of jihad. They include Palestinian, Chechen, European Muslim converts and the women of al-Qaeda [3]. In most cases, participation in violent acts is partly the result of the women's shared sense of identity with the cause as well as their familial connection to the male jihadis [4].

Additionally, women as nurturers of an Islamic society are not unique to Pakistan. It is a role that has been mandated by Islamic law and doctrine, as is evident in the Quran and the hadith literature, and in oral traditions. Muslim women are largely respected for their maternal character; they are seen as nurturing, comforting and patient. A woman's role as the mother of the faithful also includes the mother of martyrs. While this may surprise Western observers, it is rooted in Islamic history. After all, women in the early Islamic period glorified their sons, husbands and brothers for achieving martyrdom by fighting in the first battles of Islam against a clear aggressor. The same holds true in conflicts in the Muslim world today. From the revolutionary period in Iran to the conflicts in the Arab world today, Muslim women praise their men for waging jihad. Yet, what is less known is how men, whom the women often rally behind, are increasingly exploiting them.

Radicalization of Women

The emerging trend of women being motivated by men to chant slogans of jihad can also be traced to female-only dars (religious gatherings) across Pakistan and is evident in women's right-wing publications. A private discussion with a female journalist in Karachi and a television host indicated that there are a rising number of women, even among the elites, who participate in religious gatherings to discuss U.S. foreign policies and the call for jihad [7]. The propagation of jihad in these private, female-only gatherings also encourages women to adopt the ultra-conservative Islamic form of dress and to reject Western and particularly American influences. According to a female professor of Gender Studies at Peshawar University, female students are now wearing the burqa in a city that was once known for its liberal and moderate Islamic practices [8].

Across the country, the women in black are beginning to appeal to women of all ages and socio-economic classes. The allure of Islam can be explained by the U.S. "war on terrorism" that has fueled resentment toward, disillusionment with and hatred of U.S. foreign policies across the Muslim world. This is particularly true in Pakistan, a country whose support for the U.S. war on terrorism is viewed as short-lived. As one former high-ranking Pakistani official indicated, the war on terrorism is "not our war" [10]. Various jihadi publications, including the Ghazwa Time and the Ummat—Osama bin Laden's mouthpiece—express dissatisfaction with the United States for its overall foreign involvement in the Muslim world, including the current war in Iraq.

Other examples of radical women in the region include Asiya Andrabi, the leader of Jammu and Kashmir's separatist women's organization Dukhtaran-e-Milat (Daughters of the Faith). She argues that women have a right to protect their honor and homes from the enemy—in this case, the Indian army. In March of this year, Asiya told an Indian female researcher that while it is men's duty to wage jihad, women would support female bombers if and when the tactic became necessary [11]. Asiya has been arrested by authorities for passing money to Pakistan-based terrorist groups, such as the Hizb ul-Mujahideen, of which her husband was a commander [12].

In Pakistani jihadi groups, women are also members of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT)—which is affiliated with al-Qaeda and is on the U.S. Department of State's list of terrorist organizations. Known as the Lashkar's Women Brigade, media reports have cited a training camp for female militants in northern Pakistan (Times of India, April 6). In an April 14 article, a writer and member of Jamaat al-Islami also supported the idea of giving Muslim women basic combat training.

Serving a Male Agenda

Male religious extremists, leaders of madaras (seminaries) and jihadi organizations are increasingly using women as a tool of nationalism to support their rise to political power. Male jihadi leaders know how to manipulate women to win political attention and public sympathy. In a society where women do not have access to education (as compared to men) and are largely illiterate, women can easily fall prey to male interpretations of Islamic doctrine and are vulnerable to being co-opted by them. An interview with the former Pakistani information minister and the editor of an Urdu newspaper indicated that these women "are docile and under the subjugation of women; they are exploited by the maulvis (mullahs) to challenge the authorities and create fear" [13].

Increasingly, male extremists are politicizing traditional women by pushing for women's participation in the global jihad. By using women, these men are able to shield their activities and whereabouts from the authorities. Women are the "human shield" as they are invisible to the public. They are able to conceal their identities by cloaking their faces in the burqa and are untouched by male officers. A retired brigadier of the Pakistani military told the author, "These male cowards are hiding behind the women to protect them, which is contrary to Islam."

Others see it differently. According to Pakistan's leading talk show host, Hamid Mir, the Hafsa case "was projected to divert the public attention away from the judicial crisis" in Pakistan [14]. Mir also noted to the author that Pakistan "cannot fire tear gas at these women because they are guarding his [Musharraf's political] interest." A Taliban leader in Afghanistan also believes that Musharraf is slow to act against the women to "malign us" [15]. A more startling view by another Pakistani observer notes that the male custodians of Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa seminaries confirm that "Pakistan's mosques and seminaries raise terrorists and not scholars" (Dawn, April 15).

On Standby

A solution to the radical women of Jamia Hafsa has yet to be found. President Pervez Musharraf has offered a dialogue with the clerics to resolve the issue amicably. Earlier this month, he stated, "These few thousand girls are misguided. These misguided women wish to run the government though they know nothing…We don't want to kill them. We want to solve this issue with wisdom" (Daily Times, April 8). According to the minister for religious affairs, "some of the demands presented by girls' students are unjust and illegal. The occupation of children library is illegal and Islamic order cannot be enforced this way" (Pakistan Tribune, February 8).

The Pakistani government has denounced the threats to the state posed by the prayer leader of the Lal Mosque and the principal of the Jamia Hafsa seminary, Maulana Abdul Aziz, who initially warned of suicide attacks if the state launched an operation against the madrassas (Daily Times, April 7). In response to the threat, Pakistan's State Minister for Information Tariq Azeem urged the maulana not to force the government to take stern action. "They have misjudged the government's resolve," he said. "We want to avoid the use of force against them. We want to resolve all issues through peaceful means" (Daily Times, April 7). Others demand an appropriate government response to resolve the Jamia Hafsa incident. The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) indicated the government should take stern action against religious organizations challenging the government and disrupting law and order in the country (Daily Times, March 31). A former Pakistani military officer told the author, "Musharraf has to act. If the protestors were men, the state may have already used force."

Time to Act

The fact that male jihadis could drive these women to become tomorrow's suicide bombers has serious implications for the war on terrorism and the region's security. It is unclear if Pakistan's extremist women would conduct suicide attacks. The former information minister told the author, "I do not think these girls can be suicide bombers; they are timid and lack historical perspective like that of the Palestinians. However, I cannot predict the future." Regardless of their operational capability, Pakistan's radical women pose a threat to civil society, law and order and the forces of moderate and liberal Islam that have permeated Pakistan since its independence. Absent an immediate solution to the Jamia Hafsa crisis—and the images of women in black—the government of Pakistan will be viewed with skepticism by the international community and some might judge the country too harshly as an unwilling partner in the war on terrorism. Such perceptions, while falsely construed, can be damaging to U.S.-Pakistan relations and could further the opposition's view that Pakistan is allied with firebrand clerics and jihadi groups.

Notes

1. Lal Masjid or Red Mosque is known for training and funding the holy warriors of the Afghan jihad. Firebrand pro-jihad clerics Maulana Abdul Aziz and Maulana Abdul Rasheed manage the Lal Mosque.
2. The women have demanded the release of Khalid Khawaja, a former Pakistani intelligence officer with links to the Taliban and Osama bin Laden. He is currently in a Pakistani jail for instigating the women of the Jamia Hafsa seminary to speak against the state for demolishing mosques and madaris built in the city on government property.
3. No single list of al-Qaeda women exists publicly, but these women include Europe-based Malika al-Aroud and the women of the Hofstad Group.
4. Many Muslim women proudly indicate that they are all freedom fighters and have the same rights as Muslim men to die for the cause and attain the rewards of martyrdom.
5. Information about the JI's women wing is available at http://jamaatwomen.org.
6. Author's visit to the largest girls' seminary in Balochistan province in late 2005.
7. Conversation occurred in late February 2007. The author met with the journalist in Islamabad, although she is based in Karachi.
8. This period is the pre-Afghan jihad era. The female professor is of the Pashtun tribe and has lived in Peshawar her entire life. The trend of young girls now adopting the black burqa raises concerns of an austere "Islamization" process that is undoubtedly led and arguably enforced by men.
9. Interviews conducted in February and April 2007 on two separate visits to Islamabad and Karachi.
10. Interview in Islamabad in April 2007 with a former high-level Pakistani official. His statement was aired on Pakistani national television. Also, note his sentiments are not unique to him. They are shared by many in the country.
11. The interview was conducted by Indian researcher Swati Parashar, who conveyed the meeting to the author on April 10, 2007 at Tufts University at a "Women in al-Qaeda" conference. Both the author and the Indian researcher were guest speakers at this event.
12. Information passed to the author from Parashar, who interviewed Asiya in her home in March 2007 in Srinagar.
13. Interview conducted in April 2007 in Karachi.
14. Mir shared his views with the author in April 2007. The judicial crisis ensued after the government's dismissal of Pakistan's chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, in March 2007. The judge's refusal to step down has sparked a debate over democracy in Pakistan and Musharraf's intentions to remove Chaudhry. See editorial "Crisis in Pakistan: The Suspension of the Chief Justice," available at http://www.khilafah.com, accessed April 14, 2007.
15. Ibid.

Guide to the Armed Groups Operating in the Niger Delta - Part 2

By James Briggs
Part 1 of this article can be found in Issue 7 of Terrorism Monitor.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) first burst onto the international stage in December 2005, when it blew up Shell's Opobo pipeline in Delta state. It followed with several high profile group kidnappings, further bombings and attacks on oil installations that left many dead. Apart from its devastating impact on Nigerian oil production, the initial bombing garnered attention because the militants had carried out an action that did not benefit them directly financially—unlike kidnappings or oil bunkering. MEND's strategic placement of the bombs, which took out nearly a quarter of Nigeria's oil production, showed an intricate knowledge of the thousands of miles of pipelines that may well have been gathered in previous bunkering operations.

Structure

There are no card-carrying militant members of MEND. Like most of the groups with long, politically idealistic names—the Niger Delta People's Volunteer Force (NDPVF) or the Niger Delta Freedom Fighters—it draws on the same pool of fighters from communities across the delta, ethnic militias in the west and cults (partially absorbed into the NDPVF or the Niger Delta Vigilantes) in the east. It does, however, use recognized leaders to control each of the three main states and each leader has a deputy. MEND's flexible structure allows it to channel arms and funds across the delta to regions where it is concentrating operations. It differs from the cults and the ethnic militias because its kidnappings appear primarily motivated by publicity rather than ransom (although money often changes hands) and by placing its struggle in a social rather than ethnic context [1].

For example, "Mike" from Gbaramatu can fight for MEND one day, rig an election for his local government chief the next, kidnap a foreigner for ransom and get in a cult clash on Saturday. He can be, but is not necessarily, a militant, a political enforcer, a criminal and a gang member all at the same time. He can be motivated by money, a sense of injustice, reprisals against his community by the military, or fear of attack from a rival gang. All of these loyalties overlap, meaning that his political patron will protect him from the police when he kidnaps a foreigner, and he can call on his brothers in the cult to come and fight with him for MEND. He can fight for MEND one day and the Federated Niger Delta Ijaw Communities (FNDIC) the next. This is the source of a lot of the confusion over conflicting MEND statements.

Case Study

When 24 Filipinos were abducted from the Bacoliner ship earlier this year and threatened with execution in Delta state, many were confused by apparently conflicting statements both claiming and denying that the attack was conducted by MEND. The MEND leader, known by his nom de guerre Jomo Gbomo, disclaimed the attack from a recognized e-mail address. "We do not attack cargo vessels, issue ultimatums nor do we execute hostages in our custody without good reason," he said. Another MEND spokesman, however, appeared using another email address, claiming that the attack had been carried out by members of MEND and threatened to execute the hostages.

A close study of the demands issued by the second spokesman, which included the replacement of the ruling party's gubernatorial candidate, reveals that they were far more politically specific demands than previously issued by Gbomo. The demands echoed a series of advertisements and interviews taken from Nigerian newspapers by local chiefs, including Ijaw chief Edwin Clark, demanding Delta state Governor James Ibori's cousin Emmanuel Uduaghan step down as the gubernatorial candidate (Vanguard, March 6). Clark has often called for more oil revenues to be diverted to the Ijaw people and was frequently linked to members of FNDIC. The articles and advertisements pointed out, correctly, that the corrupt Delta government had failed to provide even the most basic services for its citizens during the last eight years. The signatories protested that Uduaghan would probably continue the tradition.

Thus, the Bacoliner attack was carried out using FNDIC affiliated fighters who had previously fought for MEND. They may have called themselves MEND because that has greater resonance with the media and perhaps because MEND supplied the weapons. Certainly, the CNN report that was shown in February was filmed with these fighters. The report helped spark a warning from the U.S. Embassy of further attacks, which drove up oil prices by more than a dollar when it was released. The effect of the report on oil prices underlines the ability of the militants to manipulate the media and oil prices merely by making threats. The fighters subsequently claimed to have seized explosives (actually destined for commercial use) from the boat. They said they were destined for political use. Despite public assurances to the contrary, security sources say that a large ransom was paid [2].

Modus Operandi

MEND's masked fighters in matching body armor are better organized and more disciplined than Alhaji Dokubo-Asari's flip-flop wearing boys, and their spokesman Jomo Gbomo is far more skilled at media manipulation [3]. He issues e-mail messages to confirm or deny attacks and occasionally to warn of an impending bomb. MEND set off five car bombs in 2006—one at a refinery, one at a military barracks (which killed two people), one at a state government house and two in the car parks of oil companies. "Bombs...were triggered by cell phone and were a cocktail of military and commercial explosives...The operative in one location reported a concentration of civilians at his location and that bombing was aborted at the very last minute to prevent loss of innocent lives," the group said [4].

MEND has repeatedly stressed that their aim is not to kill civilians or even Nigerian armed forces personnel, but to force oil companies to leave the delta and to economically paralyze Nigeria, forcing reform. The December car bombs appeared to use about five pounds of explosives each, enough to destroy the car, but not to cause much damage to the surroundings. They appeared to be parked out of the way of normal civilian traffic. Militants have said that the deaths of two people at the military camp were caused by the car bomb detonating prematurely.

Most fighters are issued a Kalashnikov or another assault rifle, although there are also plenty of General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMGs) and Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs). A researcher who tracks weapons from the delta says that significant quantities of new and heavier arms are being distributed throughout the delta [5]. Several researchers in Port Harcourt believe that MEND simply provides money and weapons for specific operations to pre-existing groups and brokers alliances between them [6].

MEND typically holds hostages longer than most other groups and kidnaps more people at a time. The initial batches of four and nine oil workers were held for several weeks; the latest ended with the release of two Italian hostages last month who had been held for 99 days, a record for Nigeria. Gbomo frequently issues press releases and photos of the hostages to ensure they are kept in the news. He denies that MEND solicits ransoms, although he admits to "confiscating" over half a million dollars offered by oil company Agip during the most recent kidnapping and that his fighters "freelance" when not engaged on MEND missions [7]. He also says that MEND encourages the proliferation of smaller, criminal gangs that take hostages for purely financial reasons, saying that the actions of such gangs help MEND in their quest to make the delta "ungovernable" [8].

Expansion

After Asari was put in prison and rival gang leader Ateke Tom was declared wanted, Ateke's former number two, Soboma George, stepped in to fill the power vacuum. Soboma leads a large breakaway faction of the Icelanders known as the Outlaws [9]. He fell out with Ateke after he was charged with murder and Ateke did not do enough to help him. He subsequently escaped from jail and began to work against his former boss. In January of this year, Soboma was arrested for a traffic violation. Police later admitted that they had no idea whom they had detained and it appears unlikely that Soboma would have been arrested if they had [10]. Within hours, more than 50 heavily armed militants stormed the prison, which lies in the heart of Port Harcourt and is minutes from the main police station and military camp. They appeared to face little resistance as most of the buildings around the prison were not marked by heavy gunfire.

After Soboma's release, MEND issued a statement saying that he was a "senior commander" in the movement [11]. Subsequently, foreign journalists met with Soboma, senior militants and a government official on the outskirts of Port Harcourt. Many believe factions within the state government are seeking to use Soboma against Ateke just as they used Ateke against Asari. Police say that Soboma is heavily involved in crime, including kidnappings, gang warfare and narcotics [12]. Prior to his arrest, however, he was able to move around the city relatively freely, despite the outstanding murder charge. Former gang members say the alliance between MEND and the Outlaws (and defected Icelanders) is significant because it has a deliberate strategy of infiltrating urban areas with fighters who have traditionally been based in the creeks.

Conclusion

Before the April elections, MEND said that the polls would not affect their ultimate aim of resource control. While that may be true for their main spokesman, it is obvious that several of the groups that MEND collaborates with had a vested interest in the Nigerian election. Money or weapons supplied by MEND for other operations may have been turned against political opponents and their supporters during the polls.

It remains to be seen whether or not MEND will be a long-term force in the delta. So far, it has bequeathed local groups with heavier weapons, better organization and more sophisticated tactics, as well as linking up smaller groups that previously operated independently. In the mercenary world of Niger Delta fighters, such alliances are always subject to change and it is likely that the government will continue its tactics of co-opting senior militants with cash payments or positions and sending the military after those who will not submit. MEND's relatively small leadership structure means it is vulnerable to changes in top personnel. If that happens, however, it is common to subcontract fighters, meaning that several heavily armed militias will remain, ready to fight for the next would-be leader. If MEND disappears, another would-be umbrella organization will eventually take its place in the same way that MEND replaced the NDPVF. As long as the delta remains underdeveloped and corrupt, increasingly bloody battles will be fought over the oil industry since it is the only source of funds.

Notes

1. Author e-mail correspondence with Jomo Gbomo, spokesman for MEND, 2006.
2. Author interview with private security contractors, Lagos, 2007.
3. Author interview with MEND militants, 2006; author interview with Alhaji Dokubo-Asari, 2004.
4. Author e-mail correspondence with MEND spokespeople, 2006.
5. Author interview with a Geneva-based organization, 2007.
6. Author interview with a local conflict resolution organization headquartered in Port Harcourt, 2007.
7. Author e-mail correspondence with MEND spokespeople, 2006.
8. It should be noted that despite frequent complaints over lack of clean water, schools, clinics and rhetoric about redistributing wealth, there is not a single recorded instance of a militant group ever spending money on a project to develop their own community.
9. Author interview with former senior Icelander commander, 2007.
10. Author interview with an officer from the station in which Soboma was held, 2007.
11. Author e-mail correspondence with MEND spokespeople, 2007.
12. Author interview with Police Commissioner Felix Ogbaudu, 2007.

Guide to the Armed Groups Operating in the Niger Delta – Part 1

Guide to the Armed Groups Operating in the Niger Delta – Part 1

Source: Jamestown FOundation

By James Briggs



During the course of the last year in Nigeria's oil-rich but turbulent Niger Delta region, armed men kidnapped more than 150 foreigners, killed unknown numbers of Nigerian armed forces personnel, crippled the oil production of Africa's largest oil exporter by nearly a quarter and detonated five car bombs. There is a bewildering variety of armed groups operating in the delta, ranging from community vigilantes to armed political movements to criminal gangs. The groups, whose aims and members often overlap, are involved in activities that include kidnapping, theft of crude oil, attacking oil infrastructure, extortion, bombings, murders and rigging elections. Without adequate equipment or political will, the military cannot tackle the problem effectively. Unrest in the Niger Delta can be traced back to the beginning of oil exploration, when impoverished communities were exploited and polluted, while billions of dollars were extracted from underneath their feet (Terrorism Monitor, August 10, 2006). In many cases, however, criminal elements and corrupt politicians have exploited the expression of legitimate grievances and armed many of these groups for their own ends. The emergence of modern militant groups is closely related to politics, corruption and bad governance in the delta. Both the 2003 polls and this month's coming elections have strengthened pre-existing armed groups.

For the purposes of clarity, this two-part analysis focuses on militias and gangs—with part two focusing exclusively on the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND)—and discusses the existence of community groups within that framework. It also explains their leadership structures and links to politicians. In reality, the distinctions are somewhat arbitrary. The gunmen and the government are as tangled together as the mangrove roots of the swamps in the Niger Delta.

History of Militancy

The term "militants" refers to gunmen who make political demands, including the release of imprisoned leaders, cash reparations for communities, change of electoral candidates and a greater share of oil revenues, among other issues. These political demands distinguish them, albeit tenuously, from criminals who simply kidnap people for money. Militants are also distinct from disaffected communities, whose people may perform kidnappings or attacks in the hopes of getting a clinic, school or cash, but have no overall political aims. It is a very blurred line—a person may be a community activist one day, then a militant and then a criminal the next. Nevertheless, it is a line worth noting.

Militancy against oil companies in the delta can be traced back a long way, but the general agreement is that the turning point from peaceful activism to armed resistance came after the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni leaders in 1995. The Nigerian government had responded with lethal force to the justified anger of the local people over corruption, underdevelopment and lack of political representation. Dictator Sani Abacha's government continued to contain any real challenges with severe brutality until the 1999 elections.

Democracy was a disappointment for the people of the delta, as the corrupt government provoked widespread anger by failing to deliver basic social services. Oil companies stoked the problem by failing to clean up their oil spills, flaring gas (which produces acid rain that damages fishing grounds and crops), failing to ensure their police treated local people with respect, executing poorly conceived "development" projects and doling out cash payments that set communities against each other. Communities then began to occupy oil platforms and hold protests, which were often violently dispersed by the police. Moderate demonstrations were met with violence, the debate became polarized and criminal gangs began to use the protesters' rhetoric to excuse their own activities. By 1999, notable figures such as Prince Clark Igodo (declared wanted by the police in March) began to carry out kidnappings for ransom. Igodo, who lost one hand to an explosion during clashes between different cult groups, was originally a gang leader, but had positioned himself as an important ransom negotiator, so it was difficult to arrest him.

Asari, Ateke and Politicians in Rivers State During the 2003 Elections

During the 2003 elections, politicians sought to arm various groups in return for helping to rig the polls. The problem with this policy, however, was explained by human rights lawyer Anyakwee Nsirimovu in 2004 in a private interview: "Once you give someone a gun, you cannot take it back. After the elections were won, the men turned to crime." At that time, the now-infamous Alhaji Dokubo-Asari (he later changed it from "Alhaji" to "Mujahid") occupied a leading role within the Ijaw Youth Council, a forum set up in 1998 by Ijaw activists who wrote the Kaiama Declaration, a manifesto for resource control after which many subsequent militant groups modeled their demands [1]. One Rivers State official, Sara Igbe, has said Governor Peter Odili initially armed Asari. Although Igbe has subsequently refused to discuss this statement, he does not deny it [2]. Asari has denied helping to rig elections. Asari, a Muslim convert, later fell out with Odili over the government's neglect of the delta region and over negative comments Asari made about President Olusegun Obasanjo. Asari then formed the Niger Delta People's Volunteer Force (NDPVF), which consisted of a loose alliance between several local gangs known as "cults" [3]. Asari was not a gang leader himself, but was able to convince various other groups such as the Greenlanders, Bush Boys, Elegant Face and Deegbam to cooperate under his leadership.

It should be stressed that many of the young men involved in the gangs turned to crime because of a complete lack of alternatives after the government failed to invest in education, employment schemes and infrastructure. Although Asari, the son of a judge and brother of a university professor, articulated complex arguments for self-determination and resource control, many of his followers were simply fighting because they had lost a struggle with another local gang leader, Ateke Tom, and had been pushed out of their territory in Okrika in Rivers State. Asari, however, retained his links to many people in the government. When this analyst visited his militia camps in 2004, several of his mobile and satellite phones rang with tip-offs from senior military figures when they were planning to attack. He funded his struggle through tapping crude oil pipelines and wellheads, a practice which nets hundreds of millions of dollars worth of crude in Nigeria each year and requires the collusion of senior figures in the military, particularly in the navy, to escort the barges out to tankers waiting at sea.

After Asari retreated to the swamps and formed the NDPVF, the state government armed Ateke, who led a rival gang called the Icelanders. Ateke has also referred to his armed followers as the Niger Delta Vigilantes [4]. According to Amnesty International, more than 500 people died before a truce was negotiated between the two groups. After several months of living undisturbed in Port Harcourt, Asari's calls for greater resource control and the rejection of the federal government finally led to his arrest in 2005. He is currently in prison on trial for treason and his release is a key demand of many militant groups. Despite accusing him of involvement in a string of kidnappings and bank robberies, the government continued to have links with Ateke for many months. "During his traditional marriage with his wife on January 15, 2005, the governor gave [Ateke] 15 million naira," said Ateke's nephew Akinaka Richard [5]. Richard also says that Abiye Samuel Sekibo, the former national transportation minister seen as Odili's political patron, has strong links with Ateke. Both men come from Okrika. Yet in 2006, Ateke fell from favor and was chased into hiding. His nephew and spokesperson, Richard, however, has declared that his uncle is unhappy with the gubernatorial candidates of Delta and Rivers states and if there is no acknowledgment over their complaints, it is possible the fighters will reband, although their numbers will probably be reduced.

FNDIC, Smaller Groups and the 2003 Elections in Delta State

The Federated Niger Delta Ijaw Communities (FNDIC) was originally an ethnic militia. It grew out of the conflict between the Gbaramatu and Egbema clans (part of the Ijaw, Nigeria's fourth largest ethnic group and the dominant tribe in the delta region) and the much smaller Itsekiri, which began in 1998 and culminated at the end of the 2003 elections, when hundreds died and thousands were displaced in a fight over the delineation of a local government boundary [6]. The fight began over communities competing for control over the headquarters of Warri South West Local Government and for the privilege of "host status" for an oil facility, which meant that they were given preferential treatment in development projects and jobs, among other benefits. It was fueled by local politicians who wanted control of the lucrative territory [7]. A heavy-handed government response opened up a third front in the fighting.

When the conflict (known locally as a war) ended, many of the fighters turned to bunkering (the theft of crude oil) and kidnapping. Senior members of FNDIC, such as former leader Bello Oboko, were co-opted into the state government to negotiate between oil companies, the government and their fighters. Many FNDIC members and their families also set up "security companies" to provide "protection" for oil majors. The organization has a formal, elected leadership, although it is often factionalized.

Bayelsa State

Bayelsa contains many armed groups organized around a strong local leader or a community such as Nembe or Brass. The smaller groups have recently begun to form alliances with larger groups, which are dissolved or shifted with great frequency. Since the state lacks a large community of expatriate oil workers, it has not seen the same level of violence as Delta or Rivers, although in 1999 government troops massacred scores of villagers at Odi after the murders of seven policemen. Frequent and indiscriminate reprisals by the military throughout the delta help win the militants tacit approval from villagers who could otherwise inform authorities of their activities.

According to various interviews, several militant fighters say that Bayelsa state is where the leadership of the largest and best organized militant group is based, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, which will be profiled in part two of this analysis.

The delta militants are eager to exploit publicity and frequently issue threats by e-mail. Some of the groups known through email include the Joint Revolutionary Council (through Cynthia Whyte), the Coalition for Militant Action in the Niger Delta (COMA) and the Martyr's Brigade. None have ever proved their existence through providing proof of hostage taking (such as photos) or pre-warning of attacks.

The Government


There is a fault line between Nigeria's federal government, which seeks to prevent militants from interfering with foreign oil workers and production, and state governments, which benefit from it in several different ways. Anyakwee Nsirimovu, the human rights lawyer, explained in a 2006 interview that state governments under investigation for corruption are able to shift attention onto hostages and get a reprieve by insisting that only state officials can handle negotiations. While Nsirmovu does not accuse state governments of actively encouraging hostage taking, officials ensure they benefit from the publicity by always bringing released hostages to the Government House for a photo opportunity with the governor.

State officials also pay ransoms from "security budgets" [8]. In Rivers state, the five billion naira fund is not accountable to any oversight. In at least one instance, government officials who had been given a 20 million naira ransom only showed up with four million, claiming that the balance had been stolen from their car. An angry argument ensued in front of the foreign hostage, and the officials later returned with more money [9]. One Rivers-based militant said that government officials typically take over half of the ransom [10].

The military is also compromised. Senior officials are correct when they say that the militants have faster, smaller boats and outmaneuver the navy in the swamps, which they know far better than enlisted men from outside the area (Terrorism Focus, October 17, 2006). Senior commanders and some politicians, however, also benefit from the militants' trade in stolen crude oil, which is transported through the mangroves in large, slow and unwieldy barges. Lastly, but most importantly, officials also benefit from the ability to call on organized and armed gangs to rig themselves into power during election time [11]. Brig. Gen. Samuel Salihu, the second-highest ranking officer in the Joint Task Force, has said that some of the armed groups are being protected by vested political interests [12].

Conclusion

The number and the background of the various militant groups in the delta underscore the difficulty in solving this problem. The militant groups in the delta are connected to the communities, in addition to the local and state governments. Unless both state and federal governments seriously tackle the problems of pollution, poverty, underdevelopment and corruption, low-level conflict in the delta will continue. Part two of this analysis will focus on the most prolific of the delta militant groups, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta.

* Part Two of this article will discuss the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).

Notes

1. The full declaration can be read at http://www.dawodu.net/kaiama.htm. The IYC, intended as a united forum for discussion and negotiation, was infiltrated by the government and subsequently wracked by infighting, according to former member and human rights lawyer Dimieari von Kemedi. In a March 28 phone interview, he said, "The lack of a credible forum...has helped the militias to come on strong."
2. Author interviews with Sara Igbe, former Rivers State official, in 2004 and 2006.
3. According to face-to-face author interviews with two cult leaders in 2006, cult groups are primarily urban gangs. Like the militants, they were originally formed to protest social injustice. Wole Soyinka founded the first one, the Pyrates, while attending university, to protest the brutalities of military rule. These days, they have spread far beyond the universities and have been taken over by criminal elements that use the gangs to sell drugs, rig elections, fight each other, among other activities. Unlike the NDPVF or MEND, once an individual joins a cult, they are in that cult for life, barring exceptional circumstances. All cults have secret initiation ceremonies, which include elements varying from theft to beatings to the murder of a member of your own family. Cults are rigidly hierarchical.
4. Author interview with Ateke Tom, 2006.
5. Author interview with Akinaka Richard, 2007.
6. Author interview with Patrick Naagbanton, a researcher on gangs and militants, 2007.
7. In the vacuum left by a corrupt government, oil companies are typically expected to be service providers throughout the delta. For an in-depth examination of government corruption, see the recent Human Rights Watch report, Chop Fine.
8. Author interview with Emmanuel Okah, Rivers State spokesman, 2006.
9. Author interview with an oil company employee, 2006.
10. Author interview, militant affiliated with Asari, 2006.
11. Author interview, gang leader, 2007.
12. Author interview, Samuel Salisu, second-highest ranking officer in the JTF, 2007.

What consensus, Prime Minister?

A bigger problem is the silence of those who occupy the intellectual space. Manmohan Singh has demeaned this class with his servile behaviour. I think I am part of this class, and I am ashamed to have Manmohanji as a member of this class.

Namaste.
Ashok Chowgule




Kanchan Gupta

The Pioneer / April 27, 2007

Even those who know him and admire his erudition would not disagree
with noted economist and former West Bengal Finance Minister Ashok
Mitra
being described as an unreconstructed Marxist with an acid tongue. In
fact, Mr Mitra revels in being rude — although he makes an exception
if
he takes a shine to you, which is a very big if — and unlike other
Bengali bhadralok Marxists believes bhadrata and Marxism do not go
hand-in-hand. Those who can recall his days as West Bengal's Finance
Minister — an office he held till he marched out of Mr Jyoti Basu's
Government after being bypassed on a rather petty issue — would also
remember his infamous outburst: "I am not a bhadralok, I am a
Communist."

It is, therefore, not surprising that in his autobiography, A
Prattler's
Tale, Mr Mitra should have dipped his pen in verjuice before putting
down his description of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on paper. Rather
overstating a facet of his personality, Mr Mitra writes, I am afraid
there is little scope for politeness here." But what follows is an apt
description of India's accidental Prime Minister: "His timidity is the
product of his civil servant's mind, which many mistake as humility."
As
if that were not scathing enough, he goes on to write about Mr Manmohan
Singh's "lamb-like devotion to the Nehru household".

The last bit, or for that matter his assertion that Mr Singh owes his
tenure as Finance Minister in PV Narasimha Rao's Government to the
Americans, who had presumably spotted a potential Prime Minister way
back in 1991 who could be manipulated to do their bidding, is not
really
germane to immediate concerns. What is of relevance is Mr Singh's
crafty
ability to exploit popular perceptions of his "humility", from which
stems his image as that of a well-meaning, guileless person, for
covering up obvious acts of omission and commission. Even when they
stare us in the face, many of us would respond with, "Oh, well, he
can't
be blamed for it. He's a nice chap." What lends credibility to this
hugely flawed perception is Mr Singh's pained look and the even more
painful, plaintive tone in which he speaks. It may be politically
incorrect to point this out, for it may be a genuine inadequacy, but
it's tempting to be irreverent towards a man who has begun to take the
country for granted.

Soon after the Congress was forced to get off the high horse it chose
to
ride despite the damning indictment of its senior leaders in Justice
Nanavati's report on the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom, Mr Singh stood up in
Parliament to apologise for his party's role in the slaughter of at
least 3,000 innocent men, women and children — Rajiv Gandhi responded
to
that massacre with remarkable cruelty, "When a big tree falls, the
earth
is bound to shake" — after Mrs Indira Gandhi's assassination. But
instead of speaking for the Congress and offering an abject apology to
the Sikhs and the nation, he slyly put the blame on the entire country
by claiming to speak "on behalf of the nation". What did the nation
have
to do with those killings for which the Congress's 'hand' shall forever
be tainted?

In more recent times, he has cunningly used an election rally in Uttar
Pradesh to inform us that Mr Rahul Gandhi is India's "future". Odious
as
the concept of dynasty may be, there is no reason to cavil, especially
if you are not particularly enamoured of the Congress, if those who
seek
inspiration from the Nehru-Gandhi family see Mr Rahul Gandhi as holding
the key to their future political well-being. Mr Singh and his other
fellow courtiers are welcome to believe that a callow politician who is
yet to set foot on most parts of India is their "future". But neither
he
nor those who genuflect everytime they pass 10, Janpath have the right
to insist that Mr Rahul Gandhi is the nation's future. In any event,
such assertions, wily or otherwise, do not become a man who occupies
the
office of Prime Minister, even if he is no more than a regent keeping
the masnad warm for the party's heir apparent.

A similar arrogation of the right to decide for more than a billion
people on an issue that touches the very core of Indian nationhood was
on display during Tuesday's 'Third Round Table Conference on Jammu &
Kashmir' presided over by the Prime Minister and attended by those who
would have no qualms about compromising India's national interest.
After
lengthy deliberations on the reports prepared by four of the five
working groups that were set up to find ways and means of pandering to
the separatists and their sponsors in Pakistan, Mr Singh, in his
concluding remarks, said, "I get the feeling there is a broad consensus
on the recommendations of the working groups." The Prime Minister's
feelings are entirely misplaced. The gathering around the 'Round Table'
do not represent national opinion; elected representatives of the
people
who sit in Parliament have not been consulted; and, the Hindus of Jammu
& Kashmir, whose concerns should have come first since they comprise
the
minority in that State, are aghast that the Union Government should be
seen to be abdicating both authority and responsibility.

The "consensus" that has been claimed by Mr Singh pertains to
recommendations that are not only dangerous but outright harmful for
India, both in terms of internal politics and external diplomacy. For
instance, Mr Mohammed Hamid Ansari, who adorns the National Minorities
Commission as its chairman and heads one of the working groups, has
called for the revocation of laws that are needed to combat terrorism
in
Jammu & Kashmir and which establish India's sovereign right to manage
the affairs of this State. These include the Armed Forces Special
Powers
Act and the Disturbed Areas Act. Mr Ansari believes that these laws
"impinge on fundamental rights of citizens and adversely affect the
public". He also wants amnesty for jailed militants and the Union
Government to begin an "unconditional dialogue process with militant
groups".

These and similar recommendations of three other working groups — the
fifth working group on Centre-State relations is yet to come up with
ideas about how to sever all linkages between New Delhi and Srinagar

obviously find favour with Mr Singh and, by extension, the household to
which his "lamb-like devotion" Mr Mitra witheringly refers to. It is
also abundantly clear that a Prime Minister who lacks the courage to
instruct his Cabinet colleagues on administrative issues is determined
to sweep aside the Army's objections and have security forces evicted
from orchards and premises mostly owned by Pandits living in exile in
their own country. It is of no consequence to him that once vacated,
these orchards and premises will be either taken over by those who will
later exercise squatter's rights or become the hideouts of foreign and
homegrown terrorists.

But all this is of consequence to the people of India and even within
the Congress, there would be many who would be reluctant to be a part
of
the "consensus" claimed by Mr Singh. It would be amusing to watch the
Prime Minister pretending prime ministerial overreach, had it not been
for the potential damage he is likely to inflict, unless restrained, on
the country's present and future

Will Scandinavian countries lead a Europian role in the Middle East ?

http://www.arabwashingtonian.org/
Dr. Salim Nazzal

In an interview with Zena Fayyad on the Anb Arab channel, Trad Hamada the Lebanese ex- minister, wondered aloud why Arabs always see Europe as comprising only Britain , France and Germany . Why don't Arabs try to engage with other European countries regarding Middle Eastern issues? Hamada is right. The traditional Arab political thinking about Europe often means Britain , France and Germany , if we naturally put aside the Soviet Union and Russia which was a blend of the east and west. However, this question may start a debate about the future Arab-European relationship, in light of current developments in the Middle East, especially in the triangle of crisis, Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon, and given the tension between the USA and Iran about the latter's nuclear program, which some assume may end in an American strike against Iran. These issues are, of course, in addition to the crises in Sudan and Somalia and most importantly in the question of the dialogue between the two worlds which is related to a greater or lesser extent with most of these crises.

Traditional Arab thinking about Europe is perhaps justified and colored by past historical events, when the vast majority of Arab countries were colonized by these two countries (except, of course, for Libya, which was colonized by Italy), in addition to their contemporary status as perhaps the most powerful nations in the European Union. They played a major role in shaping the political map of the modern Middle East, from the time of the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916 and the Balfour declaration of 1917, which established the base of the Zionist state, which has subsequently become and remains the major reason behind much of the instability in the Middle East .

The period which followed the British-French-Israeli tripartite attack on Egypt in 1956 witnessed an increase of American influence in the Middle East ... Apart from the few positive US regional strategies, such as the Americans' objection to the trio's aforementioned attack on Egypt and Bush Senior's forces liberation of Kuwait, most Arabs view the USA as hostile to their cause, especially in matters connected with Israel. In the view of most Arabs the USA has historically paid little attention to finding a just solution to the Palestinian conflict; indeed, instead of playing a constructive role befitting the prestige of America as a major power, its role has been as a hostage to the Zionist lobby groups which have tied the American role in the Middle East to their political agenda, a situation which has led in the end to damaging its image throughout the region.

The result is that American policy has been more or less a copy of Israeli policy, which has made even the moderate Arab countries skeptical of American regional strategy, which tends to portray all these conflicts in a generalized fashion, under the title of 'terror,' a word which this misuse has definitively emptied of its meaning. More importantly, the American view has, directly and indirectly, drawn links between Muslims and Islam generally, and terror and terrorism, which explains much of the current American hostility towards Muslims in America; the case of Dr Sami Al-Aryan, a Palestinian American who remains in prison, despite the court finding him not guilty of terror accusations, is an example of the Zionist lobby's powerful position in the USA, and, unfortunately, hardly an unusual one. Yet it seems that this 'they're all the same' mentality is nothing new to the American way of thinking. For example, during the war with Nazi Germany thousands of American Germans and American Japanese were treated badly, to the extent of being imprisoned in camps, something which did not happen in Europe .

The relationship between Arabs and Europe extends to early Islamic times. And despite its being characterized by many conflicts, Europeans' historically greater knowledge of Arabs and Islam could, in the view of some Arabs, be one of the reasons for more positive relations than the Middle East can currently hope for with the USA, which could help in finding solutions to several regional crises, and most importantly to the Palestinian problem, arguably the original and most pressing one. In the view of American neo-conservative Robert Kagan, the USA and Europe are exchanging roles; in the 19th century Europe represented the forces of colonialism, which America , fresh from its own revolution, opposed; today, Europe tends to more humanism in its foreign policy while the US is now the colonialist force.

Those Arabs who argue towards consolidating the relationship with Europe use the following argument.

Firstly, they see Europe's closer proximity to the Arab world as making Europeans more capable of understanding the Middle East and its people. Edward Said, for instance, wrote that, in one century alone, 60, 000 books were written about Islam, mostly in Europe . Those who argue in this direction give France as an example, citing the change that occurred when De Gaulle, after the Israeli invasion of 1967, imposed an embargo on selling Arabs to Israel .

Gaullist thinking about Europe was born during the Cold War period. Despite de Gaulle's belief in the possibility of an independent European policy, he was skeptical of Britain 's role in this, seeing the UK as an American Trojan horse. At the same time, he saw a possibility of reconciliation with Soviet Russia, in direct contradiction of American policy.

Even if De Gaulle failed in realizing his dream of a non-American Europe , it is possible to see his thinking nearly realized now in the EU. That argument also assumes that the non existence of a perceptible Zionist lobby is a positive factor towards a better European understanding of and relationship with Arab nations. In this view, the Zionists will always do their best to prevent a friendship between Arabs and the US . Those supporting this argument give an example of the recent Israeli objection towards providing American weapons to Saudi Arabia as concrete evidence of the influence of the Jewish lobby on US policy.

Another factor which some Arabs believe might help them in the relationship with Europe, is that the Israeli Labor party, which has largely ruled Israel since 1948, has begun to lose ground to right wing and religious parties, which has led to a gradual weakening of ties between largely secular Europe and Israel, while consolidating the relationship with the neo-conservatives and Christian Zionists in the US.

If we return to Hamada's question about the possibility of finding a more objective European position, it is perhaps possible to point to the Swedish position, which was the pioneering European position towards the Palestinian question. In 1983, Olaf Palme the then-Swedish prime minister was the first Western European leader to give ground to listen to Arafat. The recent Norwegian position in recognizing Palestinian national unity is another example of what other European nations can do. There are several reasons which qualify the Scandinavian countries to play a constructive role in the Arab Israeli conflict.The first reason Scandinavian countries has no colonial past and thusly no negative memories among Arabs towards them. The second reason is the absence of a Zionist lobby which can influence its politics.Third ,the relative neutral position of Scandinavia in world affairs.fourth, the strong humanitarian tradition of the Scandinavian countries and its role in providing aid to t third world countries. Five,the experience which these countries got the past 10 years in its involvement in the Palestine question,in particular after Oslo agreement in 1993. If the first question is, could Europe lead an independent policy towards the middle east , the second question must be, could smaller European countries, like Sweden and Norway, lead their larger neighbors towards assuming a more objective position on the Palestine conflict? The second question is perhaps the more difficult to answer, but at the same time it represents a position that other major European countries need to study, if Europe is seriously interested in finding a real resolution to the Palestinian Israeli conflict.

The author is a Palestinian Norwegian historian

Paternal heritage of Austro-Asiatic populations

Y-chromosome evidence suggests a common paternal heritage of Austro-Asiatic populations.

* Kumar V, * Reddy AN, * Babu JP, * Rao TN, * Langstieh BT, * Thangaraj K, * Reddy AG, * Singh L, * Reddy BM.

Molecular Anthropology Group, Biological Anthropology Unit, Indian Statistical Institute, Hubsiguda, Hyderabad, India.


BACKGROUND: The Austro-Asiatic linguistic family, which is considered to be the oldest of all the families in India, has a substantial presence in Southeast Asia. However, the possibility of any genetic link among the linguistic sub-families of the Indian Austro-Asiatics on the one hand and between the Indian and the Southeast Asian Austro-Asiatics on the other has not been explored till now. Therefore, to trace the origin and historic expansion of Austro-Asiatic groups of India, we analysed Y-chromosome SNP and STR data of the 1222 individuals from 25 Indian populations, covering all the three branches of Austro-Asiatic tribes, viz. Mundari,
Khasi-Khmuic and Mon-Khmer, along with the previously published data on 214 relevant populations from Asia and Oceania.

RESULTS: Our results suggest a strong paternal genetic link, not only among the subgroups of Indian Austro-Asiatic populations but also with those of Southeast Asia. However, maternal link based on mtDNA is not evident. The results also indicate that the haplogroup O-M95 had originated in the Indian Austro-Asiatic populations ~65,000 yrs BP (95% C.I.25,442-132,230) and their ancestors carried it further to Southeast Asia via the Northeast Indian corridor. Subsequently, in the process of expansion, the Mon-Khmer populations from Southeast Asia seem to have migrated and colonized Andaman and Nicobar Islands at a much later point of time.

CONCLUSION: Our findings are consistent with the linguistic evidence, which suggests that the linguistic ancestors of the Austro-Asiatic populations have originated in India and then migrated to Southeast Asia.


Comment by Dr.N S Rajaram : "Both the results and the methodology seem to be quite weak. Nothing earthshaking since we already knwo that India and Southeast Asia are close in climate, flora and fuana and human imprint. Linguistics has nothing to do with it."

India : Strategic projects need leaders, not crabs

By Bharat Karnad

K. Santhanam, a retired senior Defence Research and Development Organisation functionary and former director of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, is quoted by a news agency report on the test-firing of the Agni-III intermediate range ballistic missile as saying that developing a follow-on intercontinental-range ballistic missile is inadvisable because it "would unnecessarily affect ties"
with the United States and endanger the nuclear deal, that the country "should be satisfied with being a "leading regional power," and that, in any case, "even in its wildest dreams, India does not plan to be a global superpower."

That India is not about to become a "global superpower" in a hurry, is true. But is that reason enough to deny this country the building block capabilities of great power � proven and reliable advanced thermonuclear weaponry (which the nuclear deal seeks to prevent this country from acquiring by prohibiting further testing) and long range missiles? With such views animating the Indian government's outlook
and policy, it is no surprise that official strategic thinking finds itself wrong-footed on important foreign-military issues and on the wrong side of vital national interests. And this, mind you, at a time when the nuclear deal is dead and awaits only a formal burial; and the ICBM, as the normally cautious DRDO chief, G. Natarajan, has ventured, is the next natural missile threshold for India to cross.

Had Santhanam questioned the ability of the Agni programme to deliver an ICBM on time and without cost over-runs, he would be on stronger ground. But the various ills afflicting the country's strategic programmes are attributable, in the main, to the lack of quality leadership. Absent strong and visionary leaders able, on the one hand, to motivate the staff and propel the project forward and, on the other
hand, authorised to mobilise all available national resources cutting across government departments and private industry, to stay the dead hand of bureaucratic functioning, and expeditiously to resolve intra- and inter-agency tussles, these programmes have floundered. Indeed, after Dr Homi J. Bhabha, who spearheaded the dual purpose nuclear programme and achieved weapons capability by 1964, i.e., within 17 years of starting from a zero baseline, the country has had no czar to oversee the development of strategic technologies or comparable successes. As a result, the landscape is littered with technology development programmes that have produced little except tension between the DRDO and the military.

Two strategic programmes in particular dealing with the nuclear-powered submarine and the 5,000 km Agni-IV and the Surya ICBM, should be fast-tracked, put under Bhabha-type dispensations with czars being appointed and made accountable for delivery of the finished products within set time-frames � the target dates for the submarine to go to sea-trials should be 2009-2010; and the Agni-IV ought to be
test-fired by 2008-2009 and an ICBM by 2012 on the outside. It is a historic "what if" question, but what if Jawaharlal Nehru had not intuitively made the correct selection in the scientifically and administratively-gifted Bhabha? The chances are Nehru's ambitious "Janus-faced" nuclear programme would have spluttered interminably as many other projects have done since. So, the selection of the right persons as czars of the two programmes is imperative.

As a matter of fact, the Manmohan Singh government in its early days in 2004 had the right idea of spinning off the long range Agni missiles programme from the DRDO and choosing R.N. Agarwal, who had lost out in the race for the post of science adviser to defence minister and DRDO chief, to head this new organisation. Dr Agarwal,
the most accomplished missile-man after Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, had led the Advanced Systems Laboratory, Hyderabad, with great success. ASL, tasked with designing, developing and producing, on a hand-tooled basis, a variety of Agni long range missile prototypes for test launches, and with firming up the missile technology platform for Bharat Dynamic Ltd to use in serial manufacture, is one of the few
unvarnished DRDO success stories. During Agarwal's tenure, ASL developed and incorporated into the Agni-III innovative design features not found in missiles in service with many advanced nations.

Like the flexible rocket nozzle and the technology to enable the Agni, in its terminal phase, to pull endo-atmospheric manoeuvres, making it all but impossible for radar to track it, leave alone allow a ballistic missile defence system to interdict it. But the then defence minister, Pranab Mukherjee, backed out owing to in-house DRDO opposition to giving the Agni programme autonomy and Dr Agarwal
overarching co ntrol of it. It was the same old "crabs in the basket" story wherein, owing to envy, jealousy or plain cussedness, natural leaders in Indian organisations are pulled down by their peers. But it is now time to revive the concept of a completely independent long range Agni Missiles Programme (AMP) directly under the defence minister and, in its initial phase, to get Dr Agarwal to head it.

The Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV) programme � a ridiculous moniker for the nuclear-powered submarine project � has been in the doldrums for much of its existence. Significantly, it experienced a surge during the years that Vice-Admiral R. Ganesh headed it. Admiral Ganesh, captained the INS Chakra � the Charlie-class submersible leased from the Soviet Union in the mid-1980s and, damagingly for the
genuinely st rategic aspirations of the Navy, returned to Moscow after only five years, when the whole system was available to be absorbed by India at a throwaway price. It was a most short-sighted move by the Indian government and led to the loss for nearly a generation of hands-on nuclear submarine handling skills. The point to make is that this project has suffered hugely owing to non-submariners being
pitch-forked into leading it. Predictably, they used their positions mostly for socialising and personal public relations, because lack of familiarity with the platform and relevant technology is a liability they could not surmount. Non-experts at the helm meant no technical direction and oversight from the top. The urgent need is, therefore, for a stalwart submariner to take charge. Scanning the Navy rolls,
there is no better fit for this post than Vice-Admiral A.K. Singh, presently Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command, retiring April-end.

Among the last of the serving officers to crew the Chakra, Admiral Singh has spent the bulk of his service career in submarines and ashore in various capacities in the submarine establishment in Vishakhapatnam and as Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff (Submarines) at the Naval Headquarters. Trained in the Soviet Union, familiar with
the nuances of Russian submarine technology and standard operating procedures, fluent in the Russian language and with vast experience of dealing with the Russian naval establishment, he will be a priceless asset in enhancing cooperation with Russia on this project, which is critical to its success. Reportedly, he is on the Navy's short-list. But it remains to be seen whether his candidature will be pushed hard by the Navy and whether the Indian government will show the wisdom in
installing him at the top of inarguably the most decisive underway strategic programme. The ATV project promises thermonuclear-tipped ballistic missiles fired from a nuclear-powered submarine � the most invulnerable, survivable, and lethal leg of the retaliatory triad in the national nuclear deterrent.

With the no-nonsense and performance-oriented Dr Agarwal and Admiral Singh heading the Agni Missiles Programme and the ATV project respectively, a vertically-launched 250-300 kiloton thermonuclear warheaded IRBM for the indigenous nuclear-powered submarine can be concurrently and collaboratively developed by these two units and
readied for service in double-quick time. This is eminently realisable, as are many other equally challenging technology programmes, but only if the right kind of organisations are configured and the right sort of persons put in charge of them. And, if those in policy circles who entertain small ambitions for India are kept at bay.

Bharat Karnad is Professor at the Centre for Policy Research and author of Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security, now in its second edition