July 21, 2007

Geostrategic and Geopolitical importance of Afghanistan

Afghan Myths
An Interview with Anssi Kullberg

By: Sam Vaknin, Ph.D.


"Afghanistan is not so significant in itself, if we only consider economic interests. Of more importance are some countries situated near Afghanistan, especially those in Central Asia and Azerbaijan. Afghanistan is also a traditional buffer zone, since its landscape is hard to penetrate for tanks and modern armies. It has prevented the expansion of the Eurasian Heartland Empire towards Eurasia's southern rim lands for centuries. It has protected the areas included in Pakistan and India today, but on the other hand, turning Afghanistan into a politically or militarily active area was used to destabilize Pakistan, or Central Asia, in order to alter the status quo, whatever it was.

Regarding oil, Afghanistan again forms a bridge or a barrier. As long as Iran is regarded as a hostile country by the US, Afghanistan forms an oil transport route from Central Asia to Pakistan. As long as there is war in Afghanistan, it remains a barrier preventing the countries of the Caspian Sea from benefiting from their oil. Wars in the Caucasus have exactly the same outcome. While this is the case, only Russia and perhaps China will have access to and hegemony over the energy resources in the vast Eurasian heart-land.

I think this is the main geopolitical importance of both Afghanistan and the Caucasus. It is the question of Russia monopolizing the geopolitical heartland, first and foremost. Considering the colossal weight of geopolitics and geopolitical thought in present Russian security thinking, these implications cannot be overestimated. "

BHUTAN: Right Time to Work out a Durable Solution

BHUTAN: Right Time to Work out a Durable Solution: Update No. 65

By Dr. S.Chandrasekharan.
Source: SAAAG

It is seen that more and more refugees are being persuaded not to accept third country settlement but to agitate for their return to Bhutan. The hardliners appear to be gaining ground and the moderate voices are being threatened and silenced. It is therefore necessary to review the present situation and make an appeal to the hardliners not to lose the present opportunity to find a durable solution for the crisis that has been lingering on for the past sixteen years.

The agitation by the refugee outfits to march to Bhutan through the Mechi bridge has been suspended for another month in view of the Presidential elections in India and India’s promise that it is working on a solution. The real reason for postponement of the agitation is based on the hope that now India is involved, an equitable solution can be found and that there is no need in continuing with the agitation at this point of time.

The agitation is spearheaded by a loose coalition that went by the name “ National Front for Democracy” ( NFD) that was supported by the Maoist Group, one faction of the Bhutan People’s Party (BPP), one faction of Bhutan Gorkha Liberation Front ( BGLF), one faction of Druk National Congress (DNC) and also by other radical outfits like Bhutan Tiger Force ( BTF).

For the first time, a large number of factions who have had nothing in common so far and whose objectives are as varied from return to homeland, establishment of democracy in Bhutan, to people’s war, have decided to wait and see India’s moves on the refugee question.

This is therefore the right time to make quick moves towards a durable solution that would satisfy a majority of the refugees. There is also an urgency to this issue as the western countries who have offered to take the bulk of the refugees will not wait indefinitely when they have already made preliminary moves for settlement in third countries.

In this connection some points need to be reiterated-

1. The moderate factions in the refugee camps have lost out already and their call for reconciliation with the Bhutan Government has been rejected.
2. There is no way physical verification for the purpose of categorisation under four headings is possible in the camps and unruly elements with support from outside will not let any physical verification in the remaining five camps.
3. Any durable solution should find a way out for Bhutan to manage its ethnic population. A figure of 25 percent of non Druk population is being unofficially projected ( i.e. status quo) as manageable, but certainly with some understanding and sympathy a larger percentage should be acceptable.
4. Opposition to third country settlement is increasing despite assurances from US Ambassador who visited the camps as well as the efforts of certain well meaning NGOs. A sample survey indicated that a large section of ‘Matwalis” are not keen to go to any western country for settlement.
5. It is also said that Bhutan could be persuaded to review its position and take some of those refugees who have come from Chirang and Dagapala and who are perhaps not so politicised as the ones from Samchi.
6. Way back in 1989, Bhutan did publish a white paper that said that it had only about 17000 non Bhutanese and that this also happened because of cross marriages besides some labour who stayed beyond the stipulated period.
7. Over 80 percent of the refugees in the camps hold citizenship cards and this fact cannot be wished away
8. We have time and again pointed out that 1958 should be the ‘cut off ‘ year for identifying Bhutanese from the non Bhutanese. The year of 1958 as the cutoff for citizenship eligibility has also been indirectly accepted in the new constitution.
9. Most of the refugees who prefer to go for third country settlement are also keen to keep their option of ‘right to return’, though it is very unlikely that they would do.
10. It is still not too late to classify the refugees on the basis of records available with the Bhutan Government with1958 being made the cutoff year. If ethnic management is the problem, then let the Bhutanese authorities choose and make the classification to I, II and III ( category IV is non Bhutanese who do not figure in this issue). It will then be easier for the countries who have offered to take the refugees to choose from categories II & III. Category I may not be acceptable and from the other two, they would prefer category II and perhaps a selected few from category III.

11. It will be hard for the refugees from category II who signed the forms pertaining to voluntary renunciation of citizenship under coercion ( Bhutan may not admit it) - but at least they can look forward to a new beginning in their life and it is almost certain that by their hard work and dedication will not only prosper but in course of time support financially others back home.

As said before, this is an opportunity to arrive at a durable and satisfactory solution for all the stake holders in the refugee crisis in Bhutan. This will also help in eliminating a potential build up for an insurgency in southern Bhutan. India by its involvement would have redeemed itself for all its past deliberate indifference and Bhutan could also look forward to an ‘irritant free’ future while moving into a democratic mode with elections scheduled in 2008.

INDIA-CHINA-MYANMAR RELATIONS

Source: SAAG

[A presentation made by the author at an Interaction on “Emerging India-China-Myanmar Relations”, jointly organised by the Chennai Centre For China Studies (www.c3sindia.org) and the Department of International Relations of Stella Maris College, Chennai, at the college on July 19, 2007]

By Col R Hariharan (Retd.)

Since the World War II, Myanmar better known the world over as Burma, had never attracted so much international attention as now. Actually, there are reasons both global and local for this development. The rise of China as a major global economic power and the unlocking of India’s potential to grow as yet another global economic power are redefining international relationships in South and Southeast Asia. Myanmar is now viewed as a critical area of interest to China and India. It is of special interest to the U.S. which would like to check the over riding influence of China in this region while cruising on its journey to the status of a contending global power.

While China has developed close political, military and economic relations with Myanmar, India is in the process of following suite. A study of India-Myanmar and Sino-Myanmar relations offer some interesting aspects of how they are adopting the geo-strategic setting and political environment of the region to their advantage.

Geo-strategic reality

Myanmar shares common borders with five countries: Bangladesh 193 km, China 2,185 km, India 1,463 km, Laos 235 km, and Thailand 1,800 km. India dominates Myanmar’s western borders, just as China dominates its northeastern borders. Thailand borders the entire eastern part of Myanmar except for narrow strip that borders Laos. Thailand. And this makes Myanmar a strategic land bridge linking South, and Southeast Asia.

As a littoral of the Indian Ocean, Myanmar’s strategic value further increases. Its 1930 km long coastline dominates the eastern arch of the Bay of Bengal, leaning on to the Malacca Strait. Thus Myanmar provides China the shortest land and sea access to South Asia, just as it provides convenient external land and sea communication options to India’s landlocked northeastern states. Myanmar’s ocean boundaries are barely 30 km from the Andaman Islands increasing its maritime security potentia.

Both sides of the regions bordering Myanmar are mostly populated by ethnic communities with their own distinct ethnic, religious and linguistic identities from the rest of the countries. However, the majority Burmese population, who are Buddhists, lives in the fertile and more developed southern Myanmar with easier access from China. Thus the northern tribal regions of Myanmar have suffered neglect and remain under developed. This has given rise to a sense of alienation among ethnic tribes, many of who had waged relentless wars for their independence. Notable among them are the Nagas, Kachins and Chins bordering India, Arakanese bordering Bangladesh, Lisus, Kachins and Shans bordering China, and the Shans and Karens bordering Thailand. Thus ethnic militancy has always affected Mynamar’s democratic governance, destabilising the country.

Most of Myanmar’s mountain ranges and major river systems run north-south. This makes construction of road communication and movement from India’s east to Myanmar against the grain of the country difficult. At the same time it facilitates easier movement from the Chinese border in the northeast, and provides for natural flow of traffic. The Chinese have used this favourable terrain configuration to build road from the Chinese border to Mandalay in the heart of Myanmar and onward to the coast. As Myanmar provides the shortest access from mainland China to India’s eastern borders these developments have special strategic significance.

India’s northeastern states bordering Myanmar are not as well developed as Yunnan province of China bordering Myanmar in the northeast. China has found it useful to link the development of Yunnan region jointly with Myanmar and Laos. Thus the two-way border trade and commerce is qualitatively and quantitatively better with China than with India.


India-Myanmar relations

India-Myanmar relations have a long history of substantive political, cultural, religious and social interaction. During the British colonial period Myanmar was administered as a part of British India till 1935. Till the end of the Second World War, Indian traders, professionals and administrators had followed the British to work in Myanmar. The Indian freedom movement inspired the freedom struggle in Myanmar. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Aung San, who spearheaded the freedom struggle, had built close personal relationship between them.

After Burma became independent in 1948, the fledgling democracy led by Prime Minister U Nu sought the advice and counsel of Pandit Nehru on more than one occasion. They built a close rapport and the two countries benefited from this relationship. However, Burma’s democratic experience from 1948 to 62 was never a success. Political rivalry, factionalism, and corruption coupled with the ever growing ethnic and communist insurgencies made democratic rule ineffective. However, found ret , t for the first decade and a half when democracy struggled to articulate itself, the Burma-India relationship drifted apart.
Gen Ne Win, the Burmese army chief, who seized power and ruled the country from 1962 to 88, was essentially a xenophobic leader. In the words of JN Dixit, India’s former Foreign Secretary, Ne Win’s rule was characterised by “correct but not close relations” between India and Burma. However, India’s reservations about the Myanmar military regime’s violent suppression of the peoples’ movement for democracy from 1988 onwards and the incarceration of Aung San Suu Kyi soured the relationship between 1989 and 1992. India also provided sanctuary and financial assistance to fleeing pro-democracy activists.
In a marked departure from the past, India’s Myanmar policy had been undergoing a radical change since 1992. The new policy focused purely on India’s strategic and economic considerations based on pragmatic grounds. Myanmar bordered India’s sensitive northeastern states. Myanmar’s northern borders abutting China also constituted a tri junction of India’s eastern border. It forms a strategic bridge between South Asia and South East Asia making it a vital area of influence for India’s security. There had been a phenomenal growth in Chinese influence in Myanmar particularly after the western nations slapped a ban on sale of arms to Myanmar in 1989. This was a matter of serious concern as it brought the threat from Chinese mainland nearer home to the northeast. Moreover, Myanmar’s support was considered essential for curbing drug traffic, and Myanmar based insurgency threats to India’s northeast.

Since then the successive Indian Government, have embarked upon building a broad based relationship with Myanmar touching upon defence, trade and commerce, energy sector, and developmental assistance and confidence building with the top level. While Myanmar welcomed India’s interest and expressed its readiness to cooperate with India on strategic issues and in increasing economic and technological cooperation in all spheres, the regime cautioned against Indian interference in its internal affairs relating to release of Aung San Suu Kyi and restoration of democracy. The military junta reacted adversely when India conferred the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding Aung San Suu Kyi in 1995. Though this clouded the relationship for a while, it Y made . This further e military regime became suspicious of India ganging up with the West against the regime. As a result India has jettisoned its support for the democratic movement in Myanmar. It has progressively withdrawn the succour provided to the Myanmar leaders who had taken refuge in India.

India’s policy considerations


After liberalisation of Indian economy from 1992 onwards, India started looking at the lucrative markets of ASEAN region as part of the ‘Look East Policy’. Following the admission of Myanmar as a member of the ASEAN in 1996 its importance in furthering India’s trade with ASEAN increased.
Development of the seven Northeastern states has remained stagnant resulting in the alienation of sections of society and encouraging the growth of insurgency. Development of land and sea links for through Myanmar could end their isolation and wean them away from insurgency. Some of the insurgent groups like the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) and the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) operate from sanctuaries in Myanmar. Better relations and coordination with the regime in Myanmar could put an end to the operation of such insurgencies.
Myanmar’s abundant reserves of natural gas waiting to be exploited, could help India in meeting its ever increasing demand for energy resources as the economy keeps growing at a fast pace

Growth of India-Myanmar relations


In keeping with these considerations, India has been focusing on giving substance to India-Myanmar relationship with specific actions. There have been a number of high level visits between the leaders of the two countries. Sr Gen Than Shwe, Myanmar’s head of state, visited India in October 2004. President APJ Abdul Kalam visited Yangon in March 2006. Visits of ministers and chiefs of armed forces from both countries have also taken place. There had been regular meetings at the ministerial level to monitor the progress of various projects involving India in Myanmar.
To improve connectivity with Myanmar, India has taken up a number of road and port construction projects. India has constructed the 160-km Tamu-Kalewa-Kalemyo road in Myanmar from Manipur border. It is also assisting in the proposed trilateral highway project to connect Moreh in Manipur to Mae Sot in Thailand via Bagan in Myanmar. India’s Kaladan multi-modal transit transport facility is aimed at improving linkage between Indian ports on the eastern seaboard and Sittwe port in Myanmar. This would enable transportation by river transport and road to Mizoram providing an alternate route for transport of goods to northeast India. A proposal to build a rail link from Jiribaum in Assam to Hanoi in Vietnam through Myanmar is also on the cards.

India is slowly becoming a regular supplier of arms to Myanmar, joining the ranks of China, Russia and Ukraine. Initially, India had supplied low tech arms and armaments, including 105 mm guns, T-55 tanks, light helicopters, transport planes, artillery ammunition and some naval craft. However, there had been a progressive up gradation of these exports. All the three chiefs of India’s armed forces have visited Myanmar for building better rapport. India’s latest defence aid package includes counterinsurgency helicopters, avionics upgrades for Myanmar air force’s Russian and Chinese-made fighter planes, and naval surveillance aircraft.

India’s trade with Myanmar is growing at a fast clip. It is fourth largest trading partner with its investment reaching $35.08 million last year. In 2006-2007, India-Myanmar trade was estimated at $ 650 million falling short of the target of $ one billion. (In 2004-2005, China-Myanmar trade was $1.145 billion as against India’s figure of $ 341.40 million in 2004-05.) India is taking steps such as extending airlines, land and sea routes to strengthen trade links with Myanmar. It is also cooperating with Myanmar in areas like agriculture, telecommunications, and oil and gas sectors etc.

India’s policy of building closer relations with the military regime in Myanmar has drawn flak both at home and abroad. This was considered a betrayal of India’s ethos. During a recent visit to Myanmar on January 19, 2007, India’s External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee made clear the country’s “hands off” policy on the struggle for restoration of democracy going on in Myanmar. He said that India had to deal with governments “as they exist ... We are not interested in exporting our own ideology. We are a democracy and we would like democracy to flourish everywhere. But this is for every country to decide for itself.”

Chinese influence


China-Myanmar relations have a long history. Modern Myanmar’s relations with China can be divided conveniently into four periods: 1949-1961 democratic rule, 1962-1988 Ne Win rule, and 1989-to date: Than Shwe rule.
In the period of democratic rule, the emerging China found a friendly regime in Burma under Prime Minister U Nu. Independent Burma was one of the first countries to recognise the Peoples Republic of China in December 1949. The two countries signed the first trade agreement in 1954 and a boundary treaty in 1960. However, China’s preoccupation with its own consolidation and growth restricted the relationship. Yet in1961 armies of both countries launched joint operations to evict Kuomintang troops from parts of Shan state in Myanmar.
After Ne Win seized power in 1962, the relations between the two countries took a nosedive and the cadres of Communist Party of Burma (CPB) sought refuge in China. For the next six years, Sino-Myanmar relations had troubled times with periodic persecution of ethnic Chinese and anti-Chinese riots in Myanmar. Between 1968 and 1973 Chinese gave full support to the CPB insurgents to fight the military junta successfully. The Chinese also provided similar aid to Kachin, Shan rebels and Naga militants during this period. The CPB organised a number of insurgent groups to operate jointly against the military regime. However, Ne Win’s China visit in 1975 somewhat eased the relations. It warmed up in 1979 when China signed a $ 63 million aid agreement for various projects in Myanmar.
The year 1988 was a turbulent period both in China with the Tian An Mien square agitation and the 8888 Movement of students in Myanmar. Perhaps this generated some kindred spirit in the regimes in both the countries. China utilized the opportunity offered by the international isolation of Myanmar after the military regime crushed the people’s upsurge in 1988. In 1989, China formally advised CPB to retire in keeping with its revised policy to stop assisting insurgents of other countries. This crucial decision helped the military junta to end the Communist insurgency and cripple Kachin and Shan insurgencies to a large extent.
Since then China has stepped its influence through economic, military and development assistance. China has been providing military hardware to Myanmar to overcome international sanctions and help Tatmadaw to grow in strength.. Till recently almost 80 per cent of Myanmar’s defence equipment was of Chinese origin. China has considerable economic influence in a number of fields, including supply of electricity and trade and commerce.

The grateful military junta has now raised China to the status of ‘Elder Brother’. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, had summed up China’s Myanmar policy in these words: “China supports Myanmar’s efforts in maintaining national stability, promoting reconciliation among ethnic groups and expanding foreign relations.”

Chinese illegal migration into in the under populated northern areas of Myanmar had been an unreported process for sometime now. According to one report 30 percent of Mandalay’s population was of Chinese immigrants. Unlike ethnic Indian community, which had been languishing as second class citizens under Myanmar citizenship laws, China has managed the absorption of ethnic Chinese as citizens of Myanmar.

China's strategic objective appears to be to gain direct access to Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea through Myanmar bypassing the narrow Strait of Malacca. With this aim in view China had been underwriting the development roads from northern borders to south. China has proved time and again itself as a valuable ally of the internationally whenever efforts were made in the UN Security Council to discuss Myanmar.

In fact, China is perhaps the single most important power with influence over the military regime. In the ten year lead time it had, China has established close military cooperation with Myanmar. It also has established four electronic listening posts in Myanmar to monitor Indian and Thai communication traffic

This implies that as long as the military regime in power China will continue to have an overriding influence in Myanmar regardless of India’s efforts to build a win-win relationship. In other words, as long as India and China have a peaceful and constructive relationship, India-Myanmar relations will flourish in the present political dispensation.

Understanding the military regime

Traditionally and qualitatively the Tatmadaw differs from the armies of South Asian countries which started as instruments of British colonial power. However, in Burma, the British used the more dependable Indian Army for security and did not create a large Burmese army. On the outbreak of the World War a group of nationalist leaders under Aung San known as the ‘Thirty Comrades’ raised the Burma Independence Army. The BIA spearheaded Myanmar’s freedom struggle first against the British in collaboration with the Japanese invaders and later against the Japanese in support of the Allied armies. The Thirty Comrades had been deciding the political destiny of Burma. The first Prime Minister U Nu, and Gen Ne Win, the Army Chief were all members of this elite group of 30.

The Burmese society’s exposure to western values had been limited even during the British colonial period. Thus western concept of democracy did not take root in Burma.. So after Myanmar became free in 1948, for next 14 years the multi party democracy in action was disastrous. When the democratic experiment miserably failed, in 1962 the army under Gen Ne Win took upon itself to provide ‘stability and security’ to the country. Even after the exit of Ne Win in 1988, the military regime has managed to hold on to power. Twenty six years of Ne Win’s rule has resulted in state ownership of all enterprises, with the armed forces having a strangle hold on everyday life of the people. Rudimentary democracy introduced under the tutelage of the Tatmadaw was a single party rule that was a handmaiden of the military masters.

Thus the Tatmadaw feels it has a legitimate role in ensuring stability and security in the country, if necessary outside the control of political masters. This feeling of the armed forces seeking a perpetual role in power is the main road block in evolving a democratic constitution. There is close integration of military commanders in local development council activities. Most of the public sector undertakings are headed by military officers. This has built a vested interest in the armed forces to stay in power in any scheme of governance.
The Tatmadaw, is Southeast Asia’s second largest conventional force, estimated at over 400,000 troops. It has more than doubled in size since the SPDC took power in 1989. It has around 340 infantry battalions(Tat Yin) including 266 light infantry battalions employed in counter insurgency operations. Myanmar tank fleet comprises of 139 Soviet-designed T 72Ss and around 600 Chinese built main battle tanks of different models. The Tatmadaw is considered an effective force in combating insurgency as evident from its ability to successfully handle nearly 45 insurgent groups during the last three decades. However, it is considered as having little experience in conducting conventional operations.
The Air Force (Tatmadaw Lei) has about 64 fighter/ interceptors (F7 and MIG 29) and 64 fighter/ground attack aircraft (J6 and A5) apart from 33 aircraft for counter insurgency operations. The Air Force has very limited transport lift capability.
The Navy (Tatmadaw Yay) has one frigate and three corvettes, 26 fast attack craft (FAC) including 10 FAC armed with missile,s and 10 submarine chasers. Ending its isolation for the first time ever, Myanmar built missile corvette UMS Anawyahta participated in Milan 2006 exercise off Andamans along with Indian Navy in January 2006.
The Tatmadaw will always remain a dominant factor in running the country regardless of the type of rule. This is somewhat similar to the role often assumed by armies in deciding the fate of the nation in countries like Pakistan and Indonesia. So at present any dispensation to restore democracy will have to involve the concurrence if not cooperation of the Tatmadaw.
Conclusion
Myanmar has a great deal of strategic significance for both India and China. Over the last two decades the Chinese have built very close economic, political, military and developmental relations with Myanmar. Myanmar’s role in providing China a shorter access route to Indian Ocean and South Asia is going to be crucial in the strategic scene of South Asia. The Chinese have used the geophysical advantage they enjoy to gain access to Myanmar’s mineral and natural gas resources. Following a policy of non-interference in internal affairs of the country, China has become the main supplier of arms to Myanmar. This has enabled the military junta in power to beat the western sanctions and double the army strength. It has also enabled the junta to suppress the struggle for democracy going on under the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi since 1990. .

India has embarked on a policy of building closer relations with Myanmar to counter the Chinese influence and facilitate the growth of trade and commerce with ASEAN as part of its look east policy. It is financing road and port development projects in Myanmar which would improve connectivity of India’s north eastern states and help their development. India has also been selectively arming Myanmar despite the military regime’s dismal record in human rights and governance. With a friendly regime in Myanmar, India hopes to evict Indian insurgent groups from sanctuaries in Myanmar. The military regime has welcomed these efforts to broaden its relationship with India and ASEAN countries in the interest of its own strategic security.

India’s current Myanmar policy appears to be largely copying the methods adopted by the Chinese. However, India as the largest functional democracy has a larger role to play in encouraging the restoration of democracy in Myanmar. Considering this, India’s relationship should aim at building better economic and developmental relations with the military regime while exploring all avenues to help the military regime and the democratic forces evolve a viable solution to build a democratic society. Sacrificing India’s fraternal relations with Myanmar’s democratic forces by itself is unlikely to increase India’s influence as the military regime is using the competing interests of India and China to its own advantage.

Apart from the lead it has gained in Myanmar, internationally China has greater economic, political, and military clout than India in helping out the military regime. Given this advantage, India is unlikely to replace China’s position as the most influential country in Myanmar under the military regime.

In the absence of Aung San Kyi’s leadership, the struggle for democracy in Myanmar has become immobile. Understanding this, the military regime is unlikely to release Aung San Suu Kyi unless it gains a face saving role for the Tatmadaw in any future democratic set up.

The military regime has been able to weather international sanctions for nearly 20 years. However, as Myanmar’s ties with India and ASEAN countries grow and economic liberalisation touches the younger generation of military officers, we can expect a desire for change among armed forces. Similarly, the student movement holds the potential to take over a leadership role for political rapprochement with the military regime. When these developments come through perhaps there is a scope for evolving a democratic society though different from the western concepts but meeting Myanmar’s needs. India and China are indispensable in enabling this process that could stabilize the society in their strategic neighbourhood. Thus in the interest of India’s strategic security, helping the creation of a stable and democratic regime in Myanmar should be India’s long term policy rather than mere economic goals.


(Col R Hariharan , retired Military Intelligence officer, was a MI specialist on Myanmar. E-mail: colhari@yahoo.com)

Georgia: Saakashvili’s Risky Stand

Transitions Online TOL.CZ
20 July 2007

Tbilisi’s commitment to its Western allies, including its own troop “surge” in Iraq, is only one reason why the country deserves close support.

Back in the days of chest-thumping bravado before the invasion of Iraq, they were the brunt of jokes and ready prey for editorial cartoonists. A company of Romanians here, a platoon of Czechs there. This was the “New Europe,” willing to stand behind (yes, behind) the American military behemoth all the way to Baghdad.

Circumstances are far different in the summer of 2007. The jokes have stopped. The United States needs all the allies it can muster. Gone are the heady days of 2003, when soldiers from former Warsaw Pact states joined the British and American alliance. Pressure is growing in even the most stalwart of these countries to get troops out of what has become a quagmire of human tragedy and destruction.

There are exceptions, leaders who are sticking by the Americans at a time when even some nervous politicians in George W. Bush’s own Republican Party are saying it’s time to withdraw. These countries deserve support not just from the United States, but also from NATO and the European Union, for the exceptional courage of their armies and as a reward for their own steps to democracy.

Take Georgia, for one. After announcing earlier this year that it would more than double the 850 troops it has in Iraq, it is now sending forces to help stem alleged cross-border arms shipments from Iran. According to the U.S. government, some 11,500 non-American troops from 25 nations are serving in Iraq. Georgia will soon have one of the largest forces behind the shrinking British presence.

But around Iraq today – from the killing fields of Baghdad to lawless provinces – there are Albanians, Bosnians, Bulgarians, Czechs, Kazakhs, Macedonians, Moldovans, Mongolians, Poles, Romanians, Slovaks, and contingents from the Baltic states. Collectively, they provide security, defuse bombs, train Iraqi soldiers, give medical assistance, and support their Anglo-American comrades. Even Armenia and Azerbaijan, whose soldiers take potshots at one another over their disputed border, have been serving in Iraq.

It is difficult to underestimate the dangers faced by these soldiers, even if most of this alliance is serving in support roles rather than in front-line combat situations like their American and Iraqi counterparts.

NO PARADISE

This is no holiday in Babylon. Isolation and the constant state of alert for months at a time cause physical and mental exhaustion even for the most hardened veterans. The Georgians, like some of the other alliance members, also are at a disadvantage when it comes to equipment. They often use lightly armoured vehicles that stand little chance against bombs and armour-piercing ammunition, and they lack the increasingly sophisticated body armour that American troops get. On the dusty streets of Baghdad’s international quarter, or “Green Zone,” compare the kit of the two and there is a noticeable difference in quality.

Georgia may have reasons to take this risk. President Mikheil Saakashvili is keen on getting his country into NATO and is avowedly pro-European and pro-Atlanticist. The European flag flutters next to the red-and-white Georgian standard at state buildings, schools, and other public places. Many younger Georgians embody the Rose Revolution that brought Saakashvili to power, preferring English to the Russian of older generations. These ties are even more important given the country’s isolation from neighboring Russia. While this has caused bumps for the Georgian economy, as Vasili Rukhadze reported this week on Transitions Online [“Grape Expectations”], it has also made the Georgians more committed to the West, more innovative, and more aggressive in marketing the country.

Saakashvili thus far has avoided any domestic political damage for his outward support of the United States in Iraq. There is no evident groundswell of opposition, even though several Georgian troops have been wounded in Iraq, and parliament gave a commanding endorsement to the country’s troop “surge” this spring.

This does not mean it’s a wise policy for countries with small, modestly equipped militaries to have boots on the ground in Iraq. There may be better ways for them to help – post-Soviet states and New Europe, for example, are far better equipped to provide guidance on democratic transitions than the U.S. State Department. Some of these countries, including Georgia, continue to deal with internal ethnic rivalries and territorial struggles, and sharing lessons learned with Iraq’s struggling government and parliament could help.

Saakashvili may yet rue the day when his government decided on a Georgian escalation in Iraq. But it does signal that this former Soviet republic and birthplace of Stalin is committed to the West, both in its democratic course and its willingness to take lumps to support its allies. This mustn’t be forgotten by either “Old Europe” or the president who will inherit Bush’s Iraq quagmire.

ON DUTY IN IRAQ



*Other countries in the Multinational Force-Iraq are Australia, Denmark, El Salvador, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, United Kingdom

**Figures may vary depending on rotations. Some countries have begun to withdraw from Iraq.

Sources: Multinational Force-Iraq; GlobalSecurity.org; U.S. Defense and State departments; national defense ministries

Africa Insight - Can Nigeria Cure its Oil 'Disease?'

The Nation (Nairobi)
ANALYSIS
20 July 2007
Posted to the web 20 July 2007

By Okello Oculi
Nairobi

After underdeveloping the Niger Delta, the Nigerian government is building roads and bridges in the region - which is too late - as the people have learnt that kidnapping foreigners produces rapid results.

And, to end the problem once and for all, some Nigerians say corrupt Delta business people, council chairmen, MPs and contractors should be kidnapped as well.

On July 10, a workshop was organised in Abuja, Nigeria, to discuss the epidemic of kidnappings which have evolved from targeting oil-workers to seizing primary or kindergarten children either from inside classrooms or from inside cars taking them to school.

The most publicised was that of the little girl with a British father and Nigerian mother. Her case had the well-publicised twist of the kidnappers asking to exchange her for her father, Mr Hill, presumably because the kidnappers were getting bad publicity as nauseating criminals who would sink so low as to brutalise a three-year old girl for the sake of ransom money. There were also unspoken fears of the kidnappers either sexually abusing the girl - or going down the lane of bizarre incidents which had been in the news in Africa's most populous nation.

Notably there was a case in Anambra State where a five-year old boy was lured into the bush by a cousin who then cut off both hands to be sold to a ritualist who had demanded them.

A similar thing happened in Katsina State where a nine-year old boy was similarly lured into a farm and both his eyes plucked out for sale to a "medicine man."

Such bodily organs are said to make people very wealthy if used for a ritual by a "medicine man."

The current users of guns for armed discussion over demands for oil wealth to benefit Niger Delta peoples under whose lands the fluid mineral is found in abundance, trace their history to the early 1960s when Isaac Boro, a university graduate from the area, launched a failed secessionist movement against domination of the then Eastern Region by the numerically larger Igbo ethnic group who controlled both economic and political power. When the Igbos followed him with their own secession as "the State of Biafra", he would die fighting with the Nigerian federal troops against Biafra. Boro was convinced that Biafra would control the newly-discovered oil under the soils of his smaller ethnic group under a break-away Igbo state.

Although the Nigerian federal troops won the civil war against Biafra that lasted from 1967 to 1970, too many other ethnic groups who had been drafted into the federal army from other parts of the country, particularly Northern Nigeria, had shed their blood to keep that oil from contamination by notions of a new "federal ownership" of the black gold.

The emergent confrontation of claims of ownership would express itself in the invention of arithmetical formulae for sharing monies earned from selling crude oil in the international market.

This mathematics assumed its own trajectory- notably plunging from 50 per cent to as low as two per cent shared between the States from where the oil spurted out, on the one hand, and the federal government on the other.

The political dynamite in the calculus would be hinted by a paradoxical situation in which Alhaji Shehu Shagari won the 1979 elections as Nigeria's civilian president riding piggy-back on the oil-owners of the Niger Delta. Ironically, on assuming the presidency, Shagari reduced the share of wealth to these people from two to 1.5 per cent of monies earned from oil exports.

The blood of Saro-Wiwa

That example would be followed by successive military governments from 1983 till 1994 when General Sani Abacha increased it to 13 per cent.

The general's increment, however, already carried the poison of the blood of the writer Ken Saro-Wiwa, and nine companions whom he hanged in November 1995 (on the eve of the Commonwealth Conference held in Australia), even after assuring Nelson Mandela that he would not do so.

Saro-Wiwa had revived armed struggle for asserting the rights of the Niger Delta people over oil wealth. He anchored his movement on a call for bringing salvation to his Ogoni people by winning them an African State as small but as rich as Kuwait on the edge of Nigeria's mainland and using them as inflammable fuel to set other ethnic groups into a war of liberation.

Prof Festus Iyayi, who presented the lead paper at the workshop in Abuja, presented the Niger Delta issue as the tragedy of "four decades of governance for the underdevelopment of the Niger Delta."

The main culprits, Prof Iyayi, argues, have been oil companies, or the "Seven Sisters" - including Shell, Chevron, Agip, Exxon as well as French and Norwegian oil extractors. They have, he insisted, been accused of committing the double crimes of routinely and indifferently, callously, and arrogantly spilling huge quantities of crude oil into waters from which communities traditionally got fish, crabs, periwinkles and other forms of food and over extensive agricultural farmlands thereby destroying crops and making them unsuitable for future agriculture.

The oil giants have also been accused of polluting bodies of water from which people draw water for drinking and cooking without providing alternative sources and burning gas (which comes out with oil) day and night so that children have grown into adults without knowing what night darkness looks like and never experiencing true sleep.

The gas burns from tops of huge and tall pipes, thereby broadcasting "acid rain" onto roofs of houses, leaves of food crops including bananas and vegetables. In short, oil production has produced an environmental nightmare.

The resultant protests from angry and desperate communities provoked a variety of counter-measures.

The oil companies succeeded, in the 1980s and 1990s, in buying guns for a special police force to gun down protesters. Professor Iyayi called this "Shell's garrison approach".

Shell has also borne the brunt of accusations by critics for paying compensations for damaged crops, farmlands and fishing waters in such a way that it sets neighbouring communities against each other and community leaders against their own people.

Iyayi quoted an elder as saying: "We were living in peace before Shell came and started setting communities against each other; they started killing our people".

Bitter fights over funds paid as compensation for oil spillage gave birth to the youths who started learning the monetary pickings from using guns borrowed from soldiers and policemen sent to silence their communities.

Then came a bizarre event. In 1998 Gen Abacha decided to announce to the world how popular he was with the Nigerian people. He borrowed from Louis Farrakan, leader of the Nation of Islam in the United States, the notion of the "One Million Man March".

The march was held along new wide tarmacked streets of Abuja, the nation's federal capital. Military rulers of Nigeria's 36 States were ordered to each send bus loads of "Abacha-for-president- supporters".

Constance Meiju, a civil society activist from the area expressed the impact of Abuja on youth "supporters of Abacha" from the Niger Delta states thus: "They saw London in Nigeria; they saw New York in Nigeria: they had come from thatched-houses sitting on water to see wide streets, huge, glittering mansions and bridges on land when where they came from they had no bridges over water and creeks".

Consequently, the youth reaped fury from Abuja and took it back to the Niger Delta. Saro-Wiwa's "Movement for the Salvation of Ogoni Peoples" (MOSOP), gave birth to the "Movement For the Liberation of Ijaw Nation". The staccato of gun shots became the dominant language of political struggle for oil.

Various efforts by successive Nigerian governments to develop the area through setting up agencies that would take social services (such as schools, clinics, roads, electricity) into oil-producing communities, have remained paralysed by corruption.

A novel and rare resource

In 2003, former President Obasanjo followed that same route by setting up the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

President Umaru Yar'Adua has not only inherited it but also promised to launch his own "Master Plan" for developing the area.

He has also come with one novel and rare resource - the invention of Goodluck Jonathan as Vice President. As an Ijaw man, Jonathan is a historic political incident.

In the thick of the tumultuous political struggles in 2006 and 2007 (presented as President Obasanjo's desire to have a "Third Term" in government), I had claimed repeatedly to observers of Nigerian affairs in Nairobi that the clue lay in the apparent decision by Nigeria's past and current military top brass, and their civilian partners, by solving the Niger Delta cauldron by sticking a fat, spiced smoked fish into the mouth of Niger Delta's nationalism.

Since it was unlikely that northern political communities would reject a situation in which Obasanjo, a Yoruba from the South, would be succeeded by another southerner, the power-brokers would settle for giving the Izon people (the majority ethnic group in the oil-producing areas) the vice-presidency of Nigeria. To achieve that goal, the political ambition of Obasanjo's Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, had to be flushed down bleeding into the flood waters of the River Niger and drowned in the Atlantic Ocean.

One week to the April 14, 2007 elections I presented a paper at a workshop in Yenagoa, the capital of Bayelsa State. The excitement at the prospect of the future Vice President coming from among them filled the air.

Also loudly in the air was a new language of political triumphalism tempered with condemnation of kidnappings as "criminal acts against the development of Bayelsa State".

Dr Godswill Iyali, the "consultant" to President Obasanjo on the Niger Delta, read a speech by Governor Goodluck Jonathan then on a campaign trail, which told the audience that rampant kidnappings of foreigners who were constructing long bridges across creeks, building communications and power grids across mangrove swamps and networks of waterways and oil-related factories, was retarding the development of the region.

Jonathan's speech called for a separation of past acts of sabotage, which had been used to force Nigeria's federal government to listen to the fury and cries against impoverishment in the Niger Delta, from new the phenomenon of kidnappings done to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars in ransoms.

Corrupt council chairmen

Dr Iyali received a resounding ovation. Likewise, he called on his audience to stop blaming all the poverty in their region on foreigners while ignoring the bane of corruption by local government chairmen, councillors, State government officials, local businessmen and contractors who took payments but failed to complete projects.

Dr Iyayi ended his paper by demanding that government officials should stop using official rhetoric which paints all Niger Delta activists as "criminals" and "terrorists". He insisted on focus being put on unsavoury realities such as the "Niger Delta having the highest infant mortality rate in a Nigeria that has the highest rate in the world".

Dr Agari, a Federal Permanent Secretary and an indigene of the area, demanded that intellectuals from Niger Delta be allowed to make inputs into Yar'Adua's Master Plan.

The loudest applause, however, went to the young man who ended the workshop with calls for kidnappers in the Niger Delta to direct their technology at corrupt local government chairmen, bureaucrats, councillors, local community leaders who accepted bribes from oil companies, offending contractors and politicians.

New winds of change are apparently blowing over the Niger Delta - working their way through a staccato of guns shots in the hands of angry youths.

INDIA : ‘Genographic Lab’ set up at Madurai Kamaraj University

Asia or Africa, that is the question

Shastry V. Mallady

Source: The Hindu


‘Genographic Lab’ set up at Madurai Kamaraj University


— Photo: K. Ganesan.

INNOVATIVE: At the launch of the facility.


MADURAI: Man’s origin and his migration across continents is always a mystery, owing to lack of a clear scientific investigation. But, a deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) test could unravel the ‘journey of man’ and throw light on some ‘dark secrets’ such as where the actual origin was — Asia or Africa?

A sophisticated facility called ‘Genographic Laboratory’ has been established at Madurai Kamaraj University here. This is the first such centre in India and is among the 10 laboratories worldwide mandated to study the chromosomes of 15,000 people. It will decipher the migration pattern of human beings in this country to correlate them with cultural evolution in a global context.

According to Rm. Pitchappan, Regional Project Director, the state-of the-art laboratory has been set up at a cost of Rs.1 crore, with the total project outlay for Madurai being Rs.4.5 crore. “The five-year project will involve an extensive study of the human genome,” Prof. Pitchappan, who is also Professor Emeritus at School of Biological Sciences, told The Hindu on Friday. The Registrar, I. Singaram said that the laboratory was yet another stupendous attempt by the Sch ool of Biological Sciences.

Sam C. Bose, Civil Surgeon and Member, Institutional Ethical Committee, MKU, said that many global myths on racial superiority could be broken through the findings

Rethinking Western Strategies Toward Pakistan: Frederic Grare

Rethinking Western Strategies Toward Pakistan: An Action Agenda for the United States and Europe By Frederic Grare

Carnegie Endowment Report, July 2007

Pakistan’s military is complicit in the worsening security situation in Afghanistan—including the resurgence of the Taliban, terrorism in Kashmir, and the growth of jihadi extremism and capabilities, says a new report from the Carnegie Endowment. Furthermore, current Western policies reinforce Pakistan’s political weakness and contribute to regional instability by allowing Pakistan to trade democratization for its cooperation on terrorism.

In Rethinking Western Strategies Toward Pakistan: An Action Agenda for the United States and Europe, visiting scholar Frederic Grare analyzes the cost of continued military rule in Pakistan and presents new guidelines for Western policies. Grare argues that while Pakistan may partially cooperate with the West against international terrorism, without democratization Pakistan will continue its policies, resulting in continued regional instability.

Key Conclusions:

• Pakistan’s army has inflated the threat of religious sectarianism and jihadi extremism outside its borders, particularly in Afghanistan and Kashmir, for its own self-interest. Faced with this seeming instability and a perceived lack of alternatives, the West adopted a more lenient attitude toward Pakistan’s military regime as a moderate stalwart against Islamic extremism.

• Restoring stable civilian rule would lessen Pakistan’s obsession with the threat posed by India and focus Pakistan’s energy on its own economic development.

• Of approximately $10 billion in assistance given to Pakistan since September 11, 2001, only $900 million has gone to development—the bulk being channeled to the military.

U.S. and European Policy Recommendations:

• The West should insist that: General Musharraf cease violating the constitution by holding the position of both president and the chief of the army staff; free and fair elections be held with international monitoring; Pakistani infiltration into Kashmir and Afghanistan cease; and all terrorist infrastructure within the country be disbanded.

• U.S. financial assistance should be explicitly directed towards any shortcomings that impede Pakistan’s cooperation in combating terrorism, and remain dependent on results.

• Policies, and if necessary, sanctions, should be directed towards the military and Pakistan’s small elite. The general population should, as much as possible, be shielded from affects of withholding assistance.

• The United States should cease its campaign against political Islam in Pakistan. It has proven counterproductive and made U.S. policy dependent on Pakistan’s military, which claims to be the strongest rampart against religious extremism.

“This report proposes a middle way,” writes Grare. “It addresses some of the challenges that the Pakistani military regime’s regional policies create for the international community, arguing that none can be resolved in isolation from the others. Arguing that the nature of the regime is the main source of trouble for the region, it urges a return to a civilian government according to Pakistan’s own constitution.”

For complete text, click here

About the Author
Frederic Grare is a visiting scholar with the Carnegie Endowment. He is a leading expert and writer on South Asia, having served most recently in the French Embassy in Pakistan and, from 1999 to 2003, in New Delhi as director of the Centre for Social Sciences and Humanities.

White House preparing to stage new September 11 - Reagan official

13:58 | 20/ 07/ 2007


WASHINGTON, July 20 (RIA Novosti) - A former Reagan official has issued a public warning that the Bush administration is preparing to orchestrate a staged terrorist attack in the United States, transform the country into a dictatorship and launch a war with Iran within a year.

Paul Craig Roberts, a former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, blasted Thursday a new Executive Order, released July 17, allowing the White House to seize the assets of anyone who interferes with its Iraq policies and giving the government expanded police powers to exercise control in the country.

Roberts, who spoke on the Thom Hartmann radio program, said: "When Bush exercises this authority [under the new Executive Order], there's no check to it. So it really is a form of total, absolute, one-man rule."

"The American people don't really understand the danger that they face," Roberts said, adding that the so-called neoconservatives intended to use a renewal of the fight against terrorism to rally the American people around the fading Republican Party.

Old-line Republicans like Roberts have become increasingly disenchanted with the neoconservative politics of the Bush administration, which they see as a betrayal of fundamental conservative values.

According to a July 9-11 survey by Ipsos, an international public opinion research company, President Bush and the Republicans can claim a mere 31 percent approval rating for their handling of the Iraq war and 38 percent for their foreign policy in general, including terrorism.

"The administration figures themselves and prominent Republican propagandists ... are preparing us for another 9/11 event or series of events," he said. "You have to count on the fact that if al Qaeda is not going to do it, it is going to be orchestrated."

Roberts suggested that in the absence of a massive popular outcry, only the federal bureaucracy and perhaps the military could put constraints on Bush's current drive for a fully-fledged dictatorship.

"They may have had enough. They may not go along with it," he said.

The radio interview was a follow-up to Robert's latest column, in which he warned that "unless Congress immediately impeaches Bush and Cheney, a year from now the U.S. could be a dictatorial police state at war with Iran."

Roberts, who has been dubbed the "Father of Reaganomics" and has recently gained popularity for his strong opposition to the Bush administration and the Iraq War, regularly contributes articles to Creators Syndicate, an independent distributor of comic strips and syndicated columns for daily newspapers.




Old-line Republican warns 'something's in the works' to trigger a police state Muriel Kane
Published: Thursday July 19, 2007

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Thom Hartmann began his program on Thursday by reading from a new Executive Order which allows the government to seize the assets of anyone who interferes with its Iraq policies.

He then introduced old-line conservative Paul Craig Roberts -- a former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Reagan who has recently become known for his strong opposition to the Bush administration and the Iraq War -- by quoting the "strong words" which open Roberts' latest column: "Unless Congress immediately impeaches Bush and Cheney, a year from now the US could be a dictatorial police state at war with Iran."

"I don't actually think they're very strong," said Roberts of his words. "I get a lot of flak that they're understated and the situation is worse than I say. ... When Bush exercises this authority [under the new Executive Order] ... there's no check to it. It doesn't have to be ratified by Congress. The people who bear the brunt of these dictatorial police state actions have no recourse to the judiciary. So it really is a form of total, absolute, one-man rule. ... The American people don't really understand the danger that they face."

Roberts said that because of Bush's unpopularity, the Republicans face a total wipeout in 2008, and this may be why "the Democrats have not brought a halt to Bush's follies or the war, because they expect his unpopular policies to provide them with a landslide victory in next year's election."

However, Roberts emphasized, "the problem with this reasoning is that it assumes that Cheney and Rove and the Republicans are ignorant of these facts, or it assumes that they are content for the Republican Party to be destroyed after Bush has his fling." Roberts believes instead that Cheney and Rove intend to use a renewal of the War on Terror to rally the American people around the Republican Party. "Something's in the works," he said, adding that the Executive Orders need to create a police state are already in place.

"The administration figures themselves and prominent Republican propagandists ... are preparing us for another 9/11 event or series of events," Roberts continued. "Chertoff has predicted them. ... The National Intelligence Estimate is saying that al Qaeda has regrouped. ... You have to count on the fact that if al Qaeda's not going to do it, it's going to be orchestrated. ... The Republicans are praying for another 9/11."

Hartmann asked what we as the people can do if impeachment isn't about to happen. "If enough people were suspicious and alert, it would be harder for the administration to get away with it," Roberts replied. However, he added, "I don't think these wake-up calls are likely to be effective," pointing out the dominance of the mainstream media.

"Americans think their danger is terrorists," said Roberts. "They don't understand the terrorists cannot take away habeas corpus, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution. ... The terrorists are not anything like the threat that we face to the Bill of Rights and the Constitution from our own government in the name of fighting terrorism. Americans just aren't able to perceive that."

Roberts pointed out that it's old-line Republicans like himself, former Reagan associate deputy attorney general Bruce Fein, and Pat Buchanan who are the diehards in warning of the danger. "It's so obvious to people like us who have long been associated in the corridors of power," he said. "There's no belief in the people or anything like that. They have agendas. The people are in the way. The Constitution is in the way. ... Americans need to comprehend and look at how ruthless Cheney is. ... A person like that would do anything."

Roberts final suggestion was that, in the absence of a massive popular outcry, "the only constraints on what's going to happen will come from the federal bureaucracy and perhaps the military. They may have had enough. They may not go along with it."

The full audio of Thom Hartmann's interview with Paul Craig Roberts can be found here.

US : Joint Intelligence Operations – Command and Control program kicks off

Joint Systems Integration Command kicks off Joint Intelligence Operations – Command and Control program

Joint Systems Integration Command computer labs are using the newest command and control systems from across the services, all working together to test their interoperability and usefulness to the warfighter as part of the Joint Intelligence Operations – Command and Control program.

• Listen to the podcast

By Army Spc. Andrew Orillion
USJFCOM Public Affairs

(SUFFOLK, Va. – July 20, 2007) – One of U.S. Joint Forces Command’s (USJFCOM) subordinate commands began an event designed to find and fix interoperability problems in emerging technologies before the U.S. military services field them.

Joint Systems Integration Command (JSIC) will host the Joint Intelligence Operations – Command and Control (JIO-C2) program here through July 26.

The latest in a series of events designed to resolve key warfighting integration issues identified by combatant commanders, JIO-C2 focuses on closing the gap between operations and intelligence to benefit today’s warfighter.

“Intelligence systems collect information that we need in order to do our operations,” said Frank Hunt Jr., JSIC’s project lead for the program. “Our operations people need that information but our systems don’t always talk to each other as well as they should.”

For JIO-C2, the setting consists of several packed computer labs at JSIC, which play host to multiple service and joint C2 systems and a number of different Web services from other agencies, including the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).

The event uses live data from NGA’s Exercise Empire Challenge '07 and runs simultaneous with the C2 Data Pilot initiative, in which USJFCOM and U.S. Strategic Command partner with the services and other government agencies to make data visible and accessible outside of older systems.

According to Hunt, JIO-C2’s assessment process centers around accomplishing operational mission threads, for example, identifying a target and eventual eliminating it. The mission threads will pass through the different systems to test their overall joint capability.

“A mission thread may include ten systems and we want to make sure that we take that mission thread from system one, to system two, to system three, all the way to the very end and make sure that it all works together,” said Hunt.

Testing the joint capability of C2 systems is only part of the program, said Robert Land, a contractor for Science Applications International Corporation and JSIC’s lead contractor for JIO-C2. The program will also look at the automation capabilities of these service and joint C2 systems.

“We are looking at the systems transferring the data to accomplish the mission,” said Land. “We’re not looking at someone getting on a secure phone and saying ‘hey I need you to take this target out.’ That’s the old way of doing business.”

Simply getting the systems to talk to each other is only part of the problem according to Land. System security can also be a major obstacle.

“Every service has a different security system and sometimes that security can break the system, when you start applying the different protocols, the different security requirements,” said Land.

He said the computer labs are set up with firewalls and different routers between the various systems to emulate this real world problem.

JIO-C2 also assesses services that allow better movement of information between classified and unclassified systems, a top need identified by combatant commanders.

JSIC will also use JIO-C2’s results to aid in developing of future capabilities, such as the Network Enabled Command Capability (NECC) and the USJFCOM-led Capability Portfolio Management program, which manages capability redundancy.

“The focus of JIO-C2 is the here and now, because we have to make sure that the systems we’re using today are as interoperable as possible,” said Hunt. “But we also are going to be feeding in to these newer ideas, these newer ways of doing things such as with NECC.”

Indian Intelligence : Why top officials are upset with a new book


Codeword Omerta
The ex-RAW man's book has ruffled many plumes within the agency

Source: Outlook , India

Saikat Datta

India's premier foreign intelligence agency, RAW, does not take kindly to criticism. Which is why top officials are upset with a new book authored by an ex-officer. India's External Intelligence: Secrets of Research and Analysis Wing by Major General V.K. Singh (retd), who has served as a joint secretary in raw, is an insider's story on the inner workings of an agency which isn't even accountable to Parliament.

Ever since Outlook (July 2, '07) first highlighted the book's contents, a storm from within the top echelons of RAW has greeted Singh's effort. Senior officials have been debating the right course of action against the whistleblower. Finally, last week, secretary, RAW, Ashok Chaturvedi, shot off a letter to the cabinet secretary and also spoke to national security advisor M.K. Narayanan. The conversation had a single- point agenda. Chaturvedi wanted the book withdrawn and action taken against the author under the draconian Official Secrets Act (OSA), 1923. According to sources, the Special Protection Group (SPG), tasked with providing security cover to present and former prime ministers, is also upset with some of the book's revelations.

Some of Singh's disclosures include criticism of the communication system used by the SPG which, apparently, can be tampered with because its algorithm, designed by US firm Motorola, is not exclusive to India. The system was also not subjected to the mandatory "crack (hacker) resistivity" tests and was not certified by the Systems Analysis Group, as is mandated under due process.

Sources told Outlook that the present SPG chief, B.V. Wanchoo, is one of those who have expressed reservations about such details coming out in a book. While he hasn't suggested a ban, several senior officials who have served with RAW are in support of the book being banned. The fear is that if no action is taken now, it would embolden others to write similar accounts that could not only prove embarrassing to the organisation but also to individuals currently serving or previous incumbents.

A positive in all this, of course, is that the book has brought to the fore the faultlines within the organisation. Most of the second-rung officers, recruited directly under the Research and Analysis Service (RAS) cadre, have always resented the domination of the top by IPS cadre officers. Hence, it's no surprise that most of them have welcomed the book's publication in the hope that it exposes the "misdeeds" of the IPS lobby. In the book, Singh dwells at length on the flaws of the top leadership and the many critical failures flowing from it, the latest being the embarrassing defection to the US of a raw joint secretary, Rabinder Singh.

There have been other voices too who have come out in support of Gen V.K. Singh's book. Former BSF chief Prakash Singh feels that books which examine organisations critically do serve a purpose. "I see no objection. Institutional and systemic failures need to be addressed and must not be brushed under the carpet of secrecy. That itself breeds corruption and ensures that organisations like RAW don't effectively serve the role they were created for," he says.

Former joint director with the Intelligence Bureau, M.K. Dhar, faced a similar threat of a ban when his book, Open Secrets, was published two years ago. "Why shouldn't we have more accountability in the intelligence organisations?" he asks. "After all, they are supposed to be professional organisations and are important tools of a functioning democracy. A democracy without accountability is worse than a military dictatorship and I feel books like the one V.K.Singh has written must be published. Keep out the personal bitterness, but address the systemic changes that are required to better the organisation. Anyway, there is nothing secret in Singh's book." But senior RAW officials think otherwise. As they see it, any criticism of the agency amounts to compromising national security.



RAW, Analyse This
Gen Singh's book is a timely reminder that RAW's structural rot needs looking into


Lt General Tej Pathak

There appears to be a controversy brewing over V.K. Singh's book on India's external intelligence agency, RAW. What is being missed in the debate is not so much the issue of whether any sensitive or classified information has been revealed, for if that has been done, then the general must be hauled over the coals. But there is the larger issue here of accountability which cannot be ignored.

This is underscored by recent events wherein a definite bias against Indian intelligence and counter-intelligence agencies—in terms of investigative capabilities and ability to deal with increasingly sophisticated terrorist threats—appears to be emerging. Western intelligence and counter-terrorist agencies don't seem to be fully cooperating.

The prime minister's lament on the first anniversary of the Mumbai train blasts certainly alluded to this when he remarked "we will do whatever is possible to bring the guilty to book". Such a remark from the prime minister, coming after a full year's investigation, does seem to confirm that greater soul-searching by investigating and intelligence agencies is imperative.

Gen Singh's book needs to be seen from the prism of the larger question of accountability of our premier intelligence agencies rather than as an attempt to score brownie points. Singh raises the issue that India lacks a credible oversight mechanism for our intelligence agencies. There is no parliamentary scrutiny into their functioning, be it the quality of intelligence, organisational issues or procurement procedures. Consequently, our intelligence agencies have little accountability unlike in the US or UK.

No parliamentary committee (like the senate intelligence committee in the US) has dared to question the efficacy of our intelligence or ask why so many major terror attacks, be it the Mumbai train blasts or the Samjhauta Express blast, remain unsolved. Shouldn't we, in a parliamentary democracy like ours, ask whether it is by design that the political establishment has ensured that there is no oversight of these agencies. Unfortunately, public memory in India is short. Shortly after the Kargil war, a key area of reforms undertaken by the Group of Ministers was that of the intelligence structure. It was a bid to make it more dynamic and responsive.

If what is detailed in Singh's book is even partially true, then nothing much was done. It appears to be business as usual. It is in this construct that critical literature like Gen Singh's book is an important contribution and even a timely reminder that the structural rot obviously needs a thorough revamping to make it more professional.

Books of this nature help in highlighting existing institutional weaknesses. It is only through such revelations that adequate pressure can be built both through media and organisational analysis for much-needed systemic reforms.


(The author retired as commandant, National Defence College)

July 20, 2007

Malalai Joya : Bravest woman of Afghanistan



http://malalaijoya.com/index800.htm


Pakistan and Jihad

Part I



Part II

Khyber Pass: The gun market



This gun market has nothing to do with terrorism nor does it have anything to do with the war on terror. So stop writing stupid comments. It's just a gun store in a town in Pakistan run by Pashtuns. If the United States felt it was a threat, then it would have been long gone

Pakistan: The Supreme Court Verdict and Musharraf's Limited Options

Source: Stratfor
July 20, 2007 12 43 GMT


Summary

In an unprecedented move July 20, Pakistan's Supreme Court reinstated Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, who was suspended March 9 by President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Musharraf will try to use this event to defuse the political crisis, but the verdict makes it virtually impossible for him to sustain his hold on power. Following the court's move, the judiciary will become all the more assertive in its efforts to force the president to seek compromises.

Analysis


The 13-judge Supreme Court in Pakistan ruled 10-3 on July 20 that President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's March 9 suspension of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry was illegal, and reinstated the top jurist.

Stratfor had forecast that Musharraf, in an attempt to try to defuse the legal and political crisis in the country, could allow Chaudhry to be reinstated. The Supreme Court verdict, however, will prevent Musharraf from securing his own controversial re-election while holding the post of military chief. The verdict will further embolden an already energized judiciary, which will attempt to block any move by Musharraf with regard to his own re-election, as well as the parliamentary elections.

In fact, the judiciary will now move to serve as a watchdog on all actions of this government and all future governments. Meanwhile, Musharraf will be forced to seek a negotiated settlement on the matter of his own re-election, and that will result in him stepping down as military chief in order to continue as president. Should he try to resist the pressure from the judiciary, it will only lead to massive political unrest.
Musharraf cannot afford to manage protests by pro-democracy forces and simultaneously fight the jihadists who are waging a major suicide bombing campaign. Therefore, he will try to garner support from the former to act against the latter. But his political opponents will demand that he hold general elections in exchange for that support.

It is unclear at this point how events will unfold in the coming weeks and months, but Musharraf is unlikely to be able to act against the militants and hold elections at the same time. The need to do both and the difficulties associated with these tasks could ultimately cause him to lose power.

About Stratfor

Stratfor is the world’s leading private intelligence company delivering in-depth analysis, assessments and forecasts on global geopolitical, economic, security and public policy issues. A variety of subscription-based access, free intelligence reports and confidential consulting are available for individuals and corporations.

Afghanistan: A Possible Move by a Political Survivor

Source: Stratfor
July 20, 2007 18 52 GMT


Reuters, citing Afghan television, reported July 19 that Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, leader of the Afghan insurgent group Hizb-i-Islami, has issued a signed statement saying his group will cease fighting U.S., NATO and Afghan government forces, and that it will resume political activities. If the statement is true -- and not one invented by the Afghan government and foreign agents, as a purported spokesman for Hekmatyar later claimed -- it indicates Hekmatyar is changing sides -- again. Given the beating his Taliban and al Qaeda allies have been taking at the hands of U.S. and NATO forces, Hekmatyar could be trying to cut his losses and maneuver himself into a more advantageous position on Afghanistan's political scene.

It does seem unusual for Hekmatyar to announce a major shift in his strategy and allegiance in a written statement. In May 2006, when he declared his allegiance to the Taliban and al Qaeda, he did so in a videotaped message. Furthermore, Hekmatyar's latest position seems out of context given his recent condemnation of the United States and its allies. On July 12, via a purported spokesman, he strongly condemned the storming of Islamabad's Red Mosque by Pakistani security forces, calling it part of a "crusader war" against Muslims by U.S. President George W. Bush and his allies. Hekmatyar, a northerner from Kunduz province, also called for a revolt against Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf.



Furthermore, rumors of changing alliances are often floated by both sides in Afghanistan in an effort to keep each other off balance. These factors, however, do not necessarily mean that Hekmatyar's cease-fire statement is bogus. He rarely appears in public or issues statements using the Internet or other media. In addition, as a Sunni militant leader, Hekmatyar would have to have gone on record as condemning the Red Mosque siege in order to maintain his credentials and legitimacy.

In recent months, the Taliban and their allies have been unable to dictate the tempo of combat in Afghanistan as they did in 2006, when NATO troops new to the country took over from more experienced U.S. units. Since then, NATO -- particularly the Britons and Canadians in Helmand and Uruzgan provinces -- has had more success at preventing insurgent attacks and destroying large Taliban formations. In response to this, the Taliban and their allies have been adopting tactics such as suicide bombings and assassination attempts, rather than traditional Afghan methods of fighting.

Hekmatyar has always been a survivor. He has been a military and political figure in Afghanistan since before the 1979 Soviet invasion, which is no small achievement. Shifting allegiances has been one of his main methods of staying alive in the region's tumultuous political and militant environment. Over the years, he has sought refuge in Pakistan and Iran when various Afghan governments have hunted him. He also has been a CIA asset, has fought with and then against Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud before the Taliban came to power, and has fought against the Taliban. Before this latest statement, his most recent shift in allegiance occurred when the Taliban and al Qaeda were increasing attacks against U.S., NATO and Afghan forces, and Hekmatyar was trying to take advantage of the situation. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been trying to reach out to the various insurgent factions in Afghanistan in an effort to divide them. Indeed, Hekmatyar apparently has been considering ending his alliance with the Taliban for some time.

Hekmatyar's Hizb-i-Islami group, which operates on the Afghan-Pakistani border, is a minor player among Afghan militias and militant groups. Over the years, it has lost many leaders and members as a result of combat, shifting alliances and desertions. For Hekmatyar to remain a viable player among Afghanistan's factions, he has to use his political -- rather than his military -- weight.

If Hekmatyar believes the insurgency is going badly at the moment, it would not be surprising to see him try to better position himself on the Afghan political scene -- and declaring a cease-fire would be one way to go about it. In doing so, Hekmatyar would be giving Karzai little, since his group is not a major player. Given Karzai's beleaguered position, however, any apparent defection from the insurgency is a welcome development.

For an insurgency like the Taliban's to win, it just has to survive. The current military situation in Afghanistan is certainly subject to change, and could be altered by a single dramatic event. However, to survive for as long as he has in Afghan politics, Hekmatyar has to think and move in the short term, rather than the long term.

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Geopolitical Diary: Pakistan on the Table, Germany on the Rise

Source: Stratfor
July 20, 2007 02 09 GMT


Frances Townsend, Homeland Security adviser to U.S. President George W. Bush, said on Thursday that the United States would be willing to send troops into Pakistan to root out al Qaeda, noting specifically that "no option is off the table if that is what is required." Just in case Islamabad -- or al Qaeda -- missed Townsend's statement, White House spokesman Tony Snow paraphrased it shortly afterward.

While the statements are hardly a declaration of war, one can be positive that Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf is going to need a nightcap to get to sleep. It is not every day that the global superpower ruminates that invading your country is an option "not off the table."

Townsend and Snow are hinting at an operation that has been six years in the making. There has never really been any doubt that al Qaeda sought refuge in northwest Pakistan after fleeing the United States' November 2001 assault on Afghanistan. But the absolute necessity of maintaining Pakistan as an ally has stayed Washington's hand (aside from nearly continuous small-scale border raids against targets of opportunity). Rooting out al Qaeda from the tribes that shield it would require a thousands-strong force, ideally with Pakistani cooperation. Until now, the dominant belief in Washington has been that such an operation would lead to a Pakistani rebellion and the consequent overthrow of the Musharraf government. Ergo, the attack has not happened.

But now two things have changed. First, Islamic radicals of the Red Mosque -- whom Pakistani security forces raided July 12 -- have tripped public anger. Out of a mixture of necessity and opportunism, Musharraf is now moving in force against Pakistani's long-ignored jihadist circles.

Until now, the jihadists have been quiet in Pakistan because that is where they recruit, train and fundraise. Now that the state is closing in on them, the suicide bombs have started going off in earnest, with more than 50 dead just on Thursday and more than 200 since the wave of explosions began. The conflict is going to be a bloody one no matter how it goes -- not only does Musharraf need to battle a desperate, experienced force with few places to retreat to, but many within his intelligence services actually are pro-jihadist. The purge and the fighting could well happen simultaneously.

The second big change is that Washington is becoming convinced Musharraf is on his last legs -- and that if his government is going to implode anyway, the United States might as well go in and get al Qaeda. From Washington's viewpoint, if statements alone are sufficient to get the good general to dispose of the jihadists on his own, fanbloodytastic. If not, then the United States has thousands of troops just across the border in Afghanistan available for the job.

Not that this would be easy, of course. As Snow noted, "You don't blithely go into another nation and conduct operations," and this is more than just an issue of politeness. NATO's Afghan operation, as it is now, would be flatly impossible without the supply lines that snake through Pakistan. And if the United States had reliable intelligence as to exactly where al Qaeda's apex leadership was, a grossly excessive tonnage of GPS-guided ordnance would have been dropped on that location ages ago. That means the United States would have to go in with ground forces, and go in big -- and immediately upon arrival, they would be hit from all sides: the Afghan Taliban, and the Pakistani jihadists, the Pakistani public, and even the military.

Lest our readers think that we are pathologically obsessed with all things Pakistani, here's a fun item from Europe. On Thursday, the European Commission, the European Union's executive arm, announced plans to launch an investigation (after the summer holiday) into something called "sovereign funds," a sophisticated way of referring to the money that states splash around in order to buy up assets abroad. A public musing last week by German Chancellor Angela Merkel was what prompted the commission decision.

This issue sets off two alarm bells for Stratfor.

First, Russia and China have currency reserves that, combined, will likely top $2 trillion before the year's end. Merkel fears -- and recent experiences with Russia indicate that she might be right to do so -- that some of this "sovereign" money would be used for political purposes.

Specifically in the case of Europe -- or more to the point, Germany -- Russian state energy major Gazprom is attempting to buy up European energy distribution infrastructure. Combine that factoid with recent decisions by Russian authorities to slice energy and transport exports to countries that have annoyed them -- Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia and even EU-member Estonia immediately leap to mind -- and the chancellor has a point. Such issues are on the short list of items that could spur the Europeans to shift from squabbling over institutional issues and actually craft some common economic defense plans.

Second, and far more important in our opinion, is the fact that the commission so quickly took up Merkel's idea. Merkel's term as EU president expired June 30, yet here we are three weeks later and her off-the-cuff comments are still setting the agenda. Since Germany is the EU's biggest country in terms of population and economic heft, this might seem quite logical.

But never forget that one of the reasons the European Union (and, incidentally, NATO) exists is to keep Germany fully submersed in a European identity that it cannot control, as an insurance policy to prevent repeats of the 20th century's world wars. Fifty years later, Germany has found its voice -- and possesses the gravitas to set policy without even making a request. That has got to make a few stiff European upper lips unconsciously quiver.

PAKISTAN: The Road to Lal Masjid and its Aftermath




The Road to Lal Masjid and its Aftermath
By Hassan Abbas

Terrorism Monitor, Jamestown Foundation; Volume 5, Issue 14 (July 19, 2007)

It is clear that most Pakistanis wanted Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) leader Maulana Abdul Rashid Ghazi to be held accountable for his vigilantism and for trying to enforce his extremist version of Islam on society. The public's views have changed, however, now that it has become obvious that the government used indiscriminate force during the operation and since its claims about the presence of foreign militants inside the mosque complex have not been independently verified. The following important questions remain unanswered: why did the government act so benignly for the past six months and allow a problem to augment into a major crisis; who was Abdul Rashid Ghazi and how did he manage to smuggle a huge cache of weapons into the mosque complex; was intelligence flawed or were intelligence agencies involved in the plot; and why did President Pervez Musharraf choose a time for the crackdown that coincided with the meeting scheduled for all of Pakistan's opposition parties in London.

While people search for answers to these critical questions, Pakistan is witnessing an unabated terrorism cycle—having experienced a suicide bombing or a bomb blast each day since the July 10 military operation against the mosque. Tragically, those who died in the Red Mosque operation are now being proclaimed as shaheed (martyrs), and a debate has ensued in Pakistan between what the media are calling "religious extremists" and "liberal fascists." A week before the operation, ordinary Pakistanis were stunned that the government was not acting to resolve the crisis; today, a week after the deadly operation, Pakistanis still have few clues as to the new crisis that is unfolding. Furthermore, Musharraf's legacy seems frozen between these two weeks.

History of the Red Mosque and its Former Caretakers

The foundational stone of the Red Mosque was laid in 1965 by Maulana Abdullah—the father of the militant clerics Abdul Aziz and Abdul Rashid Ghazi—a year after the birth of Pakistan's capital city, Islamabad. Maulana Abdullah, a Deobandi Muslim, was appointed as the mosque's imam by Pakistani President Ayub Khan (The News, July 8). The mosque was called "Lal" after Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, a revered Sufi saint buried in Pakistan's Sindh province.

During agitation led by religious parties against Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1977, Abdullah successfully mobilized the masses in support of the protests. By virtue of this contribution, he gained the favor of General Zia ul-Haq, the military dictator who dislodged Bhutto. Zia's tenure was a key time for religious groups to expand, and Abdullah earned additional gratitude for volunteering in the Afghan war of 1979-1989. As a reward, he was allocated land in the prized and posh E-7 sector of Islamabad to establish Jamia Faridia, a seminary. Arab financing also helped Abdullah build an institution where many orphans and poor children received religious education (The News, July 17). Abdullah's agenda changed, however, as he became involved in sectarian politics and started to support the newly emerged Anjuman Sipah-e-Sahaba (Soldiers of the Prophet's Companions)—an anti-Shiite terror outfit. General Zia was hardly perturbed, as he was focused on the Afghan jihad and could not see how these fissures would destabilize Pakistan in the future.

In the process, Abdullah motivated thousands of people for jihad in Afghanistan in the 1980s, and in collaboration with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) he continued to provide fodder for the Afghan theater. In 1989, he attracted the limelight when at the time of Benazir Bhutto's electoral success, he issued a fatwa declaring women's role in politics as un-Islamic. Around 1992, he established Jamia Hafsa, a seminary for women, adjacent to the Red Mosque. Funds were not an issue because the ISI was gracious toward him due to the role he had played in Afghanistan. His warm feelings toward Arab-Afghans also became obvious when, in response to the U.S. missile attack on a suspected Osama bin Laden hideout in Afghanistan, he said, "America is like a thief who attacked the unarmed civilians…[those] who make friends with Christians and Jews will become like them" (The Nation, August 22, 1998). Abdullah had just returned from Afghanistan and had started to campaign for the enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan. In his attempts, he crossed a few lines, resulting in his assassination at the Red Mosque in 1998.

This was a moment of transformation for his son Abdul Rashid Ghazi, who had been uninterested in all radical issues up to that point. Ghazi had an interesting background. He had earlier refused to enroll himself in Jamia Faridia and completed his masters in history in 1988 from the Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, a reputable academic center. Afterwards, he joined the Ministry of Education in Islamabad as an officer, and later he served in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as an assistant director. At no stage in his career did he show any signs of extremism (Daily Times, July 8). Rather, he married into a modern family and was comfortable in his relatively secular lifestyle. In fact, his father was so angry with his lifestyle that he handed over all his property to his other son, Abdul Aziz. At the time of Abdullah's assassination, this same elder brother became the imam of the Red Mosque.

Developments, however, changed drastically after Abdullah's assassination. Ghazi decided to join his brother as his deputy in the Red Mosque. In about a year, he became a hard line cleric, vowing to impose a Talibanized Sharia in Pakistan. Pakistani intelligence agencies had also found a new agent who was willing to offer cooperation (Daily Times, July 8). Within walking distance of ISI headquarters, the Red Mosque complex attracted many heroes from the Afghan theater of conflict. It was understandable when the two brothers took a strong pro-Taliban stance and called Musharraf a traitor for his policy of cooperation with the United States in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Intriguingly, the state also overlooked the Red Mosque's potential threat when it showed its street power for the first time in 2003, by organizing riots in the capital city after the killing of Azam Tariq, the leader of the now banned Sipah-e-Sahaba. The seminary students of Jamia Faridia ransacked cinemas, restaurants and gas stations in the capital, yet Musharraf's government remained silent.

Encouraged by this response, the Red Mosque issued a controversial edict in 2004, declaring that Pakistani Army soldiers who died fighting tribal militants were not martyrs. News about Ghazi's links with al-Qaeda was flashed in the media at the time of the arrest of Osama bin Laden's driver (Dawn, July 6). The government was unmoved even by this development.

The final episode of the drama began earlier this year, when female students of Jamia Hafsa forcefully took control of a children's library adjacent to the Red Mosque complex and started vigilante actions in the city, trying to enforce their version of religious morality. Music shops were attacked, police were kidnapped and fatwas were issued to coerce the media. The government finally reacted and started negotiating with the Red Mosque administration, but to no avail. Abdul Aziz meanwhile threatened the government with a spate of suicide bombings around the country in the case of a military operation (Terrorism Focus, June 5).

Finally, both brothers forced the government's hand when they mishandled the soldiers of a paramilitary force surrounding the complex, leading to the deaths of 21 people on July 3. Abdul Aziz was caught fleeing the scene in a burqa and Ghazi took over the command of the complex. Around 1,200 students of the mosque and seminary surrendered, and those inside took up positions with their arms. Even then, the government procrastinated. People were upset at this turn of events while newspapers, electronic media and civil society groups all encouraged the government to enforce its writ. One could understand why it would be difficult to do the same in the tribal belt, but failing to do so in the heart of Islamabad was incomprehensible. Leading columnist Ayaz Amir aptly called it "a drama to beat all dramas" (Dawn, July 6).

Delay in effectively tackling the defiant stance of the Red Mosque not only complicated the crisis, but gave ample opportunity to Ghazi to entrench his forces militarily, start an effective media campaign and draw sympathy from segments of society by claiming that he and his comrades were merely asking for the enforcement of religious laws in the country.

Meanwhile, the government began claiming that Ghazi had many militants from various banned outfits holed up inside the complex who had taken hundreds of women and children hostage. Public opinion started to change, and demands for ensuring the safety of women and children were heightened. In the midst of this, Pakistani security forces suddenly began the operation, which lasted for the next 15 hours. Ghazi, with an ample supply of cell phones, gave last minute interviews to all major news channels, telling millions of people on live television that he bravely decided to lay down his life for the cause of Islam rather than bow to the dictates of the state. He called Musharraf a tool in the hands of the United States.

On the other hand, the government blocked the media from showing footage in the hospitals where casualties were taken. Journalists were only allowed to show ambulances rushing to the scene. Apparently, very few came out alive and it is unclear how many were killed inside the mosque complex. The government's figure of 100 dead (including 10 soldiers) leaves a few hundred unaccounted for. Graves were hastily dug around Islamabad, and people were buried at night, which encouraged rumors of a massacre and a cover up.

At the end of the day, Ghazi's stature rose in the eyes of the people, and the government's credibility collapsed further due to the way that they handled the issue—first with delay, then in getting bogged down in unnecessary negotiations, and finally in the inability to explain why its intelligence agencies failed to monitor what was transpiring inside the mosque complex for so long. The government has not explained its actions regarding why Ghazi and his brother were not stopped previously when they had challenged the government's policies so persistently. Critics believe that the two brothers were, in fact, being supported in their endeavors by elements within the intelligence agencies.

The Consequences

Since the July 10 operation, more than 100 people have lost their lives in bombings and suicide attacks in various parts of the country, including in Islamabad. Clearly, these strikes are revenge attacks—a deadly response from the sympathizers of the Red Mosque. Few in Islamabad realize that there are 88 more seminaries in Islamabad where 16,000 students are enrolled (Daily Times, July 7).

If developments in the last two weeks are any indicator, Pakistan is increasingly becoming an ungovernable state. Divisions within society about the direction of the state are becoming intense and if this confusion and cycle of violence continues, then cracks might appear within the military establishment as well. As before, Musharraf is making all the right statements, but implementation of his policies remains an acute issue. He is becoming increasingly unable to arrest developments inside Pakistan.