August 18, 2007

Global Problems and Regional Issues

Thursday, August 16, 2007
Source : The Hindu , 15th August 2007


Rising global tensions and regional unpredictability will affect India; security managers have difficult choices to make
The Cold War era produced its more or less stable tensions of mutually assured destruction as the two superpowers stared across lethal nuclear fences. The transfer of these tensions to the ‘Third World’ where the main antagonists battled each other either through their surrogates or proxies, helped. Besides, these wars helped in other ways. They enabled the testing of new weapons and the transfer of obsolete weapons to others who did not really need them.

Threats to the security of nations was quantifiable in those days in terms of weapon holdings, men under arms and their fitness to do battle; it used to be about ORBATS (Orders of Battle), the enemy’s military-industrial base and similar other indices. The threats were simpler and somewhat predictable, if only one got the enemy’s intention right. Ideology was the excuse.
The Islamic Revolution in Iran against the Great Satan followed by the Afghan jehad against the Communist Infidel created a new Islamic belief of invincibility. The First Gulf War that followed was also the first Nintendo War. U.S. arms might, backed by hi-tech and smart weaponry, was visible for the first time. The war was fought as much on the CNN news channel as on the sands of Iraq. History was being shown and written in real time.

Closer home, the success of the Afghan jehad, helped substantially by U.S. weapons and Saudi money, along with the collapse of the USSR had a message for its Pakistani mentors. They assessed that they could transfer their expertise and the demobilised jehadi foot soldiers to the Kashmiri theatre. It was an opportunity to bleed India, wrest Kashmir and right the wrongs of 1971. Besides, it was necessary to keep these jehadis away from Pakistan and engaged in India.
The 1990s saw two unrelated developments but ultimately one took advantage of the other. Rising Islamic anger against perceived and real wrongs perpetrated by their rulers in league with the Christian West occurred at a time when technology was making rapid strides. Communications became cheaper, faster. The sat-phone and cell phone revolution along with the rise of the Internet meant that a new kind of threat was emerging. It was global, without frontiers. In fact, a cyber war would ensure that the terrorist need not even cross frontiers to strike. The other uncertainty in all this is that there is no knowing where technology will take us, beyond the knowledge that improvements in applied technology will be increasingly rapid, cheap and universally accessible, including to those likely to misuse and undermine existing systems and societal orders.

The counter-terrorist will remain comparatively flat-footed and also unable to agree unequivocally on the definition of the enemy. Intelligence organisations will continue to find that suicide terrorism and catastrophic terrorism will be the most difficult to predict and prevent. Despite all the intelligence, the terrorist will appear unstoppable at times, especially because it is impossible to kill a terrorist who is willing to die.

Terrorism has become truly global and interlinked with narcotics and diamond smugglers, arms traffickers, money launderers and human traffickers. This annual gross criminal product has been estimated to be about $1.5 trillion, making it substantially bigger than the nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of the U.K. Since this ‘industry’ injected so much money into the western economy, there was hardly any incentive to stop the annual cash flow. No national government is able to tackle this menace, and till September 2001 the west was not even interested.

The Global War on Terror is likely to fade away from the main screen in the next few months. It has far too many ugly memories of failure in Iraq and Afghanistan and of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. It will be extremely painful to go into an American election year with these reminders. Besides, states need new threats that are definable and tangible. The rest of us will be left to fight their own battles against terror while the U.S. gets involved in election-year politics.

There is considerable evidence that NATO, following its presence in Afghanistan, is now transforming itself into a global force. A scene from Afghanistan.

In the course of Congressional testimony last February, U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates defined Russia, China and Iran as potential U.S. adversaries. In fact, one can see the beginnings of this as the Anglo-American alliance takes on a resurgent Russia. Vladimir Putin’s Russia will not allow itself to be pushed over into allowing its gigantic energy resources to be the exclusive preserve of the western oil companies. The ballistic missile shields, ostensibly against Iran, are not to be located in Azerbaijan or Turkey but in the Czech Republic and Poland. The message has not been lost on the Russians.

A similar missile defence shield will be located in the Far East, possibly in an increasingly militarised Japan which has been showing growing closeness with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) apart from its existing multifaceted relationship with the U.S. The Chinese have been enquiring about an “Asian NATO” on the Pacific Rim. Globally, China sees itself as major player and worries at this trend that could adversely affect its energy security, economic development and military preparedness. China will view growing India-U.S. relations with similar suspicion even as its own defence expenditure burgeons. It is therefore unlikely to give India much space in the region and will try to restrict Indian influence to its national boundaries.
There is already considerable evidence that NATO, following its presence in Afghanistan, is now transforming itself into a global force. Its tie-ups with Gulf sheikhdoms like Kuwait are being strengthened against possible attacks by Iran, and energy security is the new doctrine. There have been extensive tie-ups between NATO and the Gulf Cooperation Council. The massive U.S. military presence in West Asia with its footprint all over the energy-rich Eurasian belt continues.

New tensions are bound to rise in the months ahead as Russia, China and Iran feel they are being encircled and seek to break out. We may be looking at a Cold War Version 2 with its excessive militarisation. This will happen at a time when the western economies are on a downturn and need some revival. Rising global military expenditures will be handy.
In today’s globalised, networked world, security, in all its definitions, is a more complicated business than it was earlier. Global events have regional effects, and vice versa. Wall Street has an almost immediate impact on Dalal Street. And we in India live in a region where six of our neighbours — Pakistan, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka — are listed in that order as failed or failing states among the world’s worst 25, by the Washington-based Fund For Peace.

This does not mean that these states will actually collapse in that order or even collapse at all. But it has to be recognised that India does have more than one problem on its borders. The most important among these problems will be the direction Pakistan will take. These may not translate into conventional military threats but they do mean additional socio-economic and demographic problems at a time when India wants to break free as a major global player.

Rising global tensions and regional unpredictability will inevitably affect India. It may no longer be possible to remain non-aligned. The country’s security managers have difficult choices in the months and years ahead as India strives to seek its place in the sun but its rise is constantly hampered by an unsettled neighbourhood.

N/Delta & its midnight children

http://www.sunnewsonline.com/webpages/opinion/2007/aug/19/backpage.html
By Louis Odion [louisodion@sunnewsonline.com
Sunday, August 19, 2007


It is difficult to contemplate the sheer carnage Port Harcourt has turned lately and not be tempted to conclude that, alas, the leading characters had bolted from Adebayo Williams’ best-selling novel, Bulletin from the Land of the Living Dead, to engage in real-life rampage.

True, a reality check today will hardly validate all the details of the apocalyptic picture meticulously painted by the ageing professor of a decomposing nation under an equally demented martial order in post-colonial Africa.

But there, surely, remains a few parallels between that fiction and the reality of today that are eerily unnerving. The spectacle of militants audaciously barricading city highways, of the demons of insurgency openly engaging the might of the federal military in the creeks, only tends to attest to the uncanny capacity of life to imitate art indeed.

The orgy of needless bloodletting reached a head Thursday in Port Harcourt with the wasting of no fewer than thirty lives in the clash between security forces and the “insurgents”. Penultimate Saturday, the city had equally quaked as gunmen took to the streets, shooting indiscriminately, generally unleashing chaos. State targets (including a radio station and NNPC mega station) were torched.

But the big difference is that whereas Williams’ fictive insurgents were clearly inspired by some patriotism and held out nobly till the epic gridlock was resolved on the basis of class reconciliation, the new insurgency in Port Harcourt and elsewhere in Niger Delta appears fuelled by carnal motives if not bare-faced banditry.

Perhaps, for the sake of clarity, the psychology of this new insurgency needs to be classified from the outset. Long years of deprivation or denial of access to opportunities have, it must be admitted, invariably bred generations of youths who do not believe in dignity of labour, but quick money obtained by foul means. They would camouflage such criminality as part of the “struggle”, aided by default by the roguery of the political elite.

They are the illegitimate offspring, the midnight children, the urban cultists, graduate felons, the seemingly incurable and the ethically uneducable. The threat they now pose to society as an idea dictated primarily by regard for the rights of others is, therefore, beyond homicidal proportions. It is an under-class community, completely insulated from the niceties of the extant Niger Delta advocacy as an intellectual undertaking. By feeding their greed, we have reared a monster.

The chief executive of one of the nation’s popular eateries narrated a bizarre experience few years back at the hands of these youths. As part of the expansion plan of his company, a new outlet was to be opened in Port Harcourt. He did his own bit by obtaining the necessary permits from the local authorities. Of course, the project meant more jobs as well as a boost to the local economy.

But these youths would not allow him erect his structure until after a ransom was paid. In their warped reasoning, they tend to see or choose to regard any business proposal or venture for that matter as a continuation of the existing exploitative capitalism. More challenges lay ahead for the hapless investor from Lagos.

At some point, he felt it was only proper for him to discharge his social responsibility. He chose to construct the communal access road already in a sorry state. On the day caterpillars assembled in the neighbourhood, the usually ubiquitous youths soon slithered out of the street-corners, brandishing dangerous weapons against the work-men. They retreated only after the payment of another ransom.
At macro level, the picture is no less sordid.

In the past, Niger Delta advocacy was the preserve of the intellectuals. But those who made peaceful change impossible inadvertently made violence inevitable. The grammar of seminars has been supplanted by the staccato of AK-47 and grenade. Violence has replaced logic and dialogue. And predictably, the revolution has since begun to consume its own children. More like the proverbial demented fowl feasting on its own suckling.

Anyone still in doubt only needs to examine MEND’s disclaimer against Asari Dokubo Tuesday. While threatening to resume hostilities by the end of August over the failure of Federal Government to address the “core of our demand” (fiscal federalism), MEND labeled the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force (NDPVF) leader an “informant and a spy for the Nigerian government” in what clearly opens yet another vista in Niger Delta’s now obviously apocryphal narrative.

In June, MEND had declared a unilateral cease-fire to give the new government some time “to settle down and do what is right”. Of course, part of its demands was the release of Dokubo and former governor of Bayelsa, DSP Alams. Happily, the duo have since been released in what would seem a well-choreographed judicial drama directed by the Abuja establishment.

But today, Dokubo’s erstwhile “comrades” in MEND must be at a loss as to why he now seems to spend much of his time either at Aso Rock or the Bayelsa Government House holding brief for the vice president, generally sounding like another palace coutier. Much more insidious is what appears the new Ijaw triumphalism.

There now seems a deliberate attempt to demonize or scape-goat every other authority figure in Niger Delta outside the Ijaw clan. Following the attack on Jonathan’s country-home the other day, for instance, it was quite convenient for the new mob to quickly reduce the infamy to the machination of those who want to “create the impression that the vice president has no solid home-base”. Such reductionism.

Now, former allies must be sickened by the haste with which Dokubo, until last month a state captive, salivates at invitation to mount joint press briefing with the Inspector General of Police against the “enemies of progress” in Niger Delta. Could this possibly be what the “struggle” is all about? Co-incidentally, Dokubo also spoke on the day MEND disowned him. And guess where he fired his own verbal missiles from – Kano Government House! So, from being a “revolutionary”, the NDPVF leader, they seem to think, has morphed into a “renegade”.

But many saw this coming. The first misconception is to assume that granting amnesty or doling patronage to insurgents is the cure-all therapy against Niger Delta’s otherwise festering gangrene. Paying ransom to hostage-takers only feed their greed to seize more. Until 2005, NDPVF would appear the most visible if not dominant. But while the NDPVF strongman cooled his feet in captivity in Abuja, the virus only proliferated in the creeks. Now, former apprentices seem to have become full-fledged practitioners.

Emerging from the gulag last month, Dokubo had promised to help arrest the incidence of hostage-taking. But in what clearly suggests that the falcon can no longer hear the falconer, the spectre only seems to be degenerating into another monstrosity. From the preference for expatriate white oil workers, the “freedom-fighters” now target fellow Nigerians as well: kids of the affluent or the mothers of famous politicians.

Unless something is done urgently, we are in for more degeneracy. In summary, experts have defined the Niger Delta question; what remains is to change the situation. Appraised critically, so far, the tactics and strategy of the Yar’Adua administration has been that of motion without movement. To remember that the president yet promised to arrest the slide within three months of assuming power. Yes, the president has repeatedly lectured the Niger Delta governors “not to steal” and hosted a meeting of “stake-holders”.

But such measures only look like a rehash of what his predecessor did. Indeed, if truly the president has fresh ideas, we are yet to see. We also witnessed the formal presentation of the new NNDC master-plan to the president. That could serve as a fall-back position. Of course, embedded in that document are some short-term prescriptions. How much of those will be considered?

Having said that, I think it is also necessary to say that time has, more than ever before, come to distinguish between what is clearly a noble advocacy for Niger Delta and criminality of the oil underworld of that blighted province. Sadly, we need to concede that the activities of the latter have the potentials of polluting the atmosphere against the former (which is what we are now witnessing).

In fact, the excesses of the latter should now be regarded as the greatest threat to the former. On the part of the security agencies, the situation now requires creativity in the application of tact where possible and force when necessary. Criminals are social enemies and should be treated as such.

NIGERIA : Port Harcourt mayhem will not be over soon - MEND

http://www.tribune.com.ng/19082007/news/news2.html

Idowu Adelusi and Bolaji Ogundele, Port Harcourt - 19.08.2007

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has associated the crisis in Port Harcourt with the struggle by cult groups to gain government's patronage, adding that the problem will not be over soon.

Meanwhile, security agencies in the country have been charged to get to the root of the carnage which has continued to fester in Rivers State in the past three weeks, unveil those behind it, and ensure that they were brought to book.

Spokesman of the MEND, Jomo Gbomo, in an online interview with the Sunday Tribune, also said the problem in the city may be prolonged as security agencies have started taking sides.

"The government's well-intentioned gesture is greatly flawed and more likely to result in a re-emergence of fighting in the short and long term. The military took sides, directing their attacks on Soboma who is percieved to be an enemy of the Rivers State governor.

Anyone familiar with cult groups in the Delta will understand that the military has started a never-ending war", he said.

Mr. Jomo Gbomo also blamed the Rivers State governor, Mr. Celestine Omehia, for the mayhem that has claimed more than forty lives in the state capital.

The MEND leader accused Governor Omehia of being responsible for the mayhem as he, like his predecessors, patronised cult groups and what happened in the state, he said, was a battle for government patronage.

Jomo Gbomo said, “The blame rests squarely on the shoulders of the state governor, who like his predecessors, patronised gangs to ensure victory in elections.”

He said that Governor Omehia was now waging a war with the help of the Nigerian military against groups which did not assist him.

The MEND leader vowed that the ongoing battle for supremacy in the state between his gang and the group loyal to the governor cannot be ended by the use of force.

He said that as long as any party to this conflict remains aggrieved, there will be a re-grouping and resurrection of fighting possibly against the military or rival groups perceived to have benefitted from the military’s involvement.

The MEND leader continued, “the government’s well intentioned gesture is greatly flawed, and more likely to result in a re-emergence of fighting in the short and long term.”

Describing the recent carnage in the state as senseless, Jomo Gbomo said that the fighting has nothing to do with fight for justice.

He said that he was optimistic that the two war lords, Tom Ateke and Soboma George will embrace peace and work together towards justice for the people of Rivers State.

Meanwhile, former Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Chief Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi expressed deep sadness at the wanton waste of lives and property by hoodlums.

Amaechi, who commended President Umaru Musa-Yar'adua for speedily deploying senior security officers of the country to manage the situation, described the carnage as "shameful acts which have betrayed the essence of our democracy".

"Rivers State has been regrettably reduced to a lawless, panic-stricken, and violent society. I am appalled at the extent of damage that these unwarranted incidents have had on the psyche of our people and the reputation of our state.

"Accordingly, I wish to seize this opportunity to urge security agencies not to relent in ensuring that the perpetrators are unveiled and brought to book in accordance with the laws of our country.

Also, youths and the various armed groups in the region have been advised to give peace a chance in the interest of themselves.

The Managing Director of Honeywell Superfine Foods Limited, Mr. Siji Ijogun, stated this at the weekend.

He said the situation in the region had negatively impacted on the business community in the region and this would affect those steering the situation one way or the other.

"My candid advise to the youths of the region is to take it easy, they should help government to create an enabling environment for businesses to grow all over the region. If they continue to make the place ungovernable, they can be sure that it won’t be profitable to invest in places like Port Harcourt or Owerri.


Gun Battles In Nigeria Oil City



Heavy fighting between armed gangs and the military has been reported in Nigeria’s oil city of Port Harcourt.

Residents say the military has deployed armoured personnel carriers and has been shooting indiscriminately in the air in part of the old town.

It follows clashes that raged last week between powerful rival armed gangs that left at least 15 people dead.

The gangs run criminal rackets and also have links to militant groups based in the creeks of the Niger Delta.

Violence around Port Harcourt has increased since militants launched a campaign last year for a greater share of oil revenue for the poor region.

Residents in some parts of the city have described blazing buildings and streets deserted except for men on motorbikes carrying automatic weapons

Others say they have seen helicopter gunships firing into the city as well as armoured personnel carriers near government offices.

The fighting follows an operation by the military against the base of one of the major gang leaders in the city - his name is Soboma George

The army said it arrested a number of militants during the raid though Soboma George was not among them.

For most of last week rival gangs fought pitched battles around the city leaving many dead, mostly bystanders.

The authorities say it is a turf war.

The gangs that run criminal rackets are large in size and have plenty of weapons.

The BBC’s Alex Last in Lagos says there is also a suspicion that others may have an interest in the fighting.

Most of the armed gangs had close links to politicians who employed them to help rig elections.

Gangs, money and politics have long been a dangerous combination in the Niger Delta, he says.

In the aftermath of April’s polls, he says it seems all sides are trying to exert their control, whether it be the gangs, the politicians or the security forces directed by the new government.
http://www.ghanaweb.com/CrusadingGuide/article.php?ID=7544


Author: GLOBAL NEWS WATCH With Anas Aremeyaw Anas



The anarchy in Port Harcourt
By Sun News Publishing

Editorial Index

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Editorial Index


For about two weeks now, ceaseless anarchy has been reigning in Port Harcourt. What started as a mere act of bravado unleashed on the city by rival cult groups was later to blossom into a full blown war. Port Harcourt and its inhabitants were seized by the throat by the dare-devil cultists. In the ensuing debacle, all manner of untoward things happened. The result is the complete breakdown of law and order in the state.

The cataclysm was obviously beyond the capacity of the Rivers State Government. It was above the capacity of the Nigeria Police. The warring factions were armed with sophisticated weapons that the police could not boast of. That was why they were able to threaten the seat of government in Port Harcourt. That was also why they wantonly wasted life and property without let or hindrance.

It was in the bid to arrest the state of anarchy that the Federal Government had to intervene. Today, troops have been deployed to Port Harcourt. They are, in conjunction with men of the Joint Task Force who have been operating in the Niger Delta, working hard to maintain the peace in the city.

So far, the task has been a Herculean one for the troops. The militants have, in spite of their presence, continued to unleash terror on the people. It was such effrontery that necessitated the raiding of their hideouts by soldiers last Thursday. The exchange of fire power left many dead and several others wounded. The state government has imposed partial curfew in the state capital as part of the measures to stem the tide of violence.

We hardly can imagine that this is taking place in a country that is not at war with itself. Nigeria is in peace time and does not therefore deserve the distraction emanating from the Niger Delta region represented in this instance by the anarchy in Port Harcourt. With the situation we have on our hands now, the federal government can no longer pretend about the seriousness of the brigandage and effrontery which a part of the country has become accustomed to. The state of affairs epitomizes lack of respect for constituted authority and for law and order.

The scenario is simply unacceptable in a land where there is a government that has the primary responsibility of providing security for life and property. Now that government has recognized the enormity of the crisis, it is now incumbent on it to live up to expectations. The people’s ultimate expectation in this matter is that the Nigerian state has to be in charge of its own affairs.

Over time, it has abdicated part of its responsibility to criminals in its bid to placate the restive elements in the troubled region. By now, the authorities are no longer under any illusion that the pacifist approach has failed. They way to go now is to sustain the tempo of the containment which government has put in place. The on-going siege on the militants must continue.

The effort aimed at demolishing their hideouts and bases must be sustained. The rebellious groups must be whipped into line. There is no parallel government anywhere in this country beyond the ones recognized by the laws of the land. Anything that falls outside this specification must therefore be treated as an aberration. The militants must therefore be subdued and flushed out.

To maintain peace on a sustainable basis, he military presence in Port Harcourt has to continue. Government has to be sure that the city is completely rid of miscreants before the troops can be withdrawn. In fact, if there is anything which government has to do, it is to ensure that the militants do not return. When this objective is achieved, government can then begin to look more seriousness into their outlawry.

How did we find ourselves in a situation where people openly carry arms and seize whole cities and villages without government feeling scandalized? It was because government has been playing the meek and gentle lamb in a matter as serious as this that the situation has now gone out of control. With the level of embarrassment the country has suffered now, our governments must rise to the occasion.

We recognize the right of people and groups to be aggrieved if the system has not been fair to them. But the quest for redress has to be within the ambit of the law. Government has a responsibility to enforce compliance in this regard.

For the government of President Umar Musa Yar’Adua which is experiencing this anarchy in its early days, the development is a clarion call to arms. The message it sends to the government is that it has to guard its loins properly. The militancy in the Niger Delta has graduated to a higher level. Government must be ready to deal with the menace while at the same time taking steps to make life bearable for the people of the region.
After all, no meaningful development can taken place in a lawless and brutish society.
http://www.sunnewsonline.com/
webpages/opinion/editorial/2007/aug/19/editorial-19-08-2007-001.htm




Omehia: Military to Be in P/Harcourt for 6 Months
From Ahamefula Ogbu in Port Harcourt, 08.19.2007
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Governor Celestine Omehia of Rivers State yesterday announced what amounted to a subtle proclamation of emergency rule in the state when he said soldiers would be on Port Harcourt streets for the next six months.
Omehia made the announcement after a security meeting he attended with Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Owoeye Azazi, Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Luka Yusuf, Acting Inspector General of Police, Mike Okiro and other top security chiefs.
Others who attended the meeting included the Chief Logistics Officer of the Air force, the Flag Officer Commanding the Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral Bodurin Raji and the Director of State Security Services in the State among others.
Azazi after meeting with Omehia referred newsmen to the Governor and insisted that he would only talk during his next visit to the State. The defence chief however said his primary concern was the return of peace to the troubled State.
Omehia who tried to shy away from the probing questions on the situation in Port Harcourt later caved in and said the decision to maintain heavy military presence in the state capital was to consolidate the return of peace to the city and to ensure that there was no relapse into the chaotic situation in which cultists practically took over control of the state.
He said for a long time, the government had used carrot and stick method to deal with the militants but it has now discovered that the boys were taking the carrot and still resorting to crime, hence the resolve to apply the stick as the final solution.
When reminded that in 2004, there was an attempt at rehabilitating the boys when some of them were sent on leadership training to Jos, Plateau State, he said the scenario was different and insisted that the party was over for the boys as he was willing to do anything to ensure that peace reigns in the State.
“You cannot compare stomach ache with ordinary headache, they are not the same thing. The operations now, did you witness it in 2004? The soldiers never came out, the navy never came out and the Air force never came out. You witnessed that what happened in 2004 was a mere dialogue and government did its best to see that the people actually obeyed but rather than respond positively to the government initiative they decided to go back to the forest and act the way they did. “The situation now is different. It is like the carrot and stick, you take carrot, you eat it, all well and good but if you don’t want to take the carrot then we give you the stick. That is what we have done.
“What happened before was the carrot. We gave them all the carrot and they ate all the carrots and never changed. Now we will give them the stick, and we will continue with the stick and it is going to be permanent. I can assure you that in the next six months there will still be presence of the military visible or invisible. I must make it clear, you may see them or you may not see them but they are there”, he said.
He pleaded for the understanding of the residents of the city on the inconvenience they have been passing through but added that it was temporary and that the tough measures were meant for their protection.
"In as much as the people are suffering temporary inconveniences as a result of the operations of the military in the state, it is a necessary inconvenience. All we need to do is to bear the pains for a while,” he said.
He said it was part of the duty of his administration to sanitise the State and that he has taken the gauntlet to do it, adding that the decision was aimed at sanitizing Port Harcourt so that the mayhem people witnessed in the past two weeks would never repeat itself.
He called for the support and prayers of the churches and mosques in the State for an enduring peace.
After the meeting by the security chiefs at Bori Camp, IGP Okiro who was the only one that responded to questions on the mission of the military top brass in the state said “We are committed to peace and we are ready to do anything to restore the peace”.
Section 305 of the Constitution provides that the president has power to issue a proclamation of a state of emergency when there is breakdown of public order and public safety in the federation or any part thereof to such extent as to require extra-ordinary measures to restore peace and security.
An emergency proclamation lapses after six months if it is not renewed and can be declared by the President at the request of a state governor with the sanction of the State House of Assembly.
Section 45 of the Constitution allows the derogation from the fundamental rights of the citizens during emergency period to the extent that the measures are reasonably justifiable for the purpose of dealing with the situation.
Since the Port Harcourt crisis escalated in the past one week, residents’ right of free movement has been curtailed while military men have conducted compulsory searches on houses, persons and vehicles.
Reacting to the crackdown, spokesperson of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Mr. Gbomo Jomo dismissed the decision as an indication of the lack of initiative by the Acting Inspector General of Police who he accused of parading innocent people as criminals.
“That’s the nature of a poorly trained police force. How many times have innocent civilians been paraded as criminals? The IG’s comments are irresponsible as they are unsubstantiated," he said.
On the rumoured death of one of the cult leaders, Mr. Soboma George, Jomo said “Soboma is alive and well. He sustained no injuries and will show up soon I believe. The government should not waste resources on DNA tests. Soboma has only used up three of his nine lives”.
Meanwhile, soldiers and other members of the JTF intensified their patrols and ‘stop and search’ as they are stationed at every street in the city.
The soldiers order residents on commercial motor bikes to disembark for searching. Those trekking were compelled to put their hands on their heads when they get to check points.
Vehicles were subjected to rigorous searches at every of the checkpoints located just about some metres away from each other.
The curfew declared on Friday in the city has also been very effective.
The JTF used the opportunity to show case more arms recovered which included 30 Barreta guns said to be Italian weapons, six General Purpose Machine guns, eight G3 guns, dynamites, ammunitions which filled several buckets of paint and several other assorted weapons like 12 AK47 rifles.

The Scope of the U.S. Infrastructure Deficit

by the EIR Economics Staff

The Aug. 1 collapse of the I-35W bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, is the most dramatic and recent event of a process of decades-long deterioration of U.S. infrastructure. To provide an overview of the rebuilding tasks, we present here a snapshot of the dimensions of the decay and danger of bridges, dams, and a selection of other categories of infrastructure, with references.

The American Society of Civil Engineers has estimated that $1.7 trillion is required merely to stabilize the condition of core infrastructure. If all the needs are factored in—including new water supplies, a modernized continental rail system, a nuclear power-based electricity supply, and so on, the costs then add up to $8-9 trillion.
Bridges, Highways, and Roads

There are a total of 592,473 road bridges in the United States of which 26%, or 155,144 are deemed "structurally deficient and/or functionally obsolete," according to the latest Bureau of Transportation statistical data. The office of Minnesota Congressman James Oberstar (D), chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee of the House, reports that up to 30% of the nation's bridges that receive Federal funds have been deemed structurally deficient to some degree. Oberstar has scheduled a hearing Sept. 5 on the crisis, and has posted charts for review on the status of bridges, 1990-2006. His Committee website provides data on the classification of bridges by state, with a map for each Congressional District, as of 2003 (http://transportation.house. gov/bridgemaps.shtml).

The map of outmoded bridges (Figure 1) shows that 40 states have at least one in five bridges in the category of "structurally deficient and/or functionally obsolete" as of 2006. Of these, 11 states have more than 30% in this condition. And 4 states—Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Hawaii, and Rhode Island—plus the District of Columbia, have more than 40 percent of their bridges classified as decrepit.

In the absolute number of deficient bridges, Pennsylvania ranks highest in the nation. Of its total of 25,000 state-owned bridges, 6,250 need rehabilitation or replacement. In contrast, the state of Minnesota, where the Mississippi River bridge collapsed Aug. 1, ranks in the relatively "good" category, with only 12.2% (1,586) of its bridges considered in need of refurbishing or replacement. (Data on bridges are kept by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics at http://www.bts.gov.)

There are 756 other bridges in the country of the same vintage and design as the 40-year old I-35W bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis.

The U.S. Department of Transportation currently estimates that there is a $461 billion backlog of needed road, highway, and bridge repair and improvements. The American Society of Civil Engineers, and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials keep estimates on the loss to the economy from poor road conditions. For example, U.S. motorists spend at least $54 billion a year in repairs and operating costs because of poor road conditions.
Railways

The U.S. rail system is a bare skeleton of its past operations, where route density peaked in the 1920s. Just taking the 20-year period from 1980 to 2000, here are the dimensions of contraction:
A decline in Class I track mileage from 164,822 in 1980 (already far below its length of 229,530 route-miles in 1922), to 99,250 in 2000.
A decline in the railroad workforce from 458,000 in 1980, to 168,000 in 2000—a drop of 63%.
A 29% drop in the number of locomotives from 28,094 in operation in 1980, to 20,028 in 2000.
A 52% drop in freight cars in use, from 1,168,114 down to 560,154.

Figures 2a and 2b show the contraction in Amtrak passenger rail routes.

In addition to the shrinkage of the rail system, the condition of what remains is also inadequate, as the accident rate shows. In 2006, of 2,903 rail wrecks, 1,043 were caused by track defects.

The buildup that is required should be the occasion to shift to high-speed rail corridors, including magnetically levitated rail on priority lines.
Dams

The nation has 82,642 dams recorded in the National Dam Inventory, serving purposes of flood control, navigation, hydroelectric power, irrigation, recreation, water supply, wildlife habitation, fire control, and other uses. The average age of these dams is 49 years, with tens of thousands of dams over 60 years old. Nearly 30% of dams are classified as hazardous—either high hazard (11,881) or significant hazard (13,549). The remainder, 57,194, are designated low hazard. The degree of hazard refers to the danger, especially threat of loss of life, to what is downstream. (A high-hazard dam can be one in decent condition, but at a site where there are many people residing downstream).

Of the 30,000 dams considered to be in some category of hazard, 3,000 are considered as actually unsafe. The "Report Card" of the American Society of Civil Engineers gives dam safety overall a "D," partially because of the lack of funding available to deal with these unsafe structures. In 2002, and estimate of $10 billion was given by the Association of Dam Safety Officials for what it would have taken then to rehabilitate the most critical high-hazard dams.

More than 70,000 dams are regulated by the dam safety officers of the 50 states. Various authorities have responsibility for the dams: Federal (3,382), state (4,189), local government (16,497), public utility (1,703), private (53,166), and some others. The Agriculture Department has 10,000 upper watershed dams. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' National Inventory of Dams is available at: www.tec.army.mil/NIDpublic

Of the dams tracked by the Association of State Dam Safety Officials, there are many causes of failure:
34% fail because of overtopping, from inadequate spillway design, debris blockage of spillways, or settlement of the dam crest.
30% fail because of foundation defects.
20% fail because of piping (internal erosion caused by seepage). Seepage often occurs around hydraulic structures, from animal burrows, vegetation, cracks, and so on. See www.damsafety.org.
Navigable Waterways

The need to upgrade the aging installations of locks and dams on the U.S. waterways, is indicated in Figure 3 showing the aging of the lock inventory. Figure 4 shows the map of the 12,000-mile system maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers. There are lock chambers in use that are over 80 years old. The backlog of Army Corps waterways work is well over $3 billion.
Water Supply, Sewage Treatment

The United States has 54,000 community water supply systems and 16,000 publicly owned sewage treatment operations. All these systems are aging and there is a huge repair and replacement deficit. In New York City, for example, there are water mains that are more than 150 years old, and they rupture with regularity.

There is also a need to provide new systems because of the 30 years of sprawl associated with real estate speculation, where housing has been located in areas with no central sewage infrastructure. In the former cornfields of suburban Washington, D.C., fecal bacteria counts in streams and run-off has reached the stage of a public health threat.

Replacing aging urban systems is going at a snail's pace. On July 16, 2007, the United States Conference of Mayors relased the results of a study conducted by the Mayors' Water Council that showed that 48% of American cities are on a water and sewer pipe replacement schedule of 20 to 100 years, and between 18% and 23% of cities are on a replacement schedule that will exceed 100 years. The estimated cost of overcoming the crisis, by making the repairs in the next 20 years, is in the range of minimally $300 to $500 billion.

The breakdown of those waterworks components in need of repair is shown in Figure 5. A 2003 study by the Congressional Budget Office concluded that over a 20-year period it would require between $178 billion and $331 billion in pipe replacement costs alone.

The situation is urgent. The nation's capital is typical. The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, which maintains freshwater and sewer pipes for two counties outside the District of Columbia—Montgomery and Prince George counties in Maryland—reported that during February 2007, there were a stunning 477 water main breaks—16 per day. Sixty percent of the system's 5,300 miles of pipe is 30 years or older; another 25% is 50 years or older. With its current meager funding, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission will get around to replacing each mile of pipe only once in every 200 years!
Schools

A survey completed in 2006 by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) concluded that that tens of thousands of public schools urgently need repairs, renovation, modernization, or new construction because of health problems and overcrowding. Nearly 20 years ago, the AFT called for a Marshall Plan to upgrade public schools, because as Federal funds were dwindling, schools were deteriorating. This didn't happen.

A Government Accountability Office report in 1995 concluded that at that time 25,000 public schools needed extensive repair and replacement, and that it would take $112 billion to bring existing buildings into conformity with the minimum building standards. The same report concluded that the air was unfit to breathe in nearly 15,000 public schools. As of 2004, 8.5% of schools had exceeded their physical space capacities, according to a report that year from the National Center for Education Statistics of the Department of Education.

In its 35th Annual "Maintenance and Operations Cost Study," American School and University found that in 2006 the median school district spent 7.58% of its total expenditures on maintenance and operations, well below the 9.59% spent ten years earlier.

In 2005, the American Socieity of Civil Engineers gave a "D" grade to American schools on its "infrastructure report card." The Society noted that in 2000, $268 billion was the expenditure necessary to bring schools into conformity with standards, according to the National Education Associaton estimates at that time. A 2006 AFT survey of what is needed for schools, "Building Minds, Minding Buildings," is available at www.aft.org.
Hospitals and Medical Equipment

The decline in the number of hospitals and the decrease in the ratio of hospital beds per 1,000 persons has reached the stage of crisis in many inner-city and rural areas. Figures 6a and 6b show that in 1980, 22 states were above or at the desired level of the ratio of 4.5 hospital beds per 1,000 persons. This is the "Hill Burton" standard, named after the 1946 law, "Hospital Survey and Construction Act"—co-sponsored by Rep. Lister Hill (D-Ala.) and Harold Burton (R-Ohio). Under this law, the U.S. hospital system was built up over the 1950s and 1960s, through Federal, state, and local funding, to have public hospitals in nearly all the nation's 3,000 counties, and have a beds-per-1,000 persons ratio of 4.5 in urban areas, and 5.5 in rural areas.

Figure 6a shows that in 1980, most states were near this level. From 1958 to 1980, there was an increase of 583 community or general acute care hospitals, and 378,000 staffed community hospital beds. However, since 1980, there has been a dramatic reduction, to the point where only three states are at the "Hill Burton" standard. Hundreds of counties have lost their public hospital altogether, or their hospitals have been downgraded to a "critical access" operation, where they receive patients and ship them elsewhere for treatment.

Likewise, the availability of diagnostic and treatment equipment have declined for much of the population. Beginning in January 2007, Bush Administration cutbacks in Medicaid reimbursement payments for imaging technologies began to reduce the availability of lifesaving diagnoses of all kinds—MRI, CT, PET, DXA, and ultrasound scanning. This came on top of losses already under way. From 2001 to 2004, the number of mammogaphy facilities nationwide decreased 6%, from 9,306 to 8,786. Forty states lost facilities during this period, and as of October 2004, 865 counties—one fourth of the counties in the country, containing 3.4% of the U.S population-had no mammogram machines.
Disaster Response, Medical Emergency Services

In 2006, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences released a three-volume report which concluded that the United States emergency and trauma care system is "at the breaking point." A 2003 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that emergency rooms in hospitals diverted more than 1,300 patients a day, 365 days per year. The number of emergency departments in operation nationally decreased by 38% between 1995 and 2005. At the same time, the use of emergency rooms over this period increased by 20%, as much of the population came to be impoverished and without health insurance. The American College of Emergency Room Physicians warns that there is next to no capacity to deal with surge demands of bioterrorism, or natural threats, like the next influenza pandemic.
Veterans Medical Care

The Veterans Health Administration is the largest direct provider of medical care in the nation, and it needs to be expanded, both for its unique mission, and as part of the overall medical base of the nation for emergency surge capacity, as in the Katrina diaster. The VA is now receiving a growing number of wounded returnees from service in Iraq and Afghanistan; also there are thousands of other veterans flocking to the VA because private insurance options have been withdrawn or have become unaffordable. Parts of the system are overwhelmed. As of March 2007, there was a backlog of 600,000 disability claims that had not yet been processed. Figure 7 is a national map of 160 VA hospital sites, 19 of which were targetted for shutdown. A de facto construction moratorium was begun in 2001 under the Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services (CARES) process, which has had a terrible effect. The recent national scandal of the poor conditions at the venerable Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., makes the point. The number of VA hospitals and specialty centers should be increased, not decreased, and the whole system must be upgraded. In July 2004, then VA Secretary Antony Principi testified to a House Committee hearing that approximately $1 billon a year for the next five years was needed to modernize the VA medical infrastructure.

The Veterans Coalition "Independent Budget" estimate for FY 2008 calls for $1.602 billion in funding for major construction projects, and another $541 million for minor construction projects. On top of this, another $1.6 billion is needed for nonrecurring maintenance, such as upgrades of electrical systems, roof repairs, and so on, to make up for the lack of funding for such maintenance in previous years.

Call by the Ad Hoc Committee for a New Bretton Woods

August 12, 2007

Following up the previous calls of 1997, 2000, and 2006, in which thousands of prominent personalities from all over the work, among them former heads of state, members of parliaments, unionists, entrepreneurs, city officials, church members, members of the military, and so forth, demanded a reorganization of the world financial system, the Chairwoman of the Schiller Institute, Helga Zepp-LaRouche, has written the following new call, which will be circulated worldwide by the Schiller Institute. It should be published on the Internet and in various newspapers with the names of the signers, and will be presented to the American Congress and the parliaments of the world.

The systemic crash of the world financial system is in full swing. Shaken loose but not caused by the collapse of the subprime mortgage market in the U.S. and the end of the inflationary yen-carry-trade in Japan, the house of cards of "creative financial instruments," as Alan Greenspan has dubbed various credit derivatives, has thereby caved in. Because the takeover craze on the part of the hedge funds and private equity funds has been rising higher and higher over the recent years and months with ever wilder predatory raids, the investment banks which have financed the majority of these takeovers, are now left sitting on these worthless credits. More U.S. mortgage financiers will declare insolvency, more banks will go under in the vortex of the credit crisis. In the U.S. there are currently almost 10 trillion dollars in mortgage loans, over a third of which are bad credit risks. In Germany the examples of the IKB-Bank and the Westdeutsche LandesBank have shown that boards of directors are finding it hard to admit the quantity of their losses.

The myth that the central banks have an endless number of possibilities to always bring a crash under control, is exploding: they now find themselves between the Scylla of the fight against inflation with higher interest rates—which is urgent in the face of the obvious inflation of food, raw materials and oil, but would lead to bubbles like that of the U.S. mortgage market, and the like, bursting even more,—and the Charybdis of the credit crisis, which has been unleashed by the reversed leverage collapse. If the central banks try to stop a chain reaction by infusing liquidity in the range of hundreds of billions, as just occurred within 24 hours during the second week of August, this only means that there will be a hyperinflation like that in Weimar Germany 1923—only this time not in one country, but worldwide.

It is a dilemma from which there is no way out: the system is finished.

Catastrophic consequences are threatened for the world population. If countries can no longer finance their functions, sociities threaten to sink into chaos. The model of so-called globalization is today totally bankrupt, just as the communist model was in 1989-91. All the principles which are associated with it, such as "outsourcing" (that is, the shifting of highly qualified jobs into cheap-production countries), "shareholder value" society, "money-makes-money," "just-in-time" production, "benchmarking," etc. have been rejected. The condition of collapsing infrastructure in the G-7 countries is the best indicator of the wreckage of the unregulated free market economy.

In order to stop the intolerable suffering which an uncontrolled collapse of the world financial system threatens to unleash on the population, we, the undersigned, demand, the immediate convoking of an emergency conference which must decide on a new global financial architecture in the tradition of the Bretton Woods System initiated by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944.

We, the undersigned, also point out, that the Italian Parliament has taken up LaRouche's proposal, and in a resolution on April 6, 2005, called on the Italian government to convene "an international conference at the level of Heads of State and Government, to globally define a new and more just monetary and financial system."

The necessity for such a fundamental reorganization is all the more urgent today, but the potential for its realization has also grown. For an irony of history is responsible: Because when the Soviet Union began to unravel in 1991, the neo-conservatives in the government of President George Bush, Sr., saw to it by their policy of preemptive wars and regime change, that the process of cooperation among the nations of Eurasia and Latin America, which normally would have taken decades, has accelerated, under the influence of the American unilateralist policy. An array of heads of state of important countries have made it clear, that they have decided to defend the general welfare of their populations against the encroachment of the financial institutions associated with globalization. Therefore, the chances of putting the question of a just new world economic order on the agenda, have enormously increased.

But it would be a dangerous illusion to believe that a successful reorganization of the bankrupt world financial system could succeed without, or against, the United States. Therefore, we, the undersigned, declare ourselves in favor of cooperation with the "real" America, in the tradition of the American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence, that America which is connected with names such as Alexander Hamilton, John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King, and which is inspired by Lyndon LaRouche today. America must be a part of the new community of principle of sovereign republics, which is bound together through the common interests of mankind.

In recent months Lyndon LaRouche has pointed out again and again that only the combination of a transformed America, together with Russia, China, and India, would be strong enough to put the question of a new monetary system on the agenda. But that does not mean that other nations could and should not participate as partners with these four large nations.

In order to correct the failures of development, which have occurred due to the paradigm shift of the past 40 years, and above all, since the abandonment of the system of fixed exchange rates by U.S. President Richard Nixon, in 1971, and which led, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, with unrestrained globalization, to today's brutal vulture capitalism, we must implement the following measures:

The emergency conference for a New Bretton Woods must immediately thus resolve:

1. The current world financial system must be declared hopelessly bankrupt and be replaced by a new one.

2. A system of fixed exchange rates must be agreed upon immediately.

3. Derivatives speculation must be prohibited through an agreement among governments.

4. There must be put into effect a comprehensive reorganization, or, as the case may be, a cancellation of debts.

5. There must be put in place new credit lines, through state credit creation, in the tradition of Alexander Hamilton and the American System, which will make possible productive full employment, through investments in basic infrastructure and technological revival.

6. The completion of the Eurasian Land-Bridge, as the kernel of the reconstruction of the world economy, is thus the vision which will not only bring about an economic miracle, but also can become a system of peace for the 21st Century.

7. A new "Treaty of Westphalia" must guarantee the opening up and development of raw materials for all nations on this Earth, for at least the next 50 years.

We, the undersigned, are of the belief that the system of "globalization," with its brutal vulture capitalism, has economically, financially, and morally failed. In its place, man must again be put in the center, and the economy must serve the general welfare first and foremost. The new economic order must guarantee the inalienable rights of all mankind on this planet.

Signed:

Helga Zepp-LaRouche, Federal chairwoman of the BueSo and the Schiller Institute

Shanghai Cooperation Organization: territory of partnership

22:01 | 15/ 08/ 2007


MOSCOW. (Jibek Syzdykova for RIA Novosti) - Developing as an international agency, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has been responding to the geopolitical situation in Europe, Asia and the rest of the world.

Former Soviet republic made repeated attempts to streamline integration by setting up different associations, but they were not destined to live for many reasons. Experts are unanimous that the SCO is a success. Many call it a universal model of international partnership and this is no exaggeration.

The SCO has obviously helped its members to settle sensitive border issues. Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have a 3,700 km-long common border with China. Lack of cooperation between Central Asian countries would make it very difficult for them to resolve this issue with China tete-a-tete, without any support from Russia or an international organization. Countering new challenges to security was another urgent problem for Central Asia. In the late 1990s-early 2000s, they had to confront the dangerous contours of terrorism. Having adopted a list of security priorities, the SCO has become a shield against terrorism, separatism and extremism.

The SCO members have logically extended their cooperation to the economy. Central Asia's hydrocarbon resources are essential for China's rapidly growing economy.

One of the SCO goals was to balance out the growing influence of the United States. The presence of the U.S.-led coalition troops in the region has not achieved its main mission of eliminating the Taliban. Under the circumstances, U.S. current policy towards different terrorist groups may spur on separatist attitudes not only in the Middle East and West Asia, but also in Central Asia. It is important to consider that the majority of the region's nations (except Tajikistan) are Turkic-speaking Sunni Muslims. Their brethren in faith and language live in China's Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region, where the Front for the Liberation of East Turkestan is operating. This is a source of concern for the Chinese leaders. They want Central Asia to be a safe market for Chinese goods.

Russia and China are equally interested in creating a geopolitical counterbalance to the United States and in building a multi-polar world order. Indicatively, for the first time in history, an organization has united two major powers, which have left a deep imprint on the history of Central Asia.

Nobody chooses neighbors. History remembers not only merchant caravans on the Great Silk Route, but also a rather difficult position of the ethnic communities residing in the heart of Eurasia - from the Urals to Pamir and Hindu Kush. But let's not go into the hoary past - modern realities are also ridden with serious problems. The performance of China and Russia in major parameters is incomparable with that of other SCO members. For this reason, the distribution of roles within the SCO will be uneven in the near future. Structurally, there will be three echelons: first - Russia and China; second - Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan; and third - Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. The SCO should practice a strategy of uneven growth by concentrating their resources in places with a favorable investment climate, where they can yield the best results. This requires coordination in the SCO and beyond.

Chinese neighbors are bound to feel weak compared to a powerful country with a huge population. We believe that even the name of the SCO - Shanghai - shows China's importance. In turn, China has a different approach to Central Asian republics. It is particularly interested in Kazakhstan, which comes second in trade after Russia in the CIS and Eastern Europe, but pays less attention to Kyrgyzstan with its vague foreign policy priorities. Large-scale investment in Kyrgyzstan would be too risky for China, although both countries would gain much from the construction of a section of the TRASEKA trans-Asian railroad to link China's Korla-Kashgar with Kyrgyz Torugart-Jalal Abad. The project to build the Iskeshtam-Osh-Andijan highway has got underway. One of its key sections passed in Uzbekistan. China keeps its eyes on promising hydrocarbon reserves on Uzbek territory.

The complicated situation in the Tajik-Afghan border zone and the drug-trafficking problem are a source of concern not only for Tajikistan but also for China. Its investment in the development of Tajik transport infrastructure, for instance, the construction of additional bridges across the Panj River would directly link Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and China with the Persian Gulf and the rest of the Indian Ocean.

Central Asian countries (probably except Kazakhstan) are concerned that China's active involvement in their economies may turn them into its raw materials appendage. Russia is capable of balancing out relations in the SCO. It can largely determine SCO multilateral and bilateral cooperation and its contacts with the West, especially as regards its transcontinental agreements on supplies of energy and military hardware and large-scale humanitarian projects, which involve all SCO countries without exception. During preparations for the forthcoming SCO summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Ednan Karabayev observed: "A treaty on long-tern good-neighborly relations, friendship and cooperation will become a key SCO document."

The forthcoming summit will concentrate on the following goals - to step up partnership with SCO observer countries, as well as with Afghanistan in the framework of the relevant contact group (to combat drug trafficking); to shape a common energy market; to develop instruments of cooperation with other international bodies; to determine functions of new agencies within the SCO (Business Council, Energy Club and Inter-Bank Association); to discuss a common SCO market and security measures during the summer Olympics in Beijing in 2008.

The United Nations has given the SCO a status of observer - a fact that speaks for itself. Japan and Bangladesh have expressed interest in cooperating with it. The SCO Secretariat has initiated the formation of a SCO Forum to expand international scientific, technical, cultural and humanitarian cooperation.

Will the SCO succeed in formulating new rules of the game on a territory stretching from Central Asia to Indochina? This will depend on the ability of the SCO nations to unite and parry the challenges of today. The forthcoming Bishkek summit will provide an answer.

Jibek Syzdykova is the director of the Center of Central Asian and Caucasus Studies of Moscow State University's Institute of Asian and African Countries, member of the RIA Novosti Expert Council.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

Russia and Venezuela: two different look-alikes

17:18 | 17/ 08/ 2007

MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Pyotr Romanov) - Events in Russia and Latin America are sometimes stunningly alike. I still remember my wonder at the similarity of events in Peru ruled by Alberto Fujimori and in Russia during the era of Boris Yeltsin.

President Fujimori dissolved the parliament, and Yeltsin soon did the same. Fujimori announced a war on terror, and the first Chechen war began in Russia soon afterwards.

Both presidents were sharply criticized by human rights groups, although not always with good reason. These human rights advocates refused to take into account reality, in which the terrorist adversary forced specific forms of fighting on the government.

Peruvian Maoists from Sendero Luminoso, whose stated goal was to destroy existing Peruvian institutions and replace them with a communist peasant revolutionary regime, kidnapped people and cut off their arms with machete knives. Chechen terrorists in Russia kidnapped people and cut off their heads.

There is one substantial difference, though: Fujimori won his war, while Yeltsin didn't. A relative victory and peace in Chechnya became possible only after the second Chechen war and under a different president.

And lastly, Fujimori had to flee Peru, while Yeltsin, although Russians did not like him much, was given an honorable burial in Moscow.

Today some people compare Vladimir Putin to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. In my opinion, there are more differences than similarities between them.

Formal democracy is the political element they have in common. Both countries have formal elements of democracy, such as parliament, elections, the division of powers, the opposition and opposition media, and so on. However, democracy is not prospering in either country, to put it mildly.

Russia and Venezuela are similar economically: both have huge energy resources, which keep them afloat and even allow them to carry out reforms.

And this is it. Everything else is quite different.

The regime of Chavez is a direct offspring of several previous regimes, which formally advocated democratic principles and a market economy, but turned out to be incompetent, unwilling to address social problems, and unable to resist the temptation to steal and talk through the hat.

Venezuela's latest problem is that it has veered to the left, following Chavez's demagoguery from one pseudo-democracy to another. This is a lesson other countries, including Russia, must learn. It shows that formal democracy has a vulnerable immune system, with populism as the killer virus.

Russia has risen from a different background - socialist democracy and planned economy. It is developing a strange political system, but it certainly is not a "socialism of the 21st century" advocated by Comandante Chavez.

Besides, there is a glimmer of hope that Russian democracy will outgrow its teenage illnesses, while the "democracy according to Chavez" is beyond any hope. The only thing he can do is develop a socialist democracy, commonly known as dictatorship, especially since his Cuban advisors are working hard to reinforce his personality cult.

There are forces in Venezuela and Russia that want to make the current presidents their lifetime leaders, but the reaction of Putin to this idea is broadly different from that of Chavez.

The Venezuelan president has submitted to his puppet parliament a draft law amending the constitution to allow lifelong presidency. Putin has so far repelled all attacks at the constitution, defending his right to a political vacation at least until 2012.

I believe Putin is doing right, because catastrophe is almost unavoidable when the same person stands at the helm too long.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

Russia restores Soviet-era strategic bomber patrols

21:42 | 17/ 08/ 2007

CHEBARKUL (Urals), August 17 (RIA Novosti) - President Vladimir Putin said Russia permanently resumed Friday long-distance patrol flights of strategic bombers, which were suspended in 1992 after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

"I made a decision to restore flights of Russian strategic bombers on a permanent basis, and at 00:00 today, August 17, 14 strategic bombers, support aircraft and aerial tankers were deployed. Combat duty has begun, involving 20 aircraft."

The president, speaking on the final day of large-scale military exercises involving Russia, China, and four Central Asian countries in the south Urals, said that on the first day of patrol flights, bomber planes would spend about 20 hours in the air, with midair refueling, and would interact with naval forces.

"Air patrol areas will include zones of commercial shipping and economic activity. As of today, combat patrolling will be on a permanent basis. It has a strategic character," Putin said.

The president said that although the country stopped strategic flights to remote regions in 1992, "Unfortunately, not everyone followed our example." Other states' long-distance strategic patrol flights have created certain problems for national security, he said.

"We act on the assumption that our partners will treat with understanding the resumption of strategic air flights. Our pilots have been grounded for too long. There is strategic aviation, but there are no flights,"
Putin said.

Leaders of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) were in Russia's Chelyabinsk Region for the final day of Peace Mission 2007 counter-terrorism exercises, which began August 9. The drills involved about 6,000 servicemen from Russia and China, along with around 1,500 from the other four member states, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan.

A former Russian Air Force chief said the resumption of patrols would strengthen Russia's defense capability. "It's a good thing that the old geopolitical setup has been revised. It used to be based on the principle, 'No one is going to attack us.' Practice testifies to the contrary," Army Gen. Pyotr Deinekin said.

He highlighted the new potential security threats Russia faces, saying NATO fighters were based in the Baltic States - formerly part of the Soviet Union and now EU members - while radar stations are being built around Russia's borders.

The general said that the early 1980s, in response to the U.S.'s deployment of cruise missiles in Europe, Soviet strategic aviation started patrolling areas as far afield as the U.S. coast. Patrols were discontinued following the collapse of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact, and due to severe economic difficulties, including an acute fuel shortage.

"Flights will be conducted on the same basis as they were in the past," Deinekin said.

Following Putin's announcement at Peace Mission 2007, exercises that were viewed by Western media as a display of Beijing and Moscow's renewed military might, Washington played down the significance of Russian strategic bomber flights.

"That's a decision for them to take," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said. "It's interesting. We certainly are not in the kind of posture we were with what used to be the Soviet Union. It's a different era. If Russia feels as though they want to take some of these old aircraft out of mothballs and get them flying again, that's their decision."

Russia's top Air Force officer denies planes flew over Georgia

17/ 08/ 2007



TBILISI, August 17 (RIA Novosti) - The chief of staff of Russia's Air Force, Gen. Igor Khvorov, denied Friday Tbilisi's claims that Russian aircraft violated Georgian airspace on August 6.

Georgia accused Russia of firing a missile last Monday on a village 40 miles northwest of the Georgian capital and next to the border with breakaway South Ossetia. The 1,400-pound missile did not explode, but has become the latest source of tension between the former Soviet allies.

"There was no unsanctioned border crossing," Khvorov told a briefing in the Russian Embassy in Tbilisi. "Services on duty were working in normal mode."

The general also said evidence that could have explained the situation had been destroyed. "Clues, including the number of the rocket, have been eliminated along with the fuse of the unexploded missile," he said, adding that two thirds of the missile parts were also missing.

Khvorov said Russian experts investigating the alleged violation of Georgian airspace at the site suspected the missile had exploded at another site. Russian experts also suggested earlier Friday that the missile had been deliberately planted by Tbilisi.

Moscow, which Tbilisi has accused of backing separatists in South Ossetia, has denied involvement in the incident, saying it was "a new provocation" staged by Tbilisi to destabilize the region. South Ossetia echoed the accusations, saying the aircraft came from Georgia's side.

The Georgian Defense Ministry accused Russian experts of refusing to constructively cooperate in the investigation.

"Unfortunately, the Russian side demonstrated no constructive approach and virtually avoided cooperation in the investigation," the ministry said in a statement Friday.

The ministry appealed to the international community in the hope of "political assessment of the situation."

Tbilisi has demanded that the European Union step in and the UN Security Council hold an emergency session on the matter. An international group of independent experts from the United States, Sweden, Lithuania and Latvia have also been working at the site and have been quoted by Georgian officials as saying Russia had violated the airspace.

Russian experts have completed work at the site of the incident, and have left for Tbilisi where they will visit the Interior Ministry to study the missile parts.

Ten Years After: The Lasting Impact of the Asian Financial Crisis

Author(s): Mark Weisbrot
Publisher(s): Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), Washington, DC, US
Date of publication: 7 Aug 2007
Format: PDF
Pages: 8
URL: www.cepr.net
Series: CEPR Reports

Description: This paper examines the legacy of the Asian financial crisis of 1997. The author argues that the most important long-term impact of this crisis was the initiation of the process that led to the collapse of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) influence over middle-income countries. The paper states that such a lasting outcome is in large part due to the IMF's role in the crisis which, even at the time, was widely seen as a major failure.
General note: © 2007 Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR)

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English - Download the full-text document (173 KB)

Iran-Armenia pipeline, gas vs geopolitics

For residents of the remote southern Armenian town of Meghri, an Iranian pipeline is about gas, not geopolitics.

By Joshua Kucera for EurasiaNet (17/08/07)

Deep in remote southern Armenia, the town of Meghri lies at the frontlines of one of the region’s most controversial geopolitical showdowns: the construction of a 140-kilometer-long gas pipeline from Iran that could reduce Armenian dependency on Russian gas while clearing the way for a greater role for the Islamic Republic in the South Caucasus.

But in this sleepy town of 4,000, that aspect of the pipeline does not register. Meghri may have been the site of a March pipeline launch ceremony between Armenian President Robert Kocharian and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but, to residents, the strategic questions that surround it account for little.

For nearly 20 years, the town has been reachable only by a long, tortuous mountain road, the highest in Armenia, passing over a 10,000-foot pass. It is frequently closed during the winter. The railroad is totally abandoned, its stock sold for scrap to Iran.

Sitting on his balcony with a view over nearby majestic mountains, Hapo Khatchigian, an artist and the head of the local community college, says the isolation engendered by the collapse of the Soviet Union and Armenia’s cutoff from Azerbaijan has affected the town’s character.

"People in Meghri used to think we were living on the border of a great empire. It wasn't easy to come here and so people felt like we were living in a very important strategic place," he related, speaking through an interpreter. "But after the Soviet Union we lost this feeling of importance. Now we’re just in the middle of nowhere and people are just thinking about local things."

Analysts in Yerevan see the pipeline as an attempt to diversify away from Russia's stranglehold on gas supplies; an attempt to which Moscow responded, they allege, by insisting that the pipeline’s diameter be sufficiently narrow to supply only enough gas for Armenia and not for further export through Georgia and on to Europe.

In Meghri, a nearby Russian military base that houses about 2,000 soldiers who guard the border with Iran provides the most immediate sense of Moscow's influence. Few questions are asked about the soldiers’ mission here, however. Town Mayor Misha Hovanissian asserts that, after many years living with the Russians, " we're comfortable with them."

By contrast, the US, which has viewed the pipeline with a wary eye, has made little or no impact. The American presence consists primarily of two garbage trucks and 40 dumpsters that the US government has donated to the town, according to Hovanissian.

But Meghri residents are not keeping score. Their hope is that gas from the conduit, primarily intended to fuel a power station in northern Armenia, will be diverted so that locals can rely on gas rather than firewood or electrical heaters to keep their homes warm.

That straightforward hope, however, does not make for closer ties with the town's Iranian neighbors to the south, on the other side of the Arax River.

What contact exists is largely commercial. Meghri residents can get special permission to go to a border market inside Iran to buy cheap goods like food and clothing to sell in Armenia. Within the town itself, there are two strip clubs where Ukrainian dancers entertain a clientele made up largely of Iranian truck drivers, many of whom are ethnic Azeris from northern Iran.

Interaction, ironically, with these truck drivers often takes place in Azeri - a language many Armenian residents still remember from the days when they could interact freely with their Azerbaijani neighbors. The Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan is mere kilometers away to the west; central Azerbaijan a bit further to the east.

Those memories often seem to make for a greater willingness than elsewhere in Armenia to patch over the past. With an open border with Azerbaijan, residents believe they would benefit from cheaper food, and shorter travel times to Yerevan. In Soviet times, the trip took about three hours on a regular highway, or was an easy stop on the Yerevan-Baku train line. Today, travel time by car can range from nine to 11 hours, depending on the season, as drivers must bypass Nakhchivan.

"Everything will get better here when the border is open," commented Sahak Hambardsyman, the leader of a local non-governmental organization.

"We were always good friends with the Azeris," he continued. "Many people used to live here and now they live in Baku and we’ll be glad to see them again. . . .[W]e're from the Caucasus. We’re the same."


Editor’s Note: Joshua Kucera is a Washington, DC,-based freelance writer who specializes in security issues in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East.

EurasiaNet provides information and analysis about political, economic, environmental, and social developments in the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus, as well as in Russia, the Middle East, and Southwest Asia. The website presents a variety of perspectives on contemporary developments, utilizing a network of correspondents based both in the West and in the region. The aim of EurasiaNet is to promote informed decision making among policy makers, as well as broadening interest in the region among the general public. EurasiaNet is operated by the Central Eurasia Project of the Open Society Institute.

Nigeria: Reining in Niger Delta Militants

Source: Stratfor
Stratfor's Free Intelligence Reports
August 17, 2007 17 04 GMT


The Nigerian military killed Soboma George, a gang leader associated with the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) militant group in Port Harcourt, Reuters reported Aug. 17, citing Maj. Sagir Musa of the Nigerian Joint Task Force. The operation against George, who long enjoyed political protection in the area, indicates his backers succumbed to pressure from President Umaru Yaradua to bring an end to violence and instability in the oil-rich Niger Delta. Although Western energy companies operating out of Port Harcourt will not be directly targeted in the ongoing violence, the city remains dangerous.

The current violence began late Aug. 5 when a clash between rival armed gangs erupted into six days of street fighting before the Nigerian army entered Port Harcourt to restore order. Skirmishes between gangs and army units continued at a low level until Aug. 16, when a combined army/air force unit attacked the Port Harcourt hotel that served as George's base of operations. Authorities in Port Harcourt imposed a curfew Aug. 17 in an effort to restore order to the city.

George, who was known as the head of MEND's Rivers state faction, had enjoyed protection from regional politicians, who used his gang to influence federal and state politics. Unaware of his protected status, police in Port Harcourt made one previous attempt to arrest George in January, though a large contingent of heavily armed fighters, tipped off by one of George's patrons, mobilized 20 minutes later and breached the jail where he was being held. No subsequent attempt had been made to arrest George. Given the lack of immediate reprisals as a result of George's killing, it appears his political patrons gave him up in return for clearer Yaradua promises of a greater share of the region's oil revenue.

The situation in Port Harcourt will remain unstable in the short term until Nigerian authorities can regain some level of control. Many companies with oil operations in the Niger Delta are based out of or supported by companies in Port Harcourt. These companies and their personnel have not been specifically targeted by the groups involved in the fighting. However, in any unstable situation, there is always the chance that they or their personnel will get caught up in the violence. The fighting could still flare up almost anywhere in the city, though some neighborhoods are more dangerous than others.

The Nigerian military is not known for its ability to conduct surgical strikes against militants and gangs, especially in an urban environment. When fighting does flare up again, the Nigerian army is likely to use overwhelming force to end it, which will likely result in excessive collateral damage and civilian casualties. Many residents of Port Harcourt are leaving town to keep out of the crossfire.

Since his May 29 inauguration, Yaradua has made it a priority to resolve the crisis in the Niger Delta and has employed a number of strategies to do so. He has allowed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to go after corrupt ex-politicians, threatening jail and seizure of assets for those who fail to go along with his initiatives. Releasing the EFCC to do its intended work is a reversal of the policy of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who kept the EFCC on a tight leash. Yaradua also has reached out to the ethnic Ijaws who comprise much of the Niger Delta and MEND. He appointed Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, an Ijaw and former governor of Bayelsa state, to work full-time to reach agreements with Niger Delta state and local authorities to rein in violence against the oil industry. He also released Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, the leader of the militant group Niger Delta People's Volunteer Force who was jailed for treason in 2005. He empowered Asari to lead negotiations with fellow gang leaders, including George and militant gang leader Ateke Tom. Additionally, Yaradua released former Bayelsa state Gov. Diepreye Alamieyeseigha on July 27, acceding to a MEND demand.



Last, and most critically, Yaradua is considering making concessions to Niger Delta politicians who demand an increased share of the oil revenues generated in their region. The six oil-producing Niger Delta states currently share 13 percent of the oil revenues, allocated in special oil derivation funds, but reportedly are demanding a boost in their share to 50 percent.

The states, however, are unlikely to get the 50 percent they want, though a subtle increase in money to the Niger Delta is likely in the works. The boost is expected to come in a series of government initiatives, particularly as part of a constitutional conference Yaradua is considering holding at some point in the future. Greater resource sharing, which is intended to placate regional political and militant factions that have permitted or carried out attacks against oil infrastructure in the region, could result in a reduction of attacks.

Even though Niger Delta politicians are treading more carefully with regard to Yaradua -- by ending their protection of fighters such as George -- violence in the Niger Delta will not end. However, attacks against the region's oil infrastructure are likely to subside as the area's many heavily armed criminals lose their political patrons. Abductions of Nigerians, including family members of politicians and businesspeople, can be expected to continue -- due to the simple fact that kidnapping is a good revenue-generating activity -- and foreigners could be caught in the crossfire. For the time being, conditions in Port Harcourt will stabilize as Nigerian security forces regain control of the city. Given the volatility of Nigerian politics and the presence of criminal elements, however, instability will return eventually, though perhaps not at the level of violence seen in recent weeks

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.

Deconstructing Martha Nussbaum: The Hindu Right Revisited

Posted on 05.23.07 by Jaffna @ 4:44 am

Martha Nussbaum, Professor of Law, Religion and Philosophy at the University of Chicago launches her book this week titled The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence and India’s Future. The Harvard University Press published this. She had a preview published at The Chronicle for Higher Education on May 18, 2007. Here are my preliminary impressions on the latter.

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Russia: Moving Beyond Words

Source: Stratfor
Stratfor's Free Intelligence Reports
August 17, 2007 20 42 GMT


Summary

Russia's attempts to expand its influence to date have had a half-hearted feel. That is about to change, with Ukraine serving as the inflection point.

Analysis

The Russians have been pushing out in many of directions of late, sending long-range bombers out to poke at NATO states, starting riots in the Baltics, unnerving the Georgians at every opportunity, challenging Arctic boundaries and putting down flags in the Asian rim and Middle East. All of these things capture global attention, but most are really rather symbolic. A flag on the seafloor under the North Pole does not really make a claim, musing about a naval base in Syria is not the same as actually putting one there, and intimidating Georgia is about as hard as barking back at a Chihuahua. Part of determining the gravity of a resurgence is separating signal from noise. Russia is about to get serious about its efforts, and the inflection point will be Ukraine.

Ukraine is the most important piece of territory to long-term Russian strategy. It is the birthplace of the Russian ethnicity, a 1,000-mile buffer between Russia and the West, and home to most of Russia's infrastructure connections to Europe and the Russian Black Sea Fleet's port. It is a chunk of territory that can compromise Russian influence in the Caucasus, and incidentally it is home to over 10 million Russians.

With Ukraine in its pocket, Russia would have a chance at re-achieving great power status. Without it, Russia's security would largely be determined by outside forces. With Ukraine, Russia's moves to date are the perfect introduction for a broad and aggressive policy to secure Russia's interests; without it, they are tantamount to breaking out the Christmas decorations without first purchasing a tree. After all, what would be the point of floating a fleet in the Far East if Moscow itself remains strategically vulnerable to western approach?

Right now Ukraine is in flux, with a government divided between pro-Russian and pro-Western forces and a critical election campaign under way that will culminate in a new parliament Sept. 30. The last time Ukraine was up for grabs was in 2004, when Russia and the West fought a bitter behind-the-scenes contest that culminated in the Orange Revolution, a victory for the pro-Western factions. That loss forced Russian President Vladimir Putin's government to reexamine Russia's situation, leading to a broad reconsolidation of power internally and preparations for pushing back against the perceived Western onslaught. Now, three years later, Putin and the Russians are ready to make their move and go beyond the world of smoke and mirrors.

On Monday, Aug. 20, Russia will give the world its first hint at what Moscow plans to do for real. On that day, the prime ministers of Russia and Ukraine -- Russia's Mikhail Fradkov and Ukraine's pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovich -- will meet in Sochi, ostensibly to discuss economic affairs. However, though Fradkov has a nice title, he is really more of a bureaucrat and not a true decision maker, and Sochi is Putin's favorite vacation spot. The Kremlin has hinted heavily that the president is likely to attend the prime ministers' meeting.

Putin's overt involvement in Ukraine's 2004 election is part of what led to the unification of pro-Western forces in Ukraine and the intervention of Western states on their behalf. Aug. 20, therefore, is far more likely to witness the discussion of a much subtler strategy. The specific tactical elements of that strategy are largely immaterial; what is nice about it is that it will be child's play to evaluate its tenor and success. The meeting is only 40 days before the Ukrainian vote. Russia and its Ukrainian allies will have to move quickly to implement whatever plan Putin presents.

Russia is at a balance point, and Ukraine is the key. If Putin succeeds in pulling Ukraine into the Russian orbit over the course of the next six weeks, then Russia will have secured its core. Then Russia can get serious -- deadly serious -- about spreading its influence in ways that are far more than merely rhetorica

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.

Pakistan Tribal Unrest Intensifies

Source: SAAG.ORG

By B. Raman.

Anti-Musharraf and anti-US anger continues to run high in the Pashtun tribal areas of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan.


2.The fresh wave of anger, which initially started after the raid of the Pakistani Army commandoes on the Lal Masjid in Islamabad between July 10 and 13,2007, has further intensified after the death of Abdullah Mehsud, a pro-Taliban tribal leader of South Waziristan and a former detenu at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre in Cuba, at Zhob in Balochistan on July 23,2007 . According to the Pakistan Army, he blew himself up when he was surrounded by the security forces. But, his supporters allege that he was shot dead at point-blank range by the security forces.

3. The intensified anger has not only led to many more clashes between the tribals and the security forces, but also to a boycott of the celebration of Pakistan's 60th Independence Day anniversary in many tribal villages.

4.The "Daily Times" of Lahore reported as follows on August 15,2007: " Many people in the tribal areas marked August 14 as a “black day”, in protest at the stepped up military presence in the region near the Pak-Afghan border. Many tribesmen in Khyber Agency and 25 disputed villages adjacent to Mohmand Agency observed the 60th Independence Day by hoisting black flags on their homes. Similarly, tribesmen in South Waziristan, North Waziristan and Bajaur
agencies did not observe Independence Day due to the military’s operations in the tribal areas. “For the first time in the country’s history, numerous tribesmen did not celebrate Independence Day. There were no selling and buying of national flags and other relevant things in North Waziristan,” Haji Gul Noor from Miranshah told Daily Times. “This could be a reaction to military operations and the Taliban may have forbidden tribesmen to celebrate the day,” he added."

5.On August 17,2007, seven soldiers and 15 tribals were reportedly killed in clashes in Chackmalai and adjacent areas of North Waziristan. Eleven soldiers were also injured. The clashes occurred when a military convoy came under attack and the security forces retaliated. On August 16,2007, 10 tribals were killed and many injured when Pakistan Army gunship helicopters retaliated after an attack on a military convoy near the same area. In the attack on the convoy, three soldiers were killed and six others injured. On August 14, 2007, the beheaded body of one of the 16 paramilitary Frontier Corps soldiers, kidnapped by militants in the South Waziristan agency a week ago, was found on the Tank-Jandola road. A note left on the body warned that the remaining soldiers would be punished in the same fashion if the tribals' demand for the release of 10 tribal detenus (reportedly Mehsuds) was not met by the Army.


6.Is Pakistan a jihadi volcano waiting to erupt?

7.That is the question which has been worrying the minds of many intelligence analysts, Congressmen and policy-makers in the US.

8.They may differ in their assessment of the ground situation in Iraq.

9.But they are all agreed that the ground situation in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region does not bode well for the success of the so-called war on global jihadi terrorism.

10.Recent testimonies by senior intelligence and military officers and non-governmental analysts before Congressional committees and recent debates among aspirants for the Presidential race next year have revealed a convergence of views on both sides of the political spectrum that there has been a worrisome resurgence of Al Qaeda from new sanctuaries in the Pakistani territory.

11.According to them, its command and control, which was badly disrupted by the post-9/11 US military operations in Afghanistan, has been repaired and revamped. It has set up a new jihadi training infrastructure in the North Waziristan area in replacement of its previous infrastructure in Afghan territory, which was destroyed by the US security forces. New recruits have started flowing in---- Arabs as well as non-Arabs. Recruits from the Pakistani diaspora in the West have been in the forefront of the flow of new non-Arab volunteers.

12.The determination and motivation of Al Qaeda and its mix of leaders of old vintage such as Osama bin Laden and his No.2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the crop of new post-9/11 recruits remain as strong as ever despite the losses in leadership, cadre strength and resources suffered by it in 2002 and 2003.

13.There is an apparent realization----not yet openly expressed---- that Pakistan’s President Gen.Pervez Musharraf has not been such a sincere front-line ally in the war against jihadi terrorism as he was projected to be. He made brave statements on his determination to act against jihadi extremists and terrorists, but his actions on the ground belied his statements.

14.He promised action against the madrasas producing terrorists, but refrained from action against them. He was reluctant to act even against the Lal Masjid, which had set up a jihadi GHQ right under his nose in Islamabad. He was forced to act not by US threats, but by Chinese unhappiness over the kidnapping of six Chinese women by the girl students of the Masjid’s madrasa for girls, who accused them of loose morals.

15.He claimed to have effectively sealed the Pakistan-Afghanistan border by deploying thousands of extra troops in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) to prevent the ingress of the Neo Al Qaeda and Neo Taliban elements from Afghanistan to set up new bases in Pakistani territory. These troops, instead of fighting the terrorists, made peace with them---initially in South Waziristan in 2005 and then in North Waziristan in 2006.

16.He assured the international community that his peace agreements were meant to encourage the local people to rise against the Neo Al Qaeda and the Neo Taliban. Instead of doing so, they joined hands with them and helped them set up new training bases in North Waziristan.

17.The realization is slowly dawning on US intelligence analysts and policy-makers that Musharraf is either unable to act or insincere or both.

18.All this has been taking place at a time when Musharraf’s authority has been weakening due to his ill-advised confrontation with the judiciary and the lawyers’ fraternity, which ended in an embarrassing loss of face for him when the Supreme Court unanimously ordered the reinstatement of the suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhury. The public rallies in support of the wronged Chief Justice demonstrated the extent of the growing alienation against the General.

19.Balochistan continues to burn. There is a growing clamour for his discarding the post of the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) to which he continues to cling due to fears that he may not be able to control the Army effectively if he ceased to be the COAS. His uniform gives him the power to intimidate his people and opponents. Once he discards it, he may lose his power of intimidation. So he apprehends.

20.He does not have the confidence that his political supporters in the Pakistan Muslim League (Qaide Azam), who are in a majority in the present National Assembly, may be able to retain their majority in the new Assembly to be elected later this year. If his detractors secure a majority, his hopes of continuing as the President for a second term may be belied. Hence, his desperate anxiety to have himself re-elected by the present National Assembly before it is dissolved.

21.The Supreme Court, headed by a Chief Justice who was sought to be humiliated by the General, may come in the way. Nawaz Sharif, the former Prime Minister, has already challenged the various executive orders passed by Musharraf against him. If the Supreme Court upholds Nawaz’s petition, it might severely weaken the legal basis of Musharraf’s rule.

22.Musharraf has for the present given up the idea of imposing a State of Emergency in order to escape the consequences of his sins of commission and omission. But, he may still use that sword. If he does, there may be violent street protests against him.

23.Public disenchantment on the one side and the spreading Talibanisation and jihadi anger on the other. That is the situation facing Musharraf today. The US is not yet prepared to write him off, but is already considering fall-back options if it has to. Inducting Benazir Bhutto as the Prime Minister to soften the arbitrary image of Musharraf is unlikely to work. She is not very popular among the Mohajirs, the Balochs and even large sections of the Sindhis, despite her being from Sindh. Large sections of senior Army officers do not feel comfortable with her. Moreover, it is doubtful how effective a woman Prime Minister will be against the jihadis, who would look upon her as apostate.

24.Pakistan is not Iran. An Islamic revolution of the Iranian model of 1979 is unlikely. But its FATA and the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) are no different from Afghanistan. The Pashtun tribes, who inhabit these areas, are strongly anti-US and anti-Musharraf. The 9/11 terrorist strikes came from the Pashtun areas of Southern and Eastern Afghanistan. If there is a repeat of 9/11, it would have originated in the Pashtun areas of Pakistan.

25.The anger against both Musharraf and the US is so intense in the Pashtun belt on both sides of the Durand Line that no precise human intelligence has been forthcoming from the people of the area. The communications security of the Neo Al Qaeda is so strong that the available technical intelligence is weak. Despite nearly four years of its operations, the US’ intelligence agencies have not been able to establish wherefrom As-Sahab, the Neo Al Qaeda’s Psychological Warfare unit, has been operating and silence it.

26.The US is thus in a dilemma. It is not in a position to act on its own due to inadequate intelligence. Nor is it in a position to depend on Musharraf due to his insincerity and ineffectiveness.

27.This dilemma is likely to continue for some time till the capability of the US for the collection of precise intelligence improves. Fears of instability in Pakistan due to political factors and insecurity due to the uncontrolled activities of the Neo Al Qaeda and the Neo Taliban would continue to confront the US policy-makers. Their bold statements of their intention to act are just whistling in the dark in the absence of precise intelligence.

28.There is no end in sight to the US military operations against the Neo Al Qaeda and the Neo Taliban even almost six years after the operations started. This is nothing to be surprised about. Victory in the war is not for tomorrow or the day after. There is no doubt that the US will one day ultimately prevail over the jihadi terrorists. It has to in order to protect its homeland. But that day is still far off.

29.The time has come for the US to have a revamped policy on Pakistan and to make it clear to Musharraf that the days of lollipops are over. That is what the recently passed Congressional Resolution seeking to tie future military and economic assistance to his actions against the jihadis does. This is a good beginning. This has to be followed by pressing him to hold free and fair elections and seek a new mandate from a new Assembly and not from the present one in which his followers have an engineered majority. The lollipops should be withheld if he does not do so.

30.India cannot remain unaffected by these developments. Some of the associates of Al Qaeda in the International Islamic Front (IIF) such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) are active in India for many years. The developing Indian relations with the US and the increasing US presence in India are a cause for provocation for Al Qaeda. Its intention to target India is already being reflected increasingly in the statements of its leaders. Al Qaeda as an Arab terrorist organization has not yet carried out a terrorist strike in Indian territory. But it is wanting to do so. India should take Al Qaeda’s threats seriously and avoid an Al Qaeda orchestrated Pearl Harbour in its territory.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com)