December 15, 2007

Seasonal greetings to our heros -- Brave Jawans

Lion of Jordan: The Life of King Hussein in War and Peace by Avi Shlaim

Format : Hardback
ISBN: 9780713997774
Size : 153 x 234mm
Pages : 720
Published : 01 Nov 2007
Publisher : Allen Lane
Avi Shlaim


For most of his long reign (1953-1999) Hussein of Jordan was one of the dominant figures in Middle Eastern politics, its most continuous presence, and one of the most consistent proponents of peace with Israel. This is the first major account of his life and reign, written with access to many of his surviving papers, with the co-operation (but not approval) of his family and staff, and extensive interviews with policy-makers of many different nationalities.

For over forty years Hussein walked a tightrope between the Palestinians and the Arab radicals on the one hand and Israel on the other. Shlaim reveals that for the sake of dynastic and national survival, Hussein initiated a secret dialogue with Israel in 1963, and spent (by his own estimate) over 1000 hours in talks with Golda Meir, Shimon Peres, Itzhak Shamir, Itzhak Rabin, and countless other Israeli officials. Shlaim reconstructs this dialogue across the battle-lines from new Israeli records and first-hand accounts by many of the key participants, demonstrating that Israeli intransigence was largely responsible for the failure to achieve a peaceful settlement to the conflict between 1967 and 1994.

King Hussein had an extraordinary career as both soldier and statesman. He is so far the only non-Christian monarch to be commemorated by a memorial service in St. Paul's Cathedral; in his address, the Prince of Wales called him 'a man amongst men, a king amongst kings’. This biography, by one of Israel's leading 'new historians', shows the qualities and character of this titanic individual for the first time in book form, and significantly rewrites the history of the Middle East over the past 50 years.

Author Avi Shlaim

Times Online

Reviewed by Max Hastings

Avi Shlaim is an Iraqi-born academic, reared in Israel and long resident in Britain, who writes about the Middle East with exceptional wisdom and insight. The only disappointment about his latest book is its title, which seems inappropriate. Rather than a lion, the man who ruled Jordan from 1953, when he was 17, until his death in 1999, was surely a fire-walker.

The monarch of a small desert country with no oil, he was dependent for cash on a shifting cast of foreign friends. The CIA threw in millions when relations with the British became fractious, and so later did Saddam Hussein and the Gulf states. Some of this was spent on funding Hussein’s lifestyle – girls, mansions in Britain and fast cars. Most of it went on his army.

He accepted personal commissions on every big foreign deal, unlike his younger brother Prince Hassan, who was both honest and deeply concerned for the fate of his fellow countrymen. Shlaim writes of Hussein’s “deplorable neglect of internal affairs and especially the welfare of his people”. The condition of ordinary Jordanians remained pretty abysmal throughout his reign. Public sentiment periodically exploded, for instance in the “bread riots” of 1989.

Hussein was driven by a single imperative: determination to preserve his own throne and the Hashemite dynasty. His success in achieving this, amid relentless murder plots and upheavals, and against every prediction of foreign intelligence services and diplomats, inspired admiration in the West, if not in the Arab world.
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Buy Lion of Jordan: The Life of King Hussein in War and Peace by Avi Shlaim

The king had charm and perfect manners – he addressed even visiting journalists as “sir”. He was almost unique among Arab leaders in liking westerners – he married two of them. He travelled without the great baggage of bitterness adhering to most of the region’s tyrants and politicians. The West, in consequence, liked him. He was feted in America and Britain, latterly even in Israel, in a fashion out of all proportion to his country’s size. The powers would do anything for him except return his lost lands.

Hussein’s conduct of policy, says Shlaim, was instinctive and sometimes impetuous. He waited upon events rather than pursuing a coherent long-term strategy, and periodically risked huge gambles. He exploited the cold war to extract money and support from Washington, at a time when most Arab nations were embracing Moscow.

For years, he successfully and profitably dallied with oil-rich Saddam. In 1982, in one of the more surreal manifestations of the region’s shifting relationships, the king obliged the Americans by himself couriering satellite photographs of Iranian deployments to Baghdad. The US was alarmed by the prospect of Iran winning its war with Iraq, and sought to give Iraqi fortunes a boost.

The biggest mistake of Hussein’s reign was to join the Egyptians and Syrians in their 1967 war with Israel. The Israelis were willing to leave Jordan alone. But Hussein had signed a pact with Nasser, and even accepted an Egyptian general’s command of his army. He calculated that the political price of nonbelligerence would be intolerable – ostracism in the Arab world.

In truth, of course, the cost of sharing Nasser’s defeat proved far higher: Jordan lost east Jerusalem and control of the West Bank.During the years that followed, Palestinian fedayeen guerrillas achieved increasing dominance in Jordan. They ignored its laws, carried arms in its streets and openly defied Hussein’s army. They behaved more like occupiers than guests.

In September 1970, the king was driven to act. There were 10 days of bitter fighting. I blush to remember filing a dispatch from Amman, suggesting that Hussein’s fall must at last be imminent. In reality, his troops utterly defeated the Palestinians, killing some 3,400. The Syrians, in particular, never forgave Hussein this “betrayal of the Arab cause”. But he had decisively asserted his authority, and once again defied the prophets of his own doom.

Much of Shlaim’s book focuses on the extraordinary bilateral relationship between the king and successive Israeli governments. If he was never quite their friend, says the author, he was “the best of enemies”.

Among Israeli prime ministers, Hussein won the trust even of such hardliners as Begin and Shamir. Only Bibi Netanyahu – in Shlaim’s phrase “that very rare thing, a genuine charlatan” – incurred the king’s lasting enmity. In September 1997, three years after a peace treaty was signed between Jordan and Israel, Netanyahu personally ordered an attempt to assassinate Hamas’s local leader in Amman by an injection of poison. The mission went disastrously wrong, two Mossad agents were captured. Hussein was understandably furious.

For the most part, however, posterity must be astonished not by the tensions in Hussein’s relations with Israel, but by the continuing dialogue between them. The king himself met almost a thousand times with Israeli ministers and intermediaries, more often in secret than in public.

Here was the earnest of Hussein’s obsession with preserving his own regime. To do this, he was willing to traffic with Israel, even while its governments clung doggedly to Jerusalem and the West Bank. His own people were far more hostile to their Jewish neighbours than he was himself.

The Israelis, perceiving all this, broadly supported his rule. In 1990, for instance, the US was enraged by Jordan’s support for Iraq before the first Gulf war. Washington cut off vital cash aid, and appeared close to severing all relations with Hussein. Israeli premier Shamir intervened on the king’s behalf, urging President Bush to recognise his contribution to stability in the region.

Shlaim expresses deep sympathy for the rebuffs to which Hussein’s attempts to promote a Middle East settlement were subjected. They were met, he says, “with ignorance and indifference on the part of the top American policy-makers and dishonesty and deviousness on the part of the Israeli ones”. At intervals throughout his reign, the Israelis delivered smashing cross-border attacks into Jordan which, as the author remarks, invariably increased support for Palestinian terrorism.

The theme of Shlaim’s last book, The Iron Wall, was that Israel has throughout its history too readily resorted to military force, and been unwilling to engage in meaningful diplomacy: “From 1967 Israel had ample opportunities to trade land for peace in accordance with UN resolution 242.” Shlaim starts this book with the controversial assertion that the 1917 Balfour Declaration was one of the worst mistakes in British foreign policy, and “involved a monumental injustice to the Palestinian Arabs”. It is worth recording this line, to emphasise where the author is coming from. His narrative of Israel’s dealings with Hussein suggests that the Jordanian ruler almost always kept his word, while successive Jerusalem governments toyed with him.

The king deserves to be remembered with affection in the West, because he was a decent human being. In 1997, when a deranged Jordanian soldier shot and killed seven Israeli schoolgirls, Hussein travelled to their community of Beit Shemesh. He fell on his knees beside the bereaved families in a gesture of shared grief which caught the imaginations of millions of Israelis.

His death from cancer in January 1999 was greeted with real sorrow in his own country, in Israel, and in the West. It is striking that, since his death, Jordan is no longer perceived as a significant influence on the destinies of the region. For almost half a century, Hussein’s slight figure managed to punch far above his nation’s weight.

When he was gone, his son and successor, King Abdullah, could not match his act. For Hussein, survivor seems a more appropriate appellation than lion. But the preservation of his own throne was an astonishing achievement. Shlaim tells the story extremely well, though from a perspective that will win him few enthusiastic readers in Jerusalem.

Friends in the wrong places

One of the most controversial aspects of King Hussein’s reign was his friendship with Saddam Hussein. There were sound strategic reasons for a Jordanian alliance with Iraq in the 1980s – as a counterweight to Israel and Iran, and as a source of oil and exports – but the relationship between the two heads of state went much further. Saddam treated Hussein with extravagant affection, calling him “Abu Abdullah”, or “father of Abdullah”, and Hussein reciprocated with an extraordinary 61 visits in 10 years. The price Hussein eventually paid for his friendship, though, was high. Although he claimed not to have known in advance about Saddam’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, the western press vilified him, and the UN imposed crippling sanctions in 1990-91 of $5 billion, which was nearly $1 billion more than Jordan’s entire GDP for 1990.

King Hussein of Jordan

From the desert he rose

Nov 22nd 2007

From The Economist

The Hashemite monarch was a brave, decent man. His efforts to end strife in the Middle East should be an inspiration for today's peacemakers

WAS King Hussein of Jordan a great man who, by dint of his remarkable personality, courage and far-sighted perseverance, played a critical part in nudging the Israelis and the Palestinians at least halfway towards the settlement they may one day reach? Or was he as much lucky as brave (he was known a little patronisingly in the region as the “PLK”—“plucky little king”)? Was he a man who vacillated from crisis to crisis, buffeted by the ever-changing winds of global and regional politics but surviving against the odds by duplicitously playing off all sides against each other and taking bids from whoever seemed to have the highest cards at the time—Russians and Americans, Arabs and Jews, Baathists and monarchists—while seeking merely to stay on his rickety and often irrelevant throne?

Avi Shlaim, a Baghdad-born, Israeli-bred historian now at Oxford University, argues persuasively that the first, nobler version is the correct one. Particularly with regard to foreign policy, his weighty tome is the most authoritative biography of the king, who died in 1999 at the age of 63.

No one doubts that Hussein was courageous, certainly in physical terms, often morally too. He was only 16 when his grandfather, King Abdullah, was shot at point blank range by a Palestinian nationalist a few yards from the young prince. After the brief reign of his unstable father, Talal, Hussein became king at 17 and ruled as an absolute monarch, with the odd trapping of democracy, until his death from cancer nearly 46 years later. He survived numerous plots to kill or oust him. At times he was vilified by just about every government in the region, and by quite a few farther afield. Several of his prime ministers were assassinated. The murder in 1958 of his cousin Faisal, king of Iraq, who was six months older than he was, seemed to presage the inevitable demise of the House of Hashem elsewhere.

Early on during his reign, the consensus was that Jordan, a British confection that had emerged like other nearby Arab states from the wreckage of the Ottoman empire after the first world war, was unlikely to survive; in 1957, John Foster Dulles, America's then secretary of state, said it had “no justification as a state”, though he grudgingly added that that “did not mean that now is the time to eliminate it”.

In the course of Hussein's rule various Syrian, Iraqi, Saudi and Israeli regimes reckoned that Jordan could and should have been gobbled up, merged or at least partitioned. An Israeli intelligence report in 1980 described the king as “a man trapped on a bridge burning at both ends, with crocodiles in the river beneath him”.

Trying to solve the conundrum of Israel and Palestine was by far the biggest burden of his years on the throne. He realised much earlier than his fellow Arab rulers that, as Mr Shlaim puts it, “Israel was there to stay.” But Hussein took longer to accept that only a full-blooded Palestinian state on Jordan's West Bank, captured by Israel in the war of 1967, would satisfy the Palestinians, who were (and are) a majority of Jordan's inhabitants. For a long time he regarded the Palestine Liberation Organisation, which he ferociously suppressed in what amounted to a civil war when it tried to overthrow him in 1970, as a greater threat than Israel.

Mr Shlaim spells out in hitherto unpublished detail the history of secret dealings between the king and the Israelis, from 1963 until 1994, when he signed a peace treaty with the Jewish state. Hussein had at least 55 secret meetings (all listed) with leading Israelis, including at least seven prime and foreign ministers. Did these closet encounters advance the peace process, still stumbling along today without getting close to fruition? Mr Shlaim suggests that they did—and that the blame for their not getting further rests largely with the Israelis and their American backers.

The author has had unrivalled access to prime sources, especially Jordanian ones, including a candid interview with the king himself and with an array of his advisers and royal relations, as well as with a raft of senior Israeli intelligence people. The result is a pot of delectable nuggets. For instance, he reveals that a Jordanian debriefing of a son-in-law of Saddam Hussein, who defected to Jordan in the 1990s, showed that the Iraqi leader may well have been deterred from launching missiles with chemical warheads at Israel only because the Israelis told the Jordanians via a secret channel that there would be massive—by implication nuclear—retaliation by Israel.

Mr Shlaim concedes that the king was occasionally naive and impulsive, and could put too much store on personality and too little on ideology. On this score, his most grievous misjudgments were briefly to prefer the right-wing Israeli leader Binyamin Netanyahu, whom he seemed to back (perhaps even tipping the scales) against Shimon Peres, whom he did not trust, in the Israeli election of 1996; and the closeness of his friendship with Saddam Hussein, at any rate throughout the 1980s and in the run-up to the first Gulf war, when the king refused to join the coalition against the Iraqi leader. Mr Shlaim also argues that the Jordanian monarch should have avoided getting sucked into the war of 1967 against Israel.

Nor does he shrink from enumerating the king's other faults. Hussein could be ruthless—and probably had to be. When, in 1956, he dismissed John Bagot Glubb, who served the king after 26 years as commander of the Arab Legion, the British soldier was given less than a day to leave the country. Most cruel—but arguably astute—was the sacking of his brother, Prince Hassan, as crown prince, who had served him with complete loyalty for 34 years, just 12 days before the king died.

Hussein was a poor economic manager, letting corruption flourish far too widely at the top level; indeed, he himself used the treasury as something of a private source of patronage and sometimes of high living. The kingdom's survival depended invariably on its being bankrolled by outside powers—at first the British, then the Americans, sometimes (for too long) Iraq, occasionally the Saudis. And these subsidies—particularly the CIA's—were sometimes handed straight to the king.

On the whole, however, given the need for a rugged element of realpolitik and toughness in order to survive, he emerges from under Mr Shlaim's microscope as honest, fundamentally decent and, in a region noted for its brutality and treachery, notably merciful and kind. In his personal dealings, most strikingly with the Israelis, he was especially gracious. Above all, alongside his determination to sustain the House of Hashem, he was totally wedded to the cause of peace in the Middle East. That he did not fully achieve it, despite his peace treaty with Israel, was not his fault; indeed, without his relentless diplomacy (conducted often along those secret channels), the region might be even bloodier than it is already.

Musharraf Pakistan Bush thinks him a nice dictator

Rashid Rauf escapes in Pakistan , Baloch Human Rights activists Jailed in UK

By ZARAR KHAN, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 10 minutes ago

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - A British suspect in an alleged plot to blow up trans-Atlantic jetliners escaped from police custody in Pakistan on Saturday, officials said.

Rashid Rauf fled after appearing before a judge at a court in the capital, Islamabad, said Khalid Pervez, a city police official.

Police teams were driving around the area in search of Rauf, who Pervez said had managed to open his handcuffs and evade two police guards who were taking him back to jail in the nearby city of Rawalpindi.

"We do not know how he escaped. But we do know he has escaped and the two policemen have been taken into custody for negligence," Pervez told The Associated Press.

Federal Interior Secretary Kamal Shah said he had been informed of Rauf's disappearance, but had no details.

Rauf, who is of Pakistani origin, was arrested here in August 2006 on a tip from British investigators. He has been described as a key suspect in a purported plot to blow up jetliners flying from Britain to the United States which prompted a major security alert at airports worldwide and increased restrictions on carryon items.

Rauf was arrested and charged in Pakistan with possessing chemicals that could be used in making explosives and with carrying forged travel documents.

The prosecution later withdrew the case against him, though he remained in jail awaiting a decision on the British extradition request.

Britain had asked Pakistan to hand him over in connection with a 2002 murder inquiry in Britain that is separate from the alleged terrorism plot. But Rauf's lawyer, Hashmat Habib, has sought to block the move, saying the two countries do not have an extradition treaty and that Rauf had already been found innocent of involvement in terrorism.

Members of Rauf's family have appealed to Pakistani authorities to release him, saying he is innocent and desperate to remain with his wife and two daughters.

Habib said Saturday that his client had been brought to court in connection with the extradition proceedings, but he didn't know how Rauf had escaped.

Rauf's father, reached in Birmingham, 200 miles north of London, said he did not know about his son's escape.

"I don't know anything — I'm shocked," Abdul Rauf told The Associated Press by telephone.

The British government this week denied media reports that Rauf was to be extradited from Pakistan as part of a secret deal involving the arrest in Britain of suspects wanted by Pakistan.

Two men accused of inciting terrorism and murder in Pakistan and of having links with an international terrorist group were ordered held in custody in London on Tuesday.

Faiz Baluch, 25, and Hyrbyair Marri, 39 — both of London — were arrested last week and jointly charged under Britain's Terrorism Act. Both claim they are peaceful activists calling for the independence of Baluchistan, a troubled province of Pakistan.


Associated Press writer Munir Ahmad contributed to this report.

Only One Thing Unites Iraqis: Hatred of the US

By Patrick Cockburn, The Independent. Posted December 14, 2007.

The Americans will discover, as the British learned to their cost in Basra, that they have few permanent allies

As British forces come to the end of their role in Iraq, what sort of country do they leave behind? Has the United States turned the tide in Baghdad? Does the fall in violence mean that the country is stabilizing after more than four years of war? Or are we seeing only a temporary pause in the fighting?American commentators are generally making the same mistake that they have made since the invasion of Iraq was first contemplated five years ago. They look at Iraq in over-simple terms and exaggerate the extent to which the US is making the political weather and is in control of events there.

The US is the most powerful single force in Iraq but by no means the only one. The shape of Iraqi politics has changed over the past year, though for reasons that have little to do with "the surge" - the 30,000 US troop reinforcements - and much to do with the battle for supremacy between the Sunni and Shia Muslim communities.

The Sunni Arabs of Iraq turned against al Qa'ida partly because it tried to monopolise power but primarily because it brought their community close to catastrophe. The Sunni war against US occupation had gone surprisingly well for them since it began in 2003. It was a second war, the one against the Shia majority led by al-Qa'ida, which the Sunni were losing, with disastrous results for themselves. "The Sunni people now think they cannot fight two wars - against the occupation and the government - at the same time," a Sunni friend in Baghdad told me last week. "We must be more realistic and accept the occupation for the moment."

This is why much of the non-al-Qa'ida Sunni insurgency has effectively changed sides. An important reason why al-Qa'ida has lost ground so swiftly is a split within its own ranks. The US military - the State Department has been very much marginalized in decision-making in Baghdad - does not want to emphasize that many of the Sunni fighters now on the US payroll, who are misleadingly called "concerned citizens", until recently belonged to al Qa'ida and have the blood of a great many Iraqi civilians and American soldiers on their hands.

The Sunni Arabs, five million out of an Iraqi population of 27 million and the mainstay of Saddam Hussein's government, were the core of the resistance to the US occupation. But they have also been fighting a sectarian war to prevent the 16 million Shia and the five million Kurds holding power.

At first, the Shia were very patient in the face of atrocities. Vehicles, packed with explosives and driven by suicide bombers, were regularly detonated in the middle of crowded Shia market places or religious processions, killing and maiming hundreds of people. The bombers came from al-Qa'ida but the attacks were never wholeheartedly condemned by Sunni political leaders or other guerrilla groups. The bombings were also very short-sighted since the Iraqi Shia outnumber the Sunni three to one. Retaliation was restrained until a bomb destroyed the revered Shia al-Askari shrine in Samarra on 22 February, 2006.

The bombing led to a savage Shia onslaught on the Sunni, which became known in Iraq as "the battle for Baghdad". This struggle was won by the Shia. They were always the majority in the capital but, by the end of 2006, they controlled 75 per cent of the city. The Sunni fled or were pressed back into a few enclaves, mostly in west Baghdad.

In the wake of this defeat, there was less and less point in the Sunni trying expel the Americans when the Sunni community was itself being evicted by the Shia from large parts of Iraq. The Iraqi Sunni leaders had also miscalculated that an assault on their community by the Shia would provoke Arab Sunni states like Saudi Arabia and Egypt into giving them more support but this never materialized.

It was al-Qa'ida's slaughter of Shia civilians, whom it sees as heretics worthy of death, which brought disaster to the Sunni community. Al-Qa'ida also grossly overplayed its hand at the end of last year by setting up the Islamic State of Iraq, which tried to fasten its control on other insurgent groups and the Sunni community as a whole. Sunni garbage collectors were killed because they worked for the government and Sunni families in Baghdad were ordered to send one of their members to join al Qai'da. Bizarrely, even Osama bin Laden, who never had much influence over al Qa'ida in Iraq, was reduced to advising his acolytes against extremism.

Defeat in Baghdad and the extreme unpopularity of al Qa'ida gave the impulse for the formation of the 77,000-strong anti-al-Qa'ida Sunni militia, often under tribal leadership, which is armed and paid for by the US. But the creation of this force is a new stage in the war in Iraq rather than an end to the conflict.

Sunni enclaves in Baghdad are safer, but not districts where Sunni and Shia face each other. There are few mixed areas left. Many of the Sunni fighters say openly that they see the elimination of al Qai'ida as a preliminary to an attack on the Shia militias, notably the Mehdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr, which triumphed last year.

The creation of a US-backed Sunni militia both strengthens and weakens the Iraqi government. It is strengthened in so far as the Sunni insurrection is less effective and weakened because it does not control this new force.

If the Sunni guerrillas were one source of violence in 2006 the other was the Mehdi Army, led by Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia nationalist cleric. This has been stood down because he wants to purge it of elements he does not control, and wishes to avoid a military confrontation with his rivals within the Shia community if they are backed by the US army. But the Mehdi Army would certainly fight if the Shia community came under attack or the Americans pressured it too hard.

American politicians continually throw up their hands in disgust that Iraqis cannot reconcile or agree on how to share power. But equally destabilizing is the presence of a large US army in Iraq and the uncertainty about what role the US will play in future. However much Iraqis may fight among themselves, a central political fact in Iraq remains the unpopularity of the US-led occupation outside Kurdistan. This has grown year by year since the fall of Saddam Hussein. A detailed opinion poll carried out by ABC News, BBC and NTV of Japan in August found that 57 per cent of Iraqis believe that attacks on US forces are acceptable.

Nothing is resolved in Iraq. Power is wholly fragmented. The Americans will discover, as the British learned to their cost in Basra, that they have few permanent allies in Iraq. It has become a land of warlords in which fragile ceasefires might last for months and might equally collapse tomorrow.

US National intelligence curveball

* The writer is a professor of political science at Cairo University.

While Bush is still panning for war on Iran, America's intelligence community expresses its doubts, or so it seems, writes Hassan Nafaa*

The last edition of the US National Intelligence Council's National Intelligence Estimate report on Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities reverberated around the world like a bomb. Although it was issued in November, it was only made available to the public a few days ago, and this would not have happened had it not been for pressure from Congress.

Because of the obvious importance of the report, I searched the Internet until I found the complete text. To my surprise, it was not as long and detailed as I had expected. In fact, rather than providing raw information or intelligence, it essentially outlined the "estimates" and conclusions drawn by 16 US intelligence agencies, among which was the National Intelligence Council, on the basis of the information available to them. About five of its nine pages were devoted to an explanation of the aims, various phases and process of "intelligence estimates" and the significance of their conclusions. As a result, the section pertaining directly to the Iranian nuclear programme was no more than four pages long.

How could a meagre four pages have had such a powerful effect? As I read through the pith of the analyses performed by all those intelligence agencies that had been monitoring the Iranian nuclear programme so closely and for so long I realised why. Their conclusions boiled down to the following:

First, Iran suspended its nuclear arms programme at the end of 2003. There is not a hint of evidence that it has resumed it since. Second, in the event that Iran does resume its nuclear arms programme it would most likely have to rely primarily on the uranium it enriches itself in reactors it has constructed and put into operation again in January 2006. Third, Iran is currently encountering major technical problems in operating these reactors, a large number of which are concentrated in Natanz, the country's most important nuclear energy site. Fourth, theoretically, the earliest possible date Iran could produce sufficient enriched uranium to be able to produce a nuclear bomb is 2009. However, the likelihood of Iran succeeding so soon is "very weak". Closer to 2015 would be a more realistic estimate. Finally, Iran will not be technically capable of producing a sufficient amount of plutonium to produce a plutonium bomb before 2015.

No wonder the White House was keen to suppress the report. Its conclusions are diametrically opposed to the line the Bush administration has been feeding the world. This administration has persistently held that Iran is secretly persisting in its ambition to build a nuclear bomb and is set on perpetrating a "nuclear holocaust". Therefore, the world has to join the US in doing whatever it takes to halt the nuclear programme of that renegade state, even if that involves recourse to force of arms. Then along came this report that not only proves Bush a liar, again, bent upon deceiving the American public and the rest of the world in the same way he duped them into war against Iraq, but should also prove a highly effective instrument in putting a halt to his extremely reckless and dangerous schemes.

To better appreciate the magnitude of the blow Bush received we should recall this extraordinary eccentric's vision of the world and the diabolic plans he had to put into effect. As we have long been painfully aware, Bush is a member of a clique of neo- conservatives closely connected with the fundamentalist Christian Zionist movement that believes that the resurrection of Greater Israel is a prerequisite for the second coming of Christ. Bush personally believes himself to be on speaking terms with God and that he was divinely singled out to lead the charge against evil terrorists -- on the top of the list of which rank Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas. But this mission was not just the glimmering epiphany of a born-again who was made to see the light by a Christian Zionist priest. It was the smokescreen for a carefully designed strategy, devised or supported by various American interests and political forces, for securing American hegemony over the world by taking complete and direct control over the area in which are located the world's largest oil fields.

Weak and beleaguered and very oil-rich Iraq was the natural starting point for setting this strategy into motion. Preparations for an invasion were already in full swing even before 11 September 2001. But when that occurred, Bush saw it as part of the Lord's design to light the way for the performance of his divine mission. The invasion of Afghanistan, according to this design, was the necessary prelude. But having accomplished this detour as soon as possible, he quickly turned his attention to Iraq as the keystone to the grand strategy of reordering the Middle East in a way favourable to securing American control over this region, its oil and the rest of the world. What Bush did not expect was for Iraq to turn into such a quagmire. Soon, however, he identified the source of that nightmare and began to draw up plans and set the regional and international stage for a military strike against that "satanic" power.

But a ground invasion of a country as large and rugged as Iran is simply not feasible, especially with American forces bogged down in Iraq. Yet neither could Bush conceive of the possibility of peacefully co-existing with Iran as a regional power whose strength and influence were growing by the day due to its ability to capitalise on America's drastic blunders in the Middle East. So he bided his time until the opportunity presented itself to contain the "danger" as he continued to tinker with his plans in accordance with regional and international developments. Naturally, the Iranian nuclear programme offered the most "credible" key and primary avenue towards the pursuit of weakening and isolating Iran through economic sanctions and lashing out at its allies. The war against Hizbullah and the attendant mass destruction of Lebanese infrastructure two summers ago was a tragic episode in this unfolding campaign. Although Hizbullah's ability to withstand and ultimately defeat the Israeli onslaught caused that invasion to backfire, the setback seemed to have strengthened Bush's resolve to efface that "enemy" whose strengths were mounting with every American and Israeli debacle.

Anyone who kept track of what was going on in Washington over the past year could see how desperately the US administration's most fanatical wing, led by Dick Cheney, was working to set the stage for a lethal strike against Iran. There is no doubt that if the administration had been reasonably convinced that its plans for such a blow would succeed it would have already delivered it some time ago. But the ever daring, ever stubborn Bush would not despair. Indeed, he could almost taste the thrill of this next military adventure -- that is until that nasty little report from America's own intelligence agencies appeared, as though deliberately intended to make his plans go up in smoke.

Still, some see the situation differently. They think that such a potentially damning report would never have been made public without a green light from somewhere in the ruling establishment and that the reason this green light was given was because it needs a way out from the hole it has dug itself into. They have a rather powerful argument on their side. The Bush administration, or at least some an influential part of it, seeks a change of tack in American policy towards the region, some say, and the publication of the report furnishes the opening. In support of their argument the same analysts point to developments that suggest a deliberate attempt to cool down the region. For instance, there were the intensive direct, indirect and secret communications with Syria to persuade Damascus to participate in the Annapolis conference. The conference, which was attended by delegations from 52 states and international organisations, among which were 16 Arab delegations, had the immediate impact of reducing the level of tension in Lebanon to such a degree as to open the possibility not only of an agreement on the person of Michel Suleiman as president but of comprehensive reconciliation. In addition, there is news of intensive Egyptian-Syrian-Saudi Arabian coordination aiming to prepare the internal Palestinian scene for what some believe will be a serious negotiating process that will culminate in a final Palestinian-Israeli settlement by the end of 2008. Indeed, some predict that the three Arab nations will be convening a summit soon and that this summit may also include Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.

I, for one, think that this viewpoint is overly optimistic and does not hold water in face of a close analysis of the information at hand. Above all, the National Intelligence Estimate report in question had to be pried into the open by considerable pressure on the part of a Democratic-controlled Congress and against a climate of mounting political party rivalries as the official onset of the American presidential campaign approaches. At the same time, I would not rule out that influential circles in the US -- and perhaps even in the Bush administration also -- favoured the publication of the report in order to forestall a military confrontation that might not only backfire, but that could precipitate untold damage to US interests.

In other words, the report was published in the context of growing and widespread alarm that the Bush regime's insane and reckless folly would severely jeopardise the very future of the US. It was also published in the context of the contest between two warring visions of America's role in the world, the one holding that America can not rule the world on the strength of its military might alone and that it must seek a new mode of conducting its international relations based on diplomacy and "soft power", and the other, championed by the American ultra right, maintaining that America is still all-powerful in spite of its many setbacks. This does not mean that there is not a consensus in the US over the Iranian nuclear issue. What the publication of the report tells us is that some important people in the US realise that Iran is not as close to possessing a nuclear weapon as the Bush administration had hoped everyone would believe, and therefore that there is still time to address the issue under an administration that is not as maniacal and that is hopefully wiser.

But Bush is not the type to give in easily. Already he has attempted to use portions of the report to support his claim that just because Iran halted its nuclear armaments programme doesn't mean that it won't resume it in the future, because the Iranian regime just can't be trusted, and so on. As a result of his tenacity and other factors, the direction US policy will take towards the Middle East will not be clear at least until the official kick-off of the US presidential election campaigns in a few months from now. The attempt to turn down the heat in the region by reducing tensions in Lebanon, for example, may only have ushered in the calm that precedes the storm. Whether the situation remains calm in Lebanon and the Middle East in general is heavily contingent upon progress towards a true and lasting settlement to the Middle East conflict. Unfortunately, the prospects of this still appear dim given that Israel has offered no indication that it is ready or willing to commit to that type of settlement and given that Washington has shown no sign that it is ready or willing to exert any pressure whatsoever on Israel.

Indeed, it is sufficient to observe what transpired before, during and after Annapolis to realise how bleak the situation still is. Before that conference, Abbas was unable to secure an agreement over a declaration of principles and a timeframe. In Annapolis, he failed to achieve more than an agreement to return to the negotiating table on the basis of a "roadmap" that is far more ambiguous than UN Security Council Resolution 242. Immediately in the wake of that conference Israel announced the beginning of a new programme for expanding its settlements in and around Jerusalem. What kind of settlement could possibly arise against that backdrop?


By B.Raman.

There has been an interesting debate between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress (I), during the course of the Gujarat election campaign, as to which party did better in the fight against terrorism. One should welcome the debate since it shows that as in the Western countries, in India too, counter-terrorism is becoming an important electoral issue. One wishes, however, that the debate was more professional than polemic.

2.The effectiveness of counter-terrorism depends more on the political leadership provided by the Prime Minister/Chief Minister of the day than on which party is in power. If one were to award objective gradings to different Prime Ministers/Chief Ministers for the political leadership provided by them in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency, one would award the following gradings:


Mrs.Indira Gandhi: A

Shri Rajiv Gandhi and Shri Narasimha Rao: B

Shri A.B.Vajpayee and Dr.Manmohan Singh: C

Shri V.P.Singh, Shri Chandrasekhar,Shri Deva Gowda and Shri I.K.Gujral: D


The late Shri Beant Singh, former Chief Minister of Punjab: A

Shri Sharad Pawar, former Chief Minister of Maharashtra,Miss J.Jayalalita, former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, and Shri M.Karunanidhi, present Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu: B

Shri Narendra Mod, Chief Minister of Gujarat: C

3.Why these gradings:

(a). Mrs.Indira Gandhi: The peace process in Nagaland was initiated by her through the Shillong Accord in 1975. The peace accord in Mizoram was at her initiative, though the final agreement was reached under Shri Rajiv Gandhi. No other Prime Minister of India handled hijackings as effectively as she did. There were eight hijackings when she was the Prime Minister----one by the Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and the remaining seven by the Khalistanis. All these hijackings were got terminated without conceding the demands of the terrorists. She exploited the hijacking of an aircraft of the Indian Airlines to Lahore by two terrorists of the JKLF to set in motion the train of events, which led to the defeat of the Pakistan Army in East Pakistan and the birth of Bangladesh. She managed to persuade the UAE authorities to terminate a hijacking by the Khalistanis when they took an IAC plane to Dubai, arrest the hijackers and hand them over to India. When the JKLF kidnapped Ravi Mhatre, an Indian diplomat posted in the Indian Assistant High Commission in Birmingham, and demanded the release of Maqbool Butt awaiting the implementation of a death penalty, she refused to concede their demand. When they killed Mhatre, she ordered the immediate execution of Butt. When the Khalistani extremists and the Akali leaders repulsed her offer for a political solution to their demands, which were considered legitimate, she did not hesitate to send the Army into the Golden Temple to flush out the terrorists. Of course, she was blamed for creating the Bhindranwale phenomenon, but one is not quite convinced of the validity of this allegation. On the negative side, the situation worsened in Manipur, Assam and Tripura during her Prime Ministership,. but she did take initiatives to address some of the grievances of the people of these areas.In counter-terrorism, she was the most defiant in the face of intimidation and the most proactive Prime Minister we have had. She initiated operational steps to teach Pakistan that its use of terrorism against India would not be cost free.

(b).Shri Rajiv Gandhi: The success of Operation Black Thunder in 1988 when the Khalistanis again occupied the Golden Temple was in no small measure due to the political leadership provided by him and the operational leadership provided by Shri K.P.S.Gill, the then Punjab Police chief, Shri Ved Marwah, the then chief of the National Security Guards, and Shri M.K.Narayanan, the then Director of the Intelligence Bureau. He carried forward Mrs.Gandhi's talks with Laldenga through intermediaries and successfully concluded the peace accord with the Mizo National Front (MNF). He initiated talks to find a peaceful solution in Punjab and Tripura, and did make some headway. He strengthened the counter-terrorism capabilities of the intelligence agencies and carried forward with vigour Mrs.Gandhi's policy of teaching a lesson to Pakistan for sponsoring terrorism against India. The credit for making Pakistan reverse its policy of supporting the Khalistanis should largely go to him and Shri Rao. Of course, he mishandled action to deal with terrorism by the LTTE, which set up innumerable sleeper cells in Tamil Nadu and spread its acts of terrorism to the territory of Tamil Nadu, with the collusion of some political elements in Tamil Nadu.

(c). Shri V.P.Singh, backed by the BJP: His soft policy towards the Khalistanis aggravated the problem of terrorism in Punjab. The gains made under Shri Rajiv Gandhi were neutralised and the Police morale was shattered.. When the JKLF terrorists kidnapped the daughter of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, the then Home Minister, and demanded the release of some detained terrrorists, he and his Government shockingly capitulated before them. This marked the beginning of large-scale terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir. When the terrorists subsequently kidnapped the then Vice-Chancellor of the Srinagar University and two others and demanded the release of some more terrorists, he took a strong line. The terrorists executed their captives. The double standards followed by him---- softness in the case of the daughter of his Home Minister and a hard line in the case of some innocent civilians who had no political influence--- destroyed his credibility as a person capable of providing leadership in counter-terrorism. Showed very little interest in the North-East. The Indian Peace-Keeping Force (IPKF) was withdrawn from Sri Lanka under pressure from his Tamil Nadu political allies under conditions, which were widely seen as humiliating.

(d).Shri Chandra Sekhar: He was the Prime Minister for too short a while to make a major impact, but continued with the policies of Rajiv Gandhi.

(d).Shri Narasimha Rao: Carried forward the policies of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi for making Pakistan realise that its sponsorship of terrorism---whether in Punjab or J&K-- would not be cost free. Gave a free hand to Beant Singh, K.P.S.Gill, and Rajesh Pilot, his Minister of State for Internal Securty, for neutralising Khalistani terrorism. Khalistani terrorism was brought under control under his Prime Ministership.It was under his leadership that the indigenous Kashmiri militant organisations started losing steam. He gave a free hand to Shri G.C.Saxena, former chief of the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW) who was appointed as the Governor by V.P.Singh, and Gen.Krishna Rao, who succeeded him, to deal with terrorism in a professional manner. When the indigenous organisations started losing steam, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) started infiltrating Pakistani jihadi terrorist organisations into J&K and the rest of India. He handled two hijackings and the occupation of the Hazratbal holy shrine in Srinagar by the terrorists in an effective manner. Continued with Rajiv Gandhi's policy of strengthening the capabilities of the intelligence and security agencies. However, his failure to prevent the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December,1992, created a fertile soil in the Indian territory outside J&K for the spread of jihadi terrorism. Handled effectively the sequel to the Mumbai blasts of March,1993.

(e).Shri Deva Gowda: Did not make any impact one way or the other.

(f). Shri Gujral: Damaged the pro-active capabilities built up under Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Narasimha Rao under the Gujral Doctrine of unilateral gestures to our neighbours.

(g).Shri A.B.Vajpayee: Never carried out many of the brave statements of the BJP before coming to power. The hopes of the intelligence and security agencies that he would reverse the policies of Gujral and restore their teeth were belied. Very badly mishandled the hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane to Kandahar. There was total confusion in the corridors of power when the plane was hijacked. Two opportunities to have the hijacking terminated at Amritsar and Dubai were missed. When the hijackers took the plane to Kandahar, he faced a self-created situation in which he had no other option but to capitulate to the terrorists in order to save the lives of the passengers. Hard in rhetoric, soft in action. Did not publish the promised White Paper on the ISI's sponsorship of terrorism in Indian territory. Ill-advised lionisation of Pervez Musharraf before the fiasco of the Agra summit conveyed a wrong message to the terrorists that there was counter-terrorism fatigue in Delhi. The move for talks with the Hizbul Mujahideen was handled in a very unprofessional manner, with an eye more on media publicity than on concrete results. The outcome: Moderate elements in the Hizbul Mujahideen found themselves marginalised and some even eliminated. The effective manner in which the security forces repulsed jihadi terrorist attacks on the Akshardam temple in Ahmedabad in 2002 and the Parliament in Delhi in 2001 were a tribute to their bravery and reflexes and not to the political leadership of Vajpayee. The much-hyped mobilisationn of the Indian Army after the attack on the Indian Parliament and the subsequent policy of coercive diplomacy against Pakistan did produce some beneficial results and brought down the level of terrorism in J&K under Vajpayee as well as Manmohan Singh. But no impact on jihadi terrorism in the rest of India. Took a number of steps to strengthen the counter-terrorism capabilities of the police and intelligence agencies. Their morale improved.

(h).Dr.Manmohan Singh: The improvement in the ground situation in J&K has continued, but he has not been able to arrest the deterioration in the situation in the rest of the country. He upgraded the priority given to action against the Naxalites and the Maoists. The additional powers given to the Police under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) were withdrawn. A lack of focus and vigour in dealing with terrorism in a comprehensive manner. The morale of the counter-terrorism agencies, including the police, not very high. This is reflected in the poor pace of investigation of terrorism-related cases since 2004. His perceived softness towards Pakistan is likely to prove counter-productive.

(i).Shri Beant Singh: Punjab was fortunate to have had him as its Chief Minister in the 1990s.His role in the fight against Khalistani terrorism was highly commendable. He provided political leadership of a high order in counter-terrorism matters.

(j).Shri Sharad Pawar: The vigorous political leadership provided by him in the aftermath of the Mumbai blasts of March,1993, led to the successful investigation and prosecution of the first act of mass casualty terrorism on the ground in Indian territory.

(k). Miss Jayalalita and Shri Karunanidhi: The credit for effectively neutralising the activities of Al Ummah and for the successful investigation and prosecution of the Coimbatore blasts case of February,1998, should equally go to them. Efforts of the Lashkar-e-Toiba to start sleeping cells in Tamil Nadu were detected in time by the Tamil Nadu Police and neutralised. The Tamil Nadu Police has been very pro-active in dealing with terrorism--- whether of the jihadi kind or the Maoist/Naxalite kind or the new sleeper cells of the LTTE. Tamil Nadu provides a good case study of how to deal with jihadi terrorism firmly without antagonising the community from which the terrorists arose.

(l). Shri Narendra Modi: His main claim has been that there has been no major act of jihadi terrorism in his State after the Akshardam incident, but Gujarat has always had a very little history of terrorism---whether of the jihadi or the Naxalite kind. The tribute for keeping away from terrorism should go more to the people of the State than to any political leader.

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

China war startegy

China war startegy
China army form tibet and burma side,
China airore on startegic bases of india,
China subs form bangldesh and arabia ,
Terroist from kashimr and bangladesh,
Mao form Nepal and Interior india.

This is the latest war strategy of China towards India.As far as I think Indian defence is not at all week to repeat 1962.But the problem is lying with poltical side.If the present govt still takes in cool manner telling "HINDU CHINY BHAI BHAI",def 1962 will repeat.I request them to take serious action so that China should not even think to invade India or try to grab its intrests.


December 14, 2007

Left intellecutals end their honeymoon with Marxists

Actually the heading should be: "Left intellecutals end their honeymoon
with Marxists"

Marxists end their honeymoon with left intellectuals
Tushar Charan

http://www.asiantri index.php? q=node/8701

With more than three years of the five-year term of the state assembly
still left before it faces the polls, it is disappointing to note that
CPI (M), the dominant party in West Bengal's Left Front, is not even
embarrassed, leave alone shamed, by the barrage of criticism on the way
it has handled the situation in Nandigram. But the series of tragic and
unfortunate incidents in Nandigram since the beginning of the year have
shattered many myths about the Left rule in West Bengal, especially the
image of the big brother CPI (M). The honeymoon between the intellectual
classes and the CPI-M had perhaps lasted too long.

Even as groaning voices kept wafting out of West Bengal in the past
not many outside the state were ready to shed the romantic notions about
a party with leaders who looked ideologically and sincerely 'committed'
to the cause of the poor and the unprivileged and were known to be the
least enamoured of avarice unlike the politicians from other parties. A
party like the CPI (M) was supposed to be free of the common vices of
other parties like crime, corruption and sycophancy. Prolonged exposures
from Nandigram have altered (if not erased) that image drastically.

Despite the popular conception-largely based on the governance in what
was once known as the Eastern Bloc-- that the comrades have no belief in
it, the CPI (M) and its allies notched up more points by proclaiming
their belief in democracy. The CPI (M) appeared to many as a unique
Indian party where its leaders lived simply, preached what they
practised and believed in accepting the poll verdict.

The admiration, though silent and unspoken, for the comrades was high
and widespread in intellectual institutions. It was assumed that higher
institutions of learning would have a predominance of 'Leftists' among
both students and teachers. A good number of top civil servants had
flaunted their Left leanings before entering the portals of privilege.
States ruled by the Left were known as 'progressive' as opposed to the
retrograde states run by petty bourgeoisie politicians who had embraced
'anti-people' policies.

Now we have it from a person no less than Justice S. Rajendra Babu,
chairman of the National Human Rights Commission that the Nandigram
incidents are among the 'worst scars' on the face of India.
(Incidentally, if it is of any importance the Justice comes from a
'progressive' state.) The West Bengal chief minister, Buddhadeb
Bhattacharjee, was stumped. When asked to give his reaction, all that he
could say was that he would give his reaction after he had 'studied' the
remarks of the NHRC chairman.

That reply appeared to be rather uncharacteristic of the
post-Nandigram Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee who had described the mass murder
and rape by the musclemen of his party in Nandigram as a (befitting)
'reply in the same coin' to the 'goons' who had earlier driven out his
cadres. This cavalier if not offensive expression shocked Kolkata's vast
intellectual circles, most of whom were among his admirers. He had no
qualms about choosing words that could well have been spoken by Narendra
Modi of Gujarat after the latter's 'cadres' had executed a
state-sponsored pogrom of the minorities. It earned Modi a notoriety
with which he has to live his entire life.

Outside the Hindutva world of the Sangh Parivar, not many would like
to be compared to Modi. But if the Gujarat chief minister had reportedly
given a three-day amnesty (vide Tehelka exposures) to his 'goons' to
stage an orgy of murder, rape and pilferage in his state, in West Bengal
the state machinery had had a much longer holiday-almost a year. There
must be only a thin line that distinguishes the fascism of the kind
Sangh Parivar pursues and the brand patented by the CPI (M).

Actually, it may be worse in West Bengal. Despite incompetence,
suspected bias and unpardonable delays before they swung into action,
the state security apparatus did manage to show its presence in Gujarat.
In Nandigram the state actually refused to summon the police and even
prevented the forces sent by the Centre from doing their duty. All
because the state government had more faith in its own party's armed
cadres whose given assignment was to 'teach a lesson' to the opponents.

If the Left Front government in West Bengal has its way, it is the
armed and undisciplined party cadres who would manage the law and order
situation in every state in the country. That would place the party and
its interests above the units of the state and the people who live in
them. The Bengal comrades have also shown that engaging dissenters and
opponents in dialogue is a waste of time, a fruitless pursuit.

Criticism from any quarter can send the comrades fuming; more so when
it comes from the Raj Bhavan where the incumbent had actually asked for
some kind of introspection by the state government when it failed to
deal with Nandigram adequately. It is ironic that it was the Left, still
puffing with anger over their spats with previous governors like A.P.
Sharma and T. Rajeshwar that had asked for Gopal Gandhi to be sent to
Kolkata's Raj Bhavan.

The poor farmers of West Bengal have been wrong in the eyes of the CPI
(M) to oppose the land acquisition programme of the communist ruled West
Bengal. The ruling party decided that the farmers' organisation, the
Bhumi Ucched Pratirodh Committee deserved no hearing, especially when
many Maoists and 'goons' of Mamata Banerjee's Trinamul Congress had
managed to infiltrate it. The only way to deal with them was to 'teach
them a lesson' by beating them black and blue, raping their women folks,
burning their homes and hearths and if they still survived and wished to
return home, make them pay fines.

The West Bengal government's determination to acquire land-mostly on
behalf of the much maligned capitalists- would have been admirable had it
not been for the fact that elsewhere in India the comrades think it is a
cardinal sin. Except West Bengal, the comrades have been in the
forefront of opposing special economic zones in the rest of India.

However, the contradictions in their new philosophy of
industrialisation that looks quite pro-capitalists had become apparent
even before Nandigram when the land acquisition plan in Singur had
turned violent. It was perhaps a sign of the arrogance that has crept in
the ranks of the comrade rulers who did not want to learn any lesson
from Singur. Now they have even harder lessons to learn, chief minister
Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee' s public regret over Nandigram show

Narendra Modi’s victory will be Bharat’s victory

By J.G. Arora
--Author’s e-mail:
Organiser, New Delhi : December 16, 2007

Assembly elections in Gujarat to be held on December 11 and December 16, 2007 are very crucial since they would determine Bharat’s future destiny.

For the nationalists, Narendra Modi is a symbol of nationalism. If Narendra Modi wins these elections, it would amount to Bharat’s victory since it would strengthen the nationalists; and diminish communal forces masquerading as secularists. However, Modi’s defeat would fortify anti-Hindu forces and make their attacks on Hindu religion and Hindu heritage more strident in keeping with their agenda of demolishing Hinduism the way other native cultures and religions have been wiped off from the earth.

Nationalism versus communalism

Main contestants in these elections are the ruling BJP and Congress.
Congress has been generally following communal and divisive politics in the name of secularism. Unfortunately, the policies pursued by the Congress-led UPA government are generating pre-1947 conditions which had led to the creation of Pakistan .
Only a few illustrations of such self-defeating policies are given here.

Congress government under Jawaharlal Nehru started “Haj subsidy” for Muslims in 1959 though such subsidy is anti-secular and though none of the 57 Muslim countries pays any such subsidy. And the same Congress which had rejected “Communal Award” in 1932 is now spearheading reservation for Muslims in government jobs; and is sharing power with Muslim League which had demanded and got Pakistan . UPA government supports reservation for Muslims though reservation on religious grounds is unconstitutional and though there can be no Muslim reservation after the creation of Pakistan as demanded by Muslims.

Besides, debunking nation’s security, after regaining power in 2004, Congress government repealed Prevention of terrorist Activities Act (POTA) the way it had repealed Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) in 1995.
And as per the present Congress Prime Minister, Muslims have the first right over India ’s national resources.

But the most vexatious outcome of sectarian politics is the demographic and terrorist invasion of India .

In its bid to demolish and dismember India , Pak-Bangla combine is focussed to plant one more Islamic country on Indian soil for which it has dispatched countless terrorists and crores of its nationals into India. Despite the Supreme Court’s judgements delivered on July 12, 2005 and December 5, 2006 to deport infiltrators, no infiltrators have been deported by the UPA government so far. Rather, the government’s policy of soft borders is inviting more infiltrators every day.

Malicious propaganda

Though as the Fourth Estate, media is supposed to guard national interests, most of the Indian print and electronic media in India is an ally of anti-Hindu outfits; and has a similar anti-Hindu agenda. As Gujarat assembly elections are nearing, this media has raised its anti-Modi disinformation campaign.

During 1980s and 1990s, Pakistan sponsored terrorists killed thousands of Hindus in Kashmir forcing several lakhs of terrorized Hindus to flee from Kashmir . Most of these ousted Kashmiri Hindus are living in pathetic conditions in refugee camps. For main stream media, genocide and eviction of Hindus from Kashmir are no news. But communal riots of Gujarat in 2002 are always kept in the news.

What happened in Gujarat after 59 Hindu pilgrims in coach number S-6 of Sabarmati Express were burnt alive by a Muslim mob at Godhra on February 27, 2002 were communal riots, and not a state sponsored genocide as wrongly propagated by some sections of print and electronic media.

On May 11, 2005, the Minister of State for Home Affairs informed the Rajya Sabha that 254 Hindus and 790 Muslims were killed in Gujarat in the post Godhra riots of 2002.

Though each Indian’s life is sacrosanct, thousands of Hindus killed in Kashmir and Hindu passengers killed in Sabarmati Express do not matter for some sections of media.

A section of media has also been spreading the canard that as the Chief Minister, Narendra Modi had given freedom to indulge in anti-Muslim violence for three days after Hindu rail passengers were killed in Sabarmati Express on February 27, 2002. But the facts prove that these allegations are false and malicious.

The undisputed fact is that the Gujarat Government had acted with alacrity and requisitioned the army and had also issued ‘shoot at sight’ orders to police on 28th February, 2002 itself. Besides, scores of Hindus had been killed in police firing on 28th February and 1st march 2002.

The fact that thousands of Hindus and Muslims had to take shelter in relief camps shows the extent of these communal riots. Looking to enormity of problem, Narendra Modi deserves credit for restoring normalcy with speed.

Note of caution

Though Narendra Modi has given good governance and crushed terrorism, he is being demonised by anti-Hindu media. Modi’s government is people-friendly, and has done more regarding all round development, water, power, employment, industrialisation, law and order, security and good governance for the state of Gujarat than any other state government has ever done in the country.

Besides, his government has contained terrorism, transforming Gujarat into one of the most secure states of India . Instead of commending Gujarat ’s march towards prosperity, development, peace & harmony, some sections of media are communalising the polity.

It is true that normally power can bring arrogance and self-righteousness. I hope Narendra Modi is free from these common human frailties. Nevertheless, he has to ensure that no section of nationalist forces feels ignored and alienated. Therefore, he has to try to win over even his detractors among the nationalist forces. Similarly, his detractors have also to realise that Modi’s victory will be their victory as well.

Of course, dynamics of electoral politics have also to be remembered. There is no scope for complacence, whatsoever, as swing of even one percentage of votes can affect the number of seats going to a political party. Therefore, all nationalist organisations and individuals must do their utmost to ensure the victory of nationalism over divisive forces in these elections.
Modi’s victory will signify Bharat’s victory. Modi’s loss will mean loss of nationalist forces.

Bharat’s destiny

In a recent interview to a television news channel, while clarifying his approach to terrorism, Modi remarked, “Main Gujarat ki dharti par maut ke saudagron ko panapane nahin doonga” (I shall not allow merchants of death to thrive in the land of Gujarat ). How I wish that those in charge of India should also echo similar sentiments!
Since Gujarat elections to be held on December 11 and December 16 are very crucial as they would determine the future destiny of Bharat, it is imperative that all nationalist organsations and individuals do their utmost to ensure the victory of nationalist forces in these elections.

For Bharat’s very survival as a nation; and for saving Bharat from subversion and dismemberment, it is imperative that nationalists are returned to power in Gujarat with a thumping majority.

Gujarat Polls 2007 - Now psuedo Secular Sonia is Durga !

Source: Offstumped

The Telegraph reports:

The Congress today pulled out its “Hindu card” at the fag end of the Gujarat campaign by comparing Sonia Gandhi with “Goddess Durga” and Narendra Modi with “Mahisasura”. It was M. Veerappa Moily, the head of the party’s media department. Moily was flanked by his media cell colleagues, such as Abhishek Singhvi, Jayanti Natarajan and Shakeel Ahmed, when he was asked if the Congress, too, had not made its campaign “vitriolic” by equating Modi with Pervez Musharraf. The Congress leader now likened Modi to Hitler and Raktabijasura, the progenitor of the demons in the Puranas.

Whether Oily Moily’s mythological parallels find an echo in Gujarat they are bound to rankle the Congress’ “atheist” partner down south MK Karunanidhi who must be troubled with this association of “communal” Modi with the “secular” and “rational” Asuras.

But there could be bigger trouble for Oily Moily for back in June 2007 when a low level Congress functionary Moradabad district chief Ajay Saraswat Soni portrayed Sonia as Durga he got the sack. Three other MLAs got the sack for depicting her as Lakshmibai.

So will Oily Moily get the sack or does the Congress President have one rule for the lower rung and another for her confidantes or does she secretly love being played up as a Goddess ?

With the campaigning ending for the second phase of polls in Gujarat, the Congress and the BJP have pretty much reduced this round of campaigning to exchanging soundbites on terrorism. If the Congress threw Masood Azhar and Peter Bleach at the BJP, the BJP returned fire with Mohammad Afzal and occassionally Sohrabuddin. In the crossfire Narendra Modi’s development agenda ended being the casualty with the “neither here” and “not so apparent” Rahul Gandhi being the lone Congressman to bring up Modi’s record.

The Congress’ strategy to field Rahul Gandhi in the wee hours of the final day of campaigning is interesting. If the Congress does well it can cleverly attribute it to the last minute difference that Rahul Gandhi made. If the Congress does badly it can shrug its shoulders and pass the blame on to the others who bore the brunt of all campaigning in Gujarat.

Shekhar Gupta writing in the Indian Express in his column titled National Interest has an interesting insight into what the election in Gujarat has come to be. This is perhaps the most Presidential of State Assembly Elections if there ever was one. However Shekhar Gupta does great disservice to his insight but being denial about the single mindedness with which the media played up Mr. Modi as a hate figure and ran an incessant one sided hate campaign against him which Offstumped has extensively documented on two occassions.

If Mr. Modi has made this about himself and his record it is largely on account of this “assasinate Modi by sting or stink” campaign the Media has been running for many months now.

Shekhar Gupta has also missed a dynamic completely in this election. After all Mr. Modi’s campaign is not built on fiction but from an overwhelming wave of support from a particular generation of voters.

What is it about this election that has this generation so beholden to Mr. Modi ?

The day the Shekhar Gupta’s of the mainstream media figure the answer to that question they would have fathomed the impatience and lack of tolerance within this generation for Executive Paralysis on account of Legislative Dissidence and the fervent desire for a Strong Executive.

It remains to be seen if Mr. Modi was successful in making this a referendum on himself and his record or if the sum of all local incumbencies and mutinies will eventually take him down.

As Gujarat prepares to vote in the second phase, keep an eye out for those Offstumped predictions, even the mainstream media is watching out for them.

To post comments visit Offstumped forum Orkut

Secularism derailed ???

December 15, 2002

This mad rant by Seema Mustafa suggests that the 'secularists' have been trounced in gujarat. If as she says erstwhile VHP and Bajrang Dal activists are now infiltrating the Congress, it is all for the good. So Hindutva will become part of both the parties and soon no one will dare use and anti-Hindu platform. We will then have true nationalism both in the ruling and the opposition parties.

I take the derailment of secularism as a positive development.

N.S. Rajaram

http://www.asianage .com/presentatio n/leftnavigation /opinion/ opinion/seculari sm-derailed. aspx
Secularism derailed

Seema Mustafa

It is almost unreal. This should have been 2002, but it is 2007 in Gujarat. What the Congress should have done in 2002 after the violence had consumed 2,000 souls, and left a trail of death and destruction, it is doing now in 2007, almost as if the five intervening years never happened. And the Congress just woke up, one fine day, to pick up the threads of 2002 without a word as to where it had been all these years, and why it had left the ground to the Ugly Indian (read Narendra Modi) and his men to convert into a one-team playing field.

There are those who will say and are saying better late than never. At least, there is a fight now, and the Congress is trying to give the Ugly Indian a run for his dirty money. It does not matter that it did not raise the issue for five years, it does not matter it is seeking help from those who were leading the mobs against the minorities at the time, the means do not matter, the end does. And the end is that the Ugly Indian must be defeated at all costs. But if this argument is to be accepted, then it is also to be accepted that the Ugly Indian is a charismatic leader for many in his state, has a special appeal for the women and the youth, and has a support base that makes him taller than other leaders in the BJP and the RSS, and indeed the Congress, within the state. So does that mean he has the legitimate right to continue in office, even though he has the blood of hundreds on his hands?

Democracy, they say, is what the people want and in Gujarat the people think they want the Ugly Indian. Otherwise, there is no explaining the crowds who endorse his every question with passionate shouts, who publicly call for executions, who assure the man that he is the best, and that he is their leader, not the BJP, not the RSS, not anyone. So if one accepts the argument that the fight in Gujarat is between secularism and communalism, then one will have to accept that the people of the state are communal as they are endorsing Modi and the violence that killed and traumatised thousands in 2002.

These arguments are fallacious. Gujarat is not communal. The Ugly Indian is communal, indeed, fascist. The Congress is not secular, as it is not waging a strictly secular fight in the state. It is taking the help of those who stood beside Modi and encouraged the mobs to kill the minorities in 2002. The Bajrang Dal man known for the victimisation of the Christian minorities in Dangs is the Youth Congress president. The former home minister who had personally sat in the control rooms to ensure that the police supported the killing mobs is one of the cheerleaders for the Congress in this campaign. These people will extract more than a pound of flesh after the elections. They are not in the game to dispense charity. And through it all, the minorities who have suffered through the years are still too scared and traumatised to think for themselves.

Secularism is a political ideology. And the task of political parties who take the oath under the Constitution of India is to make it a way of life. And until it is understood as such, the so called secular political parties like the Congress can only weave an uneasy, patchwork truce that will feed into the right, and strengthen the communal forces even if it manages to keep them out of power temporarily. One does not have to go too far back in history to demonstrate the truth of this statement. The Shah Bano judgment strengthened the Muslim fundamentalists in the short run, but eventually the communal agenda was hijacked by the Hindu fanatics who used the concession given by the government to the minorities on this issue to whip up passions over the Babri Masjid issue. The flirtation with the communal forces by the Congress leaders at the time did not make the communal forces secular. On the other hand, it shifted Congress politics to the right, infused it with a strong dose of communalism, and ensured that the party was never again able to take any decision free from fundamentalist influence.

It has taken the Congress five long years to enter the fray in Gujarat. Incalculable damage has been done in the meanwhile by the communal forces in the state that were able to operate freely, without any opposition. The secular voices were trampled in the process, with the Congress unable to muster the courage to lead from the front. The constant looking over the back approach, for fear of alienating one or the other vote bank, cost not just the party but also secularism in Gujarat, with the communal forces taking hold of every institution in the state. The victims of the 2002 violence have been virtually wiped out of existence, with their lives destroyed and no help even today in sight. No one is talking of their future, they barely exist in this campaign. The "merchants of death" epithet has been a little late in coming for the Ugly Indian, and the Prime Minister certainly did not add to anyone’s sense of confidence when he said that the people had been at the mercy of the BJP with only God to turn to. Where was the Congress? Where was the Central government?

Even now the Congress is contesting these elections, as a senior journalist from the state said, with an eye on everything else but the people of Gujarat. The elections are a launching pad for Rahul Gandhi; the elections are to convince the country about the strength of Sonia Gandhi; the elections are to tell the Muslims that the Congress has the courage to fight the Ugly Indian; the elections are to get the green card to proceed with the India-US civilian nuclear energy agreement; the elections are to get the space to pursue policies despite opposition from the Left and others. That is why it is so important to win, and that is why the Congress has opened its doors for every communal character to walk in and pick up one of the hundreds of secular badges lying around for consumption.

If the elections had been for secularism, the Congress would have contested these differently. For one, it would not have hesitated for even a second to take the plunge in 2002, regardless of the consequences. Two, it would have redoubled efforts to win over the people of the state long before this election was held. It would have worked to rehabilitate the victims of the violence, it would have stood by the oppressed and the victimised, it would have worked with the tribals and the adivasis, and it would have held meetings, seminars, conferences to spread secularism as the only doctrine capable of defeating the Ugly Indian. It would have hit Modi where it hurt, and exposed him to his people as a megalomaniac, peddling development for personal gains, and using religion to divide and kill. The same Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi and what have you, all the Congress "stars" should have proved their worth and their commitment to Indian democracy by seizing Gujarat as a challenge and putting their entire strength into isolating and defeating the Ugly Indian and the forces he represents.

This is not happening now. The Congress might win, or lose, it will still remain at best a fractured verdict. The politics of Modi is not on trial, as it should have been. It cannot be as those who were part of his politics are now with the Congress, and do not regret the 2002 violence. The fight appears to have become personal, although to be fair, this is not how the Congress wanted it to be. But it should have expected it, considering the fact that many campaigning for it today admit that they are with the Congress because of the personal characteristics of Modi that they cannot tolerate. He, on the other hand, appears to be revelling in the criticism, as it gives him a chance to project himself more and more aggressively.

This would not have been the position had the Congress worked in Gujarat from day one, and instead of using the elections to score brownie points used it as a battleground for secularism. A campaign for development, for justice, for equal rights, for dignity and respect — all ingredients of secularism — cannot be waged through last minute, opportunistic alliances. It has to be taken carefully and yet firmly into the state, particularly one as corrupted as it has become under the Ugly Indian, with his distortions and falsehoods and doctrine of hate, over the years through a decisive campaign that has little to do with electoral victory but more to do with saving the nation.

If this had been done by the Congress, victory today would have been solid and real. The Ugly Indian would have collapsed, never to walk again.

Pakistan: Its People and Future -- by Ethan Casey

Nov 29th, 2007

World Affairs Council of Oregon - Portland, OR

Ethan Casey discusses Pakistan: Its People and Future.

In the post 9/11 world, The Islamic Republic of Pakistan and General Pervez Musharraf have been described by the United States as partners of the U.S.-led "war on terror", but Pakistan's future is increasingly uncertain. The President-General, having vowed to restore democracy in upcoming elections, faces formidable rivals in two previously exiled prime ministers, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, who are attempting to return. Pakistan's conflict with India over the disputed region of Kashmir remains unresolved. From a Western perspective Pakistan's future seems unstable and fraught, but how do Pakistanis feel about their country and its future? - World Affairs Council of Oregon

Ethan Casey is an American print and online journalist who has written or edited five books. He was founding editor of the online global affairs magazine (1999-2005) and is founding co-editor of PakCast (2006-), a weekly podcast about Pakistan's relations with the West.
Casey's work has appeared in many periodicals, such as The Guardian, the Financial Times, The Boston Globe, and Geographical Magazine. He has reported from diverse locales, including Haiti, Zimbabwe, Nepal, and Pakistan, and has lived in Bangkok and London for long periods.

Casey graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1987. His first book, which he co-wrote with journalist Michael Betzold, was Queen of Diamonds: The Tiger Stadium Story (1991, reprinted 1997). The book chronicled the history of Tiger Stadium and the efforts of Detroit Tigers fans to save it. From 1993 to 1998, Casey worked as a journalist in Bangkok, covering stories throughout the region for The Globe and Mail, the South China Morning Post, and Outlook magazine, among other publications. He later lived for several years in London, where he launched the online periodical and discussion community While serving as editor of, Casey edited or co-edited three books: 09/11 8:48 am: Documenting America's Greatest Tragedy (2001), Dispatches From A Wounded World (2001), and Peace Fire: Fragments from the Israel-Palestine Story (2002).

During the 2003-04 academic year, Casey taught at the newly-founded School of Media and Communication at Beaconhouse National University in Lahore. He has also given lectures at other institutions including Yale, Harvard, the University of Texas, and the Royal Geographical Society. During the 2000s Casey also wrote columns for the English-language Pakistani newspapers The News and the Daily Times. By 2006, Casey had moved to Seattle, where he launched the podcast series PakCast in collaboration with Pakistan-born software entrepreneur Nasir Aziz.

The Nuclear Jihadist : The True Story of the Man Who Sold the World's Most Dangerous Secrets

The True Story of the Man Who Sold the World's Most Dangerous Secrets ... and How We Could Have Stopped Him

By Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins


Upon hearing mention of people who have caused death and destruction in our world, such as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, most decent people will react negatively. While Dr. Abdul Qadeer (A.Q.) Khan may not elicit the same reaction, it's high time to include him on that list.

Khan played a major role in constructing Pakistan's nuclear program, bringing atomic bombs to the Islamic world and to various rogue states. He's regarded as a hero by some in his native country, and a national disgrace by others. Time magazine dubbed him the "Merchant of Menace" in February 2005. And his controversial actions mark him as a real threat to liberty, freedom and democracy.

Two prominent reporters, the husband-and-wife team of Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins, spent four years examining Khan's life, views and possible reasons for selling nuclear secrets. Their efforts have yielded "The Nuclear Jihadist," which details Khan's rise in terror circles and points fingers at various sources, including U.S. government officials, for not stopping him earlier.

Khan was born in 1936 in India, where he was raised. His father, fearing there was no future for Muslims in their native country, sent him to Pakistan at 16. He was trained as a metallurgist, worked in Germany and Holland, and eventually married a Rhodesian-born woman, Henny Reterink, in Amsterdam.

Frantz and Collins believe the Pakistani army's failed attempt to liberate the country from Indian rule in 1965 "struck a chord deep within Khan, dredging up his old hatred of India and foreshadowing events in his own life." The metallurgist felt like an outsider in Europe in much the same way many Pakistanis felt about India. His frustration therefore mirrored Pakistan's frustration, and he wanted to help change Pakistan's political and geographic destiny. As Khan's biographers wrote, his ultimate goal "was to make Pakistan so strong that it would never have to face such a trauma again."

The timing of Khan's departure from Holland back to Pakistan unfortunately coincided with India's push for a nuclear presence. Once India went nuclear, there would surely be "no chance to stop Pakistan from matching its neighbor, bomb for bomb." But when Khan arrived in Pakistan, his country's budding nuclear program was a mess. Canada had cut off supplying parts for a nuclear reactor in Karachi, and France faced international pressure to back out of an agreement to sell Pakistan a reprocessing plant. It was the opening that Khan needed to advance Pakistan's interests and make him a hero in the process.

"The Nuclear Jihadist" details Khan's rise to prominence in Pakistan's scientific and intelligence circles. Frantz and Collins point out that Khan "thought of himself as a great scientist and a leader," and he set out to prove this. The book depicts in great detail the intense rivalry he had with Munir Khan, who is also regarded as one of the chief architects of the country's nuclear push. He also forced his way into President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's good graces, and eventually gained the respect of many politicians and military leaders.

Yet there was a deeper undercurrent to Khan's interest in nuclear weapons - especially in the area of nuclear trafficking. His ideological hatred for Western democracies such as the United States, Britain and Israel had gradually intensified, and he evidently wanted Pakistan to establish stronger links with like-minded nations. As the book describes, Khan created a black market network that was selling nuclear secrets and technology to countries such as Iran, Libya and North Korea for vast sums of money. This led Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, to directly call Khan the "chairman of the board" of this network, which had become a one-stop shopping center, or a kind of "nuclear Wal-Mart."

The book's biggest revelation is Frantz and Collins' claim that Clinton and Bush officials knew about Khan's nuclear plans, and that the CIA had infiltrated his network with agent Urs Tinner. If that's the case, why didn't someone stop Khan? As the authors explain, the CIA and Bush administration "were employing the same passive response implemented in 1975 - watch and wait."

There were other threats to national security that were perceived to be more important, including the removal of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. This decision allowed Khan to continue his ideological mission to build weapons for his beloved Pakistan - and keep selling nuclear secrets to enemies of the West.

It's fair to say "The Nuclear Jihadist" has the potential to shake the foundations of the U.S. government and its intelligence operations. Many U.S. readers will be understandably frustrated by their country's failure to bring down Khan, because all threats to our safety and security must be dealt with in a timely fashion. In the war on terrorism, we should demand nothing less.

Michael Taube is a public affairs analyst, commentator and columnist in Canada.

This article appeared on page M - 4 of the San Francisco Chronicle

In tackling the story of Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan, Frantz and Collins (Death on the Black Sea) are entering a crowded field. As Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark did in Deception (reviewed July 30), this husband-and-wife team divides attention between Khan's influence over Pakistan's nuclear program and how the American government ignored evidence of his progress because Pakistan served as a convenient ally. While much of this story is familiar, Frantz and Collins do provide more detail on Khan's background and draw on several different U.S. sources. (They reveal, for example, that the State Department discussed assassinating Khan as far back as 1978.) They also give the Pakistani government more benefit of the doubt than most other commentators: an internal corruption investigation ordered by Pervez Musharraf shortly after he became Pakistan's president is interpreted as suggesting that Khan's dealing with nations like Libya and Iran might not have been sanctioned by his government. Deception has more about Pakistan's internal politics and an edge in readability and zing, but this is an equally serviceable overview. (Dec. 3)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Kurdistan :Conference on higher education begins

Kurdish Globe

President Barzani speaks at Erbil education conference, addresses federal government issues and universities’ role in developing society.

Addressing the International Conference on Higher Education in Iraq, sponsored by the Kurdistan Region's Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, the Region’s President Masoud Barzani asserted that Iraq, and Kurdistan in particular, must meet the basic needs of the Iraqi people concerning higher education and make improvements to achieve international standards and recognition.

“The previous regimes engulfed the country in war, destroyed a generation of young people, harmed scientific institutions, and discredited professors, and the level of higher education was left to suffer as a consequence,” said President Barzani during the conference's launch ceremony.

“We hope the goals of the conference will be attained in order to achieve a high and advanced level of education, so as to complement the march of the democratic process that is desired by the Iraqi people.”

The conference began in Erbil on Tuesday and ends on Thursday. Attendants include representatives from all universities in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, in addition to a large number of representatives from international universities. Some 350 university professors will openly discuss 170 scientific research projects in eight fields.

“Neighbouring countries need to understand the role of the Kurds - that they do not pose any danger,” Barzani said. “But they [the countries] continue to try to reduce the Kurds' role in the establishment of a federal system while saying that because of Article 140 and the oil contracts, the Kurds aim to separate from Iraq.”

[ Ed: According to Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, the Iraqi government will remedy the injustices of previous Iraqi regimes, which forcibly expelled Kurds from Kirkuk and several other towns and settled Arabs in their place to change the demographics of those areas. Article 140 stipulates that the Iraqi government will carry out a three-stage process of normalization, a census, and a referendum asking voters if they want their towns to be part of the Kurdistan Region or to remain with the rest of Iraq. According to the constitution, this process must be completed by the end of 2007.]

Regarding the implementation of Article 140, Barzani said, “The application of this article does not mean confiscation of the rights of any side; rather, it is the restoration of rights and the reversal of the consequences of Arabization.”

Article 140 “does not split Kirkuk from Iraq, but normalizes the situation to what it was before, and this is what the population will vote on in a referendum,” Barzani explained.

With regard to oil and gas contracts signed by the KRG, Barzani added, "This is a constitutional right and it doesn't violate anything. The oil and gas income must be distributed to the entire Iraqi population as mentioned in the Iraqi Constitution, and completion of the oil and gas law must be accelerated in Baghdad to resolve all outstanding problems."

The absence of the Iraqi flag at the conference was another point raised by Kurdistan's president.

“Many of you may ask why there is no Iraqi flag here, and this issue has been discussed with the Iraqi Prime Minister and Parliament. We need to press on and create an Iraqi flag that represents all components of society.

“We have asserted time after time that this flag is a Ba’ath flag and it is the Iraqi Parliament's duty to put an end to it. We are not against Iraq or any party, but we do not believe the Ba’ath flag represents Iraq because the Ba’ath Party was dissolved by law. A new flag should be determined, and then certainly we will submit to it as Iraqis.”