March 14, 2008

INDIA : Secularism encouraging terrorism

The Moving Finger Writes

Former Punjab Director General of Police, K.P.S.Gill made the point that India was being ruled by pseudo-secularists who did not have the will to fight terrorism. At a meeting organised by the Forum on Integrated National Security (FINS), Gill said that “intellectuals and some political establishments are wedded to weaken the country consciously and as a programme, in the name of secularism.” As Gill saw it, Islamic fundamentalism backed by Pakistan is growing.

Something is terribly wrong not only with our national law and order system, but the distribution of prosperity throughout the length and breadth of the country. The distribution is very uneven, but that is only one aspect of the situation. The other aspect is the growth of jehadism in the country and it has now been discovered that Karnataka has become a centre of recruitment. What comes as a shock is that the recruits are not illiterate or poor Muslims eking out a bare living, but well-educated youths among whom were noticed a civil engineer, a software engineer, a mechanical engineer with a Ph.D in computational fluid dynamics and a doctor. Apparently there is growing radicalisation of educated Muslim youth who have pursued their education in Britain and the United States.

What has India done to these youths that they should turn into jehadis and antinationals? India has gone out of its way to do what it can—including subsidising Haj visits—to the so-called minorities in the name of secularism. Even where they are in a majority, as in Jammu and Kashmir, Muslims get preference. The damage done by Islamic terrorists in other parts of India, speaks for itself. From March 2006 to December 2007, in a space of 18 months, jehadi acts of terrorism are just unimaginable. Consider this list: In March 2006 there was twin bombing in Varanasi, one at the railway station and the other at the Kashi Vishwanath Temple killing 20 people. In July 2006, seven serial bombings of a Mumbai railway station killed more than 200 and injured 700 others. In September 2006 at least 30 persons were killed and 100 injured in twin blasts at Malegaon in Maharashtra. Not even Hyderabad, which has a large Muslim population, was spared. On August 25, 2007, bombs ripped through crowded public areas killing at least 42 persons. It is as if these deaths do not matter. The brutal incidents are quickly forgotten.

Speaking in Bangalore on August 4, 2007, former Punjab Director General of Police, K.P.S.Gill made the point that India was being ruled by pseudo-secularists who did not have the will to fight terrorism. At a meeting organised by the Forum on Integrated National Security (FINS), Gill said that “intellectuals and some political establishments are wedded to weaken the country consciously and as a programme, in the name of secularism.” As Gill saw it, Islamic fundamentalism backed by Pakistan is growing with its sleeper cells increasing across the country, while extremist political leaders are posing a larger danger of dividing the society in the pretext of advocating welfare of Muslims and OBCs. Now—believe it or not—the UPA government has decided to provide a relief package to dependents of terrorists—those very men who fought in the past against the integrity of India and were killed by the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir.

Is anybody aware of the damage done by terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir? A souvenir of the Jammu and Kashmir police released in 2003 and quoted by another senior officer, Joginder Singh (Pioneer, February 11) provides the facts. According to the souvenir, between 1990 and December 2002 there were 56,041 incidents of violence including 10,093 explosions, 29, 931 firing incidents, 5,561 cases of arson, 763 rocket attacks, 4,597 abductions, 229 cases of hanging to death, 275 arms snatching cases and 4, 592 other acts of violence. During those 14 years, more than 30,000 civilians were killed and security forces seized 24,785 AK—type rifles, 9,387 pistols and revolvers, 58 carbines, 91 light machine guns, 6,865 kgs or RDX , 742 rocket launchers and the list grows.

Worst, due to terrorism, 3.70 lakh Hindus and Sikhs were forced to leave the Valley and there has been total ethnic cleaning. Can we call it genocide? So what do we do? In the period between 2000-2003, the state got Rs 13, 188 crore as grant which is three times what Bihar, one of the poorest states in India, received—about Rs 4,047 crore. On November 17, 2004, our kind Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh announced an “Economic Revival Plan” of Rs 24,000 crore for Jammu and Kashmir. Incidentally, according to Joginder Singh “no one really knows what was spent where and who got what”, since the state’s accounts have not been audited for our a decade.

Par for the course, one might add. Never question a Muslim majority state how it spends money. That would not be secular. And all this, when, according to Army sources, over 2000 militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba were trying to sneak into the Valley in August 2007. Major-General Ramesh Halgali, G-O.C of the 19th Infantry Division told PTI that many militants had been brought to the border by Pakistan to wreak terror.

Pakistan gets away with murder and its patron in Washington turns a blind eye to what is going on. Pakistan is fighting terrorism, isn’t it? So what is India complaining about, is the US response. But does the large Muslim community say a word of what’s going on? Hardly. In any event, where are the Muslim community leaders who can speak with authority? If there are any, their argument would be that one does not have to apologies every time a jehadi indulges in violence. They become self-defensive, quoting figures to show how poor the Muslims are, and how important it is for them to attend a madrasa and the secularists lap it up, not wishing to recognise that there are poor among Hindus who do not complain, and yet they attempt to give their children as much education as is within their capacity.

A Muslim writer, Ed Hussain, in his book The Islamist, notes that Islamic extremism did not descend from another planet or was imposed on the community by outside forces. “It breeds within the community and is the product of a certain kind of interpretation of Islam”, wrote Hussain, quoting Zia-ud-din Sardar, one of Europe’s most prominent Muslim scholars.

According to Zia-ud-din, Islamists were “ nourished by an Islamic tradition that is intrinsically inhuman and violent in its rhetoric, thought and practice”. Commenting on this Husan Suroor, writing in The Hindu (July 17, 2007) said that “more Muslims need to realise that Islamic terrorists are not simply ‘misguided’ individuals acting on a whim but that they are people who know what they are doing and they are doing it deliberately in the name of Islam.” And that has has been most noticeable in Karnataka in recent times when police caught terrorists and one of them spilled the beans, saying eight fidayeens are presently on the loose in India and could strike any time.

All that our secularists would say is, that is not a Big Deal


Dhanyavaad Sonia for Poverty


Rahul Gandhi speaking in Parliament articulated for the first time a meaningful idea worthy of public debate. Dwelling on the idea of “Freedom from Poverty”, Rahul Gandhi touted the UPA’s flagship programs with these remarks

“Freedom from poverty is not a matter of charity or luck; it is a right,” … The NREGA delivers employment as a right. The Tribal Act delivers ownership of land as a right. The RTI Act delivers information as a right. The Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill seeks to deliver basic minimum rights to those being displaced,”

Continuing further with an expression of thanks to Congress President and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Offstumped focuses this time on the pivotal subject of poverty which the Congress seems determined to tout as its theme for the next election whenever it is held.

So who exactly is Rahul Gandhi demanding “Freedom from Poverty” for ?

The Rural Ministry has been collecting some excellent data on the Below Poverty Line, BPL Census.

The estimation of poverty at the national and State level is done by the Planning Commission on the basis of the Sample Survey of Consumer Expenditure carried out by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) after an interval of 5 years approximately

So what data is available currently ?

The BPL Census 2002 has been conducted for the 10th Five Year Plan and 21 States and UTs have finalized and furnished the BPL list.

Offstumped has been examining the data to and it makes for an interesting analysis.

First let us consider which states mostly reported data BPL data ?

Only Andhra, Arunachal, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, West Bengal have 90% or higher reportage of BPL data.

So when Rahul Gandhi is talking about freedom from poverty he has no clue who exactly he is referring to for barring a handful of states the majority do not have detailed data on who exactly is below the poverty line nor do they know what exactly ails them.

For the purpose of this post let us dig deeper into Andhra the largest state ruled independently by the Congress.

Andhra is reporting 27 Lakh families to be below the poverty line. A deeper analysis of the data reveals that the districts reporting most BPL families are not necessarily in the Maoist infested Telangana region as conventional wisdom would suggest. Instead you have West Godavari from the fertile coastal region and Srikakulam along the Orissa border reporting the highest number of BPL families.

Let us further analyse Mahbubnagar, the district with the most poor pegged at about 2.3 lakh families (Mahbubnagar by the way has about 14lakh voters which puts the poor at almost half the electorate in Mahbubnagar).

The BPL data has almost 1.8 lakh families earning less than 500 rupees a month on an average. So how much of an impact did the NREGA have in providing “Freedom from Poverty” to these 1.8lakh families.

The NREGA data for Mahbubnagar reveals that 2.16 BPL families demanded employment during 2006-2007 which compared to the 2.3 lakh figure for BPL families should have the Congress celebrating the success of its “freedom for poverty” initiative

Also the NREGA paid an average minimum wage of about 80 Rs per person day which in a typical month should amount to at least Rs 1600.

But here is the catch.

Only 4086 families or only 1.9% got up to 100 days of employment which was the rationale for the NREGA that seasonal employment cycles cause the poor to be unemployed for about 100 days in a year. The overwhelming majority of the families got merely 25 days of employment during 2006-2007 which means about Rs 160 per month in income from the NREGA.

The data for 2007-2008 shows a marginal improvement with 5.8% of BPL families benefiting from 100 days of employment with the majority getting only around 35 days of employment which means about Rs 233 in monthly income from NREGA.

So here you have the flagship program of the UPA operating in the poorest district of the largest state ruled independently by the Congress barely making a difference as far as freedom from poverty goes. What is worse the number of BPL families according to the NREGA data in Mahbubnagar has gone up from 2006-2007 to 2007-2008. So rather than provide freedom from poverty, the NREGA dole is motivating more families to be classified as a below poverty.

Offstumped Bottomline: There is a capitalist twist to the socialist schemes of the Congress with a micro-minority of BPL families benefiting disproportionately from the NREGA. So thank you Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh for this freedom from poverty that has the rural poor dependent on the local politicos for about Rs 233 in monthly income a sum by the way they were already earning from other sources before the NREGA came into existence. With more families demanding employment than BPL counts in the census all the NREGA is doing is increasing the number of rural poor.

Rahul Gandhi’s vanishing act in Orissa


Well we now know why the heir apparent’s parliamentary performance to date has been lack luster. He apparently is not very comfortable making extempore remarks in a debate preferring the rather safer option of reading from prepared text. Be that as it may Rahul Gandhi’s Discover India tour to Orissa has raked up another controversy over his alleged vanishing act from the guesthouse in Koraput to a Naxal village near a jungle.

While the BJD is hopping mad that it jeopardized security Rahul Gandhi had this to say

“It’s my job to listen to the voice of the people I represent. So I am not going to get deterred by the SPG, police or anybody else,”

Which leads one to wonder what exactly is the threat to Rahul that he needs SPG cover ?

Offstumped poser to Rahul Gandhi: Its time to walk the talk Rahul. Stop making hollow statements of not being deterred by security personnel. Show some respect to those brave men and women who will not think twice about taking a bullet for you. If you really want to reach out to the people why dont you voluntarily reject SPG protection and send out a message to the the Maoists. the Jihadists and the Tamil Terrorists that you are not going to be deterred by them.

A Brief Anatomy of Bangla Terrorism

Source: South Asia Analysis Group

By Bhaskar Roy

A press note was issued by Bangladesh Home Ministry on March 6 declaring a virtual war on the Bangladesh chapter of the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI-B). The note said that the “forces have been kept alert” to track the movements of these elements to different parts of the country” and intelligence agencies were vigilant to foil any HUJI (B) conspiracy against the country.

Almost immediately after the Bangladesh government’s declaration, the US revealed that US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice had upgraded HUJI (B)’s terrorist status under which the organization’s assets in the US and in US controlled territories would be frozen, and anyone associated with it would not be entitled to a US visa. Ms. Rice also applauded Bangladesh’s efforts to fight terrorism and emphasized commitment to assist Dhaka in this task.

The US State Department had designated HUJI (Pak) and HUJI (B) as level-II terrorist organizations in 2002 and 2003 respectively. Bangladesh followed suit with HUJI(B) only in October, 2005, after the August 17, 2005 country-wide terrorist explosions. A mixture of panic and anger rose against the ruling BNP-Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) coalition government for the sharply deteriorating law and order situation. In fact, the sense of security of the nation was shaken.

Terrorism, using the cover of spreading Islam, was not an overnight phenomenon in Bangladesh. It grew over decades, may be even a century, in a convoluted way. Political opportunism was at its core. The British introduced religious divide in Bengal in the late 19th and early 20th century. A divided region was easy to rule.

The partition of greater India in 1947 on the basis of religion saw the birth of religion based political parties, institutions and bodies. Having basically been born out of bloodshed, there was a discernable character of revenge. Politicians exploited this.

Yet, if one goes deep into the social, cultural and religious fabric of Bangladesh, formerly East Pakistan, there would be more to appreciate than condemn. That is, among the normal common people unpolluted by religion or politics.

Inter-religious strife is not unknown in this world. In India, caste conflicts claim more lives each year than inter-religious clashes do. Much of it is due to mounting pressure on land. The weaker section suffers.

The festering terrorism in Bangladesh witnessed today has its roots in the war of liberation of 1971 leading to the birth of Bangladesh. Viewed from the other side, it was the dismemberment of Pakistan. Inside Bangladesh, the target of these terrorists is not the 12 per cent Hindu minority. The real targets are the pro-independence activists and empathizers of the political and intellectual section of the country’s population, who also uphold secularism. The terrorists see them as perpetuators of the liberation ideology and iconoclasts of the two-nation theory. It destroyed Pakistan’s argument on Kashmir that Muslim majority provinces post-1947 are naturally destined to be part of Pakistan.

To the terrorists who are mainly instruments, and their promoters who have emerged as promoters of a “Pakistan confederation” political theory, the pro-liberation and secular population are impediments to their agenda. Hence, they should be neutralized.

India figures high in Bangladesh’s politics because of its involvement in the war of liberation. It was not a war started by India. Leaders in Pakistan made a series of blunders. If the West Pakistani political and military leaders had not tried to impose Urdu as the lingua franca of Bangladesh from the very beginning, and had allowed Sk.Mujibur Rehman to become the Prime Minister in 1969-70, 1971 may never have happened.

To understand the rise in terrorism in Bangladesh, two phases in the initial years of Bangladesh need to be revisited at least briefly. During the 1971 War of Independence, a section of the Bangladeshi (East Pakistan) political spectrum collaborated with the Pakistani army. These people were not actually fighting the Bangladesh resistance forces. Their job was to demoralize the pro-liberation population who were, otherwise, non-fighters. They indulged in indiscriminate rape and killings. According to verifiable reports from foreign doctors who came to help after liberation, almost four hundred thousand women were raped. There are accounts that children were made to drink belly-full of water to prevent them from running, and shot as a sport.

These people are the leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami, Bangladesh (JEI-BD) led by their present Amir, Motiur Reheman Nizami. These groups were divided into groups known as Razakars, Al Badrs, and Al-Shams. Even today, Motiur Reheman Nizami is known colloquially as “Motia Razakar” in parts of Pabna district where he led mayhem.

Despite denials by the JEI leadership lately, concrete evidence is available about their complicity in the 1971 massacre. The smoking gun is the record of fortnightly reports sent by the Home Secretaries of East Pakistan between March and November, 1971 to Islamabad.

The next phase is from Prime Minister Sk. Mujibur Rehman’s assassination in the early hours of August 15, 1975 and General Ziaur Rehman’s taking over power in 1977 and his formation of the BNP.

Several questions remain unanswered. Why did a group of army officers, some of whom had participated in the liberation war, wipe out Sk. Mujibur Rehman and most of his family? Events since reveal they were tools. Who or which country mentored them?

Ziaur Rehman, as a Major in the Pak army, was one of the Sector Commanders in the freedom war. He is reputed to have declared “independence” on behalf of Sk.Mujibur Rehman. It is, however, of historical importance that he rehabilitated the JEI politically, eliminated nationalist elements, and created the BNP-JEI alliance. Briefly, Zia, who also became President of the country collaborated and brought back the very same anti-liberation elements he is reputed to have fought against.

Basically, he gave life and sustenance to elements who unleashed terror on the people of Bangladesh in 1971. Ziaur Rehman is increasingly been seen as the greatest betrayer of Bangladesh’s liberation or independence.

Zia was assassinated in an army coup attempt in Chittagong, in 1981. The BNP was taken over by his widow, Begum Khaleda Zia. It is said that Khaleda Zia is a product of Pakistani cantonments. The description apparently comes from reports that during the liberation war she decided to remain in the Dhaka cantonment with Pakistani officers rather than join her husband. It is not surprising, therefore, that the BNP and the JEI became partners in arms in Bangladesh politics.

The 1971 Bangladesh war for liberation which turned into a full fledged Indo-Pak war, created a determination not only in the Islamabad establishment, but also among the people of Pakistan, to hurt India as much as possible. The dismemberment of Pakistan was seen as a great humiliation brought about by India, and they wanted to avenge it. As the new Bangladesh began turning away from the spirit of liberation and secularism, Pak-Bangladesh ties grew stronger and the Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) began establishing a terrorism base in Bangladesh against India.

According to estimates, about 40,000 Bangladeshis participated with the Taliban and the Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan against the Soviet forces. Later many of them worked under the guidance of the ISI to join terrorist groups to fight in Chechnya, Palestine and other places. Most returned to Bangladesh indoctrinated, and with an agenda.

Mufti Hannan, Commander of the HUJI-B fought in Afghanistan and was later inducted by the ISI created Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and HUJI (P). The leader of the Jamatul-Islam Bangladesh (JMB) Sk. Abdur Reheman was also a product of the Afghan war.

Bangladeshi workers in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Gulf countries were vulnerable to negative influence. Many of them were indoctrinated in radical Islamism of the Wahabi and Deobandi lineage. They were recruited by the ISI stations in these countries. Others involved in these activities were the NGOs like Revival of Islamic Society (RIHS) and Al Harmain Trust, which are known funding agencies of Al-Qaeda. Osama bin Laden’s Islamic International Front (IIF) and Saudi Arabia-based World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) were actively involved in aiding and funding the process.

Some of these NGOs like the RIHS were officially registered with the Bangladesh government NGO Board. No background checks were made. The RIHS remained in Bangladesh for almost one year after it was directly implicated as a fund provider for the JMB, responsible for the August 17, 2005 countrywide bomb blasts. This suggested complicity between officials, and the radicalism and terrorism promoters.

A substantial amount of the funds came through bank transfers. The cover was NGO work for the poor, construction of Masjids and creating Madrassas. Many of these institutions were used for inculcating radical Islamism and Jehadi view point of the Islamic world.

According to Bangladesh media reports the foreign funds came in through various cover accounts, also. The Islamic Bank of Bangladesh, linked to the JEI, was a major conduit of their funds. These media reports quoted from official investigations. Accounts in the official Bank of Bangladesh (BOB), and other banks revealed accounts used for transfer of funds to front organizations and individuals in the country.

A series of investigations of account holders and their transactions have not seen any action or results. The US was also helping to train Bangladeshi banking officials to track terror financing. But everything seems to have gone quiet on this front. There is no explanation forthcoming from the government.

To seriously counter terrorism information of financial transfers, conduits and communication details are very necessary. Are their strong forces inside the government who continue to stone-wall their investigations?

The timing of the peaks in terrorist activities demands some elaboration, to fix responsibilities and intentions.

HUJI (B) unveiled itself in Dhaka in a public appearance in 1992. They left nothing to imagination, with the declaration of the ideology of Jihad. The militant nature of their avowed campaign was demonstrated with the cadres wearing sleeveless military camouflage tops. The signs were there for everyone to see. Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s BNP government, however, chose to ignore it.

Subsequent events point to the fact that the BNP and the JEI were possibly patronizing the HUJI (B) as a militant arm. The organization went ahead without any hindrance to set up their indoctrination and arms training bases mainly in the Chittagong Hill Tracts area, Cox’s Bazar and Patuakhali in eastern Bangladesh. The terrain there is suitable for such activities, outside mainstream eyes.

In the early 1990s, the JEI maintained a low profile. In a well charted strategy, it was working on consolidating its position in the country, given its collaborator history during 1971. It also flirted with Sk. Hasina and the Awami League government of 1996-2001 in election alliance. It was a master stroke. Sk. Hasina hoped she would capture Islamic votes. But the JEI put a large question mark on her because of her party’s secular and pro-liberation reputation.

In the next general elections in 2008, JEI formed a coalition with the BNP, and revealed its true colours. They won the elections with a huge majority. The JEI’s confidence grew to the extent that it openly declared they would form an Islamic government at the 2011 elections on their own.

The activities of HUJI (B) in the country was generally low profile. They not only had strong links with their mother body in Pakistan and the ISI, but also allegedly with the Bangladesh agency Directorate General of Forces

Intelligence (DGFI). The ISI and the DGFI have formal co-operative agreements, and the DGFI generally allowed ISI’s operations in India. HUJI (B) was one of the vehicles, as investigations in several terrorist attacks in India have revealed.

The people in Bangladesh were shocked when it was conclusively established that the JEI and the BNP used the HUJI (B) to eliminate important political rivals. In April, 2000 Mufti Hannan made an attempt on the life of Sk. Hasina who was then the Prime Minister of the country.

While this attempt failed, the grenade attack on a public rally on August 21, 2004 had some success. Sk.Hasina was seriously injured and she still suffers from the injuries she received. Twenty other Awami Leaguers were killed including a member of the party’s Presidium.

An official investigation on the “August 21” incident concluded that there was a foreign involvement, meaning India. A known criminal was set up to provide evidence on these lines.

Hannan reportedly surrendered to the Dhaka police in October, 2005 and not arrested in a police hunt. He confessed that he was involved in both the attacks on Sk. Hasina at the behest of the BNP-JEI combine.

Even more startling was his revelation that BNP’s Minister of State for Home Affairs, AVM (Retd) Altaf Hossain Choudhury had assured him protection. Prime Minister Khaleda Zia kept the portfolio of Cabinet Minister for Home Affairs with her. She should also be held complicit in the “August 21” case, which is murder and attempt to murder.

There were other terrorist incidents also, but to appreciate the big picture of terrorism in the country the rise of the JMB and its twin, the Jagrata Muslim.

Janata, Bangladesh (JMJB) requires examination. The name JMJB was only a red herring, the two organizations were the same.

The JMB headed by Sk. Abdur Reheman and the JMJB headed by Bangla Bhai (Siddiqul Islam) proudly claimed that they were responsible for the August 17, 2005 country-wide bomb attacks. This was not to kill but a demonstration of their strength, that they could hit any part of the country. The almost simultaneous explosions took place in 63 out of 64 districts of the country.

Then followed several attacks aimed to kill. The country was outraged when two district judges were assassinated in 2006 by the JMB/JMJB.

For a long time the leaders of the BNP and the JEI at the highest remained in public denial about the existence of the JMB/JMJB and the HUJI (B).

The JMB was created by BNP politicians to settle local scores over property and other such disputes. From there, the organization graduated to political activity demanding imposition of Shariat law, Islamic government, Arabic as the main official language, abolition of current law and courts system among other things. Despite these acts, BNP Ministers continued to promote and protect them, with able support from the JEI. BNP’s second Minister of State for Home, Lutfozzaman Babar, ensured the freedom of Sk. Abdur Rehman and the JMB Shura members. Several leaders and senior cadres and leaders from the JEI’s students wing, the Islamic Chaatra Shibir (ICS) joined the JMB in its expansion.

After arresting most of JMB/JMJB top leaders, the BNP-JEI governments were in a quandary over further actions. These terrorist leaders made it clear that they were responsible for the terrorist acts and had no regrets. They also did not recognize the jurisdictions of the “man-made” courts to try them. The government had only one option – that is to impose death penalty according to law. The law courts did what the government dictated. Hence, it would be a decision of the Prime Minister, Khaleda Zia.

According to some knowledgeable people in Dhaka, JEI Shura member and fiery ideologue Dilwar Hossain Saidee, met Prime Minister Begum Khaleda some time in July or August, 2006 and advised her not to execute the JMB leaders. He reportedly told her that they would be useful in the upcoming national parliamentary elections. The terrorist leaders were later executed by the Caretaker Government.

Khaleda Zia acted against the JMB leaders only after a stern warning from US President George Bush who was visiting India in February, 2006. Within a fortnight, these untraceable terrorist leaders were rounded up by the police and the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB).

The manner in which terrorism took roots and flourished in Bangladesh is indeed a matter of concern not only for India, but also for the West. It is not for nothing that the US Secretary of State took this decision to personally go public to upgrade the terrorist status of the HUJI(B). Apparently, the nexus between the HuJI (B), HUJI (P), LET of Pakistan, sections in the ISI and the Al-Qadea may be coalescing into one international network to threaten the US and the West.

Despite the arrest of Mufti Hannan, and another Kingpin of the HUJI (B) Mufti Abdur Rouf, the organization remains healthy and active. According to reports, their chain extends to South Africa and South America. These are not new developments. They existed and the West ignored them for reasons of their interest.

Washington deals with the JEI, Bangladesh, as a moderate Islamic political party. They have a reason for it, as have the UK. Increasingly, Muslims around the world have begun to view the USA as anti-Islam across the board. The American and British strategists in the respective governments and their political leaders want to get rid of this perception.

In the course of this strategy, which may be well intentioned, they may be giving parties like the JEI Bangladesh a foot in the door to surreptitiously promote radicalism and terrorism in the name of religion for political ends.

JEI Bangladesh’s Dilwar Hossain Saidee is known for his vitriolic speeches exhorting jihad against Jews, Chirstians and Hindus. Yet, the British Foreign Office issued him visas to travel to the country and give public speeches to local Muslims, in spite of opposition from Parliamentarians, journalists and others. It was expected that Britain would be the only Western country which knows South Asia the best. But they seem to have lost touch.

The Bangladesh Home Ministry press note on HUJI (B), and Additional Secretary for Home Affairs, Dr.Sheik Abdur Rashid’s press briefing on the subject, does not inspire confidence. He spoke of dealing with these elements with an “iron hand” but action on the ground does not match the system.

The army-backed Caretaker Government appears to have a problem. It is not only the terrorists per se, but the politicians involved with these terrorists. At the heart of the problem is the last Prime Minister of the country, Khaleda Zia, her elder son Tareq Rehman Zia, senior B NP and JEI politicians and, of course, critical role of senior officers of the DGFI who are still serving.

The BNP-JEI combine had staffed the administration, army and the security establishment with their own people. While some of the BNP acolytes can change sides when push comes to a shove, the committed JEI elements are not likely to. The JEI is working for a cause and their vision is long term and they are willing to sacrifice.

The JEI is the heart that supplies blood and oxygen to the radicalism and terror vehicle in Bangladesh. They remain secure as long as the West woos them in their global Islamic strategy of winning Muslim hearts and minds. But they are yet to understand that majority in Bangladesh are Sufi oriented Muslims who oppose the JEI variety of religion, politics and culture.

Historically, terrorists have been a small group intimidating a large population. The large population is terrorized because they do not subscribe to retaliatory terror as an instrument. Terrorism in Bangladesh can be eradicated in a short span of time if the international coalition against terrorism led by the USA apply themselves seriously to the Bangladesh problem instead of political fishing in the troubled waters of Bangladesh. Otherwise, Bangladesh may blow up in their faces. They would then withdraw no doubt, but the neighbours of Bangladesh would be left to suffer. In the longer perspective, however, the West will not be spared.

The onus lies on the shoulders of the army-backed Caretaker Government to move quickly, conclude the investigations and bring the culprits to justice. A lot of time has been lost even with the extension of the life of this interim government. If they dare to take the steps, support from across the world will come in. If they do not, their half-done tasks will come to visit them individually and collectively with a vengeance they have not thought of.

The bottom line, however, is that while almost all the other political parties have been investigated and action initiated, JEI remains untouched. The power of the JEI, therefore, to sabotage Bangladesh’s secular and moral system remains undiminished.

(The author is an eminent analyst with many years of experience. The views expressed by the author are his own. He can be reached at

The Pre-Olympics Great Game

SOurce: South Asia Analysis Group

By B. Raman

"The Chinese were also worried that if the saffron revolution succeeded in Myanmar, it could next spread to Tibet........
Sections of Burmese political exiles have been advocating that the US should also use the Beijing Olympics for keeping up pressure on China to make the Junta change its policies. Non-governmental elements in the US and West Europe have already been linking the human rights issue in Darfur in the Sudan and Tibet to the Olympics. They want that the issue of Chinese support to the Myanmar Junta should also be linked. They feel that while a call for the boycott of the Olympics by the participating Western countries would not work, a call for the boycott of the Olympics by the Western media in protest against Chinese policies in respect of Darfur, Tibet and Myanmar might. They want that even if the Western media is disinclined to boycott the Olympics, it could at least down-grade the coverage of the Olympics. These Myanmar exiles are also considering the issue of an appeal to foreign tourists not to go to Beijing to watch the games."

Extract from my article dated December 5, 2007, at

Intelligence agencies in China, India, Nepal and other countries seem to have been taken by surprise by the simultaneous protests launched by Tibetans, not only in India, Nepal and the rest of the world wherever there is a Tibetan diaspora, but also in Tibet itself over the continued violation of the human rights of the Tibetans by China. The protest demonstrations broke out on the 49th anniversary of the collapse of the Khampa revolt on March 10, 1959, which resulted in the flight of the Dalai Lama to India from Tibet.

2. One of the objectives of the demonstrators is to draw attention to the human rights situation in Tibet as the organisers of the Beijing Olympics are getting ready for taking the Olympic flame from Athens across the countries on the ancient Silk Route. The flame is scheduled to pass through Islamabad and New Delhi on April 16 and 17, 2008. The Chinese also propose to take it to the top of the Mount Everest to highlight their professed pacification of Tibet and its economic and social development. The Tibetans are determined to disprove Chinese claims of having pacified Tibet by organising a series of demonstrations and protest rallies all over the world in the period preceding the Olympics.

3. While some form of Tibetan activism in the months preceding the Olympics was expected and the Chinese were mentally prepared for it, the widespread manifestations of this activism has been a matter of surprise. Of greater surprise and concern to the Chinese was the outbreak of demonstrations and rallies by Tibetan monks in Lhasa, who have been out in the streets for the last three days, trying to march to the old Potala Palace of the Dalai Lama. The Chinese Police have repeatedly used tear gas to prevent their march. The demonstrations by the monks and others in Lhasa----synchronised with the demonstrations in other countries, where there is a Tibetan diaspora, including India--- indicate strongly that these demonstrations are only partly spontaneous. There is also an element of orchestration by the Tibetans abroad with the help of the human rights groups in the West, which have been wanting to use Tibet as one of the issues to beat the Chinese with in the year of the Olympics.

4. Interestingly, the news of the demonstrations in Lhasa was first broken by Radio Free Asia, the CIA-funded radio station, which was started under the Clinton Administration, to use against China, North Korea and Myanmar PSYWAR methods similar to those used against the USSR and other Communist countries of East Europe by the CIA-funded Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty in Munich. After the collapse of the Communist regimes in East Europe, Radio Free Europe started functioning in Asia under the name Radio Free Asia. Radio Liberty was shifted to Prague to carry on PSYWAR against Russia and Iran. While Radio Liberty played an active role in fomenting anti-Russia agitations in Ukraine, it has not been that successful against Iran so far. Radio Free Asia, which provided PSYWAR support to the monks and students of Myanmar during their agitation against the miluitary junta last year, is now providing similar PSYWAR support to the Tibetans agitating in Tibet and elsewhere.

5. In India, the response to this campaign has taken the form of an announced march by a group of about 100 Tibetans from Dharamsala, the headquarters of the Dalai Lama, to Tibet. The Government of India has done well to ban this march, but despite this, the Tibetans are likely to create difficulties during the passage of the Olympic flame through Delhi. The Chinese were originally planning to invite some foreign tourists to Tibet to witness the flame being carried to the top of the Everest, but they have now given up the idea and banned the visit of foreign tourists to the foothills of the Everest on their side till the flame was taken up and brought back and taken out of Tibet by Chinese mountaineers.

6. I have been a strong critic of the Govt. of India's recognising Tibet as an integral part of China without insisting on a quid pro quo in the form of the Chinese recognising Arunachal Pradesh as an integral part of India. I have been a great admirer of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetans and a supporter of their human rights. I have also been a strong critic of the Chinese action in imprisoning the Panchen Lama duly appointed by the Dalai Lama in accordance with the Tibetan traditions and replacing him with a bogus Panchen Lama named by the Communist Party. At the same time, I have been of the view that we should not do anything, which might create even the slighest suspicion that our Tibetan policy is influenced by US ideas and machinations. It should be our policy influenced solely by our interests and not by US interests.

7. There is a complex Great Game on the horizon as the Beijing Olympics approach. While the US State Department has toned down the criticism of the human rights situation in China in its annual report on the State of Human Rights in the world, the non-Governmental organisations in the US have stepped up their demonisation of China on this issue. If the US is prepared to use the Olympics card against China, Beijing is prepared to play the North Korean nuclear card and the Myanmar card against the US. After being co-operative in the six-party talks on the nuclear issue, Noth Korea has changed gears and is delaying the fulfillment of its commitment to share information about its nuclear capabilities. After showing some flexibility last year and receptivity to international concerns, the military junta in Myanmar is again back to its old game of rejecting international concerns with scorn. North Korea and Myanmar would not have reverted back to their rigid positions without a nod from Beijing. China feels its policy activism on North Korea and Myanmar to meet US concerns has not had a quid pro quo from the US in the form of discouraging the attempts mounted from US soil to politicise the Games and create an embarrassment for the Chinese leadership not only in the eyes of the international community, but also in the eyes of its own people.

8. India should keep out of this Great Game. The Olympic Games has been a matter of intense national pride for the Chinese people. We should refrain from any action which might hurt their pride. The Dalai Lama must be advised to cool it and not to give the impression of letting himself be used by anti-China elements in the US. The Tibetans should not be allowed to disrupt the passage of the Olympic flame through New Delhi.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariatr, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail:

The chinese secret service : From Mao to the Olympic Games

A year before the Olympic Games, investigative reporter Roger Faligot was in Beijing in order to finalize the research of his book on the Chinese intelligence service from Mao Zedong’s era until today. Not only did he monitor their activities over the last twenty years since he published a first book on the Chinese in 1987, but he also studied Chinese, Japanese, Russian, US and European files, Shanghai and Hong Kong colonial police archives, and interviewed Chinese specialists and defectors as well as counter-spies who oppose them in Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, in Australia, Europe and North America.

The chinese secret service
From mao to the Olympic Games

Outline of the Chapters

Chapter 1. The Battle for Shanghai This chapter reveals the facets of early CCP (Chinese Communist Party) intelligence operations. How young Mao narrowly escaped arrest from French detectives at the launching of the CCP in Shanghai in 1921. How future Prime minister and Foreign secretary Zhou Enlai founded an inner circle in Paris with members from the mysterious Hakka minority (including Deng Xiaoping) and later the first secret service that led a merciless war against Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists, French and British agents as well as the Green Gang mafia in Shanghai. Post Cold War documents provide new insights on how the Soviet secret service helped their Chinese comrades. However the defection of Soviet spy ‘Captain Pick’ and of Chinese ‘Magician Gu’ the head of the Chinese Red Squadron crippled their actions. Special operations, murders by the ‘Extermination of Running Dogs Special Squad’, the use of red moles within Chiang Kai-shek radio system, honey traps known in Chinese as ‘The Beauty Trap’ (Meiren ji) and many other tricks: needless to say, the model founded in the 1930s is still seen as an inspiration to Chinese intelligence operatives today.

Chapter 2. Mao’s Secret Services The incredible story of Mao’s spy who warned Stalin of Hitler’s impending invasion in 1941. Soviet-trained Kang Sheng is flown back from Moscow to Yan’an, the center of Chinese revolution. After Mao is married to Kang’s former mistress, Jiang Qing, Kang Sheng takes over the ‘Social Affairs Department’ (the CP intelligence service) and launches a huge political purge known as the ‘Rectification campaign’ almost leading the CCP to self-destruction. Zhou Enlai’s personnal intelligence services and the Soviet influence successfully outmanoeuver Kang Sheng. A much broader secret service (both political and military) is organized and it will play a leading role in Japan’s defeat in 1945 as well as Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalist army being routed into Taiwan. Meanwhile Zhou Enlai’s diplomatic networks and agents of influence play around the world (as shown in the case of the Gong sisters and Nobel Prize writer Pearl Buck influencing Eleanor Roosevelt, as well as the mysterious Blue Lotus file). In 1949, as the Red Flag flies over Beijing, a Public security system is set up, with the founding of the Chinese Gulag, the Laogai, and a powerful counter-intelligence service, the Gonganbu, under general Luo Ruiqing. The CIA organizes the first operations in Tibet and Manchuria, helped by the French, the British as well as the extraordinary Australian ‘Surveyors’’system in China. The first clash between Soviet and Chinese intelligencers. A new external secret service led by Li Kenong, the Central Investigative Department. The CID and saves Zhou Enlai’s life in 1955 when CIA-supported Taiwanese agents sabotage his plane en route to the Bandoeng non-aligned conference and engages in many operations around the world.

Chapter 3. The Spies’Cultural Revolution The reader will visit Beijing’s underground city and galleries leading to the Forbidden City and the Bamboo Garden, i.e. Kang Sheng hidden secret service HQ. Above ground, in the 60’s, the manipulated young Red guards take over the intelligence service headquarters and lynch spy-masters as ‘pro-Soviet revisionists’ such as Luo Ruiqing. The fall of CID chief Kong Yuan, a unique master-spy and close to Deng Xiaoping who is under house arrest. The CID is dissolved with Chinese spies all over the world defecting or hiding low. As CIA archives reveal today, it seemed impossible to Western intelligence to fully comprehend what really happened then on Chinese mainland. But this is changed now thanks to new documents and interviews from all sides of the Bamboo Curtain. Back in the forefront, Kang Sheng and his ‘comrades’ from the Gang of Four led by his close friend Jiang Qing, organize new networks to set Third World countries ablaze (especially Africa) and link up with newly formed Maoist parties all over the planet. The Dutch security service (BVD) organizes a bogus Maoist group to trap Chinese spies. The real story of The Hague double agent Liao Hexu. Once again, Zhou Enlai reorganizes his own networks and opens up links with Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon. Meanwhile the Soviet KGB organised special operations never disclosed until now. By 1976, Mao, Kang and Zhou are dead. The Gang of four under arrest. Strange minister for security, Hua Guofeng, is an unlikely and furtive President (Is he as some sources suggest Mao’s hidden son ?) Whatever, the real power lays in Deng Xiaoping’s hands. Springing back to power he will change China and her secret services.

Chapter 4. Deng Xiaoping and his ‘Deep-Sea Fishes’ In 1983, Deng Xiaoping gives green light to the forming of the new State Security Ministry, the Chinese KGB, known in Chinese as ‘Guoanbu’. One of the major tasks assigned is naturally to support the economic revolution in the framework of the ‘Four modernizations’. The Birth of Chinese business and economic intelligence is a major turn. A portrait of a master-spy, Jia Chunwang and his undercover special agents known as ‘deep water fishes’. The story of ‘ Mister Chin’ the Chinese mole within the CIA and the death of his networks from Hong Kong to Paris. Kang Sheng is expelled post-mortem. The rising star of Chinese intelligence, Qiao Shi organizes new alliances with the Israeli Mossad, the Iranian SAVAK, the Pakistani ISI and Rumanian Securitate. The founding of a strategic research centers and think tanks change the face of intelligence analysis. The role of the Chinese secret service in Afghanistan and of Mao’s grandson, undercover operative with the Afghan Mujahideen. They also help the Khmers rouges and work with the US in joint Signal Intelligence network.

Chapter 5. The Fifty Days of Tiananmen How the Soviet KGB learnt the truth about the Tiananmen massacre in June 1989 including the armed clashes between several rival PLA regiments led students to their death. The role of Qiao Shi trying to negociate with the students and later helping some leaders to escape from the mainland through the Hong Kong ‘tunnel’ : Operation ‘Yellow Bird’ (the role of British, US and French intelligence). In the early 1990’s Chinese spies are deployed monitor the students and infiltrate their democratic movement all over the world. How the East-German authorities called the Chinese security for help before Fall of the Berlin Wall. New setbacks for the Chinese in Rumania and Russia. However as the KGB organizes a putsch against Gorbachev, and is dismantled under Boris Yeltsin, China’s intelligence service becomes bolder and the most agressive spying system.

Chapter 6. Operation ‘Autumn orchid’ in the Far East The Guoanbu head of station dies in Tokyo in 1987 in a Love Hotel. The special operations in Japan from the 90s up to now. Prime Minister Hashimoto also falls for a Honey Trap. The Japanese intelligence services open their files on the Chinese. The new joint venture of North Korean and Chinese espionage helping Pakistanis and Iranians to get their nuclear striking power. The war between the Indian RAW and the Chinese Guoanbu. The ‘Autumn Orchid’ Operation in Hong Kong and Macau. How Chinese spies use the traditional Triads and newly formed gangs known as the Snake’Heads. The New China Press Agency and in a wider scale a world-wide cover for espionage. Undercover operations against British intelligence. Taiwan sends 376 spies back to the continent. The ongoing secret war while the Prince of Wales hands over the keys of Hong Kong to Jiang Zemin.

Chapter 7. Jiang Zemin & global intelligence Following the Gulf War with Saddam Hussein, Chinese military intelligence was tasked by Jiang Zemin to reorganize and prepare for the future high-tech war. Profile of star general Xiong Guangkai, the founder of the new Qingbaobu military intelligence networks. Their targets : the space race (copying the Russian MIR station), building a seapower, buying an aircraft carrier, stealing secrets of French and US missiles, high-tech transfers from Japan and Korea. The new alliance with his friend Putin’s Russian services FSB, SVR and GRU. Jiang Zemin and the founding of a Chinese National Security Council. The Rise of the ‘Shanghai Gang’ taking over the secret service. In a new globalized world, President Jiang re-organizes the Guoanbu intelligence service under a new chief Xu Yongyue. The reader will visit it and learn how this agency is organized and how are trained its agents. Another two leading CCP political intelligence services, the United Front Work Department and International Liaisons Department expand their operations in Europe. In 1996, at a Conference on Strengthening Intelligence Work, an intelligence chief salute 10 000 undercover spies, the deep water fishes scattered over 170-odd cities worldwide: ‘Tens of thousands of nameless heroes who cherish and loyally serve their motherland are quietly fighting in their special posts abroad in complicated environments.’

Chapter 8. Guoanbu and former KGB versus CIA The fall of military intelligence chief Ji Shengde linked to the US scandal of the Chinagate (trying to compromise the Clintons). The ‘Red Princes’, children of top CCP cadres play a key-role in joint US-Chinese ventures on technological transfers. The organization of scientific and technological spying in the United States. The Fox report on Chinese espionage shows : the Guoanbu does not only spy, it also organizes disinformation campaigns, activates lobbies, corrupts politicians and journalists, etc. Chinese moles unearthed by the FBI. The wrongly led investigation on the Los Alamos Chinese spy. The Kosovo War: the real reason why the US bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. Following September 11th, 2001, the Chinese decide to help the US chase Islamists. They organize their war against the Uighurs of Xinjiang, yet the keep helping the Afghan Talibans and good links with Pakistan and Iranian services. How fake Uighur terrorists in Guatanamo were Chinese agents. The capture of the US EP 3 spy-plane. Interview with the head of Canadian counter-intelligence on Chinese spying : « Canada is a back-door ». To combat US influence, a new alliance is upgraded with the Russian SVR and GRU in the Shanghai Club. Chinese intelligence advisers to Latin America, inVenezuela and Cuba.

Chapter 9. Economic War: The ‘Lamprey Stratagem’ ‘60% of our counter-intelligence work is aiming at China’ say the German counter-spies in 2007 reacting to industrial and economic spying. The world vacuum cleaner system of the The Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) under Iron Lady Wu Yi ( inspired by the powerful Japanese MITI system) can boast some of the world's top economic intelligence-gathering units. Their mission is to accompany China's massive economic change on the world economic stage by such actions as gaining headway within the World Trade Organization (WTO), negotiating intellectual property agreements, hammering out trade strategy, acquiring new technologies and forming joint ventures. Are reviewed: commercial acquisitions, open sources, and grey intelligence. The Certification and Patents program. Why the intelligence services play a major role in the copyright battle. The special research & intelligence units with the energy seeking state and private companies (How they operate in oil and gas procuding countries). Chen Yun, the old spy from Shanghai, godfather of the economic intelligence system. The newly formed United Front 5th Bureau organizes financial and business networks to promote China’s economic networks (guanxi). The new school for Economic spies in Guoanbu. Special training by British MI 5 to protect businessmen working in China. How French, British and German counter-spies organize to protect their indsutries. How some exchange students are being used in Business schools and scientific labs. The role of major telecom multinationals such as Huawei. A new technique: regional ‘research departments’ from Chinese provinces twin with strong provinces, Cataluña in Spain, Brittany in France, Bavaria, etc. How state networks help Chinese capitalism (The Procter & Gamble and Danone cases). The new African strategic offensive.

Chapter 10. Fighting the ‘Five poisons’ around the world As the Olympic Games were in sight, the special ‘610 Office’ led by hard-line Luo Gan swarming the world with agents to fight the 5 Poisons to prevent any ‘terrorist attack’ in Beijing. Prime of all, the Falungong Cult which shattered Beijing in 1999. The true story of secret agents and diplomats defecting as they refuse to hunt down Falungong followers ( with German, French, Canadian and Australian sources). Did the CIA promote Falungong as the Chinese believe ? Who really formed the Falungong ? How did the Chinese infiltrate Qi Gong and Tai ji quan martial arts circles in Western Europe and North America. The secret war against another two ‘poisons’: Uighur muslim separatists (in former Soviet Republics, Turkey and Germany), against Tibetans (including the special conduit for negociations with the Dalai Lama launched by President Hu Jintao). The remaining two ‘poisons’: the Taiwanese separatists and Chinese democrats (especially in Hong Kong) targeted by special task forces.

Chapter 11. France, Target Number One in Europe ‘The weakest countries facing Chinese intelligence are Australia and France’ said a recent counter-intelligence report. Forty years of Chinese spying in France following general de Gaulle’s diplomatic recognition of China (How French intelligence learnt first about Nuclear test in China). The use of French Maoist networks and intelligence networks activated from Belgium and Switzerland. New untold stories on ‘Mr Butterfly’s love story’, the transvestite Guoanbu agent who recruited a French diplomat as a spy (interviewed by the author). The French counter-intelligence DST discovers the ‘invisible city’ in China where trainee spies learn how to become deep water fishes in France and other Western countries. Recent cases of technological and scientific spying. How CCP top leaders got ‘black subsidies’ in the scandal of the French frigates sold to Taiwan under President Mitterrand.

Chapter 12. The People’s Cyberwarriors Australia and the biggest Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) operation against China. How the US NSA and allies encircle the Middle Kingdom with spy-ships, AWACS, land intercept stations in Japan, Taiwan, Korea. The Oxford spy ship story and ‘Oyster Operations’ against Chinese embassies. The Big Ears of China run by the People’s Liberation Army stations. The PLA exports SIGINT bases in Burma, Mongolia or Cuba. Top-secret joint operations between the Chinese, the US and Germans, even after the end of the Cold War. Fake oceanographic survey ships. A new satellite program. An army of cyberwarriors under General Dai Qingmin. The special infowar task force set up at Jiang Zemin’s request. How their labs manufacture spams and viruses to penetrate and paralyze their enemy in a war situation. The Trojan Horse technique infiltrating foreign governments, in Washington, Tokyo or Berlin. Controlling the internet in China, and setting up the ‘Golden Shield’ program to monitor e-mails, chats and mobile phone SMS.

Chapter 13. China - Gold Medal in Spying This book has 13 chapters like Sun Zi’s famous Art of War, the final of which dealt with spying… The last chapter will sum up today’s objectives and techniques used around the time of the 2008 Olympic Games. It will also recall that Chinese art of spying has come a long way from traditions going back to 5000 years mixed with the Soviet-inspired system (as regards counter-intelligence) and Wester and Japanese methods of economic intelligence at the time of the Information Technology revolution. In 2008, a new troika leads the intelligence world : CCP Politburo standing committee’s Zhou Yongkang, PLA deputy chief-of-staff general Chen Xiaogong and the Guoanbu minister Geng Huichang. Along with Hu Jintao and the political leaders, they are organizing the security for the Olympic Games and set the new strategic priorities for China to become a superpower in the 21st Century.

AFP / February 26, 2008

February 26, 2008.

Olympics : New book details Chinese spy effort ahead of Olympics

As athletes train for the summer Olympics in China, a new book claims that the country's vast spy network is gearing up for a different challenge - keeping an eye on journalists and potential troublemakers.

French writer Roger Faligot, author of some 40 intelligence-related books, has penned 'The Chinese Secret Services from Mao to the Olympic Games', due out February 29. His findings claim that special teams are being formed at the country's embassies abroad "to identify sports journalists ... and to define if they have an 'antagonistic' or 'friendly' attitude in regards to China.

" Potential foreign spies who may seek to enter China by posing as journalists or visitors will be subject to special surveillance. The same goes for human rights activists who could use the event to demonstrate in favour of causes such as Tibet, where China has violently crushed protests against its rule, it says.
That's not to mention the long list of other issues preoccupying Chinese authorities, including the possibility of an Al-Qaeda attack and protests from the Falun Gong spiritual movement.

China has outlawed Falun Gong, which combines meditation with Buddhist-inspired teachings. "The watchword for the Chinese is 'no problems at the Olympics,'" Faligot says. Faligot, who is fluent in Mandarin, says he spoke with numerous Chinese officials. According to him, two million Chinese work directly or indirectly for the intelligence services through the state security agency.

In a chapter titled 'China: Gold Medal for Espionage', the author says the director of the group coordinating Olympic security, Qiang Wei, has a 1.3-billion-dollar (885-million-euro) budget. An Olympic security command centre has been created "in order to assure a response to all risks in real time". Olympic organisers admitted last year to budget overruns caused by extra expenditure on security at the Games, the biggest international event ever staged in communist China.

Last September, China's then-police chief Zhou Yongkang said that "terrorist" and "extremist" groups posed the biggest threat to the success of the Olympics. He did not elaborate, but China has previously accused some members of the ethnic Muslim Uighur community in the nation's far western region of Xinjiang of terror-related activities. In the year leading up to the August 8-24 Games, the Chinese army will have organised 25 exercises on how to respond to crises, including a chemical attack on the subway. The teams being formed in foreign embassies will work in conjunction with "different Chinese intelligence services under diplomatic cover".

Those intelligence services will include the secretive 610 office, set up in 1999 to target the Falun Gong movement and which operates worldwide. But the intelligence services won't only be deployed during the Olympics to keep an eye out, Faligot says. They'll also be recruiting among the two million visitors expected for the event.

by Pierre-Marie Giraud.

CSOSG, Breeding Ground for French Homeland Security

Source: IntelligenceOnLine

France’s Agence Nationale pour la Recherche (ANR) has just launched a third French domestic security research and technologies program under the acronym SCOSG.

Backed by the French armaments board Delegation Generale pour l’Armement (DGA) and the Direction Generale de la Police Nationale, the 2008 version of the Concepts, Systemes et Outils pour la Securite Globale (CSOSG) program, launched at the end of January, works along the same research lines as the 2007 version (see graph below) and enjoys the same budget of roughly EUR 11 million for a dozen projects. However, it will make more room for small and medium sized companies and universities to prepare them for future European calls for bids.

Launched in 2006 by an inter-ministerial think tank concerning security research and technologies at the Secretariat General de la Defense Nationale (SGDN) the annual CSOSG program aims to lay the groundwork for a French industrial and university research community working in the field of homeland security. It would combine heavyweights in the sector such as Thales, Sagem and EADS with smaller firms and university labs. The CSOSG is preparing France's bid for the European security research program (worth EUR 150 million in 2007). The initiative seems to have borne fruit because France was in the front ranks of countries participating in last year's program, grabbing 13% of contracts (worth EUR 21 million) ahead of the United Kingdom and Germany.

The official representative of French players in the field on the European level is Claude Ayache, director of European affairs at the Commissariat a l’Energie Atomique (CEA). The CEA’s labs (LETI, LIST, LITEN) were involved in half of CSOSG’s 2007 programs.

March 13, 2008

Mariane Pearl discusses her book A Mighty Heart

Feb 27th, 2008

Montalvo Arts Center - Saratoga, CA

Mariane Pearl discusses her book A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of My Husband Daniel Pearl.

Determined not to be broken by her husband's brutal murder by a militant Islamic fundamentalist group in Pakistan, award-winning international journalist, Mariane Pearl wrote A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of My Husband Daniel Pearl to introduce the world to the man as he was when alive - Montalvo Arts Center

Mariane van Neyenhoff Pearl is a French freelance journalis, reporter, and columnist for Glamour magazine. She is the widow of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped and murdered by terrorists in Pakistan in early 2002.

Pearl was born in Clichy, Hauts-de-Seine, France being of Dutch-Jewish, Afro-Latino-Cuban and Chinese Cuban ancestry and raised in Paris, Van Neyenhoff met Daniel Pearl while he was on assignment in Paris.

They married in August 1999, lived for a time in Mumbai, India where Daniel was the South Asia bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal, and later traveled to Karachi, Pakistan to cover aspects of the war on terrorism. Their son Adam Daniel was born in Paris three months after his father died.

Pearl's memoir, A Mighty Heart, which deals with the events surrounding her husband's kidnapping and assassination, was adapted for the film A Mighty Heart. Co-produced by Brad Pitt, Andrew Eaton and Dede Gardner and directed by Michael Winterbottom, the film stars Angelina Jolie and Dan Futterman as Mariane and Daniel Pearl.


Source : South Asia Analysis Group

By Dr. Subhash Kapila

Introductory Observations

China’s escalating military power has been in global focus for more than a decade now ever since China resorted to double-digit percentage increases in its annual defense spending. This month China’s escalating military power again shot into focus with China’s military budget announcement of a 17.8% increase in defense spending and the release of the United States Pentagon Annual Report to the US Congress: “The Military Power of the Peoples Republic of China.”

Every year with the release of these two documents both the United States and China go through an annual ritual where the United States highlights China’s increasing defense spending and military build-up is highlighted and China vehemently denounces it as a gross exaggeration of its military power. Further, China retorts that its military build-up is ‘defensive’ in nature and that China has no aggressive intentions and that it is engaged in a “peaceful rise”.

The striking feature of China’s assertive retorts on its military buildup is that China questions the American reading of its intentions. But China does not seem to have refuted or contradicted the United States reports of the build-up of its military capabilities in terms of accretion of nuclear weapons, ICBM & MRBM missiles, naval build-up, air force build-up, and build-up of its power projection capabilities. More significantly, the Chinese emphasis on space warfare and cyber warfare.

Since prudent military planning the world over is based on reading of a nation’s military capabilities and not intentions and that China has not contradicted US assessments of her military build-up capabilities, it would be fair to assume that China is engaged in the military build-up as assessed in US reports. This causes global strategic concern and this strategic concern arises from the arguments advanced by strategic analysts that in the absence of credible threats to China’s national security, the rationale for China’s enhanced military build-up transcends the requirements of a “defensive build-up’ and the magnitude of China’s military build-up in peace time therefore raises suspicious of China’s intentions.

China’s escalating military power is not solely a concern of the United States only. China’s accelerated military build-up generates global concerns and regional concerns in regions that strategically border China’s peripheries. Besides East Asia and Taiwan which primarily concern the United States, the vast regions of South East Asia, South Asia, South West Asia and Central Asia are impacted. Even Russia despite its strategic partnership with China cannot remain strategically unconcerned with Chinese military build-up.

Similarly, NATO is no longer Europe-centric. Its military presence now extends to China’s peripheries in Afghanistan, Europe is also now in Chinese ICBM ranges. It is therefore legitimate for NATO also to be strategically concerned by China’s growing military power.

In one sense the Pentagon Assessment of China’s military power suffers from two infirmities. The first infirmity is that it is East Asia and Taiwan-centric and does not do justice in examining the “China Threat” to other critical regions of the world. They are just marginally mentioned in passing.

The second infirmity that is visible in the Pentagon Assessment on China’s military power is that it examines the issue with kid gloves without terming explicitly China as a military threat if not to United States but for a large number of countries lying on its periphery like Vietnam and India not forgetting Japan. The term “China Threat” is avoided in the Pentagon document even though lately the Director of US National Intelligence, Michael McCormick stated in a Senate hearing that “They (China) are a threat today and they would become increasingly that over time.”

This paper does not intend to get bogged down in statistical data of China’s accelerated military power enhancement. Such data is profusely available in open published sources. This paper shall attempt to examine China’s growing military power and its strategic impact in the global and regional contexts. This will be examined under the following heads:

China’s Accelerated Military Buildup: The Stimuli
China’s Escalating Military Budgets: Distinctive Features
China’s Military Power Enhancement: The Key Thrust Areas
China’s Military Power Accretion: The Global Impact
China’s Military Power Accretion: Impact on China’s Contiguous Regions and NATO
China-United States Strategic Tussle: When Does the Climax Occur?
China’s Accelerated Military Buildup: The Stimuli

Even though no National Security Strategy Document is published by China, it is not difficult to identify the stimuli which have prompted China to go in for an accelerated military build-up in the last decade or so. The strategic stimuli that can be listed in brief as follows:

United States victory in the Cold War and loss of the Cold War’s predictable global strategic templates which China adroitly exploited to her strategic advantage was disconcerting for china.
The disintegration of the Former Soviet Union as a Communist superpower and the emergence of the United States as the sole superpower were strategically traumatic for China.
United States military intervention in Iraq (Gulf War I in 1991-92) and the hi-tech ‘shock and awe’ blitzkrieg military campaign was militarily traumatic for China.
United States military interventions in former Yugoslavia on humanitarian grounds in the mid-1990s rattled China fearing that the same principles could be used by United States for military interventions in Tibet and Xinjiang. Further, it was military traumatic that another Communist state stood disintegrated by American policies.
The ease with which Taliban Afghanistan was subjugated in 2002 by awesome use of American military power and that too on China’s immediate periphery further reinforced China’s military fears arising from USA.
Whatever Chinese doubts of American military power that may have lingered stood shattered by Gulf War II in Iraq where once again US hi-tech integrated military power sliced through Iraq in days.
The strategic hemming-in of China both in the East and the West by United States strategic initiatives have kept China worried.
China’s accelerated military build-up, its military up-gradation and integrated warfare operational training dates from 1992 onwards. In every successive year the military power enhancement process has picked up more steam.

The above listed strategic stimuli for China’s military power enhancement were not the only factors, China’s ambitions to emerge as a global power competing strategically if not confronting the Untied States has been the major underlying national ambition of China.

It can be argued that even if the external stimuli listed above in the international security environment were absent, China would still have embarked on an accelerated military build-up to fulfill her national ambition of emerging as a global power. Fortunately for China, financial resources were abundantly available for the accelerated military power build-up.

China has already been an “economic superpower” for a decade or so. China in no uncertain terms with such accelerated military build-up has made it clear that it intends to emerge as a “military superpower” also.

China does have a well thought out strategy to achieve this aim. ‘China’s National Defense’ Publication of 2006 spells out the follows:

“China pursues a three-step development strategy in modernizing its national defense…. The first step is to lay a solid foundation by 2010, the second is to make major progress around 2020, and the third is to basically reach the strategic goal of building informatized armed forces and capable of winning informatized wars by the mid 21st Century.”

The implied reference in the last sentence is unmistakable. With such a blueprint, China’s military power build-up at double-digit rate increase annually would be a constant feature.

China’s Escalating Military Budgets: Distinctive Features

Rather than laboring on statistics, it may be more useful to highlight some distinctive features of China’s escalating military buildup having examined the stimuli. Some important distinctive features emanating from the Pentagon Report and other sources are as under:

China’s annual defense budget growth (inflation adjusted) has grown at the average rate of 11.8% over a ten year period 1996 to 2006. This is over the average annual GDP growth of 9.2% (inflation adjusted).
In 2007, China’s military budget was announced as a 17.8% increase to stand at $ 45 billion. Later revised to a 19.47% increase.
On March 4, 2008 China announced a defense budget increase of 17.8% to stand at $59 billion.
US intelligence sources stoutly maintain that China constantly under-reports its defense budget. China’s actual defense budget every year is nearly three times its publicly stated figures.
China’s published defense budget figures do not reflect major categories of defense expenditures for China’s strategic forces (nuclear weapons and missile arsenal), military Research & Development and China’s large paramilitary forces.
For 2007, the United States computation is that actual defense spending of China was in the range of $ 97 billion to $ 139 billion as opposed to declared figure of $ 45 billion.
China’s regional neighbors rank comparatively poorly in defense spending with India at about $ 23 billion. Japan at about $ 40 billion and Russia at about $ 50 billion.
China’s Military Power Enhancement: The Key Thrust Areas

Broadly speaking China’s military power enhancement has to be viewed in two different perspectives, that is (1) In the context of Taiwan military contingency and (2) In the context of its national ambition to emerge as a military superpower. Of course in terms of military capabilities, military assets and strategic priorities, overlaps would exist.

In the context of the Taiwan contingency, China seems to be militarily planning in terms of military power for the following (1) Military buildup of strategic assets and conventional forces opposite Taiwan as a political and military coercive posture (2) In case of Taiwan’s unilateral declaration of independence then a Chinese full scale amphibious and air assault would be launched on Taiwan and (3) Naval and air force capabilities to deter United States military intervention to protect Taiwan.

In the context of Sino-American rivalry or conflict China would be preparing for strategic nuclear deterrence against United States and develop military capabilities to make the cost of any United States military operations against China militarily prohibitive.

Taking the above two together and the military information flowing out of China, it has been observed that China’s key thrust areas in its military power enhancement in terms of priorities are as follows: (1) Space Warfare (2) Integrated Military Operations and Informatized Warfare (3) Power Projection incorporating all important components like Air Assault Capabilities, Amphibious Warfare and Heliborne Operations (3) Mechanized Warfare (4) Special Forces Operations (5) Cyber Warfare (6) Missile Warfare.

More simply put, the key thrust areas of China in terms of power enhancement strategies and up-gradation of capabilities in terms of military hardware are being planned to cater for a United States military threat whether over Taiwan or otherwise. The Chinese aim being to blunt United States hi-tech warfare capabilities in all spectrums of warfare.

China’s naval expansion and modernization needs special mention as there are multiple aims that China has, namely (1) China’s maritime defense (2) Break any naval blockades of China (3) Develop blue water naval capabilities for strategic influence (4) Naval capabilities to provide for energy security of China in terms of defense of sea-lanes (6) Under-water submarine warfare capabilities to deter use of American naval supremacy (7) Develop long range cruise missiles against US aircraft carriers.

China’s Military Power Accretion: The Global Impact

The global impact can be recounted in the following terms (1) Global balance of power is upset as China’s challenge to the status quo takes concrete and challenging contours (2) China’s main military threat is more United States-specific and hence US supremacy as the sole super power will be threatened (3) China’s cavorting with nations hostile to the United States injects an element of strategic destabilization of the global world order.

The United States cannot be expected to be a silent spectator to China’s growing military challenge especially in the strategic regions of the world and also in the naval dimension to America’s cherished principle of the “freedom of the high seas.” Nor can USA be a silent spectator to China’s political and military coercion of US allies like Japan or military threats against such allies. China is already letting it be known that in case of US military intervention in a Taiwan crisis, China will carry out missile strikes against military bases in Japan hosting US military presence.

As China’s military power escalates such dangers could become more pronounced prompting US counter-actions. With China’s propensity to use military force in conflicts of the past and its military brinkmanship over the Hainan Island crisis recently the global strategic temperatures could rise substantially forcing smaller nations to ally with the United States for their security needs.

The spin-off from the above would be that such nations would welcome US military presence in Asia to off-set the China threat. In the process, China’s strategic frustration in not pushing US military presence out of East Asia in particular could lead to further Chinese military brinkmanship and costly military miscalculations against the United States.

China’s Military Power Accretion: Impact on China’s Contiguous Regions and NATO

It has been noted earlier in this Paper that the combined and cumulative effect of China’s military power accretion whether in the “Taiwan-specific context” or “military superpower-specific context” will generate the emergence of a formidable military machine of China and consequently encouraging it to throw its strategic weight around especially in contiguous regions.

The United States has the power – political, strategic, economic and military to deal with or neutralize the emerging ‘China Threat’. The same, however, cannot be said of the lesser powers in China’s contiguous regions.

In East Asia, the China threat looms large on Japan coupled with North Korea as China’s missile surrogate. Japan independently of USA or as a close inter-connected and integrated forward military ally of USA faces a credible China military threat. In terms of impact, Japan despite the US security umbrella could be (1) Forced into an arms race. It is already visible in terms of Japan’s naval build-up and (2) Seek wider strategic partnerships with Australia, Vietnam and India.

In South East Asia a major flashpoint exists in the territorial disputes between China and Vietnam over the ownership of the Spratly Islands. Both China and Vietnam despite the current apparent normalization of relations are militarily way of each other. Should China become more militarily assertive on the Spratly issue, Vietnam may have to seek the military security umbrella of the United States. With a growing Vietnamese economy, one should expect Vietnam to invest in expansion and up-gradation of her naval capabilities to threaten the security of China’s oil sea-lanes security in the South China Sea. Vietnam has stood up to China for over a thousand years and a militarily resurgent China should not expect that it can militarily coerce Vietnam.

South Asia has been used as a prolific playground by China for strategic destabilization of India with her strategic nexus with Pakistan and Bangladesh. China and India as two major Asian powers would always be competing powers strategically and hence a boundary settlement of their territorial dispute is not possible.

South Asia in 2008 presents a totally different strategic picture today as opposed to 1962 when China inflicted a military debacle on India as a result of Nehru’s strategic follies, India today is economically and militarily resurgent forcing the other global powers to seek strategic partnerships with India as a counter-weight to China, politically to begin with. China’s protégés in South Asia, namely Pakistan (despite its Chinese nuclear weapons and Chinese missile arsenal) and Bangladesh are virtually failed states.

The impact on South Asia of China’s enhanced military power would be to (1) Prompt India to assert forcefully its regional power status (2) Stir India to close its strategic and military differentials with China (3) India emerges as the pre-eminent naval power in Indian Ocean with US and Western nations support (4) Force India to play the ‘balance of power’ games and also the creation and exploitation of strategic counter-pressure power points against China, Tibet more specifically.

South West Asia for all practical purposes is a United States preserve and China with even enhanced military power can do no more than create strategic irritants by tying up with anti-US nations in the region.

Central Asia for all practical purposes needs to be counted as a Russian preserve. While Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) linkages could be expected to operate between Russia and China in the region, but these would operate to a point. China military power accretions beyond a certain point could threaten Russia’s traditional hold over Central Asia and then Russia could be expected to react.

NATO seems to be a late entrant as an entity growingly alarmed at Chinese enhancement of military power in global terms. This arises on two counts, namely (1) Military buildup in China’s Western Regions (2) NATO countries now being under Chinese ICBM strategic range coverage.

China’s emergence as a likely NATO adversary could in terms of impact would draw the following NATO responses (1) European countries would be disinclined to lift the ban on arms exports to China (2) NATO-US could come more closer in terms of stronger military postures on China’s peripheries (3) NATO’s eastward creep could become more pronounced.

China – United States Strategic Tussle: When Does the Climax Occur?

The China-United States strategic tussle is unlike the Cold War’s USA-Soviet Union strategic confrontation. That was an ideological tussle and confrontation.

The China-United States strategic tussle is markedly geo-strategic, geopolitical and geo-economic. Despite the friendly rhetoric that is indulged in by China and USA, it is all superficial. Underlying all this veneer are deep strategic concerns and fears of each other. Underlying all this is also a past military conflictual record of the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

The present state of relations between China and USA are acquiring the contours of a Cold War. But this Cold War unlike the first Cold War has all the chances of becoming a “Hot War” between USA and China over a host of conflictual flash-points stretching right across Asia and other strategic issues.

When does the climax occur, when the veneer gets ripped off and both China and USA finally face-off each other strategically?

As part of both estimative and predictive analysis it can be said that China is unlikely to stoke a direct military confrontation (barring miscalculations arising from brinkmanship) with the United States till 2050. That is the year designated by China to reach the apex of military power enhancement to emerge as a “military superpower” capable of complete victory in an informatized war.

Till then the world has to wait with abated breath as to what would be the final outcome of the ongoing China-US strategic tussle.

Concluding Observations

China is very fond of calculating the “Comprehensive Military Power” (CMP) of nations in precise mathematical terms. If one were to adopt the Chinese CMP template then China today stands tall in terms of military power with its decade old accelerated military buildup and which is likely to continue till 2050. The world can therefore expect that the arms race by China with the United States would continue till then and thereafter.

Emergence as an “economic superpower” was not a difficult task for China. Besides the economic factors operating in China’s favor the global security environment factors impelled the United States and Western countries to buildup China economically in return for its quasi-strategic relationship with the USA in the late 1970’s, and early 1980’s against the Soviet Union.

However, China’s emergence as a “military superpower” against the backdrop of its propensity for military conflict over contentious issues raises strategic uncertainties and strategic concerns about China’s future military directions.

China has to recognize the strategic realty that in its move upwards to “military superpower” status it not only has to contend with the United States but also with a number of competing regional powers for the same power status and complicating it are its territorial disputes with them and which could complicate China’s military rise. Such regional powers could be induced to gravitate towards the United States if China continues to exploit border disputes as strategic pressure points.

(The author is an International Relations and Strategic Affairs analyst. He is the Consultant, Strategic Affairs with South Asia Analysis Group.

Check to Ukraine and checkmate to Nabucco

14:21 | 13/ 03/ 2008

MOSCOW. (Igor Tomberg for RIA Novosti) - A new deal between Gazprom and its Central Asian suppliers evokes images of a "gas-OPEC."

On February 11, Gazprom, Kazmunaigaz, Uzbekneftegaz and Turkmengaz officially declared that starting in 2009 Gazprom will pay European prices for Central Asian gas.

The price formula has not yet been found, and it is therefore too early to talk about the details of the agreement. Gazprom officials maintain that this formula will be a subject of the talks. The price is expected to be somewhere between $200 and $230 for a thousand cubic meters, depending on the location of its transfer to Gazprom. The price is based on current European prices (in Slovakia and Romania the relevant figure is about $330).

In the new-year forecasters were predicting that European consumer prices would reach $360 for a thousand cubic meters by 2009. That figure has now been drastically revised upwards, with analysts expecting prices to hit $380 in 2008, and possibly reach $400 by the end of this year. Many warn that, given the rapid growth of oil prices, the true figure may be even higher.

The statement came on the eve of yet another round of talks with Ukraine, which buys Central Asian fuel for far less than its European neighbors. Yet Ukraine presents itself as the main victim.

Gazprom annually buys about 42 billion cubic meters of Turkmen gas, and another 8 billion cubic meters each from Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. This year, their respective prices are $140, $145, and $160 per thousand cubic meters. Gazprom currently supplies the bulk of this gas to Ukraine for $179.5 - a price acceptable to Ukraine and modestly profitable for Gazprom.

The recent price hike by the Central Asian producers means that Ukrainians will no longer enjoy cheap gas. Faced with such a sudden and dramatic price increase, Kiev may well seek to resolve some of its problems at Gazprom's expense.

The transit fee for Russian gas flowing across Ukraine to Europe has long been exploited by Kiev, and it will be no surprise if Yulia Tymoshenko's government raised transit costs to compensate for Central Asia's price leap. In that case, Gazprom would be compelled to pay up to $1.5 billion for the higher profits of its Central Asian partners.

Needless to say, Gazprom is doing all it can to prevent a radical revision of the transit price, all the more so since it could increase its own tariffs for the transit of Central Asian gas across Russian territory.

Russia currently charges the Central Asian republics $1.70 for the transit of a thousand cubic meters of gas over a distance of 100 km. All in all, delivery of Central Asian gas to Ukraine via Russian pipelines costs about $10 for a thousand cubic meters. Gazprom could double this figure.

The sides have not yet started specific calculations, and much will depend on the eventual agreement on the European price formula and transit tariffs. It would be safe to say, however, that new gas prices will encourage further talks on Gazprom's access to the domestic market in Ukraine, and will revive discussion of an international gas consortium.

Gazprom's decision to accept the terms of the Central Asian gas producers will finally bury the U.S. and EU-promoted trans-Caspian Nabucco project, which would have brought Turkmen gas to Europe via Azerbaijan, Turkey, and the Balkans. Central Asian partners could only be replaced with Iran, but that would not be politically correct.

The transition to European prices will consolidate the Russian and Central Asian project to build their own Caspian gas pipeline. An extension of the old Central Asia-Center gas pipeline, it will transit an additional 10 billion cubic meters of Turkmen and an equal amount of Kazakh gas, and is taken by many as a sign of enhanced cooperation between the ex-Soviet gas producers.

This change brings to mind associations with OPEC, the international oil cartel, especially in the context of media reports that the joint statement by three Central Asian gas companies, which coincided with the visit of Ukrainian monopoly Naftogaz to Moscow, was made with the full approval of the Kremlin.

Russia has long been working to form an association of former Soviet gas producers and exporters modeled on the famed oil cartel. It was clear that Gazprom could not control Central Asian gas supplies forever. Transition to the European price formula, which Moscow has carried out in respect of CIS countries, therefore elevates their understanding and cooperation to a new level. Despite the efforts of Western gas consumers, the four CIS countries appear to have adopted a common strategy in foreign markets.

Igor Tomberg, Ph.D., is a senior research fellow with the Center for Energy Studies, the Institute of World Economy and International Relations at the Russian Academy of Sciences. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

The American landing force will stay out of sight

22:43 | 12/ 03/ 2008

MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti military observer Ilya Kramnik) - The recent beefing up of the US Navy in the Mediterranean has caused concern in Russia and some Mediterranean countries. Experts believe the appearance of US warships off the coast of Syria and Lebanon presages a US military operation in the region.

The recent deployment of the US Navy guided missile destroyer DDG 67 Cole off the Lebanese coast, reportedly sent "to support the ruling coalition" in Lebanon, caused an uproar among the opposition. Lebanese MP Hasan Fadlallah, representing the radical Islamic group Hezbollah, accused the United States of aggression against Lebanon.

How justified are these fears?

In early March the destroyer USS Cole was replaced by a similar, but upgraded new destroyer DDG 71 Ross and the cruiser USS Philippine Sea. All these ships are fitted out with the AEGIS system and various missiles, including Tomahawk cruise missiles and Standard SM-2 anti-aircraft missiles. Unlike the four-stage SM-3s used in the U.S. missile defense system, Standard SM-2 has less capacity to intercept ballistic missiles, but it can successfully intercept aerodynamic targets such as planes, cruise missiles and drones within a range of over 300 kilometers.

But for all their formidable power, the destroyer and the missile cruiser pose a threat not by themselves, but as part of a group. USS Ross and USS Philippine Sea are part of the US Navy's Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) Nassau (NASSG) headed by the landing helicopter carrier bearing that name, which was deployed on a prolonged patrol mission in the areas of operation of the 5th and 6th Fleets of the US Navy. The areas are in the Indian and Atlantic oceans respectively and intersect in the Middle East and the seas washing the region where the strike group will be on patrol duty.

In addition to LHA 4 Nassau, USS Ross and USS Philippine Sea, the group includes the land attack ship LPD 13 Nashville, the dock-landing ship LSD 48 Ashland, the destroyer DDG 84 Bulkeley and the multi-purpose submarine SSN 753 Albany. On board the landing ships are the marines of the 22nd Expeditionary Unit trained for special operations. The unit can be used autonomously in limited-scale operations or as an advance party in a major military conflict. Marines reach the coast by air-cushion speedboats, helicopters and convertoplanes. The ESG's firepower can be greatly augmented by air support from the aircraft carriers of the 5th and 6th Fleets and US Air Force bases in the region.

During the mission the ESG personnel - both the crews and the marines - are trained for action in the Middle East theater and are even taught basic Arabic.

The ESG's patrol mission will last several months. It is to leave the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal and head for the Gulf in early April. All this time it will be on full combat alert.

Expeditionary strike groups, along with other instruments, above all powerful transport aviation and aircraft carrier strike units, enable the U.S. Defense Department to quickly build up forces in key regions and if necessary start warfare using all the armed services at short notice, leaving the potential enemy no time for an adequate response, especially if it happens to be a third world country with limited means of reconnaissance over the ocean.

Bearing all this in mind, the concern of the Middle Eastern countries and Russia over the deployment of ESG ships off the Lebanese and Syrian coast is well grounded: a significant unengaged military force has appeared in the region, which can launch combat operations at the drop of a hat. Against this background American reassurances that the destroyer and the cruiser will be out of sight of the shore don't count for much. The landing assets on the ESG's ships enable marines to be landed within tens of minutes without any of the ships approaching the shore close enough to be seen with the naked eye.

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