December 11, 2009

Official: US, Saudi Responsible for Fate of Iranian Scientist





TEHRAN (FNA)- An informed Iranian foreign ministry official said the US and Saudi Arabia are responsible for the fate of Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri who went missing in Mecca.


"There is reliable evidence showing that Mr. Amiri was kidnapped by the US and according to international conventions the US and Saudi Arabia are responsible for his health and fate and these two countries should answer."

Also regarding Saudi Arabian claims on Amiri, the official said, "The reality shows something else, Iran has held talks with Saudi Arabia on the issue several times and it has sent several messages. Tehran also appointed a representative in its embassy in Riyadh to pursue the case, the Iranian students news agency reported.




Elsewhere, regarding a Saudi Arabian foreign ministry official who claimed Iranian mission in the Arab country has left Saudi Arabia's questions on Amiri unanswered, the official said, "unfortunately, Saudi Arabian officials have tried to keep the issue in secret and such an approach is in contradiction to legal and consular responsibilities of the country."



Iran, Saudi Arabia tensions rise over missing scientist
By HANNAH ALLAM
McClatchy Newspapers
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/world/AP/story/1375058.html

CAIRO -- An award-winning Iranian nuclear scientist traveled to Saudi Arabia earlier this year to perform a religious pilgrimage. He never returned.

Shahram Amiri's mysterious disappearance is turning into a Middle Eastern whodunit involving nuclear secrets and political intrigue, with a new round of accusations emerging this week and the U.S. government still refusing to comment.

There are two big questions:

Was Amiri spirited away by Saudi-backed American covert agents?

Or did the scientist seize the chance to defect to the West, offering sensitive information in exchange for asylum?

Finger-pointing in Amiri's case has heightened tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which are bitter rivals for regional dominance and self-proclaimed guardians of Islam's two main sects. Iran claimed earlier this week that Saudi Arabia conspired with U.S. agents to abduct Amiri in June and transfer him to the U.S., presumably for interrogations about Iran's controversial nuclear program.

"Based on existing pieces of evidence that we have at our disposal, the Americans had a role in Mr. Amiri's abduction," Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told a news conference Tuesday, according to a translation by the state-backed PressTV agency. "The Americans did abduct him. Therefore, we expect the American government to return him."

Mottaki added that because the disappearance occurred in Saudi Arabia, the authorities there "must be held accountable in this regard."

On Wednesday, Ali Larijani, the Iranian speaker of Parliament, went a step further by publicly accusing Washington of "terrorist behavior" and claiming it was clear that Amiri's disappearance was "organized by Saudi conspirators."

The Obama administration has kept mum on the case, with State Department spokesman Philip Crowley telling reporters this week that the U.S. is "aware of the Iranian claims" and saying he had no further information.

Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally in the region, lashed out at Tehran Wednesday. A popular Arabic-language newspaper reported that officials "deplored" the accusations and insisted that Saudi forces already had scoured Islamic holy cities in search of the missing scientist.

"After having been informed of his disappearance by the Iranian delegation, Saudi authorities undertook an intensive search in Medina as well as in all the hospitals in the region of Mecca," Saudi foreign ministry spokesman Osama Nugali told the Saudi-backed regional newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat in Wednesday's edition.

Amiri traveled to Saudi Arabia on a religious pilgrimage in late May or early June. He vanished in June, and there's been no reliable word on his whereabouts since. Amiri is said to be in his 30s, with a wife and other relatives still in Iran, though McClatchy Newspapers couldn't independently verify that information.

Iranian news agencies have described Amiri as a physicist who conducts research for the country's Atomic Energy Organization and the Malek-e-Ashtar University of Technology, which is affiliated with the Iranian defense ministry. Reports say Amiri won a national award for his service to Tehran's nuclear program. It's unclear what level of security clearance Amiri held or how important he is to the Iranian program. Iran waited months before even acknowledging that Amiri was a nuclear scientist.

With so little solid information available in Amiri's case, speculation is rampant in intelligence and diplomatic circles, with rumors ranging from the abduction or defection scenarios to the possibility of Israeli agents assassinating Amiri as part of what's been called a shadowy "decapitation program" allegedly targeting Iran's top nuclear scientists.

Mohamed al-Saied Idriss, an Iran specialist at the Cairo-based al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said all the rumors and accusations could've been cleared up months ago if Saudi Arabia and Iran had even nominally decent relations. Instead, the matter has festered and could complicate future nuclear negotiations with Tehran.

"It's Iran's mistake that he left the country - they should've known he could be subject to kidnapping or he could be compromised," Idriss said. "And there's been talk that the Americans interrogated him and managed to get information that helped them in discovering the nuclear facility at Qom."

Four months after Amiri's disappearance, Western intelligence agencies disclosed the existence of a previously unannounced Iranian nuclear facility outside the city of Qom, fueling speculation that Amiri was in the U.S. sharing nuclear secrets. There's been no confirmation, however, that Amiri had anything to do with the discovery of the underground facility at Qom, and U.S. intelligence agencies reportedly had suspected such a site near Qom for two or three years.

The U.S. and its allies fear Iran is striving to attain a nuclear weapons capability, though the Iranian leadership maintains it seeks nuclear energy only for peaceful purposes such as generating electricity



List of Iranian citizens abducted by U.S.
Tehran Times Political Desk


TEHRAN – The names of Iranian nationals who are held in U.S. captivity were released here on Wednesday.


Some of them have been abducted in the United States and others by its agents in other countries.

The following are names of the 11 Iranian nationals:

Baktash Fattahi, Amir-Shahrzad Amir-Qolikhani, Ali Amirnazmi, and Hassan Saeid Kashari are currently held in U.S. prisons with no charges.

Iranian citizen Mahmud Yadegari, who is being held in prison in the U.S., was illegally abducted in Canada earlier this year in spring. According to the U.S. authorities, he was a truck driver.

Alireza Asgari disappeared mysteriously in Turkey three years ago. According to documents and evidences, he is believed to have been turned over to the U.S.

Another Iranian national, who is being held in a prison in Philadelphia, is Amir-Hossein Ardebili.

He was illegally abducted in Georgia in 2007 and handed over to U.S. authorities in 2008. Recently, a show trial was held for Ardebili and he is due to be sentenced next week.

Shahram Amiri, another Iranian citizen, went missing while on a pilgrimage visit to Saudi Arabia last May. According to Iran’s Foreign Ministry, he has also been handed over to the U.S.

Iranian merchant Mohsen Afrasiabi and electrical engineering student Majid Kakavand were abducted in Germany and France respectively. Nasrollah Tajik, the former Iranian ambassador to Jordan was abducted by the French government three years ago. All were transferred to the U.S.

Despite these 11 individuals, 5 other Iranian nationals are being secretly held in detention in European countries.

On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki accused the U.S. of abducting Iranian nationals.

""Based on evidence, the Americans had a role in kidnapping Shahram Amiri, therefore we expect the U.S. government to return him,” Mottaki said.

Obtaining the release of the Iranian nationals in U.S. captivity is top on the agenda of Iran’s Foreign Ministry. The ministry will vigorously pursue the matter diplomatically.

Families of the abductees have formed an NGO to determine the fate of their beloved ones.

Pakistanis most likely to be turned down for UK visas

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8407298.stm

The Home Office dismisses claims of discrimination over the applications
Pakistanis are more likely to be turned down for visas to visit the UK than any other nationals, figures show.

Some 41% of applications for family visitor visas from Pakistan were rejected in the last year, according to Home Office statistics seen by the BBC.

Bangladeshis were the second least successful with a refusal rate of 31% but the figure for India was just 14%.
Sarah Teather, Lib Dem MP for Brent East, blames discrimination by the Home Office, but the government denies this.

Tougher controls are thought by some people to be due to growing controversy over immigration, and fears visitors are staying beyond their visa and disappearing into the UK.

Critics say many genuine applicants are not being allowed to visit their relations for important occasions such as weddings and funerals.

71-year-old Abdul Rahman, from Cricklewood, north London, is one of those who has been unable to invite his relations from Pakistan.


I'm a respected member of the community and my application was supported by my local MP... but we were still turned down

Waheed Akbar

His son, Ishrar, 32, was married in November and Mr Rahman wanted his two brothers, a sister and cousin, who all live in Pakistan to join them for the wedding.

But their family visit visa application was turned down because of insufficient finance and accommodation. This was despite the family setting £14,000 aside to cover fares, food and accommodation.

"It is important to have their participation in this marriage. [I feel] very upset and [it's] unpleasant. We were thinking they would come and we would enjoy it all together. But in their absence we can't enjoy that properly," said Mr Rahman.

The Akbar family in Luton told a similar story. Waheed Akbar, 48, applied for permission for his businessman brother Jamil to visit them.

But his family visit visa application was also rejected.

Like the Rahmans, Mr Akbar had proved to officials that he had enough money to pay for and support his brother during his visit. He is also a Luton councillor and former mayor of the town.

'Blatant discrimination'

He said: "I'm a respected member of the community and my application was supported by my local MP. We also proved that we had enough money and accommodation to look after my brother during his visit. But we were still turned down.

"If someone like me can't get a visa for my brother then there's something really wrong."

Ms Teather said the government needs to "urgently review" their practice and "look at why it is so many Pakistani family visa are being refused".

The Lib Dem MP said: "Why is it so high in comparison with other countries? Is this bad practice?

"It does look on the face of it as though it's blatant discrimination against Pakistanis.

"It's as if they've decided that all Pakistanis are going to overstay and as a consequences are refusing their visas."

The Home Office rejected accusations of discrimination and said it refused applications only when they were unsatisfactory.

Applicants must show they will leave the country when they are supposed to and have sufficient funds for their stay, it added.

WORKSHOP: 'Philosophy of Oneness: Bridging East and West'

Chinmaya International Shodha Sansthan[CIFSS] announces A eight day Textual Workshop on 'Philosophy of Oneness: Bridging East and West' from 24th to 31st December 2009 at Chinmaya International Foundation, Adi Sankara Nilayam, Veliyanad, Ernakulam, Kerala.

Subjects:
Idealism : East & West : Prof. R. Balasubramanian,
Formerly Chairman, ICPR, New Delhi
Advaita Makaranda : Prof. Godavarisha Mishra,
Member Secretary, ICPR, New Delhi
Vishaya Parichheda of Vedanta Paribhasha : Dr. Goda Venkateshwara Shastri,
Traditional Scholar, Chennai



You are welcome to join this Textual Workshop and benefit from the study
of these texts. IInd class shortest route rail fare for students will be reimbersed and lodging & baording will also be provided.

For further information contact:

The Director, CIFSS
Ph: 9567761194, 0484-2747104, Email : director@chinfo.org



Kindly forward this information to your contacts who would be interested in this Textual Workshop.

Since the seats are limited, you are requested to register at the earliest.
Brochure is enclosed

Yours Sincerely



Director
--
Dr.V.SheebaSudheer
Dpty Director
CIFSS, Adisankaranilayam
Veliyanadu, Kerala

NAXAL MENACE : 83 districts under the Security Related Expenditure Scheme

INDIA: Coastal Security Scheme

A comprehensive Coastal Security Scheme was approved in January 2005 for implementation over a five year period commencing 2005-06, to enhance coastal security by strengthening infrastructure for patrolling and surveillance in the coastal areas.

The Coastal Security Scheme, which is supplemental in nature and, is being implemented in nine coastal States, viz. Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal,and four coastal Union Territories, viz. Daman & Diu, Lakshadweep, Pondicherry and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Under the Scheme, 73 coastal police stations, 97 check posts 58 outposts and 30 operational barracks have been approved. The Police Stations will be provided with 204 vessels fitted with modern navigational and maritime equipment. 153 jeeps and 312 motorcycles have also been approved. A lump sum assistance of Rs.10 lakhs per police station is also provided for computers and equipments, etc. The approved five-year outlay for the Scheme is Rs.400 crores for non-recurring expenditure and Rs.151 crores for recurring expenditure on fuel, maintenance and repairs of vessels and training of personnel.

The present status of infrastructure created so far under the scheme, State-wise, is given in the Annexure.

The Goa Shipyard Ltd, Goa, and Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd., Kolkata, are presently manufacturing 110 nos. 12-Ton boats and 84 nos. 5-Ton boats to be provided to coastal States and Union Territories under the Coastal Security Scheme. The supply of these interceptor boats has started since April, 2009. So far, 19 boats have been delivered to the coastal States and UTs.

Further, the Government has also released funds meant for purchase of vehicles and lump sum amount for equipments etc., approved under the Scheme, in respect of Coastal Police Stations which have already been operationalised.

Under the scheme, funds to the tune of Rs.988.97 lakhs were released in 2006-07, Rs.5438.046 lakhs in 2007-08 and Rs. 5865.884 lakh in 2008-09 and the same has been utilised by the States/UTs.

Physical progress, in respect of coastal police stations, check posts, outposts and barracks under the Coastal Security Scheme

What Obama’s Af-Pak Strategy-II Portends

By Bhaskar Roy


http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers36/paper3541.html




When US President Barack Obama, in his address to the nation, unveiled his new Af-Pak strategy at the West Point Military Academy on December 02, did he really believe that he had laid the road map of victory and withdrawal of US and NATO forces from Afghanistan? Very unlikely. This is another interim strategy to see how far it can go, and use the time to think up a strategy-III for Afghanistan.


Just hours before Mr. Obama’s speech, the US Commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, in a six-hour meeting with Pak Army Chief Gen. Asfaq Kayani at the Pak Army Headquarters, extracted a promise that the Pak armed forces will counter all Taliban which target US and NATO forces. This would mean the Pakistani Taliban a.k.a. Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP), its many factions, and the Afghan Taliban of Mullah Omar. Gen. McChrystal would have held Gen. Kayani’s feet to the fire and a lolly-pop in his mouth to extract this assurance which, unless tested cannot be accepted as a solemn commitment.


Media reports on the Kayani-McChrystal meeting were rather scanty, and hence it cannot be said the question of Al Qaeda was raised or not, or if raised, its outcome. Another question is whether the Pak army has been given the unwritten licence by the USA to enter Afghanistan. The US and NATO forces are operating in Afghanistan and not in Pakistan. If Pakistani forces enter Afghanistan without clearance from the Afghan government led by President Hamid Karzai, it will open up another huge problem. This could, in fact, blow back on Mr. Obama’s Afghanistan agenda.


President Obama made it clear that the US would help Pakistan both in the military and development areas to equip the country as a whole to counter terrorism. He admitted that Pakistan’s co-operation was critical to winning the war against terror, saying that US success in Afghanistan depended on Pakistan’s “co-operation”. But he also added the “US cannot tolerate a safe haven for terrorism whose location is known and whose intentions are clear”.


President Obama’s strategy-II has come at a time when Pakistan’s nascent civilian government, especially President Asif Ali Zardari and some close Cabinet colleagues have become weak. The US backed National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) promulgated by former President Pervez Musharraf, exonerated Mr. Zardari and more than a hundred other politicians of corruption charges. This was done as part of the various moves to give Mr. Musharraf a face saving exit, and bring in a civilian government led by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). The NRO is about to be tested in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, and President Zardari’s position is becoming very delicate. It is said that he is now a puppet President and that Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani has the army’s support. Mr. Zardari was never trusted or accepted by the army. The situation in Pakistan still remains dominated by the army and the ISI, whether in the foreground or from behind the Parliament. Gen. Kayani has turned out to be far more astute than his predecessor Gen. and President Pervez Musharraf. At least, till now.


For once, the USA has taken a more considered policy position on Pakistan. While it has promised to enable the military to counter terrorism including weapons and training, it has kept the $7.5 billion civilian and development aid separate to be supervised by US agencies. Washington wants to develop and strengthen democracy, which is not to the liking of the Pak army. What angered the army further is that they cannot dip into the development aid pie.


If the US wants to prop up a semblance of democracy, it will finally have to accept a civilian government of the army’s choice. For the time being Mr. Zardari may have to move aside to give full reigns of the government to Mr. Gilani, who seems to have come to some understanding with Gen. Kayani and General Headquarters (GHQ). President Zardari had to make a major concession recently when he handed over power, relating to military appointments and postings to Prime Minister Gilani. Traditionally, the Pak army and the PPP have never been on cordial terms.


The army now calls the shots, and in all important issues the entire American establishment will have to deal with the armed forces. It is back to the reality of Pakistan. An example of this is a recent warming attack on well known journalist of the Dawn newspaper, Kamran Safi, who is a bold critic of the Pakistan army and the ISI.


The US president wants Pakistan’s military and ISI to close the safe havens for the Afghan Taliban and the Al Qaeda in Pakistan. The US administration across the board is highly concerned about the “Quetta Shura”, or the Taliban top coteries led by Mullah Omar, shifting between Afghanistan and Pakistan’s Quetta. Al Qaeda top leaders are reportedly protected by the Shura. Although the US has been demanding action against the Shura, Pakistan denies its existence.


Unlike in Musharraf years, Gen. Kayani’s army does not speak much. The government is the army’s puppet spokesman in both denials and accusations. Over the last year and a half, the US has given hard evidence about the ISI’s co-operation with the Taliban, sharing with them actionable intelligence provided by the Americans. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton openly stated her disbelief that none in Pakistan’s defence and security establishment had any knowledge of the “Quetta Shura”. Even President Obama has made this clear, but action on Pakistan’s part has not been forthcoming.


The Pak armed forces finally took action against the Mehsud led TTP who are creating terror havoc in Pakistan, but still hope the other Taliban led by militant leaders like Mullah Nazir who support the Al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban, would be of assistance. While eliminating one devil, the Pak army is giving growing space to another devil which operates in Afghanistan with the Al Qaeda and Taliban. If anything, this is a strategy to control Afghanistan.


There is no doubt that the US has acquired a strong military platform in Pakistan. In the aftermath of “9/11” and US president George W. Bush’s option offer to Pakistan “either with us or against us”, President Musharraf handed over two airports, Jacobabad and Pasni to the US military along with control of three-fourths of Pakistani air space.


The US is expanding its drone attacks from and in Pakistan’s tribal areas. But this is not the 1940s or 1950s. There will have to be limitations unless the Pak army cooperates fully, and there is little sign of that.


Like some other countries, the US worked for almost two decades on a very restricted window on terrorism. In a very short sighted policy, which thankfully did not work, the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) sold an idea to the government in the later 1990s, to recognize a Taliban government in Afghanistan if the Taliban surrendered Osama bin Laden. Mullah Omar refused. That ended the negotiations.


The US was looking at oil and gas transmission through Afghanistan and Pakistan to the sea board. In an obtuse manner, this region should be thankful that Mullah Omar did not co-operate. It would have placed a US friendly Taliban government in Kabul, and the consequences for the neighbouring region from Central Asia to South Asia through Pakistan can be only imagined. Pursuit of hydrocarbon energy under the Bush administration reduced Iraq to what it is today. Saddam Hossain was an excuse, oil and gas were the objectives.


It is hoped President Obama and his advisors have learnt this lesson from the immediate past, and the cost of what they are picking up from Iraq today, in addition to opening space for the Al Qaeda in Iraq.


In his letter to President Zardari in early November, leaked to the Washington Post (November 30), President Obama included the Laskar-e-Toiba (LET) as one of the five terrorist organizations that Pakistan must act against. Now the US has declared that the LET is fully associated with the Al Qaeda.


It is very well known that the LET was created by the Pak army and the ISI for subversion in Kashmir, and then extended to other parts of India with a healthy base in Bangladesh laid out by the erstwhile BNP-Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) government. It was directly involved in last year’s Mumbai terrorist carnage known as “26/11”. The US has discovered, to its consternation, that the LET has extended its tentacles inside the USA. Realization late is better than never.


There is dismay, even chagrin, in India that Mr. Obama did not mention India in his Af-Pak strategy-II. India certainly has a legitimate point, given the fact India has been one of the biggest victims of Pakistan sponsored terrorism. Perhaps, President Obama and his team felt that India being the sworn enemy of the Pak military intelligence was better avoided in this delicate persuasion on Pakistan. In his assessment report on Afghanistan, Gen. McCrystal, while speaking positively about India’s developmental role in Afghanistan, also said this may make Pakistan embark on more negative actions in Afghanistan.


While understandable in one sense, it is open to question if a strategy could win by conceding to the spoiler. The Indians are not amused.


While Pakistan is a contiguous neighbour of Afghanistan, it relations with Pakistan has been anything but cordial since the creation of Pakistan in 1947. On the other hand India has a historical relationship of goodwill with Afghanistan and extended to Central Asia and Russia.


The US will now have an impressive 100 thousand forces in Afghanistan. But President Obama’s time line of starting withdrawal from July 2011, though not a rigid position, had only raised excitement among the Pak army and the Afghan Taliban.


Both sense a weariness in strategy-II. They perceive that the time is coming for a US withdrawal, like in Vietnam where, despite the US arming and training the South Vietnamese army, they withdrew to hand over the country to the Communists. But communism is not comparable to Talibanism, and the Taliban’s middle ages Islamic philosophy cannot compare with communism’s transition.
Creating a professional army from a rag tag force and inviting volunteers in a short time of another 18 months is not a feasible task. The number of Afghan army personnel to be trained has also been reduced. This is hardly a winning policy. The US just cannot walk away from Afghanistan, as it also has other regional interests in Pakistan and Afghanistan.


But it appears President Obama may not have arrived at any definitive US policy. For example, during his visit to China in November, the Beijing leaders blocked his interview with the Chinese newspaper Southern Weekly from being published. His address to the Shanghai University students, mostly Communist Party members was not broadcast outside Shanghai. Diplomatically, it is a pointed insult to a visiting head of state. In this case it was the head of the only super power. Yet, Mr. Obama invited China to participate in the Afghan peace process since China has substantial equity in Afghanistan. He should have studied carefully the highly questionable policy on international terrorism, followed by China, which is quite agreeable to see some neighbouring countries continue to suffer from Pakistan-based terrorism.


Therefore, it is not unnatural for the countries of this South Asian – Central Asian regions to be apprehensive about the trajectory of President Obama’s Af-Pak Strategy-II.


The Pak army intelligence establishment is confident that the US is dependent on them. They also perceive that US withdrawal from AF-Pak is within smelling distance. Whether correct or not, this has given a fillip to the Pakistan army and the Afghan Taliban a new confidence. Otherwise, Mullah Omar’s Taliban would not have sent out a message offering legal guarantee not to intervene in other countries if the foreign forces withdrew from Afghanistan. The message made no mention of Al Qaeda. Of course, the message has been taken with scepticism in the west, especially because the Taliban did not mention how they will deal with Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda.


Realistically, if the US starts withdrawing from Afghanistan and Pakistan post July 2011, the Pak army – Taliban will overwhelm Afghanistan. This will definitely go beyond Afghanistan to the Central Asian states, and India will also be a target.
In such a scenario, neither the Central Asian states along with Russia will sit quietly, and India will be forced to take more assertive defensive action to protect itself. The turmoil will be beyond imagination.


The Pak army – intelligence establishment’s strategy is one of a megalomaniac dictatorship. Today, the northern and eastern parts of Pakistan are under terrorist siege. The sprawling port city of Karachi is a powder keg with a variety of terrorist leaders in comfortable refuge. If Karachi explodes, and it will under certain conditions, Pakistan will become a terror black hole.


It will be advisable for US President Barack Obama and his strategic advisory team to relook at their Pak-Afghan strategy in the realm and thinking of the people of the region, and not in the matrix of western thinking. The two are very different.
President Barack Obama sees the training of the Afghan national army as the centre piece of stabilizing Afghanistan and withdrawal of the US and NATO forces. In fact, however, the Pak army and intelligence establishment with their jehadi spawns stand between a peaceful developing region and a political and social Armageddon.


(The author is an experienced analyst of South Asian region. He can be contacted at grouchohart@yahoo.com)

FBI AVOIDING FOCUS ON HEADLEY’S LINKS WITH NARCOTICS CONTROL AGENCY

B.RAMAN



In what appears to be a carefully scripted prosecution process, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the US has been trying to have the prosecution of David Coleman Headley, the Chicago-based US citizen of Pakistani origin, who allegedly helped the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) in carrying out the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai last year, conducted in such a manner as to avoid any focus on his alleged links with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

2. These links were recently alleged by “The New York Times” in a profile on Headley. It alleged that in 1998, Headley (then known as Daood Gilani) was convicted of conspiring to smuggle heroin into the US from Pakistan. It added: “Court records show that after his arrest, he provided so much information about his own involvement with drug trafficking which stretched back more than a decade and about his Pakistani suppliers that he was sentenced to less than two years in jail and later went to Pakistan to conduct undercover surveillance operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)".

3. Surprisingly, neither the initial affidavit nor the subsequent Criminal Information Report against him filed by the FBI in a Chicago federal court referred to his criminal record of 1998. Nor was there any reference to the fact that he was known to one of the agencies of the US Government since 1998 and had been co-operating with it in its anti-narcotics operations in the Af-Pak region. The ease with which he was getting visas for traveling frequently to Pakistan and India is attributable to the interest taken by the DEA in facilitating his travels on its behalf.

4. Indian media has reported that when he was produced before the federal judge for the first time since his arrest on December 9,2009, he pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. It has missed two other significant points to which a reference has been made by sections of the US media. Firstly, “Headley told U.S. District Judge Harry D. Leinenweber that he understood the charges and was waiving any indictment in the case.” Secondly, he waived his right to a trial by a grand jury.

5. Sections of the US media have pointed out that the fact that the report filed against him by the FBI in the court on December 7 was called a Criminal Information Report and not an indictment indicates that the FBI has already reached a plea bargain deal with him under which as a quid pro quo for his admitting some charges when the trial formally commences next month, the FBI will not press other charges against him. His admitting some charges and the FBI dropping other charges will obviate the need for an elaborate trial with the introduction of detailed evidence.

6. This would prevent any deliberate or inadvertent disclosure by him of his work in the Af-Pak region for the DEA, which works in close co-operation with its Pakistani counterpart. The two have many joint operations.

7. It is very likely that the US will not allow his independent interrogation by Indian investigators and that it will not agree to his extradition to India as that might result in the Indian authorities coming to know not only of his contacts with Pakistani agencies, but also with the DEA.

8. Senior officials of the White House and the FBI have been taking close and unusual interest in the investigation and prosecution. The Director of the FBI himself was reported to have visited Chicago before Headley was produced before the court. Many in India have analysed this as indicative of the close interest taken by President Obama in counter-terrorism co-operation with India. A more plausible explanation is that this is indicative of the concerns in the White House and the FBI that if the prosecution is not properly handled, the case could result in a bombshell if it emerges that one of the active conspirators of 26/11 was an agent of a US agency. This could lead to suits for heavy damages against the US Government from the relatives of the Americans, Israelis and other foreigners killed.( 12-12-09)



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

Christopher Hitchens : Obama Adminstration's plan for Afghanistan

Christopher Hitchens discusses the problems with the Obama Adminstration's plan for Afghanistan

27/ 11 & Hadley : India has to ask tough questions of the US on the Bombay carnage

India has to ask tough questions of the US on the Bombay carnage, and cannot withdraw troops from J and K, says N.V.Subramanian.

http://www.newsinsight.net/archivedebates/nat2.asp?recno=1923


11 December 2009: The troubling questions raised by David Coleman Hadley's arrest for the 26/ 11 terrorism are further interrogated by the Manmohan Singh government's decision to drawdown troops in Jammu and Kashmir. While announcing the drawdown in the Rajya Sabha earlier this month, the Union home minister, P.Chidambaram, refused to specify the number of battalions to be withdrawn, but latter reports suggested that the Union home secretary, G.K.Pillai, due to visit Jammu today, was slated to discuss paramilitary pullouts, keeping the army's strength intact. This was in line with J and K chief minister Omar Abdullah's 24 November statement where he said, "The army wants to do its primary duty, but the time is not conducive for its withdrawal from the state." But the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, has indeed raised the disconcerting possibility that India might be withdrawing some army formations from J and K, welcoming it as a "de-tensioning" measure on Pakistan's border, and congratulating the Manmohan Singh government for it.

In March 2007, the Opposition BJP alleged that massive troops' withdrawal from J and K were secretly underway to placate its then coalition partner in the state government, the PDP. The allegation was that as much as a division was ordered out of Rajourie and that troops were cleared from hilly areas and especially from notorious Pakistani terrorists' infiltration and fighting zones like Hillikaka and Mendhar. The Centre did not convincingly rebut the allegation and the opposition and the army has since resisted troops' withdrawal moves arising either from internal J and K political compulsions or from external US pressure at the behest of Pakistan. This writer fears that under cover of paramilitary withdrawal, army formations may also be significantly relocated outside the state, and the US may present "evidence" of this to the Pakistan army to get it seriously to attack Al-Qaeda/ Afghan Taliban/ Haqqani network strongholds in Quetta and North Waziristan without fearing an Indian military strike. The point is that this whole military trade-off stinks, and the Manmohan Singh government is completely cognizant of the stench.

At the risk of repetition, it must be stated that the Pakistan army has nurtured (and continues to nurture) the Al-Qaeda/ Afghan Taliban (whose terrorist leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, was recently lodged in an ISI Karachi safehouse away from US drone attacks)/ Haqqani network/ Lashkar-e-Toiba/ Jaish-e-Mohammed. While all these groups have put aside their ideological Wahabi/ Salafi differences and united under the general leadership of Osama Bin Laden's Al-Qaeda, they still retain their separate terroristic objectives. The Al-Qaeda is undiminished in its hatred for the US and the West and their defeat would make an Al-Qaeda-led Islamic Caliphate unstoppable not only in the Muslim world but in the other so-called Crusader/ Brahminical/ Talmudic infidel states, including India, the US, Western Europe and Israel. On the other hand, the Afghan Taliban/ Haqqani network have a nationalistic aim to capture power in Afghanistan which will give the Al-Qaeda proximity to state power which was denied by the post-9/ 11 US invasion of that country. The Pakistan army/ ISI share this objective of the Afghan Taliban/ Haqqani network/ Al-Qaeda because an Afghanistan under their domination gives strategic depth to Pakistan against a historic and nuclear rival India. The Lashkar-e-Toiba/ Jaish-e-Mohammed, for their part, have the minimum aim of separating J and K from India and the maximum objective of Balkanizing India if Islamic rule cannot be established there. There is all the evidence for this in their attack pattern and published fanatical vision.

As the lead player in the region, the US baulks from taking decisive steps to terminate Pakistani-encouraged terrorism against its own continental territories, Europe, Afghanistan and India. The root of the problem is the nuclearized Pakistan army and an ISI feeding on an unlimited flow of US secret service funds and on congressionally-sanctioned public monies. The Pakistan army needs to be cut to a sixth of its present size, denuked and armed and trained solely for counter-terrorism roles against the Al-Qaeda/ Afghan Taliban/ Haqqani network/ LeT/ JeM. Its leadership and middle-level officers with Islamist links need to be purged. The ISI needs to be severely downsized and its pro-terror departments and front organizations must be shut down. US administrations although presented the opportunity after 9/ 11 to take these steps have fought shy of them, and are relying on the Pakistan military/ intelligence establishments to act against their own terrorist allies, which they signally haven't in the past and advertize no intent to do so now or in the future. On the other hand, the US is leaning on India to make the concessions demanded of by Pakistan, which is to recommence the stalled Kashmir dialogue and to thin out the military in J and K, despite the treacherous Pakistani prosecution of three wars in that territory in 1947-48, 1965 and 1999, and the waging of a low-intensity conflict since 1987. Under US pressure also, India has been forced to exercise military restraint despite the growing violence of Pakistani terrorist attacks, the last during 26/ 11.

Which brings to the latest Indian troops' withdrawal moves in J and K coming in the midst of the shocking unraveling of Hadley's terroristic enterprise against India. From published accounts, it is apparent that Hadley became a rogue US agent (not unlike the Daniel Pearl murderer, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who worked for MI-6), and it appears that American intelligence agencies were monitoring him during his extensive reconnaissances conducted for the Bombay carnage and for subsequent attacks on Jewish prayer institutions in five Indian cities, besides the National Defence College in Delhi and boarding schools in Doon Valley. Is it possible that during this intensive phase of US monitoring of Hadley's movements and conversations, which stretched over some years since 2006, he let out no plans, inadvertently, of the impending Bombay carnage? We are told US intelligence prevented a Bombay-like carnage earlier in 2008 by warning Indian authorities, but the fact is that that didn't prevent 26/ 11 from happening. If Hadley through his indiscretion had blown the 26/ 11 plot, it would never have happened. The alternative is that he was never indiscreet, and that the US picked up the Bombay scent from other sources, both of which possibilities seem doubtful. If any which way the Bombay operation had been compromised and the US had tipped off India, it would not have happened. So, unless there is strong evidence to the contrary, it appears that the US let 26/ 11 happen, and only when Hadley's other project to blow up the Danish newspaper that published the Prophet's cartoons became threateningly possible, the FBI net closed in on him.

This writer is not suggesting that events took this course, but the Hadley arrest and his links to 26/ 11 raise these troubling questions. Without resolving these doubts, how can India blindly commit to a US rehyphenation of India and Pakistan, and to acquiesce in troops' reduction in J and K? The US hopes against hope that Pakistan will eliminate the scourge of terrorism, but this hope has proved time and again to be misplaced. So why is India encouraging the US on this perilous course by making those troops' withdrawals from J and K? If the US cannot take hard steps against Pakistan (drastically downsizing the Pakistan army/ ISI; denuking Pakistan; purging the Islamists from the military-intelligence establishment; and commencing special forces' operations against terrorists holed out in Quetta, North Waziristan), India must take its own countermeasures, timed to coincide with president Barack Obama's withdrawal plans from Afghanistan in eighteen months' time. And meanwhile, instead of ordering a military drawdown in J and K (the Opposition must watch out against a secret withdrawal like in 2007), the Manmohan Singh government should commence asking tough questions on Hadley's terrorism. Most important is to investigate if the US had foreknowledge of 26/ 11 but let it happen.

N.V.Subramanian is Editor, NewsInsight.net.

Turkey and Israel: Ends and Beginnings

11 Dec 2009




The new chill between once close Middle-Eastern neighbors reflects both Ankara’s desire to chart a new course and structural changes in the region’s geopolitics. The outcome of both shifts remains open, says Kerem Oktem for openDemocracy.

By Kerem Oktem for openDemocracy.net

The states of Turkey and Israel have a lot in common, notwithstanding their many differences - in size, history, political background, social character, and religious composition:

* they were founded and built by old-style ethno-nationalists - Zionists in Palestine, Kemalists in Anatolia - inspired by a desire to create homogeneous nation-states


* they are the only two democracies - incomplete and contested, yet lively - in a region of authoritarian regimes and brutal dictatorships

* they have the two strongest armies in the middle east and host the region’s largest non-oil economies

* they have been staunch military allies whose foreign policies were until recently guided by a securitised perception of their neighbourhood; a culture of power-politics; and a degree of discomfort with their Arab neighbours

* they share a sense of isolation and fear, which permeates their domestic and international politics.

These structural overlaps underpin the good relations that Turkey and Israel have enjoyed, which however really took off only after the Israeli-Palestinian peace-process reached a new point with the Oslo accords of 1993. In the ensuing period a common strategic culture that perceived its immediate Arab surroundings in terms of security threats helped to create a sense of shared enemies. This was especially true of the two countries’ military elites, and arms-deals between the Israeli and the Turkish military underlined the strategic (and the skewed) dimension of this partnership.

A whiff of cynicism also blew through Turkey’s successful efforts to enlist parts of pro-Israel opinion in the United States to support - at least by non-involvement on the other side - its campaign to thwart recognition by the US congress of the Armenian genocide.

The lead actors of this strategic partnership were politicians, generals, arms- dealers and lobbyists. Theirs was a marriage of convenience - based on perceptions of shared threats and risks, secret politics and big money. It is now - if the growing number of enraged columns in the Jerusalem Post and the alarmist coverage of Turkey’s perceived “drift to the east” in current-affairs journals is an accurate guide - a marriage in tatters. The partners may be still - just - speaking, but the romance is over. What happened?

The screaming-match

A decisive signal of the emerging split came at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos in January 2009, which coincided with the end of Israel’s three-week military assault on Gaza. Turkey’s prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan used the occasion of a scheduled conversation with Israel’s president, Shimon Peres, to accuse Israel of “barbaric attacks” and responsibility for “crimes against humanity”.

This spectacular diplomatic moment itself followed quieter indications over previous years of a Turkish policy-shift. They include the establishment of contacts between Erdogan’s ruling Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi (AKP) and the Palestinian movement Hamas, mainly through Hamas’s Syrian-based leader Khaled Mashal (who visited Ankara in February 2006). Turkey has also been rapidly improving its relations with another Israel’s adversary, Syria; this process resulted in the scrapping of the visa regime between the two countries in October 2009, an act of potent symbolism.

But it was the Erdogan-Peres spat that brought the new coolness into the open. It was followed by Turkey’s “disinvitation” to Israel from an annual military joint-exerciseon the grounds that some Israeli fighter-jets involved might have been used during the Gaza assault; and by the aggravating broadcast by Turkey’s state broadcaster (TRT) of a soap-opera about the war - Ayrilik (Separation) - whose crude portrayal of Israeli soldiers left a nasty anti-semitic aftertaste.

It’s not you, it’s me

What lies behind the latest Turkish “refusal”? The United States-based Turkish analyst Soner Cagaptay poses the issue in terms of whether Turkey is “leaving the west” and turning its face to international pariahs such as Iran, Syria and Hamas (see “Is Turkey Leaving the West?”, Foreign Affairs, October 2009). He is dismayed about (for example) Turkey’s contacts with Hamas and the turn from the pro-western secular Egypt to anti-western regimes like Syria.

This is overstated. Hamas is, after all, a key player shaping the future of Palestine, and talking to it is no different in principle from (say) the United States cooperating with former Sunni insurgents in Iraq; and any regime critic, civil-society activist or gay man or woman in (say) Egypt or Saudi Arabia might question whether their experience of state repression, police brutality, arbitrary rule and political disenfranchisement is any different in principle from those in countries not allied to the “west”. Turkey’s calculations of its interests may be shifting, but it is hard to see a change of principle here.

But there is a fatal attraction in seeing Turkey’s move as part of a definite “eastern turn” - even part of a sinister plan to derail the Barack Obama administration’s cautious revision of its own middle-eastern policy, by outflanking its efforts to engage (if somewhat erratically and feebly so far) more proactively with Israel and more realistically with Syria and Iran.

Some, especially in Europe, would even like this to happen. Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s president, is adamant that Turkey should never become a full European Union member and instead should act as a regional power in its own right; Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, insists that a nondescript “special partnership” is all that Turkey can aspire to; and the appointment of the categorically anti-Turkish former Belgian prime minister Herman von Rompuy as the EU’s first president will do nothing to stem the growing alienation from Europe among Turkish elites.

Indeed, a spreading Euroscepticism - and the realisation that Turkey’s long- nourished dreams of a European future might remain only these - have fostered the country’s “rediscovery” of its eastern neighbours. But in any case, if the public mood has cooled towards the European Union, to understand the current reorientation of Turkey’s foreign policy requires moving beyond binaries (east vs west, Europe vs Asia) and seeing the change in the context of the country’s geographic, historical and political complexities.

For this reorientation also reflects larger transformations (regional and domestic) which have had the effect of diminishing Israel’s relative importance to Turkey. The Turkish government’s intensifying engagement with the middle east and the Caucasus, for example, has undermined the foundations of the relationship; Turkey’s growing economic power and its reshuffle of political institutions have further limited its focus on Israel; and the imperatives of political Islam - always present if often muted in the AKP’s political DNA - have become more pronounced.

An outgrowing

Barack Obama has not yet made a big departure from the middle-eastern policy of George W Bush and many other of his predecessors (especially its pro-Israel bias), and he may never do so. Yet his administration has reframed its terms of engagement in the area: instead of confrontation with Russia, Iran and Syria, and reckless support for mavericks like Georgia’s Mikheil Sakaashvili, the United States has chosen to return to public diplomacy and a more calibrated interaction.

The Turkish government’s own new approach is in many ways a regional variant of this new US foreign policy. The emerging implicit consensus between the US, Russia and the European Union over ensuring safe energy-corridors for oil and gas from the Caucasus to Europe - the Nabucco, and Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipelines - has been an important part of both processes; it has also worked in favour of the cautious rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia.

Many analysts, especially in the Armenian diaspora, have criticised the protocols signed in October 2009 by the respective foreign ministers, Ahmet Davutoglu (Turkey) and Edward Nalbandian (Armenia). They argue in particular that the proposed joint history commission would result in compromising the aim of clear ackowledgment of the Armenian genocide. Whether that is true, the rapprochement is likely to remove the “history war” from the theatre of US congressional politics (meaning less chance of legislators formally recognising 24 April as a day of genocide). In this circumstance, Turkey is more confident about revising its links with those (including pro-Israel voices) who had helped it to contain Armenian initiatives.

There is a significant overlap between the US administration’s “smart” regional policy and classic European modes of engagement with Ahmet Davutoglu’s concept of “strategic depth”, involving the use of “soft power” in Turkey’s historical area of influence. Davutoglu’s approach, though dismissed by some as imperialist “neo-Ottomanism”, well fits European and now US foreign-policy approaches: promoting good neighbourly relations founded on pro-active but not maximalist positions, and encouraging free trade in goods and services.

Davutoglu has elaborated his project by calling for a “zero-conflict” zone with Turkey’s neighbours. This too is a departure from a security-based foreign-policy culture and predicated on the maintenance of conflicts with almost the entire neighbourhood. Its success is evident: a decade ago Turkey was experiencing conflicts of varying intensity with Greece, Armenia, Syria, northern Iraq and Russia, whereas on the eve of 2010 today only Cyprus remains stalled (and here the main responsibility no longer lies with Turkey).

In these new conditions, Turkey’s foreign-policy actors are now taking the country’s relations with the eastern neighbourhood more seriously. Hence they calculate that it is in Turkey’s best interest not to cause offence by joining a definition of its new partners in the region as rogue states threatening common security.

A makeover

A big part of Turkey’s current emergence as a regional power is also owed to its growing economic influence, driven by dynamic - and internationally minded - entrepreneurial classes. Turkish companies have been active in Russia and the former Soviet bloc, and increasingly visible in the middle east, since the late 1980s and 1990s. Turkish products are available from Tbilisi to Tehran, Damascus to Yerevan; the word “Antalya” evokes dreams of a Mediterranean luxury holiday; in the Kurdish towns of Sulaimaniya and Arbil, most buildings and (significantly) the government compounds are built by Turkish companies.

Turkish TV soap-operas, often set against the electrifying backdrop of Istanbul’s matchless mix of Islamic heritage and contemporary lifestyle, further contribute to a composite new “product” popular in the Arab countries of the Levant but also in the Balkans: the “great city” as the new centre of an imagined post-Ottoman geography and site of licentious fantasies with an Islamic tinge.

In terms of foreign trade, Israel figures mostly as a potentially expandable market for Turkish goods. The booming number of Arab and east European holiday-makers means that the Israeli factor is relatively negligible here too.

A turn to faith

The area of ethno-politics is one where the affinities between Turkey and Israel are most clearly marked. Both states have been responsible for the displacement and oppression of indigenous peoples - though in the Israeli case the wounds are intensified by the fact that the very project of Jewish statehood in Israel was predicated upon the colonisation of a territory populated by others.

In a broader context, Palestinians in Israel and Kurds in Turkey have been the victims of late-European nationalisms. Israel’s ethnocratic definition has turned Palestinians into effectively second-class citizens in Israel proper, and into disenfranchised subjects in the West Bank and the Gaza strip. Turkey’s “military democracy” has tried forcibly to assimilate Kurds into the Turkish national corpus by denying the language, customs, oral and written traditions of a people who now number close to 15 million.

Turkey’s assimilationist policies also created channels of integration into positions of power for many of those Kurds who were ready to downplay their identity. This was not true in Israel, where ethnicity and religion is far more central to the state’s modus operandi; at the same time, Turkey’s relative inclusiveness does not lessen the formidably exclusionist underpinning of the republic.

Turkey’s Kurds have at the worst undergone experiences which Palestinians would recognise as their own. The low-point of Turkey’s policy was in the mid-1990s, when war with the Kurdish nationalist Turkish Workers’ Party (PKK) spiralled out of control and resulted in the death of up to 40,000 combatants and civilians, most of them Kurdish.

Since then, and with many reversals and waves of anti-Kurdish racism, Turkey has moved from an ethno-nationalist military democracy towards a more civilian and inclusive polity. A seminal social contract between Turks, Kurds and other ethno-religious groups is not yet imminent, a politics of liberal multiculturalism still remote, and human rights are far from secure amid a deepening social conservatism - but Turkey is not the “country of Turks” anymore, and certainly not the ethnocratic dictatorship that it was in the 1920s and 1930s.

There is a long way to go. But the situation of Kurds - and non-Turks and non-Muslims in general - today is considerably better than at any point in Turkey’s republican history. It is also much more promising than the situation of Palestinians in the occupied territories as well as that of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship. The ethno-nationalist foundations of Turkey being challenged, and even in some cases dismantled. The situation in Israel is if anything the reverse.

There, the government of prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and foreign minister Avigdor Libermann has introduced a new language of exclusion towards Palestinian citizens of Israel proper. It is fair to argue that the sense of commonality that Turkish and Israeli military and political elites may have felt over their threat-perceptions and disregard for the rights of their internal “others” - in socio-psychological terms, an alliance based on shared guilt - has ceased to have relevance.

There remains a further, decisive structural factor in the unravelling of the Turkey-Israel relationship. The AKP belongs to a tradition of political Islam to which the rejection of the Zionist state - and by extension an affinity with anti-semitism - are are core constituents. It’s true that the party differed from most Islamists in the Arab world has approached Israel more pragmatically, opting for proactive political engagement and economic interaction; Recep Tayyip Erdogan even repeatedly defended Israeli investment projects in Turkey against vicious criticism from the “secular” opposition.

Even until the Davos incident of January 2009, many observers believed that Turkey could become an effective peacemaker between Syria, Israel and the Palestinians. But Israel’s assault on Gaza in December 2008-January 2009 destroyed the foundations of the government’s pragmatic engagement with the country. Ever since, the AKP - fuelled by the blazing remarks of a prime minister who prides himself in calling things by their name - has been retreating to its foundational anti-Israeli political ancestry.

The good times

The global and domestic conditions for the remarkable Turkish-Israeli partnership have ceased to exist. There is no going back between these two pivotal middle-eastern states. As I have sought to show, the strategic relationship was built on derisive Realpolitik calculations: a securitised worldview, shared threat-perceptions, generals’ bonding, oppression of “others”, cooperation over the denial of the terrible fate of the Armenians in 1915. That this “cynical partnership” has now collapsed is not worth tears.

But the change does raise three concerns. First, the Turkish government’s new hostility to Israel (including Erdogan’s rhetoric) can easily tip over into the killing fields of violent anti-semitism. The members of Turkey’s dwindling Jewish communities are feeling the brunt of the prime-minister’s vitriol.

Second, Turkey and Israel are bound by a shared historical legacy: the experience of the Ottoman empire under which Turks, Arabs, Jews and others lived (if not always peacefully) side by side. It was in the Ottoman empire that Jews thrived; in Ottoman Salonica that the pre-Zionist new Jerusalem - Madre de Israel - flourished; and during the protracted process of the empire’s dissolution that the foundations of the Yishuv were laid. Even if textbooks won’t tell the story and few Israelis would recognise it, Israel’s history is part of the larger Ottoman trajectory; this is a legacy that cannot be discarded with the stroke of a pen.

Third, Turkey’s Jewish population may have receded to only a few communities in Istanbul, Izmir and Bursa with less than 30,000 members; but it would be impossible to imagine contemporary Turkish culture without the many rich contributions of its Jewish intellectuals and artists.

The many synagogues in Turkish cities; the Jewish quarter in Istanbul’s Balat and Pera districts; the care-homes for the elderly; the charitable organisations; the newspaper Shalom; the Ottoman-Sefardi musical tradition; the Ladino language and its music and lore; not least the sizeable Turkish-Jewish community in Israel - all these are important markers of an existing relationship that is more precious than strategic considerations. They are reminders of Turkey’s responsibility to defend and support the well-being of her Jewish citizens and her Israeli guests, no matter where the larger foreign-policy reshuffling will take Turkey in the end.

Indeed, where the AKP government’s rapprochement with Iran and Syria will ultimately lead remains unclear. For now, it looks as if the balancing-act between regional power-politics, realignment with Muslim-majority countries and European policy-deals will continue.

In the longer term, if Turkey can move beyond Kemalism, avoid the traps of political Islamism, and evolve into a liberal democracy - admittedly a series of big “ifs” - Israel might too one day become a post-Zionist polity that would be more welcoming to its Palestinian members. Maybe, when multiculturalism has dislocated exclusionary nation-building projects in both countries, their governments can embark on a strategic relationship of democracies that choose to live in peace with their neighbours and their internal “others”. In the meantime, it can be hoped that the emerging void left by the lobbyists and the generals will be filled not by anti-semitic and anti-Turkish warmongers - but rather by those critical minds, peace-activists, responsible scholars, intellectuals and artists who are accountable to none but their conscience.





Kerem Oktem is research fellow of the European Studies Centre at Oxford University.

Editor's note:
To view the original article, please click here.

Publisher
openDemocracy
This article originally appeared on openDemocracy.net under a Creative Commons licence.

Investigation of the Human Rights Violations in Balochistan

His Excellency Ban Ki-Moon
Secretary- General of the United Nations
United Nations
New York, NY 10017-3515

9th December, 2009

Subject: Investigation of the Human Rights Violations in Balochistan

Dear Mr. Secretary General,

This letter is to urge you to take immediate and practical efforts to investigate and address human rights abuses that have occurred and are ongoing in the Pakistani occupied Balochistan.

Over the past few years the people of Balochistan have witnessed immense and hard-line measures from the State of Pakistan in response to their legitimate demands of fundamental human rights of civil liberty, justice and right of self determination ie Free Balochistan. The Pakistani State has responded with the bloody attacks committed by its military and paramilitary forces. Thousands of innocent men, woman and children are killed, thousands arrested, imprisoned and are persecuted, tortured, and sexually abused by security and intelligence officials, for the sole reason of their protest against a deceitful and systemic campaign to oppress the economy, culture, traditions, language and the Baloch identity as a whole.

These acts implicate serious violations of Pakistan’s obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and other applicable norms of international human rights law. These acts also violate peremptory norms of international laws, such as the prevention and prohibition of torture and crimes against humanity, from which no derogation is permitted.
Moreover, decisions by the Pakistani State to prevent foreign journalists from entering or reporting in Balochistan has created the frightening scenario where the Pakistani State is capable of violating human rights on a massive scale without transparency or accountability.
In light of these grieving and appalling circumstances, it is urged to the United Nation, in the name of all people concerned with human rights, to investigate large scale human rights violation of the Baloch people by the State of Pakistan. As you have done with respect to human rights conditions in elsewhere in the World, this office has the power and authority to investigate claims of human rights abuses in Balochistan.
The victims of the atrocities committed in Balochistan have waited long enough for genuine justice and for those responsible to be held accountable. The cumulative effect of continued violence by the Pakistani forces on innocent men, woman and children and inaction by the United Nations, sends a message of effective impunity. We believe that only signals of strong and direct action will persuade Pakistan to punish the perpetrators and end impunity, and immediately stop systematic campaign to oppress, economy, culture, traditions, and identity of the Baloch People.

Please accept Mr. Secretary-General our highest consideration.

Sincerely,

Samad Baloch
Secretary General Baloch Human Rights Council (UK)
info_bhrc@yahoo.co.uk

For the Pentagon, the Pakistan Army can do no wrong

December 11, 2009 14:20 IST
Tags: Pakistan Taliban, Pakistani Taliban, US, Afghanistan, David Petraeus




http://news.rediff.com/special/2009/dec/11/for-the-pentagon-the-pakistan-army-can-do-no-wrong.htm


Let's face it. When it comes to the Pentagon [ Images ], the Pakistani military can do no wrong. Even if it's going after only the Pakistani Taliban [ Images ] and not the Afghan Taliban, which it apparently continues to promote for strategic depth against India [ Images ] and as a hedge in case the US decides to cut and run as it did in the immediate aftermath of the erstwhile Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan nearly three decades ago.
During the past few days, top US military officers with direct command of American troops in Afghanistan and strategic policy toward Pakistan and the south and central Asian region, testifying before Congressional committees continued to heap praise on the Pakistani Army's forays against the Pakistani Taliban and extremist groups in the Swat Valley [ Images ] and South Waziristan. In the process they chose to conveniently ignore the concerns of US lawmakers about the dual-track policy by Pakistan Army [ Images ] Chief General Ashfaq Kiyani's troops and the Inter Services Intelligence.
When pressed, they argued that the only way to address the Pakistani army hedging its bets was by providing Pakistan more security assistance and building up the kind of strategic partnership that assured it that this aid and US support would be there for the long haul.
US Central Command Commander General David Petraeus, who was appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was asked by the panel's chairman Senator John F Kerry as to what the US strategy was toward the Pakistani military that was clearly hedging its bets and going after only the Pakistani Taliban and not the Afghan Taliban. Petraeus said it is imperative for the US to demonstrate to Pakistan that a "sustained, substantial commitment" would be forever available.
Petraeus said, "First of all, the developments of the last 10 months really are quite significant. Because the Pakistani leadership -- all the political leaders, the civilian populace, the clerics and the military -- have all united in recognising that the internal extremists represent the most pressing existential threat to their country -- more pressing than the traditional threat to the east. And, they have taken action in response to that recognition."
But when pressed as to how Pakistan ultimately takes on the Afghan Taliban and eschews funding and promoting this group, the four-star general said, "Frankly, the effort to demonstrate a sustained, substantial commitment to Pakistan -- frankly the Kerry-Lugar bill (which provides $1.5 billion (about Rs 67,000 crore) annually in American largesse to Pakistan over five years) is a hugely important manifestation of that -- the level of security assistance, foreign military financing, the Pakistan Counter-Insurgency Capability Fund and so forth are also very important, given the history that we have with that country and having left it as you know a couple of times before."
"So, this is a process of building trust, mutual confidence and building a relationship in which the mutual threats we face are addressed by those who are on the ground," he said, and added, "And, again we have to recognise the enormous sacrifices, that the Pakistani military, frontier corps and police have made in these operations and also the losses that their civilians have sustained."
Petraeus reiterated that "it's about building a partnership that can transcend these issues that we have had before where we have left after supporting one operation or the other."
Earlier, in his prepared testimony, he had acknowledged that "the Afghan Taliban are, to be sure, distinct from the Pakistani Taliban and their partner groups, some of which shelter Al Qaeda [ Images ]. They are part of a syndicate of extremist groups that includes both Laskhar-e-Tayiba -- the group that carried out the 26/11 Mumbai [ Images ] attacks -- and the Haqqani network, among others."
Petraeus also admitted that this syndicate "threatens the stability of Pakistan and, indeed, the entire subcontinent. Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar [ Images ] is recognised as 'commander of the faithful' by (Osama) bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders, as well as by Al Qaeda affiliates and extremist groups throughout Pakistan and beyond."
Earlier, General Stanley McChrystal, US Commander in Afghanistan, appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, also lavished praise on the Pakistani army saying that "their recent actions over the last year or two against their own internal insurgency are really a good indicator of just how serious they are about conducting counter-insurgency operations and reducing instability on their side."
Even the US Ambassador to Afghanistan, and retired lieutenant general Karl Eikenberry, when asked pointedly about the Pakistani army's dual track when it came to taking on the Pakistan Taliban and sponsoring the Afghan Taliban for strategic depth vis-à-vis India, only acknowledged that "the security relationship between India and Pakistan has consequences for Afghanistan," but then said he would rather "concentrate of Afghanistan and Pakistan."
He then went on to talk about how in concert with the US Ambassador in Islamabad [ Images ], Anne Patterson, "we are looking and continuously searching for ways to facilitate political dialogue between Kabul and Islamabad."
"We have an array of programmes to try to develop mutual trust and confidence," Eikenberry said and went to disclose how Federal Bureau of Investigation
Director Robert Mueller "hosts trilateral initiatives led by himself but partnered with the ministry of interior of Afghanistan and Pakistan."
The envoy also said, "Another important area that has been underway for several years is to improve intelligence exchanges and cooperation between the US and Afghanistan and Pakistan and those efforts led by Central Intelligence Agency Director Leon Panetta and his counterparts in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And, that's been a very robust program as well."
And Senator Kay Hagan who had wanted answers about Pakistan's dual-track policy from McChrystal or Eikenberry, she was sorely disappointed as both had effectively filibustered and run out her allotted time for questions.
Hagan's comments and question for the record was that "ever since the partition of India, Islamabad has attempted to utilise its proxies to install a friendly Pashtun government in Afghanistan that would preserve the de facto border and prevent Pashtun aspirations of a homeland and prevent Indian involvement in Afghanistan."
She asserted that Pakistan "continues to pursue a dual track policy of disrupting the Pakistani Taliban in the tribal areas, most notably in South Waziristan, while elements of its military support the Afghan Taliban networks most notably in North Waziristan and the Afghan Taliban high command in its Balochistan province."
Hagan said, "The key question is if elements of Pakistan's military can be persuaded to change this dual-track policy," and that in order to do that "we've got to address Pakistan's regional concerns, taking into account the relationships with Afghanistan and India."

Balance of power in Asia

India gets realistic on China
by G. Parthasarathy
http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20091210/edit.htm#4

THE visit of Dr Manmohan Singh to Washington signalled a new and more realistic approach to India’s relations with China. For decades, our leaders and diplomats have been defensive, apologetic and even obsequious when speaking about China and our relations with our northern neighbour. China, in turn, has never hesitated to speak disparagingly about India in the capitals its leaders visit.

Moreover, apart from transferring nuclear weapons technology and arming Pakistan to the teeth, China has continuously encouraged anti-Indian sentiments in South Asia and spared no effort to undermine our “Look East” policy by seeking to exclude India from the emerging economic and security architecture of East and South-East Asia. New Delhi has remained tongue-tied even on the Chinese behaviour of violating its international commitments by its nuclear weapons and missile proliferation to its “all-weather” friend, Pakistan.

Starting with the visit of the Dalai Lama to Tawang, India has signalled that it will not countenance China’s outrageous territorial claims on Arunachal Pradesh, its absurd practice of issuing a separate category of visas for residents of Jammu and Kashmir and its attempts to block multilateral development assistance for projects in Arunachal. India has, for the first time, objected to China’s aid projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir even as it sits in illegal occupation of Indian territory in the state. India has also rejected the notion that China can send thousands of unskilled workers to implement the projects for which it has been awarded contracts in India, misusing the provision of “business visas,” which India liberally issues. Most significantly, for the first time, Defence Minister A.K. Anthony has publicly expressed concern about the growing security ties between China and Pakistan.
Dr Manmohan Singh has a reputation of being restrained and understated in his comments on all issues. But one did see a new resolve and a new facet to his diplomacy during his visit to Washington. New Delhi has realised that in Mr Barack Obama the United States has a President who appears unsure of the intrinsic strengths and resilience of the country he leads. He is also unsure about whether the US can surmount its current economic difficulties.The Obama Administration has tended to be deferential in its approach to China, leading the Middle Kingdom to assume a new assertiveness in its relations with the outside world. This was apparent after President Obama sent an emissary to tell the Dalai Lama that he would be unable to receive the Tibetan spiritual leader prior to his visit to Beijing. Evidently, emboldened by the Obama Administration’s approach, China’s has manifested increasing assertiveness on issues of its maritime and land boundaries with
countries like Japan, Vietnam, India, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. China has become aggressive in excluding India and the US from the emerging architecture of cooperation in East and South-East Asia. It has even sought to undermine international confidence in the US dollar by instigating oil-producing countries to delink oil prices from the dollar.

In his very first interaction in Washington, Dr Manmohan Singh made it clear that he did not share the prevailing pessimism about the future of the US economy. And affirming his confidence in the US resilience of the economy, he added: “As far as I can see right now, there is no substitute for the dollar” while describing the US economic downturn as a “temporary setback”. But it was at the Centre for Foreign Relations in Washington that the Prime Minister really gave vent to his feelings. Responding to questions about China’s “superior” economic performance compared to that of India, Dr Manmohan Singh retorted: “I have no doubt that China’s growth performance is superior to India’s performance. But I have always believed that there are other values which are more important than the growth of the GDP. I think respect for the rule of law, respect for multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious rights are important values also”.

In effect, the American audience was told that the absence of democratic freedoms and the inability to respect the sentiments of non-Han minorities like the Buddhist Tibetans and Muslim Uyghur’s in Xingjiang were not worthy of a country with pretensions of being an emerging super power. The apparent modesty about India’s economic performance was subtly combined with references to India’s high rates of savings and investment and the reminder that, despite the bleak global scenario, India had grown by 6.7 per cent last year.

In a perceptive analysis about the growing misgivings on the Obama Administration’s policies in India, the Heritage Foundation’s leading scholar on South Asia Lisa Curtis noted: “Backsliding on India-US relations are fed by a perception that the Obama Administration seeks a conciliatory policy towards China that facilitates its growing influence throughout the Asia-Pacific, including India’s traditional sphere of influence in South Asia.” Curtis speaks about justifiable concerns in India that Obama is “more interested in placating China than managing the balance of power in Asia”.

That Dr Manmohan Singh had concerns about the US conceding the role of a regional hegemon in Asia to China was evident from his account of his discussions in the White House, when he confirmed that his talks with President Obama not only covered traditional issues like high technology transfers, cooperation in space and nuclear power, terrorism and the “Af-Pak” region but also “covered the need to have an open and inclusive architecture in the Asia-Pacific region”.

It remains to be seen what impact Dr Manmohan Singh’s candid observations will have on the emerging American policies in India’s extended neighbourhood. While US security experts like Bruce Reidel have been cautioning of the disastrous consequences for the US and the civilised world if the Taliban triumphs in Afghanistan, much will depend on how firmly and dextrously President Obama handles the Af-Pak challenge.

Ill-advised American efforts to talk to the Taliban using Pakistan and Saudi Arabia (long-standing supporters of the Taliban) as intermediaries have been contemptuously spurned by Taliban leader Mullah Omar. Similarly, having encouraged Chinese ambitions and bloated Chinese egos, will the Obama Administration be able to fashion policies that promote a stable, equitable and viable balance of power in Asia and the Asia-Pacific?

New Delhi, in turn, has to carry forward its more assertive and long-overdue policies on China. While it is imperative for India to avoid jingoistic or provocative rhetoric, there should be no hesitation in exposing China’s continuing nuclear and missile proliferation activities in relation to Pakistan and its efforts to contain India across the Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean Region while making it clear that Indian territory is not negotiable.

Asia's new strategic partners

By BRAHMA CHELLANEY
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/eo20091210bc.html

The recently concluded India-Australia security agreement has come at a time when tectonic power shifts are challenging Asian strategic stability. Asia has come a long way since the emergence of two Koreas, two Chinas, two Vietnams and a partitioned India. It has risen dramatically as the world's main creditor and economic locomotive. The ongoing global power shifts indeed are primarily linked to Asia's phenomenal economic rise.Even so, Asia faces major challenges, as underscored by festering territorial and maritime disputes, sharpening resource competition, fast-rising military expenditures, increasingly fervent nationalism and the spread of transnational terrorism and other negative cross-border trends.In that light, an expanding constellation of Asian countries linked by strategic cooperation and sharing common interests can help foster power stability and build institutionalized cooperation. A close India-Australia strategic relationship indeed is a
critical link in this picture, given the common security interests in several spheres that bind the two democracies.Unfortunately, the Indo-Australian relationship hasn't gone too well ever since Kevin Rudd two years ago became the free world's first Mandarin-speaking head of government. Among his first actions, he pulled the plug on the nascent India-Japan-Australia-U.S. "Quadrilateral Initiative" and reversed his predecessor's decision to export uranium ore to India. For reasons unrelated, the growth in Indo-Australian educational and defense ties also came under pressure, even as India remained Australia's fastest-growing merchandise export market.Rudd's India visit last month has helped to put the bilateral relationship on an even keel and, more importantly, to elevate it to a strategic partnership. The new security agreement will help add concrete strategic content to the relationship.Underlining the significance of their new accord, India and
Australia have agreed to "policy coordination" on Asian affairs and long-term international issues, and to work together in Asian initiatives like the East Asia Summit and ASEAN Regional Forum. Toward that end, they will institute regular defense-policy talks, including consultations between their national security advisers, and set up a joint working group on counterterrorism. They also have agreed to cooperate on maritime and aviation security and participate in military exercises and other service-to-service exchanges.Like the October 2008 Indo-Japanese security accord and the June 2005 Indo-U.S. defense agreement, the India-Australia declaration is a "framework" understanding that is to be followed by an action plan with specific steps. In fact, all these three bilateral accords call for advancing security cooperation in wide areas that extend from sea-lane security and defense collaboration to disaster management and counterterrorism.The
Indo-Japanese security agreement, signed when Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Tokyo last, was modeled on the March 2007 Australia-Japan defense accord. Now, the India-Australia accord follows that lead. Its structure and even a large part of its content mirror that of the Japan-Australia and Japan-India declarations.Actually, all three — the Japan-Australia, Japan-India and Australia-India agreements — are in the form of a joint declaration on security cooperation. And all three, while recognizing a common commitment to democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law, obligate their signatories to work together to build not just bilateral defense cooperation, but also security in Asia. They are designed as agreements to enhance mutual security between equals. By contrast, the U.S.-India defense agreement, with its emphasis on arms sales, force interoperability and intelligence sharing — elements not found in Australia-Japan,
India-Japan and India-Australia accords — is aimed more at undergirding U.S. interests.Paradoxically, Rudd, having nixed the Quadrilateral Initiative, has come full circle implicitly by plugging the only missing link in that quad — an Australia-India security agreement. With the Indo-Australian accord, quadrilateral strategic cooperation among the four major democracies in the Asia-Pacific region — Australia, India, Japan and the U.S. — is set to take off without the aid of an institutional mechanism like the Quadrilateral Initiative.Such cooperation, of course, is intended to be in a bilateral framework. But the bilateral cooperation inexorably will help lay the foundation for greater cooperation and coordination at trilateral and quadrilateral levels among these four powers.Australia, Japan and the United States already are engaged in institutionalized trilateral strategic dialogue, while India, Japan and the U.S. have held naval maneuvers
since 2007, the last time being in April-May this year off the Okinawa coast. In addition, the quad members jointly staged major naval-war games in the Bay of Bengal in September 2007, roping in Singapore, too. Indeed, the coordination established among the Indian, Japanese, Australian and U.S. militaries in rescue operations following the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami has helped promote closer cooperation among them on disaster relief.Make no mistake: The U.S. has actively encouraged Indian defense cooperation with Australia and Japan, which are tied to the U.S. by security treaty — the ANZUS treaty in the case of Australia and a 1951 treaty with Japan that was revised in 1960.Closer Indian defense ties with key Asia-Pacific members of America's hub-and-spoke global alliance system, in fact, are a natural corollary to the U.S.-India strategic tieup, which seeks to institute a "soft" alliance without treaty obligations, but with complex
arrangements extending from the defense-framework accord and nuclear deal in mid-2005 to the recent End-Use Monitoring Agreement. As part of this tieup, India placed arms-purchase orders with the U.S. worth $3.5 billion just last year.But while the U.S. has treaty commitments to defend Australia and Japan, its reciprocal security obligations to an emerging de facto ally like India are unclear. It also is doubtful whether security accords of the Japan-Australia, Australia-India and Japan-India type translate into tangible gains for the parties' national defense against visible threats, even though they do aid their diplomacy and are likely to contribute to Asian power stability.Australia's own recent defense white paper, by unveiling the country's biggest military buildup since World War II, serves as a reminder that there is no substitute to building adequate national deterrent capabilities, even for a country under the U.S. security umbrella. Japan,
for its part, is likely to move to a more independent security posture in the years ahead, even though a muscular Chinese approach has prompted Tokyo in this decade to strengthen its military alliance with the U.S.More broadly, Rudd's government — through its record of being hyper-responsive to Chinese concerns, including on the Quadrilateral Initiative — has taken the lead for the U.S. in certain spheres. Just as Canberra has sought to balance its ties with Tokyo and Beijing, as well as with New Delhi and Beijing, the Obama administration now is following in those footsteps. Indeed, the new catchphrase coined by the Obama administration on China, "strategic reassurance," signals an American intent to be more accommodative of Chinese ambitions.Or take another example: China's resurrection of its long-dormant claim to India's northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh. Just as Australia has publicly chartered a course of neutrality on the Arunachal
issue — to the delight of Beijing, which aims to leave an international question mark hanging over the legitimacy of India's control over that large Himalayan territory — U.S. policy is doing likewise, albeit quietly. Indeed, the Obama administration has signaled its intent to abandon elements in its ties with New Delhi that could rile China, including a joint military drill in Arunachal and any further Indo-U.S. naval maneuvers involving Japan or more parties like Australia.In New Delhi, Rudd underscored both the promise and limitations of the new Australia-India strategic partnership. While lauding the new security agreement, he contended disingenuously that his continued refusal to sell India uranium was "not targeted at any individual country," although India is the only country affected by his policy. Worse still, he proffered a specious justification — India's nonmembership in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). That treaty has no
explicit or implicit injunction against civil nuclear cooperation with a nonsignatory. Rather, it enjoins its parties to positively facilitate "the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy," so long as safeguards are in place.Any restriction is not in the NPT but in the revised 1992 rules of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group that, paradoxically, were changed with Australian support last year to exempt India.Eventually, Canberra will come round to selling India uranium. After all, how can Canberra continue to justify selling uranium to authoritarian China but banning such exports to democratic India, even though the latter has accepted what the former will not brook — stringent, internationally verifiable safeguards against diversion of imported uranium to weapons use? Canberra will not be able to plow a lonely furrow on India indefinitely.Brahma Chellaney
is professor of strategic studies at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi and the author of "Asian Juggernaut: The Rise of China, India and Japan."

Nuclear weapons: The modernization myth

BY KINGSTON REIF | 8 DECEMBER 2009

http://www.thebulletin.org/web-edition/features/nuclear-weapons-the-modernization-myth

Article Highlights

Although the United States no longer regularly produces new warheads and missiles, its nuclear arsenal is still the world's dominant force.Washington uses life-extension programs and stockpile stewardship to maintain confidence in the safety and reliability of its arsenal; in fact, its arsenal is more lethal today than during the Cold War.Slow-paced Russian and Chinese strategic modernization programs neither increase the threat to the United States nor threaten U.S. nuclear dominance.The belief that the United States is the only declared nuclear power that isn't modernizing its nuclear arsenal is fast becoming an article of faith in nuclear weapon policy circles. As Arizona Republican Sen. Jon Kyl put it last summer, "Every nuclear weapons power--with the exception of the United States--is currently modernizing its nuclear weapons and weapons
delivery systems."From this belief arises a dangerous argument: U.S. allies and adversaries are adding new nuclear weapons and capabilities, while Washington is allowing its nuclear forces to atrophy. Opponents of President Barack Obama's nonproliferation and disarmament agendas are using this idea as a way of undermining his plans, alleging that by not modernizing, the United States is in danger of being surpassed by Russia and China. Yet these arguments are specious and misleading.By narrowly defining "modernization" as the production and deployment of new warheads and delivery vehicles, an inappropriate standard is set by which to judge the health of a nuclear arsenal. What matters far more than the age of warheads and other equipment is whether a country has a reliable, credible deterrent. Viewed in this light, the United States cannot be said to be falling behind: Washington takes continual steps to ensure that its arsenal remains dominant, and
indeed, its nuclear arsenal remains second to none.That Washington doesn't follow the same approach to maintaining its forces as Russia, China, Britain, or France isn't a sign of weakness or neglect. After all, constantly churning out new systems isn't necessarily the mark of a more reliable, credible, or threatening force. In so far as the United States has pursued a different approach from other countries, it is because this approach has proven to be remarkably effective. In fact, a comparison of the status of the U.S., Russian, Chinese, British, and French arsenals and modernization programs demonstrates the fallaciousness of the implication that Washington is falling behind; it also undercuts the idea that the United States is the least active nuclear weapon state in terms of updating its forces.The United States. Washington deploys approximately 2,200 strategic warheads and 500 tactical warheads and maintains about 2,500 warheads in reserve. It

preserves and refurbishes its existing nuclear arsenal through a variety of stockpile stewardship and life-extension programs that have lengthened the life span and increased the lethality of its existing forces.Both U.S. submarine-launched and land-based long-range missiles are now undergoing life-extension programs. For example, the air force will soon complete a 10-year, $6 billion sustainment effort to increase missile reliability and extend the life of the Minuteman III missile to 2030. This program is somewhat akin to refurbishing a computer; the actual missile doesn't need to be replaced because the updated components are brand new. From 1997 to 2001, the United States also produced and deployed a new variant of the B61 gravity bomb. Known as the B61-11, it functions as an earth-penetrating weapon (i.e., "bunker-buster").Since implementing a moratorium on nuclear testing in 1992, Washington has chosen to maintain and refurbish its nuclear

warheads through science-based efforts to retain confidence in the safety and reliability of its arsenal absent nuclear testing. A recent non-nuclear refurbishment of the W76 warhead fitted it with a new arming, firing, and fusing mechanism that gives it a hard-target kill capability.Such upgrades have increased the deadliness of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. At the end of the Cold War, a U.S. submarine-launched warhead had about a 12 percent chance of destroying a hardened Russian missile silo; the two types of submarine-launched warheads deployed today (the W76 and W88) can destroy a hardened missile silo 90 percent and 98 percent of the time respectively, according to one estimate.Washington also has plans to develop a new class of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBM) and a new long-range nuclear bomber. The new submarine, dubbed the SSBN-X, would replace the current fleet of 14 Ohio-class submarines. In its 2010 budget request, the Obama
administration requested $700 million for research and development for the SSBN-X. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2019. Procurement of the air force's next-generation bomber was scheduled to begin a year earlier, but in April, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced that the administration would delay the program "until we have a better understanding of the need, the requirement, and the technology." However, there is a strong chance that the bomber will reemerge in the fiscal year 2011 budget.These plans to develop a new submarine and bomber belie the notion that the United States is the only nation that isn't producing new nuclear weaponry. A new, limited capability to remanufacture plutonium pits, the core of thermonuclear weapons, also has been initiated. Along these lines, in June 2007, Los Alamos National Laboratory delivered a newly manufactured W88 pit--constructed with new materials via a new process--that was certified to be

interchangeable with pits first produced in 1988.Russia. Russian nuclear forces continue to shrink because Moscow is retiring older systems faster than it is adding new weapons. Today, Russia deploys approximately 4,800 strategic and tactical warheads. Although Moscow plans to cut in half its existing arsenal of 600-700 delivery vehicles over the next decade, it is extensively modernizing its older delivery systems. The newest systems under development are the Topol-M long-range missile and the Borey-class submarine with its associated Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). Russian officials had hoped that the Bulava would enter production before 2010, but frequent test failures, in conjunction with the recent resignation of the director of the bureau that's developing the missile, have thrown the future of the program into doubt. Moscow is preparing to begin to deploy its new RS-24 missile--reportedly a multiple-warhead version of the

Topol-M--this month to coincide with the expiration of START. Russian officials argue that the RS-24 is central to maintaining the credibility of its deterrent, in part because it will be able to penetrate U.S. missile defenses.Moscow maintains a robust nuclear warhead production capability, regularly remanufacturing each warhead every 10 to 15 years--a necessity because Russian warheads aren't nearly as well maintained as U.S. warheads. As such, they begin to suffer from age-related defects much sooner. As Victor Reis, assistant secretary of energy for defense programs, remarked in a 1998 hearing before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, "[The Russians] have a somewhat different system where they do tend to go back and remanufacture the whole system. Their system, as best we understand it, is perhaps not quite as finely tuned as ours. . . . They are very concerned about that issue."China. Beijing's stockpile

consists of approximately 200-250 strategic warheads. It is expanding its nuclear force, but at nowhere near the pace of U.S. intelligence estimates, which repeatedly have overestimated PDF the speed and content of China's modernization programs. New Chinese delivery systems include the solid-fueled DF-31 long-range missile; the DF-31A intercontinental ballistic missile, which Beijing began deploying in 2008; and the JL-2, an SLBM variant of the DF-31. Development and deployment of these systems has proceeded at an exceedingly slow pace: China's decision to replace older, liquid-fueled systems with these solid-fueled systems dates back to the 1970s or 1980s, yet it is just now beginning to deploy them. (See "Engaging China and Russia on Nuclear Disarmament." PDF) Beijing is also thought to be interested in developing multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles for some of its delivery systems, perhaps due in part to concerns about U.S.

missile defense.China has one Xia-class SSBN, and it is believed to have deployed one new Jin-class submarine in early 2008. Two or three more Jin-class submarines are thought to be PDFunder construction. However, it isn't clear how China plans to operate a sea-based deterrent, and no Chinese ballistic missile submarine has ever sailed on a deterrent patrol.Like Russia, China maintains a robust nuclear weapons production infrastructure. As such, Beijing probably is manufacturing the warheads (based on previously tested designs) for its new delivery systems.France. The French nuclear stockpile holds approximately 350 strategic warheads, consisting of two warhead designs deployed on four ballistic missile submarines and four aircraft squadrons. Since 1996 Paris has been modernizing its naval force, replacing its older Le Redoutable-class submarines with the newer Le Triomphant-class submarines, which carry the M45 SLBM. The newest, Le Terrible, will

become operational in 2010 and will be the first to carry the more advanced, longer-range M51 SLBMs, which will replace the M45s. French SLBMs now carry the TN75 warhead, but beginning in 2015, they will carry the more robust Tête Nucléaire Océanique (TNO) warhead. Likewise, the TN81 warhead currently deployed on French nuclear bombers will be replaced with the Tête Nucléaire Aero-portée (TNA) warhead, which Paris began producing in 2007. France tested the TN75, TNO, and TNA designs during a final series of nuclear tests in September 1996.Paris also is upgrading its nuclear bombers. Sometime next year the new Rafale fighter is scheduled to begin replacing three squadrons of land-based Mirage aircraft and a single squadron of carrier-based Super Etendard. The Rafale will carry the advanced Air-Sol Moyenne Portée-Amélioré (ASMP-A) air-launched missile, which will replace the ASMP missiles currently carried by the Mirage and Super Etendard

fighters.Britain. London is taking the least aggressive approach to modernization. Currently, Britain deploys fewer than 160 strategic warheads of the same type on approximately four Vanguard-class SSBNs that carry Trident II SLBMs. In late 2006, the British government announced that it planned to build a follow-on to the Vanguard-class submarines. But in July, it decided to delay the design contract until 2010--a decision that was made public as Prime Minister Gordon Brown unveiled "The Road to 2010," PDF a yearlong, British-led effort to address key nuclear challenges in the lead-up to the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, including "progress in building the international partnerships we need to deliver a world free from nuclear weapons."The sole warhead design in the British stockpile is based on the U.S. W76. British warheads undergo maintenance and refurbishment at the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston, but it's
unlikely that the establishment could produce all of the W76 components by itself because of Britain's heavy reliance on U.S. warhead designs and refurbishment technologies. In 2007, it was reported that London was preparing a design for a new "high surety warhead" modeled after the U.S. reliable replacement warhead (RRW). But since the Obama administration didn't request funds for the RRW Program in its fiscal year 2010 budget, it isn't clear how Britain can proceed with its high surety warhead.Evaluating the arsenals. Obviously, the slow pace of Russian and Chinese strategic modernization programs neither increases the threat to Washington nor threatens U.S. nuclear dominance. Furthermore, French and British efforts to modernize their forces never posed any threat to the United States in the first place.Nonetheless, some still argue that if Washington doesn't pursue a more robust modernization program, the United States will send the signal that it
doesn't take nuclear deterrence seriously. These concerns are mistaken. First, the United States clearly isn't allowing its nuclear deterrent to deteriorate: Due to remarkable advances in stockpile stewardship capabilities and life-extension efforts, the U.S. nuclear stockpile and its supporting infrastructure remain the most sophisticated and modern in the world. U.S. delivery systems are more deadly and more accurate than they were during the Cold War. Both the defense secretary and the energy secretary annually certify the reliability of U.S. warheads, even though Washington conducted its last nuclear test 17 years ago. Numerous studies have concluded that the explosive cores in U.S. warheads will remain reliable for many, many years. Plus according to a September report PDF from the JASON scientific advisory group, "Lifetimes of today's nuclear warheads could be extended for decades, with no anticipated loss in confidence by using approaches

similar to those employed in [life-extension programs] to date."Second, Washington continues to spend huge sums of money on its nuclear forces. Arecent study calculated that the United States devoted at least $29.1 billion to its nuclear forces and operational support in fiscal year 2008, including more than $6 billion for the Stockpile Stewardship Program.So those who continue to argue that Washington doesn't show enough interest in modernizing its nuclear weapons should be forced to answer a simple question: If given the choice, would they trade the U.S. nuclear arsenal for the Russian or Chinese nuclear arsenals? Clearly, the answer is no. The appropriate mission for U.S. nuclear weapons is deterrence. And the U.S. arsenal of more than 5,000 nuclear weapons has the capacity to deter any threat regardless of how many resources Russia, China, and/or any other country devote to modernizing their arsenals.