January 30, 2010

Chinese Infrastructure Projects Trouble India

http://www.jamestown.org/programs/chinabrief/single/?tx_ttnews[tt_news]=35932&tx_ttnews[backPid]=25&cHash=0033dd9f1b

Publication: China Brief Volume: 10 Issue: 2January 21, 2010 02:46 PM Age: 9 days
By: Vijay Sakhuja

In an apparent attempt to overcome deeply embedded suspicion and concern, the Chinese telecommunication giant, Huawei, has pledged to expand its operations in Bangalore, the ‘Silicon valley’ of India. In the next five years, Huawei plans to invest $500 million in its research and development center and double its employee strength from 2,000 to 6,000 personnel (China Economic Review, January 11, 2010). Such a bold expansion from Huawei, which already has a leg up in the Indian telecommunications market but is believed to have suspect ties with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), could be a welcome development for other Chinese state-owned companies wanting to do business in India that have been under the scanner of Indian security agencies (Peopledaily.com, September 8, 2009).

In the past, several proposals by Chinese companies for investment and technology participation in India have been blocked due to security concerns and on numerous occasions Chinese-made equipment rejected along similar grounds. This is notwithstanding the fact that most Chinese companies are competitive and have quoted the lowest price during the tendering process. Nevertheless, Chinese telecommunication companies account for nearly 20 percent of the Indian market (Upiasia.com, October 8, 2009) and several major Indian telecom operators have installed Chinese equipment and sub-assemblies such as encoders, filters, receivers and transmitters in their network architecture.

There is a general belief in India that foreign companies engage in economic and military espionage through bribes. Sensitive information meant to be secret is stolen and can undermine national security (The Economic Times [Delhi], July 8, 2009). The Indian government has acknowledged these concerns and issued guidelines for import of military equipment, foreign direct investments including joint ventures, particularly in infrastructure projects [1]. In certain cases, the government has ordered investigations into earlier acquisitions from foreign sources to ascertain if national security had been compromised. The Chinese have questioned Indian policy of imposing restrictions on Chinese products and infrastructure projects. (Chinaview.cn, September 9, 2009).

Telecommunication Projects

In May 2009, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), the public sector telecommunication giant, was advised by the Ministry of Defense ‘not to award equipment contracts to Huawei and Zhong Xing Telecommunication Equipment Company Limited (ZTE) in the interest of national security’ (Indian Express, November 1, 2009). Indian security concerns arise from the fact that the Chinese company is owned by Ren Zhengfei, a former PLA officer who is alleged to have close links with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Similarly, Intelligence Bureau (IB), the premiere Indian internal intelligence agency, was also concerned about Huawei and had noted “BSNL should not award contracts to Chinese companies, as these companies are known to have links with the Chinese state and security apparatus and, therefore, their presence in this critical sector has national security implications in a variety of ways’ (The Tribune [Chandigarh], December 27, 2009).

Likewise, in August 2009, the Indian Department of Telecommunications (DoT) issued an advisory to the mobile operators to exercise caution while installing Chinese telecom equipment in “sensitive regions” (i.e. states adjacent to India-China and India-Pakistan borders and States affected by terrorism and Naxalites) (The Hindu, August 29, 2009). Significantly, the Indian Minister of State for Communication and Information Technology had observed, “The government will not hesitate to act against such telecom vendors or equipment suppliers who are found compromising with our security. The Union Home Ministry and Communications and IT Ministry is closely monitoring the situation, and all steps would be taken to address concerns raised by intelligence agencies” (The Economic Times, May 14, 2009).

Indian telecom industry experts are apprehensive about the nature of Chinese made equipment. These are suspected to contain embedded software that is programmed for spying operations (Upiasia.com. October 8, 2009). Further, the Chinese manufacturers do not provide full specification of the ‘built-in software, known as algorithms’ to the user (Upiasia.com. October 8, 2009). Thus it is difficult to detect the secret commands in the equipment that ‘makes it difficult to apply any kind of check-back mechanism.’ In that context, India does not have technologically advanced systems to screen rogue technology equipment. Besides, Indian technological prowess to trace illegal telecommunication networks is still in its infancy.

Military Concerns

Indian defense forces are mostly concerned about Chinese made sub-assemblies in military hardware, particularly those in communication devices. There are concerns that China may engage in information warfare, a key component of Chinese military strategy, and use Chinese made systems and assemblies as proxy to break into the Indian military communication network and computer systems. Further, China has upgraded its military infrastructure along the India-China border and there have been regular intrusions by the PLA across the line of control.

In 2009, the Indian National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) ordered the Scientific Analysis Group (SAG), an arm of the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) engaged in analysis of communication systems, to conduct an inquiry into the Chinese made encryption devices supplied by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) to the Indian Air Force and the National Technical Research Organization (NTRO) (Indian Express, November 1, 2009). As a result, the Indian Army and the Navy were ordered to report any Chinese encryption devices in their systems and assemblies.

In January this year, the Indian Navy stopped the installation of a Chinese made 10-cm S-band Doppler radar system imported by the Indian Meteorological Department for real-time monsoon predictions. The navy was concerned about allowing Chinese technicians to be present in sensitive zones (Express News Service, January 5, 2010). This has delayed installation of 11 other radars imported from the same Chinese company.

At another level, Chinese hackers have been very active against Indian computer systems and have on a regular basis attacked sensitive targets. According to the chairman of Indian Cyber Law and IT Act Committee, “China is very active in cyberspace. It has raised a cyber army of about 300,000 people and their only job is to intrude upon secured networks of other countries. All this is all aimed at supremacy. Every country must set up cyber armies to counter China” (India Today [Delhi], January 14, 2010). Likewise, a classified FBI report cited by a U.S. organization has noted that China has secretly developed an army of 180,000 cyberspies that "poses the largest single threat to the United States for cyberterrorism and has the potential to destroy vital infrastructure, interrupt banking and commerce, and compromise sensitive military and defense databases" (The Daily Beast, January 13, 2010).

Maritime Infrastructure Projects

Chinese attempts to participate in Indian maritime infrastructure projects such as ports have also attracted security concerns. Interestingly, in 2005, Manmohan Singh, the Indian Prime Minster overruled security concerns over Chinese companies’ participation in infrastructure projects in India (The Financial Express, January 5, 2005). Hutchison Whampoa Limited, the Hong Kong-based conglomerate with close ties to Beijing engaged in port development, container terminal management and energy infrastructure, was invited to submit a plan to build a container terminal in Mumbai, but the project was held in abeyance. Apparently, security concerns had prevailed and since then the company had “decided to stay out of India” (Logisticsmgmt.in, September 4, 2008). Again, in 2006, the Indian government cancelled the $1.4 billion Vizhinjam Deep-sea Container Transshipment Terminal project awarded to JV Zoom Developers, Mumbai, Kaidi Electric Power Company, and China Harbor Engineering Company. Apparently, the government did not approve the project on security grounds since the Chinese companies had business interests in Pakistani ports.

Offshore Oil Exploration

India also remains cautious about Chinese bidding for Indian offshore projects. In 2003, few countries including China were debarred from tendering in the 25 blocks offered for exploration to foreign companies under NELP IV (New Exploration and Licensing Policy) in the Andaman and Nicobar (A&N) Islands (Indian Express, April 21, 2003). A&N islands are strategically important to India and host sensitive military infrastructure. Likewise, India is also concerned about Chinese offshore oil exploration activities in the Mannar Basin in East Sri Lanka.

Indian naval experts argue that critical underwater data could be generated by Chinese companies through offshore projects and support Chinese submarine operations [2]. Further, this underwater data gains greater salience for any future Chinese plans to deploy submarines in the Indian Ocean to protect its sea-lanes of communication (SLOC).

Political Parties React to Chinese Investments

Interestingly, Indian political parties have also reacted to the Chinese investment plans in India. While some remain apprehensive about Chinese participation in infrastructure projects in their respective states, others are supportive and have even engaged in lobbying for Chinese projects. For instance, in 2008, Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party, who had control over the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, the civic body in Mumbai, had ordered re-tendering of the JV project between Soma Enterprises of India and China International Water and Electric Engineering Company to construct a dam across Middle Vaitarna River (Express News Service [Mumbai], September 2, 2008). It was observed that a Chinese company should not be allowed to operate in areas that had vital installations such as the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) at Tarapur, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) fighter aircraft production centre, and the artillery centre at Deolali, Nashik. Interestingly, a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed in the Bombay High Court against dam construction by the Chinese company. The court dismissed the petition after civilian officials argued that ‘relevant scrutiny processes’ had been taken into account.

Unlike Shiv Sena, the Left-leaning parties in India have been lobbying for Chinese investments in infrastructure projects. Prakash Karat the general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) had sought the Prime Minister’s intervention after Chinese companies had been barred from participating in the Vizhinjam Deep Water International Transhipment Terminal in Kerala (Rediffnews.com, October 12, 2006). Karat observed, "Are the U.S. companies, which have projects in Pakistan, disallowed to take up port projects in India? If you are allowing other countries to bid, why stop China? If American companies can take up work, both, in India and Pakistan why bar the Chinese companies?" (Rediff.com, October 12, 2006).

Likewise, the Karnataka state government is keen to engage Chinese companies to help develop infrastructure. Karnataka Chief Minister B. S. Yeddyurappa visited Beijing Shanghai and Guangzhou in 2009 in a bid to attract Chinese investment and technology participation in new port projects and highways (The Hindu, September 5, 2009).

At another level, infrastructure-related accidents have led to setbacks in Chinese investments in India. Chinese company Shandong Electric Power Construction Corp. (SEPCO) has suspended work after the chimney they were building at Bharat Aluminium Company Ltd's in Korba district of Chhattisgarh collapsed. The accident claimed 41 lives, and the SEPCO project in-charge and two Chinese engineers are in judicial custody in India (Dailyindia.com, January 12, 2010).

Indian Ventures in China

Unlike India, China is receptive to Indian companies’ participation in the software industry. For instance, Tata Consulting Services Ltd (TCS), India’s top IT services provider, has plans to enter the Chinese energy and utility outsourcing industries and increase its staff strength from 1,100 to 5,000 personnel by 2014 (Sourcingline.com, December 11, 2009). TCS began its operations in China in 2002 and by 2006, it had 66 percent stake in TCS China, a JV with three other Chinese firms. NIIT, a leading India talent development institution has business interests in 183 education and training locations in 25 provinces and cities in China (Niit.com, January 17, 2010) Besides, there are 5,000 Indian students studying medicine in China (Business Standard, January 17, 2010). Likewise, Ranbaxy Guangzhou China Limited (RGCL), set up in 1993, was the first Sino Indian JV. Ranbaxy sold off its stakes in China in December 2009 on account of cutting costs and improving profitability (Wsj.com, December 29, 2009).

Conclusion

The Indian government is caught in a dilemma over Chinese investment and technology participation. On the one hand, the security establishment is apprehensive of the Chinese ability to engage in cyber warfare and activate embedded malicious software at their time of choosing. It has consistently hacked into sensitive Indian commuter networks and would continue to engage in asymmetric warfare in the future (The Economic Times, January 14; The Times of India, December 30, 2009). On the other hand, there is a critical necessity to build infrastructure to sustain economic development. In spite of Huawei's $500 million effort, given China's growing assertiveness in South Asia, India’s security concerns will deepen and thus lead to further regulations of Chinese investments in India's infrastructure.

Notes

1. Manual on ‘Industrial Policy and Procedures in India’, Ministry of Commerce and Industry
Government of India, New Delhi, May 2003.
2. Author’s discussions with retired Indian navy officers on January 10, 2010.

[The views expressed in the above article are the author’s own and do not reflect the policy or position of the Indian Council of World Affairs.]

PAKISTAN plans to lease arable land to rich countries


A strategic blunder

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s revelation that the plan to give arable land on lease is still intact should ring alarm bells. It seems that despite argument to the contrary, the foreign minister is committed to using his clout within the government to go ahead with a plan that is dubious at best. Rich countries that depend heavily on food imports are looking for lands in developing nations to ensure their food security in the coming years in the face of fluctuating prices of foodstuff in the international market. The foreign minister’s argument that the land to be leased is fallow does not stand for a number of reasons.

First, over 10 million hectares of land that is to be leased is situated in Southern Punjab and Sindh, the most water deficient areas. With already dwindling water supplies, which are projected to fall further in the coming years after the construction of Bhasha-Diamer dam, what guarantees can Pakistan give to the investing parties that it will ensure a constant water supply to sustain continuous output at the expense of dehydrating our own people and lands?

Second, if the prospective investor will run their farms on minimum use of water through conservation techniques, then the same could be introduced into the farming sector by training the local farmers, thus creating employment opportunities in undeveloped rural areas and increasing our productivity.

Third, news reports appeared last year that while selling the idea to prospective investors, when the issue of security arose, Pakistan floated the idea of raising a 100,000-strong force to provide protection to the leased farms. At a time when security forces cannot even protect the life and property of ordinary citizens from the militants, pledging security to ‘foreign farms’ seems to be a pie in the sky.

Fourth, these leases are for an extended period of time. An increase in population during the time of lease would warrant that we bring more land under cultivation and increase our productivity.

This inevitably leads to the fifth point that Pakistan’s own food security is important. Every year, one or the other commodity flies from the market, which we have to buy at inflated prices from international traders when a cheaper alternative is to grow it at home. Not only producing our food at home is a tactical issue, in the coming year surplus food export may even become a profitable venture. In a scenario when prospects of climate change has sent everyone running for food security, whatever the prospective returns, it would be a massive strategic blunder to pledge our arable lands to foreign countries. *

Anti-Baloch clique? — II

BY Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\01\31\story_31-1-2010_pg3_3


The rulers should understand that lip service does not soothe the wounds caused by decades of injuries and injustices. Difficult decisions are needed to solve the problems and win the hearts of the justifiably alienated Baloch

The Kalat state’s forced merger with Pakistan ended 300 years of independent and semi-independent Baloch state. The sovereignty and will of the people of Balochistan was temporarily subverted. It was an epoch making event in the history of the Baloch people. Colonialism, be it of Iran, Afghanistan, Britain or Pakistan, has played the most important role in moulding the national consciousness that had been present in formative shape all through their history but had remained latent. This consciousness acquired at a bitter price is now becoming the determining factor in their struggle to be the masters of their destiny.

Not willing to allow the Baloch a chance to recuperate and reorganise the second equally unjust and illegal assault on Kalat was carried out on October 6, 1958, once again on false pretences and premises. Nawab Nauroz Khan Zarakzai, a septuagenarian, took up arms and led the Baloch resistance. As in 1948, a wave of repression and reign of terror was let loose all over Balochistan. Political leaders and activists were incarcerated in the notorious ‘Kulli camps’ in the Quetta cantonment. The suppression of rights by force created abiding antagonism and animosity.

On May 19, 1959, Nawab Nauroz Khan along with his fighters surrendered near Anari Mountain after the authorities promised acceptance of their demands on the Quran. Instead they were shifted to the Quetta cantonment and tried by a special military court and sentenced on July 7, 1960. The death sentences were carried out simultaneously on the July 15, 1960, at Sukkur and Hyderabad Central Jails.

For the Baloch, Nawab Nauroz Khan and the seven martyrs symbolise the determination to not to bow to unjust and brutal assaults on their freedom and to resist regardless of the price that has to be paid for this honourable path. Emulating them is the dream of every politically conscious Baloch.

The 60s decade saw sporadic Baloch resistance led by Mir Sher Mohammad Marri, Ali Mohammad Mengal and others. The dissolution of One-Unit and 1970 elections gave a glimmer of hope that the Baloch would get a chance of restricted self-rule. But the subsequent illegal and unjust dismissal of Ataullah Mengal’s government in February 1973 and the incarceration of Baloch leaders by ZA Bhutto-led PPP government shattered those hopes.

This injustice naturally led to a resistance by the Baloch and large-scale military operations against them were launched on May 21, 1973, with Mawand in Marri area being occupied. The 1973-77 conflict resulted in enormous sufferings of the Baloch population in the province; forcing thousands of Marris and other Baloch to seek shelter in Afghanistan. It was during this period that the steel of the Baloch mettle was really tempered and for the first time they felt confident that they could take on the might of the state and survive to fight another day. This struggle blazed a path for the future generations and without it probably the flame of the Baloch struggle may have been extinguished forever.

During the musical chairs democracy period the main players were too busy undermining each other and the Baloch were left alone. Then Musharraf unleashed a war of terror against the Baloch, which resulted in the death of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, Nawabzada Balach Khan Marri and hundreds of other innocent people. The plague of missing persons visited once again with a vengeance. Recently mass unmarked graves of victims of Indian atrocities were discovered in Kashmir. One wonders if ever such graves, for they certainly exist, will be found here. His era was the era of pseudo mega-projects, brutal mega-operations and super mega sufferings for the Baloch people. The present irreconcilable antagonisms are the result of the protracted and indiscriminate use of force against the Baloch.

The PPP government has been long on promises and short on positive action. The much-trumpeted Balochistan package was rightly termed as a ‘band-aid on a bullet wound’ by Alia Amirali Sahiba, a student activist of QAU. The three-day joint session of parliament was expected to discuss the formulated proposals with expectations of opening a new chapter in the post-independence history of Balochistan. But the keenness or lack of it shown by the parliamentarians in this supposedly important and historic package belies the claims that this government or the state is or will ever be sincere in solving the problems faced by the Baloch people.

A report released by Pildat said that out of total 438 MPs — 338 in the National Assembly and 100 in Senate — only 38 (nine percent) members spoke during this joint session. This pathetic indifference itself speaks volume about the interest that the government and parliament take in solving the problems. Unsurprisingly the 20 months of PPP rule have been as barren for the Baloch as were the nine years of Musharraf.


The president cannot have the right to claim of serving the Baloch if the Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah does not even
know who ordered the Rangers’ action against the Baloch of Lyari. And yet they tire not of posing as the champions of Baloch problems. So much so that the president claims that he is under threat from the anti-Baloch clique, which would be committing an unpardonable blunder if it punished him for an act he is not even remotely guilty of.

The rulers should understand that lip service does not soothe the wounds caused by decades of injuries and injustices. Difficult decisions are needed to solve the problems and win the hearts of the justifiably alienated Baloch. Obviously, no political party or individual has the will to take these decisions because they can only do so at the greatest risk to their own existence and none here would be willing to go to that extreme for the children of lesser gods.

The establishment’s anti-Baloch policy is too entrenched, too consolidated and too committed to allow far-reaching measures to be endorsed and implemented; measures that may bring some relief for the people. Because those who have been calling the shots here — call them the anti-Baloch clique or the establishment — will not consent to even the most basic justified demands of the return of missing people, stopping construction of cantonments, military airports and naval ports, withdrawal of the army, a halt to military operations, rights over resources and the reining in of the FC because their financial, commercial and imaginary strategic interests will be surely hurt by any such roll back in Balochistan.

You do not have to be a rocket scientist to understand that the establishment, guided by its self-preservation instinct, had to be anti-Baloch, anti-Sindhi anti-Pashtun and anti-Bengali since partition because
without erasing the historical national consciousness and identities they could not hope to impose their ideology of Pakistaniat. However, they overlooked the fact that millenniums old consciousness and identities cannot be easily obliterated and replaced; little wonder that they have miserably failed to either forge or impose a new identity. Certainly the Baloch resistance has played a pivotal role in thwarting their designs.

Concluded)


Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur has an association with the Baloch rights movement going back to the early 1970s. He can be contacted at mmatalpur@gmail.com

Emulate Krishnadevaraya to leave enduring legacy: Chidambaram

2010-01-27 22:30:00

, Jan 27 (IANS) Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram Wednesday called upon the present-day rulers to emulate Vijayanagara emperor Krishnadevaraya to leave behind a rich legacy for posterity.

'We must remember that like former rulers and kings, governments and ministers must leave behind a legacy of enduring values, a tradition of peace, harmony and unity,' Chidambaram said in his address at the 500th anniversary of the coronation of the emperor at this renowned world heritage site, about 350 km from Bangalore.

http://www.vijayanagara.org/

Releasing a set of books on the times and life during the emperor's reign from 1509 to 1529 in this historic capital city, Chidambaram said the Vijayanagara king was a source of inspiration and strength for modern rulers to build strong economies and infrastructure, patronise arts and culture, encourage study, research and development to bring the benefits of progress to all sections of the people.

'These are the abiding lessons I have gathered from reading the history of this great empire and its great emperor. I join all of you in paying rich tributes to this great king on the 500th anniversary of his coronation,' Chidambaram told thousands of people who flocked to the main venue for the grand inaugural ceremony.

Recalling the golden era of the Vijayanagara kingdom during the Krishnadevaraya's reign, the minister said it was a great honour and privilege to stand where once the mighty empire flourished from mid-14th century to mid-16th century.

'Krishnadevaraya is considered the greatest among the Vijayanagara kings. He was a great warrior who fought for 11 years during his 21-year reign and vanquished every enemy,' Chidambaram said.

'Krishnadevaraya is remembered even this day for the irrigation system he built, encouraged agriculture, patronized arts as he himself was a great poet. It is said the modern Bharatnatyam (a form of classical dance famous in south India) holds its origins to his patronage,' he noted.

Referring to the grandeur of Hampi, its majestic palaces, monuments, courtyards and temples, Chidambaram said their endurance even five centuries later was a tribute to the great emperor and his great role.

Lauding the Karnataka government for celebrating the coronation anniversary 500 years on, the home minister said what was striking about the empire was the Vijayanagara kings fought many enemies but made peace with all of them once they won the battles.

'Krishnadevaraya invaded Bidar, Gulbarga and Bijapur, which form a part of the present-day north Karnataka, and earned the title of establisher of the Yavana kingdom. Though he defeated the Bahamani sultans but released sultan Mahamood after the victory and made him the de facto ruler,' Chidambaram told an estimated 25,000 people at the inaugural event.

Quoting the famous historian Barbosa, who chronicled the emperor's respect for all sects of Hinduism and his patronage for poets and scholars in Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Sanskrit, the minister said the Vijayanagara kings, especially Krishnadevaraya, allowed the freedom that every man will live without suffering and annoyance irrespective of religion, caste, creed, nationality and gender.

'The coronation celebrations will bring back the glory of the golden empire for the people of Karnataka and India and we should bask in the glory,' he added.


Speaking at the valedictory function of the 500th anniversary of the coronation of Sri Krishnadevaraya here on Friday, Mr. Advani said that the country did not prosper in the previous century mainly because the people at the helm of affairs and administration lacked the commitment and dedication.

“In the past decade, the country has been making progress and it can lead the world if the people make a vow to work sincerely. The celebrations being held here to mark the 500th anniversary of the coronation of Sri Krishnadevaraya would infuse new zeal and enthusiasm among the people so that it can be used to make the country prosperous,” he said.

Mr. Advani added “I have taken a vow to work with dedication in whatever position I hold, for the welfare of the nation.”

Paying rich tributes to Sri Krishnadevaraya for his able administration, and his patronisation of communal harmony, art, culture and literature, Mr. Advani said that remembering the great emperor should not be limited to the State but all over the country. Mr. Advani released a book “Hampi, a story in stone” written by John Fritz and George Mitchell, who are considered to be authorities on Hampi, brought out by JSW Foundation. Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa said the Government had decided to establish a university in Bellary and name it after Sri Krishadevaraya.

What is in store for Nabucco?

http://www.georgiatimes.info/en/articles/29913-1.html


2010-01-28 22:51

An annual European gas exhibition has been opened in Vienna. According to member of the board of the Austrian OMV oil-and-gas group of companies Werner Auli, the Azerbaijani and Iranian gas for Nabucco project, which is planned as an alternative of the European gas supplied through the Russian gas pipelines, will, anyway, make it profitable. GeorgiaTimes correspondent discussed the prospects of the Nabucco project with the Russian political analysts.

The construction of the Nabucco gas pipeline is planned to be started in 2011, while the first gas is going to be supplied by 2014. At the first stage, it is supposed to transport up to 15 billion cubic meters of gas annually. The projected capacity of the gas pipe string will enable to pump 31 billion cubic meters of fuel.

The total length of the pipeline will make 3282 km considering the supplying strings, out of which 1998 km will run along the territory of Turkey. Besides, the pipelines of the Nabucco system will run across the territory of Georgia and Iran. The basic purpose of the project is the transportation of the Caspian and the Middle-East gas to Austria and other European customers. What are the prospects of this project?

Alexander Pasechnik, Head of Analytical Administration of the National Energy Supply Security Foundation

The issue of economical reasonableness of the project is rather doubtful today. The question is whether in the nearest 5-10 years Europe is going to consume the gas volumes compared to Nabucco capacity, considering the fact that the competitive pipes are already being built. For instance, the South Stream project has got much more chances, for the problem of the resource base is already settled there, while for Nabucco this point is still being developed and there are obviously going to be certain difficulties.

It is enough to say that the resource base project remains the most urgent for Nabucco. Moreover, the EU countries treat this project skeptically from financial point of view: the countries take time to make investments for the reason of unclearness and uncertainty. Although it is cheaper than the South Stream in terms of the design documentation (10 billion compared to 25 billion euros) but the amount is anyway significant, especially in the context of the crisis when the countries are especially selective in their investments and the issue of priority is essential. That is why, one can say that Nabucco has got less chances.

At the same time, it was said at the latest conferences that the project can be implemented; however, there was an implication that in case of the project unprofitability and the absence of a sound resource base Nabucco may be wound down or suspended from 2013 until 2015 and etc. As is known, Turkmenia is currently supplying large volumes of gas to China and it will have to expand capacity for Nabucco, so this is a doubtful question. Political risks are too high if the gas is supplied from Iran. As to Azerbaijan, the country is cooperating with Russia, which has stated its readiness to buy the whole amount of gas from the republic.
Thus, I do not see any specific need in Nabucco for Europe; the more so as there is high-technology gas from Qatar. Thus, the project chances are rapidly going down.

Sergey Demidenko, an expert from the Strategic Evaluations and Analysis Institute

This project may become real in a very long time. First of all, it is not clear where to get the gas for the project. Initially, the project was planned for Iran; however, one cannot speak about any gas supplies from Iran to Nabucco because of the certain geopolitical circumstances. From the economic point of view, Iran has got rather significant gas supplies but they are absolutely undeveloped. Potential volumes and the raw material transportation route are undefined as well. That is why, the whole affair is purely theoretical, and we can hardly speak about Nabucco implementation. At present, the project is mostly used as political speculation and as a tool for pressing upon Russia. This is a paper project.

Considering the project prospects, we have got a great number of "if"s. If Iran gets connected to Nabucco; if Iran changes its political orientation and investments will start flowing; if Iran develops its own gas sector at an appropriate level and so on. All those "if"s make up a myth, and there are no other sources to provide Nabucco with gas. Azerbaijan's proposal is not enough to fill even the half of the pipeline, so the issue of the prospects may sooner be attributed to the field of geopolitical modeling rather than to the field of realities.

Stanislav Belkovskiy, President of National Strategy Institute

Nabucco is a political project. Against the background of a gas war, it is politically important for Europe to have alternative sources of transporting the Central-Asian gas and create new gas sources; in this case, we are talking about Iranian gas. However, the project will not be realized soon, irregardless of its profitability. The highest profit the Nabucco developers may get is political dividends in case the project is successful.

Making room for the Taliban

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2010/01/20101288945976804.html

By Robert Grenier


On September 20, 2001, just nine days after the devastating attacks by al-Qaeda, George Bush, then US president, stood before both houses of the US congress, with Tony Blair, then British prime minister, to deliver an address to the American people and to the world.

That America would react in some way to the attacks was already clear. It was Bush's task to explain the principles which would guide those actions, and to rally international support for them.

With all that has happened since, it may be difficult to remember the emotional tenor of that moment. In the wake of the attacks, there had been a great international outpouring of support for the US.

It appeared that this was a moment of great international solidarity, and that out of this shock great and new things might be possible.

We remember the essence of what Bush said on that occasion, even if we no longer recall the words he used: that henceforth, there could be no middle ground between the terrorists and those who opposed them; that the US would no longer make any distinction between terrorists and those who sheltered them; and that the latter, if they refused to join with the "civilised" world, would share the fate of the former.

New beginning possible

Bush had some hard words for the Taliban in that address. And yet, beneath the surface of those words, there lurked the possibility of a new and different relationship with the Taliban.

Implicit in Bush's words was the promise of a new beginning for any government, including the Taliban's, if they would join the international coalition against "terrorism" and shift their policies accordingly.


This was the implicit bargain in my own discussions with senior Taliban leaders in those days. And yet, even then, there was a clear ambivalence in the US attitude.
Immediately after the president's September 20 address, Colin Powell, the former secretary of state, was careful to make clear that the US held out hope, however slim, for a new relationship with the Taliban.

At the same time, however, Condoleezza Rice, the former national security adviser, was reflecting much more closely the prevailing political attitude within the US.

Rice was making it clear that she could not foresee US support for a repressive Taliban government which imposed, among other perceived abuses, drastic social restraints on women.

The limits of US political acceptance of the Taliban were never tested at that time, as of course Mullah Omar and the rest of the Taliban leadership refused to turn over Osama Bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader, or denounce the group.

Popular western revulsion at the Taliban, however, had long made any positive political dealings with the Taliban - beyond the issuance of ultimatums regarding bin Laden - virtually impossible, even before the 9/11 attacks. I know, because I advocated for such engagement, to no avail.

Later, after the apparent defeat of the Taliban in 2001, there was even less room within the US government for positive dealings with even relative Taliban moderates.



Minister arrested

When Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil, the former Taliban foreign minister, attempted to play an intermediary role between the US and Taliban elements in 2002, he was arrested and imprisoned for his pains.


The author says the Taliban has been closely integrated with al-Qaeda after 9/11 [AFP]
It required many months of cajoling to induce the US department of defence to agree to Muttawakil's release as an encouragement to others, despite the Afghan government's stated interest in reaching out to such moderates.
Today, with the fortunes of the government of Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, and its Western allies at a much more difficult pass, and with the Taliban resurgent in much of the South and East, talk of political engagement with the Taliban is rife.

There are reported meetings between intermediaries and representatives of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of Hezb-e-Islami, and discussion of means to reach out to the Taliban is a major feature of the international conference on Afghanistan in London.

Even US military leaders who are working assiduously to attack and "degrade" the Taliban admit that the movement is part of the Pashtun social fabric, and will have to be politically dealt with in some way.

It seems to me, nonetheless, that any sort of meaningful political engagement with senior leaders of the Taliban remains a long way off.

The clear thrust of current Western efforts to reach out to the Taliban is in the context of "reintegration", through which simple fighters and low-level commanders are induced to return to their communities in return for some form of government assistance.

'Reconciliation necessary'

The difficulties in this approach are manifest, relying as it must on the involvement of Kabul-appointed government structures, largely seen as corrupt and inept, to mediate and implement such programs.

In view of these difficulties, observers such as Muttawakil argue that a more formal political "reconciliation" with the Taliban leadership will be necessary. Yet it is hard to see how such a political process could be viable.

Relatively low-level discussions including marginal representation from the Karzai government notwithstanding, it seems clear that Taliban leaders, very much to include Mullah Omar, have little interest in negotiating with the Kabul regime, which they see essentially as a puppet.

"It seems clear that Taliban leaders have little interest in negotiating with the Kabul regime, which they see essentially as a puppet."

Given their growing strength and confidence, they are far more interested in dealing directly with the US to negotiate the terms of a US/Nato/Coalition withdrawal. This hardly suggests a desire on the part of the core Taliban to enter the Afghan political process.
Indeed, can one really imagine the Taliban leadership standing for election in Pashtun-dominated districts, or serving in parliament? They have made clear their religious opposition to such elections.

Instead, reconciliation with the Taliban would amount to acquiescence in the Taliban's political ascendancy and control in the areas where they are currently active. It is hard to imagine this as anything other than stage-setting for a renewed civil war with the Tajiks and other non-Pushtun minorities.

It is clear that in view of the growing costs, both human and monetary, of the US involvement in Afghanistan, US aspirations there have grown far more modest.

This was the clear thrust of the speech Barack Obama, the US president, gave at the West Point military academy on December 1, 2009.

Repressive policies

The atrophy of US policy goals in Afghanistan would seem to make political acceptance of the Taliban's socially repressive policies - which appear to be moderating in any case - more viable.

Nonetheless, denial of Afghanistan as a future safe haven for al-Qaeda and others intent on employing terrorist techniques internationally remains a core US objective.

While much is made of the relative moderation of Mullah Omar's recent statements in favour of a political focus on Afghanistan at the expense of global jihad, it is hard to see these statements - even if taken at face value - as representing anything other than a statement of tactical necessity, rather than of strategic orientation.

It makes all the sense in the world for the Taliban to focus now on its national goals in Afghanistan, and to seek peaceful relations with its neighbours.


The human and monetary cost for the war in Afghanistan is growing [AFP]
But once having achieved a measure of uncontested political space in Afghanistan, even if the movement eschews the global jihad for its own account, it is hard to imagine the Taliban coldly refusing all aid to those whom it regards as good Muslims, who are themselves under threat from what it regards as impious regimes backed by foreigners.
Moreover, the current dynamic within the Taliban must be seen in the context of an ever-growing alignment between the Taliban and al-Qaeda, forged under the constant pressure being exerted against them and other like-minded groups in South Asia.

The Taliban has adopted the tactics of al-Qaeda and is far more closely integrated - operationally, ideologically and otherwise - with the Arab-dominated organisation than was ever the case before 9/11.

No political or religious organisation remains static, particularly under the pressure of turbulent events, and the Taliban is no exception.

Its leaders should be watched for signs of willingness to find genuine accommodation, both with other elements and communities in Afghanistan and with outside powers having serious interests at stake in the country.

As of now, however, the relative optimism of those who see the prospect of true political accommodation with the Taliban appears to me to be misplaced.

Robert Grenier was the CIA's chief of station in Islamabad, Pakistan, between 1999–2002. He was also the director of CIA’s counterterrorism centre.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

Harsh rules “could drive bankers underground”

SWISS INFO



Dr Mo, Switzerland
So what you are saying is that bankers will just break the law, if the law gets stricter?! This sounds like a threat or blackmail. Also proves the point that the banking industry and the bankers who work in it have no sense of ethics, morals, decency and beleive they are above (or below) the law?! Time for a bigger overhaul of banking regulation than I thought. Also time for an overhaul of what is being taught in schools and programs which teach future bankers.

Rouslan, Switzerland
You know, communism was a great system. It, however, didn't work because of one little obstacle called "human nature". These things just don't match. If you want to introduce communism, change the human nature... It's a VERY important rule to remember whenever someone starts talking about "regulations". If we try to "fix" the flaws of our nature by applying regulations, we'd better get ready for troubles. I wonder if proponents of the "strict rules", such as Mr. Sarkozy, have even thought of that...
______________


Heavy-handed financial rules could create a shadow banking system beyond the control of regulators, the head of the Swiss Bankers Association warns swissinfo.ch.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Patrick Odier said a ban on banks betting their own money on the markets (proprietary trading) could lead to some traders taking such activities under the regulatory radar.


He also defended the biggest banks – labelled by some as “too big to fail” – for providing vital cross-border financial services.

United States President Barack Obama outlined the latest regulatory proposals last week. The so-called Volcker Rules, named after former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Paul Volcker, would split up the activities of large banks to protect national economies and the deposits of ordinary account holders.


swissinfo.ch: What is your assessment of the Volcker Rules proposals?

Patrick Odier: The directions proposed by President Obama are very interesting indeed, but some [proposals] would be tricky to implement and execute. This particularly applies to the separation of activities [a ban on proprietary trading and involvement with hedge funds].

We need to make sure that proprietary trading does not become the only point of attention for the management of banks. Offering the ability to diversify across services [engage in multiple business activities] ensures that banks are not at the mercy of only one area during a very difficult time.

Working the proprietary capital of a bank must have the objective of adding value to the customer of the bank and not only to the proprietary trader [in the shape of bonuses].


swissinfo.ch: Could such new rules result in adverse consequences?

P.O.: If regulation focuses too far on specific areas, you run the risk of pushing people outside the regulated area into under-regulated new industries, where it would be much more difficult to control the outcome of these activities.

If I am a very good proprietary trader and I see that it is becoming extremely difficult to do this in a bank, I could join a newly established company outside the scope of banking regulation just to be able to exercise my profession in a flexible way.

There is [an argument for] keeping that activity as close as possible within the scope of the banking sector.


" It is important that bankers hear what the public has to say about them. "
Patrick Odier, chairman of the Swiss Bankers Association

swissinfo.ch: One consequence of such regulation could be to break up larger banks that are considered too big to fail. Is this a sensible objective?

P.O.: Universal banks [those that practise asset management, investment, private and retail banking] have the responsibility of making sure that credit is available beyond domestic borders, so it facilitates the flows of capital worldwide.

Swiss banks have generally applied the principle of universal banking with success, and we should protect that model as long as it is possible to manage it prudently and efficiently.


swissinfo.ch: Could we see foreign banking operations relocating to Switzerland to escape draconian regulations in other parts of the world?

P.O.: I don’t think we would attract institutions for that reason. We would attract the most professional ones because our regulations are so far ahead. We believe that strong, coherent, well-balanced regulations are a competitive advantage.

The focus of regulation should be on strengthening capital requirements [capital reserves to buffer against losses]. The extra Swiss finish [beefed-up rules applied in 2008] added an additional layer of safety of counter-cyclical measures. This is clearly going the right direction.


swissinfo.ch: How important is it to have a level playing field in global regulation?

P.O.: The regulators have developed a much more coherent international dialogue, but it’s normal that it takes time. No institution wants to be treated at a disadvantage, so all major banks expect a level playing field in the rules.

[It is important that] the reasoning behind the basis of capital requirement is applied the same way for us as for the rest of the world. In the case of unwinding [a bankrupt institution that operates in different countries] we need the mechanism to make sure that every country takes its fair share of responsibility.


swissinfo.ch: How is WEF helping to coordinate global regulation?

P.O.: It is very important to be able to develop dialogue with politicians from different countries. It is also important that politicians understand that bankers are not trying to protect what they have been doing [in the past]. It is also important that bankers hear what the public has to say about them.

What I fear is that the public takes it for granted that banks do not know what they are doing – of course they understand. They must communicate that they understand and that they will change.

Matthew Allen in Davos, swissinfo.ch

Swiss technology tackles greying society

SWISS INFO

http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/specials/World_economic_forum/Swiss_technology_tackles_greying_society.html?cid=8201216

Technological advances could meet some of the challenges posed by an ageing global population, but the World Economic Forum (WEF) has heard that more needs to be done.

Swiss scientists in Davos outlined the latest medical, robotics, biomechanics and architectural research aimed at improving the lives of the elderly. But delegates also heard that tough political decisions would be necessary.


All demographic projections point to a marked increase in the number of pensioners in the next 50 years, coupled with a significant downturn in birth rates.

In Switzerland, the over-65s age group is tipped to make up a third of the population by 2050 compared to around 17 per cent at present. The phenomenon, which would be mirrored throughout the world, threatens to place an unbearable burden on social security and health systems while impeding economic output.

Some solutions could be solved with technological advances aimed specifically at meeting the challenges. A team of professors from the Federal Institutes of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ) and Lausanne (EPFL) highlighted how such breakthroughs could relieve the burden on the public purse as well as on pensioners.


Science keeps you working

Breakthroughs in the field of biomechanics, for example, have made it possible to estimate the likelihood of bone fractures caused by normal domestic tasks such as lifting shopping bags. Such data could form the basis of preventative medical treatments, saving not only suffering but also more lengthy post-accident repair work.

Designing homes with the elderly in mind would both enhance the independence of occupants and reduce the need for household help. The use of robots and artificial intelligence could also serve similar functions, according to Dario Floreano, director of the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems at EPFL.

Floreano’s research includes sensors that monitor fatigue levels to indicate how much physical activity can be safely undertaken. He is also developing robotic exoskeletons that would give walkers or lifters an extra boost and an array of robotic domestic help.

“Research shows that bad lifestyle management is responsible for 75 per cent of the ageing problems that people experience,” he told swissinfo.ch. “This type of technology could help people to work longer in physically demanding jobs and to enjoy more independence in their own homes.”


Retirement age debate

Research funding from Switzerland and the European Union is plentiful, according to Floreano, but the commercial applications of many projects have yet to be realised. One of the problems to be tackled in Switzerland is producing an end product that does not fill the consumer with dread.

“Japanese society is open to humanoid robots,” he said. “But the Swiss do not seem to like robots that look like living organisms and try to interact with us – they find it creepy.”

But technology – even future breakthroughs – can only go so far in meeting the challenges of an ageing society. Swiss voters will be asked to decide in March whether to raise the age of retirement or to cut pension payments to relieve the creaking social security system.

Thomas Held, director of Swiss think tank Avenir Suisse, told one WEF session in Davos that Switzerland could no longer cling on to a retirement age that was set generations ago when life expectancy was much lower.

“Increasing the retirement age to 69 [years of age] would not be attacking the social welfare system. But if we maintain the current situation then that would certainly represent an attack,” he said.


Voting power

Held also cast doubt on the sense of expanding medical and technological services, arguing that it placed a greater burden on the health system and encouraged people to seek medical solutions too readily.

“Standards have changed,” he said in Davos. “Benefits once considered inaccessible and unthinkable, such as hip replacements, are now seen as a natural right.”

However, other panelists at the debate - such as Angelina Fankhauser of the Grey Panther elderly rights pressure group - made it clear that such views would not go unchallenged in Switzerland.

“There are many people who think that there are too many of us [pensioners], that we live too long and are too much bother,” she said, before pointing out that the “many” have always had a proportionally greater say at the ballot box.

Matthew Allen in Davos, swissinfo.ch

Balochistan’s unattended IDP crisis

COMMENT: Balochistan’s unattended IDP crisis —Malik Siraj Akbar

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\01\31\story_31-1-2010_pg3_4

There are obvious reasons for the country’s security establishment to create obstacles for aid workers. The grave violations of human rights during the military operation in Balochistan are likely to be exposed to the international community once they are granted access to Balochistan’s conflict zones

The government of Pervez Musharraf not only created an IDP (internally displaced persons) crisis in Balochistan, it also very dexterously kept the whole country in oblivion about it. Limited and restricted information was leaked about the fate of around 100,000 Baloch IDPs who were driven out of their homes during the military operation carried out in Marri and Bugti tribal areas. The dictator-sponsored humanitarian catastrophe was deplorable but officially denying accesses to national and international humanitarian groups to grapple with the IDP crisis in Balochistan was criminal.

The first batch of IDPs from Dera Bugti reached the neighbouring districts of Naseerabad and Jaffarabad soon after the attack by paramilitary forces on the fort of Nawab Mohammad Akbar Khan Bugti on March 17, 2005. An incident billed by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) as “extra judicial killing of non-combatants”, the March 17 assault killed 43 people, including 19 men and three women from the minority Hindu community. More people abandoned their homes as the military operation escalated in the Marri and Bugti tribal areas until it reached its culmination with the killing of Nawab Bugti on August 26, 2006.

The government refuted media statements about the launching of a military operation in the oil-and-gas-rich region. It also brushed aside the impression that a humanitarian disaster was in the offing after the displacement of hundreds of families. Lies about the grave situation of Baloch IDPs were debunked only after an internal assessment report prepared by the UN International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) was leaked in July-August 2006 to the media. According to this report, the displaced persons, mostly women (26,000) and children (33,000) were living in makeshift camps without adequate shelter in Jaffarabad, Naseerabad, Quetta, Sibi and Bolan districts. The UNICEF report said that 28 percent of five-year-old children were acutely malnourished, and more than 6.0 percent were in a state of “severe acute malnourishment”, with their survival dependent on receiving immediate medical attention. Over 80 percent of deaths among those surveyed were among children under five.

The UNICEF report came as an indictment to the Musharraf regime and gave currency to Baloch nationalists’ repeated stance that the military operation had caused a dire IDP crisis in the province that needed to be urgently tackled. On the other hand, the military junta was so incensed that not only did it ask the UNICEF chief to leave the country but also put pressure on UN officials to back out from the report they had prepared about Baloch IDPs.

For instance, investigative journalist Ziad Zafar, while writing in Newsline in June 2007, quoted a senior official of the UN Human Rights Council saying that they had already made a “big mistake” by talking to the press earlier. “We will never know how many lives were lost because of it. We cannot make that mistake again.” The official went further and told the journalist: “Forget that you are a journalist. If, as a human being, you care at all about those who are suffering, you will not publish this report [about the IDPs]. I implore you: please do not aggravate the situation. It is already very precarious.”

As the UNICEF report disclosed the plight of the IDPs of Balochistan, the government in Islamabad as well as in Quetta insisted that no such thing existed in the province. Instead, the government termed the UNICEF report as exaggerated. Most of the displaced citizens, claimed the government, had returned to their homes as peace had supposedly returned to the area after the killing of Nawab Bugti and the dismantling of the fugitive camps.

After intense pressure from various NGOs, the government agreed to allow access to the UN agencies to operate in the area to help the displaced people. Nonetheless, this was an unconditional permission. The UN agencies were asked to help the people under official surveillance and without letting the media know about such relief operations.

The UN, finally on December 21, 2006, managed to initiate its million dollar aid package for the Baloch IDPs, which included setting up 57 feeding centres. But this aid project was soon disbanded after a UN official told the media that the IDPs should have been approached with help much earlier. This was seen as a violation of the so-called terms and conditions brokered between the government and the UN that no details of the operations would be provided to the media. Thus the UN was asked to pull out of Balochistan as a ‘punishment’ for telling the media that more assistance for the IDPs was required. Similar treatment was meted out to the Edhi Foundation of Pakistan which, after the completion of the first phase of its operations, made the same blunder and informed the press that it was about to begin the second phase of relief operations for the Baloch IDPs. The government also ordered the Edhi Foundation never to return to the ‘sensitive region’ without providing any convincing reasons.

There are obvious reasons for the country’s security establishment to create obstacles for aid workers. The grave violations of human rights during the military operation in Balochistan are likely to be exposed to the international community once they are granted access to Balochistan’s conflict zones.

Three years down the line, nothing has changed for the Baloch IDPs. The military and the elected governments have both made every possible effort to prevent aid workers to assist the Baloch IDPs. While extraordinary assistance was provided to the victims of the earthquake in Kashmir and the recent IDP crisis in Pakhtunkhwa province, the federal government has still not officially acknowledged the Baloch IDP crisis. Currently, there is not a single officially recognised IDP camp in the province while the displaced people are spread in Balochistan’s Naseerabad, Jaffarabad, Sibi and Bolan districts. In Sindh, they have gone to Jacobabad, Sukkur, Dadu and Karachi, while many others are languishing in Dera Ghazi Khan and Rajanpur districts of Punjab.

For the first time, the government announced Rs 1 billion for the rehabilitation of Bugti IDPs in the Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan Package. It was too little too late. Before the government could begin work on the rehabilitation of the IDPs, a new deadly conflict broke out between the supporters of two grandsons of late Nawab Akbar Bugti — Mir Aali and Shahzain Bugti — as was anticipated by political gurus. Instigated a week ago, the armed clash between the Bugti cousins being fought for the control of 2,000 acre land has killed around 20 people so far. With the previously displaced people still unsettled, the fresh conflict is forcing hundreds of neutral people, mainly from the Khosa tribe, to leave their homes and take shelter in safer places.

The IDP situation in Balochistan was initiated by antagonistic polices of the previous government, while this time the issue is being perpetuated by those who want to divide and rule in the resource rich Balochistan province. At the end of the day, it is the poor masses who suffer. Instead of manipulating the unfolding conflict between the Bugti cousins, the government should immediately play a mediatory role in order to make sure that official plans to rehabilitate the Bugti IDPs are not derailed.

The writer is a staff member and can be reached at maliksiraj@dailytimes.com.pk

Cyber Politics: a New Dynamic in Inter-State Relations

The famous scientist Albert Einstein, while deeply perturbed by the use of nuclear weapons during the second world war, had lamented that though he could not predict the kind of weapons to be used in any possible third world war, he was sure the fourth world war, if the humanity survives after the third one, will be fought with stones. This Einsteinian prediction about complexities involved in future wars and their horrendous consequences could be well comprehended in recent times with the increasing use of different kinds of ‘weapons’ by the nations, among which the use and misuse of information technology is a prominent one. The recent US-Chinese brawl over the allegation of the largest search engine Google against the hacking its source codes has in fact widened the complex web of international politics with likely wide ranging socio-political and economic implications. While China out rightly denied any role in such cyber activities and accused the US of imposing diktats on other countries, the US has sought further explanation from China and some of the US based organisations have threatened to drag China to World Trade Organisation over the issue.

The issue came to the forefront on 12 January 2010 when the California based web search engine Google accused the Chinese government of accessing email accounts of its email holders in a ‘highly sophisticated’ attack. It threatened to withdraw its operations from China on this account. On 19 January 2020 Google postponed the launch of two Android phones in China. It needs mention that China has the largest number of population at about 350 million who use internet with a search engine market at about $1billion in last year. In this emerging market Google holds about one third of the share, only second to the Chinese Baidu which holds more than 60 per cent of the market. Google’s rise to prominence within a span of four years, as it opened its office in Beijing in 2006, is not a small feat. Its success story in the different setting of China was followed by other companies. Hence, the Google’s threat of withdrawal from China not only raised alarm about its business prospects in China, but also about bilateral trade between China and the US with implications for the world.

The US President Barack Obama declared that he is ‘troubled’ by the developments and the Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton asked China to provide further information about its activities in the matter. Hillary Clinton stated, “We look to the Chinese authorities to conduct a thorough review” of its cyber policies and activities. Chinese official daily Xinhua quoting a spokesman of the ministry of Information and Technology denied any charges of violation of cyber laws. It stated, “Accusation that the Chinese Government participated in cyber attack, either in an explicit or inexplicit way, is groundless and aims to denigrate China.” It accused the US of ‘double standards.’ China has claimed that it itself was the victim of cyber attacks. As per the Chinese daily “Official data shows more than one million IP addresses were under control by overseas sources,” and “more than 42,000 Chinese websites had been hacked last year alone.” Besides, China criticised the US of imposing its values on other countries. The official China Daily newspaper observed that the strategy of the US was “to exploit its advantages in internet funds, technology and marketing and export its politics, commerce and culture to other nations for political, commercial and cultural interests of the world’s only superpower.” The Chinese government spokesperson also pointed out that the Chinese law is not followed by many foreign companies including the IT ones, hence they invite attention from the authorities.

The situation may worsen with some of the US organisations threatening to approach WTO against China. The main US contention being that the Chinese authorities have committed cyber attacks by hacking the codes of Google engine, while the Chinese contention as stated above is it has not done any such thing, and whatever it has done, it is within the purview of its law. The problem is that the standoff between the two countries in these weeks when the global financial recession is showing signs of recovery may not only affect the political relations between the two countries, but also trade relations, thus affecting the global financial situation.

Recently there is the increasing trend of allegations by nations about their web servers having classified information being hacked by other nations. Recently India alleged that sensitive information from the ministries of foreign affairs and defence have been hacked from distant sources. With the increasing allegations as well threats of cyber warfare, it is undoubtedly an increasing factor of concern in international politics that the national rivalries will be reflected in cyber war fares. With the increasing use of information technology the millions of lines of programming instructions, known as source code, have become vulnerable to hackers. These hackers can be used by rivals, including rival nations, in stealing key instructions and copy them, thus making advantage of the opponent in information technology defunct. Besides, the attackers can make undetected changes to that code, and hence give themselves secret access to the activities of the company or the nation served by that company as well as its other customers. The complexity of software system created by thousands of engineers also makes it very difficult to be absolutely confident about security of any program. The rogue elements like terrorists have already used this complex nature of information technology in their activities and have increasingly shown their keenness to use it to further widen their operations.

The nations will likely no more engage in direct warfare but wars at other planes such as at subtle cyber plane. The use of cyber technology by nations to fight their rivals is certainly a novel development in international politics. This technology has become a new tool in the hands of nations to settle scores with each other. But it will have a dangerous potential of destruction not only of nations, but also of the humanity unless there is an attempt among nations to coordinate their cyber laws and develop coordinated mechanism to prevent misuse of the technology.

The Global Political Player and the Jews

January 27, 2010 is the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army. The UN set the date as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Memorial ceremonies on the occasion in Poland were attended by Polish President Lech KaczyƄski and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Russian delegation was headed by Minister of Science and Education A. Fursenko who delivered a message from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

Naturally, the event drew the a lot of media attention globally. Struggle over power and money across the world continues, and various interest groups want significant developments to be interpreted so as to boost their chances in it and to spread the interpretations among maximally broad audiences. Russian President D. Medvedev's not coming to Auschwitz this year triggered an avalanche of comments. It was noted that since the presence of V. Putin at the ceremonies commemorating the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II had been taken advantage of to confront him with a new round of allegations of the equivalence of Stalinism and Nazism the Russian leaders prefer to avoid situations opening opportunities to revisionists. Some media held that Moscow was bracing for a scandal on the eve of he 70th anniversary of the execution of Polish officers in Katyn. Predictably, Russian media expressed discontent at the address of European Parliament's President Jerzy Buzek in which he stated that Soviet soldiers could not bring freedom to Poland because they never had it in their home country, but only replaced one totalitarian regime with another, while democracy and freedom prevailed in East Europe only 20 years ago.

All of the above, however, are not the actual key themes. The anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and quite a few relatively recent events leave an impression that a profound transformation awaits the elements of the world order interlocked with the Jewish question. Moreover, it appears that the transformation is already underway.

There is hardly another nation in the world surrounded by as many myths as the Jews are. There persists the myth of “the Jewish conspiracy” allegedly aimed at dominating all other nations with the help of means like the spread of alcohol abuse, financial machinations, and brainwashing. Another myth portrays Jews as the world's most talented, purposeful, and hard-working nation and thus explains their excellence in business, science, arts, and other spheres. A lot of “intermediate” myths also circulate which generally represent Jews as a highly particular nation.

It is amazing how such myths are hammered into people's minds and echo with a bizarre but generally negative perception of Jews. As a predictable consequence, much of the world's population is hostile to Jews. The spread of animosity to a nation counting just 13 mln people – with 40% of them residing in Israel - so widely could only be the result of serious efforts. The question is - who made the efforts?

I wrote previously about the emergence of a global political player on the basis of the international financial elite. The financial sphere is the key driver of globalization, and in industrialized countries the value gap between bankers and the rest of the populations, including the nationally-oriented elites, started to widen at least a century earlier than globalization acquired its present-day contours. The objective of the financial elite is to maximize revenues, and the tightly knit community hardly adheres to any values or ideologies in the traditional sense of the word, though readily sponsors the design of ideologies which are instrumental in accomplishing its objectives. The elite on which the new global political force is based is multinational, and of course some of its members are Jewish. Its members, however, partake not as representatives of their respective nations but rather as holders of assets, and their philosophy is profoundly cosmopolitan. Whenever the interests of “their” countries or of the unglobalized elites of “their” countries clash with those of the global elite, they invariably side with the latter. Nevertheless, members of the supranational elite pose as defenders of the interests of their nations whenever this is expedient, and control over media makes it easy for them to switch public images at their own discretion.

The dominance of the global political player is mainly due to its extraordinary internal cohesion based on group interests, to its group mentality, and to its disregard for moral constraints. As the result, it has a remarkable ability to draw resources for accomplishing its objectives from all over the world and to utilize maximally efficient instruments. The national elites opposing it are nowhere nearly as integrated and lack unity in developing and implementing their strategies. Moreover, for the national elites, efficiency is not the sole decision-making criterion. For example, a national elite would not unleash a war in its own country in the name of its narrow interests while the global elite can provoke one anywhere and anytime in case its benefits outweigh costs under the scenario.

Importantly, the global political player is a weakly institutionalized formation. In other words, there exists no world government as an official body with clearly defined limits of authority, responsibilities, and procedures. Rather, the available fragmentary evidence suggests that the global elite functions as an informal club. There is also indirect evidence that the current level of information technologies makes it possible for the global player to plan its own evolution and to raise its collective consciousness to the state of coherence more typical of the individual consciousness and thus bypass the problem of internal coordination altogether. The will of the global player materializes in the form of the decisions of national governments and international organizations under its control. This mechanism of global governance largely disguises the very existence of the global political player and serves to misguide the wide public discontent.

The efforts aimed at disguising the activity of the global cosmopolitan elite combined with the persistent popularization of the global Jewish conspiracy theory invite the hypothesis that in the framework of the current world order Jews are given the role of a false panel meant to absorb the discontent of the nations frustrated with the existing arrangement. Media extensively air Jewish success stories and exhibit the attributes of the success while emphasizing the nationality of characters in the corresponding episodes and various forms of their belief in the Jewish superiority. The populace is taught that the majority of bankers are Jewish, that Jews maintain control over media and arts, and that there exists a Jewish mafia. When social tensions escalate and governments loose the grip on societies, Jews whose negative image have already been created by the propaganda, immediately become the targets of both disorderly violence and organized repressions.

It should be noted that the global elite uses elements of the unglobalized Jewish one – those who can, not unconditionally, be termed Zionists - to present Jews in the above light. In this regard, the role played by the Jews belonging to the global elite is crucial. Describing the mechanisms by which cosmopolitan Jews drag Zionists into projects harming the Jews as a nation would be beyond the scope of the present paper, but it should be noted that the narrowness of the Zionists' vision prevents them from avoiding the cunning cosmopolitan traps.

Based on the above it would be logical to suppose that the Holocaust was not Hitler's own invention but a venture seriously, though secretly, supported by global banks and financial circles. Hitler's antisemitism was well-known since his very first steps in politics, yet after the great depression the West actively helped him to seize power. After the 1939 partition of Czechoslovakia Governor of the Bank of England Montagu Norman, a close friend of his German peer Hjalmar Schacht and the god-father of Schacht's grand-daughter, transferred to Germany 6 million British Pounds that Czechoslovakian Jews had deposited at the Bank of England. Isn't the situation clear? It is also noteworthy that the proportions and duration of the persecutions of Jews matched those of the economic disasters mankind was enduring at the time.

The global elite used the tragedy of the Jews during World War II to advance its own interests. Overcoming the consequences of the Holocaust became a profitable financial – and, in the case of the US, geopolitical – project. The establishment of Israel was justified in the process, and the new state turned into the US foothold in the Middle East. Money flowed from Germany to accounts in US banks as compensations to Holocaust survivors, and even the Swiss banking system which attempted to preserve its independence was unsealed and forced to disclose previously confidential information. Jews were given an exclusive political status across the world, and any attempts to explore the real reasons behind the past became punishable as Holocaust denial. Predictably, the Holocaust propaganda antagonized other nations which had also suffered from fascism, and this may be one of the actual objectives behind the campaign.

However, it seems that the situation started to change over the past several years. A new command must have been given at a very high level, and the Jewish mentality came under attacks from various directions. First, the US stopped unconditionally supporting Israel and even started to exert diplomatic pressure on it to exact unilateral concessions to Palestinians from its former ally. The result was the emergence of A. Sharon's disengagement plan to evict all Israelis from the Gaza Strip and from several West Bank settlements, which the Israeli army helped to implement. Israel was politically divided over the plan. Another trend is the growing activity of leftist parties and intellectuals like I. Shamir in Israel whose demands border on the abolition of the Jewish state. The eulogization of Nazi criminals – especially those of them who, like S. Bandera, were notorious for massacring Jews – no longer seems to be a taboo. Representatives of the Roman Catholic Church are routinely making statements concerning the Holocaust that dissonate with the traditional version defined by the sense of guilt over the position of Pope Pius XII during World War II. Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek claimed no Holocaust had ever taken place, the events in question were an ordinary part of war, and now Jews make money blackmailing the rest of the world. All of the examples illustrate that the global ruling circles' approach to Jews is changing.

Considering the proportions of the current financial crisis one cannot rule out that Jews are going to face new large-scale abuses in the foreseeable future.