July 07, 2010
In his message of February 12, 2007, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the No.2 to Osama bin Laden, has spoken of a global Jihadi Intifada. Has he spoken of any special areas of focus for this Intifada?
Whenever he talks of a global jihad or now of a global Jihadi Intifada, Zawahiri makes it clear that this has to cover all lands in the world, which rightfully belong to Islam. After saying so, he specifies certain areas, which he thinks should receive special attention first. Of these, he gives the topmost priority to Afghanistan and Iraq. He says the future of Islam and of the global Intifada itself will be decided in those countries. If they can defeat the Americans there, the jihadis' victory in the rest of the lands will be assured. After mentioning these two countries, he mentions certain other areas specifically. He believes that the victory of the jihadis in these areas would also be crucial for the ultimate victory of Islam. These areas are Palestine, including Gaza, the Lebanon, Somalia, Algeria and Chechnya in Russia. He describes Somalia as the Southern garrison of Islam and Algeria as its Western garrison.
What does he mean by Jihadi Intifada?
A kind of struggle in which the role of motivated individual Muslims will become more important than that of organisations so that the weakening or collapse of an organisation does not result in a collapse of the Intifada. He wants the Intifada to acquire a momentum of its own as a result of the sacrifices of individual Muslims...... The importance of a central command and control in keeping the Intifada going is down-played. The motivation of individual Muslims is more important than any centralised command and control. He also projects the Intifada as a mix of military and non-military struggles. He says in his message of December 20, 2006: "We must bear arms. And if we are unable to bear them, then we must support those who carry them. This support comes in many forms and guises, so we must exploit all Dawah, student and union activities to back the Jihadi resistance....... The Muslim Ummah must exploit all methods of popular protest, like demonstrations, sit-ins, strikes, refusing to pay taxes, preventing cooperation with the security forces, refusing to provide the Crusaders with fuel, hitting traders who supply the Crusader forces, boycotting Crusader and Jewish products, and other ways of popular protest."
----- From my article of February 14,2007, titled JIHADI INTIFADA: QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS available at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/common/uploaded_files/paper2135.html
What we are witnessing in certain areas of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) is the beginning of an intifada of Zawahiri's conception as propounded by him in his messages of February 12,2007,and earlier addressed to the Muslims of the world. One does not know whether Al Qaeda has had any role in the current violence in J&K, but its idea that the time had come to transform the jihad characterised by acts of terrorism into an intifada on a global scale characterised by leaderless street violence and the technique of a mix of military and non-military struggles has had some impact on the thinking and behaviour of some sections of the Kashmiri youth.
2. We are confronted with a situation marked by leaders without followers and followers without leaders. The traditional political leaders of J&K have no influence over the agitating youth. The agitating youth have no identifiable leaders to whom an approach can be made by the Government for bringing down the violence. Whatever be the extent of the Pakistani role in instigating the violence, it has acquired a momentum of its own unrelated to Pakistan. Islamabad has been exploiting the violence, but does not seem to be the originator of it.
3. The root cause is the growing perception among some sections of the youth that the security forces have been insensitive in performing their counter-insurgency duties and have been adopting objectionable methods ( e.g alleged false encounters) and using disproportionate force against the people. The current street violence has had no strategic political objective relating to the future political status of J&K. It is the result of an outburst of anger against the security forces. It does not have a strategic direction as yet, but may acquire one if it continues without the anger of the participating youth being pacified by the Government.
4. The anger of the youth might have been pacified initially if the Governments at Srinagar and New Delhi had shown some understanding of the anger and initiated measures to pacify it such as enquiries into allegations of excesses by the security forces, paying greater attention to complaints of violations of the human rights of the people and better ways of dealing with street protestors without using firearms. The succes of the last general elections in which nearly two-thirds of the voters participated and the perception that the ground situation was coming under control created a feeling of over-confidence in the Government at the centre, which slowed down the efforts to find a political soplution to the demands of the people and showed an increased insensitivity towards the anger of sections of the youth against the security forces.
5. The current movement started due to some anger against the security forces. Perceptions of political indifference to that anger has led to the anger turning against the political leadership. We find ourselves caught in a vicious circle. The more the publicly expressed anger against the security forces, the more the force used against the agitators and the more the force used against the agitators, the more the anger against the security forces.
6. When there was a decline in violence and we should have been taking advantage of it to deal with strategic issues relating to the future political set-up, we did not do so. Now, when the immediate objectiove should be to reduce the anger of the moment due to the grievances against the security forces, we are talking of long-term political issues. Better methods of street control to avoid the use of firearms, prompt and satisfactory attention to the complaints of the people regarding excessive use of force and violations of human rights, greater interactions between the Government and the agitating youth, greater control over our rhetoric to avoid demonisation of the agitators and attempts to remove the impression that the Government tends to bat for the errant elements in the security forces and not for the people are some of the immediate steps required. The use of the Army against the street agitators would be unwise unless the situation turms desperate leaving no other option. ( 8-7-10)
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org )
“The Hindu” of July 7,2010, has carried an article by its terrorism analyst Praveen Swami titled “Pakistan’s Competing Jihadists.” The article refers to a message purported to have been issued before his death (confirmed by Al Qaeda) in a US Drone strike in May last by Sai’d al-Masri (al-Masri means the Egyptian) also known as Mustafa Abu al-Yazid. He was reputedly the No.3 in Al Qaeda and was in charge of operations in Afghanistan.
2.According to Shri Swami, an English translation of this message was made available to him “by the Washington DC based Middle East Media Research Institute”. This Institute is popularly known as MEMRI. It is alleged to have close links with the Israeli Military Intelligence and the Likud Party.
3. Wikipedia comments as follows on MEMRI: “The Middle East Media Research Institute, or MEMRI for short, is a Middle Eastern press monitoring organization. Its headquarters is located in Washington, DC, with branch offices in Jerusalem, Berlin, London, Rome, Shanghai, Baghdad, and Tokyo. MEMRI was co-founded in 1998 by Yigal Carmon, a former colonel in Israeli military intelligence, and another Israeli Meyrav Wurmser. It provides a free source of English language translations of material published in Arabic and Persian script, and publishes its analyses and in-depth reports on its website - although it also offers specialized content for a fee. The organization's translations are regularly quoted by major international newspapers, and its work has generated strong criticism and praise. Some critics have accused MEMRI of selectively choosing for translation and dissemination the most extreme views from Arabic and Persian media, which portray the Arab and Muslim world in a negative light, while ignoring moderate views that are often found in the same media outlets. Other critics charge that while MEMRI does sometimes translate pro-US or pro-democracy voices in the regional media, it systematically leaves out intelligent criticism of Western-style democracy, US and Israeli policy and secularism. MEMRI's current mission statement states the organization "explores the Middle East through the region's media. MEMRI bridges the language gap which exists between the West and the Middle East, providing timely translations of Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Urdu-Pashtun media, as well as original analysis of political, ideological, intellectual, social, cultural, and religious trends in the Middle East." Until 2001, its Mission Statement stated that the institute also emphasizes "the continuing relevance of Zionism to the Jewish people and to the state of Israel." MEMRI's goals and emphasis have evolved over the years; it originally translated articles in both Arabic and Hebrew. Concerning this change in their ‘mission statement,’ Political Research Associates (PRA), which studies the US political right, notes that it occurred three weeks after the September 11 attacks, and considers MEMRI "was previously more forthcoming about its political orientation in its self-description and in staff profiles on its website." PRA considers that “MEMRI's slogan, ‘Bridging the Language Gap Between the Middle East and the West,’ does not convey the institute's stridently pro-Israel and anti-Arab political bias.” It further notes, that MEMRI's founders, Wurmser and Carmon, “are both hardline pro-Israel ideologues aligned with Israel's Likud party.”
4. So far as one knows, the message of al-Masri disseminated by MEMRI has not yet been authenticated by any official Western agency or non-governmental organization studying messages purported to have been disseminated by Al Qaeda, its leaders and as-Sahab, the propaganda wing of Al Qaeda, but one is subject to correction.
5. In its intro to Shri Swami’s article, “The Hindu” says: “ For the first time, the al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for an attack in India.” “The Hindu’s” reference is to the explosion in the German bakery in Pune on February 13 last. Mr.Swami himself writes in his article as follows: “ For the first time, though, al-Masri referred to the Pakistan-based jihadist Muhammad Ilyas Kashmiri as an official part of the Al Qaeda--- and made public his role in an attack on India.”
6.According to Mr.Swami, the message as supplied by MEMRI says as follows: “ I bring you the good tidings that last February’s India operation was against a Jewish locale in the West of the Indian capital in the area of the German bakeries--- a fact that the enemy tried to hide---- and close to 20 Jews were killed in the operation, a majority of them from the so-called statelet, Israel. The person who carried out this operation was a heroic soldier from the “Soldiers of the Sacrifice Brigade”, which is one of the brigades of Qaedat al-Jihad ( the al-Qaeda’s formal name) in Kashmir under the command of commander Ilyas Kashmiri, may Allah preserve him.”
7. Commenting on the claim made in the message. Mr.Swami says: “ From the text, it is clear that al-Masri had little knowledge of the bombing of the German Bakery in Pune. Pune is not to the west of New Delhi; it is not Jewish-owned; and no Israelis were killed there. There would thus be no reason to take al-Masri’s claims seriously--- if it weren’t for the testimony of Pakistani-American jihadist David Headley.”
8. al-Masri was born in Egypt on December 17, 1955. Along with Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al Qaeda’s No.2,he was a founding member of the Islamic Jihad of Egypt, which was alleged to have been involved in the assassination of then Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981. He was arrested by the Egyptian authorities along with Zawahiri. They managed to escape and reach Afghanistan in 1988 and join Osama bin Laden. When bin Laden went to the Sudan in 1991 after his passport was reportedly cancelled by the Saudi authorities, al-Masri joined him there and was appointed by bin Laden as an accountant of a business company started by him in the Sudan. In 1996, under US pressure, the Sudanese authorities asked bin Laden to leave the Sudan. He went to Afghanistan accompanied by al-Masri. Zawahiri joined them there. The US National Commission, which enquired into the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US homeland, described him as the Chief Financial Manager of Al Qaeda. In May 2007, bin Laden was reported to have designated him as in charge of Al Qaeda’s operations in Afghanistan. In that capacity, he was responsible for co-ordination of operations with the Afghan Taliban.
9. In February 2009, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) had received a message purported to be from Mustafa Abu-al Yazid, warning of more Mumbai-style attacks. The message, whose authenticity could not be established, sought to create an impression as if the 28/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai were carried out by Al Qaeda.
10.I had commented as follows on that mesaage : “ His warnings of more Mumbai-style attacks should be factored into our security arrangements and that means, strengthening physical security not only for possible Indian targets, but also for possible foreign targets such as those of Israel and the US. A rule of prudence is don’t ignore a threat unless and until it is proved to be false. The message needs careful analysis in co-operation with Al Qaeda experts in the US. The message suspiciously serves the Pakistani agenda of projecting the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai as executed by an international jihadi group based in Europe and inspired by Al Qaeda. There are suspicious elements in the message. Why was it disseminated through the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and not initially through Al Jazeera? Why has it not yet appeared in the web sites associated with Al Qaeda? Why there was no reference to the Mumbai attack in the one message of Osama bin Laden and two of his No.2 Ayman al-Zawahiri disseminated by Al Qaeda since the beginning of this year? Why the message has not been disseminated through As Sahab, the official propaganda organ of Al Qaeda.”
11. Subsequently, in April,2009, another message purporting to be from al-Masri circulated through the Internet. It read as follows: “. “We send a short and succinct message to the Indian Government. The Mujahideen will never allow you to invade the Muslims and their lands in Pakistan. If you beguile yourselves into doing this, know well that you will pay a very heavy price, which you will regret much. We will call upon our whole Muslim nation, its Mujahideen and its martyrdom squads against you. We will strike your interests and your economic lifelines wherever they may be until you are demolished and bankrupt as America is being demolished and going bankrupt today. The Islamic nation which produced the audacious and heroic martyrs of Bombay, who struck you in the midst of your homes and humiliated you, is able to produce thousands more like them. You cannot be more powerful or have more ability than the Soviet Union which was destroyed on the rocks of the Afghanistan mountains nor Americans whose nose we rubbed in the dirt of Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia.”
12. This message added to the suspicion that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence might be behind the dissemination of these messages in order to draw suspicion away from the LET for the terrorist strikes of 26/11 in Mumbai. After the Pune Bakery attack, Syed Saleem Shahzad , the Karachi correspondent of “Asia Times Online”, received an E-mail message purporting to be from Ilyas Kashmiri threatening terrorist strikes in India during the World Cup Hockey League and IPL cricket matches as well as during the forthcoming Commonwealth Games. In his dispatch to the Asia Times on this, Mr.Shahzad reported as follows: “ Asia Times Online has received a message from top guerrilla commander Ilyas Kashmiri, whose 313 Brigade is an operational arm of al-Qaeda. The message arrived on Monday morning (Feb.15), shortly after the deadly weekend bombing of the German Bakery in the western Indian city of Pune. The message does not specifically claim responsibility for the bombing, but implies the Brigade's involvement.”
13. Even after the July,2006, explosions in the Mumbai suburban trains, a person, who gave his name as Abu al Hadeed, had rung up the office of the Current News Service (CNS) in Srinagar claiming responsibility in the name of what he described as Al Qaeda of J&K. However, indigenous Kashmiri organisations ridiculed the claim and said that there was no such organisation in the State.
14.On June 8, 2007, the same news agency is reported to have received a statement in Urdu recorded in a CD in the name of one Abu Abdal Rehman al-Ansari, described as the Amir of Al Qaeda fil Hind (Al Qaeda in India). The statement was read out by a masked gunman, who gave his name as Abu Ibrahim al-Asim before a camera. Whereas the 2006 statement was in the name of Al Qaeda of J&K, the statement of June 8, 2007, was in the name of Al Qaeda of India. Both the statements had referred to al-Ansari as the Amir of Al Qaeda. The June 8 statement pledged to wage jihad not only on India, but also against all infidels, apostates and hypocrites and against "enemies masqueradng as friends" . It criticised both the factions of the Hurriyat Conference and the Pakistan-based United Jihad Council headed by Syed Salahuddin of the Hizbul Mujahideen.
15. There are two types of messages purporting to be from Al Qaeda relating to India. The first are video or audio messages of Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri relating to the global jihad and the global intifada in which there are references to India, including Kashmir. These have been authenticated by Western intelligence agencies on the basis of voice recognition. They are in the form of general criticism of India or general threats and not specific.
16. The second are messages claiming responsibility on behalf of Al Qaeda for specific acts of terrorism in India such as the Mumbai suburban train explosions of July 2006, the Mumbai terrorist strikes of 26/11 and the Pune German bakery explosion and warning of future acts of terrorism against global sports events in India. These are messages circulated through the Internet or through phone calls by persons whose voices could not be identified. There is no way of establishing the authenticity of these messages. We must take them seriously for further investigation and strengthening physical security. At the same time, we should take care not to walk into any trap of the ISI to divert suspicion away from the LET and other Pakistani jihadi organizations and from the ISI for serious acts of terrorism in Indian territory by creating an impression that those were carried out by Al Qaeda.
17. It is quite possible that there was an active role of Al Qaeda in acts of terrorism in Indian territory, including Jammu & Kashmir. It has been particularly keen to attack Jewish targets in India, including the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi. Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, who had orchestrated the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US, had admitted to have once visited India and had told US interrogators of Al Qaeda’s intention for an attack on the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi. But it is doubtful whether Al Qaeda is as yet in a position to organize a major strike in Indian territory on its own without the collaboration of the LET and other Pakistani organizations. We should not walk into any ISI trap for creating an impression that Al Qaeda has supplanted the ISI’s surrogates such as the LET. ( 7-7-10)
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: email@example.com )
M R Venkatesh, Coimbatore, June 25, DH News Service:
The intelligentsia and even the politicians were in for shock at the World Classical Tamil Conference here on Friday, when a Finland-based Indologist turned the spotlight on a Dravidian-Aryan continuum while demolishing the Aryan-Dravidian divide as a myth.
In a landmark presentation that was a complete turnaround from singing paeans to the 86-year-old Dravidian patriarch M Karunanidhi and Tamil culture’s glory, renowned Indologist, Prof Asko Parpola, presenting the conclusions of his three decades-long research on ‘A Dravidian Solution to the Indus Script Problem’, told a stunned gathering that “an opening to the secrets of the Indus Script (which is yet to be deciphered) has been achieved”.
Older forms of Tamil, Kannada and other ‘Dravidian languages’ in his firm opinion hold the key to take forward this finding that the underlying language of the Indus Valley Civilisation “was proto-Dravidian”.
The best way to “read” the signs in ‘thousands of short texts’ of the Indus script was through old Tamil, Prof Parpola, of the Helsinki University in Finland, drove home in his breathtaking 90-minute talk.
Proof of hypothesis
As proof of his hypothesis, Prof Parpola correlated several ‘pictograms’ found in Indus Valley inscribed with ‘Harappan’ stoneware bangles with words like ‘Muruku’ (meaning arm-ring/bangle) from old Tamil literature.
“This (old Tamil) is the only ancient Dravidian source not much contaminated by Indo-Aryan languages and traditions,” Prof. Parpola, the first recipient of the ‘Kalaignar Karunanidhi Classical Tamil Award’, argued.
Pointing out that ‘radiocarbon dating’ has fixed the period of the ‘mature Harappan phase’, when the Indus Script was used to 2600-1900 BCE, he said the ‘Indus Civilisation’ collapsed many centuries before hymns were composed in ‘Vedic Sanskrit’ around 1000 BCE.
However, the rich religious/cultural heritage in South Asia till now has been preserved both by the speakers of Dravidian languages (predominantly in South India) and the people of North India, Prof. Parpola emphasised, to demolish the myth of a clear Aryan-Dravidian divide.
Dr Parpola’s work left the top DMK leadership seated in front, nonplussed, kindling them to rethink the Aryan-Dravidian divide issue.
Chief Minister, M Karunanidhi, though, had to leave half-way, when the news came in that the Congress Legislature party leader in the Tamil Nadu Assembly, D Sudarshanam, who had come for the WCTC, had been rushed to a private hospital here after he suffered a heart attack.
July 06, 2010
While the main wing of Al Qaeda based in Pakistan’s tribal areas continues to draw its recruits, volunteers and supporters from the Arabic-speaking residents of West Asia and North Africa, with little command of the English language, its branch based in Yemen known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has been drawing its adherents not only from the Arabic-speaking population of the region, but also from the community of Muslims in the English-speaking world who feel more comfortable with English than with Arabic.
2. its recently started English web journal called “Inspire” is directed to the Muslims of the English-speaking world. It will serve the dual purpose of acting as the propaganda journal of AQAP and on line training facility for enabling self-radicalised jihadis in the English-speaking world to acquire expertise in the use of weapons and explosives and techniques of waging a jihad without having to visit the training camps of AQAP in Yemen.
3. The difficulties hitherto faced by self-radicalised Muslims of the English-speaking world due to their poor command of the Arabic language are sought to be removed through ideological and technical manuals and instructions in the English language.
4. The idea of propaganda, ideological indoctrination, motivation and self-acquired expertise through the medium of the English language seems to have been inspired by Anwar al- Awlaki, the ideological mentor of the AQAP, who is of US-origin and reportedly feels as comfortable with the English language as he does with Arabic unlike Osama bin Laden, his No.2 Ayman al-Zawahiri and other Al Qaeda leaders based in Pakistan and Yemen who feel more comfortable with Arabic than with English. Their poor command of English comes in the way of their direct communications with their followers in the English-speaking world.
5.Under the guidance of Awlaki, the AQAP is seeking to capitalize on the interest of self-radicalised elements in the English-speaking world to take to jihad. An example of such interest has come from Singapore where the local security authorities are reported to have detained for two years under the Internal Security Act a 20-year-old Singaporean Muhammad Fadil Abdul Hamid, who has been described by Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) as a full-time national serviceman in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).He was actually detained on April 4,2010, but his detention has been officially revealed only now.
6.News agency reports giving the official account of his detention have given the following details of the case: Muhammad Fadil, who was a student in a local polytechnic before joining the SAF, had been surfing the Internet for jihadist propaganda material. It is not known whether he continued his Internet search for jihadi material even after joining the SAF. Most probably, he did. It is possible his interest in jihadi material had not come to notice before he joined the SAF. Otherwise, if it had come to notice even then, he might not have been taken into the SAF on a full-time basis.
7.According to the news agency accounts, he got radicalized through the Internet, convinced himself of his religious obligation as a Muslim to join other radicalized Muslims for an armed jihad and established online contact with Awlaki and expressed his wish to join him in his jihad. He was also reported to have contacted through the Internet an Al Qaeda recruiter whose identity has not been indicated by the Singapore authorities. He collected material on bomb-making through his Internet search and produced and posted a video justifying suicide bombing.
8.According to Singapore’s MHA, as reported by the news agencies, Muhammad Fadil did not undertake nor did he have any plans to undertake jihad-related activities in Singapore. He intended to pursue such activities in places like Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq.
9.In response to media queries, Singapore's Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) has stated that Muhammad Fadil was a trainee undergoing section leader training in the Pasir Laba Camp at the time of his arrest. He attended but did not complete his polytechnic course prior to his enlistment for national service in September 2009.
10.According to the MHA, two other Singaporeans have been placed under Restriction Orders (RO) for two years from June 23, 2010. One of them is 44-year-old Muhammad Anwar Jailani, who has been described as an unaccredited religious teacher. He had distributed to his students, contacts and the general public numerous copies of CDs containing audio recordings of Anwar al-Awlaki's lectures, which called on Muslims to undertake militant jihad against non-Muslims and other "enemies" of Islam. The other is 27-year-old Muhammad Thahir Shaik Dawood. He runs a small business and is one of Muhammad Anwar's students who became radicalised mainly through his influence. Muhammad Thahir had allegedly travelled to Yemen to enrol in an educational institution run by an associate of Osama bin Laden. He also sought out Anwar al-Awlaki and other radicals with a view to participating in armed jihad overseas if the opportunity presented itself. While still in Yemen, he began to have second thoughts about the wisdom of undertaking an armed jihad, gave up his idea and returned to Singapore.
11.There are some loose-ends in the official account as given by the Singapore authorities. Some questions remain unanswered. Was Muhammad Fadil connected to these two individuals? When and how Muhammad Anwar developed interest in Awlaki? Was it also through the Internet or whether Awlaki’s men have been visiting Singapore? Did the authorities come to know of Muhammad Fadil’s self-radicalisation and interest in Awlaki independently even before Muhammad Thahir returned to Singapore and was questioned by the authorities or did Thahir tell them about Fadil during his questioning.
12.The case speaks well of the alertness of the Singapore intelligence and security authorities and their ability to detect radicalizing trends before they assume threatening proportions. At the same time, it should be a matter of concern that despite the prosperity of the Muslim community of Singapore and the interest taken by the authorities in promoting their welfare, there are elements which are amenable to extra-territorial indoctrination and inclined to take to jihad. Despite the confidence of the local authorities that Fadil wanted to wage jihad abroad and not in Singapore, one should not lose sight of attempts being made by the AQAP to recruit Muslims who can travel freely across the Western world and use them for acts of terrorism against the West similar to its attempts to blow up an American plane over Detroit in the US on Christmas Day by using a Nigerian student studying in London with a valid visa for the US.
13.Since 2001, Al Qaeda has shown an interest in organizing an act of terrorism in Singapore against a US ship touching at the local port similar to the attack on USS Cole at Aden in October 2000. Self-radicalised volunteers like Fadil would come in handy for such operations. Self-radicalised elements in the Singapore Muslim community may not have any grievance against the Singapore Government and may not let themselves be used by Al Qaeda against Singaporean targets, but they could be brain-washed by Al Qaeda to undertake operations against US or other Western targets in Singapore territory. ( 6-7-10)
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org )
July 05, 2010
This paper examines the recent progress in, and challenges to, Pakistan’s counter-insurgency strategy and advances four main recommendations on how to make international support to Pakistan effective and worthwhile.
The author of this Special Report is Mr Haider Mullick, a Fellow at the US Joint Special Operations University.
Edito Energie, juin 2010
The package of the Azeri-Turkish gas agreements signed in Istanbul on 7 June in the presence of President Ilham Aliyev and Prime Minister Recep Erdogan certainly makes cooperation easier in a sector which both parties consider to be strategic. It does not, however, specify all details of the sale and transit of gas (see e.g. EurasiaNet, 7 June). The documents above all have important political significance. The resumption of gas negotiations and the ability to reach a compromise on gas cooperation to the satisfaction of both Azerbaijan and Turkey serve as proof of a warming of relations between the two countries. Good, bilateral relations will make it easier for both Azerbaijan and Turkey to implement their regional political interests (in the south Caucasus and also, as an example, in dealings with Russia) and bring them tangible economic benefits. The further specification of the commercial details for gas cooperation and the relatively rapid signing of final documents is, however, very much in the interests of Azerbaijan and the implementation of its energy policy goals (putting into operation routes for the profitable gas exports to the west). For Turkey, however, the current outline format of the gas deal seems to be sufficient at the moment – it will smooth the way for them to inter alia negotiate with other producers while still leaving room for manoeuvre with Azerbaijan. In consequence, it is presently difficult to say much about the ultimate shape and way of implementating the deal and about its actual significance for the Southern Corridor concept supported by the EU.
Signing the deal
The documents signed by the energy ministers of Azerbaijan and Turkey and the heads of energy corporations SOCAR and Botas (being 2 Memoranda of Understanding and one Declaration) determined, according to media reports, the following:
- the conditions for settling outstanding payments and for the present supplies of Azeri gas from the current 1st phase of exploitation of the largest Azeri deposit, Shah Deniz (according to information revealed in the Turkish press, the price is set to rise from US$120 to US$300 per 1000m³);
- the volumes of Azeri gas exports to Turkey in the coming years: from the 2nd phase of Shah Deniz (which is set to commence c. 2016), 6 bcm of gas will be delivered to the Turkish market. Additionally 1.2 bcm/y will be supplied to the Petkim petrochemical holding (owned by a joint venture made up of SOCAR and Turcas Rafineri); and
- an outline of regulations for transit to Europe through Turkish territory (according to the Turkish press the transit fee for Azeri gas is to be around US$45 /1000 cubic meters).
There remain, however, a few issues which in the long-term will require further clarification (for example, those concerning precise rules of transit and a finalized formulation enabling changes in the price for Azeri gas over the coming years, especially when Shah Deniz II starts) and talks on this subject should, according to what is being said by the Azeris, last approximately 6-8 months.
A background to the current deal
A major source of the Azeri-Turkish problems was (aside from Turkish attempts to improve relations with Armenia) the inability to reach a consensus regarding the price of Azeri gas sold to Turkey (in 2009 this led to no agreed price being set) and no agreement being reached for the terms for the transit of gas to Europe. The intensification of gas talks and the reaching of a compromise acceptable for both sides following two years of ineffective negotiations and worsening Azeri-Turkish relations has come directly after the breakdown (in April 2010) of the process to normalise Turkish-Armenian relations. However, the concessions made by Turkey were undoubtedly partly caused by activities taken by Azerbaijan aimed at limiting its strong, unilateral dependence on the sale and transit of Azeri fuel (gas and especially oil) through Turkish territory. Baku, in an attempt to reduce the asymmetry in energy relations with Ankara, initiated an active search for alternative routes for gas export. One effect of this was the appearance of a project strongly supported by Azerbaijan in recent months for LNG exports from Georgian coast, via the Black Sea to Romania (AGRI project).
The significance of the gas compromise for Azerbaijan …
A long-term improvement in relations with Turkey (possible in part due to working out binding rules for gas cooperation which are satisfactory for both parties) would bring many benefits to Azerbaijan. It is key in the political sphere (as a counterbalance to relations with Russia and Iran and to strengthen its relations with the West), for security (the Nagorno-Karabakh issue), and for the economy (initiating profitable gas export routes to the EU). Against this background the deal that has been signed will above all bring a short term results. It facilitates bilateral cooperation not only in the gas sphere, including specific Azeri investments in Turkey. One of the issues solved is that of gas supplies to the co-owned by SOCAR Petkim petrochemical holding which used to be a problematic issue for Azeri company. There is an increased likelihood that the Turkish administration will consent to the same j.v. constructing a refinery worth 5 billion euros.
The longer term effects of documents signed are not certain, although the agreement in principle that has been reached paves the way for firm commitments and stable future cooperation. The outline transit deal makes it possible to begin concrete talks on the subject of Azerbaijan selling gas to European buyers. Nevertheless, in order to be able to finalise these talks and to choose the optimal gas export route(s) for Azerbaijan (choosing from Southern Corridor projects running through Turkish territory - Nabucco, the Turkish-Greek-Italian ITGI interconnector, the transadriatic pipeline TAP - and AGRI) it will be necessary to bring a relatively quick conclusion to the gas talks with Turkey, including specifying all the details currently missing which are connected to the trade and transport of gas.
... and for Turkey
Reaching a compromise in gas cooperation issues with Azerbaijan undoubtedly also serves Turkish interests. Nevertheless it is worth remembering that from Ankara’s perspective, with its visibly growing regional ambitions, Azerbaijan is only one of its important partners when it comes to the gas sphere. This is why the fact of signing these documents is being used in the large part as a means to realise its aims/goals only indirectly (if at all) linked to Azeri-Turkish relations. By making partial concessions (e.g. in connection with the current price for Azeri gas) Ankara is trying:
- to gain the trust of its main partner in the south Caucasus, which – especially after the fiasco of the talks with Armenia – would increase the efficacy of its regional policy.
- to confirm its will and the actual possibility of realization a transit corridor on Turkish territory carrying Caspian gas to the EU. This seems to be a major element in the implementation of Turkey’s ambitions to create a strategic (for Europe and the Eurasian and Middle East gas producers) gas hub.
- to gain a bargaining chip in the ongoing talks on energy cooperation with Russia; above all in the difficult gas negotiations (concerning a change in the terms for gas supplies to Turkey and the South Stream and Blue Stream II gas pipeline projects).
Consequences for regional gas export projects
The warming of Azeri-Turkish relations and the perspective of an intensified gas cooperation is ringing alarm bells in Russia. On the one hand it hampers the ongoing negotiations to extend the gas contract for the supply of 6 bcm of Russian gas. The contract expires at the beginning of next year and is one of three currently in force. On the other hand Russia is worried by the perspective of an acceleration of the implementation of projects for exporting Caspian gas through Turkey (e.g. Nabucco) which are in competition with Gazprom’s plans (the South Stream pipeline).
The current deal clearly simplifies negotiations concerning the sale of Azeri gas to EU markets and makes plans for the transit of Caspian gas through Turkey more realistic. However, it does not constitute a breakthrough which will make possible a fundamental speeding up of work on the process of making final investment decisions concerning the specific projects of the Southern Corridor (Nabucco, ITGI and TAP).
It seems that the finalisation of Azeri-Turkish talks and the determining of clear, unambiguous rules for gas transit to the EU could speed up work especially on the implementation of the ITGI and TAP projects. The Nabucco partners signed already in July 2009 an intergovernmental agreement that regulates the issue of gas transit through Turkey, but the project would certainly benefit from ameliorating relations between Azerbaijan and Turkey and the increased prospects of their productiv cooperation in the gas sector. At the same time it appears that in parallell with solving the transit issue for all the projects of the Southern Corridor concept it is necessary to make sure the contracts for the delivery of gas are signed.
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, July 4
Another “fight” is set to begin in the Indian defence sector in the next couple of weeks. On one side is India’s long standing defence partner Russia and on the other is its new-found strategic friend the USA, which is vying to further chip away at the largely Russian hold over the sector.
Within next three weeks, the Indian Air Force will commence field trials to select a heavy lift helicopter for its operations. The trials will be conducted in hot conditions of deserts and on Himalayan heights. US company Boeing with its “Chinook”, which operates for NATO forces in Afghanistan, will compete with Russian Mi-26 for the deal.
The IAF is looking to replace the ageing lot of the previous generation Mi-26 inducted in the mid 1980’s. Russia’s Rosoboronexport, the makers of the chopper, have offered the latest version.
A heavy lift chopper is of immense strategic value as it can lift up to 70 armed troops and even lift artillery guns like the ultra light howitzers which the Indian Army is buying for deployment in mountainous areas bordering China and Pakistan. Among its several other usages is the rapid deployment of missile launchers for Agni or Prithvi from one place to other.
Mi-26 with 20-tonne carrying capacity, which is the biggest among choppers, have even lifted Bofors guns to higher reaches, placed bulldozers at a height of 16,500 feet and landed critical equipment for the IAF at places like Ladakh.
US-made Chinook, which has contra-rotating twin-rotors to withstand rough weather, is being used extensively in Afghanistan to maintain steady supplies to the troops. It can also carry artillery guns slung under its belly to be dropped off at inaccessible locations. Both choppers have twin-engined operations.
The same US and Russian companies will also be in race for attack choppers the IAF is buying. Trials for them are slated to start in two months. The Boeing is offering its “AH 64D” Apache fighting machine, which is on duty in Afghanistan, while Russian Rosoboronexport has offered newer versions of its latest Mi 28 ‘Havoc’ helicopter, which was inducted by its armed forces in 2006.
The US “challenge” to the Russians is the new face of India’s evolving defence needs wherein it has ordered C-130 J medium transport aircraft from another US company, Lockheed Martin, delivery of which starts at the end of this year. This even as the IAF operates some 100 AN 32 medium transport planes of the Soviet-era which are presently undergoing phased refit at Ukraine.
C-17 Globemaster, a big transport aircraft, has been okayed by the US Congress for sale to India through the foreign military sales (FMS) route. India is looking to replace IL-76, another Russian origin plane. The cost may be hindrance, the US plane costs somewhere around $580 million a piece, while the Russian one is for one-tenth the price.
Separately, the IAF has already placed an order to buy 80 MI-17 “V5” series choppers to replace the existing lot of MI-17’s - another workhorse in the mountains.
Another contract for the long-range sea-based reconnaissance for the Indian Navy has been awarded to a US company, while the Russians are supplying the Airborne Early Warning Systems (AWACS) for the IAF.
The fight goes on. The US has bagged the contract to supply business jets for VVIP travel, while Italian chopper maker AgustaWestland had bagged the contract to provide 12 choppers for VVIP use.
Books were good at developing a contemplative mind. Screens encourage more utilitarian thinking. A new idea or unfamiliar fact will provoke a reflex to do something: to research the term, to query your screen “friends” for their opinions, to find alternative views, to create a bookmark, to interact with or tweet the thing rather than simply contemplate it. Book reading strengthened our analytical skills, encouraging us to pursue an observation all the way down to the footnote. Screen reading encourages rapid pattern-making, associating this idea with another, equipping us to deal with the thousands of new thoughts expressed every day. The screen rewards, and nurtures, thinking in real time. We review a movie while we watch it, we come up with an obscure fact in the middle of an argument, we read the owner’s manual of a gadget we spy in a store before we purchase it rather than after we get home and discover that it can’t do what we need it to do.
Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/specialsections/40th-anniversary/Reading-in-a-Whole-New-Way.html?c=y&page=1#ixzz0ss5JC3nF
July 04, 2010
By Divya Kumar Soti
Recent indications from Pakistan suggest some intriguing inferences about Hafiz Saeed’s political motives. In a rally organized by Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) last month in Lahore- which was attended by representatives of all major political parties- Hafiz Saeed alleged that India is diverting water from major rivers flowing into Pakistan and the Indian conspiracy is to turn Pakistan barren. Jamat ud Dawa activists attending the rally were sporting the posters with messages like ‘Water flows or blood’. Hafiz Saeed called for Jehad against India.
In the whole drama, two themes are notable. Hafiz Saeed has chosen an issue that is very sensitive politically in Pakistan and has for decades created tensions between Sindh and Punjab. Alleged biased distribution of water has led various movements in Sindh in past against what is termed as Punjabi oppression by political parties based in Sindh. So, propagating a conspiracy theory around Pakistan’s chronic water shortage solves various purposes. Hafiz Saeed has mastered the art of mobilizing people and money in the name of purposes which are apparently charitable. But such mobilization always ends up in expansion of Lashkar-e-Taiba’s network. Hafiz Saeed used the 2004 Tsunami to expand LeT’s network in ASEAN countries and forged deep linkages with groups like Jemah Islamia. Similarly, Saeed capitalized upon earthquakes in Afghanistan and Kashmir Valley.
Jamat-ud-Dawa’s charitable ventures used to be a cover for logistic activities of LeT. Now, after 26/11, that cover is not effective anymore. So, Hafiz Saeed is banking upon the water shortage which is something more sensitive than religious charity. Even the Pakistanis who condemn religious extremism will easily believe the theory that India is diverting water. Hafiz Saeed knows this very well and is ready to exploit this general distrust of India. The mobilization of general public around Hafiz Saeed- if it is to happen- will provide a shield against any governmental action by Pak Government against him in wake of any future international pressure.
The water issue has a lot of charge and major mainstream political parties of Pakistan are feeling the pull. Actually, what has happened since Saeed’s release from preventive detention is not only surprising but alarming. He has successfully established himself as the convener of water agitation and demonstrated his power in Rawalpindi through a procession. All major political parties are not only sharing stage with him under the JuD banner but also seems to be ready to work under his leadership for the purpose. Hafiz Saeed is projecting himself as a nationalist fighting for causes which are vital for existence of Pakistan and his detention as the result of much cherished so called ‘Hindu-Zionist-Christian conspiracy’ to fail Pakistan- an explanation which commands wide reception for every problem which Pakistan faces but is either unable to explain or unwilling to accept the existence of. Hafiz Saeed knows how to exploit this.
At this juncture it is beneficial to go into flashback and have a look at the events after 9/11. The terror groups based in Punjab and focusing on India got confused as well as outraged due to volt face staged by then Pak President Musharraf vis-à-vis Pakistan’s support to Taliban in Afghanistan. Then came the terror strike on the Indian Parliament on 13 Dec, 2001. Under immense international pressure Musharraf regime banned the outfits like LeT and JeM. Deeply aggrieved by this JeM joined hands with then emerging Pakistani Taliban and moved its operations to tribal areas and Swat valley. Its leader Maulana Masood Azhar went underground. Hafiz Saeed’s case is a contrasting one. When LeT was banned, Hafiz Saeed came up with a new organization named Markaz ul Dawa wal Irshad. As this organization began to come in security radar, Hafiz Saeed floated this outfit anew by the name of Jamat-ud-Dawa which was apparently purported to focus upon charitable and religious activities. Unlike many other militant commanders Hafiz Saeed continued to work under strict guidance of ISI and continued to focus upon Indian Targets. He never went underground. Instead he tried to reinvent himself as a public figure. He kept LeT away from Afghan struggle for the time being to avoid American attention. In the meantime LeT continued to build sleeper cells in various countries and has now displaced Al-Qaeda in sophistication and outreach.
Hafiz Saeed deftly evolved a ‘plausible deniability’ mechanism around him under which he gave up direct command of LeT and established himself as the head of JuD. As a result of this knack, unlike Masood Azhar and several other militant leaders, he roams freely in Pakistan and at the same time runs a vast trans-national terror network with deniability and immunity. Now, JuD is taking up the role of the political wing of Lashkar-e-Taiba and is meddling in mainstream politics and social sphere. The raking up of water isuue is yet another attempt by Hafiz Saeed to establish him as a political and public figure which is facilitated by the downfall of extremist parties like Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) and decreasing appeal of Jamat-e-Islami.
(The author is an intelligence affairs analyst and may be reached at email@example.com)
July 4, 2010 — Budapest
Writer: Adam LeBor
They call her the Tatra Tigress, the fiery sociologist with flowing blonde hair who is set to take office as Slovakia’s first female prime minister on 8 July. Dr Iveta Radicova is the leader of the SDKU, the largest of the four centre-right parties that won 79 out of 150 seats in the June elections, toppling the left-wing populist, Robert Fico.
The sighs of relief could be heard from Washington to Brussels when Ivan Gasparovic, the president of Slovakia, asked Dr Radicova to create a coalition government. Slovakia’s friends and allies hope that her coalition government will mark the start of a new era, turning away from the old-style authoritarian, nationalistic politics and towards a forward-looking modernity – with a decidedly feminine touch.
Dr Radicova, 53, is a widow, and her late husband, Stano Radic, was one of Slovakia’s best-known comedians and intellectuals. She models herself on Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, but unlike Ms Merkel, is often emotional in public, says Milan Nic, a political analyst at the European Stability Initiative, a think-tank. “She is emotional and temperamental. She has a temper and she likes to show it off. Rather than being seen as a tough and resolute politician, she prefers to spend time with artists and intellectuals.”
Slovakia is one of Europe’s newest nations, carved out of the former Czechoslovakia, and independent only since 1993. For much of that time progress has been decidedly bumpy. Under the autocratic rule of Vladimir Meciar, the country’s first prime minister, Slovakia languished while its neighbours, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic pulled ahead in the race to European integration.
All that changed in 1998 after the election of Miklos Dzurinda as prime minister. Dzurinda kick-started the moribund Slovak economy, slashed taxes and attracted substantial foreign investment, especially in car manufacturing. Radicova served briefly under Dzurinda as minister for social affairs, as the compassionate face of his financially stringent government.
But in 2006 Dzurinda lost to Robert Fico, who claimed to be a leftist but formed a coalition with the far-right and openly racist and anti-Roma Slovak National Party. Although democratically elected, Fico seemed to be firmly of the region’s authoritarian old school: he attacked the media, launching numerous libel suits against the media, courted Russia, attempted to control sections of the economy and passed a restrictive law on minority languages that caused relations with Hungary to plunge to new depths. Even so, his strident populism resonated with many of his countrymen: his party, Smer, won 62 seats, making it the largest fraction, but not large enough for a majority.
But now the Tatra Tigress is about to take control, Slovakia is at a crucial turning point, says Milan Nic. “We are a deeply polarised country, with two faces. One is modern and culturally diverse. The other is nationally and culturally homogenous. The modern face won in June, just. But the country had modernised more than we thought and had adapted better than we realised.”
Dr Radicova faces enormous challenges and will have to clear up the country’s messy public finances while maintaining the social welfare safety net. But when she growls, Slovakia – and its neighbours – will sit up and listen.
Adam LeBor is Monocle’s Budapest correspondent. His thriller, The Budapest Protocol, is published by Reportage Press.