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Showing posts from September 23, 2007

Russia: When politics becomes a family affair

The prime minister is the defense minister's father-in-law. The energy minister is the health minister's husband. Nepotism is rampant in today's Russia, and the new government unveiled this week by President Vladimir Putin proves the point. From RFE/RL. By Brian Whitmore for RFE/RL (28/09/07) Family values dominate Russian President Vladimir Putin's new government. The prime minister is the defense minister's father-in-law. The energy minister is the health minister's husband. The justice minister's son is married to the deputy Kremlin chief of staff's daughter. Shortly after Putin nominated Viktor Zubkov as prime minister, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov announced his resignation. Since he was Zubkov's son-in-law, Serdyukov said, he could no longer serve in the cabinet due to conflict of interest laws. Nonsense, Putin appeared to suggest. In announcing the new cabinet on 24 September, Putin rejected Serdyukov's resignation and reappointed

Some Gandhian lessons for the Gandhis Sudheendra Kulkarni Posted online: Sunday, September 30, 2007 at 0000 hrs Sonia Gandhi, accompanied by her son Rahul, will be representing India at the UN General Assembly on October 2, when the world body will declare Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday as World Non-Violence Day. In what capacity she can represent India at the UN, one doesn’t know. It would have been in the fitness of things if India were represented by our prime minister. Also, given that it is an honour for India as a whole, the Indian delegation should have included prominent leaders of the opposition. However, these objections would doubtless be considered irrelevant at a time the Congress party is getting ready to coronate the fourth member of the Dynasty as India’s next prime minister. Since mother and son are going to New York for an event relating to the Mahatma, I wonder if either of them has seen a recently released movie about a father and his son. I am r

RAHUL GANDHI : Batting for the family ( NOT FOR INDIA)

Batting for the family Sep 27th 2007 | DELHI From The Economist print edition Rahul Gandhi continues his diffident climb to the top of Indian politics In private, Mr Gandhi is an intelligent conversationalist, anxious to talk about building a better India. But he has not grown in stature since he became a member of parliament in 2004, and seems more at home with development agencies than rough Indian politics. He did not do well when he led the Congress campaign in his home state of Uttar Pradesh earlier this year, and he has been resisting his mother's efforts to persuade him to take a national post. The Economist(Mar 22nd 2007 ) , "Caste, your vote" : "He (Rahul Gandhi) has done little to justify predictions that he will be prime minister after the next national elections, due in 2009 " “YOUNG blood in a billion hearts” screamed the front page of the Indian Express newspaper on September 25th, a day after Rahul Gandhi, who has a better chance than most of one

BOOK : The Baloch and Their Neighbours: Ethnic and Linguistic Contact in Balochistan in Historical and Modern Times

Carina Jahani, Agnes Korn (eds.): The Baloch and Their Neighbours: Ethnic and Linguistic Contact in Balochistan in Historical and Modern Times Wiesbaden (Reichert) 2003 ISBN 3-89500-366-2 380 pages incl. 10 maps, 59 Euro Description, Contents, Info and order form (pdf) The present volume contains the contributions of an international symposium on linguistic contact in Balochistan. The issues treated range from linguistic contact of Balochi and its neighbour languages in historical and modern times to sociolinguistic questions of multilingualism and to the role of Balochi as minority language in present-day Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and the Gulf States. The volume presents a comprehensive and multifacetted overview of current research on Balochi. orders: Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag Tauernstr. 11, D - 65199 Wiesbaden, Germany Fax: 0049 - 611 - 46 86 13

Agni Missile :Next variant to be inducted within 4 years Next variant of Agni to be inducted within 4 years: scientist Jalandhar (Punjab), Sep 26 (PTI) The next variant of Agni having a range of 5,000 km will be inducted into the armed forces withing four years, a senior DRDO scientist said today. "The next variant will also be fully indigenous and will be able to strike at over 5000 km range besides carrying heavy payloads ... It would be a multiple warhead missile with a capacity to carry four to 12 warheads," Advanced System Laboratory Director Avinash Chander said here. He was speaking at a talk on "Technology management for integrated guided missile programme with special reference to Agni intercontinental missile" at the DAV Institute of Engineering and Technology. He said the system would be meticulously designed so that the missile's direction and target could be changed in air. "We are trying to attain an

Swat a Paradise lost

By: Khurshid Khan Valley Swat, inhabited mostly by the Yusufzai tribe of Afghan and situated to the north of Pakistan, has witnessed numerous epochs for the last several thousand years. Since the Aryans, who migrated to the valley in 14 th century B.C, Alexander’s invasion in 327 BC, Buddhist civilization recorded by Chinese Buddhist pilgrims in 4th century A.D and the glorious period of the princely State of Swat till the merger with Pakistan in 1969. The Swat Yusufzai enjoyed freedom and neither had paid taxes to Delhi or Kabul not yielded obedience to any foreign law or administrative system. The valley has experienced diverse lifestyles, different worldviews, numerous cultural traditions, and distinct state institutions. SEE MORE PICTURES Everything seemed fine with the 5337 square kilometers area of the district and the 1.694701million people with a growth rate of 3.37, of the valley, despite upheavals in the rest of the Pashto speaking areas of the North West Frontier province o

INDIA : University course in missile sciences , helped by DRDO

India college students get chance at rocket science Tue Sep 18, 2007 1:10pm IST BHUBANESWAR, India (Reuters) - India's secretive defence research agency has helped launch a university course in missile sciences and opened its labs to students, hoping to infuse young talent into a stagnating technology programme. India's missile programme has built short- and long-range missiles, including one that can hit targets deep inside China. But its projects have been hit by time and cost overruns and the programme has also struggled to attract young engineers and scientists in the face of stiff competition from the more lucrative IT sector, experts say. A first-of-its-kind masters course in applied physics and ballistics, launched this month at Fakir Mohan University in Orissa , hopes to change that, officials said. "Students have high levels of creativity and we hope their association will help our research activities," W. Selvamurthy, a top Defence Research and Develo

Hunt oil deal with Kurds creating tension in Iraq: US

The KRG passed its own oil law in August and immediately entered into the exploration deal with Hunt. The US embassy official, who would not be named, told a media briefing the signing of contracts by the KRG while a controversial national oil bill is still before parliament was undermining national unity. "We think that these contracts have needlessly elevated tensions between the KRG and the Iraqi government," said the official. "Both parties share a common interest in the passage of a national law on hydrocarbons and energy sharing. We are pushing all parties to negotiate in good faith and knock off the things that will undermine national unity." The official said the future of the contract signed for Hunt to prospect for oil in Iraq's northern autonomous Kurdish region was far from certain. "We advise companies that they could incur significant political and legal risk by signing contracts with any party before the national law is passed," s

Kurds welcome US senate resolution calling for federalism

Spokesman for Presidency of Kurdistan Region welcomes US Senate resolution on federalism in Iraq Spokesman for the Presidency of the Kurdistan Region The people and government of the Kurdistan Region welcome the adoption of the US Senate resolution calling for the rebuilding of the Iraqi state on the basis of federalism. This resolution conforms with the pillars of the Iraqi Constitution. A federal arrangement for the Iraqi state does not mean division, but rather voluntary union. It is the only viable solution to the problems of Iraq. Federalism is the sound motor that will drive the construction of the new Iraq. It recognises, without exception, the rights and duties of all constituents in Iraq. The people of Kurdistan, who have struggled for decades to achieve democracy and freedom, see in federalism the promise of stability and freedom from dictatorial regimes. We welcome this significant resolution in support of federalism, which guarantees the survival of Iraq on the b

Turkmenistan and Central Asia after Niyazov

Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank. President Sapirmurat Niyazov, the all-powerful leader of Turkmenistan, suddenly died on December 21, 2006. Because Central Asia is a cockpit of great power rivalry and a potential theater in the Global War on Terrorism, no sooner had Niyazov died than the great powers were all in Turkmenistan seeking to influence its future policies away from the neutrality that had been Niyazov’s policy. Turkmenistan’s importance lies almost exclusively in its large natural gas holdings and proximity to the Caspian Sea and Iran. Because energy is regarded as a strategic asset as much if not more than as a mere lubricant or commodity, Russia, Iran, China, and the United States have all been visibly engaged in competition for influence there. The outcome of this competition and of the domestic struggle for power will have repercussions throughout Central Asia, if not beyond. The author shows the linkage between energy and security policies in Central Asia and in the

The Emerging Pattern of Geopolitics

Authored by Dr. Peter W. Rodman. Without ignoring the two wars that are currently taking place in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) sought to reframe the debate over security within a global context. Thus Mr. Rodman’s address sets contemporary security challenges to the United States within a framework of both an Islamist challenge rising from the Jihadi movement across the Muslim world that mostly finds its expression in terrorism and in the dynamics of the rise and decline of great powers. READ MORE

Byting Back -- Regaining Information Superiority Against 21st-Century Insurgents

RAND Counterinsurgency Study -- Volume 1 By: Martin C. Libicki, David C. Gompert, David R. Frelinger, Raymond Smith U.S. counterinsurgency efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan have failed to exploit information power, which could be a U.S. advantage but instead is being used advantageously by insurgents. Because insurgency and counterinsurgency involve a battle for the allegiance of a population between a government and an armed opposition movement, the key to exploiting information power is to connect with and learn from the population itself, increasing the effectiveness of both the local government and the U.S. military and civilian services engaged in supporting it. Utilizing mostly available networking technology, the United States could achieve early, affordable, and substantial gains in the effectiveness of counterinsurgency by more open, integrated, and inclusive information networking with the population, local authorities, and coalition partners. The most basic information link w

Egypt's NDP votes amid turmoil

Egypt is on the edge of its greatest political upheaval in a quarter century, and must foster genuine and inclusive civil, media, political and security reforms to prevent a potentially fraught transition of power. Commentary by Dominic Moran in Tel Aviv for ISN Security Watch (28/09/07) Beset by rumors of his failing health, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's government is seeking to clamp down on the opposition media and political groups as it goes to the polls amid growing popular discord. Despite rumors to the contrary, National Democratic Party (NDP) cadres are expected to confirm the 79-year-old president as party chair at the upcoming party congress in November, delaying the inevitable choice of a successor. Many analysts believe that Mubarak's son Gamal is being groomed to take over from his father at the next presidential election, which is currently scheduled for 2011 but may be pushed forward if rumors of the president's ill health are borne out. The thre

Tracking Yemen's 23 Escaped Jihadi Operatives – Part 1

Source: By Gregory D. Johnsen In mid-September, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh issued a stern warning to the Wa'ilah tribe in northern Yemen: turn over the six al-Qaeda suspects you are sheltering or face serious repercussions (al-Wasat, September 12). The six men that Saleh believes have found refuge with the tribe near the Saudi border are the remnants of a group of 23 prisoners that escaped from a Yemeni political security prison on February 3, 2006. The prisoners escaped by tunneling out of their cell and into a neighboring mosque, which has since been detailed in a lengthy narrative written by one of the escapees and published by the Yemeni paper al-Ghad. The escapees included a number of prominent al-Qaeda militants, among whom were individuals convicted of carrying out attacks on the USS Cole in 2000 and on the French oil tanker Limburg in 2002. Six of these suspects have since been killed in clash

Increasing Talibanization in Pakistan's Seven Tribal Agencies

By Hassan Abbas Source: Jamestown Foundation The government of President Pervez Musharraf is facing policy failure in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan. Taliban forces and their sympathizers are becoming entrenched in the region and are aggressively expanding their influence and operations (especially in Tank, Dera Ismail Khan and Swat Valley in the North-West Frontier Province). A lethal combination of Musharraf's political predicament and declining public support, a significant rise in suicide attacks targeting the army and the reluctance of soldiers deputed in the area to engage tribal gangs militarily further exacerbates this impasse. Observing this, many militants associated with local Pakistani jihadi groups have moved to FATA to help their "brothers in arms" and benefit from the sanctuary. In the midst of this, election season is descending upon Pakistan and Musharraf's survival prospects are diminishing. This dim scenario has conseque