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Showing posts from November 4, 2007

The U.S., Syria and the New Old Middle East: Confrontation or Cooperation?

Commonwealth Club - San Francisco, CA Syrian Ambassador to the United States Imad Moustapha discusses The U.S., Syria and the New Old Middle East: Confrontation or Cooperation? On the front lines of multiple Middle Eastern crises, Syria is a key player in regional politics, and a strong diplomatic relationship with the United States is critical in efforts to rebuild Iraq and improve the region's relationship with the West, according to the Iraq Study Group's findings. Moustapha was a dean at the University of Damascus and secretary general of the Arab School for Science and Technology - The Commonwealth Club Imad Moustapha is the Syrian Ambassador to the United States since March 2004. Prior to that, he was Dean of the Faculty of Information Technology at the University of Damascus, and Secretary General of the Arab School on Science and Technology. He is co-founder of the Network of Syrian Scientists, Technologists and Innovators Abroad (NOSSTIA), and was an active cons

Impose President’s Rule in West Bengal In a late Diwali night media release West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi has set some political fireworks off with these remarks In a statement to the media Governor Gandhi has said, “The manner in which the recapture of Nandigram villages is being attempted is totally unlawful and unacceptable. A large number of armed persons from outside the district have, it is undeniable, forced themselves onto villages in Nandigram Block one and two for territorial assertion. Thousands of villages have consequently been intimidated into leaving their homes. No government or society could allow a war zone to exist without immediate and effective action” , he said. The Governor’s remarks should leave no one in doubt that the West Bengal Government did not do its duty in upholding the constitution and rule of law when it willingly connived with the CPI-M party to wage war on the very people it swore to protect. On 7th Nov Offstumped had chronicled how th

Zambia: the debate over the new Constitution leads to internal political tensions

Following the presidential elections undertaken on September 28th 2006, while the democratic regime was in full swing, the outgoing President Levy Mwanawasa of the “Movement for a Multi-party Democracy” (MMD) in Zambia, has been re-elected. Now Zambia finds itself living through a phase of internal tension, linked to the constitutional debate, already in mid-flow and accentuated by the expectations of citizens in response to the new constitutional text. Serena Grassia (09 November 2007) The constitutional revision project: a clash of political and social forces The only factor which unites Zambia's civil society and the political class, be it those in power or the opposition, is the need for the production of a new Constitution which is relevant to modern times. However, in spite of the social unity and values of equality set out within a Constitution and a State of Right, the constitutional debate ignited in the last few months in the ex-British colony is becomi

Argentina: new challenges from an economical perspective on foreign policies

The Newly elected President Cristina Kirchner will face a tough job trying to keep Argentina's economic growth at the current pace, while dealing with internal demands for better socio-economic conditions, the evolution of the regional scenario and external pressure over the bonds issue. Pablo Julian Prieto (09 November 2007) Public Debt: Achievements and pending issues If we had measured economic indexes four years ago, things would have been very different compared to the actual scenery. Argentina underwent its worst economic breakdown, and the whole economy needed to be restructured. Helped by the devaluation of the peso, and the favourable economic global cycle pushed by China and India, Argentina has grown in its GDP (economist’s studies believe this to continue for the next year too) for four years without any interruptions at levels above 7% per year. Problems with the IMF, concerning what should be done in economic terms, and its participation under the

Time's up, Mr Musharraf

Martial law in Pakistan Time's up, Mr Musharraf Nov 8th 2007 From The Economist No longer the potential solution, the general has become a big part of Pakistan's problem Illustration by Kevin Kallaugher AS MILITARY dictators go, Pakistan's General Pervez Musharraf has always seemed rather a decent sort. An affable man who gives the appearance of speaking his soldierly mind, he prompted quiet cheers from many of his countrymen when he usurped power from a corrupt civilian government in 1999. After September 11th 2001, he won the backing of America and its allies, risking popular anger by swiftly enlisting his country in the war against al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Proclaiming himself an apostle of “enlightened moderation”, he seemed, despite his embarrassing lack of democratic credentials, a relatively safe pair of hands to be in charge of a 165m-strong moderate Islamic nation—one that possesses nuclear weapons and is prey to a frightening extremist fringe. Over the y

An eerie lull in the violent Delta

Nov 8th 2007 | OKRIKA AND PORT HARCOURT From The Economist Can peace break out in Nigeria's oil-richest states? IT IS a nice, warm afternoon, just right for a football match in Okrika, an island village a few miles south of the big city of Port Harcourt, capital of Nigeria's oil-rich Rivers state. Local teams gather to compete for one of three large trophies and the pot of money that comes with victory. Politicians and chiefs have been invited. It is your average local tournament—save for the host. This “unity and peace” competition, worth 15m naira ($120,000), replete with tents, music and commentators, is in the gift of Ateke Tom, an alleged militant wanted by the Nigerian government. A few months ago, Tom, as he is simply known, was said to be over the water in Port Harcourt with his boys when gang warfare there left at least 40 dead and twice as many wounded. His was one of several gangs that roamed the streets with AK-47s in a fight to control the city. The usua

Chad seeks Indian investment in petroleum

Nov 8, 2007, 9:10 GMT New Delhi, Nov 8 (IANS) Indian investment in petroleum in the tiny West African nation of Chad would be a win-win situation for both countries, says that country's petroleum minister. Chad is expected to offer 20 new petroleum blocks by end 2007 or early 2008. 'I want to invite Indian companies to come and discuss possibilities for collaboration, which will be a win-win proposition for both sides,' Petroleum Minister Emmanuel Nadingar told IANS. Nadingar is in New Delhi to attend the India-Africa Hydrocarbon Conference, jointly organised by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad)), India's ministry of petroleum and natural gas and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci). The French-speaking country has not yet seen any Indian investment in the oil and gas sector, which the minister hopes to rectify on his current visit. He cited 'Indian expertise in crude refining' as an area of possibl

India turns its energies on Africa

Source: Asia Times Online By Sudha Ramachandran BANGALORE - With an eye on meeting its soaring energy demands and decreasing its dependence on Gulf oil, India is wooing Africa with a vengeance. Oil ministers from 10 African countries and delegations from 16 others were courted at a two-day India-Africa Hydrocarbon Conference at New Delhi this week. India has in the past organized business conferences focusing on Africa, but this is the first sector-specific conclave to engage the continent. India imports over 70% of its crude oil needs and, according to World Energy Outlook, published by the Paris-based International Energy Agency, its dependence on oil imports will grow to 91.6% by 2020. Sixty-five percent of India's oil requirement is met by the Gulf. Worried about its excessive dependence on the Middle East - a region of perennial turmoil - India has been scouting for oil outside this region. It is in this context that Africa is emerging as an attractive partner. Th

Analysis: Niger Delta hopeful for now

Analysis: Niger Delta hopeful for now By CARMEN GENTILE UPI Energy Correspondent PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria, Nov. 9 (UPI) -- One the streets of Potts Johnson, a Port Harcourt neighborhood where gang violence and gunfire are considered the normal fare, a guarded sense of hope has emerged among some for the future of the impoverished, albeit oil-rich, Niger Delta. "We used to sleep with one eye open, but now we are able to close both at night," said Tex Laban Jamabo, a former delta lawmaker and author of a book on the history of Nigeria, who noted that the nightly gunfire that once pervaded the neighborhood has subsided in recent months. Despite a recent drop-off in violence here, Potts Johnson remains a stronghold for gangs and militant groups with strong opposition toward foreign oil companies and the Nigerian government. Just a few months ago, gunmen brought their grievance with big oil and lawmakers to the streets of Port Harcourt, where the mother of a newly elected

China's media scorns Blair's £200,000 'cash raking' lecture trip By Clifford Coonan in Beijing Published: 09 November 2007 Tony Blair earned the scorn of the Chinese media yesterday for accepting £200,000 for a three-hour spin through southern China, during which he gave a "cliched" speech and fitted in a quick jaunt around a high-class villa complex. "Is he worth the money?" asked some Chinese newspapers and compared the former prime minister's oratorical insights to those of a village official. The Guangzhou Daily said the trip was simply a "money-raking" exercise and complained that China was becoming a place for celebrities and former leaders to come and cash in. The paper said it was time for Chinese sponsors to think a bit harder about who they invite to open their supermarkets and walk down their red carpets. "We should exercise less ostentation and vanity... learn more new and genuine knowledge – especially when we are using even a cent o

When is the next war with Iran?

When is the next war with Iran? By Behrad Savafi The first week of the war with Iran is very crucial and as I see it the loss of life on the both side will be great. Causalities of the US force would be equal to all their causalities since they have been in Iraq, if not more. Recently, I visited one of my relatives who had returned from Iraq to Iran for good. They had been living in Iraq for generations and even during Saddam’s rule when many Iranians were expelled from Iraq, they stayed in there. I had seen him at least in two instances in Maleki’s entourage on television. It seemed to me that he might have had a high position in the Iraqi government. I had a long talk with him. We talked about everything: daily life in Iraq, “fat ladies” (referring to the American soldiers under heavy military gears and the way they walk), Blackwater mercenaries, the future war with Iran, Kurds, Shiites, Sunnis, etc. It seemed to me th

Analysis: Pakistan unrest hurts pipelines

Published: Nov. 9, 2007 at 6:58 PM Font size: By JOHN C.K. DALY UPI International Correspondent WASHINGTON, Nov. 9 (UPI) -- On Nov. 3 Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf declared emergency rule in Pakistan. In his "Proclamation of Emergency," Musharraf began with the country's rising troubles from rising militancy and terrorism, beginning by telling the nation, "There is visible ascendancy in the activities of extremists and incidents of terrorist attacks, including suicide bombings, IED explosions, rocket firing and bomb explosions and the banding together of some militant groups have taken such activities to an unprecedented level of violent intensity posing a grave threat to the life and property of the citizens of Pakistan," and ending by proclaiming, "The constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan shall remain in abeyance." India immediately closed the border and put its troops on heightened alert. An unintended but significa

Gas pipeline blown up in restive Balochistan BOLAN: Unidentified miscreants have blown up a gas pipeline in Bolan. General Manager of Sui Southern Gas Company, Mustaq Ahmed talking to private TV said that a diameter of eighteen inch of a gas pipeline in the area of Kwulpur has been blown up due to which gas supply to Quetta, Mustang, Kalat, Pisheen and Ziarat has been disrupted. Teams of the company have reached on the spot to restore the gas pipeline. Meanwhile, a railway track has been blown up in the area of Sibbi. Concerned departments have reached on the spot and restored the traffic after one and half hour. Damaged Bolan Gas pipeline Repaired 'Pakistan Times' Wire Service BOLAN: The Sui Southern Gas Co (SSGC) has repaired 18-inch diameter Bolan gas pipeline, which was damaged as a result of a blast. The teams SSGC managed to repair the damaged pipeline with in four, the SSGC sources said. Unknown persons had blown up the gas pipeline in district Bolan of


SourcE: SAAG.ORG By B.Raman The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ), the militant wing of the anti-Shia Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), is emerging as the new Trojan Horse of Al Qaeda to carry out operations on behalf of Al Qaeda in areas where Al Qaeda faces difficulty in operating directly or in those cases where it does not want to operate directly. 2. In the past, this role was being performed by the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET). Both the LET and the LEJ are members of Osama bin Laden's International Islamic Front (IIF) for Jihad Against the Crusaders and the Jewish People. Both are strongly Wahabi organisations, but whereas the LEJ is strongly anti-US, anti-Israel, anti-India, anti-Iran and anti-Shia, the LET is only anti-US, anti-Israel and anti-India, but not anti-Iran or anti-Shia. 3. There is no confirmed instance of the LET indulging in planned anti-Shia violence in Pakistan or Afghanistan, but the LEJ has been responsible for most of the targeted attacks on Shias and their places of

Will 9/11 and BAE Derail Cheney's Plan To Bomb Iran?

This article appears in the November 9, 2007 issue of Executive Intelligence Review . by Jeffrey Steinberg Two recent events, both occurring in the context of Saudi Arabian King Abdullah's visit to London at the end of October, have once again cast the dark shadows of 9/11 and the BAE scandal over Vice President Dick Cheney. Coupled with mounting opposition to Cheney's war schemes from within the U.S. military and factions of the Bush Administration, as well as from Persian Gulf states, Russia, and even Israel, the spotlight, once again focussed on two of the biggest Cheney-linked scandals, could help derail the Vice President's accelerating drive for a U.S. bombing of Iran, and avert what would certainly devolve into a new Eurasian Hundred Years War. On Nov. 1, Prince Bandar bin-Sultan, the longtime former Saudi ambassador in Washington, and the current national security advisor to King Abdullah, gave an interview to the Arabic-language satellite TV network Al-Arabiya