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Showing posts from January 13, 2008

Musharraf on Balochistan: QUOTABLE QUOTES

State of the Union January/February 2008 Source: Atlantic Monthly A report from the new Middle East—and a glimpse of its possible future by Jeffrey Goldberg FOLLOWING IS EXCERPTED FROM THE ARTICLE " AFTER IRAQ" by Jeffrey Goldberg in ATLANTIC MONTHLY . And let’s not forget Pakistan, whose artificiality I was reminded of by Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani dictator, during an interview in the garrison city of Rawalpindi some years ago. At one point, he took exception to the idea that the Baluch, the quasi-nomadic people who inhabit the large deserts of Pakistan’s west (and Iran’s southeast), might feel unattached to the government in Islamabad. In so doing, he undermined the idea of Pakistan as a naturally unitary state. “I know many residents of Baluchistan who are appreciative of Pakistan and the many programs and the like that Pakistan has for Baluchistan,” he said, referring to one of his states as if it were another country. He continued: “Why [is Pakistan] tho

After Iraq: New Middle East—and a glimpse of its possible future

State of the Union January/February 2008 Source: Atlantic Monthly A report from the new Middle East—and a glimpse of its possible future by Jeffrey Goldberg Not long ago, in a decrepit prison in Iraqi Kurdistan, a senior interrogator with the Kurdish intelligence service decided, for my entertainment and edification, to introduce me to an al-Qaeda terrorist named Omar. “This one is crazy,” the interrogator said. “Don’t get close, or he’ll bite you.” Omar was a Sunni Arab from a village outside Mosul; he was a short and weedy man, roughly 30 years old, who radiated a pure animal anger. He was also a relentless jabberer; he did not shut up from the moment we were introduced. I met him in an unventilated interrogation room that smelled of bleach and paint. He was handcuffed, and he cursed steadily, making appalling accusations about the sexual practices of the interrogator’s mother. He cursed the Kurds, in general, as pig-eaters, blasphemers, and American lackeys. As Omar rante

Critical Questions: The U.S.-Iranian Naval Incident

SOURCE: CSIS.ORG Synopsis: On January 6, five small Iranian boats, likely from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN), approached three U.S. Navy ships that were transiting the Strait of Hormuz. The navy ships warned the boats to remain clear; however, the five small boats engaged in aggressive maneuvering and came as close as 200 yards from one of the vessels. During the encounter, one of the small boats placed what appeared to be small, white floating boxes in the path of the three U.S. ships. Also during the event, a threatening radio transmission could be heard on a commonly used maritime radio frequency saying, “You will explode in a few minutes.” Whether this transmission was made by Iranian forces in the small boats, an Iranian command post ashore, or by some distant third party who simply wanted to stir things up (all are plausible), the U.S. ships received the communication and perceived an imminent threat. Q1: Was this an intentional Iranian provocation? A1: It

Russia ready to use nuclear weapons if threatened - army chief

14:01 | 19/ 01/ 2008 MOSCOW, January 19 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's top military commander said on Saturday that the country is prepared to use its nuclear weapons to defend itself and allies in the event of a severe external threat. The Chief of the Russian General Staff, Gen. Yury Baluyevsky, told a conference at the Academy of Military Sciences in Moscow: "We do not intend to attack anyone, but consider it necessary that all our partners clearly understand, and that no one has any doubts, that the Armed Forces will be used to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Russia and its allies, including preventative action, and including the use of nuclear weapons." Baluyevsky's comments come amid growing tensions between Russia and NATO over the alliance's expansion into the former Eastern Bloc, the United States' plans to deploy missile defense elements in Poland and the Czech Republic, and Moscow's increasingly assertive military stan

Indian airports on high alert after hijack warning

By Sanjay Singh, IANS New Delhi : The Indian government has asked airports around the country to adopt "heightened security measures" after an intelligence tip off that the United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa) may attempt to hijack an aircraft to free their colleagues from jails. The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) has alerted airports in the four metros, the northeast, as well as in Hyderabad, Bangalore and some international airports like in Amritsar as potential targets ahead of Republic Day. The threat from any other terrorist outfit also cannot be ruled out, said a Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) official. According to a BCAS official, the Ulfa hijack attempt could likely be in the northeast. "The Ulfa is prepared for this daring act to draw the attention of the international community," said a senior official in the union home ministry. "As the Ulfa has not acted so far, they could well do it even now. They haven't given

Israel, Russia and the Iranian Nuclear Program

11:32 | 18/ 01/ 2008 MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Pyotr Goncharov) - Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's visit to Moscow may not be the easiest for the Russian side because of Iran. The sides are going to discuss the non-proliferation of sensitive technologies in association with the Iranian nuclear program, and Arab-Israeli settlement in the Middle East. But if contradictions between the Israelis and the Arabs have become commonplace, the situation with the Iranian nuclear program underwent cardinal changes in the end of the past year and not in Israel's favor. Israel is accusing Russia of engineering this change. What's the gist of the problem? It revealed itself last December. In general, many events linked to the Iranian nuclear program took place in that month. To begin with, U.S. secret services published a report on the Iranian nuclear program, which caused controversial responses by all interested parties - Iran, Israel, Russia and the U

Beyond Web 2.0: How the Next Tech Revolution will Change the World

Nov 29th, 2007 The New School - New York, NY Dr. Hiroshi Tasaka discusses Beyond Web 2.0: How the Next Tech Revolution will Change the World. Dr. Hiroshi Tasaka, Professor at Tama University in Tokyo, and President of Thinktank SophiaBank, has authored numerous books on the philosophy of working, management theory, business strategy, the Internet revolution and knowledge society, as well as paradigm shifts in human society. A specialist in complexity systems, Dr. Tasaka will explore how next technology revolution will further empower the individual, blending the monetary and voluntary economies to create a new system of Capitalism. Dr. Tasaka will also discuss ways in which technology will help build bridges between the U.S. and Japan, as well as among countries in Asia in the emerging post-knowledge society - Imagining Global Asia Hiroshi Tasaka is the President of Thinktank SophiaBank, and a Professor at Tama University in Tokyo . He graduated from the Faculty of Engineering

Is the EU letting the world down on climate change?

Source: OXFORD ANALYTICA The European Commission is set to unveil its climate change and energy proposal on Wednesday, which is likely to be universally disappointing. The proposal had initially been scheduled for December but was kicked back to January 23 due to the “complex nature” of the policy. Although Europe's leaders agreed upon ambitious CO2 emissions and renewables targets last year amid a flurry of backslapping and self-congratulation, they are now doing everything possible to get out of sharing the burden. A draft version of the proposal has been criticised from all possible sides: Environmentalists warn of the adverse environmental and socioeconomic impacts in the developing world if the proposal sets a mandatory biofuels target. Businesses and trade unions warn of drastic job losses in the EU’s energy intensive industries as they might relocate to regions with less stringent environmental standards. The UK government has already indicated that it is unlikely t

Siberian riches

Source: OXFORD ANALYTICA With the population of 0.03 persons per square kilometre in some parts and temperatures plunging well below minus 50 degrees Celsius in the winter, East Siberia is Russia's next up-and-coming oil province. In fact, developing the remote eastern lands -- formerly home to many of Russia's notorious Gulag labour camps -- is no longer a choice but a necessity, thanks to Russia's booming economy, growing exports obligations and colossal ambitions to become a truly global supplier of energy. The advancing maturity of the country's main producing fields in Western Siberia means that an alternative must be found before supply becomes a real issue. East Siberia and the Russian Far East (RFE) rose on the government agenda rapidly, propelled primarily by geopolitical considerations. The region's proximity to the Asia-Pacific, tensions in energy relations with Europe and the resultant desire to diversify export outlets -- not least to raise its bar

Serbia: pride versus progress

Source: OXFORD ANALYTICA Serbia's presidential election on Sunday will be crucial for its future orientation. As Kosovo's new government inches toward a unilateral declaration of independence, Serbs are facing something of a Sophie's Choice: grimly hold onto the breakaway Albanian majority province and sever ties with the European Union, or accept the humbling reality of Kosovar independence and embrace a new future within the EU. Two men, two visions If Serbs feel they cannot countenance the loss of Kosovo, which they celebrate as the medieval cradle of their national identity, it will mean a stronger turnout for Tomislav Nikolic, the presidential candidate of the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS). Nikolic, who is nicknamed the 'gravedigger' -- a reference to his earlier career as a cemetery operator -- has made Kosovo a matter of national pride, saying he is willing to sacrifice EU membership if the bloc insists on recognising Kosovo. Yet Niko

Pakistan's Nuclear Future: Worries Beyond War

Edited by Mr. Henry D. Sokolski. This book, completed just before Pakistani President Musharraf imposed a state of emergency in November 2007, reflects research that the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center commissioned over the last 2 years. It tries to characterize specific nuclear problems that the ruling Pakistani government faces with the aim of establishing a base line set of challenges for remedial action. Its point of departure is to consider what nuclear challenges Pakistan will face if moderate forces remain in control of the government and no hot war breaks out against India. DOWNLOAD

Middle East: Bush flies away, but promises to be back

18:57 | 17/ 01/ 2008 MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Maria Appakova) - President Bush has completed his Middle East tour, but he promised to be back soon to continue his quest for peace in the region. The final stage of his tour was marred by some tragic developments: a record number of victims in the Israeli military operation in Gaza and a terrorist attack targeting Americans in Beirut, not to mention the weakened positions of the Israeli government and more blasts in Iraq. Even so, George Bush was pleased with the results of the visit and even called it a success. On face value, he has something to show for it. He visited six countries and the Palestine National Authority, was accorded a warm welcome by Middle East leaders and did a lot of sightseeing. He said all he wanted to say about peace, democracy, the Iranian threat and oil prices. In addition to leaders, he met with young people, women and businessmen who lent him an attentive ear. Indeed, Bush's t

Russia as a safe haven

12:34 | 17/ 01/ 2008 MOSCOW. (Financial analyst Anatoly Gorev for RIA Novosti) - The future is bright for the Russian economy and stock market, according to Alfa Bank analysts. "Investors who bring their money to the Russian market, even without choosing specific shares, will profit by about 30%," they say in their forecast. Alfa-Banking Group is one of Russia's largest privately owned banking groups in terms of equity, assets, branches, retail deposits and funds under management. This is a good but not extraordinary profitability, especially compared with the past three years, when the Russian Trading System (RTS) stock exchange grew by 70% annually. But the promised growth of 30% may nevertheless make Russia a safe haven for foreign investors. "Safe haven" is one of the terms that have been especially widely used in the past decade. It is increasingly interpreted as "a financially secure offshore bank or country during times of extreme uncer

U.S., Thailand, Singapore prepare for Exercise Cope Tiger

1/17/2008 - HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii (AFPN) -- Aviation and ground units from the U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps, Royal Thai Air Force and Army, and Royal Singapore Air Force will participate in the Exercise Cope Tiger 2008 field training exercise in Thailand Jan. 26 to Feb. 5. Cope Tiger is an annual, multilateral large force exercise conducted in the Asia-Pacific region and is the only multilateral field training exercise held in Thailand. It takes place at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base near the city of Nakhom Ratchasima (commonly called Korat), 110 miles northeast of Bangkok, and Udon Thani Royal Thai Air Force Base. More than 1,400 people will participate in the exercise, including approximately 700 U.S. servicemembers and 700 servicemembers from Thailand and Singapore forces. The exercise includes 121 aircraft and air defense units: 35 aircraft and 11 air defense artillery weapons and sensors from RTAF; 10 ADA weapons and sensors from RTA; 22 aircraft and 11 ADA weapon

Pakistan short of everything except crises

Source : Asia Times Online January 18th 2008 By Syed Fazl-e-Haider QUETTA, Pakistan - There is a crisis of crises facing Pakistan. While the political crisis centering on President Pervez Musharraf and the future of general elections scheduled for February 18 dominate the headlines, this country of 160-plus million people faces a tangle of escalating problems, extending from energy shortages to soaring wheat prices to a cotton industry facing meltdown. Not least, there is a crisis of confidence among foreign investors and a leadership crisis among political activists after the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto on December 27. Climbing prices of wheat, and therefore of flour, an essential component of everyday diet, is hurting the general population, a power crisis is eroding industrial growth and so hitting the whole economy, bringing losses in revenue and exports. The political uncertainty in wake of Bhutto's killing has caused an outflow of foreign port