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Showing posts from February 3, 2008

INDIA : Make Terror Victims the face of Anti-Terrorism Campaign

SOURCE : OFFSTUMPED The Congres it appears is just simply not getting it if this press report is anything to go by. In a move aimed at turning the tables on the BJP, the Centre on Friday said it would reveal details soon on how the erstwhile NDA government had released the Parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru few months before the terror strike. If yesterday it was that sychophant and clown Abhishek Singhvi making a mockery of Terror Victims pain, today it is that mercenary Sriprakash Jaiswal. Replying to questions at a press conference, Jaiswal said he would provide ”within 24 hours” the details of Afzal’s arrest and release under the NDA rule two months before the terrorist attack on Parliament. If only the Congress acted with the same sense of 24 hour urgency to pre-empt attacks and take the battle to the door step of the Terrorists. The BJP needs to shift gears in its Suraksha Sankalp Yatra. Rather than harp on the delay in hanging Afzal or the scrapping of POTA it

Congress’ slap in the face to Terror Victims

SOURCE: OFFSTUMPED 209 Mumbaikars died on 11th July 2006 while over 700 were injured. 42 killed over 50 wounded in Hyderabad in August 2007. Many more dead and wounded in Malegaon blasts, Samjhauta express blasts and the various blasts in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi over the last 3 years. If you were one of those who lost a loved one or experienced terror first hand and have been staring yourself in the mirror every single day wondering if justice would ever be served, the Congress has provided the answer. If you are still torturing yourself with questions on why these attacks took place under Manmohan Singh’s watch, the Congress wants you to take comfort in the fact that LK Advani’s track record in preventing terrorist attacks was as bad. You can now sleep tight with the cold comfort that your fate would be no different if the BJP was in power. If you are still not reconciled to the fact that justice will never be served under the Manmohan Singh UPA Administration, the Congress

Abkhazia Is Not Kosovo

Transitions Online by David L. Phillips 7 February 2008 Moscow’s shrill denunciations of the West’s stance on Kosovo hold no water, as the Russians know better than anyone. Kosovo’s Prime Minister Hashim Thaci recently made his case for recognition of Kosovo to the UN Security Council knowing that one of its permanent members was not prepared to hear him out. Russia is not only prepared to veto the council’s resolution authorizing independence for Kosovo; President Vladimir Putin also has intimated that Moscow may recognize Abkhazia, a separatist enclave in the Republic of Georgia, if the United States establishes diplomatic relations with Kosovo. Such brinksmanship would destabilize the Caucasus and exacerbate problems between the United States and Russia at a time when world events require cooperation between the two powers. Simply put, Abkhazia is not Kosovo. There are fundamental legal and political differences between the two territories. Kosovo’s claim to independence is

Venezuelan Government Official Calls U.S. Threat Assessment “False and Dishonest”

February 8th 2008, by James Suggett - Venezuelanalysis.com National Assembly Member Carlos Escarrá (ABN) Mérida, February 7, 2008 (venezuelanalysis.com) -- The administration of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is part of a “small group of radical populist governments” that run counter to the “dominant trend” toward democracy in Latin America with a “competing vision that appeals to many of the region’s poor,” according to the Annual Threat Assessment of the United States Intelligence Community. Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell reported that Venezuela’s “continued regional activism” pushes an anti-U.S. message on other Latin American nations, sometimes financially. "Inspired and supported by Venezuela and Cuba, leaders in Bolivia, Nicaragua and -more tentatively- Ecuador are pursuing agendas that undercut checks and balances on presidential power, seek lengthy presidential terms, weaken media and civil liberties, and emphasize economic nationalism at the expens

Venezuela To Receive Three More Hostages Held By Colombian Rebels

February 6th 2008, by Kiraz Janicke - Venezuelanalysis.com Relatives of hostages awaiting their return in Caracas (ABN) Caracas, January 5, 2008, (venezuelanalysis.com) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez confirmed on Monday that Venezuelan authorities are ready to carry out the rescue operation of three former Colombian legislators soon to be released by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Relatives of the hostages arrived in Caracas yesterday to await the release of their family members. "They have said they want to hand them over to Venezuela. We are ready. We urge the FARC to continue giving demonstrations of this type, independently of the attitudes of the Colombian government that is subordinated to the United States, independently of the warmongering character of that government," Chavez said during a speech to commemorate a civil-military rebellion he led in 1992. The FARC released a statement on Saturday where they said they would unilaterally relea

Changes in store for South Korea

South Korean president-elect Lee Myung-bak and his conservative Grand National Party promise economic progress for "company Korea," a tougher stance on North Korea, and closer ties with the US. By Axel Berkofsky for ISN Security Watch (08/02/08) The "Bulldozer" will take over in South Korea on 25 February. On that day, Lee Myung-bak, who earned his nickname from his days as chief executive and president of Hyundai Engineering and Construction plastering South Korea with highways and bridges during the 1970s and 1980s, will be inaugurated as the country's new president, taking over from his predecessor Roh Moo-hyun. Lee and his conservative Grand National Party (GNP) won a landslide victory in December presidential elections, gathering 48.6 percent of the vote, almost 20 percent more than his closest rival, Chung Dong-young from for the pro-government United New Democratic party (UNDP), which won just 26.2 percent. His sweeping victory, however, was somehow

Deterrence, Missile Defense, and Collateral Damage in the Iranian-Israeli Strategic Relationship

Dr. W. Andrew Terrill Strategic Studies Institute One of the central concerns of U.S. strategic analysts examining the Middle East is the danger that Iran may develop a nuclear weapons capability which it could use to threaten the security of other regional states. These fears exist despite the recent declassification of a 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) “key judgments” summary suggesting that the Iranian nuclear weapons development program was frozen in 2003. The NIE also states that technical problems have handicapped Iran’s ongoing nuclear enrichment effort under which natural uranium is processed into feedstock and then “enriched” for use as reactor fuel (peaceful use when used only for nuclear energy) or “highly enriched” for use in nuclear weapons. These conclusions by the U.S. intelligence community about the restraints and setbacks in the Iranian program are extremely good news, but they are not the whole story. READ MORE

UAE Stresses Peaceful Nature of Iran's N. Activities

TEHRAN (FNA)- The United Arab Emirates' Vice-President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum on Thursday reiterated his country's firm stand against launching a military strike on Iran, underlining the peaceful drive of Iran's nuclear programs. "The UAE does not believe its neighbor is attempting to acquire nuclear weapons," Shaikh Mohammad said, adding that he can see the promising signs of a near resolution of the Iranian nuclear crisis, and all countries must exert more efforts towards this end. The remarks were made at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Thursday, following a round of talks between the two leaders. Shaikh Mohammad said he and Merkel discussed various regional and international issues. He pointed out that he reiterated the UAE's stand on solving the Palestinian issue and establishing a Palestinian state, as well as the necessity of helping Lebanon and Iraq a

SocGen's risky business

Source: OXFORD ANALYTICA The rogue trader scandal is more than a simple story of devil-may-care high rolling and protocol circumvention. This week, the focus of the investigation into the multi-billion-euro rogue trader scandal at Societe Generale should widen. The bank will continue to portray 31-year-old trader Jerome Kerviel as a young hothead arriviste who pulled the wool over the eyes of his colleagues -- and some of it will be true. But this lone-wolf excuse is specious. A culture of risk It is more than a simple story of devil-may-care high rolling and protocol circumvention. Bets can spin out of control -- ask any casual poker player -- but Kerviel's superiors will need to explain an employee under their watch managed to rack up 7 billion euros in debt before anyone noticed. The scale of the loss shows that the bank's internal risk controls were, at best, woefully inadequate, at worst, non-existent. "Such schemes are only conceivable in a very lax risk env

BLACK TENTS OF BALUCHISTAN

Format:Hardcover Published:November 15, 2000 Dimensions:400 Pages, 6 x 9 in Published By:Smithsonian Institution Press ISBN:156098810x BUY at Amazon The nomadic Baluch of the highland Sarhad region of southeastern Iran depend upon a cultural multiplicity that has enabled them to respond flexibly to the predictable unpredictability of their physical, political, and economic environments. Remaining nomadic not only for pastoral purposes but also to pursue other forms of production, they engage in livestock pastoralism, runoff and irrigation cultivation, arboriculture, gathering, smuggling, trading, migrant labor, and guiding illegal emigrants. During periods of political autonomy, Baluch raided other groups and earned a reputation as fierce warriors. Since being conquered by the Shia Persians in 1935, they have replaced raiding with trading and have honed their identity as devout Sunni Muslims. Drawing upon twenty-seven months spent among the men, women, and children of the Yarahmadz

Scholar: Tribalism Rules in Iran, Iraq and Syria

In an era of increasing interaction between the United States and the countries of the Middle East, it has become ever more important for Americans to understand the social forces that shape Middle Eastern cultures. Based on years of his own field research and the ethnographic reports of other scholars, anthropologist Philip Carl Salzman presents an incisive analysis of Middle Eastern culture that goes a long way toward explaining the gulf between Western and Middle Eastern cultural perspectives. Salzman focuses on two basic principles of tribal organisation that have become central principles of Middle Eastern life - balanced opposition (each group of whatever size and scope is opposed by a group of equal size and scope) and affiliation solidarity (always support those closer against those more distant). On the positive side, these pervasive structural principles support a decentralised social and political system based upon individual independence, autonomy, liberty, equality, and

China: cracks show in the ice

Source : OXFORD ANALYTICA Life is becoming more difficult in China, for people and policymakers alike. The immediate problem for millions this year has been the freeze. Ice and snow have brought power lines down and closed highways and rail services. President Hu Jintao has presided over two Politburo meetings called specifically to discuss the extreme weather. Members of the nine-man Politburo Standing Commission (PSC) have fanned out across badly affected areas in a propaganda blitz intended to demonstrate their utmost concern. The snow might seem a temporary distraction: blizzards blow over; lines get reconnected; normal services resume. The government can give the economy a policy prod to make up for lost activity. However, the cold spell has thrown some accumulating problems into relief: infrastructure weaknesses, energy shortages and inflation all predate the bad weather: For all the investment thrown at it over past years, infrastructure has shown itself wanting in a crisis

Keeping the oil flowing

Source: OXFORD ANALYTICA Concerns about energy supplies have dominated newspaper headlines since the Russian-Ukrainian gas crisis of 2005. Yet are these concerns legitimate? 'Peak oil' theory Physical scarcity of hydrocarbons is not an issue, despite Jeremiahs who forecast a point in time at which the maximum global petroleum production rate is reached, after which the rate of production enters its terminal decline. The 'peak oil' theory should not stick: new reserves are being discovered around the world on a regular basis. The bringing on stream this week of Iran's vast Azadegan field -- estimated to have some 26 billion barrels of oil -- and expansive, still largely untouched provinces in Russia, such as Yamal and East Siberia, show that the Earth is far from running on empty. Oil: geopolitical weapon? The inter-relationship of consumer and producer states is a longstanding phenomenon, which historically overcame major obstacles, such as the East-West

The bogey of Terrorism returns…..

SOURCE : OFFSTUMPED The Hindu reports: The Bharatiya Janata Party has cancelled or postponed a number of rallies planned for the next several weeks, following a perception that terrorists could target Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha L.K. Advani. What was the cause ? Credible intelligence information was personally conveyed to Mr. Advani by National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan on Monday evening. The Pioneer went further to say the NSA had specific information on suicide squads. So how did the nation react to this news ? Some in the media took some cheap pot shots at the BJP decision to once again remind us how petty and partisan the mainstream media. The others pretty much glossed over this rather serious piece of intelligence. In fact to best appreciate the lackadasicial attitude of the nation towards National Security consider this. On a day when the nation’s shadow Prime Minister was warned of a possible suicide squad and the principal Opposition has had

Smart Move” - Russia may revalue the Ruble

Reposted from Timothy Post Thank to Fred Wilson for the heads-up on the NY Times article this past weekend titled, Waving Goodbye to Hegemony . Here’s an excerpt from the article where the author discusses Russia and the role he sees it playing in the post-American unipolar world, …. In exploring just a small sample of the second world, we should start perhaps with the hardest case: Russia. Apparently stabilized and resurgent under the Kremlin-Gazprom oligarchy, why is Russia not a superpower but rather the ultimate second-world swing state? For all its muscle flexing, Russia is also disappearing. Its population decline is a staggering half million citizens per year or more, meaning it will be not much larger than Turkey by 2025 or so — spread across a land so vast that it no longer even makes sense as a country. Travel across Russia today, and you’ll find, as during Soviet times, city after city of crumbling, heatless apartment blocks and neglected elderly citizens whose value

Al-Qaida roots itself in Lebanon

Le Monde diplomatique Last year the Lebanese army besieged the Palestinian camp of Nahr al-Bared, where a previously unknown organisation, Fatah al-Islam, was dug in. These events, like attacks on the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, reflect the appearance of radical Sunni Islamist networks, some of them linked to al-Qaida, which is now treating Lebanon as a key base By Fidaa Itani “We were forcibly thrust into a battle that does not concern us. I would rather not have had to fight the Lebanese army,” said Shahin Shahin, a Fatah al-Islam military commander, to a negotiator during the siege of the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared by the Lebanese army. It was not then yet known that he was a son of Osama bin Laden and a high-ranking al-Qaida official. His misgivings about the fighting reflected his organisation’s ambivalence towards Lebanon — whether to see the country as a battleground on which to confront the United States and its allies, or just as a rear base for the traini

Third World Politics in an Age of Global Turmoil The Latin American Challenge to U.S. and Western Hegemony, 1965–1975

Diplomatic History Volume 32 Issue 1 Page 105-138, January 2008 Third World Politics in an Age of Global Turmoil: The Latin American Challenge to U.S. and Western Hegemony, 1965–1975* Hal Brands * The period between the mid-1960s and mid-1970s has, of late, been a fruitful field for scholars of the Cold War and international relations. Historians have produced groundbreaking work on the close of the Vietnam War, the nature of détente, evolutions in great-power relations, the demise of Bretton Woods and subsequent reconstruction of international finance, as well as many other issues.1 Earlier focused largely on the intricacies of U.S.-Soviet diplomacy, the literature on this era is now considerably richer and more diverse. One subject that has remained comparatively neglected, however, is the Third World response to the political, military, and economic turmoil that shook the international system in the decade following 1965. Although Odd Arne Westad's recent book stands out fo