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Showing posts from February 14, 2010

ISI & AFGHAN TALIBAN: DISCARDING THE OLD & USHERING IN THE NEW

B.RAMAN The well-publicised arrests by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the supposed No.2 of the Afghan Taliban, and two other senior Taliban leaders Mullah Abdul Salam and Mullah Mohammad Mir have not had any impact on the morale of the Afghan Taliban fighters confronting the 15.000---strong US led NATO cum Afghan National Army troops, which launched an offensive on February 13,2010, to wrest control over the Marjah area of the southern Helmand province from the Afghan Taliban. 2. While it has been confirmed that Mulla Baradar was captured in Karachi on the basis of intelligence collected by the US agencies, it is not yet clear where the other Afghan Taliban leaders were captured. According to some reports, Mulla Salam was captured from Faislabad in Pakistani Punjab, while Mulla Mir was captured in Balochistan. Acording to some other reports , both were captured in the madrasa at Akora Khattak, near Peshawar, run by Maulana Samiul Ha

CHINESE SALE OF US BONDS: LINKED TO DALAI LAMA'S MEETING WITH OBAMA?

B.RAMAN The "China Daily" carried the following report on February 18,2010, the day on which President Barack Obama received His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the map room of the White House for what was described as a private meeting with the Tibetan spiritual leader: "China drastically slashed its holdings of United States government debt last December, allowing Japan to retake its place as the largest foreign holder of US Treasury bonds. China sold more than $34 billion in short- and long-term bonds, leaving its total holdings at $755.4 billion, according to US Treasury data released on Tuesday (February 16).The country sold about $45 billion in US Treasuries in the last five months, Alan Ruskin, chief international strategist for RBS Securities Inc, said in a research note. He said it was a "long enough period to hint strongly at a trend". Liu Yuhui, an economist with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said now is a good time to cut holdings of

Majlis National Security Commission Head: England Must Take First Positive Step

Persia House http://www.persia-house.com/node/1104 in International Relations Vol. 34 Iranian Parliament Ready to Pass Bill Lowering Diplomatic Relations with U.K. Jam-e Jam Online – Summary translation by Persia House February 15, 2010 In reference to the sensitivity of public opinion over British-Iranian relations—and with regards to England’s actions in the post-election crisis—[Head of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission] Alaeddine Boroujerdi said, “England’s track record in Iran, following the victory of the Revolution, is very dark. In order for Tehran to reconsider reducing relations, England must take the first positive steps.” Boroujerdi also noted that the British Ambassador’s letter “will not have an effect on the Majlis members’ decision to review relations with England…we also will reply to it.” Regarding the British Ambassador’s request to hold a dialogue with the Head or members of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, h

COVERT ACTIONS

B.RAMAN The strongly-presumed hand of Mossad, the Israeli external intelligence agency, in the successful neutralisation of a Damascus-based leader of the Hamas (Mahmoud al- Mabhouh ) while he was on a visit to Dubai in January last has come in the wake of other suspected covert actions of the Mossad in recent months, which were directed against Iranian nuclear scientists, who were reportedly playing a role in the development of the uranium enrichment technology. 2.While all these operations succeeded in eliminating the intended targets who posed a threat to Israel's national security, those directed against the Iranian scientists were copybook examples of covert actions whereas the one against the Hamas leader was not.The Mossad was able to maintain the total deniability of its strikes against the Iranian scientists.Till today, Iranian intelligence officials and police investigators have not been able to find out what happened. Apart from allegations, they have no evidence of th

Another Wave of Unemployment On the Way

PERSIA HOUSE http://www.persia-house.com/print/1100 Mehr News - Summary translation by Persia House February 3, 2010 While the most recently published unemployment figures show a national unemployment rate of 11.1 percent for fall 2009, forecasts indicate that this figure will increase to 15 percent by March 2013 – March 2014 [Persian calendar year 1392]. A review of the country’s unemployment rates over 10 years shows that in 1996/1997, 1.184 million men and 271,000 women were unemployed—equivalent to unemployment rates of 8.5 and 13.3 percent, respectively. In 2006/2007 [1385], by contrast, 2.145 million men and 847,000 women were unemployed—equivalent to unemployment rates of 10.8 and 23.3 percent, respectively. Unemployment Rates Since 2006/2007 Year Unemployment Rate March 2006-March 2007 [1385] 11.1 percent March 2007-March 2008 [1386] 10.5 percent March 2008-March 2009 [1387]>/td> 10.4 percent Spring 2009 [spring 1388] 11.1 percent Fall 2009 [fall 1388] 11.3 percent Five

POST-PUNE BLAST DEVELOPMENTS---ATTEMPT TO INTIMIDATE FOREIGN SPORTS TEAMS

B.RAMAN Two developments originating from Pakistan after the explosion in the German Bakery of Pune on February 13,2009, call for comments. 2. The first is the claim reportedly made by an individual to Ms.Nirupama Subramanian, the Islamabad-based correspondent of "The Hindu", the daily newspaper published from Chennai, claiming responsibility for the explosion on behlaf of an organisation called the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET)--Al Alami meaning international. 3. To quote from the paper (February 17): " Identifying himself as a spokesperson of a group calling itself the LET--Al Almi, an individual using the code name Abu Jindal said the bombing was carried out because of India's refusal to discuss the Kashmir issue in the coming talks with Pakistan. Abu Jindal said he was calling from Miramshah in North Waziristan and the telephone number used to make the call carried an area code common to the Waziristan tribal area and Bannu, the adjoining district in the North-West

Obama & the Lama

C. Raja Mohan Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 0223 hrs http://www.indianexpress.com/news/obama-&-the-lama/580758/0 As US President Barack Obama meets the exiled Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama, this week in Washington, Beijing will certainly turn up the volume and tone of its protests. That does not mean the Chinese leadership is on the path of confrontation with the United States. In fact, the signals from Beijing during the last few days, after it excoriated the Obama Administration on Tibet and Taiwan, suggest a reluctance to push matters to the breaking point. When the Obama Administration announced a $ 6.5 billion arms package for Taiwan, earlier this month, Beijing threatened Washington with ‘serious repercussions’. It imposed sanctions on US businesses involved in the sale and suspended planned US-Chinese military exchanges. Beijing claims Taiwan is an integral part of China and considers such sales a violation of China’s “core national interests”. It now turns out that Bei

China-US Rivalry Intensifies

By SIMON ROUGHNEEN Monday, February 15, 2010 http://www.irrawaddy.org/article.php?art_id=17812&page=1 BANGKOK — With the Dalai Lama set to meet President Obama later this week, more political fireworks can be expected just days after the Chinese New Year. US-China relations have been stormy over recent weeks, with Beijing and Washington trading barbs over Taiwan and Google, disagreeing over policy on Iran, North Korea, and bickering over exchange rates, among a range of contentious political and economic issues. But the officially atheist politburo in Beijing might take it as an auspicious sign that this is the Year of the Tiger. China has fared relatively well amid the global economic downturn, and with the US bogged down with wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Obama's domestic reform agenda running into sand, Beijing might want to test American mettle as the perceived gap between the two countries narrows. Obama dodged a bullet when shunning an opportunity to meet the

The Meaning of Marjah

This report is republished with permission of STRATFOR " By Kamran Bokhari, Peter Zeihan and Nathan Hughes February 16, 2010 | 2119 GMT On Feb. 13, some 6,000 U.S. Marines, soldiers and Afghan National Army (ANA) troops launched a sustained assault on the town of Marjah in Helmand province. Until this latest offensive, the U.S. and NATO effort in Afghanistan had been constrained by other considerations, most notably Iraq. Western forces viewed the Afghan conflict as a matter of holding the line or pursuing targets of opportunity. But now, armed with larger forces and a new strategy, the war — the real war — has begun. The most recent offensive — dubbed Operation Moshtarak (“Moshtarak” is Dari for “together”) — is the largest joint U.S.-NATO-Afghan operation in history. It also is the first major offensive conducted by the first units deployed as part of the surge of 30,000 troops promised by U.S. President Barack Obama. RELATED SPECIAL TOPIC PAGE The War in Afghanistan The United

Fasten your seat belts

K. Subrahmanyam Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 0225 hrs http://www.indianexpress.com/news/fasten-your-seatbelts/580760/0 US Defence Secretary Robert Gates predicted during his visit to India that the Lashkar-e-Taiba, or LeT, would launch an attack on India to trigger an Indo-Pakistan conflict. While commending India’s restraint following the 26/11 Mumbai attack, he wondered whether India’s patience would endure in that case. The Pune attack signals that this testing moment has arrived for India. It is time for the Indian government, strategic community, media (especially the electronic media) and civil society to carefully assess India’s national interest — because, in all probability, the Pune terrorist attack is likely to be just the first; others, perhaps even more devastating, are likely to follow. Let us for the moment forget the partisan political rhetoric on the foreign secretaries’ talks and concentrate on threats to India and how to tackle them. The US National Intelligence A

Let India Train the Afghan Army

Let India Train the Afghan Army It's the most effective and economical way to prepare troops for counterinsurgency operations. By SUMIT GANGULY http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704804204575068981162639698.html# Training the Afghan army is "the most critical part" of America's "long-term strategy" in the country, U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke said Monday. Pakistan agrees, and has suggested it can help, too. Yet the best candidate for the task is the Indian Army. This million-strong force has had close to 60 years' of intense counterinsurgency experience in a variety of terrains. Indian troops have successfully carried out campaigns in jungles in India's northeast, at high altitudes in Jammu and Kashmir and in the plains in the Punjab. Its officers and enlisted men have counterinsurgency experience in both urban and rural environments. India already has the capacity to impart this knowledge to friendly forces. The country boas

US LOOKING FOR TALIBAN HIDE-OUTS IN NON-TRIBAL AREAS

B.RAMAN US intelligence agencies have widened their hunt for the leaders of the Afghan Taliban in the non-tribal areas of Pakistan, particularly in Karachi. 2. This is reminiscent of the widening of the hunt for the leaders and senior operatives of Al Qaeda in the non-tribal areas in 2002-03 after they fled into Pakistan from Tora Bora in Afghanistan. This, inter alia, led to the capture of Abu Zubaidah in Faislabad in Pakistani Punjab in March,2002, Ramzi Binalshib in Karachi in September 2002 and Khalid Sheikh Mohammad in Rawalpindi in March,2003.The success of the US agencies in tracing them in the non-tribal areas and pressuring the Pakistani agencies to arrest them and hand them over to the US forced the other leaders, who had evaded capture, to flee to North Waziristan and take shelter there. They are now being hunted there by the Drones (unmanned planes) of the CIA. 3.Originally, the US agencies believed that the surviving leaders of the Afghan Taliban, including Mulla Moham

The US-China Scrap: Seeking New Rules for Engagement

By Bhaskar Roy http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers37/paper3670.html When a Chinese expert in Beijing complains that the US wants their help in a multitude of issues ranging from the North Korean nuclear question to resolving the Afghanistan problem, but counter China in matters relating to crucial sovereignty issues like Taiwan and Tibet among others, he has a point from China’s national perspective. But when China resorts to unrestricted warfare, the game changes. In the space of last one month, sharp exchange of words and acrimony replaced the win-win bonhomie seen in 2009 between the two sides. When US President Barack Obama visited China last November, he declared China as a strategic partner rather than strategic competitor described by his predecessor, President George W. Bush. Mr. Obama almost handed over the managership of South Asia to China, a gesture seen in India as an affront and disregard to Indian concerns. He declined to meet the Dalai Lama before his China visi