East or the West: It is the Enigma of Fear at work

By A Khokar     June 28, 2010

 For last about a decade or so we all find ourselves put up against a phoney Global War against Terrorism, where Western Forces with their might and savagery are all out at war in Muslim World to conquer an unspecified imaginary enemy called—terror. After wandering for several years and with no achievements at hand; the adventurism of western oppression forces has become a matter of contention. The masses in the west as well as in the Muslim world are ghastly deluded. There is an atmosphere of perpetual fear and terror broiling to breed hatred in the societies all the times. At the same time; western media remains very busy in creating divisions in between the different cultures and societies and is starkly hyping up the stigma of  ‘us’ against ‘them’ battle.

 ‘Beneath the myriad reasons for these appears to be a fundamental inability of people whose beliefs vary to understand how the other side thinks and feels. That is to say; ‘we have here a dialogue of the deaf, although paradoxically both sides share the same motivation: fear.’

Western culture and public discourse has become so secularized in recent generations that there is little comprehension of people living in the East whose ‘religion’ holds a central place in their lives and identity.

History tells us that, European nation-states were constructed through centuries of struggle and conflict in which religious differences and oppression were often explosive. But people today fear that they are in danger of losing what was won with so much suffering: their freedoms and their collective sense of identity.

In the eastern societies, behind these fears lie the rapid changes of globalization, the uncertainties of geopolitics and seeing the failure of re-run of old colonial type schemes by the west to subjugate the peoples especially in the Middle East and Af-Pak enclave. They feel that they are intentionally being kept in a defenceless state in order to grab their economic resources through ‘fallacy and deceit’. The western Imprints on Iraq, the ongoing war against Afghans and strangulation of hard nut—Iran— the plans of the west now lay exposed and frustrated. At home, especially in Europe the fears focus on immigrants and ethnic minorities – which in many places mean Muslims and unfounded fear of ‘expected retaliatory reprisal’ from them.  

Any demand from Muslims to have their right of religion recognised, is seriously interpreted as a threat to the hard-won rights of freedom of expression in the west. Those who feel threatened fear not just the small Muslim minorities in Europe; as in most countries they are less than three percent of the population – but also the hundreds of millions of Muslims beyond their borders, out in the broader Muslim world, where the so-called “new enemy” is to be found.

 Many parts of the Muslim world also fear uncertainties such as globalization, international instability and, closer to home, unemployment and arbitrary governments – not to mention random violence, killing and arson. But there the fear is focused on the heirs of the old imperial powers: the West, which is again seen as wishing to dominate and thus is seen, undermining Islam.

One side is talking the language of freedoms and rights. The other side is talking the language of respect for the sacred. In response, the respect for the religion and its symbols becomes a central focus.

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Love for all, Hatred for None

(‘A Common Grounds Theme’)

Blackwater’s Secret War in Pakistan

 

 Erick Prince Boss of Balckwater aka XE(zee) arriveas at Kandhar air base

By Jeremy Scahill / The Nation

At a covert forward operating base run by the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the Pakistani port city of Karachi, members of an elite division of Blackwater are at the center of a secret program in which they plan targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, “snatch and grabs” of high-value targets and other sensitive action inside and outside Pakistan, an investigation by The Nation has found. The Blackwater operatives also assist in gathering intelligence and help run a secret US military drone bombing campaign that runs parallel to the well-documented CIA predator strikes, according to a well-placed source within the US military intelligence apparatus.

The source, who has worked on covert US military programs for years, including in Afghanistan and Pakistan, has direct knowledge of Blackwater’s involvement. He spoke to The Nation on condition of anonymity because the program is classified. The source said that the program is so “compartmentalized” that senior figures within the Obama administration and the US military chain of command may not be aware of its existence.

The White House did not return calls or email messages seeking comment for this story. Capt. John Kirby, the spokesperson for Adm. Michael Mullen, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told The Nation, “We do not discuss current operations one way or the other, regardless of their nature.” A defense official, on background, specifically denied that Blackwater performs work on drone strikes or intelligence for JSOC in Pakistan. “We don’t have any contracts to do that work for us. We don’t contract that kind of work out, period,” the official said. “There has not been, and is not now, contracts between JSOC and that organization for these types of services.” The previously unreported program, the military intelligence source said, is distinct from the CIA assassination program that the agency’s director, Leon Panetta, announced he had canceled in June 2009. “This is a parallel operation to the CIA,” said the source. “They are two separate beasts.” The program puts Blackwater at the epicenter of a US military operation within the borders of a nation against which the United States has not declared war–knowledge that could further strain the already tense relations between the United States and Pakistan. In 2006, the United States and Pakistan struck a deal that authorized JSOC to enter Pakistan to hunt Osama bin Laden with the understanding that Pakistan would deny it had given permission. Officially, the United States is not supposed to have any active military operations in the country. Blackwater, which recently changed its name to Xe Services and US Training Center, denies the company is operating in Pakistan. “Xe Services has only one employee in Pakistan performing construction oversight for the U.S. Government,” Blackwater spokesperson Mark Corallo said in a statement to The Nation, adding that the company has “no other operations of any kind in Pakistan.”

A former senior executive at Blackwater confirmed the military intelligence source’s claim that the company is working in Pakistan for the CIA and JSOC, the premier counterterrorism and covert operations force within the military. He said that Blackwater is also working for the Pakistani government on a subcontract with an Islamabad-based security firm that puts US Blackwater operatives on the ground with Pakistani forces in counter-terrorism operations, including house raids and border interdictions, in the North-West Frontier Province and elsewhere in Pakistan. This arrangement, the former executive said, allows the Pakistani government to utilize former US Special Operations forces who now work for Blackwater while denying an official US military presence in the country. He also confirmed that Blackwater has a facility in Karachi and has personnel deployed elsewhere in Pakistan. The former executive spoke on condition of anonymity.

His account and that of the military intelligence source were borne out by a US military source who has knowledge of Special Forces actions in Pakistan and Afghanistan. When asked about Blackwater’s covert work for JSOC in Pakistan, this source, who also asked for anonymity, told The Nation, “From my information that I have, that is absolutely correct,” adding, “There’s no question that’s occurring.”

“It wouldn’t surprise me because we’ve outsourced nearly everything,” said Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff from 2002 to 2005, when told of Blackwater’s role in Pakistan. Wilkerson said that during his time in the Bush administration, he saw the beginnings of Blackwater’s involvement with the sensitive operations of the military and CIA. “Part of this, of course, is an attempt to get around the constraints the Congress has placed on DoD. If you don’t have sufficient soldiers to do it, you hire civilians to do it. I mean, it’s that simple. It would not surprise me.”

 The Counterterrorism Tag Team in Karachi

 The covert JSOC program with Blackwater in Pakistan dates back to at least 2007, according to the military intelligence source. The current head of JSOC is Vice Adm. William McRaven, who took over the post from Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who headed JSOC from 2003 to 2008 before being named the top US commander in Afghanistan. Blackwater’s presence in Pakistan is “not really visible, and that’s why nobody has cracked down on it,” said the source. Blackwater’s operations in Pakistan, he said, are not done through State Department contracts or publicly identified Defense contracts. “It’s Blackwater via JSOC, and it’s a classified no-bid [contract] approved on a rolling basis.” The main JSOC/Blackwater facility in Karachi, according to the source, is nondescript: three trailers with various generators, satellite phones and computer systems are used as a makeshift operations center. “It’s a very rudimentary operation,” says the source. “I would compare it to [CIA] outposts in Kurdistan or any of the Special Forces outposts. It’s very bare bones, and that’s the point.”

Blackwater’s work for JSOC in Karachi is coordinated out of a Task Force based at Bagram Air Base in neighboring Afghanistan, according to the military intelligence source. While JSOC technically runs the operations in Karachi, he said, it is largely staffed by former US special operations soldiers working for a division of Blackwater, once known as Blackwater SELECT, and intelligence analysts working for a Blackwater affiliate, Total Intelligence Solutions (TIS), which is owned by Blackwater’s founder, Erik Prince. The military source said that the name Blackwater SELECT may have been changed recently. Total Intelligence, which is run out of an office on the ninth floor of a building in the Ballston area of Arlington, Virginia, is staffed by former analysts and operatives from the CIA, DIA, FBI and other agencies. It is modeled after the CIA’s counterterrorism center. In Karachi, TIS runs a “media-scouring/open-source network,” according to the source. Until recently, Total Intelligence was run by two former top CIA officials, Cofer Black and Robert Richer, both of whom have left the company. In Pakistan, Blackwater is not using either its original name or its new moniker, Xe Services, according to the former Blackwater executive. “They are running most of their work through TIS because the other two [names] have such a stain on them,” he said. Corallo, the Blackwater spokesperson, denied that TIS or any other division or affiliate of Blackwater has any personnel in Pakistan.

The US military intelligence source said that Blackwater’s classified contracts keep getting renewed at the request of JSOC. Blackwater, he said, is already so deeply entrenched that it has become a staple of the US military operations in Pakistan. According to the former Blackwater executive, “The politics that go with the brand of BW is somewhat set aside because what you’re doing is really one military guy to another.” Blackwater’s first known contract with the CIA for operations in Afghanistan was awarded in 2002 and was for work along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

One of the concerns raised by the military intelligence source is that some Blackwater personnel are being given rolling security clearances above their approved clearances. Using Alternative Compartmentalized Control Measures (ACCMs), he said, the Blackwater personnel are granted clearance to a Special Access Program, the bureaucratic term used to describe highly classified “black” operations. “With an ACCM, the security manager can grant access to you to be exposed to and operate within compartmentalized programs far above ‘secret’–even though you have no business doing so,” said the source. It allows Blackwater personnel that “do not have the requisite security clearance or do not hold a security clearance whatsoever to participate in classified operations by virtue of trust,” he added. “Think of it as an ultra-exclusive level above top secret. That’s exactly what it is: a circle of love.” Blackwater, therefore, has access to “all source” reports that are culled in part from JSOC units in the field. “That’s how a lot of things over the years have been conducted with contractors,” said the source. “We have contractors that regularly see things that top policy-makers don’t unless they ask.”

According to the source, Blackwater has effectively marketed itself as a company whose operatives have “conducted lethal direct action missions and now, for a price, you can have your own planning cell. JSOC just ate that up,” he said, adding, “They have a sizable force in Pakistan–not for any nefarious purpose if you really want to look at it that way–but to support a legitimate contract that’s classified for JSOC.” Blackwater’s Pakistan JSOC contracts are secret and are therefore shielded from public oversight, he said. The source is not sure when the arrangement with JSOC began, but he says that a spin-off of Blackwater SELECT “was issued a no-bid contract for support to shooters for a JSOC Task Force and they kept extending it.” Some of the Blackwater personnel, he said, work undercover as aid workers. “Nobody even gives them a second thought.”

The military intelligence source say that the Blackwater/JSOC Karachi operation is referred to as “Qatar cubed,” in reference to the US forward operating base in Qatar that served as the hub for the planning and implementation of the US invasion of Iraq. “This is supposed to be the brave new world,” he says. “This is the Jamestown of the new millennium and it’s meant to be a lily pad. You can jump off to Uzbekistan, you can jump back over the border, you can jump sideways, you can jump northwest. It’s strategically located so that they can get their people wherever they have to without having to wrangle with the military chain of command in Afghanistan, which is convoluted. They don’t have to deal with that because they’re operating under a classified mandate.”

In addition to planning drone strikes and operations against suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban forces in Pakistan for both JSOC and the CIA, the Blackwater team in Karachi also helps plan missions for JSOC inside Uzbekistan against the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, according to the military intelligence source. Blackwater does not actually carry out the operations, he said, which are executed on the ground by JSOC forces. “That piqued my curiosity and really worries me because I don’t know if you noticed but I was never told we are at war with Uzbekistan,” he said. “So, did I miss something, did Rumsfeld come back into power?”

 Pakistan’s Military Contracting Maze

Blackwater, according to the military intelligence source, is not doing the actual killing as part of its work in Pakistan. “The SELECT personnel are not going into places with private aircraft and going after targets,” he said. “It’s not like Blackwater SELECT people are running around assassinating people.” Instead, US Special Forces teams carry out the plans developed in part by Blackwater. The military intelligence source drew a distinction between the Blackwater operatives who work for the State Department, which he calls “Blackwater Vanilla,” and the seasoned Special Forces veterans who work on the JSOC program. “Good or bad, there’s a small number of people who know how to pull off an operation like that. That’s probably a good thing,” said the source. “It’s the Blackwater SELECT people that have and continue to plan these types of operations because they’re the only people that know how and they went where the money was. It’s not trigger-happy fucks, like some of the PSD [Personal Security Detail] guys. These are not people that believe that Barack Obama is a socialist, these are not people that kill innocent civilians. They’re very good at what they do.”

The former Blackwater executive, when asked for confirmation that Blackwater forces were not actively killing people in Pakistan, said, “that’s not entirely accurate.” While he concurred with the military intelligence source’s description of the JSOC and CIA programs, he pointed to another role Blackwater is allegedly playing in Pakistan, not for the US government but for Islamabad. According to the executive, Blackwater works on a subcontract for Kestral Logistics, a powerful Pakistani firm, which specializes in military logistical support, private security and intelligence consulting. It is staffed with former high-ranking Pakistani army and government officials. While Kestral’s main offices are in Pakistan, it also has branches in several other countries.

A spokesperson for the US State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC), which is responsible for issuing licenses to US corporations to provide defense-related services to foreign governments or entities, would neither confirm nor deny for The Nation that Blackwater has a license to work in Pakistan or to work with Kestral. “We cannot help you,” said department spokesperson David McKeeby after checking with the relevant DDTC officials. “You’ll have to contact the companies directly.” Blackwater’s Corallo said the company has “no operations of any kind” in Pakistan other than the one employee working for the DoD. Kestral did not respond to inquiries from The Nation.

According to federal lobbying records, Kestral recently hired former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roger Noriega, who served in that post from 2003 to 2005, to lobby the US government, including the State Department, USAID and Congress, on foreign affairs issues “regarding [Kestral’s] capabilities to carry out activities of interest to the United States.” Noriega was hired through his firm, Vision Americas, which he runs with Christina Rocca, a former CIA operations official who served as assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs from 2001 to 2006 and was deeply involved in shaping US policy toward Pakistan. In October 2009, Kestral paid Vision Americas $15,000 and paid a Vision Americas-affiliated firm, Firecreek Ltd., an equal amount to lobby on defense and foreign policy issues.

For years, Kestral has done a robust business in defense logistics with the Pakistani government and other nations, as well as top US defense companies. Blackwater owner Erik Prince is close with Kestral CEO Liaquat Ali Baig, according to the former Blackwater executive. “Ali and Erik have a pretty close relationship,” he said. “They’ve met many times and struck a deal, and they [offer] mutual support for one another.” Working with Kestral, he said, Blackwater has provided convoy security for Defense Department shipments destined for Afghanistan that would arrive in the port at Karachi. Blackwater, according to the former executive, would guard the supplies as they were transported overland from Karachi to Peshawar and then west through the Torkham border crossing, the most important supply route for the US military in Afghanistan.

According to the former executive, Blackwater operatives also integrate with Kestral’s forces in sensitive counterterrorism operations in the North-West Frontier Province, where they work in conjunction with the Pakistani Interior Ministry’s paramilitary force, known as the Frontier Corps (alternately referred to as “frontier scouts”). The Blackwater personnel are technically advisers, but the former executive said that the line often gets blurred in the field. Blackwater “is providing the actual guidance on how to do [counterterrorism operations] and Kestral’s folks are carrying a lot of them out, but they’re having the guidance and the overwatch from some BW guys that will actually go out with the teams when they’re executing the job,” he said. “You can see how that can lead to other things in the border areas.” He said that when Blackwater personnel are out with the Pakistani teams, sometimes its men engage in operations against suspected terrorists. “You’ve got BW guys that are assisting… and they’re all going to want to go on the jobs–so they’re going to go with them,” he said. “So, the things that you’re seeing in the news about how this Pakistani military group came in and raided this house or did this or did that–in some of those cases, you’re going to have Western folks that are right there at the house, if not in the house.” Blackwater, he said, is paid by the Pakistani government through Kestral for consulting services. “That gives the Pakistani government the cover to say, ‘Hey, no, we don’t have any Westerners doing this. It’s all local and our people are doing it.’ But it gets them the expertise that Westerners provide for [counterterrorism]-related work.”

The military intelligence source confirmed Blackwater works with the Frontier Corps, saying, “There’s no real oversight. It’s not really on people’s radar screen.”

In October, in response to Pakistani news reports that a Kestral warehouse in Islamabad was being used to store heavy weapons for Blackwater, the US Embassy in Pakistan released a statement denying the weapons were being used by “a private American security contractor.” The statement said, “Kestral Logistics is a private logistics company that handles the importation of equipment and supplies provided by the United States to the Government of Pakistan. All of the equipment and supplies were imported at the request of the Government of Pakistan, which also certified the shipments.”

Who is Behind the Drone Attacks?

Since President Barack Obama was inaugurated, the United States has expanded drone bombing raids in Pakistan. Obama first ordered a drone strike against targets in North and South Waziristan on January 23, and the strikes have been conducted consistently ever since. The Obama administration has now surpassed the number of Bush-era strikes in Pakistan and has faced fierce criticism from Pakistan and some US lawmakers over civilian deaths. A drone attack in June killed as many as sixty people attending a Taliban funeral.

In August, the New York Times reported that Blackwater works for the CIA at “hidden bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where the company’s contractors assemble and load Hellfire missiles and 500-pound laser-guided bombs on remotely piloted Predator aircraft.” In February, The Times of London obtained a satellite image of a secret CIA airbase in Shamsi, in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Baluchistan, showing three drone aircraft. The New York Times also reported that the agency uses a secret base in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, to strike in Pakistan.

The military intelligence source says that the drone strike that reportedly killed Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, his wife and his bodyguards in Waziristan in August was a CIA strike, but that many others attributed in media reports to the CIA are actually JSOC strikes. “Some of these strikes are attributed to OGA [Other Government Agency, intelligence parlance for the CIA], but in reality it’s JSOC and their parallel program of UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] because they also have access to UAVs. So when you see some of these hits, especially the ones with high civilian casualties, those are almost always JSOC strikes.” The Pentagon has stated bluntly, “There are no US military strike operations being conducted in Pakistan.”

The military intelligence source also confirmed that Blackwater continues to work for the CIA on its drone bombing program in Pakistan, as previously reported in the New York Times, but added that Blackwater is working on JSOC’s drone bombings as well. “It’s Blackwater running the program for both CIA and JSOC,” said the source. When civilians are killed, “people go, ‘Oh, it’s the CIA doing crazy shit again unchecked.’ Well, at least 50 percent of the time, that’s JSOC [hitting] somebody they’ve identified through HUMINT [human intelligence] or they’ve culled the intelligence themselves or it’s been shared with them and they take that person out and that’s how it works.”

The military intelligence source says that the CIA operations are subject to Congressional oversight, unlike the parallel JSOC bombings. “Targeted killings are not the most popular thing in town right now and the CIA knows that,” he says. “Contractors and especially JSOC personnel working under a classified mandate are not [overseen by Congress], so they just don’t care. If there’s one person they’re going after and there’s thirty-four people in the building, thirty-five people are going to die. That’s the mentality.” He added, “They’re not accountable to anybody and they know that. It’s an open secret, but what are you going to do, shut down JSOC?”

In addition to working on covert action planning and drone strikes, Blackwater SELECT also provides private guards to perform the sensitive task of security for secret US drone bases, JSOC camps and Defense Intelligence Agency camps inside Pakistan, according to the military intelligence source.

Mosharraf Zaidi, a well-known Pakistani journalist who has served as a consultant for the UN and European Union in Pakistan and Afghanistan, says that the Blackwater/JSOC program raises serious questions about the norms of international relations. “The immediate question is, How do you define the active pursuit of military objectives in a country with which not only have you not declared war but that is supposedly a front-line non-NATO ally in the US struggle to contain extremist violence coming out of Afghanistan and the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan?” asks Zaidi, who is currently a columnist for The News, the biggest English-language daily in Pakistan. “Let’s forget Blackwater for a second. What this is confirming is that there are US military operations in Pakistan that aren’t about logistics or getting food to Bagram; that are actually about the exercise of physical violence, physical force inside of Pakistani territory.”

 JSOC: Rumsfeld and Cheney’s Extra Special Force

Colonel Wilkerson said that he is concerned that with General McChrystal’s elevation as the military commander of the Afghan war–which is increasingly seeping into Pakistan–there is a concomitant rise in JSOC’s power and influence within the military structure. “I don’t see how you can escape that; it’s just a matter of the way the authority flows and the power flows, and it’s inevitable, I think,” Wilkerson told The Nation. He added, “I’m alarmed when I see execute orders and combat orders that go out saying that the supporting force is Central Command and the supported force is Special Operations Command,” under which JSOC operates. “That’s backward. But that’s essentially what we have today.”

From 2003 to 2008 McChrystal headed JSOC, which is headquartered at Pope Air Force Base and Fort Bragg in North Carolina, where Blackwater’s 7,000-acre operating base is also situated. JSOC controls the Army’s Delta Force, the Navy’s SEAL Team 6, as well as the Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment and 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, and the Air Force’s 24th Special Tactics Squadron. JSOC performs strike operations, reconnaissance in denied areas and special intelligence missions. Blackwater, which was founded by former Navy SEALs, employs scores of veteran Special Forces operators–which several former military officials pointed to as the basis for Blackwater’s alleged contracts with JSOC.

Since 9/11, many top-level Special Forces veterans have taken up employment with private firms, where they can make more money doing the highly specialized work they did in uniform. “The Blackwater individuals have the experience. A lot of these individuals are retired military, and they’ve been around twenty to thirty years and have experience that the younger Green Beret guys don’t,” said retired Army Lieut. Col. Jeffrey Addicott, a well-connected military lawyer who served as senior legal counsel for US Army Special Forces. “They’re known entities. Everybody knows who they are, what their capabilities are, and they’ve got the experience. They’re very valuable.”

“They make much more money being the smarts of these operations, planning hits in various countries and basing it off their experience in Chechnya, Bosnia, Somalia, Ethiopia,” said the military intelligence source. “They were there for all of these things, they know what the hell they’re talking about. And JSOC has unfortunately lost the institutional capability to plan within, so they hire back people that used to work for them and had already planned and executed these [types of] operations. They hired back people that jumped over to Blackwater SELECT and then pay them exorbitant amounts of money to plan future operations. It’s a ridiculous revolving door.”

While JSOC has long played a central role in US counterterrorism and covert operations, military and civilian officials who worked at the Defense and State Departments during the Bush administration described in interviews with The Nation an extremely cozy relationship that developed between the executive branch (primarily through Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld) and JSOC. During the Bush era, Special Forces turned into a virtual stand-alone operation that acted outside the military chain of command and in direct coordination with the White House. Throughout the Bush years, it was largely General McChrystal who ran JSOC. “What I was seeing was the development of what I would later see in Iraq and Afghanistan, where Special Operations forces would operate in both theaters without the conventional commander even knowing what they were doing,” said Colonel Wilkerson. “That’s dangerous, that’s very dangerous. You have all kinds of mess when you don’t tell the theater commander what you’re doing.”

Wilkerson said that almost immediately after assuming his role at the State Department under Colin Powell, he saw JSOC being politicized and developing a close relationship with the executive branch. He saw this begin, he said, after his first Delta Force briefing at Fort Bragg. “I think Cheney and Rumsfeld went directly into JSOC. I think they went into JSOC at times, perhaps most frequently, without the SOCOM [Special Operations] commander at the time even knowing it. The receptivity in JSOC was quite good,” says Wilkerson. “I think Cheney was actually giving McChrystal instructions, and McChrystal was asking him for instructions.” He said the relationship between JSOC and Cheney and Rumsfeld “built up initially because Rumsfeld didn’t get the responsiveness. He didn’t get the can-do kind of attitude out of the SOCOM commander, and so as Rumsfeld was wont to do, he cut him out and went straight to the horse’s mouth. At that point you had JSOC operating as an extension of the [administration] doing things the executive branch–read: Cheney and Rumsfeld–wanted it to do. This would be more or less carte blanche. You need to do it, do it. It was very alarming for me as a conventional soldier.”

Wilkerson said the JSOC teams caused diplomatic problems for the United States across the globe. “When these teams started hitting capital cities and other places all around the world, [Rumsfeld] didn’t tell the State Department either. The only way we found out about it is our ambassadors started to call us and say, ‘Who the hell are these six-foot-four white males with eighteen-inch biceps walking around our capital cities?’ So we discovered this, we discovered one in South America, for example, because he actually murdered a taxi driver, and we had to get him out of there real quick. We rendered him–we rendered him home.”

As part of their strategy, Rumsfeld and Cheney also created the Strategic Support Branch (SSB), which pulled intelligence resources from the Defense Intelligence Agency and the CIA for use in sensitive JSOC operations. The SSB was created using “reprogrammed” funds “without explicit congressional authority or appropriation,” according to the Washington Post. The SSB operated outside the military chain of command and circumvented the CIA’s authority on clandestine operations. Rumsfeld created it as part of his war to end “near total dependence on CIA.” Under US law, the Defense Department is required to report all deployment orders to Congress. But guidelines issued in January 2005 by former Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen Cambone stated that Special Operations forces may “conduct clandestine HUMINT operations…before publication” of a deployment order. This effectively gave Rumsfeld unilateral control over clandestine operations.

The military intelligence source said that when Rumsfeld was defense secretary, JSOC was deployed to commit some of the “darkest acts” in part to keep them concealed from Congress. “Everything can be justified as a military operation versus a clandestine intelligence performed by the CIA, which has to be informed to Congress,” said the source. “They were aware of that and they knew that, and they would exploit it at every turn and they took full advantage of it. They knew they could act extra-legally and nothing would happen because A, it was sanctioned by DoD at the highest levels, and B, who was going to stop them? They were preparing the battlefield, which was on all of the PowerPoints: ‘Preparing the Battlefield.'”

The significance of the flexibility of JSOC’s operations inside Pakistan versus the CIA’s is best summed up by Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. “Every single intelligence operation and covert action must be briefed to the Congress,” she said. “If they are not, that is a violation of the law.”

Blackwater: Company Non Grata in Pakistan

For months, the Pakistani media has been flooded with stories about Blackwater’s alleged growing presence in the country. For the most part, these stories have been ignored by the US press and denounced as lies or propaganda by US officials in Pakistan. But the reality is that, although many of the stories appear to be wildly exaggerated, Pakistanis have good reason to be concerned about Blackwater’s operations in their country. It is no secret in Washington or Islamabad that Blackwater has been a central part of the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan and that the company has been involved–almost from the beginning of the “war on terror”–with clandestine US operations. Indeed, Blackwater is accepting applications for contractors fluent in Urdu and Punjabi. The US Ambassador to Pakistan, Anne Patterson, has denied Blackwater’s presence in the country, stating bluntly in September, “Blackwater is not operating in Pakistan.” In her trip to Pakistan in October, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dodged questions from the Pakistani press about Blackwater’s rumored Pakistani operations. Pakistan’s interior minister, Rehman Malik, said on November 21 he will resign if Blackwater is found operating anywhere in Pakistan.

The Christian Science Monitor recently reported that Blackwater “provides security for a US-backed aid project” in Peshawar, suggesting the company may be based out of the Pearl Continental, a luxury hotel the United States reportedly is considering purchasing to use as a consulate in the city. “We have no contracts in Pakistan,” Blackwater spokesperson Stacey DeLuke said recently. “We’ve been blamed for all that has gone wrong in Peshawar, none of which is true, since we have absolutely no presence there.”

Reports of Blackwater’s alleged presence in Karachi and elsewhere in the country have been floating around the Pakistani press for months. Hamid Mir, a prominent Pakistani journalist who rose to fame after his 1997 interview with Osama bin Laden, claimed in a recent interview that Blackwater is in Karachi. “The US [intelligence] agencies think that a number of Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders are hiding in Karachi and Peshawar,” he said. “That is why [Blackwater] agents are operating in these two cities.” Ambassador Patterson has said that the claims of Mir and other Pakistani journalists are “wildly incorrect,” saying they had compromised the security of US personnel in Pakistan. On November 20 the Washington Times, citing three current and former US intelligence officials, reported that Mullah Mohammed Omar, the leader of the Afghan Taliban, has “found refuge from potential U.S. attacks” in Karachi “with the assistance of Pakistan’s intelligence service.”

In September, the Pakistani press covered a report on Blackwater allegedly submitted by Pakistan’s intelligence agencies to the federal interior ministry. In the report, the intelligence agencies reportedly allege that Blackwater was provided houses by a federal minister who is also helping them clear shipments of weapons and vehicles through Karachi’s Port Qasim on the coast of the Arabian Sea. The military intelligence source did not confirm this but did say, “The port jives because they have a lot of [former] SEALs and they would revert to what they know: the ocean, instead of flying stuff in.”

The Nation cannot independently confirm these allegations and has not seen the Pakistani intelligence report. But according to Pakistani press coverage, the intelligence report also said Blackwater has acquired “bungalows” in the Defense Housing Authority in the city. According to the DHA website, it is a large gated community established “for the welfare of the serving and retired officers of the Armed Forces of Pakistan.” Its motto is: “Home for Defenders.” The report alleges Blackwater is receiving help from local government officials in Karachi and is using vehicles with license plates traditionally assigned to members of the national and provincial assemblies, meaning local law enforcement will not stop them.

The use of private companies like Blackwater for sensitive operations such as drone strikes or other covert work undoubtedly comes with the benefit of plausible deniability that places an additional barrier in an already deeply flawed system of accountability. When things go wrong, it’s the contractors’ fault, not the government’s. But the widespread use of contractors also raises serious legal questions, particularly when they are a part of lethal, covert actions. “We are using contractors for things that in the past might have been considered to be a violation of the Geneva Convention,” said Lt. Col. Addicott, who now runs the Center for Terrorism Law at St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio, Texas. “In my opinion, we have pressed the envelope to the breaking limit, and it’s almost a fiction that these guys are not in offensive military operations.” Addicott added, “If we were subjected to the International Criminal Court, some of these guys could easily be picked up, charged with war crimes and put on trial. That’s one of the reasons we’re not members of the International Criminal Court.”

If there is one quality that has defined Blackwater over the past decade, it is the ability to survive against the odds while simultaneously reinventing and rebranding itself. That is most evident in Afghanistan, where the company continues to work for the US military, the CIA and the State Department despite intense criticism and almost weekly scandals. Blackwater’s alleged Pakistan operations, said the military intelligence source, are indicative of its new frontier. “Having learned its lessons after the private security contracting fiasco in Iraq, Blackwater has shifted its operational focus to two venues: protecting things that are in danger and anticipating other places we’re going to go as a nation that are dangerous,” he said. “It’s as simple as that.”

The article was originaly published by:The Nation on November 23rd, 2009

Erick Prince, Boss Blackwater in his Virginia Office

Balckwater Training centre in Pakistan(name of the location not  known)

Blackwater wins Security Contract deal in Afghanistan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black water,  Xe ‘s Erick Prince in Tactical Operation centre- Kabul

By A Khokar

  CIA Director Leon Panetta says the agency has hired Xe (zee) Services _ the company once known as Blackwater _ for a $100 million contract to provide security in Afghanistan.

He says Xe underbid others by $26 million and that a CIA review concludes that the contractor has cleaned up its previous alleged acts.

Panetta says Moyock, North Carolina based Xe does not engage in actual CIA operations, but instead helps secure agency bases in war zones. Seven CIA employees, including security contractors, were killed in a suicide bombing in Khost, Afghanistan, in December.

Earlier Blackwater guards allegedly opened fire on unarmed civilians in Baghdad in 2007, killing 17 people. A federal grand jury has indicted five Blackwater officials on conspiracy weapons and obstruction of justice charges.

Blackwater with her changed named as XE (Zee) runs its U.S. Training Centre at Moyok, N.C and claims that it is famous for their ability to deliver hard hitting, effective training experiences for military, security and law enforcement professionals as well as civilians. XE says that they may successfully handle wide range of missions, terrain and tactical situations throughout the world.

Source: conservative mag

“Loose Lips Sink Ships”

By A Khokar  June 24, 2010

Military men they  have a peculier habit that they crib a lot, use slangs extensively in day to day talks and some time even indulge in name calling too— which be taken a common practice more so by the courageous few among them. McCrystal was one of those kinds.

But; you may be sent home being loose lipped; if you are an American General.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s mistake was not indulging in — and allowing his aides to indulge in — locker room guy talk; his “mistake in judgment” was allowing a writer for the far-left, anti-war magazine, “Rolling Stone” apparently unrestricted and prolonged access to him and his aides. The World War II slogan “Loose Lips Sink Ships” which was intended to encourage Americans to keep quiet about any information pertaining to that war, could also apply to modern generals and their staffs.

I personally think that where as General Crystal conduct may not be called— as his  conduct unbecoming of a General but his punishment is something which is a kill— overdone.

His termination orders as passed by Obama do not reflect that justice has been done but most probably it is politically motivated termination.

US failure in Afghanistan is but eminent. Obama has made McCrystal a scapegoat to cover up his war follies and make use the incident to repair his personal credibility that he seems lost during his early period of turmoil and series of setbacks that America is facing at home as well as on US foreign policy front.

Predicting the Unpredictable

By A Khokar   June 22, 2010
 Seeing the past track record of ever expanding phony war on Terror and the usual US lam excuses put forward to prolong the war in the countries that US has continuously been invading to occupy, one after another on some pretext or the other— till we find that US has come and pitched its forces right at our western borders. It is not difficult to ascertain or read the mind of US think tanks and Pentagon that what is there in the offing for the people who find themselves subjected to the perpetual atrocities of ‘US lead armed Forces’ and their onslaught.

Basing on the given blue print and the ‘Projected Calendar’ of this phony war; following may best be predicted— for at least, next one year to come.

1.   To win the US senate election due in November this year and by gauging  the non-supportive US public opinion for Afghan war; Obama needs a political clout of withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan and his earlier announcement to end the war in next year –July 2011 date must remain in place.

2.   From now onward till the US mid-term elections results are announced and its outcome is consolidated; Al Qaeda; a US friend (in need is friend deed) who is always seen ready with their Video messages hurled on such occasion to help, aid and build up the scenario/ pretext—–it is expected that Al Qaeda may not issue their usual rhetoric of ultimatum of some sort or the other.

3.   But  prior to midterm elections; in October, the CIA mercenaries force in Pakistan —TTP must increase its savagery for obvious reasons… which is meant to mark a firm perception in the media that Pakistan is an unstable country as ever and to show that US presence in Af-Pak is justified.

4.   Winter otherwise may pass relatively calm but in view of precarious situation in Pakistan and also to keep Pakistan army at arm’s length from the Corridors of power in Islamabad; —as a token of prize for Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and for his services; his tenure may be extended in recognition of his victory in Swat and FATA.

5.   Comes spring 2011 and at the home front Obama is no more in need of up keep of the rhetoric to end the Afghan war. Per old calendar, Al Qaeda must escalate its atrocities to make it known that terrorism is still ‘live and kicking’ thus US exit from Afghanistan as scheduled in July 2011 may be announced as postponed.

 6.    At this point the fake Taliban group known as TTP which is supported by CIA/Mosad and RAW of India— is likely to start unleashing their subversive attacks in Pakistan. Pak Military security command bases connected with various nuclear silhouettes may be their prime targets— to show that how the nuclear weapons of Pakistan are vulnerable and up for grab by the terrorists.

 7.   To undermine the writ of government further—- some of the key persons in government may also be made targets.

 Above may be seen by some; a wild, flagrant explanation of the situ put forward by a ‘devil’s advocate’; but out there on ground the situation is really taking a different turns. It is seen that in the face of the unflinching resolve. resilience and stead fastness shown by the Hezbollah—the rag-tag Taliban in Afghanistan over such a long  extended period;—  against the far superior sabre rattling  forces of the lone super power; it is seen that  US forces and its higher command is terrified for fighting a sham  useless war and its growing death toll. Finding nothing at hand to declare  a victory; they are in disarray and dishearten. Back home, even the top US commander in Afghanistan, Gen Stanley McChrystal is seen as sham General and labelled as; ‘The Runaway General’. With heavy hearts they are packing up in humiliations to go home.

One is amazed that how the Lord of the Heaven and the Earth has changed the scenario in the favours of His believers who remained steadfast. Allah says: [59:2] “….(O believers)…..You did not think that they (your enemy) would go forth(budge), and (your enemy) thought that their fortresses would defend them against Allah. But Allah came upon them from where they did not expect, and CAST TERROR INTO THEIR HEARTS,, so that they destroyed their houses with their own hands and the hands of the believers. So take a lesson, O ye who have eyes!”

Regards

What Price Afghanistan?

By Pat Buchanan

“The narrative … has been too negative.”

So says Defense Secretary Robert Gates of political and press commentary about the war in Afghanistan. It reminds him of the pessimism of June 2007, before the Iraqi surge began to succeed, said Gates.

But the narrative is coming now not just from critics of the war but stalwart defenders. John McCain says the war effort could be headed for “crisis” and holds President Obama responsible for announcing a timetable for withdrawal starting next summer.

And how optimistic can Americans be when, last month, in the ninth year of our longest war, the U.S. field commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, said the Taliban have fought us to a draw.

Eight years ago, the Taliban seemed finished.

Since then, we have poured in scores of thousands of troops, spent $300 billion, lost 1,000 soldiers and seen thousands more wounded. Yet, the Taliban have never been stronger or operated more broadly.

Unfortunately, the narrative the Pentagon deplores is rooted in reality.

The battle for Marjah, said to be a dress rehearsal for June’s decisive Battle of Kandahar, appears not to have been the triumph advertised. The Afghan government and police failed to follow up and take over the Marjah district. The Taliban continue to execute those working with the Americans.

Kandahar, with 800,000 people, is 10 times as populous as Marjah and the spiritual capital of the Taliban.

And we now learn the Battle of Kandahar will not take place in June.

Indeed, it is not going to be a battle at all, but a struggle for the hearts of the people, to persuade them to rise up against the Taliban, work with the Americans, and transfer their loyalty to Kabul and President Hamid Kharzi.

The people of Kandahar apparently do not want U.S. protection any more than they want a battle for the city. And how can President Kharzi win their loyalty when his drug-lord brother, Wali Kharzi, is the Al Capone of Kandahar?

As for President Kharzi himself, after a Taliban rocket attack on his loya jirga, the national council, this month, he got rid of his interior minister and his intelligence chief, Amrullah Saleh, in the biggest shakeup of his time in office. Both men had strong ties to the Americans, and Kharzi is said to have suspected that their first loyalty was to the Americans.

Shown evidence of the Taliban role in the attack on the loya jirga, says Saleh, Kharzi told him he thinks the Americans were behind it.

Kharzi, says Saleh, has lost all confidence that the United States and NATO have the perseverance to see the war through, and he is working in secret back channels to cut a deal with the Taliban.

From Harvard researcher Matt Waldman of the London School of Economics, reported in the London Telegraph, comes the explosive charge that Pakistani Intelligence is now fully collaborating with the Taliban.

On June 16, The New York Times reported that Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group behind the Mumbai massacre, is operating in Afghanistan, attacking Indian aid workers. Like the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba received early support from Pakistani intelligence.

What is going on in Afghanistan?

It appears that Pakistan, by maintaining ties to the Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba, wants to ensure that if and when the Americans do depart, as Obama signaled we would begin to do next July, Afghanistan will move into Islamabad’s orbit, not New Delhi’s.

For the United States and NATO, however, casualties are rising to the highest levels of the war. June is shaping up as the bloodiest month ever.

While Barack Obama has promised a review of U.S. strategy and policy in December, at the present rate, hundreds more young Americans will by then have given up their lives.

For what?

To succeed in creating in Afghanistan a country where the Taliban have been driven permanently from power and there is no chance of al-Qaida’s returns, we need a government in Kabul and an Afghan army and police that can follow up U.S. military gains by taking control, protecting the population and providing social reforms.

We don’t have that government. We have, instead, a regime that has no confidence we will stay the course and is thus dealing behind our backs with the enemy who is killing our troops.

It is simply not credible that the United States and its NATO allies, some of whom — like the Dutch — are pulling out, can prevail in this war in 12 months so America can begin coming home, as Obama has promised, unless Obama is willing to write Afghanistan off.

If he is, he should tell us now and save those Americans lives.

If he is not wiling to see Afghanistan fall, he should tell us what it will take, and how long, to avoid a defeat and win this war.

For saying the U.S. can succeed in the next 12 months in what we have failed to accomplish, at a rising cost in blood and money, for the last eight years, is not credible.

Source: Conservative Mag

US finding retreat from Afghanistan worst than Vietnam

 

  By A Khokar   June 19, 2010

The developing scenario on the horizon in the West shows that US Pull out from Afghanistan is now eminent and it may start earlier than expected. In the West; all along Afghanistan war has been considered as an unwanted war and consequently Britain as well as Canada are seen impatient to pull out their troops much earlier than expected. US desperation is also gauge able who is looking for some grounds to avail a face saving exit. But a humiliating retreat of US is imminent which is written on the wall.

After going through the recent allegations contained in the Matt Waldeman report about the Pakistan government’s links to the Taliban should be seen in this context and this may not be difficult to ascertain that end game may be drawing nearer for which all the effort may be in place, to make Pakistan a scapegoat and throw the blame of US defeat on Pakistan that how an ally, who betrayed US and played a double game of working as the front state as ally of Us but underhand has been aiding Taliban which brought this day of defeat for the United States.

The US friendship with its proxy Pakistan may be seeing a drastic setback and may turned out to be a zero sum game rather may see a much bitter a phase for a long time to come— longer than the legacy of US defeat in Vietnam to keep US haunting in the future.

Indeed, the entire exit strategy for the US lead NATO forces rests on the assumption that in time, Afghan police and army would be able to take over from their western counterparts. This would allow NATO to declare victory and go home. Clearly, the fighting capability of the local recruits is still far short of what is expected of them, raising serious questions about what will happen when the foreign troops go home.

Gen McChrystal’s famous surge seems to be petering out and Helmond operation called operation; Mushtrak to cleanse the Taliban from their main head quarters in Helmand province has met its colossal failure. The local forces, trained at considerable expense by NATO troops, have proven to be inadequate for the task, and in many areas the Taliban are back in force.

The popular assumption that corrupt puppet Karzai’s government somehow will be able to pursue the Afghans to reject the Taliban, and help the government to turn the tide against the forces led by Mullah Omar and other extremist leaders or force them to come to the table to grab their share of power on offer but this too has rejected by Taliban in the face of colossal failure that US lead NATO forces has seen in Helmand. Taliban foresee their come back; earlier than expected.

Whereas the Taliban lead by Mullah Umer, are fighting a legitimate war of the freedom of their country against the occupation of foreign forces but in the neighbouring Pakistan, the scenario is entirely different. Where, the local Tehrik e Taliban (TTP) since raised by the American CIA to counter the efforts of Taliban fighting in Afghanistan have since been unleashing havoc in the country. TTP through their subversive actions have certainly caused a severe blow to its economy which has depleted it considerably to a very low on its graph.

TTP subversion has made many dents and left many painful scar to its economy and has left it depleted; but their act of treason and working as mercenaries for paltry money while playing in the hands of enemy of Pakistan has also left a good section of society which abets them; especially so called religious elites and groups are turned out to be morally bankrupt. CIA intrusions in our society may be objectionable but it is more damaging that the religious creed supposedly the defenders of the faith and Islam who enjoy a good hold on the illiterate masses of Pakistan is found trekking the route of treason and treachery. It is also tragic to know that the Pakistani patriots who try to name and shame them for their evil designs are subjected to their target killing.

Scars inflicted by TTP and its cohort may be visible in the society but it is very encouraging that the timely actions of the able command of Gallant Armed Forces of Pakistan; their iron fist actions in Swat and now in FATA against these stooges have brought a halt to their subversion. A planned cleansing of this parasite from Pakistani soil is vigorously being carried out to cleanse the traitors out and once again make this land – a real Pak land.

While American are set to retreat; a shiver in the pants of the hypocrite found ‘sleeping with the enemy’ is very much visible across the board and their dream castles are dismantling.

Regards

Cartoon: courtesy of truthdig.com

Israel vs Iran: the risk of war

Iran is at the centre of a global storm: targeted by new sanctions, suspected by Washington, defended by Brazil and Turkey. But the complex diplomacy around its nuclear programme could be ended by decisions made not in the United States but in Israel.

About the author
Paul Rogers is professor of peace studies at Bradford University and is openDemocracy’s international-security editor.

Iran has returned to the centre of international diplomacy, and with a vengeance. A week after the crisis over Israel’s assault on an aid-flotilla bound for Gaza, the United Nations Security Council on 9 June 2010 adopted a resolution imposing another tranche of sanctions on the Tehran regime over its contested nuclear programme. The response – from Iran’s ambassador at the UN to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at home – was characteristically vigorous. In the anniversary week of Ahmadinejad’s victory in Iran’s disputed presidential election on 12 June 2010, Iran’s leadership is as determined as ever to withstand what it sees as unjust interference in its internal affairs.

But this is more than just another episode in an endless cycle of confrontation between Iran and the west in general and the United States in particular. The Tehran-Washington polarisation remains one of the principal faultlines of global politics, but two additional elements in the current situation make it both more complex and more perilous than ever:

* the emergence of rising powers onto the global stage (see Mariano Aguirre, “Brazil-Turkey and Iran: a new global balance”, 2 June 2010)

* the deep concern in Israel about Iran’s nuclear plans, and its influence over the Hizbollah movement in Lebanon (see Robert G Rabil, “Hizbollah vs Israel: the coming clash”, 9 March 2010).

A cascade of pressure

The Security Council Resolution 1929, which imposes new restrictions on trade with Iran, was welcomed by Washington as a signal of the international-community’s determination to take a tough line with Tehran. The reality is more prosaic: after a lengthy process of negotiation among the council’s permanent members, the content of the resolution was gutted in order to accommodate the concerns of Russia and China before they could vote for it.

Even then, it was opposed by two key non-permanent members of the council with influence in their region and in the majority-world, Turkey and Brazil (see Leslie Bethell, “Brazil: regional power, global power”, 8 June 2010). The leaders of these two states, prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Lula, had agreed a uranium-exchange deal in Tehran on 17 May 2010 in an attempt to defuse the crisis; this reflects both their ambition to play a more prominent role in the “multipolar world” and, more immediately, their deep concern about the possibility of an escalation of the crisis over Iran.

Turkey’s active and confident regional diplomacy, not least the critical stance its government has adopted towards Israel (before and after the assault on the Mavi Marmara, in which nine of its citizens were killed), has given the country a new profile across the middle east (see “Israel-Turkey-United States: Gaza’s global moment”, 3 June 2010). The challenge to leading Arab states that pursue a more conservative path, Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt in particular, is evident (see Sami Moubayed, “Turkey’s Erdogan: Never a ‘yes’ man”, Asia Times, 10 June 2010).

The sanctions issue is only one aspect of these evolving regional dynamics. In themselves, the new measures will have little impact on a near-moribund Iranian economy; and far from posing a threat to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s position, they may even (as the Iranian analyst Ali Ansari suggests) prove counterproductive by fuelling his regime’s defiance of perceived western bullying. A year after the eruption of street-protests following Ahmadinejad’s contested election victory, a state that continues to work hard to suppress internal dissent can find a ready domestic audience by portraying the latest sanctions as part of an “imperial” agenda. 

But three aspects of the sanctions package and their diplomatic context do have implications for Iran. The first is that Russia is now unlikely to supply Iran with the S-300 anti-aircraft/anti-missile system, as had earlier been agreed (see “Russia to freeze missile sale to Iran, Putin tells Sarkozy“, Ha’aretz, 11 June 2010). The largely obsolete Iranian air-defence system would have gained great military benefits from acquiring the long-range S-300 system; the end of the deal will be a significant loss for Tehran.

The second is that Tehran may (according to official Iranian media sources) now revise its relationship with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The strong indication here is that Iran’s government will limit the IAEA’s access to Iran’s nuclear-energy facilities. The cold rationale of this position is: if the UN Security Council is determined to sanction Iran more, even at a time when the Brazil-Turkey-Iran deal was on offer (and even encouraged at one stage by the United States), why should Iran work with the United Nations?

The third aspect is that the Barack Obama administration (according to a report from Washington) is preparing to shift the position on Iran’s nuclear ambitions that was elaborated in the national-intelligence estimate (NIE) published during George W Bush’s presidency in December 2007 (see David E Singer, “U.S. presses its case against Iran ahead of sanctions vote”, New York Times, 8 June 2010). 

That NIE assessment – Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities – reached the conclusion (surprising to many, given Washington’s confrontational public stance towards Iran at the time) that Iran’s civil-nuclear-power programme was indeed developing rapidly, but that specific work on weapons-systems had largely ceased in 2003 (see Jan De Pauw, “Iran, the United States and Europe: the nuclear complex”, 5 December 2007). The briefings now underway suggest that the the forthcoming NIE, while not directly contradicting the 2007 report, will find that Iran is (possibly under the aegis of the Revolutionary Guards [IRGC]) conducting applied-research programmes on matters such as the construction of nuclear-triggers.

The combination of these three factors amounts to a tightening of pressure on Iran. At the same time, they do not portend any real prospect of United States military action against Iran. Barack Obama’s outreach to Iran during his first year in office, symbolised by his nowrooz (new-year) greeting in March 2009, may have delivered little; but his administration still maintains that it would prefer dialogue with Tehran leading to a negotiated solution.

But what applies to the United States most definitely does not apply to Israel.

A view to the north

Israel’s plans and intentions towards Iran are a vital if uncertain component of the regional strategic landscape (see “Israel’s shadow over Iran”, 14 January 2010). It cannot be said with any certainty that Israel is moving towards an early assault on Iran’s nuclear- and missile-complexes. What can be said is the view held by the current Israeli government of Binyamin Netanyahu – and shared to a great extent across the Israeli political spectrum – is that Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons would represent an existential threat to Israel that must be prevented at all costs.

Binyamin Netanyahu outlined the three greatest strategic challenges to Israel in an important speech at the Sabin Forum in November 2008. In his view these are: Iran’s nuclear ambitions; missiles from Iran, Hamas (in Gaza) and Hizbollah (in Lebanon); and a pervasive international denial of Israel’s right to self-defence. 

The attack on the Mavi Marmara on 31 May 2010 is part of the response to the last of these threats (see Thomas Keenan & Eyal Weizman, “Israel: the third strategic threat”, 7 June 2010). The crisis over this event has received huge media attention, which to an extent has overshadowed an even more significant development in recent days: news in Israel both of the deployment of Scud missiles in Lebanon and of detailed Israeli military plans for a massive assault against Hizbollah.  

The well-informed and reliable Defense News reports that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) have, since the failed war of July-August 2006, fundamentally rethought its strategy and tactics. The IDF is now ready for an even more intense – and, it is hoped, decisive – war with Hizbollah (see Barbara Opall-Rome, “Israel’s New Hard Line on Hizbollah”, Defense News, 31 May 2010).

At present, it seems that the planning for such a war does not envisage that it would be launched “out of the blue” but rather that it might arise from a provocation, a crisis with Iran – or sheer military miscalculation. This “known unknown” notwithstanding, the details of the proposed operation are worth quoting at length:

“…a new fight against Iranian- and Syrian-backed Hizbollah would see an all-out assault on the party’s arsenals, command centres, commercial assets and strongholds throughout the country. But it would also include attacks on national infrastructure; a total maritime blockade; and interdiction strikes on bridges, highways and other smuggling routes along the Lebanese border with Syria. Meanwhile land forces would extend a ferocious land grab well beyond the Litani River that Israeli brigades belatedly hobbled towards but failed to reach in the last war. Finally, Israel would consider the kind of targeted killings that it now executes only in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip”.

The Hizbollah movement which fought Israel to a standstill in the 2006 war – thus claiming victory in the aftermath – is now a senior partner in the Beirut government headed by Saad Hariri; a third of Hariri’s cabinet are Hizbollah representatives (see Zaid Al-Ali, “Lebanon: chronicles of an attempted suicide”, 20 May 2009). IDF planners view this domestic political compromise, the outcome of an extended and bitter post-war standoff, in terms of the Lebanese government’s failure to control Hizbollah. They draw the conclusion that Lebanon’s national assets – including even the Lebanese army – are now legitimate targets.

Israeli claims that Hizbollah has now added Scud missiles to its already extensive arsenal – and may even intend to deploy them in northern Lebanon where they are difficult to counter – may or may not be correct. But there is evidence that Hizbollah has greatly increased its arsenal of shorter-range weapons; and its Iranian ally has steadily developed versatile solid-fuel medium-range ballistic-missiles that could reach deep into Israel and leave no part of the country immune (see Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, “The Hizbollah project: last war, next war”, 13 August 2009).

A last throw

The Israeli plans for a definitive war in Lebanon are part of a core military outlook that sees the demonstration of overwhelming military power against intransigent opponents who are resolutely against peace as the only route to security. Before and after such armed confrontations, strong deterrence is needed (see Avi Shlaim, “Israel at 60: the ‘iron wall’ revisited”, 8 May 2008).

An interview in Defense News with Israel’s deputy chief-of-staff, Major-General Benjamin Gantz, offers an unusually revealing insight into this mindset. The journal paraphrases his warning “that it could take repeated rounds of high-intensity wars to remove the Iranian-trained and financed threat from the north. The aim, he said, is to prolong the periods of relative quiet between war fighting.”

Major-General Gantz is then quoted directly:

“Israel cannot exist with protracted peaks of warfare. Therefore we have to reduce them to reasonable levels – similar to the way we drove down terror in the aftermath of Defensive Shield [the IDF’s operation in the West Bank in 2002]. That way we allow our people to live reasonably under a protracted emergency situation until we fix it, and then we go back to square one.”

“I doubt there will be peace afterwards, but at least we’ll be able to extend the time between peaks… Through strategic attrition – one round then another round – we’ll create a situation where each new round brings worse results than the last. And that, in and of itself, brings a formidable deterrent.”

Israel’s deputy chief-of-staff here exposes Israel’s security predicament (see “Hizbollah’s warning flight”, 4 May 2005). Israel is essentially impervious to any serious military attack by land or sea; but the modern experience of rocket-assault – the Scud-attacks launched by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 1991, the hundreds of rockets fired by Hizbollah in 2006, and even the crude devices launched from Gaza since the withdrawal of Israeli forces in 2005 – means that Israel is now living with a form of insecurity as (or even more) serious as anything since the Yom Kippur/Ramadan war of October 1973.

The Binyamin Netanyahu government and much of Israel’s military establishment think that peace is not now possible; Israel can only be secure by being a fortress that periodically strikes out at its enemies to massive effect. There are many dangers in this view (see “After Gaza: Israel’s last chance”, 17 January 2009). But its logic is also clear: that there is a real risk of another war before too long – and that this will be a double war, against both Iran and Hizbollah.

 Reference: Sassu.org.uk

A call of Jihad by Pen

By A khokar    June 16, 2010

In present day and time; we find that Jihad with pen is more important and a bigger Jihad than by sword. This was told some one hundred years ago by the Promised Messiah Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmed (as); founder of Ahmadiyya movement in Islam. This was a new concept introduced by him in the age and time, when Jihad with sword was the order of the day. In the Muslim world the centuries old concept of war by sword was also thought to be the prime doctrine known in the way of propagation of Islam.

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmed as a Muslim scholar was well known for his fighting the cause of Muslim against the onslaught of Christianity in Middle East, Asia and western colonial occupation especially in Subcontinent. 1875 is the year known as year of mutiny in British Raj of India. After this incident, the movement for freedom of subcontinent gathered momentum. In 1889 he proclaimed to be the metaphorical second coming of Jesus (as) of Nazareth and the divine guide, whose advent was foretold by the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (swa). His scholarly verdict at this stage from a person who claimed to be the divine guide, to put down the sword and take up pen was taken as the announcement of ghastly cowardice. This was against the will and wishes of the peoples. He was mocked, jeered and this has generated lot of opposition against him to the extent that he was declared as an imposter by the Ulemas of the time.

Some hundred years have passed; there were two world wars that this world saw; fought primarily with sword. In both the wars Muslims for their part of wars only could reap an utter humiliation especially in world war one when the Muslim Ottoman Empire fell.

 After the fall of Ottoman Empire although Muslims were forced to lay down their arms and swords but new groups came on the surface in Arab world like Satia Al-Husri who spawned  a whole generation of men who advocated violence. One example is Sami Shawkat who is famous for his 1933 speech “Sina’at al-Mawt” (manufacture of doctrine of death) in which he rationalized mass violence and war as the way to achieve Arab aspirations. Tragically, his speech was widely distributed in Arab schools and in Iraq in particular. It is interesting that Shawkat taught that; ‘There is Honour in the Business of Death’. The “force is the soil which sprouts the seeds of truth” and (suicidal) death the only way left for Arabs to win back the lost glory of Arabs.

Ever since, the doctrinarians of suicide bombing, have been active and hundreds and thousands of Muslim juvenile in almost all the Muslim countries have been doctrine and sent out to kill themselves; supposedly to earn honour for Islam and their families which they are lead to believe that their honour  lies in their death as suicide bombers. Palestinian, Iranian, African and lately in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, flocks of such young ones are being bred and used as fodder of war.

But history speaks that this business of death has only brought more destruction, havoc and anarchy in Arabs own lands and other countries of Greater Middle East like Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan and in the Far East. This has increased the Muslim Ummah’s humiliation further and defamed the name of divine religion; Islam.

If Muslims they only know that this is ‘era of pen and not of sword’. This world belongs to the people who excel in knowledge (of technologies), have the control over economic resources and bear innovative minds. Retrieving the honour and glory through death (suicidal acts) has not worked. It is a cowardice in itself and it may never work in the future.

Down the timeline if today we may take the present day example of the warring United States and their mega monster forces  at war in Afghanistan: they are also resorting to concept of waging wars by sword rather they be called the ; Brutal Exterminators in use of their lethal weapons.

Their forces are the most ultra Morden forces equipped with most ultra Morden lethal weaponry and equipment; the air power in support is capable of pin point targeting and attacking . Some one quarter million of US lead NATO forces are present in Afghanistan.

But —do we know that why United States came to Afghanistan? US has only one declared aim: to capture one single person—-Osama bin laden…who supposedly sent his suicidal group to attack their home land in New York at trading Centre; Twin Tower known as 9/11 Terrorist attack.

Who can rattle their sabres better than US and her allied forces? But Some 10 years have come to pass—- the entire force after destroying anything coming in their way and bringing utter destruction of the entire Afghanistan. They have reduced it to ruins. Could they find that one single person that they came for? Answer is— Big NO.

How many trillions of dollars they must have spent on fighting??? Now; very sheepishly; they have announced their retreat and are packing up in humiliation.

This is modern war which may not be won with the sword or by rattling of sabre; How strong they may be…. gone are the days when fighting with the sword was the prime concept of the war. Knowledge, economic resources and innovative minds are the weapons of the day. They say that only fools they don’t change their minds or the doctrine of fighting their war. That is what Messiah Moud (as) said that; No war with sword in the future but Muslim  must fight with pen. How true he was.

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Atabad Lake flow out at spillway increases

Video:Hunzaon line

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hn-Bxl6FOZo&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

The expert’s discussion on the various websites seems restricted to the boulders visible on the surface and their expected movement, owing the flow of water and erosion thereof as seen in this video, in the newly formed shallow channel.

But the entire spillway is filled with hundreds of such big boulders, packed in between by the smaller boulders and the debris to have formed a strong long barrier.

Option of controlled explosions to ease the spillway is also being evaluated by DMNA.

All the efforts applied may reduce the lake level to an extent. This may give some relief to the upstream population but looks like this lake is now there to stay for good.

Up date; 22 June 2010

Under the istruction of NDMA; FWO staff is preparing for Blasts.