Georgia demands Russian peacekeepers' withdrawal from Abkhazia
(NSI News Source Info) TBILISI - September 1, 2008: Georgia asked the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) on Monday to end Russia's peacekeeping mandate in Abkhazia, one of the two rebel regions that Moscow has recognized as independent, the Foreign Ministry said.
The ministry said Georgia's ambassador to Belarus, David Zankaliani, handed a note to the Minsk-based executive committee of the post Soviet alliance, from which Georgia withdrew during the recent conflict with Russia.
"Georgia has made a decision to end the CIS peacekeeping operation in Abkhazia, which was taking place on the basis of a decision taken by Commonwealth members' presidents in 2003," the ministry said.
Georgian Prime Minister Vladimir Gurgenidze signed on August 29 an instruction for Georgia to withdraw from all peacekeeping agreements with the CIS and with Russia.
Russia officially recognized the Georgian breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia on August 26, saying the move was needed to protect the regions following Georgia's military offensive on August 8 in which hundreds of civilians died and thousands were forced to flee.
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili announced on August 12 that the country was pulling out of the Russian-dominated Commonwealth of Independent States, and the Georgian parliament approved the decision two days later.
The CIS now comprises Russia, Georgia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Tajikstan and Uzbekistan.
Russia may push forward with S-300 sales to Iran
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - September 1, 2008: Russia may proceed with plans to sell advanced S-300 air defense systems to Iran under a secret contract believed to have been signed in 2005, a Russian analyst said on Monday.
Commenting on an article in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper saying Russia is using the plans as a bargaining chip in its standoff with America, Ruslan Pukhov, director of Moscow-based Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, said: "In the current situation, when the U.S. and the West in general are stubbornly gearing toward a confrontation with Russia after the events in South Ossetia, the implementation of a lucrative contract on the deliveries of S-300 [air defense systems] to Iran looks like a logical step."
The U.S. and Israel were alarmed by media reports, which started circulating as early as 2005, on the possible delivery of S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran, as these systems could greatly improve Iranian defenses against any air strike on its strategically important sites, including nuclear facilities.
The advanced version of the S-300 missile system, called S-300PMU1 (SA-20 Gargoyle), has a range of over 150 kilometers (over 100 miles) and can intercept ballistic missiles and aircraft at low and high altitudes, making the system an effective tool for warding off possible air strikes.
The issue was again raised in December last year when Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said Russia had agreed to deliver to Iran an unspecified number of advanced S-300 air defense complexes under a previously signed contract.
However, Russia's Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation said the issue of the delivery of S-300 air defense missile systems to Iran was not a subject of current or past negotiations.
Israeli defense sources, however, said in July that Iran was expected to take delivery of Russian S-300 air defense systems by the end of 2008.
Pukhov said: "This may be true. While Russia and the West were on good terms, the contract could have been 'frozen' for the time being. But now may be the perfect time to move forward with the fulfillment of the S-300 contract."
According to the Russian analyst, S-300 missiles and previously delivered Tor-M1 missiles would help Iran build a strong network of long- and medium-range 'defensive rings' to thwart any attempts to destroy key nuclear facilities in the country.
Moscow supplied Iran with 29 Tor-M1 air defense missile systems in late January under a $700-million contract signed in late 2005. Russia has also trained Iranian Tor-M1 specialists, including radar operators and crew commanders.
"Anyone attempting to threaten Iran with aerial bombardment would have to consider the possibility of strong and effective resistance," the expert said.
Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi denied on Monday reports that Tehran had bought S-300 air defense systems from Russia.
"Our missile and technical capability completely depends on the efforts of Iranian scientists," he said.
U.S. warship met by anti-NATO protests in Ukraine's Sevastopol
(NSI News Source Info) SEVASTOPOL - September 1, 2008: The crew of U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Dallas, which arrived on Monday morning at the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol where Russia has a naval base, has refused to go ashore amid anti-NATO protests, customs officers said.
The Dallas, which recently delivered humanitarian aid to Georgia's Black Sea port of Batumi, docked at the Crimean port on the invitation of Kiev.
The ship was met with thousands of protesters chanting "Yankees go home!" and waving banners with the slogan "NATO Stop!" The area around the ship has been cordoned off by police, with an anti-NATO picket nearby.
Ukrainian customs officers who went on board the ship and met with the commander said the U.S. servicemen are refusing to leave the vessel on foot, but that buses could be provided so they can be given a tour of the city.
Tensions between Russia and the West have been exacerbated by the build-up in the Black Sea of U.S. and NATO naval vessels delivering humanitarian aid to Georgia. In an apparent response, Russia sent a group of warships last week, including the Moskva missile cruiser, to Sukhumi, the capital of Abkhazia.
Russia's Black Sea Fleet uses the Sevastopol base under agreements signed in 1997. Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko announced earlier this year that Ukraine would not extend the lease beyond 2017.
Yushchenko signed a decree earlier this month requiring prior notice of all movements by Russian naval vessels and aircraft from the Sevastopol base in the Crimea.
The decree is not has not yet come into force, but Russia views it as a provocation and is likely to resist any Ukrainian attempts to restrict the deployment of its navy.
Vladimir Putin helps save Ussuri tigersSeptember 1, 2008 NSI News Source Info The Amur (Ussuri) tiger, one of the world’s rarest predators living in Russia’s Far East, China and Korea, is registered in the International Red Data Book. The Ussuri tiger population, which numbered 100,000 a century ago, has now dwindled to 4,000. According to the 2006 census, about 450 Ussuri tigers live in Russia’s Primorye (Maritime) Territory and Amur Region.
August 31, 2008. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, right, and Chief Veterinary Doctor of the Moscow Zoo, Mikhail Shenetsky, left, with a tranquilizer gun.
Scientists from the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution showed Putin transmitter neck-straps for monitoring the health of tigers and their migration routes.
A five-year-old female Ussuri tiger, immobilized with a tranquilizer gun.
The Russian Academy of Sciences program to study the Ussuri tiger is the first independent project implemented by Russian scientists in this sphere.
Israel as a Strategic Threat to Russia and the United States of America
(NSI News Source Info) Monday - September 1, 2008 (article sourced from Pakistan Daily): Israel has amassed a nuclear arsenal that has been variously estimated at between 200-400 nuclear weapons. Some commentators have argued this makes it the world’s fourth most powerful nation in the world. A former Pentagon official and whistle-blower, Daniel Ellsberg, said that Israel could have close to 400 nuclear weapons. "That’s more than Britain, China, India and Pakistan, and probably more than France," said Ellsberg.
Since the early 1970s the ziocons in American politics, have operated on the convenient, but highly dubious, assumption that what is good for the Israel is good for America. This assumption ignores a critical issue: whether America is wise to continue providing economic assistance, military hardware, and technological assistance, to the Jewsish state, as it has done since 1967, so that it can develop intercontinental nuclear missiles that could threaten the U.S.? Of course, Zionists would argue, it is highly unlikely that Israel would ever want to threaten its bountiful provider but why should Americans put themselves at risk?
The long term goals of the Jews-only state in Palestine are firstly, to gain political and military independence from all other countries. Secondly, to protect not only the reign of Jews within its borders but all Jews around the world, "Unlike many countries, including the United States, the Israeli state does not belong, even in principle, to those who reside within its borders, but is defined as the state of the Jewish people, wherever they may be." Thirdly, to increase the strategic territory of the Jews-only state to make it more difficult for it to be obliterated with nuclear weapons. Russia, the U.S., and Iran all have the strategic "depth" to survive a limitted nuclear exchange.
As regards the first objective, the jews-only state still has a significant technological, military, and economic, reliance on America. As regards the second objective, the Jews-only state has probably developed medium range nuclear missiles which can reach any country in the Middle East. It has also developed long range nuclear missiles which could pose a retaliatory threat to Russia, Europe, and China. But whether it has developed nuclear missiles which could reach the United States is another matter. The jews-only state can’t be far off such a missile given the sophistication of its space programme, "Israel is midway through a drive to establish a space program, much of it devoted to military purposes." (Yoichi Clark ' The Wrong Stuff' Pacific News Service).
In recent years, however, the Jews-only state has acquired four submarines from Germany which it could arm with nuclear cruise missiles. "Israel’s acquisition from Germany a few years ago of three Dolphin-class submarines capable of launching conventional and nuclear-tipped cruise missiles? The 1,720-ton diesel-electric submarines are among the most technically advanced subs of their kind in the world. Each can be equipped with four cruise missiles, which Israel reportedly tested in the Indian Ocean in 1999. (Uzi Mahnaimi and Matthew Campbell, "Israel Makes Nuclear Waves with Submarine Missile Test," London Sunday Times, June 18, 2000) The subs will cruise the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, and, ominously, the Persian Gulf -which tends to confirm the views of the late Israeli scholar, Israel Shahak, a leading dissident, who argued that Israel’s strategic goal is hegemony from Morocco to Pakistan. (See Israel Shahak, Open Secrets, 1997, chapters four and eight)."
So, even if the Jews-only state does not yet have nuclear missiles which could reach America it has submarines which could probably traverse the oceans to bring America within range of its nuclear weapons. It is bizarre that America helped to fund the acquisition of these subs for the Jews-only state.
As regards the vulnerability of the jews-only state because of its tiny size. In the 1960s, the Soviet Union was an unquestioned superpower which possessed a fairly efficient, but vastly powerful, military machine. The Jews-only state then acquired a tiny number of nuclear weapons – primarily to protect the conquests it had made over neighbouring Arab countries. However, even at that early stage, the Jews-only state was also planning to develop a nuclear capability to offset what seemed like the Soviet Union’s overwhelming nuclear superiority, "American-born Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard obtained satellite-imaging data of the Soviet Union, allowing Israel to target accurately Soviet cities." (Warner D. Farr, LTC, U.S. Army 'The Third Temple's Holy of Holies - Israel's Nuclear Weapons' The Counterproliferation Papers Future Warfare Series No. 2).
At that time, the Soviet Union may not have worried unduly about such a tiny nuclear threat from the Jews-only state. Since then, however, there has been a dramatic turn around in the relative power between the Jews-only state in Palestine and Russia. Such has been the calamitous political and economic decline of Russia, and the prodigious political and economic development of the Jews-only state that the latter is beginning to pose an increasingly serious threat to the former superpower. The existence of a Jews-only state with a plethora of powerful nuclear weapons on Russia's doorstep has now gone far beyond the realms of a modern Cuban missile crisis in the Middle East. It's a little difficult to credit it but basically a country with a mere six million people is getting closer to nuclear parity with a country of 120 million. Russia and the Jewish state are now in a sort of mad predicament. Russia would be highly unlikely to launch a nuclear attack against the Jews-only state because the Jews would retaliate causing large scale losses in Russia. However, this nuclear parity is deceptive. There is no equity between them so that in the maddest of situations, where the survival of one country or the other was at stake, the Russians have the upper hand. Russia could completely obliterate the Jews-only state making the country completely uninhabitable but the Jews-only state could not do this to Russia because of its vast size. True, it could make large parts of Russia uninhabitable but the Russian state and a substantial proportion of its population is almost certain to survive.
The irony of the situation in which the Jews-only state wants to become so powerful that even the U.S. will fear to challenge it, is that the Jews-only state in Palestine seems to be able to obtain almost any military technology it wants from successive American governments without America being in the slightest bit worried about the military implications for its own national security. With each transfer of military technology and military hardware, the Jews-only state becomes militarily stronger and thus more capable of striking a terrible blow to America. And yet since 1967, all American administrations have seemed perfectly willing to provide most types of military hardware and technology to the Jews-only state.
The dominance of Jewish interests over American interests could also be seen in 2003 when the ziocons pushed the Bush regime into a proxy zionist war against Iraq. The ziocons hoped this would be the first of many zionist proxy wars against anti-zionist Arab/Moslem countries - devastating each country in virtually the same way as the Jews-only state has devastated Palestinian society.
For the ziocons, America’s proxy zionist war against Iraq was intended to defeat a country which posed a minimal challenge to the regional dominance of the Jews-only state. They were not in the slightest bit concerned that America might struggle militarily against an Iraqi insurgency which was predicted not only by many civilian commentators but by many in the American military itself. The proxy zionist war against Iraq has ended up with America losing thousands of troops and suffering a huge financial strain on its economy. The zionists could not lose. The zionists would benefit if America was able to easily defeat Iraq, and the Moslem countries that aren't subservient to the Jews only state, conversely, they would also benefit if America struggled to defeat such countries and ended up weaker, militarily and economically, than before. If the zionists manage to extract more military hardware and advanced military technology from the Americans during the occupation of Iraq this will continue the process of reducing the huge disparity in military power between themselves and America. By far and away the biggest reduction in the military disparity between the Jews-only state and America will occur if the zionists manage to develop, with or without America assistance, intercontinental nuclear missiles that could reach America. This will enable them to pose a considerable military threat to their main benefactor and protector.
The idea of the Jews-only state possessing nuclear missiles which could threaten America is not an issue which is discussed in America. It is politically impossible for Americans to discuss the nuclear threat from the Jews-only state because American politicians do not recognize the existence of the Jews-only state’s nuclear weapons. "The U.S. government has never acknowledged that Israel possesses nuclear weapons, even though the world knows otherwise, thanks to the whistleblower, Mordechai Vanunu. (London Sunday Times, Oct. 5, 1986).
This is quite remarkable. Perhaps Americans are not concerned that yet another government is capable of launching nuclear missiles against their country. This seems to run counter to America’s national security and its national interests. Perhaps the reason why it has never become a political issue is because the American media and American politics is dominated by "Israel first" Jews who are not worried about America being threatened by the Jews-only state in Palestine. Even more amazing is that American politicians do not seem in the least bit bothered about the Jews-only state stealing American secrets or American military technology to help it develop nuclear missiles which could threaten America. But then again, America’s Christian evangelists spend more of their time supporting the Jews-only state in Palestine than they do defending their own country from the "Israel first" traitors stealing American technologies and threatening America’s security. The critical question Americans need to reflect upon, while they are boosting Jewish supremacy in the Middle East, donating vast subsidies to the Jews-only state, and providing it with the world’s most sophisticated military technology, is whether it is in their interests to allow the Jews-only state to develop nuclear weapons that could reach America. Given Jewish dominance of the media it is highly likely the zionists will continue to keep the topic a part of the wide range of taboos. If America continues to help the Jews-only state acquire inter-continental wmds without discussing the political and military implications for American security this is a clear indication of zionist control over American politics. This leads to the conclusion that the Jews-only state in Palestine has colonized America and is currently treating it as a resource for its own benefit. There could be no clearer example of Jewish domination of the West than America’s willingness to implement the foreign policies of another country, the Jews-only state in Palestine, and its failure to defend itself against its Jewish colonisers. Dhruv Gadhvi
Envoy urges North Korea to restart nuclear disablement
(NSI News Source Info) SEOUL - September 1, 2008: South Korea's nuclear envoy Kim Sook urged North Korea Monday to restart work to disable its nuclear plants and stop its "typical" brinkmanship in negotiations.
The North announced last week it had halted work to disable the plants, and would consider repairing them, because the United States has failed to remove it from a terrorism blacklist.
The announcement was the latest stumbling block to progress in an aid-for-disarmament deal agreed last year by the two Koreas, China, the United States, Japan and Russia.
The US says it will not act until the communist state agrees on procedures to verify details of its nuclear programme, which it disclosed last June.
"The North Korean announcement appears to be a typical tactic," envoy Kim Sook told a forum in Seoul.
He said the North was trying to pressure its five negotiating partners to "back down on their demand for rigorous verification" of nuclear activites.
"If North Korea believes that it can weaken the resolve of the five parties, it is mistaken," Kim said.
"The North should immediately resume the disablement measures and cooperate in the establishment of a verification regime."
North Korea, which tested an atomic bomb on October 2006, says it has completed about 80 percent of the disablement work at the Yongbyon complex, the source of weapons-grade plutonium.
But it is bridling at US demands that inspectors take samples of material to try to verify how much plutonium has been produced.
The disabling is supposed to be a prelude to the pact's final phase, under which the North would dismantle the plants and surrender atomic material and weapons in return for diplomatic relations with Washington and Tokyo and other benefits.
Kim said the North "will face the moment of truth" when the time comes for the final phase, and the influence of its powerful military will grow.
"That is why it will be more difficult as we aim to remove the nuclear arsenal, programme and all existing materials."
(NSI News Source Info) CANBERRA - September 1, 2008: Australia is reconsidering a pact to sell uranium to Russia following its military push into Georgia, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith warned on Monday.
He spoke as the head of a parliamentary committee examining the deal that would allow sales of uranium for use in Russia's civil nuclear power industry, expanding on the terms of a 1990 agreement, raised fears the yellowcake could be diverted for nuclear weapons use.
Smith told parliament that Australia would take into account Russia's actions in Georgia and the current state of Moscow's ties with Canberra when deciding whether to ratify the pact signed by the two countries last year.
"When considering ratification, the government will take into account not just the merits of the agreement but recent and ongoing events in Georgia and the state of Australia's bilateral relationship with the Russian Federation," Smith said.
Smith said he made Australia's views clear to Russia's ambassador when he summoned the envoy last week to call on Moscow to pull its troops in Georgia back to the positions they held before the conflict began on August 8.
He also criticised Russia's decision to recognise the independence of the Georgian rebel regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as unhelpful.
Kelvin Thompson, who chairs the parliamentary treaties committee, meanwhile said he had concerns over whether Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin would honour the terms of the civilian nuclear agreement.
"I think that we could supply uranium to him and if he changed his mind about the uses to which he was going to put it, I don't think we'd have any effective comeback at all.
"Recently he's taken South Ossetia and another province off Georgia and there's no real comeback over that," he added.
Russia has been fiercely criticised by a range of Western countries since its tanks and troops burst into Georgia last month to push back a Georgian offensive to retake South Ossetia, which broke away from Tbilisi in the early 1990s with Moscow's backing.
Russian troops still hold positions in western Georgia, serving in what Moscow describes as a peacekeeping mission. Tbilisi calls them an occupation force.
Given the current situation in Georgia, Thompson said, Australia should at least consider delaying ratifying the 2007 agreement until after a review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, scheduled for 2010.
He said another concern was that his parliamentary treaties committee heard Monday that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had not carried out any inspections in Russia since 2001.
"There has been a nuclear smuggling problem in the past and Russia and states of the former USSR are involved in the large majority of documented incidents. There needs to be a proper regime of inspections," he said.
The committee must submit a report on the agreement to the government which Smith said Canberra would take into account before making a final decision on ratification of the pact.
However Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office director general John Carlson said it was unlikely Russia would use Australian uranium for the production of nuclear weapons.
"Australian uranium won't be used for weapons because Russia has such an enormous surplus there's no reason why it would even think of doing so," he said.
China cannot back Russia in Georgia crisis: analysts
(NSI News Source Info) Beijing - September 1, 2008: China will not endorse Russia in its battle with the West over the Georgia crisis but cannot say so publicly for fear of upsetting Moscow, political analysts say.
Since the Georgia crisis began -- culminating in Moscow recognising the independence of two secessionist regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia -- China's reaction has been subdued.
It has expressed concern over the issue but has refrained from taking sides in what has become an increasingly strident war of words between Russia and the West.
But analysts said that if push came to shove, China's official stance would not support Russia, whose actions violated Beijing's long-held principles of national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
"The official Chinese position, if it were pushed, would be that this is unacceptable," said Paul Harris, professor of political science at Lingnan University in Hong Kong.
"China doesn't want to give the green light to somebody coming to the side of separatist forces within their troubled regions."
Analysts said that China, with its own regions that want or claim independence -- like Xinjiang or Taiwan -- did not want to make these claims legitimate by supporting Russia's action.
Taiwan in particular was at the centre of China's reluctance as Beijing claims the island for itself, while Taiwan says it is an independent country, though with the recognition of only a few countries.
Moscow has faced fierce condemnation from the West over its recognition of the independence of the two regions.
The UN Security Council is discussing the wording of a resolution on the Georgian conflict, and China normally takes Russia's side in Council matters. But it has been largely silent on the Georgian issue.
Analysts were split on how China might vote if a resolution came to the table, although most agreed it was unlikely to come to that as negotiations would be taking place behind the scenes.
"China will not abstain, China is not going to go for something overturning a sovereign government and a sovereign rule," said Bob Broadfoot, head of the Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy.
"It's just not going to happen, as China's position on Taiwan would go down the drain."
"If the resolution is focused on the question of sovereignty, China may very well side with the West," said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, professor of political science at Hong Kong Baptist University.
"But China will do its upmost to avoid such a resolution being presented to the Security Council, because it doesn't want to damage its relationship with Russia."
Lingnan University's Harris said that China, which he said has an underlying sympathy with Russia over the break-up of the Soviet Union, would hold back from casting its vote.
"It is always possible that the Western countries will force a vote and if it happens, I think China will abstain," he said.
Cabestan said that China was also concerned about the Georgia crisis because it was worried Russia might exert similar pressure on Central Asian states -- all of which were former Soviet republics like Georgia.
"That's not in China's interest, as it has in the past managed to get some influence in Central Asia, and China and Russia both cooperate and compete in the region for influence."
Ultimately, Broadfoot said, the crisis could push China closer to the West.
"China will try to keep quiet," he said. "But if Russia overplays its hand, they will side with the US."
(NSI News Source Info) Kolkata, India - September 1, 2008: It is a separatist feud from within that India has rarely seen before: Jammu against Kashmir and Kashmir against Jammu, two regions literally at war. But as this northernmost state of India reels under a prolonged bout of communal violence -- after a long hiatus -- leading to renewed terror attacks, Jammu and Kashmir, already known as one of the world's most dangerous spots, may be growing even more perilous.
Experts fear that if the three-month-long agitation that already has created a deep communal divide in the region is not suppressed quickly, it could well snowball into a crisis beyond India's control.
"The Jammu and Kashmir problem has already taken a very serious turn, as the state is heading toward splitting into communal lines. But if the (Indian) government does not take control of the situation by dialogue first, and then, if need be, use even force, Jammu and Kashmir could become a precarious region for not only India, but also for the whole world," said A.K. Verma, a security analyst who recently retired as the head of the Research and Analysis Wing, India's foreign intelligence agency that focuses on Pakistan.
Indeed, ever since this former princely state was partitioned between India and Pakistan in 1947, the region has been tumultuous, with India and Pakistan both claiming jurisdiction over the whole territory. But despite the tensions between the two countries that led to violent eruptions at times, Jammu and Kashmir managed to remain as one, warding off all external pressures to split into two -- Jammu for the Hindus and Kashmir for the Muslims. But today, the region seems to be cracking from within.
The current agitation has assumed separatist overtones. "Kashmir is back on a razor's edge," says M.K. Bhadrakumar, a former diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service and now a foreign affairs commentator.
It all started over a piece of land.
It began in May this year when the government of Jammu and Kashmir ordered the transfer of 40 acres of forest land to the Shri Amaranth Shrine Board -- a conglomerate of about 30 Hindu groups that manages the annual Hindu pilgrimage to Amarnath, a remote cave deep in the Himalayas near Kashmir -- for the construction of temporary shelters for the Amarnath travelers.
The order sparked violent protests in the Muslim-dominated Kashmir valley, where politicians in favor of separating Kashmir from India considered the transfer a loss of territory to Hindu outsiders, and raised the specter of Hindu encroachment on the Muslim majority in the state.
They created violent protests against the transfer, and as things went out of control, the state government backtracked and reversed the transfer order. While the Kashmir valley calmed down, the Hindus in Jammu saw the revocation of the order as a disregard of the minority's interests within the state, and the Hindu-dominated area erupted in large-scale violence that took an even more serious turn.
Hindu militants not only rioted across the district, but the protesters also created an economic blockade that cut off the Muslim-dominated Kashmir valley from the rest of India.
With the situation going from bad to worse, it was time for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to intervene. He called for an all-party meeting on Aug. 20 to come up with "an immediate initiative for a dialogue to facilitate a suspension of the agitation and a peaceful resolution."
But that meeting failed to reach a consensus and ended in a stalemate. And while protests refuse to die down, the situation in the region now, many say, has never been so bad. Not only has the region already seen 40 deaths but worse, the region has come under renewed terror attacks.
Terrorists struck Jammu on Wednesday, storming into the city, killing five and holding six people hostage. The crisis was eventually brought to an end after police managed to kill the terrorists in an 18-hour gun battle, but not before it resulted in two more deaths of innocents. According to authorities, even though the rest of India has seen intermittent terrorist attacks, this was the first in Jammu and Kashmir in six years.
More terror attacks may be in the offing. Quoting officials, a recent report in the Times of India said there were 750 to 800 terrorists active in Jammu and Kashmir, adding that hundreds more were positioned in "launch pads" along the border with Pakistan, waiting to cross over and take advantage of the turmoil in the state to create further security problems.
Army chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor says there are as many as 40 terrorist training camps operating across the border, with 20 along the Jammu and Kashmir border with Pakistan and another 20 in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Admittedly, the region has never been a peaceful territory in the last 60 years, but according to Vijay Sazawal, international coordinator of the Indo-American Kashmir Forum, an advocacy organization for Kashmiri Hindus, the region has never seen a communal uprising like this emerging from within either. Of course, communal passions have erupted in the region many times in the past -- the last major one was seen in 1990, when the region experienced "a dangerous unleashing of this passion" -- but that, too, according to Sazawal, was "mostly orchestrated by Pakistani-trained operatives."
But the difference this time around, say experts, is that the government's mishandling and competing political forces trying to take advantage of a simple administrative issue, the land transfer, have allowed the situation to snowball into a violent standoff.
According to the Institute for Conflict Management, a Delhi-based think tank on Indian security issues, "It was solely due to the administrative incompetence of the Indian government and the government of J&K that the state has turned into a sectarian and separatist problem."
However, another theory is that the current unrest has been engineered by Pakistan to strengthen the anti-India movement and lend force to the separatist issue.
"There has been a complete misinterpretation of the situation of J&K for many years, with overwhelming focus only on declining terrorism, whereas no one has paid attention to the motives and efforts of Pakistanis and the Pakistan-backed groups," says Ajai Sahni, executive director of the Institute for Conflict Management.
The proponents of this theory believe that over the past four or five years, forces such as Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence and its military, as well as terrorist organizations and separatist forces in Jammu and Kashmir such as Tehreek-i-Hurriyat and the All-Party Hurriyat Conference, have been maintaining an assured level of violence, while at the same time trying to build up political extremist-dominated movements.
And in that pursuit, "over the past year and a half these forces have used various issues to destabilize the region and provoke greater street mobilization in favor of the separatism and radical elements in Pakistan and J&K," the think tank says.
For instance, ICM claims that in 2006 Islamists exposed a prostitution racket in the state to establish that the secular and modern policies of India were in fact destroying the Islamic cultural environment of Jammu and Kashmir. Later, the same forces engineered the rape and murder of a teenager to start a prejudicial campaign against the presence of non-ethnic Kashmiri workers.
The current problem has given yet another opportunity to forces hoping to separate Kashmir from India, says Kanchan Laxman, a fellow at the ICM. It will help them transform the predominantly terrorist movement into a more wide-based movement of political extremism, to secure a stronger position at the negotiating table and achieve what has not been possible on the ground through terrorism alone.
This is why Sahni of ICN feels India needs to clamp down on all the elements in the current dispute, including the Hindus, and clamp down hard.
"India has, for far too long, tolerated violent dissent in the name of democracy. This has not only widened the separatist spaces in J&K, it has also made moderate and secular politics inadequate for handing radical forces. The hitherto soft approach of the Indian administration, therefore, must be brought to an end, and the necessity now is to use a far greater force than what has been used so far, to bring the region under control," he says.
Al Qaeda's terror campaign in Algeria
(NSI News Source Info) September 1, 2008: Al Qaeda's terror campaign in Algeria reflects lessons learned in Iraq. A real effort is made to avoid civilian deaths. Attacks are concentrated on military and police and foreigners (al Qaeda does not want foreign investment to improve the economy). The overall death rate is much lower now. During the 1992-2005 war, Algerian Islamic terrorists killed, on average, over 10,000 people a year (most of them civilians). That's more than ten times the number al Qaeda is now killing in Algeria. But the relative lack of civilian dead enables the new generation of Algerian terrorists to publicize their actions more energetically.
The government believes that there are only about 500 active al Qaeda members in Algeria. The attacks are occurring mainly in rural and suburban areas. The terrorists are being very careful in establishing remote bases, communicating carefully and planning and carrying out attacks meticulously. The terrorists do not have much support among the people, and are not strong enough to bring down the government. But at the same time, the corrupt and inefficient government has not been able to do much to bring down the unemployment rate (near 20 percent, and much higher for men aged 18-30). This makes it easier for al Qaeda, and criminal gangs in general, to recruit.
August 31, 2008: In the last week, Al Qaeda has killed seven soldiers and police, and one prison guard, in a number of incidents. In one case, soldiers came upon a fake police check point, run by al Qaeda disguised as police. Cars were being stopped and robbed, as a way to raise money for the cause. Another method is to raid illegal bars. While alcohol is legal in Algeria, it is highly regulated, and forbidden by the Koran. Being strict Moslems, al Qaeda has at least one cell that specializes in raiding these illegal bars and taking all the cash they can find. In one recent raid, they found one of the customers was a prison guard, and beheaded him on the spot. All this causes the government to categorize al Qaeda as a bandit problem, as a large criminal gang with a political and religious agenda.
Talks in Algeria, between the Mali government and Tuareg rebels, has ironed out a peace deal, which includes establishing a special army unit including soldiers and ex-Tuareg rebels, to police the truce.
August 29, 2008: Moroccan police arrested fifteen al Qaeda terrorists, who were in the midst of planning and preparing a series of attacks. In the last five years, Morocco has prevented nearly all Islamic terrorist violence by using an informant network, and a cooperative population, to identify Islamic terrorists before they can act. Thousands of suspects have been arrested and questioned, and about ten percent are still in jail.
August 27, 2008: In the last few days, terrorists set off two roadside bombs. In the same period, six terrorist suspects were killed. One bomb went off prematurely, killing the terrorist who was on his way to emplacing it. Another was placed near a road, but exploded before the police patrol vehicles were close enough to be damaged. This is consistent with what the police know of the terrorists; that there are only a few dozen experienced ones, with the rest being rather recent recruits. These newbies get most of their training from documents downloaded from the Internet. This is a dangerous way to learn, as recent incidents indicate.
August 24, 2008: Troops killed ten terrorists 250 kilometers west of the capital, capturing. Assault rifles and RPGs were captured.
Italy's Berlusconi urges against new standoff with Russia
(NSI News Source Info) ROME - September 1, 2008: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Monday he was taking steps to prevent a new standoff between the West and Russia over the recent conflict in Georgia.
Speaking on Canale 5 ahead of an EU summit to be held later on Monday, which will focus on the Georgia crisis and relations with Russia, Berlusconi said: "It is absolutely essential to prevent a situation where the current crisis in the Caucasus is used as a fuse to ignite a new Cold War."
Some members of the 27-nation bloc, including Britain and Poland, have called for sanctions against Russia and for the postponement of talks on a comprehensive cooperation pact with Moscow, over its military operation in Georgia, which followed Tbilisi's August 8 attack on breakaway South Ossetia.
The Italian premier, the Kremlin's strongest ally in the EU, said he had spoken to the Russian, U.S. and some European leaders on the telephone in the last few days, and found that not all of his colleagues realized how dangerous a new confrontation between the West and Russia could be.
Berlusconi said he hoped European Union leaders would reach a common stance at the summit, and urged them to pass a "declaration aimed at dialogue, not confrontation."
"I hope an agreement will be reached not to impose sanctions against Russia," he said.
Western powers have threatened Russia with isolation over its retaliation to Georgia's offensive to seize South Ossetia, and Moscow's subsequent recognition of the province and another breakaway region, Abkhazia, as independent states.
Russia has argued that its operation was needed to protect civilians in the region, most of whom are Russian citizens, and also to protect its peacekeepers from Georgian attacks.
Moscow has laid partial blame for the bloodshed and devastation in South Ossetia on the United States and other Western powers, saying their military backing and political support encouraged Tbilisi to strike.
Berlusconi also called on the NATO-Russia Council to continue its work.
NATO said in late August it had suspended Russia-NATO Council sessions over Moscow's failure to comply with the France-brokered peace plan to resolve the conflict. Russia, which denied the accusation, later suspended all ties with the Western military alliance, accusing it of building up forces off Georgia's Black Sea coast.
Berlusconi said: "Russia remains a military power, a country whose nuclear capabilities are enough to destroy the planet's population 10 times over, a country whose economy has grown 7-8% annually, a country that is rich in oil and gas that is needed by Europe."
He said the West stands to gain more from developing cooperation with Russia, than forcing it to turn to China and other Eastern nations in search of partners.
Russia wants arms embargo on Georgia
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - September 1, 2008: Russia would like to see the imposition of an embargo on arms supplies to Georgia until a change of leadership takes place in the Caucasus state, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday.
Lavrov's remarks came as European Union leaders were due to gather later on Monday for an emergency summit to focus on the Georgia crisis and review relations with Moscow.
"To guarantee the region is protected against new outbreaks of violence, Russia will continue to take measures to make sure that the [Mikheil Saakashvili] regime is unable to commit evil deeds ever again," Lavrov said.
"It would be appropriate to impose an embargo on arms supplies on that regime until different leaders have turned Georgia into a normal country," he said.
Moscow said hundreds of civilians and peacekeepers were killed in the Georgia's attack on South Ossetia on August 8, and thousands were forced to flee the devastated region. Russia concluded its operation to "force Georgia to peace" on August 12.
Lavrov said Moscow hopes the EU will make the right choice at its summit.
"The European Union summit today will clarify a lot. We hope the choice will be made based on Europe's fundamental interests," Lavrov said.
A number of EU states, including Britain and Poland, have called for sanctions against Moscow and the postponement of talks on a new partnership pact with Russia over what they called its disproportionate response to the Georgian attack.
Russia also later recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another Georgian separatist region where many hold Russian passports, as independent states. The move was condemned internationally as "irresponsible."
But Lavrov made it clear that Russia would not yield to pressure. "Russia has returned to the world scene as a responsible state which is capable of defending its citizens," he said.
Lavrov also said Russia would maintain dialogue with the United States as long as there is even the slightest chance of reaching an understanding of each other's positions.
Ties between Moscow and Washington, already tense over U.S. plans for a missile shield in Europe and a host of other issues, strained further over the Georgia crisis.
"We will talk to Washington as long as there is even the slightest chance of understanding each other and coming to terms," Lavrov said.
However the minister laid part of the blame for the recent fighting on the U.S., whose military and other support for President Saakashvili, he said, only encouraged the "irresponsible and unpredictable regime's" reckless moves.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin earlier accused the White House of provoking the conflict in Georgia in order to give an advantage to "one of" the U.S. presidential candidates. Washington has denied the allegation.
Russian-Kazakh war games start in Urals
(NSI News Source Info) CHELYABINSK - September 1, 2008: Russia and Kazakhstan launched the first stage of a strategic exercise in the Chelyabinsk Region in Russia's Urals on Monday, the Ground Forces' press service said.
The first stage of the drills, named Center-2008, will run through September 5, involving about 1,500 troops on each side.
The subsequent stages in the Chelyabinsk Region, which borders on Kazakhstan, will run until September 27, with 12,000 troops taking part. The exercises will also involve around 1,000 armed vehicles, over 50 fixed and rotary winged aircraft, including Su-24 Fencer fighter/bombers, and airlift and attack helicopters Mi-8 Hip and Mi-24 Hind.
The exercise is designed to contribute to "the further development of a united outlook and approach to joint planning in the interests of maintaining the national security of the two countries," the statement said.