(NSI News Source Info) February 16, 2009: Hillary Clinton arrives in Asia today on her maiden overseas trip as Secretary of State, with China at the heart of her agenda as the US seeks to tackle the global economic crisis, climate change and North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. Traditionally, Mrs Clinton’s predecessors have travelled first to Europe or the Middle East, but her focus on Asia reflects the region’s growing influence and President Obama’s desire to broaden ties with Beijing. She will also visit Japan, Indonesia and South Korea on her seven-day tour, part of a long-term US strategy to deal with the shifting global power structures between West and East.The US Secretary of State chooses Asia for her first foreign trip. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton left for Asia on Sunday, on her maiden mission as the chief US diplomat after pledging to strengthen US ties with the region. As a presidential candidate last year, Mrs Clinton wrote that “our relationship with China will be the most important bilateral relationship in the world this century”. At a speech in New York on Friday, she declared: “Some believe that China on the rise is, by definition, an adversary. To the contrary, we believe that the United States and China can benefit from and contribute to each other’s successes. “It is in our interests to work harder to build on areas of common concern and shared opportunities.” America’s economic relationship with China is still the central issue — Beijing holds nearly $700 billion in US Treasury securities — but the Obama Administration wants China to be a central player on a range of other issues, particularly climate change. In her speech last week, Mrs Clinton noted that China passed the US recently as the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses, and invited Beijing to join America in a partnership to reduce global warming. Travelling with her this week will be Todd Stern, her special envoy for climate change negotiations, underscoring the importance of the issue to the new Administration. Mr Obama and Mrs Clinton believe that a sincere effort to engage China in reducing carbon emissions will improve chances of getting a deal in Copenhagen in December, where a new post-Kyoto treaty on climate change is due to be negotiated. During her visit to Beijing Mrs Clinton will visit a clean thermal power plant built through a collaboration between General Electric and China. China also chairs the stalled sixparty talks on North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme. On this issue, the Obama Administration’s policy is essentially the same as that left by President Bush: to persuade Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear ambitions through talks involving the US. The issue will be high on the agenda during Mrs Clinton’s stops in Tokyo and Seoul, both part of the multilateral effort to confront the threat. On Friday Mrs Clinton called Pyongyang’s programme “the most acute challenge to stability in NorthEast Asia”. She said that the US would normalise relations with Pyongyang if it “completely and verifiably” eliminated its weapons and programme. Mrs Clinton visits Japan first, in part to allay concerns in Tokyo that the US’s gaze has shifted from its strongest partner in the region toward Beijing. She will sign an agreement that will authorise the relocation of 8,000 US Marines stationed in Okinawa, whose presence has long angered the Japanese, to Guam. Under the deal Tokyo will pay for 60 per cent of the move but more than 15,000 Marines will remain. Last year the Bush Administration angered Japan by removing North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism without addressing Tokyo’s concerns about the fate of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea. In an attempt to ease such concerns, Mrs Clinton will meet the families of some of the detainees. In Indonesia, where Mr Obama lived between the age of 6 and 10, Mrs Clinton will announce that she will attend a South-East Asian summit this summer, an event that the Bush Administration often skipped.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
West Meets East: Hillary Clinton Chooses Asia For Her Maiden Overseas Trip
How Pakistan Milks The US And NATO!!!!
(NSI News Source Info) February 16, 2009: NATO’s supply route through Pakistan is a gravy train for the military establishment…and the Taliban. Western troops fighting in Afghanistan depend on the Karachi-Khyber-Kabul supply route for 70 to 80 percent of their needs. While its importance to US and NATO forces has received considerable coverage in recent months, there has been less attention given to its importance for Pakistan’s military establishment. The National Logistics Corporation (or the National Logistics Cell, NLC) is an ostensibly civilian entity staffed by serving and retired military personnel, and owned by the Pakistani army. According to the February 2009 issue of the Herald, a Pakistani monthly, it charges NATO between 200,000 to 250,000 Pakistani rupees per container arriving at Karachi, and pays private truckers between 100,000 to 150,000 for moving them to Afghanistan.
Pakistani trucks carrying supplies for U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, drive through Kozak Pass near the Pakistani border town of Chaman.
In other words it makes a neat 100,000 Pakistani rupees in middleman’s fees. Going by an average exchange rate of 65 Pakistani rupees to a US dollar, the NLC made around $1500 per container. The number of containers landing in Karachi daily has varied between 1000 in early 2002, to around 300 earlier this year. Taking the lower figure, the NLC made around $450,000 every day, or over $164 million each year. Between 2002-2008, the NLC made at least $1.15 billion. And the meter is still running. The Frontier Constabulary, a paramilitary force, collects a minimum of $150 per container in security charges from truckers, which adds up to $115 million over 2002-2008. This money goes directly to the Pakistani military establishment and is in addition to the $10 billion that the Bush administration gave Pakistan over that period. [This analysis is based on the figures in Massoud Ansari's "My Way, Not the Highway", in Herald February 2009, and Jawwad Rizvi's "Rs 90 million go in air daily" in The News January 28-29, 2009 (via PEW). Mr Rizvi adds that the NLC charges between 15,000 to 25,000 Pakistani rupees for "no objection certificates"] That’s not all. Karachi port authorities made at least $260 per container in assorted port charges, or around $200 million over seven years.
The Pakistani government collects a fuel tax of Rs 25 per litre of diesel. According to one estimate the average fuel consumption per container per trip is 1200 litres, which amounts to $460 in taxes per trip. Over seven years fuel tax revenues alone are to the tune of $350 million. So the ‘civilian’ government received at least $550 million in additional revenues from the exercise. The truckers themselves make around $1900 per container, and made around $1.5 billion over the past seven years. Clearly, they didn’t keep all of this, having to pay off various government officials and militants. Some of the trucking companies could well have owners connected to the military establishment. That’s not all, either: the ‘militants’ collected an average of $400 per container to let them pass through their territory. Over $300 million went into the their pockets. That too is not all. For only around 60 percent of the goods were actually delivered to their recipients, the rest being lost, stolen or destroyed en route. A flourishing trade in US and NATO military equipment exists in the markets of Pakistani towns like Peshawar and Quetta. Everything from crates of alcohol to helicopter spares is on the block. That’s a lot of al-Faida for the Pakistani economy and for the Pakistani military establishment—a rough estimate is around $500 million per year. The political economy around the supply route is likely to have created strong vested interests in ensuring that the gravy train does not stop. Yet the Pakistani military establishment is ready to put these benefits at risk—squeezing the route to exert pressure on the US and NATO in Afghanistan.
So where are the clever Indian analysts who argued that transit revenues from the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline will prevent the Pakistani military from disrupting the natural gas flows to India?
Kenya: Cargo Unloaded From Ukrainian Ship MV Faina(NSI News Source Info) February 16, 2009: Military vehicles are seen after they were unloaded from the MV Faina, at the port of Mombasa, Kenya, Sunday, Feb. 15, 2009. Somali pirates seized the Faina, laden with several dozen tanks and other heavy weapons off the Horn of Africa on Sept. 25, 2008. The ship and crew were released only last week, after pirates sped off in skiffs with a USD 3.2 million (euro 2.48 million) ransom that had been dropped to the ship's deck by parachute.Port workers look on as a military vehicle is unloaded from the MV Faina and loaded onto a rail wagon at the port of Mombasa, Kenya, Sunday, Feb. 15, 2009. Somali pirates seized the Faina, laden with several dozen tanks and other heavy weapons, off the Horn of Africa on Sept. 25, 2008.
Taleban Announces Swat Ceasefire, To Gain Time For Fresh Reinforcement & Stockpile Arms There is no solution to Afghan factor and South Asia terrorism unless Pakistan is sincere with the coalition forces to fight against Islamic militants and closing their training camps in NWFP. Obama administration should assert on Pakistan the urgency resolving on the aspect of terrorism unlike the previous Bush administration treating Pakistan with a silver spoon by rewarding the former President Pervez Musharraf grant/loans of $10 billion, F-16 fighter planes, Cobra attack helicopters, C-130 Hercules transport planes for handing over few Islamic militants from time to time to please American officials at their arrival in Islamabad, Pakistan.
(NSI News Source Info) February 16, 2009: Taleban fighters in north-west Pakistan's restive Swat valley have announced a 10-day ceasefire. The move came after local officials signed a deal with a militant leader to enforce Islamic law in the district. The ceasefire halts fighting between Pakistani security forces and Taleban militants in Swat that has raged since November 2007. Once one of Pakistan's most popular holiday destinations, the Swat valley is now mostly under Taleban control. Hundreds of civilians have died in an increasingly bloody insurgency there, while thousands of others have been forced to migrate. The Taleban have set up their own system of Islamic justice, as they understand it, and have closed down schools, denying education to tens of thousands of children, says the BBC's M Ilyas Khan, who was recently in Swat. Pakistani President Asif Zardari has warned that the entire country is fighting for its survival against the Taleban, whose influence he said has spread deep into the country. In an interview with US TV network CBS, President Asif Zardari said the Taleban had established a presence across "huge parts" of Pakistan. 'Goodwill gesture' The agreement was signed by Taleban cleric Sufi Mohammad after talks with the North West Frontier Province's government. The agreement binds the provincial government to implement Sharia law in the Malakand division, which comprises Swat and its adjoining areas. Many people in Swat now would favour an early exit by the army as the they have failed to roll back the Taleban or protect the Taleban's opponents A militant spokesman, Muslim Khan, said the ceasefire was a "goodwill gesture to the ongoing talks between Sufi Mohammad and the government". Talks on how Sharia law will be implemented are to continue on Monday between Taleban representatives and officials of the provincial government in the capial of North West Frontier Province, Peshawar, said Reuters news agency. Details are to be formally announced at that time. There has no reaction so far from the Pakistani central government. The Taleban say they will examine the document thoroughly before announcing a permanent end to hostilities. Army exit urged A Chinese engineer held hostage for five months had also been released as a sign of good faith, the militants said. Long Xiaowei, who was captured last August in the Dir region with a Chinese colleague, arrived at China's embassy in Islamabad earlier on Sunday and was in good health, a Chinese official said. The colleague escaped in October, the Taleban said at the time. The people of Swat have been caught between the army and the Taleban, says our correspondent. More than 1,000 civilians have died in shelling by the army or from beheadings sanctioned by the Taleban. Thousands more have been displaced. The Taleban now control the entire countryside of Swat, limiting army control to parts of the valley's capital, Mingora. Many people in Swat now would favour an early exit by the army as the they have failed to roll back the Taleban or protect the Taleban's opponents, says our correspondent.
HAL And Irkut’s Joint Tactical Transport Project
(NSI News Source Info) BANGALORE - February 15, 2009: The IRKUT Corporation proudly presents the programme of the Indo-Russian Transport Aircraft. The international project on joint development, production and sales of twin-turbofan Tactical Transport Aircraft envisions solidary cooperation of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (India), the IRKUT Corporation and the Ilyushin Aviation Complex (Russia), with their design teams to be merged into a virtual enterprise. The programme of Tactical Transport Aircraft development will significantly broaden the horizons of Indo-Russian military-technical cooperation. While implementing this innovative programme, Russian and Indian engineers will acquire invaluable experience and expertise in joint creation of the top-of-the-line aviation product. For the first time, the airlifter is being co-developed by both countries on a parity basis without governmental financing with the project's cost of nearly USD 300 … 400 mln. The IRKUT Corporation plays a key role of major investor (40% of project expenses) and coordinator of the Russian side. By 2015-2020 this transport aircraft with up to 18.5-t carrying capability is supposed to replace aging fleet of the An-12, An-26, C-130. Indian Air Force plans to acquire 45 Tactical Transport Aircraft. Additionally Russian market will demand nearly 100 transport aircraft within next 12 years. The feasibility study is mainly completed.
Hindustan Aeronautics has entered into a $700-million joint venture (JV) agreement with Irkut Corporation of Russia for manufacturing 60-tonne multi-role transport aircraft (MRTA). Under this 50:50 JV, Ilyushin Design Bureau of Russia will design the MRTA and Irkut corporation of Russia will develop the aircraft.
Series production of 100-seater MRTA aircraft will be taken up by the transport aircraft division of HAL at Kanpur. Initially, HAL plans to develop MRTA as a freighter aircraft for military use. Addressing a press conference here on Wednesday, Ashok Baweja, chairman, HAL, said, “We are also in dialogue with Airbus for setting up a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) plant at the existing HAL airport in Bangalore.
The discussion will start taking shape next month.” He added, “Once the upcoming international airport in Devenhalli becomes operational, we will also use the existing airport for certification process of our own aircraft.”
HAL has also signed a $20-million ten-year deal with the US-based aircraft engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney, a part of the United Technologies company for manufacturing high-precision engine components.
“HAL order book as of March 2006 is about Rs 30,000 crore, which it expects to liquidate in three to four years,” said Mr Baweja. HAL is planning to set up an engine plant in Bangalore and Koraput in Orissa for manufacturing the high-precision engine components with Pratt & Whitney.
These plants are expected to become operational only after two years. Bangalore will have a plant for static engine parts and Koraput for rotating engine parts.
Indian AF Wants 34 Fighter Squadrons By 2017 / IAF on a Large-Scale Modernisation Drive: Air Chief 34 Fighter Squadron Strength By 2017
Indian AF Wants 34 Fighter Squadrons By 2017 / IAF on a Large-Scale Modernisation Drive: Air Chief 34 Fighter Squadron Strength By 2017
(NSI News Source Info) February 15, 2009: Dismissing the need to put any plans on fast track after 26/11, the Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief, Air Chief Marshal Fali H Major said that IAF did not have to do so as the force structuring and weapons catered to all spectrum of needs.
The IAF needs the best and is on a large-scale modernization drive. This is being backed with very good government support said the Air Chief speaking to media on the sidelines of the ongoing Aero India 09, at Yehalanka, Bengaluru, today.
The Indian Air Force is the air arm of the armed forces of India and has the prime responsibility of conducting aerial warfare and securing the Indian airspace. It was established in 1932 as the air force of the Indian Empire and the prefix Royal was added in 1945 in recognition of its services during the World War II. After India achieved its independence from the United Kingdom in 1947, the Royal Indian Air Force served the Union of India and after India became a republic in 1950, the prefix was dropped. With a strength of approximately 170,000 personnel, 1,130 combat and 1,700 non-combat aircraft in active service, the Indian Air Force is the world's fourth largest. In recent years, the IAF has undertaken an ambitious expansion and modernization program and is increasingly used for India's power projection beyond South Asia. Among the various expansion plans is the MRCA program under which the IAF plans to induct 126 fighter jets at a cost of US$12 billion.
A lot of hard work within the IAF and with aviation-related agencies from within the country and vendors from other countries is on towards the modernization process, he added.
"Economically the defence-related industries, specially the aerospace industries, both civil and military will continue to bloom,” he said, commenting on the successful start of the Aero India 09 that got underway on Wednesday.
Replying to a query whether with the phasing-out of the Mig-25 the IAF reconnaissance needs were affected, the Air Chief clarified that the role of ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) was a part and parcel of any Air Force and that the IAF has it. He also stated that there are better and efficient ways of getting ISR.
He also informed that the uses of UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) are going to increase and IAF is in the process of expanding its UAV fleet. Regarding the declining fighter squadron strength the Air Chief stated that gestation period to acquire aircraft and missile systems is much more than any other weapon platform. However without losing the combat edge against likely adversaries the squadron strength envisaged by 2017 is 34 squadrons and the remaining strength to be achieved by 2020.
Talking on the issue of operational data linking and networking through fibre optics, he said that the AFNET (Air Force Net) was already progressing very well. The IAF already has an Integrated Air Command and Control System (IACCS) in place, he said.
Maintaining the large inventory of equipment and logistics in the IAF was a challenge and towards this IMMOLS (Integrated Materials Management Online Services) is fully operational, he stated.
IBM Patents Bullet Dodging Bionic Body Armor
(NSI News Source Info) February 15, 2009: IBM has filed a patent (US 7484451) for Bionic Body Armor, that could essentially allow us to dodge bullets like Neo in The Matrix. The armor would scan areas for incoming projectiles and when one is detected the system would deliver a shock to the muscles causing a swift reflexive action away from the projectile. Here's what the patent describes the body armor as:
A method of protecting a target from a projectile propelled from a firearm comprises detecting an approaching projectile, continuously monitoring the projectile and transmitting an actual position of the projectile to a controller, computing an estimated projectile trajectory based upon the actual position of the projectile, determining an actual position of a target with a plurality of position sensors and a plurality of attitude sensors, determining whether the estimated projectile trajectory coincides with the actual position of the target, and triggering a plurality of muscle stimulators operably coupled to the controller and to the target when the estimated projectile trajectory coincides with the actual position of the target, wherein the muscle stimulators stimulate the target to move in a predefined manner, and wherein the target moves by an amount sufficient to avoid any contact with the approaching projectile.
The projectile may be detected in the detecting step by emitting an electromagnetic wave from a projectile detector and receiving the electromagnetic wave after the electromagnetic wave has been reflected back toward the projectile detector by the projectile.
Historically, certain individuals have been exposed to the threat of assassination because of their status in society. Examples of these individuals include, but are not limited to, high ranking politicians, clerics, successful industrial entrepreneurs, and military personnel. These individuals tend to be most vulnerable during those times when they are publicly addressing large crowds, making them easy targets for snipers.
In the past, the only effective protection against "sniper fire" has been to wear bullet proof body armor. Numerous types of bullet proof body armor are available, many of which are constructed of multiple layers of ballistic fabric or other ballistic-resistant materials assembled into a ballistic panel. However, bullet proof body armor is typically heavy, clumsy, and uncomfortable to wear, and generally leaves the head of the individual wearing the body armor completely unprotected and exposed. Furthermore using armor-piercing ammunition renders body-armors even less effective and desirable.
When a marksman (such as a sniper) is attempting to fire a projectile from a firearm, the marksman typically prefers to be as far away from the target as possible, thus giving him or her a head start for the escape after the firing. As an example, the longest reported sniper hit was from a distance of about 2500 meters, resulting in a time of flight of about 4 seconds for the projectile/bullet.
Had the target been aware of the inbound projectile, avoiding it by simply walking away would have been possible. As almost everyone can appreciate, the best protection against the damage caused by an impacting projectile is to avoid being hit in the first place.
Based on the foregoing, there exists a need for an improved system and method for protecting an individual against the potential damage caused by being impacted by a projectile propelled from a firearm.
Coming Sooner Than You Might Think: Humanoid-Type Robotic Armies, $1000 Unmanned Vehicles Capable Of Mass Destruction
Coming Sooner Than You Might Think: Humanoid-Type Robotic Armies, $1000 Unmanned Vehicles Capable Of Mass Destruction
By Joe Rothstein Editor, EINNEWS.COM
(NSI News Source Info) February 15, 2009: One of EINNEWS' most popular on-line publications is Militaryindustrytoday.com, a favorite destination for thousands of people and companies worldwide monitoring news of military activities, weapons, defense contracts and the like.
As I scan this site daily, I've been struck by the increasing number of stories featuring unmanned aerial vehicles, robots that diffuse roadside bombs, and other military applications that more and more mirror science fiction.
Now, an important and influential book, Wired for War, puts all of this together and explains not only what we see in today's headlines, but where it's all leading. It's nothing short of a civilization game changer. And it's happening quickly. Some highlights:Look at this amazing Micro Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. It is currently being developed by the Seiko Epson Corp and was revealed at a Japanese trade show recently. It is being billed as 'the world's lightest and smallest UAV helicopter, the Micro Flying Robot.' This Micro helicopter UAV fits in the palm of your hand and is designed to carry a micro camera. The applications for such a device are many but include: 'The manufacturer built the device so that it could fly into dangerous areas or areas hit by disasters in place of human beings and see what the situation is. Another example would be for the micro-UAV to fly into a building flattened by an earthquake and see if anyone was trapped inside.' The Micro UAV weighs just 0.35 ounces and is only 2.8 inches high.
Most robotic scientists and U.S. military leaders agree that somewhere between 2020 and 2025 it will be possible for nations to field humanoid-type robotic armies. That's right, robotic armies, not that much different in concept and practice from the ones that battle it out in Star Wars. We're talking 10 to 15 years from now. About the time your young children are ready for college.
Even today, more than 12,000 robots are at work in Iraq and Afghanistan defusing roadside bombs, serving as bloodless medics and performing other dangerous tasks. More than 5,000 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are in the skies of Iraq and Afghanistan---- from model airplane size that can be launched by an individual on the ground to the Global Hawk, a full sized aircraft that serves as an unmanned AWACs-type eyes-in-the-skies battle area monitorMany of these UAVs are actually “flown” by pilots sitting in Nevada and elsewhere. A whole new class of pilots are spending their days flying missions, finding enemy targets and launching missiles and bombs, and then leaving their cubicles located thousand of miles away from the battlefield to have dinner with their families or take their kids to Little League practice.
The Navy is in the robotic game as well. It's just launched a destroyer designed to be a mothership to all types of robotic devices: unmanned submarines, “smart” torpedoes, unmanned helicopters, and ship-launched protections that can intercept threatening incoming missiles.
This is not fantasy, folks. This is real. And according to Peter Singer, the author of Wired for War, scientists believe that what's being deployed today represents the model T versions of what's to come. Some estimate that in 25 years robots will be a billion times smarter and more powerful than they are today.All of this raises some breathtakingly important questions. Such as:
What is “warfare” when the fighters are detached by thousands of miles from the place of the fighting?Since robotics are so inexpensive to develop and deploy (43 nations currently have active robotics development programs) what is the impact on the current U.S. military behemoth? Don't robotics essentially neutralize the financial and industrial advantage the U.S. has in warfare, the way the development of guns neutralized the advantage of size and strength in hand-to-hand combat?
(Scary note: An unmanned drone can be built for as little as $1000 and is a very efficient way to deliver weapons of mass destruction).
How does any nation protect itself from attack by unmanned vehicles that might be as small as an insect?
What is a “warrior,” if the most valuable of fighting skills resemble video game-type dexterity and quickness?
Who's responsible for war crimes when they are committed by robots?
Just so you know that all of this is not sci-fi channel edge of reality stuff, I should tell you that Dr. Peter Singer, the book's author, is director of the 21st Century Defense Initiative at the Brookings Institution, and one of the world's leading experts on changes in 21st century warfare.
I was at Brookings the day Dr. Singer introduced his book. Sharing the platform with him was Marine General James Mattis, NATO's supreme allied commander for transformation. General Mattis is the buzz-cut picture of the hardened combat warrior. He commanded the 1st Marine Division during the initial invasion of Iraq. A just-the-facts type of guy, General Mattis was there to support Dr. Singer's research and conclusions.
In his book, Dr. Singer has picked up the strands of known information from the military, the laboratories, the private companies currently producing robotics, and military people in Iraq, Afghanistan and in the distant cubicles where the wars are also being fought. He's blended all of this into a highly readable, non-technical, thoroughly convincing picture of today's realities---along with a UAV-like over the horizon image of what's ahead for the future of warfare.
What emerges is such a game changer for everything we now consider war, government, and civilization itself that my one column doesn't do it justice. That's why I'll have more to say about this in future columns.
Pakistan Has To Shut Terror Camps In Its Territory To Ensure Indo-Pak Peace: US Intelligence Official
Pakistan Has To Shut Terror Camps In Its Territory To Ensure Indo-Pak Peace: US Intelligence Official
(NSI News Source Info) Lahore - February 15, 2009: The United States has reiterated that tension between India and Pakistan can only be diffused if Islamabad comes down hard on the terror camps operative on its soil. US Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair said the key for establishing peace in the region was with Islamabad, which has to sincerely carry out an all-out effort to crackdown on terrorists. Armed supporters of an outlawed militant group 'Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan,' left, guard kidnapped security personnel as they are presented to the media on the outskirts of Matta, an area of Pakistan's Swat district. Militants paraded some 38 security personnel, who were abducted from a post in Pakistan's troubled northwest Swat valley. Swat lies in a swath of northwestern Pakistan that has increasingly come under the sway of Islamic militants opposed to Pakistan's alliance with Washington in the war with terrorist groups. Blair also expressed apprehensions that India may be forced to launch a military offensive against its neighbour, if Pakistan fails to take stern action against militant groups. Referring to the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, he said the mayhem has ignited fears of war between the two nuclear-powered nations. "The attack has convinced many Indians that Pakistani military leaders, in an effort to undercut India's emerging international stature, now favour a strategy of allowing Pakistan-based groups to attack targets that symbolises New Delhi's growing prominence on the global stage or that could provoke religious violence in the country," The Daily Times quoted Blair, as saying. He said after the Mumbai incident, Indian citizens have shown immense unity, and are in no mood to forget the ghastly act. New Delhi is under immense pressure from its citizens to act hard on the terrorists, which is visible by the tough stand of their leadership over the issue. "In the absence of a military response against Islamabad, the Indian public will look for visible signs that Pakistan is actively working to punish those involved and eliminate terrorist organizations," Blair said.
Israel Ready To Launch A Military Offensive Against IranOn February 14, Australian News Agency “The Age” reported: <<<
North Korea Offered Normalization, Peace Pact To Abandon Nuclear Weapons
U.S. Wants Rigorous, Persistent Engagement In Asia, Clinton Says
(NSI News Source Info) February 15, 2009: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says that the United States wants a more rigorous and persistent commitment and engagement with East Asia across an array of issues from the current economic crisis to nuclear proliferation, climate change, clean energy, health and income. In her first solo foreign mission, Clinton visits Japan February 16-18, and then travels to Indonesia February 18-19 before heading to South Korea February 19-20, and concluding the trip in China February 20-22. "Our relationships with each of the countries I'm visiting, and with all of our partners and allies throughout Asia and the Pacific, are indispensable to our security and prosperity," Clinton said February 13 at the Asia Society in New York.North Koreans participate in celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the founding of North Korea in Pyongyang. North Korea celebrated its 60th birthday with a triumphal military parade as the hermit state appears to be backing away from a disarmament deal. "We are ready to listen. Actively listening to our partners isn't just a way of demonstrating respect," she said. "It can also be a source of ideas to fuel our common efforts." Clinton said she chose to make East Asia her first stop because of its strategic importance and the ever-increasing role it plays across the U.S. foreign policy spectrum. "Given the realities of today's world, we can no longer approach our foreign policy solely country by country or simply by carving the world into separate regions," she said. "In making my first trip as secretary of state to Asia, I hope to signal that we need strong partners across the Pacific, just as we need strong partners across the Atlantic," Clinton said. "Our relationships with each of the countries I'm visiting, and with all of our partners and allies throughout Asia and the Pacific, are indispensable to our security and prosperity." NORTH KOREA AND PROLIFERATION Clinton will discuss with Japanese, South Korean and Chinese officials how best to get the Six-Party Talks back on track. The talks are aimed at curbing North Korea's nuclear weapons ambitions and making the Korean Peninsula nuclear free. China, Japan and South Korea, along with Russia and North Korea and the United States, are involved in the talks. The secretary said there is an opportunity to get the talks going again so long as North Korea avoids committing any provocative acts like test firing long-range missiles in the region. "If North Korea is genuinely prepared to completely and verifiably eliminate their nuclear weapons program, the Obama administration will be willing to normalize bilateral relations, replace the peninsula's long-standing armistice agreements with a permanent peace treaty, and assist in meeting the energy and other economic needs of the North Korean people," Clinton said on the eve of her four-nation visit to the region. Six-Party Talks have been stalled since last year, though there are plans for a meeting next month in Moscow. And Clinton added that the United States has not forgotten the families of Japanese citizens abducted to North Korea. Clinton said that the Obama administration does not regard economic development as peripheral to larger foreign policy objectives. "We will energetically promote development around the world, to expand opportunities that enable citizens, particularly on the margin and particularly women and children, to fulfill their God-given potential, which, we happen to believe, will advance our shared security interests," she said. And Clinton praised Indonesia, the second nation on her East Asian swing, as a place where human energy and aspiration have combined to help lead the country to a free and fair system of elections, a free press, a robust civil society and a prominent role for women in the government. "We will support Indonesia and other countries in the region that are actively promoting shared values," she said. Clinton also announced that while in Tokyo she will sign with the Japanese government the Guam International Agreement, which will move 8,000 American troops off Okinawa to Guam. Some international observers have claimed that because China is a rising economic and political force in the region, it is an adversary, Clinton said. "To the contrary, we believe that the United States and China can benefit from and contribute to each other's successes," she said. "China has already asserted itself in positive ways as chair of the Six-Party Talks and in its participation in international peacekeeping efforts." The United States and China are expected to resume midlevel military-to-military talks later this month. EMERGING OBAMA STRATEGY Clinton's visit to East Asia culminates a month of efforts by the Obama administration to rapidly address and engage on some of the most pressing foreign policy issues facing the United States and the new presidency. Initially, President Obama began shifting U.S. foreign policy in his first 48 hours in office, leading with the order to close the terrorist detention center at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, within a year. Acting to reassure allies and foes, Obama has dispatched his special envoy for Middle East peace, former Senator George Mitchell, to the region to begin consultations and to begin a significant reassessment of U.S. policies in the protracted peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. The Mitchell trip was quickly followed by Vice President Biden's major speech on American foreign policy objectives at the Munich Conference on Security Policy in Germany. In that speech, Biden set the tone for a new era of American multilateralism in some of the most vexing security challenges facing the United States and its allies. Then Obama sent his special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, to listen, consult and report back to Washington. One of the issues facing Obama, who has been in office less than a month, is to determine how much to expand troop levels for Afghanistan as he also considers plans to begin the phased withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. Finally, Under Secretary of State William Burns just completed a series of talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on U.S.-Russian relations, including American missile defense plans in Europe. Burns said in an interview with the Interfax news agency that the United States is open to the possibility of cooperation on missile defense, both with Russia and its NATO partners. Obama travels to Canada February 19 for talks on issues affecting the Western Hemisphere, and Defense Secretary Gates attends the NATO defense ministers' informal meeting in Krakow, Poland, February 19-20. What foreign affairs actions should President Obama consider? Comment on America.gov's blog. ( http://blogs.america.gov/campaign/2009/01/21/day-2-what-should-obama%e2%80%99s-top-priorities-be/ ) (This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://www.america.gov/)
U.N. Ban On Iranian Arms Exports To Hamas
(NSI News Source Info) February 15, 2009: Cypriot police officers with their motorcycles patrol the side where the Cypriot-flagged container ship Monchegorsk, seen in the background, believed to be the vessel that U.S. authorities suspect is carrying an Iranian arms shipment bound for Hamas militants in Gaza rests anchored off the Cypriot port of Limassol, Friday, Feb. 13, 2009. Cypriot authorities have started unloading a detained ship which the government says has breached a U.N. ban on Iranian arms exports. The U.S. military said it found artillery shells and other arms aboard the ship after stopping it last month in the Red Sea. Iran denies the ship contains weapons.
Freed Faina Unloads Tanks In Kenya, Crew Return Home
(NSI News Source Info) Kiev, Ukraine - February 15, 2009: Twenty joyful but exhausted sailors stepped off a plane and into the arms of their loved ones — a happy ending to an emotionally searing four-month hijack drama off the coast of Somalia. A Kenyan soldier pushes military equipment as the recently freed Ukrainian cargo ship, the MV Faina, is unloaded in the Kenyan port of Mombasa, Saturday, Feb. 14, 2009. Pirates seized the Faina off the Horn of Africa on Sept. 25 and released it last week, speeding off in skiffs with a US$3.2 million ransom dropped on to the deck by parachute. Embracing sobbing wives and parents in the freezing cold outside Kiev's Boryspil Airport on Friday, the crew of the MV Faina — 17 Ukrainians, two Russians and a Latvian — recounted how they were crammed into a tiny room and haunted by the fear of never seeing their families again. Somali pirates seized the Faina, laden with several dozen tanks and other heavy weapons, off the Horn of Africa on September 25. The ship and crew were released only last week, after pirates sped off in skiffs with a $3.2 million ransom that had been dropped to the ship's deck by parachute. In between, hunger, fear, worry and sadness gnawed at the Faina's crew. Looking tired and frail, most clad in green camouflage-patterened coats, the suntanned sailors said their diet consisted almost exclusively of rice or noodles only once or twice a day. They spent most of their 18-week ordeal caged up elbow-to-elbow in a small cabin, and were seldom allowed walks on the deck. "They put us in a cage like this was a safari and nobody came to us, nobody talked to us," said Atrium Girzhev, a skinny 22-year-old mechanic whose mother, Olga, had trembled with anxiety as she waited for him to disembark the plane. Girzhev said the crew tried to keep their spirits up by reading and rereading a small collection of books on the ship. Olexandr Prisukha, 44, said the pirates treated them roughly for the first month or so, but then eased up after some crew members made progress learning Somali and helped the pirates recover when they fell ill. "We wanted to live, and we survived," a smiling Prisukha said after embracing his wife, Olena, 41. "We're grateful to everyone who took part in our rescue." Still, he complained that the arms-laden ship was sent into dangerous waters with no military escort and no means of protection against pirates. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko joined family members who greeted the sailors, even though many relatives had accused him of ignoring their plight. "What is most important is that human losses were avoided," Yushchenko told relatives at the airport. But a life was lost — the Faina's Russian captain Vladimir Kolobkov died of a suspected heart attack shortly after the hijacking. The sailors praised Kolobkov's compatriot Viktor Nikolsky, who took over as acting captain. Nikolsky sought to lower the ransom demands and thereby hasten the crew's freedom by explaining to the pirates that the ship's military cargo was old, Prisukha said. The seizure of the Faina raised fears that its cargo of 33 T-72 tanks and other weapons could fall into the hands of pirates or al-Qaida-linked terrorists in the failed African state of Somalia. With that in mind, US Navy warships quickly surrounded the Faina to stop any unloading of the weapons. Support vessels from Russia, China, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and South Korea soon arrived to help. The nature of the cargo also raised questions about its destination. Ukrainian and Kenyan officials, as well as the ship's Ukrainian owner, say the cargo belongs to Kenya and have vehemently denied diplomatic reports that it was destined for southern Sudan. Back at the airport, Tetyana Pylypenko, 34, smoked nervously as she waited for her husband, Oleh, 41. Pylypenko, driven to despair after ransom negotiations stalled, had gone to see a fortune teller to seek advice. "She promised me good news at the end of January and she was right," Pylypenko said. "All that matters now is that they are alive and they are coming home." Most sailors said the hijacking had not sparked thoughts of a career change but added they would not be hurrying back to work. Asked what he planned to do upon arrival, Prisukha said with a broad grin, "Now? Now I will love my wife."
US Military Gets The Squeeze In Central Asia
(NSI News Source Info) February 15, 2009: Kyrgyzstan has slapped the US military with a dishonorable discharge from the Manas Air Base, throwing a monkey wrench into US President Barack Obama’s plans to bolster troop strength in Afghanistan just as the Taliban is showing a startling resurgence. Now, Washington will be forced to go shopping for other real estate opportunities across Central Asia. But the options are limited. KC-135 Stratotanker is seen through the razor wire fence as it takes off at Manas Air Base near Kyrgyzstan's capital Bishkek, February 13, 2009. Kyrgyzstan is delaying a decision on whether to close the last U.S. airbase in Central Asia while it bargains with both the United States and Russia, the leader of the main opposition faction in parliament said on Friday. Kyrgyzstan President Kurmanbek Bakiyev made the announcement about the base closure during a joint press conference with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on February 3.
Bakiyev said he was ejecting US forces after repeated requests for increased rent payment went ignored. Washington pays $65 million annually for the Manas Air Base, while injecting another $150 million through economic incentives.
Although Russia denies it exerted any behind-the scenes influence on the decision, it certainly made the Kyrgyzstan’s loss of Washington’s rent money a lot easier to accept: Bakiyev returned home with a massive loan package worth more than $2 billion, almost the equivalent of the landlocked nation’s total debt.
But for Washington, the question may no longer be a matter of dropping hard cash; even Uncle Sam’s fathomless pockets may not be deep enough to reverse the public relation damage inflicted by the bumbling Bush administration.
Following the horrific terrorist attacks of 9/11, which was thought to have been hatched in the sands of Afghanistan, there was little resistance to the idea of US military bases being established in Central Asia. With the full sympathy of the international community behind it, America suddenly enjoyed carte blanche.
Uzbekistan gave the US military base privileges at Karshi-Khanadad, known as K2, which offered convenient cross-border access to the Afghan border. Kyrgyzstan followed suit a short while later with the Manas Air Base just outside the capital of Bishkek.
But starting with the unexpected and very unpopular U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Central Asia, not to mention the regional powerhouses of Russia and China, began to wonder how long the US military would keep its XXL boot print in the volatile region. It may be only coincidence that the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), comprised of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, was founded in October 2002, just as war in Iraq was starting to look inevitable.
The first sign that America was wearing out its welcome in the region came shortly after Uzbekistan violently suppressed prison riots and public demonstrations in the province of Andijan in May 2005. Some human rights groups estimated the number of people killed at 500. The US, under pressure from human rights groups, asked the government of President Islam Karimov to permit an international probe into the crackdown. This move quickly led to the end of K2 basing privileges.
This was also around the time that various color revolutions, believed in some circles to have been underwritten by the United States government, were rocking the region.Now that the US military has also lost the Manas Air Base, what other options does the Obama administration have for maintaining supplies and troops in Afghanistan?
The surprise answer is Russia, which is looking to normalize relations with the US and NATO after the ‘three Gs’ – Gas, Georgia and George – helped to raise the specter of a new Cold War in the minds of many political analysts. The rhetoric has climbed down a notch or two of late, but the fear and loathing continues to simmer just below the surface.
“The most important thing is to normalize Russia-NATO relations,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters Wednesday, adding that the alliance must understand Russia’s security interests.
Moscow has floated the idea of NATO using Russian transport planes to airlift military supplies to assist the ongoing operations in Afghanistan. There is also speculation that Russia could fly supplies out of Kyrgyzstan, where it has a base in Kant.
Whatever the final result, both sides must appreciate the coincidence of the timing of a possible agreement. On February 15, Russia remembers the 20th anniversary of its withdrawal from the deserts of Afghanistan.