Sunday, January 04, 2009

Israel Taking Hamas To Task / Israel's Gaza Surge

Israel Taking Hamas To Task / Israel's Gaza Surge
(NSI News Source Info) January 5, 2009: Although Israel has been able to keep Palestinian terrorists out of Israel for nearly five years, they have not been able to eliminate terror attacks on Israeli civilians.
In fact, last year saw a sharp rise in terrorists deaths (to 36 dead Israelis, compared to 13 in 2007). In both 2008 and 2007, there was but one suicide bombing.
While the number of rockets and mortar shells coming out of Gaza increased to 1,800 in 2008, the sharp increase in terrorism deaths was largely from attacks by Arabs living in Israel. The most dangerous are the 270,000 Arabs living in Jerusalem.
These have become increasingly radicalized, which isn't surprising if you look at the Arab language electronic media (radio, video, Internet) coming out of Gaza and the West Bank. The message is basically "Death to the Jews" and "Destroy Israel."
No subtlety at all, and the message is getting through to more Arabs. This includes the 874,000 Arabs, who are Israeli citizens, living in the rest of Israel. The younger men in this population are increasingly inclined to think, and act, as Islamic terrorists.
Hamas and Hezbollah are the most enthusiastic supporters of terrorism inside Israel, so these two organizations have become a major target for Israeli counter-terror efforts.
Additional Info: Related Topic Israel's Gaza Surge (NSI News Source Info) January 5, 2009: The invasion has yet to reveal if Israel plans to end Hamas or just its rocket capability. Israel's land offensive – or is it a "land defensive"? – that began Saturday against the rocket-launching Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip brings an intensity of war not seen between Palestinians and Israelis in decades. As in the Middle East in the past, how the war ends will matter more than why it began. Even if few of the Islamic group's leaders and their 15,000 fighters survive against tens of thousands of Israeli troops, they will have won the contest over the perception of victory. Hamas will continue to have wide support among Gazans who voted it into power and will still seek Israel's destruction with jihadi violence. That's why it is critical for peace to know Israel's ultimate goal in launching a ground war that both sides could regret. In coming days, the door-to-door tactics of the Israeli army will reveal that goal – and also help shape talks to end the war. So far, for instance, the Israelis have showered leaflets on northern Gazans asking them to leave their homes. Is that to prepare for a permanent no-rockets zone? Before a six-month truce ended on Dec. 19, triggering a surge of Hamas rocket fire on Israeli civilians that led to the start of an air bombardment Dec. 27, Israel had talked of wiping out Hamas. But that message changed after the air war started. Now the official goal is to simply dismantle the Hamas infrastructure to launch rockets. That message went off-track last week, however, when Israel's ambassador to the UN, Gabriela Shalev, said the goal is to "destroy completely [the] terrorist gang." Having withdrawn from Gaza in 2005, Israel does not want to reoccupy this overcrowded strip of some 1.5 million Palestinians. So what does it plan to leave behind if not a phoenixlike Hamas? Will it allow the rival Palestinian group Fatah from the West Bank to take over? Will international troops keep guard over areas from which Hamas might be able to launch rockets? Will Israel patrol the Egyptian border to keep out arms shipments?
Israeli armoured military vehicles move towards the border with the Gaza Strip January 4, 2009. Israeli tanks and infantry battled Hamas fighters in the Gaza Strip on Sunday in a ground offensive launched after eight days of deadly air strikes failed to halt the Islamist group's rocket attacks on Israel. At the least, Israel may see this war as a way to recover from the debacle of its 2006 Lebanon invasion. That war eroded the image of an invincible Israeli military that could deter foes. Leaving Hamas now able to rebuild a rocket capability would only further erode that deterrence, especially as Iran nears a capability to build nuclear bombs. But if Israel is hunting down Hamas leaders, where does that leadership end? Israel has even hit regular police who direct traffic. What about civilians who distribute Hamas's social services or Gazans who rally and vote for it? Will Israel need to destroy Gaza to save it? The fact that Israel barred foreign journalists from entering Gaza is an indication that it wants to control the war of perceptions and also perhaps not have the world watching as it changes goals and tactics during the fog of war. Time is not on Israel's side. Only 1 in 5 Israelis supported a land invasion. Many European leaders are pushing Israel to end the war soon. Arab leaders who despise Hamas as an Iranian proxy and wink at Israel's moves now can only keep silent for so long against the "Arab street." Barack Obama once talked of negotiating with Hamas. Israel's long-term survival is at stake if it entered Gaza with muddy goals and with military tactics that could backfire.

Taiwan Policy Unchanged By Report On China Missiles / Taiwan Not Impressed By Reported Chinese Plan To Withdraw Missiles

Taiwan Policy Unchanged By Report On China Missiles / Taiwan Not Impressed By Reported Chinese Plan To Withdraw Missiles (NSI News Source Info) TAIPEI - January 5, 2009: Taiwan said Jan. 4 it would continue its arms build-up despite reports that China may cut the number of missiles it has targeting the island, in another sign of improving ties between the rivals. The Hong Kong-based weekly Yazhou Zhoukan said in its latest issue that the Chinese authorities may reduce the number of ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan although there were protests from the military. The report, which did not name its source, comes as tensions across the Taiwan Strait have been significantly eased since China-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou took office in May. "It would be our pleasure to see it, if realized," Taiwan's defense ministry spokeswoman Lisa Chi said, but she declined to specify the number of missiles China has stockpiled opposite the island. Taiwan's defense ministry had previously put the figure at more than 1,300. "Even so, such a move would have a greater symbolic implication than a material significance, because it would not take long to redeploy such missiles whenever needed," Chi said. "We'll continue strengthening our arms buildup and combat preparedness." China and Taiwan have been governed separately since the end of a civil war in 1949 but Beijing considers the island part of its territory and is determined to get it back, by force if necessary. Chinese President Hu Jintao called Dec. 31 for the establishment of confidence building measures between the two sides in an address marking the 30th anniversary of a message from China to "compatriots in Taiwan" calling for peaceful reunification. The two sides last month launched historic direct daily flights, postal and shipping services, in a move expected to boost trade ties.

Russia And China Signed Agreement For Sale Of Mi-26 Helicopters

Russia And China Signed Agreement For Sale Of Mi-26 Helicopters (NSI News Source Info) January 4, 2009: China and a Russian company signed an agreement in Zhuhai on Nov 4 for handover and purchase of Mi-26 helicopters. China will thus have two such helicopters that boast the world’s largest payload capacity “The China Flying Dragon Special Aviation Company introduced the first Mi-26 helicopter in China in 2007 through a leasing arrangement. The company has now purchased it outright. The handover of the property rights was finalized at today’s ceremony,” said an official of China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation. “The second Mi-26 helicopter in the purchase agreement will be primarily used for forest fire protection in Northeast China,” he was quoted as saying. The maximum take-off weight of the Mi-26 helicopter is 56 tons and its maximum load capacity is 20 tons, making it the world’s largest payload capacity helicopter. After Wenchuan in Sichuan Province was hit by a devastating earthquake this May, two Mi-26 helicopters (one offered by Russia) flew to the disaster-stricken area and they played an important role in relief efforts.

Pakistan's Nuke Technology, A Chinese Contribution? / China Is a Rogue Nuclear State

Pakistan's Nuke Technology, A Chinese Contribution? / China Is a Rogue Nuclear State (NSI News Source Info) Washington - January 4, 2009: Did People's Republic of China help Pakistan to achieve nuclear facility? Did China play any role to spoil the peaceful relation between India and Pakistan? 'Yes' says US Air Force Secretary Thomas Reed. Reed claimed that China had tested for Pakistan its first nuclear bomb in 1990s. In an interview to 'US News and World Report' new magazine Reed said, "The Chinese did a massive training of Pakistani scientists, brought them to China for lectures, even gave them the design of the CHIC-4 device, which was a weapon that was easy to build a model for export." A weapons designer at Livermore National Laboratory, Reed had co-authored a new book, 'The Nuclear Express: A Political History of the Bomb and Its Proliferation' with Danny Stillman (the former director of Technical Intelligence Division, LosAlamos National Laboratory). The book accuses China of internationally proliferating nuclear technology and said that the nation has helped 'risky regimes' like Pakistan to achieve this. Reed told to the magazine that China gave nuclear technology to Pakistan as 'India was China's enemy and Pakistan was India's enemy. He said, "Under the then Pakistan President Benazir Bhutto, the country built its first functioning nuclear weapon. We believe that during Benazir's term in office, the PeoplesRepublic of China tested Pakistan's first bomb for her in 1990." He also pointed out various reasons to believe this including the design of the weapon and information gatheredfrom discussions with Chinese nuclear experts. "That's why the Pakistanis were so quick to respond to the Indian nuclear tests in 1998. It only took them two weeks and three days," Reed added. It is up to the rulers and people of both the democratic nations to decide whether India and Pakistan should still continue to fall prey for vested interests or should work for their own development. Nuclear technology whether possessed by developing or developed nation, both ways is harmful. Did China play any role in adding fuel to fury is yet to be known. But a joint efforts from both India and Pakistan and also cooperation from International community is a must to eradicate the menace of terrorism and militancy. Additional Info: Related Topic China Is a Rogue Nuclear State Gordon G. Chang - 01.03.2009 - 4:22 PM (NSI News Source Info) January 4, 2009: China, charges Thomas Reed, is continuing to transfer uranium and nuclear technology to Iran. In an interview posted yesterday on the U.S. News & World Report website, the former U.S. Air Force Secretary also refers to Beijing’s use of the North Koreans to distribute nuclear and missile technology to Syria, Pakistan, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen in addition to Iran. Why did the Chinese decide to proliferate nuclear weapons technology? “They did so deliberately with the theory that if nukes ended up going off in the western world from a Muslim terrorist, well that wasn’t all bad,” Reed says, citing a decision made by Deng Xiaoping in 1982. “If New York was reduced to rubble without Chinese fingerprints on the attack, that left Beijing as the last man standing.” Reed is correct when he points out that China has been a rogue nuclear state for a long time. In fact, China was helping Pakistan build a bomb as early as 1974, long before Deng took power in 1978. So, for more than three decades, the Chinese have been spreading the world’s most destructive technology to Islamic fanatics. We can understand why Beijing would wish us harm, yet it is difficult to comprehend why successive American administrations, especially those of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, have failed to speak out about Chinese proliferation, even when Beijing had been caught red-handed. These two presidents, as powerful as they were, may not have had the means to stop China’s transfer of nuclear technology, yet they failed to sanction Beijing or even speak out about what was happening. Both of them were responsible for many failures during their times in office, but these are by far the worst. Washington evidently believes that, if we do not criticize the Chinese in public, one day they will eventually stop proliferating. As Reed notes, many younger officials in Beijing realize the lunacy of their country’s pro-proliferation policies-he suggests they don’t want to incinerate Los Angeles because they can’t then sell us sneakers-but at this time there is no consensus in the Chinese capital to change course from Mao’s and Deng’s policies. By the time China becomes a responsible nuclear power, it will undoubtedly be too late. By refusing to oppose those who wish us harm, we are creating the conditions for our own destruction.

Sri Lanka Says Army Moving On LTTE HQ

Sri Lanka Says Army Moving On LTTE HQ (NSI News Source Info) KILINOCHCHI, Sri Lanka - January 4, 2009: The Sri Lankan army said it was moving in on the jungle stronghold of the Tamil Tiger rebels, in a final assault aimed at ending the longest-running ethnic war in Asia. Flush with confidence after retaking their main city two days ago, the army vowed to capture rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran as troops pushed deeper into northern territory long under the complete control of the guerrillas. Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse said in a New Year's address that 2009 would be the year of "heroic victory" over the Tigers, who have been waging war since 1972 to establish an independent homeland for ethnic Tamils. Troops captured Kilinochchi, the de facto capital of the rebel state within a state on Friday, and the general leading the assault said his forces were now advancing on Mullaittivu, their last major centre of control. "We are taking the offensive to the Mullaittivu jungles where Prabhakaran is hiding," Major General Jagath Dias told reporters flown into Kilinochchi for a short and carefully supervised visit to show the city was in army hands. "We will hunt him down." For nearly two years, Sri Lanka has banned independent reporters from rebel-held areas, including Kilinochchi, and the general's statement could not be independently verified. Gunfire and artillery barrages could be heard from around the town during the brief press visit. A military official said ground forces backed by helicopter gunships were moving toward Mullaittivu. The vastly outnumbered rebels, formally known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), had controlled Kilinochchi for a decade and have frustrated government hopes of victory many times before. Hours after losing the city Friday, a Tiger suicide bomber in the capital Colombo killed two people and wounded 36. Six months after a major strategic loss in 1995, the rebels overran an army base and killed 1,200 soldiers. Tens of thousands of people have been killed since the conflict began, but Rajapakse's government pulled out of an on-again, off-again ceasefire last year and launched a new campaign to crush the Tigers once and for all. "For the last time, I am telling the LTTE to lay down arms and surrender," he said in an address to the nation after Kilinochchi was captured. Prabhakaran said in his own annual address in November that the rebels, one of the first proponents of suicide bombings and considered one of the world's most fearless and effective guerrilla groups, would fight on. "No sane voice is being raised either to abandon war or to seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict," he said. Human rights groups have criticised the Tigers for forcing children to fight as soldiers, and the LTTE has been labelled a terrorist group by the United States, the European Union and neighbouring India. Still, the rebels were able to get the international community to back them in a ceasefire deal that always struggled to take hold and finally collapsed last year, when the government pulled out.

Sukhoi/HAL FGFA - HAL, UAC Sign Pact to Develop Fifth Generation Fighter Jet

Sukhoi/HAL FGFA - HAL, UAC Sign Pact to Develop Fifth Generation Fighter Jet (NSI News Source Info) January 4, 2009: Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Russia's United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) inked a pact to jointly develop and produce a fifth generation fighter aircraft, a top HAL official said on Tuesday. "We (HAL and UAC) are moving forward as per schedule. We (have) just done the general contract yesterday. I went to Delhi and signed the general contract," HAL Chairman Ashok K Baweja said. HAL officials noted that under a preliminary inter-governmental agreement signed in October last year, the advanced multi-role fighter is being developed by Sukhoi, part of UAC, along with the Bangalore-headquartered defence PSU. According to reports, Russia and India would simultaneously develop two versions of the aircraft -- a two-seat version to meet the requirements of India and a single seat version for Russian Air Force. UAC had begun building a prototype of the jet fighter which would feature high manoeuvrability and stealth to ensure air superiority and precision in destroying ground and sea targets, reports said. Asked about the proposed investment in the venture, Baweja said it was very difficult to say at this stage and added: "It will be quite a lot". He told reporters on the sidelines of the celebrations of HAL Day that the Navratna company has put on the back burner its MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul of civil aircraft) venture plans at HAL airport following a slowdown in the world civil aviation market.

India to Sign Deal for Eight Boeing P-8I Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance Aircraft

India to Sign Deal for Eight Boeing P-8I Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance Aircraft (NSI News Source Info) January 4, 2009: Government of India is all set to ink its biggest-ever defence deal with United States, the Rs 8,500-crore contract for the supply of eight Boeing P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance (LRMR) aircraft for the Navy. "Virtually all the steps" required for the contract to be signed, including tabling of it in the Cabinet Committee on Security for approval, have been completed, said sources on Friday.The first of these LRMR aircraft will be delivered within four years of the contract being actually signed, with the rest being handed over by 2015, said sources. The LRMR planes will replace the eight ageing and fuel-guzzling Russian-origin Tupolev-142Ms. Customised for India and based on the Boeing 737 commercial airliner, the radar-packed P-8I aircraft will go a long way in plugging the huge gaps in Navy's maritime snooping capabilities with a range of over 600 nautical miles. The Navy is also in the hunt for six new medium-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft for around Rs 1,600 crore to achieve its aim of an effective three-tier surveillance grid in the entire Indian Ocean. Both Navy and Coast Guard have come in for some criticism for not being able to pre-empt the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, even though the two forces maintain that they did not get "actionable intelligence'' in time. The P-8I aircraft will also be armed with Harpoon missiles, torpedoes and depth bombs to give them potent anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare capability. Moreover, they "will enhance interoperability" between the Indian and American navies, in keeping with the growing strategic embrace between the two countries. The LRMR deal will supplant last year's $962-million contract signed with US for six C-130J `Super Hercules' aircraft for use by Indian special forces. US is still, however, leagues behind Russia, Israel and France in supplying military hardware and software to India. While Russia notches up sales worth about $1.5 billion to India every year, Israel chalks up an annual tally of around $1 billion. Apart from the C-130J deal, America's only big-ticket deal with India in recent years has been the $190-million contract in 2002 to supply 12 AN/TPQ-37 firefinder weapon-locating radars. India last year acquired amphibious transport vessel USS Trenton for $48.23 million, with the six UH-3H helicopters to operate from it costing another $39 million. During its quest for LRMR planes, India had earlier rejected the US offer to lease two P-3C Orion reconnaissance aircraft under a $133-million contract. India, of course, remains unhappy over the American decision to sell eight more P-3C Orion aircraft to Pakistan, which already has two such planes in its inventory.