Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Middle East: Peaceful Co-Existence Is The Best Solution For All Sides / Can Rockets Stop Firing From All Sides?

Middle East: Peaceful Co-Existence Is The Best Solution For All Sides / Can Rockets Stop Firing From All Sides? (ALL SIDES SOLUTION)
(NSI News Source Info) January 7, 2009: The Israeli economy grew by 4.1 percent in 2008. The Palestinian economy in Gaza didn't. Hamas blames Israel for the economic collapse in Gaza, because a blockade intended to keep out weapons, for use against Israel, also keeps out other goods. Israel applies economic pressure in much the same way Hamas does (by crippling economic growth in southern Israel with rocket attacks.) But Hamas and Israel have different priorities. For Israel it's survival and growth. For Hamas it's the destruction of Israel and the establishment of a worldwide Islamic religious dictatorship. From a distance, it's easy to ignore the goals of Hamas, but the closer you get, the uglier, and more lethal, Hamas becomes. For example, Egypt has remained very hostile to Hamas, and any ceasefire that does not curb the organizations violent behavior. A recent poll of Israelis shows 95 percent of Jewish citizens support the operations against Hamas. Those are numbers no politician in a democracy can ignore. The Israeli Air Force has been launching about 90 attacks a day on targets in Gaza. Smart bombs and guided missiles have been used extensively. For the last two years, the Israeli Army has been developing new tactics and equipment for fighting Hamas and Hezbollah type gunmen in urban areas. The Israelis have built training areas, with dense urban construction, and run many of its ground troops through special exercises. How well the new tactics and training are will be seen in the next week or so. The new tactics are meant to minimize civilian casualties, while enabling Israeli troops to quickly move through the area and kill or capture enemy personnel and equipment. Reservist units being called up, that have not gone through the special training, are being sent to the new training centers for at least a few days of instruction on the new tactics. These new methods, while officially secret, apparently involve some new fighting tactics, and lots of electronic warfare. Hamas has had to operate with both cell phones and landline communications down. In addition, their walkie-talkies are sometimes jammed, and apparently listened to carefully by Israeli electronic warfare troops. This is causing command and coordination problems for Hamas fighters. In the north, the military has warned civilians that Hezbollah may begin firing rockets if Hamas looks like it is taking too much damage (that is, being defeated in the court of public opinion.) So far, about 550 Palestinians have died, and seven Israelis (including three soldiers killed in a friendly fire incident). Hamas cannot win when fighting Israel, and is determined to win an Information War. That means getting the maximum number of Palestinian civilians killed or wounded and getting images of that onto TV worldwide. While Israel is keeping reporters out of the combat zone (since December 29th), Hamas is not, and reporters from Moslem nations are eager to tell the story as Hamas wants it told (you get expelled from the area, or worse, if you don't, but that's a story that won't get reported until long after this is all over.) Getting enough diplomatic pressure on Israel to force a ceasefire allows Hamas to re-arm and increase its attacks on Israel. You only have to look at the Arab language message coming from Hamas through all this. The destruction of Israel and extermination of the Jews is what Hamas is all about. They make no secret of it, but do play it down in their non-Arabic press releases. That's because Hamas knows that, by playing the victim, they get more sympathy (and threats of sanctions against Israel) from the West, and mode aid (cash, volunteers) from the Islamic world. Hamas believes last year was a victory for them, as terrorist attacks killed 36 Israelis in 2008, up from 13 in 2007. Most of these attacks were not the work, directly, of Hamas, but rather West Bank based terrorists or Israeli Arabs caught up in the "destroy Israel" movement. Although most Israeli Arabs are better off than Arabs anywhere else in the Middle East, many still back calls for the destruction of Israel, because it's (for most Arabs) the right thing to do. Calls for a ceasefire are going unanswered because Hamas and Israel cannot agree on the terms. Israel wants an end to the smuggling from Egypt and an international police force ensuring that no more rockets or mortar shells are fired into southern Israel. Hamas will not accept this, and is urging that Israel stop bombing targets in Gaza, and get its troops out of Gaza. In return, Hamas offers a ceasefire like the one that ended in December (fewer rockets fired into southern Israel, but no restrictions on the smuggling from Egypt). Arab diplomats are demanding acceptance of the Hamas rules, while European diplomats are urging Israel to "be reasonable". January 4, 2009: Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, who just rotated into the presidency of the European Union, has made himself very unpopular in Western Europe by pointing out that Israel is simply defending itself. There's a big split between East and West Europe when it comes to terrorism and dealing with totalitarian governments (like Hamas). East Europe has half a century of recent history living under the rule of tyrants (Nazis and communists) who knew how to spin the media. While Western Europeans have read books like "1984", East Europeans lived it, and they have not forgotten. They will eventually, but they have only been free since 1989. Given another decade or so, and their memories of their despotic rulers will soften, as will their attitude towards modern day tyrants-with-good-publicists. Outfits like Hamas not only learned much from the Nazis and communists, but actually admire these two groups. Arabs were very pro-Nazi during World War II, and Hamas ally Hezbollah, up in Lebanon, has adopted the infamous Nazi straight arm salute as their own. Hamas managed to fire about 30 rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel. This activity is expected to decline even more as Israeli troops physically occupy the areas in northern Gaza from which most of the rockets are launched. Even now, Hamas has taken to launching the rockets from backyards in Gaza City. Palestinian civilians are fleeing the fighting, knowing well the Hamas preference for using civilians as human shields. January 3, 2009: After nightfall, Israeli ground troops entered Gaza, quickly cutting the top third of the 41 kilometer long Gaza Strip off from the rest. This area has about 440,000 people, most of them crammed into Gaza City. The advance was preceded by the first use of artillery against Gaza in two years. A barrage of four Palestinian Qassam rockets left smoke trails in the sky after they are fired from Gaza toward the Israeli town of Sderot. Israel is intensifying its wide-scale ground assault against Gaza in an effort to put an end to Hamas rocket attacks against the Jewish state. In eight days of operations, 430 Palestinians and four Israelis have been killed. Hamas has not been as successful as it hoped in using civilians as human shields, and running up the civilian death toll. Lots of dead civilians are essential to Hamas success (it getting enough Western countries threatening Israel and forcing a ceasefire). Fighting on the ground will cause more Israeli military personnel, but will make it more difficult for Hamas to get Palestinian civilians killed. January 1, 2009: Hamas managed to fire about 70 rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel. Israeli aircraft hit 25 targets in Gaza, including a mosque that was being used for storing weapons and launching rockets. Israel believes that 57 percent of the 390 Palestinians killed in Gaza so far were Hamas personnel, 11 percent were civilians, and, for the remainder, it was unclear. December 31, 2008: Hamas has fired about 60 rockets and mortar shells a day into southern Israel since the Israeli bombing began on the 27th. These attacks have killed four Israelis and wounded several dozen.

Pakistan and U.S. Rebuild Strained Military Ties

Pakistan And U.S. Rebuild Strained Military Ties (NSI News Source Info) TORKHAM - Afghanistan - January 6, 2009: U.S and Pakistani military cooperation has increased as the two nations push to eliminate militants destabilizing both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border, a marked change from last year's tense relationship.
Senior American military officers say the U.S. is allowing Pakistani officers to view video feeds from unmanned drones flying over Pakistan's ungoverned border regions. The U.S. is also granting access to American intercepts of militant cellular and satellite phone calls inside Pakistan. Unfortunately a fair bit of this will end up being 'fed' straight to the Talibunnies ...The Pakistani military is using the U.S. intelligence to carry out strikes against extremists in its Federally Administered Tribal Areas, which are widely thought to harbor senior members of al Qaeda, the Taliban and other armed Islamist groups. U.S. officials believe Afghanistan is deteriorating because of insurgents based in these "safe havens."
The cooperation is a contrast from earlier last year when Islamabad, reacting to public anger over U.S. ground and air strikes inside the country, withheld military cooperation. The once-solid relationship between Washington and Islamabad deteriorated over the summer after an American missile killed 11 Pakistani soldiers.
Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser, the top U.S. commander in eastern Afghanistan, said the number of insurgents crossing into Afghanistan from Pakistan has begun to decrease, reducing a major cause of instability in Afghanistan. Gen. Schloesser said U.S. and Afghan forces, which were hit by up to 20 rockets a day over the summer, are now hit by two or three.U.S. officials attributed the declines to American missile strikes on insurgent targets inside Pakistan and the coordinated military campaign known as Operation Lionheart, which involves U.S. moves against militants in the Kunar region of Afghanistan and a large Pakistani campaign in the extremist stronghold of Bajaur.American soldiers fired a mortar at Forward Operating Base Bostick in eastern Afghanistan. "The operations in Bajaur and the Predator strikes in Waziristan have caused a disruption across the border," Gen. Schloesser said. The general's comments mark one of the first times a senior U.S. official has publicly confirmed the use of U.S. missile strikes in Pakistan.
Pakistan's chief military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said Operation Lionheart had succeeded in pushing many militants out of Bajaur, which had long been the main extremist stronghold in northwestern Pakistan.U.S. officials credit the turnaround in part to Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani, the head of Pakistan's armed forces, who has come to believe that militants pose an extreme threat. Gen. Kiyani replaced the head of the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence, which has long maintained covert ties to the Taliban and other armed groups, and has devoted significant military resources toward the fight in the border regions.
Pakistan's fragile civilian government has also taken a harder line toward the militants than many U.S. officials expected.
William Wood, the U.S. ambassador in Kabul, said in a recent interview that Pakistan was "unquestionably taking more effective action" against militants. "The only reason I wouldn't refer to it as a bright spot is that the problem is such a big one," he said.
The focal point of the U.S.-Pakistani military cooperation is the small base at Torkham, a strategically vital border town that abuts the Khyber Pass, the main supply route for Western forces in Afghanistan.
The American-built base here opened in the spring, and was meant to house military personnel from the U.S., Afghanistan and Pakistan. During a trip to Torkham over the summer, the barracks rooms set aside for the Pakistanis sat empty, with the mattresses still covered in plastic.
In late December, by contrast, U.S. troops sat in a large tactical operations room alongside Afghan personnel in dark-green fatigues and Pakistani soldiers in flowing tan uniforms. The video feed from an American drone was being projected onto a large pull-down screen at the front of the room.
The Pakistani personnel at Torkham have secure phone and data connections back to their country. A senior U.S. official said the Pakistanis receive access to American "signals intelligence," mainly intercepts of radio traffic, cellular and satellite phone calls.
Maj. Robert Brown, the top U.S. official at Torkham, said the base is meant to "knit together" the U.S., Afghanistan and Pakistan. "The point is to make sure everyone knows all the same information, and can act on it," he said in an interview.

Pakistan Government Covertly Supporting Taliban To Suppress Balochs / Pakistan Uses Taliban As A Proxy Against Balochs

Pakistan Government Covertly Supporting Taliban To Suppress Balochs / Pakistan Uses Taliban As A Proxy Against Balochs
(NSI News Source Info) Peshawar - January 6, 2009: The Pakistan government is providing covert support to the Taliban to capture land in eastern and western Quetta in order to undermine the Baloch nationalist movement and promote Talibanisation in Balochistan. Balochistan National Party (BNP) information secretary and former Senator, Sanaullah Baloch, said that the government is fully aware of these encroachments, but it was deliberately silent because the Taliban enjoy the support of the government and its intelligence agencies who wish to pit the religious elements against the Baloch nationalists.
The Daily Times quoted Baloch as saying that the government had failed to establish its writ in Quetta, where the Taliban and their supporters were consolidating their grip.
Several parts of the provincial capital have become ‘no-go areas’ where the Taliban and their supporters have consolidated their position, he added. “We are surprised why the government does not undertake a military operation against these elements who have openly challenged the writ of the government,” Baloch said.
“Military operations were carried out in Dera Bugti and Sui areas by the government on the pretext of establishing the writ of the government, but the state machinery does not move against the Taliban and their supporters who have illegally and forcefully captured large areas of land in Balochistan,” he said.
Baloch said that the government was trying to patronise the Taliban elements in Quetta and its outskirts in order to undermine the power of the actual democratic forces.
The Afghan refugees, besides being a burden on the economy of Balochistan, have become the biggest cause of lawlessness and terrorism in the country’s largest province, Baloch said. Billions of rupees were being spent on eliminating the Taliban and their supporters in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the NWFP, he said, asking why the government was ignoring the ‘alarmingly dangerous moves’ of the Taliban and giving them protection in Quetta. The BNP leader criticised the government for initiating fresh operations in Dera Bugti and Naseerabad areas, adding that such unprovoked operations were likely to escalate tensions in Balochistan.

India Asserts Mumbai Attackers Were Supported Within Pakistani State

India Asserts Mumbai Attackers Were Supported Within Pakistani State
(NSI News Source Info) January 6, 2009: India confronted Pakistan on Monday with a detailed dossier that it said showed that "elements from Pakistan" were behind the November terrorist assault on Mumbai and said it was inconceivable that no one in the Pakistani government knew of the plans. India's moves added pressure to the already tense relationship between the nuclear-armed rivals over the assault, in which some 170 people died. The evidence handed to Islamabad included the lengthy confession extracted during the interrogation of Ajmal Kasab, the only gunman caught during the attack. McClatchy Newspapers reported Dec. 6 that Kasab had come from Faridkot, a village in Pakistan's Punjab province. Also in the dossier were telephone intercepts between the assailants and their alleged handlers in Pakistan, data retrieved from recovered GPS and satellite phones and details of "recovered weapons and equipment," India's Foreign Ministry said in a statement. India also briefed the ambassadors of more than a dozen countries in New Delhi - including the U.S., Britain, Israel, Japan and Turkey - on the evidence that it said it had gathered. Shiv Shankar Menon, India's foreign secretary, the top bureaucrat in the Foreign Ministry, said it "beggars the imagination" that no one within the Pakistani state knew about the preparations for the attack, an accusation that appeared directed at the Pakistani army and its intelligence agencies. "It's hard to believe that something of this scale, that took so long in the preparation and of this nature, which amounts really to a commando attack, could occur without anybody, anywhere, in the establishment knowing that this was happening," Menon said in New Delhi. Pakistan has said that if anyone in the country were involved, it would have to be "non-state actors." The Pakistani government said it was "carrying out its own investigations and was determined to uncover the full facts pertaining to the Mumbai terrorist attacks." "It is our duty, my duty, to examine the dossier carefully, understand it and be truthful to myself, to my country and the neighborhood," Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said. Up to now, Pakistan had said that it couldn't act without proof, but India had been reluctant to trust its archenemy with evidence. "Frankly, what we have seen so far does not impress us," Menon said. "What we want is ... to bring the perpetrators to Indian justice and to guarantee that there are no terrorist attacks from Pakistan on India. As of now, all we have seen is denial or confusing and contradictory statements." India thinks that the Islamist extremist group Lashkar-e-Taiba carried out the Mumbai assault, a claim that Western experts view as likely to be correct. Two of the alleged planners of the attack were arrested in Pakistan and, according to some news reports, have confessed in custody. However, so far Pakistan has yet to accept officially that Kasab or any of the other nine gunmen was from Pakistan. In the past, Lashkar-e-Taiba had ties to Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan's premier spy agency. Visiting Islamabad on Monday, Richard Boucher, the assistant U.S. secretary of state for South Asia, said that "It's clear ... that the attackers had links that lead to Pakistani soil." He also said that there was "determination here (in Islamabad) to follow up, find those responsible." Washington is anxious to defuse the crisis, as any escalation probably would lead to Pakistan pulling troops off the Afghan border, where they're deployed against the Taliban and al-Qaida, to the eastern border with India.

Israel Tests New C4I System in Gaza Fighting / Israel Aerospace Industries' Command and Control System Installed in Urban Situation Room in Ashkelon

Israel Tests New C4I System in Gaza Fighting / Israel Aerospace Industries' Command and Control System Installed in Urban Situation Room in Ashkelon (NSI News Source Info) BEN GURION INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Israel - January 6, 2009: The MC4 System (MLM Command and Control Communication Center) has been activated in the city of Ashkelon's Urban Situation Room since the beginning of operation "Cast Lead" in Gaza. The MC4 is produced by the MLM Division of the Systems, Missiles and Space Group of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). The MC4 uses data flow obtained from sensors, cameras and on-the-ground personnel. It is based on a Global Positioning System (GPS), to assist rescue forces and local authorities both during emergency situations and on a day-to-day basis. Benny Vaknin, the mayor of Ashkelon, gave an update from the situation room to Eli Yishay, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry, Commerce and Employment, Yitzhak Cohen, Minister of Religious Affairs and Shraga Brosh, President of the Manufacturers’ Association, during their visit to Ashkelon on Monday, December 29th: "The Situation Room is in use thanks to IAI's system. This is an excellent and accurate system that allows us to immediately dispatch forces to areas targeted by missiles. The situation room has been working very well in real-time during the last few days as missiles hit Ashkelon." Uri Sinai, General Manager of IAI's MLM Division said: "The system was installed in Ashkelon and was checked last week during the Home Front Command's successful drill. It is operational helps municipal personnel find and deal all issues that require their intervention. The Ashkelon municipality teams currently in charge of operating the system were briefed by IAI’s MLM. The system is easy to operate and displays a virtual picture of the entire city, including such basic information such as location of schools, kindergartens, shopping centers and others." In his visit in Ashkelon's situation room said Sinai: "From the moment we are aware of a missile hitting the city, Ashkelon personnel know which relevant teams to send to the area – whether police, engineers, ambulance services, social workers, or others, to ensure that the city can continue to function quickly and smoothly in response to an emergency situation." Yossi Greenfeld of Ashkelon's security office said: "The City of Ashkelon is assisted by computerized .information gathering and processing so that decisions can be made quickly and accurately. The city is split into sections on the map so that during any given situation, everyone involved has the same picture and can refer to the same details. This allows for rapid information transmission, processing, and better execution." In the past few weeks, IAI’s MLM Division has been awarded contracts worth $48 million to supply a command and control system to the Israel Ministry of Defense and to supply an advanced Joint Training Capability System to a foreign customer.

South Korea Spreading It's Wings In Defense Exports

South Korea Spreading It's Wings In Defense Exports (NSI News Source Info) SEOUL - January 6, 2009: South Korea sold more than $1 billion worth of weapons and defense goods overseas in 2008, the largest amount since it began exporting defense articles in 1975, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) here. The $1.03 billion in exports, a 22 percent increase from the previous year's $844 million, is the second consecutive sharp rise following DAPA's creation. "This is very meaningful given the increase in defense exports comes amid a worldwide economic downturn,'' a DAPA spokesman said Dec. 31. "Through active efforts to promote the nation's defense exports since our agency's inauguration in 2006, we were able to increase the amount of the country's defense exports to some $844 million in 2007, up from an annual average of $250 million in previous years and finally achieve the goal of $1 billion." South Korea expanded its arms trading partners last year by 12 to 58 nations, including African and South American countries such as Egypt and Peru, the spokesman said. The sale of world-class advanced weapon systems, such as self-propelled howitzers, aircraft and ships, is a dramatic departure from the rifle ammunition and spare parts that were more common in the past, he said. Last year's exports were boosted by a contract with Turkey over the transfer of tank development technology, he added. Under the deal, valued at $400 million, South Korea is to help Turkey develop a main battle tank by 2015 through the transfer of technology related to the design and development of K1A1 and K2 tanks. South Korea will transfer key technologies regarding engine, guns and snorkeling systems to Turkey, which initially wants to build about 250 advanced main battle tanks, DAPA officials said. Seoul will provide more than 60 percent of the technology required. In July 30, 2008, South Korea and Turkey made a contract worth 400 million dollars for technology transfer of engine, transmission, autoloader, etc. The technology is to be incorporated to Turkey's own indigenous future main battle tank. The K2 Black Panther tank, built by the state-funded Agency for Defense Development and Hyundai Rotem, is armed with an indigenous 120mm/50-caliber smoothbore gun. It can reach speeds of up to 70 kilometers per hour on paved roads with gun stabilization and can cross river as deep as 4.1 meters using a snorkel. Other major contracts in 2008 include Korea Aerospace Industries' $170 million contract with the U.S. Air Force for A-10 wing structure and ones for exporting spare parts of the K-9 self-propelled howitzer to the United States, Turkey and others, they said. South Korea aims to reach $3 billion in exports by 2012 amid high expectations of the KT tank and the T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic trainer. The country is making all-out efforts to sell the T-50 trainer overseas. Potential consumers include the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, the United States and Greece, officials said. In a 2009 policy briefing to President Lee Myung-bak Dec. 31, the Ministry of National Defense pledged full-fledged efforts to support defense exports to help revive the economy, setting a goal of $1.2 billion this year. The ministry will launch a pan-governmental council to support defense exports, it said in a news release. To improve cooperation with private firms and institutes, the ministry will raise the ratio of private firm participation in defense research and development programs by 10 percent to 60 percent, it said.