Sunday, July 26, 2009

DTN News: North Korea Threatens To Retaliate Against UN Sanctions

DTN News: North Korea Threatens To Retaliate Against UN Sanctions
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) PYONGYANG, North Korea - July 26, 2009: North Korea's defense minister is promising retaliation against tough new U.N. sanctions put in place following its missile and nuclear tests. North Korean state media reported Sunday that Kim Yong-Chun said Pyongyang would deal "unimaginably deadly blows" at the United States and South Korea if they attack the communist nation.
Kim was speaking at a public meeting held on the eve of the anniversary of the armistice that ended the Korean War on July 27, 1953. (Photo: Kim Yong-Chun ~ from file)
In a separate announcement, North Korea repeated its routine denunciations of an upcoming U.S. and South Korean military exercise, saying the maneuvers "lay bare the black-hearted aim" lurking behind the "talk of dialogue."
Washington and Seoul say they are not planning to invade North Korea.
North Korea regularly issues aggressive statements and rhetoric against its neighbors and the U.S.

DTN News: China Launches Arabic-Language TV Channel

DTN News: China Launches Arabic-Language TV Channel *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) BEIJING, China - July 26, 2009: Chinese state television launched an Arabic-language channel beamed to the Middle East and Africa on Saturday as part of efforts to expand the communist government's media influence abroad. The 24-hour channel will air in 22 Arabic-speaking countries, reaching a total population of nearly 300 million people, China Central Television said in a statement. The channel "will serve as an important bridge to strengthen communication and understanding between China and Arab countries," said a CCTV vice president, Zhang Changming, in the statement. Beijing is carrying out a multibillion-dollar effort to raise the profile of its state media abroad by expanding CCTV, the Communist Party newspaper People's Daily and the official Xinhua News Agency. The effort has a budget of 45 billion yuan ($6.6 billion), according to a report last month by the Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post. The Arabic channel will carry news, feature stories, entertainment and education programs and will gradually expand its offerings, CCTV said. The network already broadcasts in English, French and Spanish as well as in Mandarin. Despite rapid economic growth and rising global influence, China has retained its authoritarian one-party political system with strict limits on freedom of speech and civil and political life. The media drive echoes efforts by Russia and Qatar to influence international news coverage through their state-funded Russia Today and Al-Jazeera channels. Those attempts to challenge the BBC and CNN have scored some success. CCTV announced plans last month for a Russian channel. State TV is also overhauling its domestic news broadcasts for the first time in a decade to combat a decline in viewership. China's government and party media are struggling against more dynamic competitors and rely on state subsidies or moneymaking subsidiaries. China Central Television:

DTN News: India Launches First Nuclear-Powered Submarine

DTN News: India Launches First Nuclear-Powered Submarine
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI, India - July 26, 2009: India launched its first nuclear-powered submarine on Sunday, officials said, underlining the military advances made by the rapidly developing nation. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called it a "historic milestone in the country's defence preparedness" as the 6,000-tonne INS Arihant (Destroyer of Enemies) was named in the southern city of Visakhapatnam. The submarine, the first of five planned, is powered by an 85-megawatt nuclear reactor and can reach 44 kilometres an hour (24 knots) underwater, according to defence officials. It will be armed with torpedoes and ballistic missiles, and carry a crew of 95 men. "We don't have any aggressive designs nor do we seek to threaten anyone," the Press Trust of India quoted Singh as saying at the launch. "We seek an external environment in our region and beyond that is conducive to our peaceful development and protection of our value systems." India is now part of an exclusive group of nations -- including China, France, the United States, Britain and Russia -- which own nuclear-powered submarines. The vessel will undergo two years of sea trials in the Bay of Bengal before being commissioned for full service, according to PTI. India previously leased a Russian-built nuclear submarine, and in 2005 signed contracts worth 2.4 billion euros (three billion dollars) to receive six diesel-electric Franco-Spanish Scorpene submarines. The launch came as India marked the tenth anniversary of the brief but bloody Kargil conflict with arch-rival Pakistan in the disputed Kashmir region. More than 1,100 people, mostly Indian and Pakistani soldiers, died in the high-altitude offensive in the spring and summer of 1999 when Pakistan-based infiltrators crossed the icy frontier that separates the two countries. At a service earlier in New Delhi, Singh paid tribute to the Indian troops who died during the conflict. "They sacrificed their lives in defence of Indian unity and integrity," he said. A year before Kargil, India conducted nuclear weapons tests and Pakistan responded with its own tests a few days later.
The nuclear submarine is 110 meters in length and 11 meters in width, and has a surface displacement of 6000 tonnes. Navy sources said that work is in progress for building a second nuclear submarine. With Sunday’s launch, India enters the exclusive club of five countries comprising US, Russia, France and China, which have capabilities to develop nuclear submarines that operate nuclear submarine with the launch of the top-secret Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV), called silent killers for its ability to remain under water for a long period due to its nuclear-powered engines. The INS Arihant (destroyer of enemies) is a copy of Russian Charlie class nuclear submarine leased in 1980s. The trials of submarine here will prove its nuclear power plant and auxiliary systems before it goes to the Bay of Bengal for sea trials and weapon trials. The INS Arihant will begin its underwater journey from Shipbuilding Centre here. Once submerged, it will undergo two years of extensive trials, first in harbour and then at sea, before formally joining the navy. INS Arihant is a ballistic missile submarine armed with twelve K-15 missiles, each capable of carrying a 500-kg nuclear warhead to a target 750-km away. At present submarines used by the Indian Navy are the diesel electric versions that have to come up to recharge their batteries, increasing their chances of being spotted. For a brief period of three years from 1988-91 India used a nuclear submarine leased by Russia. Since then it has been trying to build one of its own. India will also get couple of nuclear-powered Russian Akula class submarines this year. The INS Chakra, an Akula-2 class nuclear powered attack submarine, is already undergoing sea trials in the Pacific Ocean before coming to India for induction.

DTN News: Airbust!

DTN News: Airbust!
*Source: DTN News / The Times
(NSI News Source Info) JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - July 26, 2009: SAA doesn’t have the cash for 15 new aircraft ordered in 2002, writes Roger Makings. More turbulence at SAA: Airline in fresh pickle, this time for airbus deal worth over R1BN. Just as SAA was showing signs of a turnaround, the airline finds itself fighting off another crisis that could again send it reeling into technical bankruptcy. At the heart of the problem is a resolute Airbus, the French aircraft manufacturer, which is pressuring the cash-strapped carrier to honour a deal struck in 2002 to acquire 15 A320s, for which the airline does not have the money. Sensing that it has SAA over a barrel, Airbus has said it would toss the carrier a lifeline if it increased the order to include two long-range A340-500s which SAA does not want. It is believed that the type, of which Airbus is said to have surplus stock, is not popular with airlines — which Airbus denies. “We can either perfect the deal, for which we don’t have the money, try to force a cancellation and run the risk of incurring damages, challenge Airbus in court over the validity of the contract or, preferably, find a solution acceptable to both parties,” says acting chief executive Chris Smyth. If SAA honours the five-year- old deal, it would have to come up with R1.2-billion in pre-delivery payments. If it doesn’t, it will have to find more than R850-million to repay credits advanced for an earlier acquisition of aircraft owed to engine manufacturers as well as Airbus. The airline does not have the money for either option and if forced to concede, will find itself technically bankrupt. Industry sources say that Airbus, which is also feeling the effects of the recession, is hoping that the government will bail out SAA, as it has done previously. The impasse began in 2002, when SAA’s then CEO Andre Viljoen announced that a multibillion-rand fleet renewal contract had been awarded to Airbus. The order was made up of 41 aircraft, including 15 A320-200 aircraft. The first of the deliveries would have been due early next year. However, the airline found itself insolvent after a currency hedging programme went sour and, in the two years from 2002-03, SAA had recorded net losses of nearly R14.6-billion. The SAA board was forced to cancel the order for the 15 A320s. Airbus was notified, says SAA, and acknowledged receipt of such, but did not, apparently, concede that the deal was cancelled. The airline acquired 21 Boeing 737-800s in 2000 during Coleman Andrews’ tenure. Four of these are in the stable of SAA’s budget airline Mango, and the leases on these aircraft begin to expire from next year. They were scheduled to be replaced by the 15 A320s. As much as a showdown seems inevitable, SAA has several options. The least favoured is to challenge the validity of the Airbus claim in court, when that money, should it lose the case, could go towards the new aircraft which SAA is, in any event, going to have to buy in the next few years. What the airline needs is time to come up with the funding. “In the interim we can extend the leases on our Boeings until such time as we are in a position to go ahead with the Airbus deal,” said Smyth. He said SAA had achieved an operational turnaround which would need another three years to generate the capital needed for the acquisition. Airbus was agreeable to the three-year extension but then introduced the deal-busting condition that two long-range A340-500s be added to the list. “We are still evaluating the A340-500s and cannot take them until we are satisfied that they can work for us,” said Smyth. “No airline can afford to be saddled with expensive aircraft that it doesn’t need. We must be satisfied they will not impact negatively on operational efficiency and profitability in the years to come, which is exactly what we are trying to correct.” He said Airbus is a tough negotiator and although the two parties find themselves in an adversarial scenario, he believes that a solution can be found. Airbus, he said, had not issued summons, which indicated there was a will to find a solution. (The manufacturer did not respond to questions on whether it might seek legal recourse if the talks collapsed.) “We are well on the way to be in a position to fund the deal. There will be an operational profit of more than R1-billion, although we may still show a net loss at the end of the financial year, firstly from a hedging loss, and secondly the Airbus deal, which can’t be ignored,” Smyth said. “A substantial amount will have to be put aside for this to satisfy the auditors, whether it be to pay for the aircraft or force a cancellation, which I don’t expect will be necessary.” Airbus described the negotiations with SAA as “constructive”, but added that as they were contractual, they remained confidential. In defence of the A340-500 an Airbus spokesman said: “The A340 remains popular on routes where carriers need the superior takeoff performance of four engines from high-altitude airports (like Johannesburg’s OR Tambo), on long-haul routes.” The question now is whether the government will step in to defuse the standoff or whether SAA will have to go it alone. Another bailout would be hugely unpopular and Smyth and his team are likely to have to stare Airbus down on their own.

DTN News: Pakistan Consumed By Violence As Taliban Power Grows

DTN News: Pakistan Consumed By Violence As Taliban Power Grows *Source: DTN News / Intellpuke
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - July 26, 2009: The Taliban's power in Pakistan continues to grow and it now has entire towns under its control. Under U.S. pressure, the Pakistani army is fighting the Islamists - with limited success. Pakistani intelligence says the Americans are doing more harm than good. Suspected Taliban militants are held by the Pakistan Military at a Military outpost, after capturing them on a security sweep of the area, on July 16, 2009 near Dagar in Buner, Pakistan. Thousands of IDPs have started their journey to their homes, under encouragement of the Pakistan government. The Pakistan military is playing a large role in screening returning IDPs and ensuring their safety in the areas that have now been cleared. Back when Qari Zainuddin still believed that he could win this war, he stood in front of his office in the Pakistani town of Dera Ismail Khan, surrounded by masked men, each of them with an AK-47 at the ready. A few white doves cooed as the sun blazed down on the flat brick buildings. Zainuddin, 26, a powerfully built Taliban commander, was wearing a shimmering, gold-colored cap over his dark hair and a Palestinian scarf wrapped loosely around his shoulders. He was speaking into the microphones of the journalists he had invited. He wrinkled his brow and said quietly that Baitullah Mehsud was no holy warrior, but just an "ordinary terrorist." A few days earlier Mehsud, who was chosen as the leader of the Pakistani Taliban by an alliance of militant Islamist groups and who has committed the largest number of attacks on civilians, soldiers and security forces in his home country, had ordered his men to kill more than 40 people in a mosque. He wants to bring down the government in Islamabad and transform Pakistan into an emirate, just as the Taliban across the border intend to do in Afghanistan. Now Zainuddin was saying that he and his followers, of which he claimed there were 3,000, were going to "destroy" Mehsud. Qari Zainuddin was dead two days later. A bodyguard, one of Mehsud's mercenaries who had infiltrated Zainuddin's ranks, shot him in his sleep.
The news of Zainuddin's death spread like wildfire through Pakistan's North West Frontier Province. The implicit message was that the same fate would await anyone who defies Mehsud or even goes as far as to align himself with the Pakistani army. Aggressive Leadership The Taliban has become so powerful in Pakistan that it can afford internecine battles for dominance. At the same time, the Pakistani army, fired up by the U.S. government, is waging a war against the religious militants in the rugged, inhospitable and hard-to-control border region in the northwest. Islamabad's military offensive has prompted the Taliban to withdraw, and yet it is also expanding its radius deep into the country's interior, reaching as far as major cities like Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad. Day after day, they attack and kill police officers and soldiers, and day after day suicide bombers blow themselves up in markets and mosques. They have committed 218 attacks in the North West Frontier Province this year alone. The death toll from terrorist attacks in Pakistan is now higher than the number of civilian deaths in the war across the border in Afghanistan.
A Taliban fighter looks through binoculars in an undisclosed location in Afghanistan July 14, 2009. Around 4,000 U.S. Marines and hundreds of NATO and Afghan forces are taking part in an offensive in various parts of Helmand province against the Taliban, the biggest by foreign troops since they ousted the Islamist group in 2001. The operation comes ahead of next month's presidential election, which is crucial both for Kabul and for a U.S. administration that has identified Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan as its top foreign policy priority. Pakistan has become synonymous with the threat of terrorism to the world. Americans like Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are urging the government in Islamabad to practice "aggressive leadership," and they want the Pakistani army to crush and kill the extremists on Pakistani soil. The United States sees the prolonged offensive by Pakistani armed forces in the Swat Valley as the prelude to a long and bloody conflict. The new strategy stems from General David Petraeus, the head of United States Central Command. As he did in Iraq, Petraeus, a cool-headed intellectual, intends to stop the "spiral downward" in the war zone which American strategists are now referring to as AfPak. If Petraeus has his way, the Taliban and al-Qaeda will also be defeated in Pakistan, which they repeatedly use as a safe haven after fighting in Afghanistan. For more than two months, the Pakistani army has been battling a leader of the radical Islamic Taliban in the Swat Valley. In return, the Taliban is expanding the combat zone, leaving a trail of blood with attacks across the entire country, from Kashmir in the north to Karachi in the south. Pakistan is not collapsing, but it is being consumed by violence and undermined by the fear that anyone, at any time, can fall victim to the next attack. Maulana Hassan Jan, a religious scholar from Peshawar near the Afghan border, resisted the orgy of violence that is destroying his country. He issued a fatwa against suicide attacks, calling them "un-Islamic". The Taliban killed him. Maulana Sarfraz Naeemi, the prominent director of a Koran school who had also spoken out against the militant extremists, was killed in a suicide bombing. Keeping the Demons in Check No other politician has more influence in the religious arena than Maulana Fazal-ur Rehman, the head of the powerful Islamist party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI). He knows Taliban leader Mullah Omar and al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden personally, and it is said that there are no extremists Rehman could not get in contact with if he wanted to. With his bright orange turban and rotund stomach under his loose-fitting shirt, Rehman looks like a grand vizier in an old painting. He receives visitors in his parliamentary office in Islamabad, with its expansive leather armchairs and red teak furniture. It's been a long time since there was a government in Pakistan where the JUI was not disproportionately represented. Even though the JUI secured only 2.2 percent of the vote in the last parliamentary election, it has three cabinet ministers in the current administration. Rehman's power is derived from a network of hundreds of Koran schools run by members of the JUI, where poor children not only learn to read and write, but also learn about the obligation to wage jihad. Every government has bought itself Rehman's favor with attractive posts and costly gifts, hoping that the popular cleric would keep his demons in check. If he raised his voice against Baitullah Mehsud, it would have an impact, but he would also be placing himself in danger. Instead, he downplays Mehsud and his forces by portraying them as a couple of hooligans up to mischief in the country's northwest. Rehman is from Dera Ismail Khan, a city in the mountainous northwest of the country. There, in the tribal areas, the al-Qaeda leadership around the Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri are believed to be hiding. Dera Ismail Khan is the gateway to South Waziristan, the last major crossroads for insurgents and smugglers, traders and nomads before Pakistan's tribal areas, which, though officially under federal administration, have in truth never been under the government's control. Six hours by car from Islamabad, the city of 70,000 lies on the banks of the Indus River, at the intersection of three provinces: Punjab, Baluchistan and the North West Frontier Province. Destruction of the Old Order The Taliban routinely flee to Dera Ismail Khan to escape attacks by deadly U.S. drones in South Waziristan. They stroll through the abandoned streets above the Topawala Bazaar, and they sit on woven benches in the few teahouses, eating sohan halwa, a confection made of cornmeal, saffron and pistachios. Injured Taliban fighters from Afghanistan come to the city for medical treatment or to spend a few days recovering from the war. The Taliban wear long beards and short collars, the ends of their turbans fall to the backs of their knees, and the seams of their trousers end above their ankles. Their dress is believed to reflect what the Prophet Mohammed wore. The town's residents furtively observe these uninvited guests from the corners of their windows, and they remain in their homes unless going out is absolutely necessary. The women only go out in public wearing a white full-body veil and in the company of a male family member. The Taliban has set fire to CD and DVD businesses whose owners refused to voluntarily close their stores. Very few shops are still open. Two years ago, the city was a vibrant commercial and cultural center. Canals connected to the Indus River irrigate rice fields and help ensure that local farmers can produce succulent mangoes and sweet dates. The colorful floral wreaths typical of the region are famous well beyond its borders. Mystics once converged on Dera Ismail Khan twice a year for Sufi conferences, and there were music concerts for the flute and dhol, a traditional drum. Weekly wrestling matches were held in Haq Nawaz Park, and on Fridays families would pack baskets of sweets and fruit and have picnics on the banks of the Indus, where the boys would hold swimming races and the girls would cheer them on. If you want to die, the Pakistanis say today, then go to Dera Ismail Khan. The old order has been destroyed there, and tribal elders are no longer able to keep the peace. In fact, many tribal leaders themselves have become the targets of violent Islamists and criminal gangs. Dera Ismail Khan has changed since the Americans began, more than a year ago, to regularly fire Hellfire missiles at extremist hideouts in the tribal areas. The attacks ended the tacit ceasefire agreement between the Pakistani government and the militants. Taliban fighters ride on motorbikes in an undisclosed location in Afghanistan July 14, 2009. Around 4,000 U.S. Marines and hundreds of NATO and Afghan forces are taking part in an offensive in various parts of Helmand province against the Taliban, the biggest by foreign troops since they ousted the Islamist group in 2001. The operation comes ahead of next month's presidential election, which is crucial both for Kabul and for a U.S. administration that has identified Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan as its top foreign policy priority. Today, everyone is fighting against everyone else. Baitullah Mehsud's followers toss hand grenades into the cars of rivals as they drive by, and they in turn attack Mehsud's men with roadside bombs. Open exchanges of fire on the street and kidnappings are commonplace. With the exception of a few agents of the Pakistani intelligence agency, hardly anyone is likely to understand which sub-clans of the Mehsuds are currently clashing in Dera Ismail Khan, why the Bhittanis, say, happen to be supporting the army at the moment and why the Gandapurs are trying to remain above the fray. Local residents hardly even venture out to the mosque anymore, and they avoid funerals for fear of attacks on the families of the dead. 'They Forget Their Fear of Death' Foreign intelligence agencies consider the region surrounding Dera Ismail Khan to be one of the world's most important -- and most difficult - operations areas. The US forces use spies to discover the whereabouts of the terrorist leaders they are targeting in South and North Waziristan. Ideally, the local agents can even pinpoint the precise locations to provide target information for deadly missiles. It is difficult to infiltrate the ranks of the extremists, while placing a spy in proximity to one of their senior commanders is virtually impossible. "We have found and killed dozens of tribal members and Afghans," says Khan Jan Mehsud, who introduces himself as a cousin of Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud. After prolonged negotiations, he agrees to meet in a small village about a 20-minute drive from the city. The air is somewhat cooler by now, as a muezzin calls the faithful to evening prayers. Khan Jan Mehsud is wearing a simple shalwar kameez, an outfit that consists of a loose shirt worn over trousers, and a sand-colored cap. Like Baitullah, Khan Jan Mehsud is from Landidog, a village in South Waziristan. Both men are in their mid-30s. "The spies are offered so much money that they forget their fear of death," says Khan Jan Mehsud. "But, you know, our brothers, the Arabs, are more experienced than we are. They have figured out how the Americans' technique works, and we have improved our counterespionage." The Taliban, he says, have a number of unmasked agents in their custody who are currently being "questioned." Mehsud leaves no doubt that few will survive this procedure. Mehsud has a degree in Islamic Studies from Al-Khair University in Dera Ismail Khan and worked in the local administration for several years. When the Americans invaded Afghanistan in late 2001, the Taliban fled across the Pakistani border. At the time, his cousin Baitullah was one of many minor Taliban commanders fighting in Kandahar. The group has now begun to organize the "legitimate liberation struggle" from South Waziristan, says Khan Jan Mehsud. Since then, he has applied the same care and attention to detail that he once employed when analyzing balance sheets to organizing the resistance movement. He finds accommodations for fighters and couriers, distributes money and organizes supplies of weapons and food. Teenage Martyrs Khan Jan Mehsud is only a small cog in a big machine. For the past year-and-a-half, his cousin Baitullah has been the commander of the Taliban in Pakistan, or Tehrik-i-Taliban. According to internal military reports, al-Qaeda is using Mehsud as a bridgehead into the region and, for this reason, provides him with funding. However, the terror is financed from a number of different sources, including the export of drugs, private donors from the Arab world and kidnapping. For young men in the North West Frontier Province, the Taliban fighters are heroes. They give them weapons and responsibility, good pay, security and status. The Pakistani intelligence agency claims to have proof that India, Pakistan's archenemy, is supporting Mehsud in an effort to weaken the country. Baitullah Mehsud's deadly strength lies in the many training camps for suicide bombers in South Waziristan. Most of his suicide candidates are teenagers. "Some parents have even dropped off their children at the entrance," claims Khan Jan Mehsud. "The government has allowed itself to be bought with the Americans' dollars, and the martyrs are sacrificing themselves in the fight against the enemies of Islam," he says dispassionately as a servant rolls up the oilcloth on which dinner is served. "You see, the Americans and their allies are carpet-bombing Afghanistan, occupying the country of our brothers and torturing Muslims in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and Palestine, and in France they forbid our women from wearing the veil. Here they are hunting down Baitullah, who is prepared to die at any second, and yet they, with their high-tech drones, are in the end only murdering civilians. How can a true Muslim remain passive?" A Beautiful Death Mohammed Ullah is maybe 14, 15 at the most, when he records his farewell video. He has pale skin and a thin nose, and he and two friends sit, arm-in-arm, on a bench. All three have volunteered as suicide bombers. When the video is complete, they place Mohammed on a pedestal surrounded by bouquets of flowers.
Taliban fighters are seen in an undisclosed location in Afghanistan July 14, 2009. Around 4,000 U.S. Marines and hundreds of NATO and Afghan forces are taking part in an offensive in various parts of Helmand province against the Taliban, the biggest by foreign troops since they ousted the Islamist group in 2001. The operation comes ahead of next month's presidential election, which is crucial both for Kabul and for a U.S. administration that has identified Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan as its top foreign policy priority.
One after another, they embrace Mohammed, kiss him and speak a few words. Several masked men, apparently higher-ranking Taliban, are also in attendance. They sing a farewell song - a beautiful song for a beautiful death. Mohammed tries to smile. Then he poses in front of the camera once again, this time holding a Kalashnikov that is almost as big as he is. A large radio device is inserted in the packed explosive vest. Mohammed reads the last words of his speech, and he says that he, as a "fedai," a martyr, wishes to fulfill the mission of Baitullah Mehsud. The house in the Swat Valley where the farewell ceremony is being held is decorated with chandeliers and furnished with heavy English upholstered furniture. At dawn, they drive Mohammed Ullah to Charsadda, a city in the west of the North West Frontier Province. His mission is to kill a well-known young politician, Sikandar Sherpao, the 33-year-old son of former Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao, a large landowner who holds liberal views and embodies the old, feudal Pakistan. The Taliban is intent on destroying the country's traditional order and marginalizing tribal leaders and politicians, landlords and mullahs. It is motivated, not by religion or faith, but by the desire to dominate the region On April 3, 2009, vigilant policemen noticed Mohammed Ullah in Charsadda and shot him before he could approach the young Sherpao. A few days later, the police found Ullah's farewell video in a car being driven by a team of two other suicide bombers, come to take revenge for Mohammed Ullah. Everything Is Wrong How much longer can Pakistan endure? Will there ever be Sufi conferences and floral wreaths in Dera Ismail Khan again? When asked these questions, the Pakistani intelligence agency officer merely shakes his head. His office in Islamabad is furnished with a glass table and a modern, expensive leather couch. The general, who prefers to remain anonymous, says that everything was wrong - the Americans coming to Afghanistan and Pakistan, the military offensives, "all wrong." No one knows the Taliban better than the Pakistani intelligence agency. It was the Taliban's mentor for years, and perhaps it still is today. Pakistan has consistently viewed the Taliban as an auxiliary army that gives it influence in Kabul. A weak, dependent Afghanistan is more important to Pakistan than democracy there, or the Americans' goal of decimating the Islamic fundamentalists. The relationship between the Pakistani intelligence agency, a division of the army, and the U.S. armed forces is quite poor at the moment. They disagree on the strategy and objectives of the war in northwestern Pakistan. The Americans are increasing their combat forces and attacking the Taliban in a major ground offensive in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, they use drones to attack al-Qaeda leaders and the Taliban on Pakistani soil. Their goal is to win the war. If the Pakistani government and army had its way, it would rather come to terms with the Taliban in the northwest, and work out another deal and a cease-fire. But why? The intelligence agency general narrows his eyes and leans forward. He says that he wants to tell us a story to make his position clear. It happened in South Waziristan, five years ago, in a village called Kalusha, the epicenter of al-Qaeda operations, as the army was launching a massive offensive in the Pashtun tribal areas. The general fought against, and defeated, Baitullah Mehsud. Then the two men sat down together, the victor and the vanquished. "We treated each other with respect," he says. "But the Americans don't understand that." The general is a Pashtun, like Mehsud. At that time, says the general, the intelligence agency saw Mehsud as a known quantity, someone whose behavior they could predict. "We would have dealt with him our way, just as we deal with everyone, one way or another," says the officer. All that, the general says, has changed since the U.S. military turned Mehsud into a "larger-than-life" figure by declaring him their public enemy No. 1 among the Taliban. According to the general, the "America" factor can now be seen everywhere and in all issues. But it is a factor, he says, that only aggravates Pakistan's problems and makes them impossible to solve.
Intellpuke: It would seem that the U.S. could not sow more discord in Pakistan if it were trying to do so, which I don't believe it is. Over the past half century, and perhaps longer, it seems that whenever the U.S. sends in the troops the officers appear to come with an attitude of "we'll show how to do this right"; as if their modern technological weapons and other modern warfare devices also magically made them master strategists.
Sun-tzu, the 6th Century B.C. Chinese general and military strategist who wrote the "Art of War", wrote that, if you think you may have to go to war with someone, the first thing you must do is get to know your enemy. Learn their language and culture, learn everything you can about their society, military and government structures and learn how they think and react to different situations. Once this is done, it is then time to devise your plan for war. I may be wrong, but it appears the U.S. has sidestepped this tenet in its recent military excursions into other nations.
I can't help but wonder how many of the younger Taliban recruits are the result of what the U.S. refers to as "collateral damage"?
You can read this article by Spiegel correspondents Susanne Koelbl and Sohail Nasir in context here:,1518,638083,00.htmlThis article was translated from the German for Spiegel by Christopher Sultan.

DTN News: U. S. Air Force Plans for All-Drone Future

DTN News: U. S. Air Force Plans for All-Drone Future
*As of 2009 the U. S. Air Force’s robotic drone fleet stands at 195 Predators and 28 Reapers.
*Source: DTN News / Wired By David Axe
(NSI News Source Info) KABUL, Afghanistan - July 26, 2009: An Air Force study, released without much fanfare on Wednesday, suggests that tomorrow’s dogfighers might not have pilots in the cockpit. The Unmanned Aircraft System Flight Plan. which sketches out possible drone development through the year 2047, comes with plenty of qualifiers.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates stands by an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) at Kandahar Air Field in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Leaps in unmanned aircraft technology have military authorities clamoring to use drones for everything from coastal patrols and border surveillance to tracking natural disasters. But fears of midair collisions are slowing any broad expansion of their domestic use.
But it envisions a radical future. In an acronym-dense 82 pages, the Air Force explains how ever-larger and more sophisticated flying robots could eventually replace every type of manned aircraft in its inventory — everything from speedy, air-to-air fighters to lumbering bombers and tankers. Emphasis on “might” and “could.” While revealing how robots can equal the capabilities of traditional planes, the Air Force is careful to emphasize that an all-bot air fleet is not inevitable. Rather, drones will represent “alternatives” to manned planes, in pretty much every mission category. Some of the missions tapped for possible, future drones are currently considered sacrosanct for human pilots. Namely: dogfighting and nuclear bombing. Drones “are unlikely to replace the manned aircraft for air combat missions in the policy-relevant future,” Manjeet Singh Pardesi wrote in Air & Space Power Journal, just four years ago.
Dogfighting was considered too fluid, too fast, for a drone’s narrow “situational awareness.” As for nuclear bombing: “Many aviators, in particular, believe that a ‘man in the loop’ should remain an integral part of the nuclear mission because of the psychological perception that there is a higher degree of accountability and moral certainty with a manned bomber,” Adam Lowther explained in Armed Forces Journal, in June. Despite this, the Air Force identifies a future “MQ-Mc” Unmanned Aerial System for dogfighting, sometime after 2020. The MQ-Mc will also handle “strategic attack,” a.k.a nuke bombing. Less controversial is the conjectural MQ-L, a huge drone that could fill in for today’s tankers and transports. But just because a drone could replace a manned plane, doesn’t necessarily mean it definitely will. “We do not envision replacing all Air Force aircraft with UAS,” Col. Eric Mathewson told Danger Room by email. “We do plan on considering UAS as alternatives to traditionally manned aircraft across a broad spectrum of Air Force missions … but certainly not all.” In other words, in coming years drones might be able to do everything today’s manned planes can do — technically speaking. But the Air Force still might find good reasons — moral, financial or otherwise — to keep people in some cockpits. The Flight Plan represents a new twist in a heated debate raging in Congress over the Pentagon’s 3,000-strong fighter force. The legislature is split over whether to fund more F-22 fighters — a move that could draw a veto from President Barack Obama. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has long favored drone development over buying more manned fighters, and in May Joint Chiefs chair Admiral Mike Mullen predicted Gates’ position would win out, over the long term. “There are those that see [the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter] as the last manned fighter,” Mullen said. “I’m one that’s inclined to believe that.” General Atomics, which makes the popular Predator line of drones, underscored Mullen’s comment by unveiling its new, faster Predator C. If Flight Plan proves an accurate predictor, it’s not just manned fighters (maybe) headed for extinction, but (maybe) nuclear bombers, transports, tankers … nearly all human-occupied military planes.

DTN News: British Forces Lack Of Helicopters 'Puts Injured Troops At Risk'

DTN News: British Forces Lack Of Helicopters 'Puts Injured Troops At Risk'
*Source: DTN News / The Observer, Sunday 26 July 2009 ~ By Mark Townsend, defence correspondent (NSI News Source Info) KABUL, Afghanistan - July 26, 2009: British troops wounded in Afghanistan are enduring lengthy delays before receiving hospital treatment because of a shortage of helicopters, senior army surgeons have claimed. The UH-60 Black Hawk is a four-bladed, twin-engine, medium-lift utility helicopter manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft. Sikorsky submitted the S-70 design for the United States Army's Utility Tactical Transport Aircraft System (UTTAS) competition in 1972. The Army designated the prototype as the YUH-60A and selected the Black Hawk as the winner of the program in 1976, after a fly-off competition with the Boeing Vertol YUH-61. The UH-60A entered service with the Army in 1979, to replace the UH-1 Iroquois as the Army's tactical transport helicopter. Medics in Helmand province, where another soldier died yesterday, said a lack of British aircraft meant that bringing out wounded soldiers takes twice as long as when injured American soldiers were evacuated in Vietnam 40 years ago. An experienced combat surgeon revealed that the lack of helicopters meant UK forces would find it "impossible" to transport their wounded if they did not have access to US Black Hawks. One said that up to 50% of all British "casevacs" - casualty evacuations - use American helicopters. The surgeon, who asked for anonymity, also revealed that the Royal Army Medical Corps and senior military figures had been asking for a dedicated fleet of medevac helicopters since 2007, but their pleas have been rejected by Whitehall. Only two British helicopters, at most, are reserved for attending to wounded soldiers, according to medics, which is not enough to cover the battlefield of Helmand. According to the Ministry of Defence, the average time from injury to handover at a field hospital is one hour 45 minutes, or an hour and 29 minutes for the most severe casualties. In Vietnam, American troops arrived at hospital within 45 minutes, most of them within 25. Reports from surgeons currently based in Helmand to military colleagues have revealed the intensity of opposition facing UK forces. They show that the major field hospital in Helmand, at Camp Bastion, has been using almost four times more blood for transfusions - 42 units a day - than an average general hospital. Major Mike Taylor, medical liaison officer at Task Force Helmand, said helicopters are available 24/7 to evacuate wounded personnel. He said that during current operations, there had never been an occasion where a clinical timeline to get a patient the treatment they required had been missed. Amid increasing casualties, the MoD is to go to the court of appeal on Tuesday in a bid to overturn rulings that two injured troops should have their compensation increased following complications after initial medical treatment. Other wounded soldiers could be in line for higher payouts if the appeal is unsuccessful. • The MoD confirmed the death of another soldier in Helmand yesterday, the 20th to have died in southern Afghanistan this month. The latest fatality, from the 40th Regiment Royal Artillery, died while on a vehicle patrol north of Lashkar Gah.

DTN News: India Glaring Lapses In Gorshkov, Scorpene, Hawk Defence Deals ~ CAG

DTN News: India Glaring Lapses In Gorshkov, Scorpene, Hawk Defence Deals ~ CAG
*Analysis: Internationally, a project for one year takes ten fold longer in India. Decisions are taken at a snail pace and time is wasted on unneccessary red tape bureaucracy. Defense procurement system is politically corrupt, as an example urgently needed Hawk Mk132 advanced jet trainers for Indian Air Force, which took 30 odd years to acquire at the cost of hundreds of young Indian Air Force pilots life. India is the largest democratically governed country in the world as is an examplery system for other nations to follow suit, but at the same time the system is a curse with too many voices and noises, NO ACTION. India should have for some period a system of administration similar to China, which is straightfoward with no two way decision making that would benefit for the betterment of the country at large. (DTN Defense-Technology News)
*Source: DTN News / The Economic Times ~ Rajat Pandit, TNN (NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI, India - July 26, 2009: : Sleazy wheeling and dealing, huge delays and financial irregularities continue to pervade all defence deals. The Comptroller and Auditor General has now hammered the defence establishment for glaring lapses in the two biggest naval projects — acquisition of Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov and indigenous construction of six French Scorpene submarines.
This comes even as India under Russian pressure is getting ready to shell out almost $2 billion (Rs 9,680 crore) over and above what was initially a `fixed price contract' of $974 million for Gorshkov's refit, while the Rs 18,798-crore project to construct six Scorpenes at Mazagon Docks has slipped two years behind schedule, as first reported by TOI.
A senior CAG official, in fact, dubbed the Gorshkov deal as the "biggest defence mess-up" ever, stopping just short of calling it a "scam". ``The defence ministry did not provide us with full cooperation and access to documents for Gorshkov. As for the Scorpene project, undue favour and financial advantage was shown to the French vendor,'' he said.
In its latest report tabled in Parliament on Friday, the nation's auditing watchdog also punched holes in several other major defence projects, including the Rs 8,120-crore project for 66 British Hawk AJTs (advanced jet trainers). Interestingly, this also comes at a time when India is negotiating a follow-on order for 57 more Hawks.
While the desperate need for an aircraft carrier, a modern submarine fleet and AJTs to train rookie pilots cannot be overstated, what the CAG report underlines is a sordid saga of squandering away of public money, without even a hint of long-term strategic planning, whichever be the political dispensation in charge.
If the earlier NDA regime inked the initial $1.5-billion package deal for Gorshkov and the Hawk AJT contract in the run-up to the 2004 general elections, the UPA government in its first avtaar finalised the Scorpene project in October 2005, amid swirling allegations of kickbacks. Coming down particularly heavily on the Gorshkov affair, the CAG report said, ``Indian Navy is acquiring a second-hand refitted carrier that has half the life span and is 60% more expensive than a new one.''
Originally meant to plug the `five-year carrier gap' in the Navy's capabilities from 2007 to 2012, Gorshkov is still a `high-risk' proposition since its delivery acceptance trials may not be completed even by 2012, it added. Russia, as reported earlier, is demanding a whopping $2 billion more over and above the initial $1.5 billion contract of January 2004, under which the carrier refit was pegged at $974 million and the rest earmarked for 16 MiG-29K fighters to operate from its deck.
The CAG report pointed to a 2004 naval assessment that a new aircraft carrier, with a life of 40 years, would cost $1,145 million and take 10 years to build. Gorshkov, in turn, would run for only 20 years. ``The acquisition cost has more than doubled to $1.82 billion in four years,'' said CAG, taking the $1.2-billion figure demanded by Russia in 2007 into account.

DTN News: Pakistan Security Forces Kill 14 Militants, Arrest 29 In Swat Operation

DTN News: Pakistan Security Forces Kill 14 Militants, Arrest 29 In Swat Operation *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - July 26, 2009: Security forces continued search operation in different parts of Swat valley on Saturday, during which 14 suspected militants were killed, 29 were apprehended, and huge ammunition was recovered. Suspected militants being held by security forces after search operations. Pakistan says more than 1,800 militants and 166 security personnel have been killed since April but the death tolls are impossible to verify independently The military continued search and clearance operations across Malakand district and the Swat Valley. ‘During last 24 hours, search and clearance operations were conducted in Swat and Malakand division,’ it said in a daily update on the operation. Ten militants were killed in Buner district and 29 were arrested elsewhere in the region, it said. Troops killed four militants in Swat and destroyed a training camp and a militants’ cave, recovering a huge cache of arms and ammunition, the statement said. Pakistani refugees who were displaced from Swat Valley due to fighting between security forces and Taliban militants, wait to enter Swat Valley at Dargai, Pakistan, Friday, July 24, 2009. Hundreds of thousands of the roughly 2 million people displaced by the fighting in Swat and surrounding areas since April have been returning home after the army said the region was largely cleared of militants. Army special support group has distributed 217,660 cash cards amongst the IDPs of Malakand. Twelve trucks of rations and relief goods have been distributed amongst the IDPs of Malakand in the last twenty four hours.

DTN News: China To Hand Over First Frigate To Pakistan Thursday

DTN News: China To Hand Over First Frigate To Pakistan Thursday
*Source: DTN News / Aaj TV Online - Pakistan Ki Awaz (NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - July 26, 2009: Pakistan Navy would receive first of the four state-of-the-art Frigates F-22P type on July 30 as Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Nauman Bashir has reached China for formal taking over of the fighting vessel, National Assembly Standing Committee on Defence Production was told on Saturday.
The F-22P Class frigate is armed with 8 C-802 surface-to-surface and 8 HHQ-7 (improved ) surface-to-air missiles. However the F-22P uses the Russian AK-176M 76.2mm as its main gun, instead of the Chinese 100mm counterpart. Physically, the F-22P has a stealthier platform as it uses a lot of the Type 054 frigate’s Radar Cross Sectional (RCS) reduction concepts. In 2008, first F-22P frigate (the one on the image) will be transferred to Pakistan Navy. These photos are taken from the shipyard of Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding (Group) Co., Ltd in Shanghai.
The meeting of the parliamentary body was presided over by MNA Sheikh Aftab Ahmed who is also Chairman of the Standing Committee.
Giving briefing to the Standing Committee the representative of the Directorate General of Defence Production said that the weapons systems to be installed on the ship to be handed over to Pakistan have been successfully demonstrated at the optimum performances and ranges.
Pakistan Navy is acquiring four new F-22P class frigates under collaboration with China as first three ships are being constructed at Hudong Shanghai and last one at Karachi Shipyard and Engineering works.
F-22P frigates are equipped with modern weaponry and sensors. Each ship of them will carry Anti-submarine Z9EC helicopters. First batch of two helicopters has arrived in Pakistan. Induction of F-22P frigates will not only enhance the war fighting potential of Pakistan Navy but will also strengthen the indigenous ship building capability of the country.
The representative of Karachi Shipyard apprised the meeting that China with the help of local engineers has started work on the construction of fourth frigate while a number of hurdles were on the way to launch the work to its capacity.
The committee assured of their full cooperation in help alleviating the hurdles on the way to construct the vessel which would pave the way to not only acquire ship making technology but also bring the country in the club of manufacturing huge vessels indigenously. The meeting was attended by its members besides senior officers of the allied departments of the ministry.

DTN News: US Air Force To Have Nuclear-Capable Drones In Near Future

DTN News: US Air Force To Have Nuclear-Capable Drones In Near Future
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) LOS ANGELES, USA - July 26, 2009: The US Air Force maps out a plan for relative drone supremacy in the service where the unmanned aircrafts would fit every operation including nuclear assaults.
On Thursday, the air force released a report envisaging the future replacement of human servicemen and military planes by high-tech drones, The New York Times reported. The drones depicted in the Unmanned Aircraft System Flight Plan range from pilot less aerial vehicles and miniature drones to huge bomber drones fitted with nuclear armaments. (Future drones could take over from versatile bombers like this B-1B Lancer....right image).
Colonel Eric Mathewson in charge of the Air Force's task force on pilot less aerial systems spoke of 'exotic' changes to drone technology from 2020 through the 2040s.
The news comes at a time when Washington faces considerable criticisms over its devastating drone attacks on Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
US drones in these countries have claimed hundreds of civilian lives during attacks on alleged insurgent strongholds. Flight Plan has also portrayed drones capable of aerial refueling and shipments.

DTN News: At Least 16 FARC Rebels Killed In Colombia Bombing

DTN News: At Least 16 FARC Rebels Killed In Colombia Bombing *Source: DTN News / AP
(NSI News Source Info) BOGOTA, Colombia - July 26, 2009: The Colombian military says at least 16 suspected guerrillas and one soldier have been killed in clashes. Colombian army troops passes by one of the seven lorries burnt by guerrillas members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Alto Zaragoza, department of Valle del Cauca, Colombia. Defense Minister Gen. Freddy Padilla says troops faced off with rebels belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, in the southern department of Meta. Padilla says soldiers seized camping equipment, munitions and other items following Friday and Saturday's clashes. He added that the suspected rebels answered to No. 2 FARC commander Jorge Briceno, or "Mono Jojoy."

DTN News: US, South Korea To Hold Joint Military Drills

DTN News: US, South Korea To Hold Joint Military Drills
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) SEOUL, South Korea - July 26, 2009: The United States and South Korea are set to hold a joint military exercise next month amid mounting tension in the Korean peninsula. A US military statement said on Friday that the exercise will involve "10,000 US soldiers and an unspecified number" of South Korean troops.
U.S. soldiers on a military vehicle move in front of an AH-64D Apache attack helicopter of 4th Aviation Attack Battalion 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade at a U.S. air base in Gunsan, about 270 km (168 miles) south of Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, July 21, 2009.
The 10-day long maneuver is scheduled to take place on August 17-27. US military sources noted that the drill also involves "computer-simulated war games designed to improve the allies' ability" to defend the South from any possible attack in the volatile region.
Kim Yong-kyu, a US Forces Korea (USFK) spokesman told reporters that North Korea was "notified this morning of the August exercises."
Pyongyang regularly denounces such exercises as preparations for a US invasion of North Korea. Tension increased on the peninsula after the North conducted its second nuclear test in May. Pyongyang insists that its nuclear program is a deterrent against US forces in the region and accuses US President Barack Obama of plotting with regional allies to topple the communist regime.

DTN News: Russia Says Next START Talks Due By Early September

DTN News: Russia Says Next START Talks Due By Early September
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW, Russia - July 26, 2009: The Russian Foreign Ministry has announced that the next round of talks with the United States on arms cuts is due by early September in Geneva.
A statement from the ministry on Saturday said both sides had reached an agreement but did not confirm an exact date for the meeting, saying it was most likely to take place at the end of August or in early September.
Russian and American officials agreed to continue the talks on a new strategic arms reduction treaty to replace START 1 after a round of talks, which ended in Geneva on Friday.
President Dmitry Medvedev and his US counterpart, Barack Obama, signed an agreement on July 6, outlining the basic elements of the final treaty Both sides have pledged to drastically cut their countries' nuclear arsenals to 1,500-1,675 operational warheads and their delivery vehicles to 500-1,000.
Moscow has linked progress in the talks for a new 10-year agreement to concessions on Washington's unpopular plans for an anti-missile defense system in two ex-Soviet republics in Eastern Europe.
The 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty expires in December.

DTN News: In Afghanistan, Taliban Targets Government Buildings

DTN News: In Afghanistan, Taliban Targets Government Buildings *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) KABUL, Afghanistan - July 26, 2009: Amid the worsening security situation in Afghanistan, Taliban militants target several government buildings in unprecedented attacks on the southeastern city of Khost.U.S. Army Specialist Hernandez from Dagger Company, 2-12 Infantry, 4th Brigade patrols through the village of Kandigal in the Pesh Valley in Afghanistan's Kunar Province July 25, 2009. This brigade is part of NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
According to the Afghan Defense Ministry, militants attacked three government buildings including a commercial bank in the town and started fighting pitched battles with security forces. The militants who attacked the buildings are said to have been well-armed.
Three bomb blasts were also heard near the site of the clashes. The attacks come amid rising insurgency in the country ahead of the critical presidential elections scheduled for August 20.
A spokesman for the Taliban-aligned Haqqani network has claimed to have "inflicted heavy casualties" to the Afghan security forces during the clashes.
Violence has escalated across Afghanistan since tens of thousands of additional US Marines and British troops joined the mission and new offensives have been launched in the southern province of Helmand, the heartland of the Taliban.
Violence this year has reached its highest level since the US first ousted the Taliban from Afghanistan in 2001.