Sunday, August 16, 2009

DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY August 16, 2009 ~ Tight Security In Place For Elections Day In Afghanistan

DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY August 16, 2009 ~ Tight Security In Place For Elections Day In Afghanistan
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) KABUL, Afghanistan - August 16, 2009: Top government officials responsible for security in Afghanistan say there is no way to ensure the Taliban will not be able to cause civilian casualties before the election or on the day of voting.
An Afghan woman passes a policeman keeping guard in a wheat field for a campaign rally nearby for Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Bamiyan, located in central Afghanistan August 16, 2009. Afghanistan is scheduled to hold it's presidential elections on August 20.
Afghanistan's military is declaring a one-day unilateral cease-fire for election day Thursday, saying troops will only take defensive positions to prevent Taliban violence against polling stations. Afghan soldiers walking on patrol in KabulThe top government ministers responsible for security are defending their efforts four days before the presidential election and one day after a Taliban suicide car bombing in the capital. The attack outside the front gates of NATO headquarters in the most heavily guarded part of the capital killed seven people and injured nearly 100. Speaking to reporters, the interior minister, the defense minister and the national security chief gave no promises there will not be another such event this week, but said they are doing their best to protect voters. Interior Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar Interior Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar says 62 attempted attacks were thwarted in Kabul in the last six months, but the 63rd succeeded. "Such terrorist attacks will not break the resolve of our nation. They [voters] will go to polling stations. They will vote for the person of their choice," said Atmar.
"And they will show again and demonstrate their remarkable courage and resilience."
The defense minister, General Abdul Rahim Wardak, noted that even nations with "100-fold" more security resources, mentioning the United States, Britain, Spain, India, Indonesia and Pakistan, have not been able to prevent all attempted terrorist attacks. General Wardak explained that, on election day, the domestic and international forces are preparing "for the worst possible scenario" and will have four-tiers of security in place. The international forces will handle the two outer tiers on the ground and in the air for the thousands of polling stations nationwide.
The defense minister expresses hope all "arrangements, planning, rehearsals and exercises" will adequately secure all the nearly 29,000 voting sites. "There is no doubt that the total security forces of the international community and the Afghans are not enough to cover this much of area and this much of population based on the requirement mentioned in the counter-insurgency manuals," said Wardak. "But still we will do our best."
The four-star general also announced a unilateral cease-fire on election day, saying Afghan forces will only be on the defensive to prevent violence. The Taliban are vowing to attack polling places and disrupt the election process.
An estimated 17 million Afghans are eligible to vote. The legitimacy of the election depends on a sufficient turnout. Voters have several dozen presidential candidates to choose among, including the favorite and incumbent, Mr. Hamid Karzai. More than 400 councilor seats in 34 province are also being contested.

DTN News: Pakistan Army Creating No Hurdle In Former President Pervez Musharraf’s Trial Says Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Gilani

DTN News: Pakistan Army Creating No Hurdle In Former President Pervez Musharraf’s Trial Says Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Gilani *Analysis: This is part of Pakistan's history, if the predecessor is not dead, he would be tried. In case of former president Pervez Musharraf, there are many factors for his trial . Firstly, to topple constitutional and democratically elected government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Secondly, amending the constitution and sacking Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammed Chaudhry was unlawful act and also Pervez Musharraf should be tried for Kargil conflict as he engineered the unpopular event. When the conflict began and concluded the entire Northern Light Infantry was wiped out and 2,700 personnel were martyred and hundreds others injured. The number of those martyred was more than those killed in the wars of 1965 and 1971 together. (DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News)
(NSI News Source Info) SHEIKHUPURA, Pakistan - August 16, 2009: Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Saturday the law would take its course in the case of former president Pervez Musharraf. We have no love for him and neither the army has anything to do with the trial nor is it creating any hurdle: PM Gilani. ‘We have no love for him and neither the army has anything to do with the trial nor is it creating any hurdle,’ the prime minister told newsmen after inaugurating a rental power plant on the Sheikhupura Road here. About the Swat situation, he said a major part of it had been cleared of terrorists, but there were problems at a few places that they would be sorted out shortly. The army would stay there till restoration of the writ of the government, he added. He said the National Finance Commission had been re-constituted and the award would be announced soon. ‘We had flour shortage, terrorism attacks, Indian threats following the Mumbai incident, loadshedding and sugar crisis. The government has overcome some of the crises with the support of the masses and it is taking effective measures to deal with the rest,’ the prime minister said. In reply to a question about rise in power tariff after installation of rental power plants, Mr Gilani said no such move was on the cards at present.

DTN News: Colombia Wants Military Pacts With Brazil, Others South American Countries

DTN News: Colombia Wants Military Pacts With Brazil, Others South American Countries
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) MEDELLIN, Colombia - August 16, 2009: Colombia would like to increase its military ties with Brazil and other South American countries, President Alvaro Uribe said on Friday in the face of criticism over an pending security pact with Washington.
Colombia's new Defense Minister Gabriel Silva shakes hands with a soldier during a visit to a military base in La Macarena province in Meta August 9, 2009.
Uribe's government is expected to sign a deal this month giving U.S. forces increased access to military bases in order to better fight the cocaine trade and Marxist insurgents.
The left-wing government of Venezuela has blasted the plan as a threat to regional stability. The moderate government of Brazil has also voiced concern over the pact.
"We would like the accord with the United States to be projected throughout the continent," Uribe told a business conference in the city of Medellin."
We would like to have it with Brazil," he said. "I do not see this pact with the United States as incompatible with having pacts with other countries as well."
Brazil, South America's biggest country and largest economy, is building up its armed forces as part of a push to increase its role on the world stage.
Washington has given billions of dollars in military assistance to Colombia, helping Uribe put the insurgents on the defensive. But the country remains the world's biggest producer of cocaine.

DTN News: FACTBOX ~ Details On U.S. military In Latin America

DTN News: FACTBOX ~ Details On U.S. military In Latin America *Source: DTN News / Reuters
(NSI News Source Info) BOGOTA, Colombia - August 16, 2009: Colombia is poised to sign a deal to allow the U.S. military more access to its bases to enhance counter-drug operations after Washington lost access to a base at Manta, Ecuador it used for surveillance flights. The United States has a long and unfortunate history of creating and feeding military violence in Latin America. From the Cold War era to the War on Drugs and Terror today, U.S. military aid and training in the hemisphere have contributed to human rights violations, supported corrupt and cruel governments, and protected the economic interests of multinational corporations and national elites at the expense of the poor majority. Witness for Peace monitors the on-the-ground impacts of U.S. tax dollars in Latin America and works to change our foreign policy so that we can support human rights and sustainable development. The proposal in Colombia has triggered ire among its Andean neighbors, especially Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a fierce U.S. critic, who says the plan could trigger war in South America. Other leaders called it worrisome. U.S. officials say the plan is just an extension of existing cooperation with Colombia. Here are details of current U.S. military operations at local installations in Latin America and the Caribbean: COLOMBIA U.S. military personnel: Approximately 268. A key operation in the region, the U.S. military in Colombia is involved mainly in training, logistical support and some intelligence backup for the Colombian armed forces to enhance their fight against cocaine traffickers and leftist FARC guerrillas. The United States has provided more than $5 billion in aid to Colombia since 2000. The current accord caps staff at 800 military and 600 civilian contractors. GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA U.S. military personnel: Approximately 1,900. The largest operation in Latin America is the joint task force at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard personnel are involved in detention operations on the island. HONDURAS U.S. military personnel: Approximately 650. Joint task force Bravo at the Soto Cano Air Base, involving Army and Air Force, mainly to support disaster relief operations, humanitarian assistance and counter-drug operations. EL SALVADOR U.S. military personnel: Approximately 150. A Forward Operating Location, or FOL, at local Comalapa Air Base installation. Navy officials and air crews are involved in drug surveillance missions in the eastern Pacific from the Central American country. ARUBA-CURACAO U.S. military personnel: Approximately 250. Another FOL in the Netherlands Antilles islands. Air Force crew and ground and support staff involved in counter-narcotics surveillance operations in an area that includes Colombia's Guajira Peninsula and the Venezuelan frontier region. MANTA, ECUADOR U.S. military personnel at time of full operation: Approximately 250, but currently less than 100 as the mission wraps up. U.S. FOL operation on Ecuador's Pacific coast was once a key piece in its counter-narcotics surveillance operations. Before leftist President Rafael Correa decided not to renew the deal, the base carried out more than 5,000 drug surveillance flights.
* Information from U.S. military's Southern Command, U.S. State Department, Reuters. (Reporting by Patrick Markey in Bogota; Editing by Will Dunham)

DTN News: Gunbattles Between Islamic Radicals And Hamas Security Forces Kills 13, Wounds 100 In Gaza

DTN News: Gunbattles Between Islamic Radicals And Hamas Security Forces Kills 13, Wounds 100 In Gaza *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - August 16, 2009: Islamic radicals from an al-Qaida-inspired group battled Hamas security in the Gaza Strip Friday in shootouts that killed at least 13 people. Members of Hamas security forces stand guard outside al-Awdah mosque during the funeral of Hamas policemen who were killed during the clashes in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip August 15, 2009. Palestinian Islamists Hamas struck back at an al-Qaeda challenge to their grip on the Gaza Strip by storming a mosque in overnight battles that left the leader of the "Warriors of God" splinter group among up to 28 dead. After fighting ended early on Saturday the town of Rafah was sealed off to media. The fighting began when Hamas forces surrounded a mosque in the southern Gaza town of Rafah where about 100 members of Jund Ansar Allah, or the Soldiers of the Companions of God, were holed up, including some armed with suicide belts and rifles, according to residents of the area. The confrontation was triggered when the leader of the group defied Gaza’s Hamas rulers by declaring in a Friday prayer sermon that the territory was an Islamic emirate. Jund Ansar Allah and a number of other small, shadowy radical groups seek to enforce an even stricter version of Islamic law in Gaza and have criticized Hamas for not doing so. They are also upset that the Hamas regime has honored a cease-fire with Israel for the past seven months. Hamas has said it seeks to set an example and does not impose its views on others. It also says its violent struggle is against Israel, not the Western world. The more radical groups’ calls for global Jihad undermines Hamas’ attempt to appear more moderate to Western eyes. The hard-line groups are perhaps the most serious opposition Hamas has faced since it seized control of Gaza and ousted its rivals in the Fatah movement in a five-day, bloody civil war in June 2007. The leader of Jund Ansar Allah, Abdel-Latif Moussa, warned Hamas forces against trying to enter the mosque compound. “If Hamas does that, it will be their end,” he said. Shortly afterward, a gunbattle broke out between the militants inside the mosque and Hamas forces surrounding it. Hamas officers then raided the mosque. The group’s leader had already fled the mosque, and Hamas forces surrounded his house later and waged another gunbattle with his men. A large explosion was heard from Moussa’s home late Friday, and the house partially collapsed, witnesses and security officials reported. It was unclear whether the explosion was set off by Hamas forces or militants with explosives holed up inside. Hamas has closed off the area and ambulances have been unable to access the scene of the fighting. At least 13 people were killed in both gunbattles, including a senior Hamas official and an 11-year-old girl, according to Gaza health official Moaiya Hassanain. Over 150 people were wounded, including 29 in serious condition, many of whom were civilians caught in the crossfire, Hassanain said. Hamas government spokesman Taher Nunu said the Hamas leadership was engaging in an operation against “outlaws” and called on Moussa’s followers to surrender to the authorities. Jund Ansar Allah first came to public attention in June after it claimed responsibility for a failed attempt to attack Israel from Gaza on horseback. The group claims inspiration from al-Qaida, but no ties have been confirmed. In July, three Muslim extremists from the group holed themselves up in a building in southern Gaza, surrendering to Hamas police only after a lengthy standoff. It is unclear how many members Jund Ansar Allah or other similar extremist groups have in Gaza.

DTN News: German, Greek Commandos Thwart Pirate Attack

DTN News: German, Greek Commandos Thwart Pirate Attack
*Source: DTN News / Reuters
(NSI News Source Info) BERLIN, Germany - August 16, 2009: A German Navy helicopter thwarted a suspected pirate attack on a Turkish ship in the Gulf of Aden on Friday by firing warning shots at a speed boat as it approached the MS Elgiznur Cebi, the German armed forces said. Responding to a call for help from the Turkish vessel, the German helicopter from the warship Bremen, part of a European Union mission to combat piracy, spotted a speed boat with six people and ladders in it. It fired warning shots and the speed boat stopped. A Greek naval vessel, the HS Narvarinon, also responded to the call for help then boarded the speedboat and discovered weapons on board. Piracy has surged off the Somali coast in recent years where sea gangs continue to defy foreign navies patrolling the vast shipping lanes linking Asia and Europe. Germany has two warships patrolling in the region. Piracy attacks around the world more than doubled to 240 from 114 during the first six months of the year, according to the ICC International Maritime Bureau's Piracy Reporting Centre. (Writing by Erik Kirschbaum)