Uzbekistan has agreed to allow the United States to transport non-military supplies through its territory to neighbouring Afghanistan, President Islam Karimov said on Wednesday.
"Uzbekistan has agreed to allow non-military, I underline, non-military cargo to be transited through Uzbek territory to Afghanistan, in accordance with existing Uzbek legislation," Karimov told reporters. "Uzbekistan is participating in the development of the communication and transport infrastructure of Afghanistan. We've started a construction project on a railway from the (Uzbek) city of Termez to (the northern Afghan city of) Mazar-e Sharif," he said.
The US has been seeking new transit routes to supply coalition forces in increasingly unstable Afghanistan since nearby Kyrgyzstan announced the closure of a key US airbase on its territory earlier this month. Karimov, speaking at a press conference with Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, described the significance of the agreement as "very high". General David Petraeus, head of Central Command, which oversees the region, travelled to Uzbekistan last week for a visit widely seen as a sign Washington was seeking to use the country as a transit route for Afghanistan.
The military gets tagged to haul stuff for State, civic action programs, NGOs, etc. All that can be shifted. Now as to duel use materials, I guess we can use the same standards that the Euros, Russkies, and Chinese use when shipping stuff to Iran or other workers paradises.
The former leader of Algeria's Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), Abassi Madani, whose party was poised to win parliamentary elections before the army interfered in 1992, called on Tuesday for a boycott of this year's presidential elections.
Madani, who has lived in Qatar since being freed from a 12-year jail term in 2003 and banned from political activity in his home country, said that the April 9 poll, which is also being boycotted by the two main legal opposition parties, served no useful purpose.
" The elections in Algeria are a way to consecrate a rotten reality "
"The elections in Algeria are a way to consecrate a rotten reality," the FIS founder said in a statement.
"Algeria is on a path from bad to worse with no end. There is no way to end this situation but to change the regime as soon as possible."
"Boycotting the elections is the only legitimate way for the people to express their rejection of the deteriorating situation," Madani added.
Incumbent President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who was first elected in 1999 and is now 72, on Monday formally presented his candidacy for re-election.
(AKI) - An unnamed witness is said to have seen two men place in front of a hotel the deadly bomb that on Sunday exploded in a Cairo bazaar. The men then fled in a taxi that was waiting for them, the witness said. "I saw a man who had a plastic bag, go towards the hotel, where he met another man who was waiting for him. "The second man placed the plastic bag on the stone altar in the square, and soon after the explosion happened," said the witness quoted by Egyptian daily al-Masri al-Youm.
The witness, who was in the square with her sons to take photos, also claims to have followed the alleged culprits of the bomb attacks to an area near Cairo called Halmiya al-Zeitoun. "Then I saw both men running towards a taxi that was waiting for them in the al-Azhar street. There were two other men and the driver had a black beard. The taxi escaped and I followed them with my car until I saw them arrive in the area of Halmiya al-Zeitoun. Both men then entered an old house while the taxi drove off," said the witness.
The witness also claims to have asked a shopkeeper who were the two men, who claimed their names are Marwan and Naser. "I thought of filming them with the video camera I had on me, but I was afraid of being discovered, and I just left," she said.
Egyptian police have already interrogated several owners of firework shops that sell the material used for the explosive devices. At least three suspects have been arrested over the blast, which struck a hotel's open-air cafe packed with tourists next to the crowded Khan al-Khalili bazaar in Cairo at the on Sunday.
A 17 year-old French teenage girl was killed and 24 others were injured in the bombing. The wounded included three Saudis, 13 French, a German and four Egyptians.
The attack was the first targeting tourists in Egypt for three years. The banned Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, and its extremist offshoot Gamaa Islamiya on Monday condemned the bomb attack.
A plot to blow up transatlantic airliners on their way to North America mid-flight was "orchestrated" from overseas, a British court heard on Wednesday.
Prosecutors alleged eight Islamic fundamentalists who had aimed to cause death on an "almost unimaginable scale" were directed by masterminds overseas to take bombs disguised as soft drinks onto United States and Canada-bound planes. "Those responsible for making significant decisions in implementation of the plot -- the utilisation of the active cell of bombers, the date -- was all to be decided overseas," prosecutor Peter Wright told Woolwich Crown Court in southeast London.
Wright, who had indicated the masterminds were based in Pakistan, added "This was not some half-baked plot by any group of enthusiastic amateurs dreaming up schemes over a kitchen table in east London".
POLICE have raided a Tokyo trading company suspected of attempting to export to North Korea equipment that can be used to make missiles, reports said. Public broadcaster NHK said the company, Toko Boeki, was suspected of trying to send the magnetic measuring instruments, which could be used to make missiles, to North Korea via a third country.
The trading house is reportedly linked to the North Korean residents' association in Japan, Chongryon. Police declined to confirm the reports.
Under Japanese law, exports of instruments which can be used to make weapons of mass destruction must be approved by the trade minister. Japan has intensified pressure on North Korea since Pyongyang tested missiles and a nuclear bomb in 2006.
North Korea said Tuesday that it was preparing to launch a satellite, a move that the US and its allies believe could be a long-range missile test.
Tokyo's relations with North Korea remain tense particularly over Pyongyang's kidnappings of Japanese civilians in the 1970s and 1980s, a major political issue here. In 2007, Japanese police raided Chongryon buildings in central Tokyo over allegations that an ethnic Korean illegally tried to export medication to the impoverished communist state.
There are 600,000 Koreans in Japan, many of them descendants of forced labourers during the Japanese rule of the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945.
President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the United States has opened a new era of diplomatic engagement, vowing to seek peace in the Middle East and to chart a new course in Afghanistan. He vowed to eliminate wasteful spending in Iraq and promised that the U.S. will no longer 'hide' the price of wars in both Iraq and afghanistan.
Obama, delivering his first address to Congress, declared unequivocally that the U.S. will not torture prisoners but also pledged to swiftly punish captured terrorists.
"In words and deeds, we are showing the world that a new era of engagement has begun," Obama told a joint session of Congress little more than a month after he took office.
Truthfully, if someone wants an Army career, they should be discouraged from going to West Point. Graduates of that institution are looked at with suspicion, at best, and distaste or outright enmity. The smarter ones hide their ring and never bring up where they came from.
Importantly, it is less institutional prejudice than the exposure to bad behavior, based in bad training, of academy graduates. Many of them are lacking in tact, have a bad attitude, treat enlisted personnel poorly, and offend their superiors.
Those with the wit to hide their history could get by, but the few who loudly announced their status were some of the worst, most despised officers I ever met.
One in particular was amazing. He made it a point to offend not one, but four war heroes, insulted several community VIPs, embarrassed his senior rater, openly despised senior NCOs, and treated junior NCOs as his personal servants.
The man was positively gifted. I'm surprised he never got fragged.
my dad did pretty well as a young NCO in the 101st back in the early 60s and was rewarded by his Bn C.O. w/going to West Point to help train plebes (or whatever they call them now) over a summer period or some such. He said after his summer at West Point and dealing w/the Army's future officer classes he decided not to re-enlist when his time came. He didn't like the false sense of entitlement they had.
We only get about 11% of our officers from the naval academy. They get a bad rap to - I've known several of them and think they were 50/50 as far as peers go, I can see why our enlisted would think they were assholes. A couple were real arrogant. Arrogance is the scourge of the modern military. (or of any military at any time in history.)
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told lawmakers Wednesday that the agency cannot meet its 2012 deadline for radiological and nuclear screening of all cargos coming into the United States.
Napolitano is the first security chief to leave out the words "terror" and "vulnerability" in testimony before the committee
At her first hearing before the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee, Napolitano said the 2012 deadline set by Congress is not going to work.
"To do 100 percent screening requires agreements with many countries," Napolitano said, echoing a position taken by officials in the former Bush administration.
A law passed by Congress in 2007 requires the Homeland Security Department to screen all cargo headed for the United States by 2012. About 11.5 million containers come into the country each year.
Total screening also could significantly slow commerce at busy ports, and at least 27 countries and major industry associations have found significant problems with how they would be affected by the law.
Among the major obstacles to meeting the deadline is deploying trained U.S. officials to more than 700 foreign ports to operate scanning equipment.
Napolitano said the agency currently screens almost all cargo containers considered suspicious. She has said she agrees with the concept of catching threats before they reach the United States.
Earlier, Napolitano discussed the department's role in preparing for threats. Deviating from her prepared remarks, she said that terrorism is among those threats.
Unlike her predecessors, Napolitano used less terror-specific rhetoric when discussing the agency. At one point she said the issue for the department when dealing with terror is "How do we respond and recover with resiliency and efficiency?"
A comparison of her prepared remarks with those of her two predecessors found that Napolitano is the first security chief to leave out the words "terror" and "vulnerability" in testimony before the committee.
As federal authorities press their case against a Tustin man accused of lying about ties to Al-Qaeda, they disclosed this week that some evidence came from an informant who infiltrated Orange County mosques and allegedly recorded the defendant discussing jihad, weapons and plans to blow up abandoned buildings. On Wednesday, a man who claims to be that informant stepped forward, filing court documents saying that he had served as a confidential informant for the FBI from July 2006 to October 2007 to identify and thwart terrorist operations in the Orange County Islamic community.
The claim by Craig Monteilh, a 46-year-old Irvine resident, that he had been sent by the FBI to infiltrate several Orange County mosques could affect the government's case against Ahmadullah Sais Niazi. His allegations highlight recurring issues about the use of informants by law enforcement agencies and have fanned long-held fears by some Muslim leaders about religious profiling.
Monteilh said in interviews that he had alerted the FBI to Niazi after meeting him at the Islamic Center of Irvine in November 2006 and spending eight months with him. Monteilh said he called himself Farouk Al-Aziz and posed as a Syrian-French American in search of his Islamic roots. Monteilh told the FBI that Niazi befriended him and began to lecture him about jihad, gave him lessons in bomb-making and discussed plots to blow up Orange County landmarks. "He took me under his wing and began to radicalize me," Monteilh said.
The FBI declined to comment on Monteilh's allegations, which could not be independently verified. Niazi's attorney, deputy federal public defender Chase Scolnick, also declined to comment. But an FBI agent's testimony in the case Tuesday and interviews with Muslim leaders both appeared to bolster some of Monteilh's assertions about his role in the case.
Special Agent Thomas J. Ropel III testified at a bail hearing for Niazi that the defendant had been secretly recorded by an informant while initiating jihadist rhetoric and threatening to blow up abandoned buildings. Ropel did not name Monteilh but testified that the agency's informant was the same man Muslims had reported to the FBI as an extremist. In June 2007, the Council on American-Islamic Relations reported Monteilh to the FBI as a possible terrorist, said Hussam Ayloush, the council's executive director in Anaheim.
Ayloush said he was "100% sure" that Monteilh was the informant in question and expressed anger and disappointment that the FBI would infiltrate mosques. He accused officials of trying to entrap innocent Muslims, noting that Monteilh has been convicted of grand theft and forgery in the past. He said Muslims had worked hard to develop a partnership with the FBI -- and had been assured by J. Steven Tidwell, then assistant director in charge of the Los Angeles field office, at an Irvine forum in 2006 that their mosques were not being monitored. Now, Ayloush said, he has doubts about future relations with the FBI. "This is religious profiling at its worst," Ayloush said about the FBI operation.
The Afghanistan-born Niazi, 34, was arrested last week and is scheduled to be arraigned next month on suspicion of perjury, naturalization fraud, misuse of a passport obtained by fraud and making a false statement to a federal agency. Niazi, who has lived in the United States since 1998 and earned citizenship five years ago, is related by marriage to Amin al-Haq, an Afghan militant who fought the Soviet occupation of the 1980s with a U.S.-backed Islamic resistance force that now is branded an Al Qaeda affiliate. Niazi is accused of failing to disclose those ties during his application for citizenship. Niazi asserted after his arrest last week that he is an innocent man who is being retaliated against by the FBI for refusing to become an informant.
In Tuesday's bail hearing, Ropel asserted that Niazi was a danger to the community who should be held without bail. But prosecutors offered no testimony regarding the specific plots Monteilh says he told the FBI that he discussed with Niazi, allegedly involving attacks on Orange County shopping centers, military installations and court buildings. Nor was there any testimony about other mosque members allegedly having been involved in those or other terrorist activities, as Monteilh maintains was the case.
Ayloush said he had received numerous complaints from Muslims in 2007 that Monteilh was aggressively promoting terrorist plots and trying to recruit others to join him. Citing such behavior and saying that it made members of the mosque feel threatened, the Islamic Center of Irvine won a temporary restraining order in June 2007 that barred Monteilh from the mosque.
Monteilh filed a petition Wednesday to lift the restraining order, saying that he wanted to clear his name from any suspicion of terrorist activity. He had not contested the original order, he said, because he had been instructed by the FBI not to testify at the hearing. But he said he was speaking out now because the FBI had allegedly violated pledges to remove the restraining order, place him in a witness protection program, give him a final payment of $100,000 and grant other benefits in an exit package. "Although the FBI has not fulfilled their promises, I am proud to have participated in the War on Terror," Monteilh said in the petition.
Monteilh, burly and bald, said he first began working for the FBI in late 2003 as an informant on white supremacist and narcotics cases after making connections with the Aryan Brotherhood during a prison stint for forgery. In 2006, he alleges, he agreed to infiltrate mosques. During two weeks of training, Monteilh said in an interview with The Times, he was taught about Islam, Arabic, self-defense and weapons. He said he was outfitted with video and audio recording devices and given specific names of people to monitor. Monteilh said he also was instructed to progress slowly in his embrace of Islam to make his conversion seem natural -- wearing Western clothes initially and then eventually growing a beard and donning an Egyptian robe, shawl and head cap.
In August 2006, Monteilh said, he approached his first target: the Islamic Center of Irvine. There, he alleges, he made his declaration of the Islamic faith known as shahada and, as instructed by his FBI handlers, posed as a serious student of Islam. Several Muslims began to embrace him, he told the FBI, and by December he was approached by Niazi. The pair dined at an Islamic Chinese restaurant in Anaheim and hit it off after Monteilh pledged that he would do everything he could to protect Muslims from harm by infidels. He described Niazi as highly intelligent, devout, resourceful and scholarly, with a temperate mien overlaying the passion of his cause.
In an interview, Monteilh alleged that he told the FBI that Niazi told him that he had been one of 200 people who greeted Osama Bin Laden in 1996 when he took refuge in Afghanistan after being expelled from Sudan. Niazi called Bin Laden an "angel," Monteilh said -- an assertion that FBI Agent Ropel repeated this week as information gleaned from the agency's informant. Ropel testified Tuesday that Niazi told the informant that it was his "duty to engage in violent jihad."
Over a year, Monteilh further related in an interview, the FBI paid him sums ranging from $2,500 a month to as high as $11,200. Monteilh said he was cut loose as an informant in fall 2007 because members of the mosque he infiltrated began to suspect that he was working with the FBI.
Kenneth Piernick, a former FBI counter-terrorism official who is a consultant in Virginia, said parsing out what's true and what's not, even from someone deemed to be a reliable informant, can be challenging. "You don't go talk to choirboys to get information on thugs," said Piernick, who retired from the bureau in 2003.
He said informants can be egotistical, manipulative and dishonest. Those who are getting paid, he said, have been known to "exaggerate information, or even invent it" to keep the money flowing. Piernick said common reasons for discontinuing an informant include low-quality or unreliable information. "In other words, he's not worth the effort," Piernick said.
(AKI/Asian Age) - A report claims that insurgency in India is being fuelled by foreign countries, mostly developed nations, who are supplying high-end arms and ammunition to Maoists and insurgents operating in nearly a dozen states in India
Insurgents no longer depend on country-made guns and pistols and have to their disposal US-made carbines, Russian made AK assault rifles, Israeli guns and Chinese pistols which are frequently being used against security forces, according to latest inputs given by security agencies to the Indian home ministry.
The recovery of arms by security forces in 2008 has doubled from the previous year, posing a fresh security concern for security agencies grappling with left-wing extremism.
Russian-made guns are the most popular among insurgents, says the report, while Pakistan-made Pika guns, China-made pistols, as well as Belgium and US-made guns top the list of arms frequently being used by militants against Indian security forces in insurgency-hit Jammu and Kashmir.
The report says that Indian security forces seized 1714 arms from militants in 2008, double from the previous year.
Indicating a steep rise in Maoist activities in Orissa over the last two years, security forces recovered the highest 1040 arms in 2008 as compared to only 27 arms in 2007.
The report reveals that Maoists in Chattisgarh are also manufacturing arms locally, which include guns, bomb projector, pipe guns, mortar shells and revolvers.
Who the hell would be financing Indian Maoists? The Chinese? Jihadi money would go to, well, Islamist insurgencies, one would think.
I just assumed that they were getting their funding the traditional way - gangsterism and drug smuggling.
Posted by: Mitch H. ||
PAKISTANI DEFENCE FORUM > NEW DELHI: USA, INDIA MUST WORK TOGETHER TO CHECK CHINA'S GROWING ARSENAL [Mil buildup]. Analyst Richard Fisher also claims that CHINA INTENDS TO USE THE MOON AS A MILITARY = SPAWAR BASE???
Pakistan is on a rapid trajectory to failure as a stable, democratic state and needs a boost of $4 billion in US aid and loans each year to begin turning around, a private foreign affairs group has concluded.
"Time is running out," said the Atlantic Council, which urged more training and deployment of 15,000 Pakistani police within six months to bring order to the country.
Chance: "Given the tools and the financing, Pakistan can turn back from the brink," the report said. "But for that to happen, it needs help now."
The Pakistan government has six to 12 months to implement economic and security policies, or "face the very real prospect of considerable domestic and political turbulence", said the report.
The US has given Pakistan about $12.3 billion in military and economic aid. The US Government Accountability Office says the US lacks a coordinated strategy in disbursing the aid and warns that Al Qaeda 'continues to operate freely in Pakistan's un-policed Tribal Areas'.
Vice President Joe Biden, former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Republican Senator Richard Lugar, the panel's senior Republican, proposed last summer authorising $7.5 billion over five years in non-military aid for Pakistan. Similar legislation sponsored by Lugar and the new committee chairman, Democratic Senator John Kerry, is expected this year.
Kerry and Republican former Sen Chuck Hagel are the Atlantic Council's honorary chairmen. Hagel, having left the Senate, is now council chairman.
The Obama administration, meanwhile, began a policy review this week with senior officials from Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Here for the talks, Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Wednesday he was pleased with moves to increase US assistance to his country. "We need economic stability," said Qureshi in an interview with The Associated Press. "Until we have economic stability we will not be able to get political stability." He would not put a price tag on Pakistan's needs.
The report itself said it was sounding an alarm "that we are running out of time to help Pakistan change its present course toward increasing economic and political instability, and even ultimate failure". The situation has grown even more urgent, it said, with the November terror attacks in Mumbai. The report urged Pakistan to show it is serious in pursuing the perpetrators and other terrorists and terror organisations.
"The Mumbai crisis has yet to run its course," said the report. "The use of military force or other coercive action must be avoided."
Another concern in the report is that Pakistan might feel forced to enter negotiations with the Taliban and other insurgent groups and 'grant further freedom of movement to insurgents'.
The report warned that Al Qaeda and other radical groups could be emboldened "with frightening consequences for vulnerable targets in Britain, Europe and even the United States". Compared with the hundreds of billions of dollars poured into Iraq and the many billions into Afghanistan, aid to Pakistan has been 'relatively miserly', said the report. And the stakes in Pakistan are far larger and more important to long-term US interests, the report said.
Remember in the last week that the Pakistan government was giving weapons to the villagers to defend themselves now that the army has lost the battle against the Taliban. I suspect that the villagers have handed the first lot of weapons over to the Taliban and now are asking for a second lot. Weapons for Peace. MMMMMMMMM
Taliban on Wednesday disbanded checkpoints and stopped carrying weapons in public a day after announcing an indefinite ceasefire in the Swat valley, witnesses said.
Taliban commander Mullah Fazlullah ordered his followers to disband checkpoints in a speech on his illegal FM radio station late on Tuesday and asked them not to carry weapons in public. "The Taliban have removed their checkpoints in and around Mingora," Irfan Ahmad, a resident of what is the main town in Swat, said. He said he did not see armed Taliban on patrol in the town. The Taliban announced an indefinite ceasefire on Tuesday, a week after the government signed a deal with hardliner Sufi Muhammad to accept Islamic law as the system of justice in Swat.
Another Swat resident, Mushtaq Khan, said checkpoints have been removed from the areas of Matta, Charbagh and Kabal, all Taliban strongholds. "I saw a few Taliban alongside the road but they were unarmed," he said.
Khan said people celebrated the ceasefire after two years of uncertainty and insecurity, and that schools have reopened.
However, the sharia deal has triggered alarm in the United States, Europe, Afghanistan and India, amid concerns it will embolden Taliban in the North West Frontier province.
Thousands of Taliban have spent nearly two years waging a terrifying campaign to enforce sharia law, beheading opponents, bombing girls' schools, outlawing entertainment and fighting government forces.
The top three Taliban factions in Pakistan have unified "only to act together against the United States", Taliban leader Maulvi Nazir told Ahmedzai Wazir elders in South Waziristan in a meeting earlier this week, a tribal elder told Daily Times on Wednesday.
A delegation of Ahmedzai Wazir elders met Maulvi Nazir, the Taliban chief in Wana, to ask him why he had formed the 'United Council of Mujahideen' without consulting them, a senior member of the delegation said. "Gul Bahadar (the Taliban chief in North Waziristan) and I have reached an understanding with Baitullah Mehsud (the chief of the defuct Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan) to fight the US together, because we are concerned over the surge in American troops in Afghanistan," Nazir reportedly told the delegation. He denied the groups had joined hands against Pakistani troops.
US President Barack Obama has ordered 17,000 additional troops into Afghanistan and Washington is currently meeting top officials from Islamabad and Kabul to put together a new strategy on tackling the Afghanistan problem.
Maulvi Nazir told the Ahmedzai Wazir elders that the understanding with Baitullah did not mean a merger of the three groups. "Each group will have its own independent status and emirates, and each group will be sovereign in their territory," the Taliban leader said. Maulvi Nazir did say who had helped them forge the alliance, the delegation member told Daily Times. "I think someone from across the border may have influenced the move," he added. The understanding comes despite serious differences between Maulvi Nazir and Baitullah Mehsud over Uzbek fighters among the latter's ranks. The Ahmedzai Wazirs and Maulvi Nazir had made a peace deal in April 2007 after the latter flushed out the Uzbek men from the area. The new understanding alarmed the tribesmen the foreigners might return to their land. "We told Maulvi Nazir if his understanding with Baitullah brings any harm to our areas, then the peace accord we reached with him will also be in jeopardy," the delegation told the Taliban chief, the elder said.
BAGHDAD - The withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq within 19 months, faster than agreed in a bilateral security pact, will not pose a problem so long as Iraq can equip its forces in that time, an official said Wednesday.
U.S. President Barack Obama is leaning toward a 19-month bug-out timetable to pull out of Iraq as violence unleashed by the invasion launched by his predecessor, George W. Bush, in 2003 fades, U.S. officials say. That is a compromise between a campaign pledge to leave Iraq within 16 months and the wishes of some U.S. commanders who fear withdrawing too early could put Iraq's security gains at risk. It is also faster than the end-2011 deadline foreseen in a U.S.-Iraqi security pact hammered out between the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the Bush administration.
"We had hoped that the withdrawal would be according to the schedule mentioned in the agreement," said Brigadier-General Mohammed al-Askari, spokesman for the Iraqi Defence Ministry. "But even so, if the U.S. president decides to withdraw them in 19 months, with the agreement of the Iraqi government, we will speed up our readiness to be prepared by that time."
The most important thing, Askari said, was that the withdrawal date should be agreed between the two governments and that Iraq has the time it needs to properly equip its 600,000-strong, largely U.S.-trained security forces. "Our readiness depends on equipping the Iraqi army. We are pushing hard now and using our relations with different countries to cut the time required to equip the Iraqi army and we are achieving good results," he added.
"We will wait and see," said Ahmed al-Masoudi, spokesman for supporters in the Iraqi parliament of anti-American Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who has called for the 140,000 U.S. troops still in Iraq to leave immediately. "We'll see what the reality is on the ground. We don't believe speeches and rhetoric."
Askari said the most important piece of equipment needed by the Iraqi armed forces were helicopters. He said good progress had been made in ordering them but he gave no details.
Defence Minister Abdul Qaeder Jassim went to Washington recently where, among other things, he discussed the possible purchase of M-1 Abrams tanks and F-16 fighter jets. U.S. military officials say around $5 billion in Iraqi orders for weapons, uniforms, logistics and other materiel have already been delivered or are in the pipeline.
Askari said Iraq's first post-Saddam warship would be delivered by September, to help protect its crucial oil exports, and a second vessel would be delivered in early 2010.
ALL Obama promises come with expiration dates and loopholes for weaselling
Posted by: Frank G ||
Screw the equipment, you chowderheads. You've got tens of billions in the bank, you can afford *stuff*. Worry about getting your logistics organized and your higher-order organizational & institutional controls well-put-together.
I'm kind of worried about how much the higher-level Iraqi political and military ranks are relying on the morale factor of having the Big Green Daddy sitting in the next room polishing the buckle on his ass-whomping belt to keep the kiddies from breaking out into slap-fights over the TV control.
Posted by: Mitch H. ||
We'll probably leave them a lot of our basic gear. At this point in the desert mechanical life cycle it isn't worth the freight home. And if Zero really wants to stimulate the Detroit economy, he can buy our guys brand new trucks & such (hah!).
We already are transfering thousands of Hummers incountry to the Iraqis : they get refurbed on the big American bases and handed over to the Iraqi Army. Those Hummers are mainly the unarmored and first generation armored versions that the military has decided they don't want, especially since the updated versions have all the required mods built in as they ship from Detroit.
RIVAL Palestinian groups agreed overnight to set up a unity government by the end of next month after reconciliation talks aimed at ending long-running factional feuding, officials said.
The agreement, which could lead to the creation of a Palestinian government acceptable to the international community, was announced by officials from two Palestinian factions involved in the Cairo-sponsored dialogue.
Jamil al-Majdalawi, an official with the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said the factions had formed several committees that would pave the way for the unity government. "The committees will end their work and a Palestinian unity government will be formed by the end of March," he said.
His comments were confirmed by Mohammed al-Hindi, deputy leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
The reconciliation talks opened after the main groups Fatah and Hamas agreed on confidence-building measures to resolve the fate of prisoners detained by both sides and stop a war of words being played out in the media. The stakes are high as billions of dollars of funds to rebuild the Gaza Strip after Israel's war on the territory may be available if terms set by international donors can be met before an aid meeting next week in Egypt.
"We have no option before us but to succeed, and that will be difficult," Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, who is mediating the talks grouping about a dozen Palestinian factions, said.
Egypt had originally called for Palestinian reconciliation talks in November, but Hamas withdrew at the last minute, complaining that Fatah was continuing to arrest Hamas members in the West Bank. The reconciliation process was relaunched by Egypt after Israel's 22-day war on Gaza that ended last month with more than 1300 Palestinians killed and buildings and infrastructure throughout the impoverished territory destroyed.
British foreign secretary David Miliband, visiting Cairo overnight, had called for the Palestinians to form a new government of "technocrats" to oversee political and economic reconstruction in readiness for elections.
Hopes of a positive outcome to the talks had been boosted after yesterday's meeting between Fatah, which heads the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, and Hamas - which is boycotted as a terrorist group by Israel and the West.
A joint statement said Fatah and Hamas had each agreed to release prisoners from the rival in several stages.
Today's conference, which brought in other Palestinian factions, stemmed from Egyptian proposals for a lasting ceasefire following Israel's onslaught on Gaza from December 27 to January 18.
Hey, look at that. The price has gone up. Again...
Palestine Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Wednesday that the Palestine Authority in the West Bank is hoping to raise $2.8 billion in foreign aid at next month's international donor conference for rebuilding the Gaza Strip, which was devastated by a 22-day Israeli offensive in December. I'm hoping to hit Mega Millions this weekend...
"We have prepared a document on the basis of which donors will make their aid pledges. It foresees a total of 2.8 billion dollars for all sectors," Fayyad told reporters in Ramallah, the political capital of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. So line up. And bring those checkbooks...INFIDELS!
"This document was prepared by the Palestinian Authority with the participation of all concerned parties and contains, in addition to the required aid, mechanisms that will allow donors to start reconstruction," he added. Ah, yes. The "mechanisms". Is that's what they're calling it now?
Representatives from more than 70 countries are expected to attend the international donor conference for Gaza rebuilding in Egypt on 2nd March. The United States is expected to pledge about $900 million for rebuilding Gaza. So...what's in it for us again?
JERUSALEM - Benjamin Netanyahu's hawkish Likud party launched talks on Wednesday with right-wing parties on forming Israel's next government after he failed in initial efforts to enlist his main centrist rival in a broad coalition. Netanyahu, who has said he wants to shift the focus of Palestinian statehood talks from territorial to economic issues, was chosen on Friday by President Shimon Peres to try to form a government and become prime minister for the second time.
Likud negotiators met officials of the ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party of Avigdor Lieberman and other right-wing factions later near Tel Aviv on terms for political partnership in a governing coalition. A spokeswoman for Lieberman said he would push to secure either the defence, finance or foreign affairs portfolio for himself. She said the party also wants the justice and internal security portfolios.
Yisrael Beiteinu, which came in third after the centrist Kadima party and the Likud in a Feb. 10 election, opposes Israeli withdrawal from the occupied West Bank. It advocates trading land in Israel where Arab citizens live for Jewish settlements in the West Bank in any peace deal with Palestinians and calls for all Israelis to take an oath of loyalty to the Jewish state.
Technically, Prime Minister Olmert, 3dc. Remember when Belgium's winning party couldn't form a government for months and months? The lame duck PM continued running things until it all was straightened out. I can't remember if it took another election to do so, or if the king tapped someone else in the end, or what, but it was utterly absurd.
Rival Palestinian movements Fatah and Hamas met in Cairo on Wednesday to try to ease tensions ahead of Egypt-brokered reconciliation talks aimed at paving the way for a unity government. Senior officials from Fatah, the secular movement headed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and the Islamist government in Gaza.
Iran has been increasing its involvement and control over Hezbollah's operations since terror operations head Imad Mughniyeh was killed a year ago. Hezbollah has not yet found someone of similar stature to replace Mughniyeh. They say that like it's a bad thing ...
Therefore, the Iranians have taken some responsibility for Hezbollah operations, using a large number of Iranian Revolutionary Guard and intelligence officers in Lebanon.
This means operational cooperation between Iran, Syria and Hezbollah has increased regarding all potential actions against Israel. Iranian officers, most of whom prefer to be based in Syria, often visit Lebanon and tour the Israeli border. Safe in the flesh-pots of Damascus are they ...
The Iranians are directly involved in running Hezbollah operations in southern Lebanon, and in addition, hundreds of Hezbollah militants head for Iran every month for training and exercises.
Senior Israeli defense officials told Haaretz that Mughniyeh's assassination, which Hezbollah blames on Israel, but which may have been done by either Syria or Iran or even as an internal Hezbollah action
left a large hole in the organization. Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah is now stuck dealing with operational matters he never handled in the past, say the Israeli officials. Let's hope he's as competent at that as he is in giving live speeches ...
(AKI) - A retired Syrian general has criticised a decision by the country's Atomic Energy Commission to refuse the United Nations' nuclear watchdog access to inspect the al-Kibar supected nuclear research centre bombed by Israel in September 2007. Musa al-Zaabi, said the decision by Ibrahim Othman, head of the commission, was a "grave error".
"Western countries and the International Atomic Energy Commission will interpret the Syrian refusal as proof that Syria is hiding something and is working on a banned military programme," Zaabi told Adnkronos International (AKI).
"It would be right and proper for Syria to invite the IAEA, European countries and also the United States to have serious dialogue about this matter."
The former general appealed to Syrian leaders in Damascus to "follow what Iran did with its nuclear programme paving the way for lengthy dialogue."
"Thhere would be nothing bad about Syria asking western countries for technical assistance for a peaceful nuclear programme, if it really wanted to head in this direction," Zaabi said.
Regarding scientific aspects of the programme, he said there was nothing to discuss. "Laboratories, analyses and scientific instruments exist that confirm or deny every doubt and hypothesis, and you cannot be skeptical about these results," he stated.
"It would have been better for Syria to provide the IAEA with responses and realistic proof that would not have given rise to doubts or other accusations,"Zaabi said.