[TOLOnews] - Afghan Army Commandos are ready to take responsibility for the contentious night raids independently of NATO ...the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. A cautionary tale of cost-benefit analysis.... -led forces, the army special forces chief General Sayed Abdul Karim said at the seventh graduation ceremony of Afghan commandos in Kabul Thursday.
The commandos were fit to launch operations against cut-throats in Afghanistan, Karim told the people attending the graduation of the 144 new commandos, saying the cut-throats did not have the ability to resist and fight against the Afghan special forces.
His comments were a pointed reference to the ongoing negotiation between the US and Afghanistan over army night raids on Afghan homes, undertaken to combat orc activity.
Director of Infrastructure for the Army Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Mohammad Moein Faqir added that the support of Afghan people for the national forces was necessary for in order to be able to destroy the insurgency.
"Your enemies don't want you to have a peaceful Afghanistan so be decisive and irreconcilable [to their ideas]," he said.
Karim said the seventh graduation has brought the total number of Afghan soldiers with special forces training to more than 1000.
US officials said Tuesday that an agreement between the US and Afghanistan over the night raids was close, even "days away". The deal is expected to put Afghans in the lead for night raids and call for Afghan judges to issue warrants for the operations, officials said.
Afghan forces currently lead about 40 percent of the night raids, according to Pentagon press secretary George Little.
AFP - Salafist sheikh Hazem Abu Ismail could be barred from pursuing his bid for Egypt's presidency because his mother held a US passport, the electoral commission said on Thursday.
Under the electoral law, all candidates for the presidency, their parents and their wives must have only Egyptian citizenship.
Commission chief Hatem Begato said the agency had received information according to which Ismail's mother had "used an American passport for travel to and from Egypt" before her death.
A statement given to journalists said "Nawal Abdel Aziz Nur, the mother of presidential candidate Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, held a US passport with the number 500611598."
Citing the interior ministry's passport department, it said she had used the document for travel to the United States and Germany, as well as within Egypt.
The commission said files would be examined on April 12 and 13 and that any candidate not fulfilling the requirements would be informed. Those rejected would then have 48 hours to appeal.
The final list of candidates will be announced on April 26, the statement said.
Abu Ismail's supporters have said they will demonstrate in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday to protest against the possible invalidation of his candidacy.
Abu Ismail launched his candidacy on March 30 with a large motorcade that headed to the electoral commission headquarters in Cairo.
He advocates a strict interpretation of Islam similar to the one practised in Soddy Arabia and has become a familiar sight in Cairo, with his posters adorning many cars and micro buses.
The May election will mark the beginning of a handover of power by the ruling military to an elected civilian leader, following last year's popular uprising that overthrew veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak ...The former President-for-Life of Egypt, dumped by popular demand in early 2011... Abu Ismail will compete with more moderate Islamist candidates, such as senior Moslem Brüderbund figure Khairat El-Shater, as well as former regime figures such as Jerry Lewis doppelgänger Amr Moussa ... who has been head of the Arab League since about the time Jerry and Dean split up ... , an ex-foreign minister who headed the Arab League ...an organization of Arabic-speaking states with 22 member countries and four observers. The League tries to achieve Arab consensus on issues, which usually leaves them doing nothing but a bit of grimacing and mustache cursing... , and former premier Ahmed Shafiq.
Islamists have made big strides since Mubarak's ouster, winning majorities in elections to both houses of parliament.
The Moslem Brüderbund's Freedom and Justice Party won the most seats in parliamentary elections earlier this year, but the Salafists ...Salafists are ostentatiously devout Moslems who figure the ostentation of their piety gives them the right to tell others how to do it and to kill those who don't listen to them... captured nearly a quarter themselves.
ABU DHABI: The Foreign Ministry of the UAE has shut down offices of some foreign organizations because they have violated the country's rules.
Either countries are playing follow the leader or the various governments out there are really steamed about the Quangos, and have decided not to put up with them any more.
In a statement, Dr. Abdul Rahim Al Awadhi, assistant UAE foreign minister for legal affairs, said these institutions violated the terms of their licenses.
"Some foreign institutions were operating without licenses. This obliged the legal authorities to issue instructions that they should cease their work in the UAE," WAM quoted Al-Awadhi as saying. He did not name the affected institutions.
There were media reports that the Dubai office of the US-based National Democratic Institute (NDI) and Abu Dhabi office of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, an organization based in Germany, were shut down last week.
The NDI is a US-funded pro-democracy group and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation has close ties with German Chancellor Angela Merkel's party, Union of Christian Democrats.
CARACAS, Venezuela: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez returned home Wednesday night after his latest round of radiation therapy treatment in Cuba.
Chavez said he has been recovering well after a February surgery in Havana that removed a second tumor from his pelvic region.
"So far, fortunately there hasn't been any adverse reaction to the treatment," Chavez said. "All the exams that have been carried out have shown positive results of physical recovery."
Chavez underwent his second round of daily radiation treatments this week. He began the treatments in late March and has said he plans to have a total of five rounds to help prevent a recurrence of his illness.
Brazilian media is reporting that ailing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will make an emergency trip to Brazil after allegedly suffering intestinal burns during his radiation treatment in Cuba.
"So far, fortunately there hasn't been any adverse reaction to the treatment," Chavez said Wednesday, according to The Associated Press. "All the exams that have been carried out have shown positive results of physical recovery."
However, the Brazilian daily O Globo reported a rumor from Venezuelan journalist Nelson Bocaranda that Chavez could be headed to the hospital Sirio e Libanês in Sao Paulo.
Posted by: Frank G ||
AFP - More than 2,300 Syrian refugees poured into Turkey during a 24-hour period, bringing to 22,000 the total number of Syrians seeking haven in the neighbouring country, a Turkish official told AFP on Thursday.
Turkey is home to a growing number of refugees fleeing the unrest in Syria, where more than 9,000 people have been killed since March last year, according to UN figures.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity ... for fear of being murdered... , said 2,350 refugees crossed the border during a single day.
Turkey says it's ready to extend help to the Syrians, but it also fears the number of arrivals could soar to the level of the half-million Iraqi Kurds who poured across the border to escape Saddam Hussein's repression during the 1991 Gulf War.
Turkish officials have contingency plans in the event of a larger-scale incursion as Syrian regime forces storm opposition towns near the Turkish border.
Currently, the government has set up nine locations including eight tented camps and a "container city" in Kilis, some 150 kilometres (95 miles) east of the Hatay camps, to deal with the influx.
Turkey, which is also playing host to a large Syrian opposition community including rebels defecting from the army, has broken a former alliance with the Damascus ...Capital of the last overtly fascist regime in the world... regime and urged Hereditary President-for-Life Bashir Pencilneck al-Assad Oppressor of the Syrians and the Lebs... to quit.
The Obama administration's man in charge of squeezing Tehran over its nuclear program is unapologetic for the difficulties faced by banks in their dealings with Iran since the U.S. tightened sanctions against the country.
Companies that trade with Iran are struggling to get paid and the biggest Asian countries are scrambling to work around U.S. sanctions that aim to deprive Tehran of revenue needed to develop its nuclear program. "I don't feel apologetic about it because that is the consequence of these banks in Iran willingly facilitating transactions for Iran's nuclear programs," said David Cohen, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the U.S. Treasury Department.
"If they are going to do that, they shouldn't be accessible to the international financial system. They shouldn't be financial institutions that any reputable bank wants to deal with," Cohen said in an interview.
The pressure has forced Iran to listen to U.S. demands, he said. "Do we think we have the attention of the leadership on their end? We have it like never before," he added.
Cohen's comments were a strong display of administration confidence in the measures against Iran, even as their effects have rippled through the marketplace faster than many had expected.
J.P. Morgan warned on Thursday of an acceleration of Iranian oil cutbacks, predicting Iranian supplies could be slashed by one million barrels a day in the first of the year. Since January, the price of oil has shot up nearly 15 percent.
DEFENCE FORUM INDIA > US FBI TAUGHT [Counter-Terrorism = CT] AGENTS THEY COULD "BEND OR SUSPEND" THE LAW.
The Fed helps them to escape or avoid Reprimand, Prosecution, Investigation, Litigation, Termination and Imprisonment, etc. in order to save their own credibility + that of the US Gov in general.
IFF YOU'RE WONDERING HOW THE BAD BOYZ, ETAL. GOT TO BE THEIR BOSS + HIGHER, + HOW 9-11, ETC. OCCURRED UNDER THEIR NOSE, WELL WONDER NO MORE.
THEY SERVE + PROTECT THE VERY CRIMINALS + TERRORISTS, ETAL. THEY ARE LOOKING FOR.
Long piece about Hezbollah's intentions in the U.S. The current prevailing opinion is that the Hezbies make too much money here to want to conduct violent operations. But then, it's Hezbollah.
WASHINGTON - The warning last month from Representative Peter King, the chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, was blunt: An investigation by his staff had determined that "hundreds" of people he described as "Iranian and Hezbollah terrorists" were in the United States. But interviews with U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials, as well as private experts, about the Iranian-sponsored group paint a more nuanced picture. There is a threat, though whether it is imminent or extensive is far from clear, they say.
Mr. King sometimes plays to the cheap seats but it's a real concern.
An alarming part of the officials' assessments focuses on the apparent surveillance missions that Iranian diplomats and possible Hezbollah operatives have been seen conducting at sensitive targets such as New York subways and bridges, and at nuclear power plants and tunnels elsewhere in the United States in the past 10 years.
PNG the Iranian diplomats and arrest the Hezbollah operatives.
At the same time, U.S. officials caution that Hezbollah, a Shiite militia based in Lebanon, has largely avoided attacking U.S. targets since it carried out mass-casualty bombings in the 1980s against the U.S. Embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut. One reason may be that it does not want to endanger its lucrative North American fund-raising operations.
The renewed focus on Hezbollah - which U.S. counter-terrorism officials regard as the most potent and disciplined of Islamic militant groups, even more so than al Qaeda - comes amid a growing confrontation over Iran's nuclear program.
An Israeli or U.S. strike on Iran's nuclear sites could prompt Hezbollah to change strategy, moving from surveillance and fund-raising in North America to launching retaliatory attacks on either country, several U.S. officials said.
Iranian-inspired surveillance missions in the United States have been scattered over a period of years. But, when combined with a handful of recent attacks or plots around the world, they have contributed to an assessment within the U.S. government that considerable violence directed against U.S. targets - at overseas installations or businesses, or at American soil - could follow any strike on Iran's nuclear program.
U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials, along with private experts, say there is little doubt Hezbollah has an extensive network of supporters, fund-raisers and potential operatives in the United States.
A law enforcement official said that the New York Police Department, whose monitoring of Muslim communities has prompted political controversy, believes that between 200 and 300 Hezbollah sympathizers live in New York City. Between 10 and 20 of those are relatives of Hezbollah leaders or fighters who were killed in action, said the official.
The NYPD's knowledge of Hezbollah's infrastructure is sufficiently detailed that it has identified three Lebanese towns - Bint Jbeil, Yanoun and Yatar - to which suspected sympathizers of the group have ties. At least a handful of people in New York connected with Hezbollah have also undergone military training in Lebanon, the official said.
A preliminary report issued by investigators for King, a New York Republican, said that pinpointing the number of Hezbollah operatives inside the United States was difficult because of the group's operational security. The committee report nonetheless cited the estimates of "some officials" that the group "likely" has "several thousand sympathetic donors" in the United States as well as "hundreds" of operatives.
But other officials familiar with up-to-date U.S. intelligence on Hezbollah said there was a big difference between a Hezbollah "supporter" and someone who would be willing to engage in violent activity. The officials said such distinctions have been blurred in public discussions about the domestic threat the group allegedly poses.
Over the years, U.S. federal authorities have brought numerous criminal cases against alleged Hezbollah operatives, most of them related to fund-raising or other support activity rather than plotting against U.S. targets.
The access to potential funding sources is one reason why Hezbollah has avoided targeting the United States or its interests, said Evan Kohlmann, an investigator who monitors militant websites for the government and private businesses.
"For the last 15 years, Hezbollah has regarded North America as a piggy bank," Kohlmann said.
Reliable figures for Hezbollah's fund-raising, which is done covertly, are not available.
Because the United States is such a critical source for funds and equipment such as night-vision devices that might be useful to its paramilitary operations, Kohlmann said, Hezbollah might be reluctant to embark on attacks inside the United States - even if prodded to do so by patrons in Iran. Attacks against U.S. targets overseas might be more likely, he said.
Kohlmann said that Hezbollah regards the U.S. as such an important supply point that the group supposedly has planted its own "procurement manager" somewhere in North America.
One factor heightening U.S. officials' concern about Hezbollah-related attacks is the accumulation of accounts of alleged attempts by Iranian operatives to "case" potential U.S. targets.
According to a New York law enforcement source, there have been several notable incidents of this nature involving individuals who turned out to be accredited to Iran's U.N. mission.
In a 2003 incident, New York police patrolmen observed a group of men videotaping the tracks out of the front window of a subway train traveling between Queens and Manhattan at 2 a.m. The Iranians were arrested, but later released after they produced diplomatic credentials. The law enforcement source said they were asked to leave the country.
In a 2006 incident, the captain of a sightseeing boat became suspicious after a group of Iranians taking his cruise along the East River broke into two smaller groups and started snapping pictures of the undersides of the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. The six men all turned out to be covered by diplomatic immunity, the law enforcement source said.
In September 2008, three more Iranians with diplomatic status were observed taking pictures of rail tracks going into Grand Central Station that are not routinely accessible to members of the public.
And in a 2010 incident, security personnel at a heliport near Wall Street observed a group of men who claimed to be affiliated with an Iranian broadcasting network taking pictures of the framework supporting the heliport deck which was cantilevered over the river.
A federal official said that similar surveillance incidents had been reported in other cities such as Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Targets under observation included nuclear power plants, tunnels and casinos.
Some of the officials said that anxieties about possible Hezbollah- or Iranian-related attacks were increased in the wake of an alleged plot by Iranian agents to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington and other alleged Iranian plots uncovered recently in Thailand, India, Azerbaijan and Georgia.
Continued on Page 49
Why are we granting Iranian Diplomat's Immunity?
Iran does not have a diplomatic presence in the US, contrary to the impression this article tries to maintain. Today, there are no formal diplomatic relations between Iran and the United States. Due to poor relations between the two countries, instead of exchanging ambassadors Iran maintains an interests section at the Pakistani embassy in Washington, D.C., while the United States, since 1980, has maintained an interests section at the Swiss embassy in Tehran.
The Iranian diplomats are accredited to the U.N.
Posted by: Steve White ||
"Nuanced picture" indeed. The United Nations has been a petting zoo for foreign espionage agents for decades. In the absence of placement and access there, we facilitate their coming here instead. We'll continue to write our reports and permit local law enforcement and the NYPD handle downside and clean-up.
A former CIA officer was indicted Thursday on charges of leaking secrets to journalists, including the name of a covert agent and the role of another CIA employee in classified operations. John Kiriakou, who had previously revealed the CIA's use of waterboarding of Al-Qaeda suspects, was charged in January with leaking secrets. The indictment allows the case to proceed to trial without an evidentiary hearing.
The indictment returned by a grand jury in Virginia charged Kiriakou with one count of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act and three counts of violating the Espionage Act. The indictment also charged him with making false statements to the CIA in an unsuccessful attempt to trick the agency into allowing him to include classified information in his 2010 book, "The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA's War on Terror."
Kiriakou first came to public attention in an interview with ABC News in December 2007 in which he became the first US official to describe how top Al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah was subjected to waterboarding, a technique widely viewed as torture.
The former CIA operative acknowledged later in his memoir, however, that he was not present when the interrogation took place.
A CIA intelligence officer between 1990 and 2004, Kiriakou was accused in the indictment of leaking information to reporters anonymously identified as "Journalist A" and "Journalist B."
The charges stem from an investigation into classified information, including photographs of a CIA official, that found its way into classified filings by defense lawyers representing detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, the US naval base in southern Cuba.
The indictment claims Kiriakou was a source of information for a June 2008 New York Times article that identified a CIA operative and revealed other classified information.
Kiriakou also was alleged to have lied to a CIA review board while he was seeking permission to publish a book about his experience.
But we're supposed to believe him now. Enjoy trying to defend yourself on the cross-examination, sir...
In the book, Kiriakou sought to include information about a "magic box," which was said to be a CIA scanning device allowing the agency to track Al-Qaeda suspects in Pakistan through their mobile phones.
He told the CIA review board that he had "fictionalized" that information when in fact he had not. The "magic box" technique was also described in The New York Times.
The charges of leaking secrets each carry a potential prison term of 10 years, while the false statements charge carries a possible five-year prison sentence.
Kiriakou is symptomatic of the pathogenesis of failure of the entire agency g(r)om. Yes, he's a drunken, dope dealing, womanizing scoundrel, but he's still my brother. Honestly, I doubt anything will come of it.
LUBBOCK, Texas - A Texas judge presiding over the case of a Saudi student accused of attempting to build and detonate bombs against targets including the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush has recused himself before the scheduled start of the trial.
US District Judge Sam Cummings issued the order Wednesday without explanation, and it was unclear on Thursday whether the trial would be reset.
US District Judge Donald Walter of Louisiana was appointed on Thursday to handle the case. The appointment was made by US District Judge Sidney Fitzwater of Texas.
Khalid Aldawsari, a 21-year-old Saudi citizen who came to the United States on a student visa, was scheduled to stand trial later this month on a charge of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.
The Saudi national is accused of targeting several U.S. locations, including power plants, nightclubs and Bush's home in Dallas. He was incarcerated in February 2011 after authorities said he tried to purchase a large amount of a suspicious chemical.
ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Rehman Malik and some other officials had a narrow escape on Thursday when their aircraft made an emergency landing in Dera Allahyar, according to media reports. A special aircraft carrying Rehman Malik and other government officials made an emergency landing shortly after taking off. The aircraft had developed technical problems, a TV news channel quoted officials as saying. All passengers on board the aircraft, including Malik, remained safe. The pilot informed the control tower of technical problems and then made the emergency landing, they said.
The exact nature of the technical problems could not be immediately ascertained.
ISLAMABAD: Former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) director-general Shuja Pasha on Thursday told the memo commission that there was no coup plan after the May 2 incident.
"Lies! All lies!"
Pasha appeared before the commission and told it that the memo scandal was also brought into the notice of President Asif Ali Zardari, however, Husain Haqqani could tell the truth about the issue. The commission - headed by Balochistan High Court Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa and comprising Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman and Sindh High Court Chief Justice Musheer Alam - is conducting the proceedings of the memogate issue at the IHC.
Pasha said that he was not convinced when Haqqani challenged the shots of Mansoor Ijaz's Black Berry as fake. On the contents of the memo, Pasha said "boots on ground" and "foreign input on the proposed national security team" were most important for him than elimination of the "S" section of the ISI.
AFP - Iraq's runaway Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi has accused Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shiite government of waging a systematic campaign against Sunni Arabs in Iraq.
In an interview with the pan-Arab Al-Jazeera network aired late on Wednesday, Hashemi said the accusations against him of running a death squad "have a sectarian dimension," noting that he is the "fifth Sunni figure to be targeted" by Iraq's Shiite-led government.
"More than 90 percent of the detainees in Iraq are Sunnis," said Hashemi, who pledged to return to Iraq to carry out his vice presidential duties despite Maliki's demands for him to face trial.
Hashemi sharply criticised Maliki, saying that "corruption in the country is widespread" and warning that the prime minister's policies were threatening "the unity of Iraq."
Hashemi also alleged that Maliki's government is providing "military assistance" to Syrian Hereditary President-for-Life Bashir Pencilneck al-Assad Supressor of the Damascenes... 's regime, arguing that his support for Syria's leadership, which he has previously accused of funding terrorism, is motivated by sectarian considerations.
"There is information about Iraqi militias fighting alongside the Syrian regime," Hashemi told Al-Jazeera. There are also "unconfirmed reports that Iraq's airspace is being used to help (Assad's) regime," he added, hinting at Iranian involvement.
Maliki has rejected attempts by Sunni-led Gulf Arab states to arm Syrian rebels fighting to overthrow Assad, arguing that such a move will trigger an even bigger crisis in the region.
The Syrian uprising has raised regional sectarian tensions.
Syria's minority rulers are Alawites -- an offshoot of Shiite Islam -- who are trying to cling to power by brutally suppressing anti-regime protests led by the country's majority Sunnis.
In Iraq, a Shiite-dominated government has ruled over the minority Sunni Arabs since the 2003 US-led invasion ousted Saddam Hussein.
Hashemi spoke to Al-Jazeera in Doha during a controversial four-day visit that sparked a wave of criticism by Iraq's Shiite leadership, which demanded that Qatar extradite the runaway leader.
Qatar rejected Storied Baghdad ...located along the Tigris River, founded in the 8th century, home of the Abbasid Caliphate... 's request, saying it violated "diplomatic norms."
Hashemi travelled to Soddy Arabia on Wednesday, where he met Prince Saud al-Faisal, the kingdom's foreign minister.
He has said he would return to Iraq's northern autonomous Kurdistan, which he decamped to in December.
AFP - Overnight blasts in southeastern Turkey on Thursday temporarily shut down a pipeline pumping oil from Iraq, with Kurdish rebels suspected to be behind the kabooms, authorities said.
Three blasts hit the section of the pipeline running near the border city of Idil in the Sirnak province, sparking a fire, said a statement by the Sirnak regional government.
The blaze was put out around 0730 GMT, it said, adding that an operation has been launched for those responsible.
Militants from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community, have sabotaged the pipeline several times in the past as part of its armed campaign against the Ankara government.
The pipeline has also been repeatedly attacked by Sunni Arab cut-throats inside Iraq since the US-led invasion of the country in 2003.
The 970-kilometre (600-mile) pipeline runs from Iraq's northern oil hub of Kirkuk to the port of Ceyhan on Turkey's Mediterranean coast, pumping 450,000 to 500,000 barrels of crude oil per day.
AFP - The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees is cancelling its annual summer camps for children in the Gaza Strip, saying it has failed to raise enough money.
"Great, just great, now how're we ever going to teach little Fatima how to explode herself on a Zionist bus?"
"It was decided to stop the Summer Games programme in the Gaza Strip for 2012 due to not having received sufficient funding from donors, that is $9.9 million (7.5 million euros)," said Adnan Abu Hasna, spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), in Gaza.
He told AFP that UNRWA had received pledges of $3.3 million, "but that's not enough to cover expenses. That's why we decided to allocate these funds to basic humanitarian services and resume the games in 2013 if we get the necessary financial support," he said.
UNRWA's "Summer Games" programme caters to around 250,000 children at 1,200 sites in the Gaza Strip during six weeks of summer holidays.
Last year and in 2010 campsites were vandalised by unknown attackers but activities still carried on.
The attacks were blamed on Muslim extremists who view the camps as a symbol of Western corruption because boys and girls mingle freely.
Abu Hasna said that the cancellation of this year's events was a blow to the children and to around 9,000 older Palestinian youths who would have had summer jobs helping to run the camps.
UNRWA cares for nearly five million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Syria Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, including more than one million in Hamas-ruled Gaza.
Hamas, always the voice of sweet reason,has denied responsibility Nope. Wudn't us. for Wednesday's Grad rocket fire on Eilat. The group said in a statement that "The Israeli leadership's claims about the rocket fire from Sinai are false."
Hamas added that the Israeli accusations "are an attempt to pave the way for more aggressive operations in Gazoo."
IDF chief Gantz unveils new policy whereby any firing from Gazoo, Sinai will be met with attack on Hamas, always the voice of sweet reason,, fire from Leb will result in attack on Hezbullies and any overseas attack will prompt response against Iran
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz on Thursday declared a change in army police whereby any firing at Israel's south will be met with an attack on Hamas, regardless of the group behind the fire. Similarly, any firing from Leb will result in an attack on Hezbullies, and any terror attack by Iran's emissaries overseas will prompt a response against Tehran.
Speaking at a conference in the Gelilot base, Gantz discussed the many threats Israel faces. "The IDF is Israel's sharpened sword and protector," he noted. He also addressed the firing of rockets at Eilat on Wednesday night.
It is estimated that three rockets were fired from Sinai, one of which went kaboom! near residential buildings. The remaining two rockets have yet to be found. There were no injuries. Egyptian officials denied that the rockets had been fired from Sinai, and one security official said the Israeli reports were erroneous.
Referring to last month's round of violence in the south, Gantz said: "After disrupting a lethal terror attack, we endured attacks from the Gazoo Strip for which Hamas was responsible. We acted with determination and caused grave damage to the terror organization. We proved once again that we are able to protect the lives of Israeli civilians and strike those who seek to harm us with force."
Gantz warned that "anyone who tries to test us, domestically or overseas, will find a sophisticated army ready to defend Israel and subdue its enemies."
Alluding to recent terror attacks in India, Thailand and Georgia, the IDF chief said, "We know the source of these attacks and those behind them must know that Israel's long arm will ultimately reach anyone who seeks to harm Israeli civilians and the Jewish people, Whether in Gazoo, Leb or anywhere else."
After Grad rocket hits Eilat, Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi tells new Military Intelligence officers Sinai will be characterized by 'increased instability' in coming years
Over the past two months the army has exposed more than 10 terror cells in the Egyptian-controlled Sinai Peninsula, IDF Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi revealed Thursday.
Terrorists fired a Grad rocket at Eilat early on Thursday morning. No injuries or damage were reported.
Speaking at a graduation ceremony for new Military Intelligence officers, Kochavi said, "The Middle East, which has the highest pace of armament in the world, is changing its ultimate character beyond recognition. The winds of change may be carrying opportunity and a new message, but in the short and medium terms the risks are increasing. One of them is the Sinai sector. The attack on Eilat, the shooting attacks that emanated from Sinai -- these are mere expressions of the fundamental change the region is undergoing.
"Meanwhile, ...back at the argument, Jane reached into her purse for her .38... terror organizations are continuing to strengthen their hold (on Sinai). We will have to prepare for the security-related instability that will characterize this sector in the coming years," he said.
Earlier, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, IDF Chief of Staff Lt-Gen Benny Gantz, GOC Southern Command Maj-Gen Tal Russo and Military Intelligence Chief Kochavi met to discuss the rocket fire on Eilat.
The IDF has been on high alert across the Israel-Egypt border following several attempts to mount terror attacks in the sector.
"The situation in Sinai requires a different kind of deployment," Barak said. "This was a serious incident. We're studying it and we will go after those who fired on Eilat and targeted Israeli citizens."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also commented on the rocket fire on Eilat, saying that the defense establishment is "well aware of the fact that Sinai is turning into a rocket launching pad for terrorists.
"We are building a fence. It can't stop missiles but we will find a solution for that. We will strike those who aim to harm us," he said.
The IDF estimates that three rockets were fired towards Eilat at around midnight. One of them went kaboom! not far from a residential area, while two others were not located as of yet.
AFP - The United Nations ...a lucrative dumping ground for the relatives of dictators and party hacks... agency for Paleostinian refugees is cancelling its annual summer camps for children in the Gazoo Strip, saying it has failed to raise enough money.
"It was decided to stop the Summer Games programme in the Gazoo Strip for 2012 due to not having received sufficient funding from donors, that is $9.9 million (7.5 million euros)," said Adnan Abu Hasna, front man for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), in Gazoo.
Continued on Page 49
A senior Chinese diplomat said on Friday an attack on Iran would invite devastating retaliation that would envelop the region and destabilise the global economic recovery, and added that the international community had to restrain itself from war.
Iran is locked in a dispute with the West over its nuclear programme, which Iran says is for peaceful purposes.
Israel and the United States have threatened military action against Iran unless it abandons activities which the West suspects are intended to develop nuclear weapons.
China, which has close energy and trade ties with Iran, has urged a negotiated solution to the dispute and long opposed the use of force or unilateral sanctions on Iran.
The comments by Chen Xiaodong, head of the Foreign Ministry's West Asia and North African affairs division, was China's strongest warning yet not to use force to resolve the dispute.
"If force is used on Iran, it will certainly incur retaliation, cause an even greater military clash, worsen turmoil in the region, threaten the security of the Strait of Hormuz and other strategic passages, drive up global oil prices and strike a blow at the world economic recovery," he said.
"There may be 10,000 reasons to go to war but you cannot remedy the terrible consequences of plunging the people into misery and suffering and the collapse of society and the economy caused by the flames of war," Chen said on a web chat hosted by Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily.
Speculation is growing that Israel could launch some form of strike against Iranian nuclear installations, which Israel sees as a threat to its existence.
OOOOOOOOOOO, you just know Israel is going to go not-in-a-good-way ballistic when they learn the US = POTUS Bammer will accept a [conditional] Iran Civilian NucEnergy Program???
IMO Israel has little to no faith that Iran + pro-Islamist, post-Arab/Muslim Spring" Govts-States, other "Rogues" will prevent dangerous NucTechs from getting into the hands of Radical Islamist MilTerrs + aligned violent NGOS.
E.g. DEFENCE.PK/FORUMS [paraph]> ISRAELI NEWS: NUCLEAR IRAN + PAKISTAN TOGETHER MAKE A BIGGER/WORSE MESS.
FYI looks like the pressure on CHINA is itself increasing in the South China Sea.
* DEFENCE.PK/FORUMS > SOUTH CHINA SEA IS "PROPERTY OF THE WHOLE WORLD":INDIA.
Indian External Affairs Minister SM KRISHNA gives Indjuh's response to China' warning from yesterday vee Indo-Viet Oil, Energy joint exploration + development in China-claimed areas of the SCS.
* SAME > THE US IS TRYING TO CHOKE CHINA.
* SAME > BLOOMBERG: GAZPROM EXPANDS AFTER GAINING TWO OFFSHORE BLOCKS.
Beijing is reminded that it will also have to deal wid MOSCOW = RUSSIA in the SCS, besides the US + India + improved Vietnamese firepower + Japan, ASEAN, Iran-Pak-Turkic Navies, etc.
Iran's crude oil production could fall 1 million barrels per day by the end of June to below 2.5 million bpd, JPMorgan said in note to clients on Thursday, saying refiners have cut demand for oil from the Islamic Republic faster than previously expected.
In one of the largest forecasts yet on the effects of U.S. and European Union sanctions, JPMorgan's energy research team said evidence of deep cuts in Iranian crude imports by European, South African and Japanese refineries so far this year, and expected further cuts from others, had not yet been offset by Chinese buying, Reuters reported.
"In total, the reported shifts ... may account for a further reduction of nearly 300,000 bpd in Iranian crude sales during April, which would imply lost sales are now approaching 700,000 bpd below January levels," wrote JPMorgan's energy research team, led by former International Energy Agency (IEA) analyst Lawrence Eagles.
"This is substantially faster than we expected and with likely further adjustments to come ... it would imply output could continue to push down below 2.5 million bpd by the time the embargoes are officially implemented, a net loss of 1 million bpd from January's level," the note stated.
U.S. and EU sanctions on countries importing Iran's crude oil exports are to go into effect by July 1.
The United States has been leaning on countries to reduce their imports of Iranian crude as part of broad-based sanctions aimed at pressuring Tehran to curb its nuclear program, which the West suspects is a cover to develop atomic weapons but which Iran says is purely civilian.
Countries risk being cut off from the U.S. financial system unless they can show they have taken steps to substantially reduce their reliance on Iranian oil, though some traders and analysts have questioned Washington's willingness to target China and India, Iran's two largest oil customers.
So far the United States has given waivers to Japan and 10 EU countries who have cut back on purchases.
Champ loves his waivers...
Japanese refiners will cut Iranian crude imports further again in April as they shy away from renewing annual contracts.
Reuters reported in late March than Iran's oil exports had fallen by 300,000 bpd, or 14 percent, in the previous month.
Article as usual omits perspective. From Wikipedia: 2011 daily world oil production was 87.5 million barrels. Of this Russia produced 10.5, Saudi Arabia 8.8, USA 7.8. No data posted for Iran more recently than 2009.
News articles always talk about prospective demand and seldom about actual production.
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Syria faced pressure from all sides at the United Nations on Thursday as U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan set a precise deadline for an end to the conflict with clear backing from Russia, China and the rest of the U.N. Security Council.
Speaking by video link from Geneva, Annan told the 193-nation U.N. General Assembly he was urging "the government and the opposition commanders to issue clear instructions so that the message reaches across the country, down to the fighter and soldier at the local level" at 6 a.m. (0400 GMT) on April 12.
"We must silence the tanks, helicopters, mortars, guns and stop all other forms of violence too - sexual abuse, torture, executions, abductions, destruction of homes, forced displacement and other abuses, including on children," he said.
Syrian U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari, however, hinted at a possible loophole in Annan's peace plan, which does not refer to the withdrawal of police forces. He told reporters the police were not covered by the April 10 deadline because "the deployment of the police is to protect the civilians."
By beating them to death...
Opposition activists say the army and police have been responsible for killing civilians in the government's yearlong attempt to stamp out pro-democracy demonstrations.
The former U.N. chief spoke after the 15-nation Security Council unanimously adopted a "presidential statement" endorsing next week's deadline and warning Damascus of "further steps" if it did not meet the deadline, which the Syrians have accepted. Annan's precise deadline and the latest council statement on the conflict backed by China and Russia, Syria's staunch ally and arms supplier, were the most recent examples of how U.N. pressure on Damascus to halt its yearlong assault is steadily increasing.
Russia and China twice vetoed resolutions condemning Syria, but in a diplomatic setback for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have recently supported several statements urging Damascus to accept Annan's plan and allow humanitarian aid workers access. It said the council "calls upon the Syrian government to implement urgently and visibly its commitments ... to a) cease troop movements toward population centers, b) cease all use of heavy weapons in such centers, and c) begin pullback of military concentrations in and around population centers."
The statement urges Damascus to "fulfill these in their entirety by no later than 10 April, 2012."
An earlier draft, obtained by Reuters, said the council "demands" compliance from Damascus. Western diplomats said the text was watered down to secure Russian and Chinese approval.
The agreed statement includes a second deadline that affects the opposition as well: "The Security Council calls upon all parties, including the opposition, to cease armed violence in all its forms within 48 hours of the implementation in their entirety by the Syrian government of measures a, b, c."
Annan made clear the second deadline for silencing all guns in accordance with his six-point peace plan will take effect at 6 a.m. Syrian time on April 12. In addition to a truce, Annan's plan calls for dialogue between the government and opposition on a "political transition" for the country.
Ja'afari blasted the president of the General Assembly, Qatar's U.N. Ambassador Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser, for holding Thursday's meeting on the Syrian conflict. Ja'afari said he was using the assembly to push the agenda of Qatar, which supports arming Syria's rebels.
"The PGA (president of the General Assembly) has misused his post ... to impose on member states the Qatari and Saudi agendas," he said, referring to the "so-called Syrian crisis."
"The PGA is a biased person, deceiving all of us, cheating on his mandate ... serving his national agenda," Ja'afari said.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the General Assembly that the violence in Syria was getting worse, despite Damascus' official acceptance of Annan's plan.
The Security Council statement asked Annan to update it on compliance with the timeline and warned that it "will consider further steps as appropriate." Russia and China, however, have made clear they would oppose any attempts to sanction Syria. The council also asks Ban Ki-moon to present proposals for a U.N. observer mission to monitor compliance with any future truce. As part of Annan's peace plan, the U.N. peacekeeping department is planning for a ceasefire monitoring mission that would have 200 to 250 unarmed observers. It would require a Security Council resolution.
Damascus ...Capital of the last overtly fascist regime in the world... recently declared number of new surface-to-air missile systems operational; IDF modifies way it flies in North, particularly when conducting missions over Leb.
Despite the ongoing internal unrest, Syria is continuing to upgrade its military capabilities and recently declared a number of new surface-to-air missile systems (SAMs) operational.
Over the past year, Syria has received a number of SA- 17 batteries from Russia under a deal signed several years ago. Two batteries are already reportedly operational and deployed along Syria's border with Leb. A third is undergoing training.
As a result, the IDF has modified the way it flies in the North and particularly when conducting missions over Leb, where it continues to fly to gather intelligence on Hezbullies activities.
Also known as the Buk System, the SA-17 has a range of about 30 km. and can intercept multiple targets flying at altitudes of over 40,000 feet. The launchers are mounted on trucks and are mobile, making them difficult targets.
Another system that recently became operational is the Yakhont anti-ship missile which has the Israeli Navy concerned about the possibility that it will also be transferred to Hezbullies ahead of a future conflict. Syria already tested the Yakhnot in recent maneuvers and it is said to be a sophisticated missile with a range of about 300 km.
"The military is not overly affected by the resistance and is continuing with its procurement plans as well as the integration of new capabilities into operational service," a senior IDF officer recently explained.
In addition to establishing the new SAM batteries, Syria is also believed to be in talks with Russia about upgrading some of its older model combat aircraft with structural overhauls as well as the installation of new avionics.
Syria is believed to have invested billions of dollars in the past 10 years in new SAMs aimed at undermining Israel's ability to operate in Syria or Leb in a future war. Israel fears that some of the systems might make their way into Hezbullies hands in Leb such as the SA-8 truckmounted system.
Israel is concerned with the increase in the transfer of weaponry from Syria to Leb in recent months. Hezbullies is believed to have obtained several dozen more M-600 long-range missiles, as well as additional 302 mm. Khaibar-1 rockets, which have a range of about 100 km.
It is already believed to have a significant arsenal of M600s, which are manufactured in Syria as a clone of Iran's Fateh-110. The M600 has a range of around 300 km. It can carry a half-ton warhead and has superior accuracy.
Israel's primary concern is with the possibility that Hezbullies will get its hands on some of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal.
Western countries have prepared various contingency plans for such a scenario, including the possible bombing of such a convoy if it were detected and the possible insertion of commando forces to secure the chemical stockpile if and when Assad falls.