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Friday, July 15, 2011

The death of a warlord

Ahmad Wali Karzai's story illustrates how the American neoconservatives' way of war allowed entrepreneurs of violence to expand their power in Afghanistan.
Eleven centuries ago, Afghan poet Abu Shukur wrote words which have often haunted rulers of his tormented nation:
a tree with a bitter seed,
fed with butter and sugar,
will still bear a bitter fruit.
The assassination of Ahmad Wali Karzai, Afghan President Hamid Karzai's half-brother and one of the country's most feared men, necessitates a careful reflection on the abiding power of its country's warlords and what their influence portends, as the United States begins scaling down its forces.

NATO chief calls for more planes to bomb Libya, as Qaddafi shows resilience

NATO members should supply more warplanes to bomb Libyan military targets, the alliance’s secretary general said, increasing pressure on states to contribute more to the mission.

Western powers have become embroiled in a conflict in the oil-producing North African state, straining resources and relations among NATO’s 28 members after only four months of a United Nations-mandated campaign meant to protect civilians from attacks by Muammar Qaddafi’s regime.

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who met Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Thursday, called on the Netherlands and other members of the alliance to consider their contributions to the mission, stressing the need for air-to-ground strikes.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Left parties condemn Mumbai blasts

The Left parties on Thursday strongly condemned the Mumbai serial blasts and rued the government’s inability to track down the perpetrators of recent terror strikes.
“It is disturbing that the forces behind the recent bomb blasts in different parts of the country have not been identified and apprehended. No efforts should be spared to track down the culprits of the Mumbai blasts,” the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Polit Bureau said in a statement in New Delhi.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

In Tunisia, the march toward a freer political system is pitting secularists against Islamists

Secularists hope Tunisia’s gradual approach for moving to an open political system from a police state will help box in Islamists, but fear the approach has created a political and security vacuum that could end up helping them.

Tunisians forced out President Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali via street protests that took place in December and January this year, and more than 90 political parties have sprung up in the newly freed public space.

Secular parties, policy-makers and Western powers are preparing for a future in which the leading Islamist party Ennahda, driven abroad and underground by Mr. Ben Ali, is a key force in the North African country but limited in its power.

US hits Mumbai attacks, reaffirms support for India

US reaction to the coordinated rush hour bombings Wednesday that left 21 people dead and 141 wounded in Mumbai, India’s bustling financial capital, was swift: The attacks were deplorable and would only strengthen US relations with its South Asia ally.

President Barack Obama described the attacks as “deplorable and outrageous terrorist acts.” He said he believed the strength and resilience of the people of India would enable the country to overcome the attacks.

Coordinated attack by terrorists: Chidambaram

Sources in the intelligence set up were inclined to believe that IEDs, used in the blast, appeared to be handiwork of Indian Mujahideen working closely with Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist outfit.
Describing the serial blasts in Mumbai as a well "coordinated attack by terrorists", Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Wednesday appealed to the people to remain calm and maintain peace.
Three blasts in India’s financial capital ripped through crowded places at 6.45 p.m. and occurred within minutes of each other, the Home Minister said after presiding over an emergency meeting of top officials of the ministry. "We infer this was a coordinated attack by terrorists," he told reporters outside North Block. He feared that the death toll in the blasts could go up.
He said the National Security Guard (NSG) hub in Mumbai, set up in the wake of 26/11 terror attack in the city in 2008, has been put on standby. He said the elite force's 'post-blast' team has also been sent to Mumbai.
The Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) team from Delhi and Hyderabad has been sent to Mumbai, he said. Mr. Chidambaram said that a team of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), led by an IG rank officer, will also leave for Mumbai during the night.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cyprus protest over deadly blast at navy base

Thousands of Greek Cypriots have marched on the presidential palace in Nicosia in protest over the deaths of 12 people in a blast at a navy base.
Police fired tear gas to disperse the demonstrators who blame government negligence for the explosion at the Evangelos Florakis base on Monday.
The dead included the head of the Greek Cypriot navy and six firefighters.
More than 60 other people were injured when the cache of seized Iranian munitions blew up.
It is believed a bush fire ignited the explosives.
The powerful blast badly damaged Cyprus's largest power station leading to rolling power cuts across the island that officials warned could last for months.

Moody's cuts Irish debt rating to junk status

Ratings agency Moody's has cut the Republic of Ireland's debt rating to junk status.
Moody's said its decision was based on the "growing possibility" that Ireland would need a second bail-out before it can return to capital markets.
The current European Union and International Monetary Fund support programme is due to end in late 2013.
It comes at a time when markets fear the debt crisis in the eurozone could spread to Italy and Spain.
Ireland, Greece and Portugal have all been downgraded by ratings agencies several times in recent months.

Thai election commission withholds results

Citing the need to investigate alleged electoral law violations, Thailand’s Election Commission has postponed certifying the poll victory of Yingluck Shinawatra, the opposition leader who was poised to become the fractious nation’s first female prime minister.
The commission announced late Tuesday that Yingluck was one of a quarter of winning candidates in the country’s July 3 parliamentary ballot that it has yet to endorse.

CIA using secret facility in (fill in the blanks) as prison. It’s now Somalia

The US Central Intelligence Agency is using a secret facility in Somalia for counterterrorism purposes as well as a secret prison in the Somali capital, the magazine The Nation reported Tuesday.

The report said the CIA has “a sprawling walled compound” on the coast of the Indian Ocean which looks like a small gated community, with more than a dozen buildings behind large protective walls.

According to the magazine, the site has its own airport and is guarded by Somali soldiers, but the Americans control access.

Qaddafi’s son says (again, yes, again, and again) father will never step down

Saif Al Islam, son of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi told the Algerian newspaper “Al Khabar” that his father would not relinquish the position of Libya’s leader.

He said that negotiations were underway between Tripoli and Paris regarding the ongoing conflict in Libya.

According to Mr. Islam, the Qaddafi administration has sent an envoy to meet with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, as any negotiation concerning Libya’s future would have to start from Paris before involving Libyan rebels holding Benghazi.
Mr. Islam described opposition headquarters in Benghazi, as “French provinces” and its inhabitants as “kharijites,” (tribals) indicating the presence of French Special Forces in the western mountain guiding French aircraft.

Monday, July 11, 2011

U.S. supports Russia’s mediation in Libya

The White House says President Barack Obama told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that the U.S. is prepared to support Russian-led negotiations in Libya.
However, Mr. Obama told the Russian President that the U.S. would only back the negotiations if they lead to a democratic transition and long-time Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi steps aside.
Mr. Medvedev has joined the West in urging Mr. Qadhafi to step down, and envoys from the Kremlin have travelled to Libya to meet with representatives of Mr. Qadhafi’s government.
Mr. Obama and Mr. Medvedev spoke on Monday. Mr. Obama also expressed his condolences for the sinking of an aging cruise ship on a river near Moscow. As many as 129 people were killed in the incident.
The two leaders also discussed Sudan, Afghanistan and Russia’s pending accession to the World Trade Organisation.

Syria and Libya: Lessons in how and how not to support people power

If Syria is emerging as a model for US and European support of the Arab revolt, Libya is becoming an example of how not to respond.

With a rebel victory uncertain four months into NATO’s bombing campaign designed to enforce a United Nations-sanctioned no-fly zone in Libya, the trans-Atlantic alliance seems more divided than ever over how to proceed.
In the clearest indication of a shifting mood within NATO, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé has called for a political solution to the Libyan crisis and expressed support for efforts by the African Union to mediate between the NATO-backed rebels and Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.

When the neighbour's house catches fire-Opinion

India should evolve a joint strategy with Pakistan to fight terror and build a regional initiative on Afghanistan.
Two things that happened in the subcontinent last Wednesday promise to be a game changer in regional politics. That they happened simultaneously in India and Pakistan and manifested an unspoken harmony of spirit — although by no means coordinated — make them meaningful. First, seldom, if ever, would soft-spoken Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram feel the need to raise his voice and firmly contradict a newspaper story — as he did on Wednesday in the Indian capital. But then, the New York Times story was, as Mr. Chidambaram said, “highly exaggerated.”

France and US send Libyan rebels conflicting signals about Muammar Qaddafi

A French minister said it was time for Libya’s rebels to negotiate with Col. Muammar Qaddafi’s government, but Washington said it stood firm in its belief that the Libyan leader cannot stay in power.

The diverging messages from two leading members of the Western coalition opposing Colonel Qaddafi hinted at the strain the alliance is under after more than three months of air strikes that have cost billions of dollars and failed to produce the swift outcome its backers had expected.

French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet signaled growing impatience with the progress of the conflict when he said the rebels should negotiate now with Colonel Qaddafi’s government and not wait for his defeat.

Eurozone ministers meeting to discuss debt concerns

Senior European Union officials are due to meet to discuss the eurozone's continuing debt woes.
The talks in Brussels were arranged by European Council president Herman Van Rompuy. His spokesman denied that it was a crisis meeting.
Reports say the meeting was organised because of worries that Italy could be drawn into the debt crisis.
It will be followed by a planned meeting of eurozone finance ministers.
The finance ministers are due to discuss a second financial support package for Greece.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Syria angrily summons US and French envoys about their visits to Hama

The Syrian foreign ministry summoned French and US ambassadors on Sunday to deliver a “strong protest” over their visit to the flashpoint central city of Hama last week.

“The ministry called in the US and French ambassadors to deliver a strong protest against their visit to Hamas without prior authoritization ... which constitutes a flagrant interference in Syria’s domestic affairs,” the SANA news agency said.