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just scratching the surface

Spirit of Iridium

Spirit of Iridium

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1. Russia to buy into Iridium communications system

Evgeniya Chaykovskaya

US satellites could help far-flung Russians talk to each other - but some fear national security could be compromised.

Phoning family in far-flung regions could be going global, amid reports that an advisory panel is set to recommend Russia signs up to an American satellite system to improve communications in the far north.

An analytical note seen by RBC Daily says of the four available services - including Russia’s own Gonets - Iridium is the only system with full coverage of the country, including the Arctic and the northern seaways.

Iridium’s network of 66 satellites makes it the largest of its type - but its rumoured connections with the Pentagon have alarmed some in Russia.

Yury Zaitsev, acting academic advisor to the Academy of Engineering Science, warned RBC Daily that all info on Iridium goes through a control centre in the USA - potentially giving them access to strategically important data from some of Russia’s most remote and unprotected border regions.

These distant settlements rely on satellites for phone and internet services because the population is too small and landline or mobile links are too expensive to set up.

The most likely clients are oil and energy companies and ship owners, and Iridium is apparently ready to open a gateway to Russia. But they would have to pass 51 per cent of its local subsidiary into Russian control.

One year ago there were also discussions about using Iridium in Russia, but no deal was reached. At the moment thousands of subscribers are using the service even though it is illegal.

source: moscow times

2. one year ago: cryptogon report on Iridium, a network apparently used for intelligence ops:

So, an Iridium satellite just happened to collide with a defunct Russian military satellite…

You’re about to learn how the sausage gets made, and, before we begin, you should know that it’s not pretty.

I don’t know the whole story about Iridium, but it has got to be one of the spookiest tales of them all.

In November 1998, Motorola activated the Iridium communications network, a constellation of low-earth orbit satellites that provides wireless telecom and data services to any location on the planet. The cost to build the system? About $5 billion. By August 1999, unable to sign up enough customers—because of extremely high handset costs and per minute usage fees—Iridium was facing bankruptcy.

(If you know of a more complete account of what happened next, please let me know about it.)

Iridium executive Dan Colussy put together a group of “private investors” to buy the Iridium system.

According to Iridium:

In December 2000, a group of private investors led by Dan Colussy organized Iridium Satellite LLC. Iridium Satellite LLC acquired the operating assets of the bankrupt Iridium LLC including the satellite constellation, the terrestrial network, Iridium real property and intellectual capital.

How much did this group of private investors pay for the system that cost about $5 billion to build?

$25 million. That’s a discount of about 99.5% off the build cost.

Who were those private investors who just happened to be at the right place at the right time? I’ll be buggered if I know, but someone, somewhere probably knows.

But guess what happened next.

…..snip….to DOD press release from 2000:

Since the Navy has a requirement more than twice as large as the current capability, the Department of Defense needs the capacity Iridium uniquely offers small unit operations in areas without satellite constellation coverage or during periods when various assets are being used in other contingencies. Special Forces operations, combat search and rescue activities and polar communications will also be enhanced. Iridium will provide a unique resource to enhance DoD mobile satellite communications requirements.

keep going….it gets much worse…..:

In an odd twist, the new Iridium is 24% owned by an investment firm controlled by Prince Khalid bin Abdullah bin Abdulrahman of Saudi Arabia.

The prince used to own a minority chunk of the old Iridium in partnership with the Saudi Binladen Group, the company run by Osama bin Laden’s family.

read more @ cryptogon

3. links to 911

Hot spots in Ground Zero debris piles contain widely-distributed pools of molten steel, at least 500 degrees Farenheit hotter than the maximum temperature of fires fueled by diesel or kerosene hydrocarbons, and thereby prove that agents, acting for Iridium 66, demolished the WTC towers through remotely-controlled ignitition of thermite bombs containing atomized aluminum powder.

Participants in the bogus Global Guardian war game of 9/11 used Iridium 66 satellites with encrypted Motorola radios.

The Iridium-Motorola equipment supports commanders of the only global communications network capable of remotely piloting aircraft (RPA) into targets on 9/11 and the remote controlled ignition of pre-positioned incendiaries in the planes and the towers of Ground Zero.

The apparently mobbed-up clean-up and cover-up crews who arrived on Ground Zero immediately after 9/11, came equipped with Iridium 66 and encrypted Motorola radios, the only communications network to survive the destruction at Ground Zero and the Pentagon’s U.S. Naval Command Center.

more here

4. early strategic investors,  found here: http://www.alamo-girl.com/0304.htm

The Iridium system is backed by nineteen strategic investors from around the world. Seventeen of the investor partners also participate in the operation and maintenance of 12 ground station “gateways” that link the Iridium system to the public switched telephone networks:

Iridium Africa Corporation Iridium Africa is associated with Mawarid Overseas Company Limited.
Iridium Andes-Caribe is a consortium of private Venezuelan investors
Iridium Brasil is a diversified Brazilian corporation
Iridium Middle East Corporation is owned by Mawarid Overseas Company Limited (see Iridium Africa), and Triniford Investments S.A., which is affiliated with the Saudi Binladin Group. Binladin is among the largest industrial groups in Saudi Arabia.
Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center A leading aerospace engineering and manufacturing company in the Russian Federation
Lockheed Martin Corporation A world leader in defense and space systems technology
Iridium Canada, Inc. BCE Mobile Communications, Inc. and BCE Telecom International, Inc. - both of which are affiliated with BCE Inc., Canada’s largest telecommunications company
Iridium China (Hong Kong) Ltd. is a wholly owned subsidiary of China Aerospace, a major diversified industrial group in China and also the parent company of China Great Wall Industries Corporation.
Iridium India Telecom Limited is a consortium of Indian financial institutions that initially invested in Iridium LLC through infrastructure Leasing & Financing Services, Ltd..
Iridium italia S.P.A. is an affiliate of Telecom Italia,
Raytheon Company is one of the world’s leading companies in the conception, development, manufacture, and sale of electronic systems, equipment, and components for government and commercial use.
SK Telecom Affiliated with Korea Telecommunications Corporation
South Pacific Iridium Holdings Limited is a subsidiary of PT Bakrie & Brothers, an Indonesia-based diversified holding company.
Sprint Iridium, Inc. is an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Sprint Corporation, which is a diversified telecommunications company.
Thai Satellite Telecommunications Co., Ltd. is affiliated with United Communications Industry Co., Ltd., which is the second-largest cellular telecommunications provider in Thailand
Motorola, Inc. is one of the world’s leading providers of wireless communications and electronic equipment, systems, components, and services.
Nippon Iridium (Bermuda) Limited is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nippon Iridium Corporation, which is a consortium formed in Bermuda by DDI Corporation
o.tel.o A subsidiary of VEBA AG and RWE AG, two of the largest corporations in Germany
Pacific Iridium Telecommunications Corporation (PITC) is a subsidiary of Pacific Electric Wire & Cable Co., Ltd., a diversified international corporation.

Repeat: Iridium Middle East Corporation is owned by Mawarid Overseas Company Limited (see Iridium Africa), and Triniford Investments S.A., which is affiliated with the Saudi Binladin Group. Binladin is among the largest industrial groups in Saudi Arabia

8/13/99 Ilaina Jonas Reuters “…Stocks of two of the three leading satellite telephone companies plummeted Thursday under the weight of major financing woes that cloud their future. Shares of Iridium World Communications LLC dropped more than 28 percent, or 1-11/16, to bottom out at an all-time low of 4-1/4 on the day after the struggling operator of a $5 billion satellite network defaulted on $1.5 billion in loans. The plunge landed the stock — which 15 months ago was trading at a lofty 72-3/8 — as the No. 1 percentage loser on the Nasdaq market Thursday….. Late Wednesday Washington, D.C.-based Iridium said it had defaulted on a $800 million loan and another $750 million loan after it failed to meet customer and revenue growth targets required under the larger of the two loans. Iridium, London-based ICO and Globalstar Telecommunications Ltd (Nasdaq:GSTRF - news)., an international group led by Loral Space & Communications Ltd (NYSE:LOR - news)., are scrambling to launch hand-held satellite phone services to allow customers to stay in touch any time from anyplace on the globe. Shares of Globalstar closed down 1/4 to 28. Iridium, the only company to launch service so far, has repeatedly stumbled, and its principal backer, telecommunications equipment maker Motorola Inc. (NYSE:MOT - news), has raised the possibility that it may have to liquidate….“At this time, banks may feel that Iridium’s future is significantly enhanced by a restructuring that includes a significant Motorola cash infusion,” C.E. Unterberg analyst William Kidd wrote in a research report. But Kidd warned an Iridium bankruptcy “may be awfully close.” ….”

lots at that site.

not for nothing

1. heeeyy, good news….Russia’s top ten billionaires — TEH OLIGARCHS — doubled their wealth! turns out this crisis wasn’t so bad after all… PHEW! i dunno about you but i was really worried about those guys.

Russia’s top ten billionaires have almost doubled their aggregate wealth in 12 months to $139.3 billion, the Finans business magazine reported on Wednesday. The global economic crisis saw the combined fortunes of the top ten richest Russians fall from 221 billion to 75.9 billion in 2008, the magazine reported. Since then, however, massive state injections of funds into global financial markets and government support for companies owned by Russian oligarchs has seen the trend bucked.

The 2010 rating of Russian billionaires to be released by Finans next Monday includes 500 people with an estimated fortune of 3.3 billion rubles ($110 million) As many as 77 Russians have a wealth of over $1 billion each.

As before, tycoon and Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich is among Russia’s three richest people. His fortune will enable him to keep the club afloat for another 100 years, Finans reported.

The identities of the top two richest Russians will be revealed by the magazine on Monday.

MOSCOW, February 10 (RIA Novosti)

2. Saudi Arabia, Angola, Iran remain top 3 oil suppliers for China

Saudi Arabia, Angola and Iran remained the three largest oil sources for China in 2009, with the three supplying 47.7 percent of China’s total imports, according data released Wednesday by the General Administration of Customs (GAC).

GAC figures showed that China’s oil imports from the three nations last year stood at 41.86 million tonnes, 32.17 million tonnes and 23.15 million tonnes, respectively. They represented a year-on-year increase of 15.1 percent, 7.6 percent and 8.6 percent, respectively.

…Saudi Arabia, the largest oil supplier to China, accounted for 20.5 percent of China’s total imports in 2009. Angola supplied 15.8 percent while Iran contributed 11.3 percent, according to GAC data.

Other main oil suppliers to China included Russia, Oman and Sudan.

more @ people’s daily online

3. Greeks protest as government slashes public spending

Mervyn King, the governor of the Bank of England was asked about Greece at a press conference on the BoE’s latest inflation report. His second statement could be translated as - their problem, not mine.  “I don’t think you can compare UK with Greece. We have different policies. We have very good track record and most importantly, the maturity of UK debt is much longer.” “This is an issue they’ll deal with within the euro area. It should be for my colleagues in the euro area to decide.”

…For a “I told you so” piece, here is Andrew Alexander of the Daily Mail, no friend of anything to do with the EU. His argument will be familiar to eurosceptics.

A particular flaw in having a ‘one-size-fits-all’ currency covering the rich and the poor, the cautious and the feckless, is that no member nation has its own currency which it can devalue or revalue in an attempt to extricate themselves from this crisis.

more @ guardian, many links

EU fear Greek ’spillover’ - “serious and persistent internal and external imbalance ‘threatens stability’ in the country. This in turn presents a ’serious risk of spillover into other parts of the euro area,’”

Berlin eyes ‘firewall’ to contain Greece debt crisis — “We are thinking about what we should do if the crisis spills from Greece into other euro countries,” said the official. “So it’s more about finding firewalls, containing the problem, than principally about helping the Greeks.”

nice. the EU: one big happy family.

4. Danny Ayalon faces hostile crowd in UK

(VIDEO) LONDON – Despite securing a promise by the UK’s Foreign Office that he would not be arrested upon arrival there, Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon was not exempt from the rage of pro-Palestinian demonstrators waiting for him both outside and inside a lecture hall in London. One protestor at the Oxford University hall, where Ayalon spoke Tuesday, waved the Palestinian flag and interrupted Ayalon’s lecture for several long minutes, during which he did not stop yelling at the Israeli minister and called him a “racist” and “a war criminal.”

more @ ynet

http://www.ynet.co.il/english/articles/0,7340,L-3846746,00.html

5. Marines gear up for assault - “hailed by officers as the biggest offensive in the eight-year-old war.” great. what could possibly go wrong?

Thousands of Afghan, US and Nato forces are expected to launch Operation Mushtarak (Together) in a bid to clear the Taleban out of Marjah, home to some 80,000 people, and expand the control of the Western-backed Afghan government. A US Marines officer said late on Tuesday that the operation, to be led jointly by Marines and the Afghan army had not yet begun. ‘The Marines have not started the operation in Marjah,’ he said, adding: ‘The operation will be led by the Marines and their Afghan partners.’  Officials and witnesses say families have fled, loading goats, furniture and clothes on to vehicles and heading to safety in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province around 20 kilometres to the north.

more @ straits times

6. bases in Afghanistan indicate permanent presence

Today, according to official sources, approximately 700 bases of every size dot the Afghan countryside, and more, like the one in Shinwar, are under construction or soon will be as part of a base-building boom that began last year.

Existing in the shadows, rarely reported on and little talked about, this base-building program is nonetheless staggering in size and scope, and heavily dependent on supplies imported from abroad, which means that it is also extraordinarily expensive. It has added significantly to the already long secret list of Pentagon property overseas and raises questions about just how long, after the planned beginning of a drawdown of American forces in 2011, the US will still be garrisoning Afghanistan.

…The Pentagon’s most recent inventory of bases lists a total of 716 overseas sites. These include facilities owned and leased all across the Middle East as well as a significant presence in Europe and Asia, especially Japan and South Korea. Perhaps even more notable than the Pentagon’s impressive public foreign property portfolio are the many sites left off the official inventory. While bases in the Persian Gulf countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates are all listed, one conspicuously absent site is al-Udeid air base, a billion-dollar facility in nearby Qatar, where the US Air Force secretly oversees its ongoing unmanned drone wars.

The count also does not include any sites in Iraq where, as of August 2009, there were still nearly 300 American bases and outposts. Similarly, US bases in Afghanistan - a significant percentage of the 400 foreign sites scattered across the country - are noticeably absent from the Pentagon inventory.

more @ asia times

7. Russia: large-scale war less possible, but threats remain

MOSCOW, February 10 (RIA Novosti) - Russia’s military policies are aimed at avoiding an arms race and military conflicts, but they should also correspond to real threats which the country faces, Russia’s security chief Nikolai Patrushev said in an interview with the Russian government daily.

On February 5, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced that he has approved the country’s new military doctrine, which allows preventive nuclear strikes against potential aggressors.

The Rossiyskaya Gazeta published on Wednesday the full text of the doctrine.

“The unleashing of a large-scale war is becoming less possible… At the same time, regions, where conflicts are possible, remain,” Patrushev told the paper, adding “these conflicts could lead to a war with the use of both ordinary and nuclear weapons.”

Among the threats which could destabilize the situation in the world, the Russian security chief named the expansion of NATO, the Iranian nuclear program, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

more @ ria novosti

terrorist arrests in Malaysia

1. terror suspects arrested in Malaysia linked to patsy underpants, according to unnamed foreign anti-terrorism agencies

Terrorism suspects from Jordan, Nigeria, Syria and Yemen have been detained in Malaysia, activists say as a report linked them to the Nigerian behind the botched Christmas plane bombing….“It was learnt that foreign anti-terrorism agencies informed Malaysian authorities that the 10 were linked to Abdulmutallab and that they were in Malaysia,” said the daily on Thursday, which did not cite any sources for its report.

Malaysia’s controversial ISA has been used in the past against alleged militants, including members of Southeast Asian extremist group Jemaah Islamiyah, which is linked to Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network. One JI member released in 2008 is accused of hosting a planning meeting ahead of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Analysts say that other militants affiliated with Al-Qaeda have used Kuala Lumpur for meetings and logistics.

more @ sydney morning herald

2. GMI claims 14, not 10, held under ISA

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 28 — The Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) today claimed that 14 people, including a Malaysian, were being held under the recent Internal Security Act (ISA) swoop, as opposed to the 10 announced by the Home Ministry yesterday.

It identified nine of the detainees as Azzahari Murad (Malaysia); Aiman Al Dakkak (Syria); Mohamed Hozifa (Syria); Kutiba Al-Issa (Syria); Khalid Salem (Yemen); Luqman Abdul Salam (Nigeria); Hassan Barudi (Syria); Hussam Khalid (Jordan); and Abdul Alhi Bolajoko Uthman (Nigeria).

It has yet to determine the identities of the remaining three while another two were detained earlier. GMI said the 14 were part of 50 detained in a security operation in Sungai Cincin, Gombak near here, GMI chairman Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh disclosed today. Syed Ibrahim told reporters that all 50 were picked up on Jan 21, after having stayed there since 2003. “So they are not foreigners who have just arrived here,” he said, disputing Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein’s statement that those detained had just come to Malaysia and were part of an international terror ring.

Syed Ibrahim disclosed that of the 50 picked up, all but 12 were released at 3am the next day. “From the 12, GMI obtained nine names and we are trying to establish the [identities of the] other three and two more we just found out today,” he added. He said the latter two were identified as Abdullah Ahmad Alsehine (Saudi Arabia) who was detained on Jan 17, and Ibrahim (Nigeria) who was initially detained on Jan 21.“Ibrahim has yet to be detected with the other four until now,” he added. Syed Ibrahim also said information from the Saudi Arabian embassy showed that Abdullah was still in the country.

A witness to the security operation, Muhammad Yunus Zainal Abidin, 25, who was also at today’s press conference, recounted how armed policemen had burst into the house at about 9.30pm that night, disrupting the study session led by Aiman. “They said: ‘Ini operasi keselamatan dalam negeri’ (this is a home affairs security operation),” Yunus told reporters. It is understood that this is the first time that a large number of foreign students have been detained under the ISA since the Sept 11 attacks in the United States.

“Using the ISA to get forced confessions and creating a plot without proof is unfair. “ISA is the easiest tool to shift international pressure by making foreign nationals, in this case [from] the Middle East, as the scapegoats,” he added. “GMI believes that the new detentions may have been initiated in response to international pressure on terrorist threats in Malaysia,” said Syed Ibrahim.

“It might be related to the US travel advisory two weeks ago about criminals and terrorists targeting foreigners in east Sabah or to what is happening in the US and UK,” he said. “But nothing can be confirmed,” he said, and added that he will raise the issue directly with Hishammuddin this afternoon at the government briefing on itst plans to revamp the ISA. Syed Ibrahim added that the latest developments showed double standards by the government, which has promised to reform the ISA. The ISA is a preventive security law that allows for detention without trial.

Media reports today said that those detained were linked to the Nigerian underwear bomber who tried to detonate explosives aboard a US-bound flight last Christmas Day.

source: malaysian insider

3. some Malaysians believe their government is behind the civil unrest

Doc: Why do I believe it was Umno? Because:

(i) The Herald case failed to galvanise Malay support and backfired on them terribly, serving only to alienate them further from Malays. They needed to try something, anything, to regain popularity among the masses;
(ii) Placing boars’ head in mosques is not a good idea because things may really get out of hand (few dare to do this);
(iii) Exploiting racial and religions issues is a trademark of Umno;
(iv) Inspector-general of police Musa Hassan was at the scene of the incident as soon as it happened. Musa’s response is usually rapid in matters concerning Umno’s interests;
(v) These are desperate times for Umno and desperate measures are needed to regain lost support.

Christopher: So Umno has done what they know best when under siege - create public chaos. I suspect that they are planning something big, like declaring emergency rule or embarking on mass arrests under the Internal Security Act.

Watchman: Umno stands to gain if there is any racial disturbance. It tried to rile up the Christians with their church burnings and other minor acts of destruction. They are cunning enough not to create too much damage or stay too long as to get caught. It didn’t work. The Christians didn’t bite.

Umno tried the same tactics on the Sikhs. They also didn’t bite. Now Umno is trying it on the Muslims. Right-thinking Muslims will also not bite, despite prodding from Umno and Jakim (Islamic Development Department ).

Pak Ubu: Only an idiot would believe that these provocative acts are spontaneous and not part of Umno’s desperate plan to trigger racial-religious violence in the streets, which would give them an excuse to declare a national emergency and impose martial law.

Malaysian for Malaysia: This is more likely the work agent provocateurs trying to instigate Muslims into retaliating violently. Non-Muslims in Malaysia aren’t so stupid or suicidal as to start an outright religious clash with Muslims who make up 70 percent of the population in Peninsular Malaysia.

Someone is trying to instigate Muslims, and this does not bode well. What are the police doing? Sitting on their hands when not harassing opposition ceramahs?

more @ malaysiakini

the flames burning all around

Current interlinked narratives — apologies for the length:

1. UK raises the terror alert to “severe.” AS A RESULT of underpants bomber, the security services have tightened their vigilance.

Thus we shall be grateful for the crisis narrowly averted, hmm? It has borne the fruits of hyper-vigilance, a symptom, by the way, of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. But who’s counting…

“We still face a real and serious threat to the U.K. from international terrorism, so I would urge the public to remain vigilant and carry on reporting suspicious events to the appropriate authorities and to support the police and security services in their continuing efforts to discover, track and disrupt terrorist activity,” he said, adding that U.K. residents and travelers need to be “more aware.”Home Secretary Alan Johnson, as reported in USA Today

This brings UK policies in line with US DHS policies. We are all on the same page now, hallelujah. A terrorist attack is “highly likely,” but there’s no “intelligence to suggest that an attack is imminent.”

What is the “intelligence” “suggesting?”

1. The increased concern followed intelligence analysis. Communications and activities of terror suspects were being monitored. The new “severe” threat is the second highest possible.

2. ‘We have a very adept and very focused counter-terrorism facility, people should be reassured by that.’ He said that moving to the different threat level meant people had to be more alert.

3. The danger assessment was made by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, which constantly reviews the situation. It looks at the intent and capabilities of terror groups. Although it means an attack is now believed to be almost certain, Mr Johnson stressed it was not expected in the very near future.

So the attack is “almost certain,” but not in the “very near future.” The “intelligence” “suggests” people need to be more “alert,” and more “concerned,” and to “carry on reporting suspicious events” to the “appropriate authorities” and “to support the police and security services” in their efforts to “discover, track and disrupt terrorist activity.” Roger that.

Note that all such vigilant efforts can be tied back to patsy underpants, who, by almost taking down that commercial airliner over Detroit, alerted us once again to the ever-present menace of international terrorism. SO he did us a favor in a way. See? He justified the increased vigilance, which now pays off. We Hope. Because, of course, we know the terrorists are so very wily, and they seem magically able to outwit even our best, most vigilant efforts. Let’s hope we don’t have any more of that unfortunate bugaboo: Human Error.

2. The tie to Africa and the Caribbean.

The UK terror alert measures followed a Tuesday meeting between Brown and President Obama. Brown said Britain and other countries face a “sharply growing threat” from al qaeda linked terrorists in Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria, Sudan and Ethiopia.

On Thursday Newtime Africa reported that the Jamaican cleric Abdullah al-Faisal had finally been deported, on the second attempt, from Kenya back to Jamaica. He was due in court. He left Kenya on a private chartered Gulfstream jet, last week.

Nairobi - Kenya has sent controversial Jamaican-born Muslim cleric Abdullah al-Faisal back to his homeland, a state prosecutor said Thursday, days after protests demanding his release turned deadly. Edward Okello told a Nairobi court where al-Faisal was due to appear that the cleric had been put on a private jet to Jamaica. Al-Faisal, who has served time in the UK for inciting racial hatred and is on international terrorist watch list, arrived in Kenya from Tanzania in late December, and was arrested around a week later. Kenya tried to deport him to The Gambia earlier this month, but he was sent back. Police on Friday broke up a demonstration in support of al-Faisal, firing bullets and tear gas into the crowd. Five protesters died from bullet wounds. The 45-year-old cleric was sentenced to four years imprisonment in Britain in 2003 after he called on his followers to kill Jews and Hindus. He was deported upon his release in 2007. Born Trevor William Forrest in St James, Jamaica, he went to Saudi Arabia aged 16 and converted to Islam.

Yes, he seems to get around, that notorious terrorist hater. He must have connections. But now, and I tell you this with a straight face, his whereabouts are not exactly known. Because, evidently, of the many righteous people in positions of authority, who have declined to issue him a transit visa, lest he pollute their pristine airspace with his terrorist fumes…or something….I guess it’s not exactly Human Error, or maybe it is but it is Well Intentioned. In any event it seems EXCEEDINGLY OBTUSE AND LEGALISTIC CAN’T SEE THE FOREST FOR THE TREES for people who claim to be serious about fighting terrorism twenty four seven.

Their first effort stalled after several countries denied him an intransit visa and airlines that fly to friendly countries refused to transport him….Al Faisal’s exact location was not immediately clear. Officials say he had already left Kenya on a privately-chartered Gulfstream jet. But leader of the Kenya Muslim Rights Forum Al-Amin Kimathi, told the media the preacher was still at Nairobi airport. However sources at the airport later confirmed the plane had left, but not until several hours after he had been due in court.

Another source: First Tanzania refused him entry, and then on his way to the Gambia, an airline refused to take him beyond Nigeria because he is on several international terror watchlists.“We wanted to be furnished with documents to show which anti-terrorism police unit officers followed him, who is the pilot, which plane, and such other documents,’ Harun Ndubi said.

Another source: In Nairobi, Immigration minister Otieno Kajwang’ appealed to Britain and the United States governments to allow a-Faisal to transit through their countries. He said the government was stuck with the preacher because all routes to Jamaica must connect through either Britain or America.

The minister said if al-Faisal was to be flown out of the country by the national carrier, Kenya Airways, the connection would be at Gatwick in Britain then to Kingston, Jamaica. However Britain has been adamantly opposed to allow al-Faisal to transit through London. The preacher once served a four-year jail term in that country for hate speech.

The other option available to Kenya, according to Mr Kajwang’ said, was an offer by the Qatar government allowing al-Faisal to transit through its capital Doha. However, the flight must connect through Miami in Florida, USA.

South Africa had also accepted to allow the preacher to pass through its airport en route to Brazil who have no problem either. But the flight has to go through Havana, Cuba, where authorities have declined the arrangement.

As such, Mr Kajwang’ said, Kenya was left “with the last option of hiring a plane but it must connect through somewhere to fuel and again we do not have the money.” Al-Faisal was expected in Kingston on Wednesday, the Jamaican newspaper reported.

Another source: Radical Muslim cleric Sheikh Abdullah El-Faisal is expected to arrive in Jamaica today. A Senior Officer in the Jamaica Constabulary Force told the Gleaner that El Faisal is to arrive at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston sometime this morning. The source also said the controversial cleric is to be placed under extra scrutiny by the police. However, the source declined to elaborate on the matter.

Despite international reports of the deportation, the Police High Command and the Minister of Foreign Affairs have both claimed ignorance of the exact date of arrival of El Faisal. They have also said that no extra security measures are to be implemented against the cleric despite the fact that he is on an international watch list of terrorists.

What a pain in the ass. Finally, it appears that he did indeed arrive safely in Jamaica! Phew! Traveling in style like a Rock Star.

JAMAICAN-BORN Muslim cleric, Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal, was quizzed by Special Branch investigators for nearly an hour [hoo boy that sounds like a brutal interrogation! - ed.] when he returned to the island last night.

One investigator made it clear that al-Faisal had not broken any laws here, but said the police wanted to make sure they knew where and how to find him “because of the international attention he has received”.

“He is a very smart man. He can tell us he is going to be here or there, but we want to make sure,” said one investigator, who recorded the licence plate of the minibus that whisked al-Faisal from the Norman Manley International Airport. [GOOD IDEA! - ed.]

Confronted by reporters as he exited the airport, the controversial Muslim cleric said he was too tired to answer any questions after two days of flying.

He would not disclose the route his plane took, but said the flight had been paid for by a South African company.

Informed sources told The Gleaner that after leaving Kenya, al-Faisal’s plane made fuel stops in the West African country of Burkina Faso, the Republic of Cape Verde and Antigua.

One source said al-Faisal told investigators the trip cost US$500,000.

The controversial cleric was ordered deported by Kenyan officials who labelled him a security threat. However, since the deportation order, several countries, including the United States, have refused to allow planes carrying al-Faisal to fly over their air space or provide him with an in-transit visa.

(I can’t believe they made him carry his own bags!)

This is as good a time as any to point out that some people in Nigeria and some people in Jamaica find it grossly unfair to be associated in the public mind with patsy underpants and notorious criminal al-Faisal, seeing as both men were raised and educated elsewhere.

“This is just one instance of a Nigerian who, it is clearly established, has no link with any fundamentalist group or any interest group within Nigeria, not even with his parents….America should look inward and search their souls, there is something wrong with their system and they should not punish Nigerians who are very law-abiding and good international citizens for the failure and irresponsibility of American operatives, Nigeria will not take that.” - Nigerian Senate President David Mark

“Indeed, he is a citizen of Jamaica by birth and no one can deny him access. However, he was taught and trained in a foreign territory and not in Jamaica. For example, he was converted to Islam and completed eight years of studies at a university in Saudi Arabia. He resided in the United Kingdom for 26 years and was deported from that country on May 25, 2007 after spending time in prison for criminal offences…His only connection to Jamaica is by birth, and he did not relinquish his citizenship or ties with Jamaica. Therefore, Jamaica has to accommodate such an individual in a country that already has a tarnished image. Abdullah al-Faisal has created a bad image for himself and has cast a bad shadow on everybody living in Jamaica, especially the Muslim group whose members are law-abiding citizens. Upon his arrival, authorities will have their work cut out for them in order to monitor his whereabouts.” — letter to the editor, Jamaica Observer

Except that the authorities appear to be treating al-Faisal like a ROCK STAR after his half mil private chartered Gulfstream flight paid for by some South African company after the US and UK were prevented — by a fit of moral compunction — to facilitate the criminal’s extradition to a court of law.

Weird, huh? After all that talk about vigilance.

3. Meanwhile, Gates had barely left India for Pakistan when the terrorist threats began in earnest there.

http://cbs2.com/national/Britian.terror.threat.2.1443420.html

This move by British officials comes as Indian authorities issued a terrorism alert over chatter that al Qaeda operatives planned to hijack a plane. India has largely been free of terror attacks since 10 heavily armed militants affiliated with a Pakistan-based militant group rampaged through the commercial capital Mumbai for three days in November 2008, killing 166 people.

India issued a terror alert at all its airports Thursday after the government received warnings about a possible attack, aviation spokeswoman Moushumi Chakravarty said.

A report in The Indian Express newspaper, which Chakravarty confirmed, said intelligence officials had uncovered a plot by militants linked to al Qaeda and the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba group to hijack an Air India or Indian Airlines flight destined for an unspecified South Asian country. There were no indications that the United Kingdom was in any way related to the uncovered hijack plot.

I collected about twenty or so stories this week here and here to flesh this out. The overall arc is the US will give cover to India while Pakistan-linked terrorists attack India or another Southeast Asian country, involving India. The key point being, evidently, to justify a response from India.

Just like the patsy underpants attack justified a response from the US and the UK.

This post deals with the connections between India, Pakistan, Southeast Asia and terrorism.

4. Meanwhile, the Clash of Civilization fires burn brightly, and Nicholas Sarkozy has the gasoline ready just in case.

But the UK is in Europe. In order for terrorism to be an international menace, problems must be seeded all over the world. *YOU* may experience difficulty traveling, but unlike you, terrorists use their mysterious international connections to travel, so that they show up halfway around the world, dammit, to commit mayhem in The West, and nobody can understand anything except that they came from a Muslim country.

Nicholas Sarkozy seems to have a special skill for mind-fucking. Notice that he parrots, almost religiously, whatever position Tel Aviv favors. Notice at the same time, he plays kiss kiss hug hug with Lebanon. Israel wants to bomb Lebanon again, just as they did in 2006. Make no mistake about it. Whether it’s Ghajar, or the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, or an attack on UNIFIL — something will take place to justify attacking Lebanon. And Lebanon is connected to Hizbollah, and Hizbollah is connected to Iran, and so whatever happens it will progress like a lit fuse with Wile E. Coyote until it reaches Iran.

To that end, Sarkozy makes various inflammatory statements. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3838323,00.html

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Saturday that he is “convinced that Iran is pursuing a nuclear program and the Israel will not abide that,” the London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Hayat reported.

According to the report, Sarkozy, who met with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Paris, said France has proof that Tehran is developing a nuclear bomb and that Israel may choose to take action to neutralize the threat.

Oh, well, PLEASE DO SHARE THE “PROOF!”

The paper also quoted Sarkozy as saying that if given a choice between Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he would choose the latter.

The French president also spoke of the recent international sanctioned proposed against the Islamic Republic by the UN Security Council, saying such sanctions may soon become a reality.

Meanwhile, Sarkozy also announced that Paris was willing to supply Beirut with whatever military equipment it needed.

Talk about running both sides of the conflict. Even though France worries, they just worry half to death, that the weapons will end up in Hizbullah’s hands.But, at the same time, they don’t want to leave the Lebanese unprotected.

Sources close to the French president told al-Hayat that Sarkozy said his country “cannot support and protect Lebanon’s independence without giving its military the necessary means of defense.” France, he reportedly added, needs neither the US nor Israel’s permission to support Lebanon’s independence. Should Israel views the issue as problematic, he added, “We will reach an understanding with it on the matter.”

In any case, there’s nothing to worry about because France and Israel are friends, and the only danger to Lebanon comes from Hizbullah and Iran. !!

Kouchner said Lebanese’ mounting concerns amid Israeli threats of another war were “not justified.” “Israel is our friend, and if there was a threat to Lebanon, it will only come from a military adventure carried out by Hizbullah in the best interest of Iran,” Kouchner warned.

Un-flipping-believable. So while all that is going on, Sarkozy — big world leader — keeps Muslim women in his cross-hairs in France, making sure that the French people have an annoying distraction caused by Muslims, while spinning it all as a morality play, and being a big tease about the whole thing just to keep the tension simmering.

Mr Sarkozy last week reiterated his view that the full veil was not welcome in France “because it is contrary to our values and contrary to the ideals we have of a woman’s dignity”. But he stopped short of calling for a legal ban in all public places, as proposed by some members of his party.

Another source: In a country whose national emblem is Marianne, a bare-chested woman, there is deepening concern over the all-encompassing garb, often black or brown and worn with gloves, attire typical in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. Here, it is widely viewed as a gateway to radical Islam, an attack on gender equality and other French values, and a gnawing away at the nation’s secular foundation.

And of course he faithfully channels whatever Bibi would say regarding Iran.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday called for “strong measures” by the United Nations Security Council against Iran, to exert pressure on Tehran to return to negotiations on its nuclear program. Speaking in Paris, Sarkozy said that the European Union should also “assume its responsibilities” in putting pressure on Iran to enter into talks.
Sarkozy warned that hesitation by the international community on the issue would carry “a great weight of responsibility”, reports Reuters. “Despite all our efforts, and a new engagement by the United States, and despite our ambitious proposals for cooperation, the Iranian authorities are blocked in a one-way street of proliferation and radicalism,” he said in an address to diplomats based in France.
“Today, they have added to that the brutal repression of their own people,” he added.

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vowed that world powers would “not back down” in the face of Iran’s continued refusal to prove its nuclear intentions are peaceful. Iran has shunned a United Nations-brokered nuclear fuel deal, aimed at easing the standoff over its nuclear program. Tehran, which insists that its nuclear program is for civilian purposes, has vowed to press forward with its uranium enrichment program, despite UN demands to halt such work.

They demand Iran prove a negative, and they offer NO PROOF of Iran’s supposed nuclear program. They have none. If France has some proof, show it to the world. There’s probably nothing there but another forged document.

Why does this next war need to happen? The nuclear program narrative justifies what they want to do — which is bomb various targets in Iran. Iran’s alleged nuclear program, for which no evidence has ever been provided, makes a good excuse to bomb Iran’s oil fields — to control Iran’s resources. Which must happen because the failing fiat currency, the US dollar, needs to be replaced, and they don’t want any Islamic non-usurious banking system luring their wage slaves away. Who controls the currency? The Rothschilds and the Rockefellers and the other banking families.

All the rest is psyops and profiteering and human sacrifice.

pakistan is being totally screwed

1. CHABAD vows not to bow to terror, wants to open 3 more houses in Mumbai, queen’s cousin Michael of Kent visits Nariman House, pledges his support

Three more Chabad Houses to come up in city, says director of Chabad relief fund

To prove that their morale is not defeated yet, the Chabad Lubavitch community, owners of the 26/11-hit Nariman House, have decided to construct more Chabads in the city. “We have decided to build three more Chabads in different parts of the city, and that will be our message to terrorists — that we won’t bow to them,” said Rabbi Avraham Berkowitz, director of Chabad relief fund, the society led by the community members determined to reconstruct Nariman House.

However, Avraham didn’t disclose any locations,”We are in the process of restructuring the existing Chabad House, and have decided to raise $1.5 million (approx Rs 7 crore) for the same.”

Since the massacre at Nariman House, no new Rabbi has taken over the charge. “We are expecting the new Rabbi to come in February with his wife. They will live in a rented accommodation till the Chabad gets its new look,” added Avraham.

UK royal’s visit

Queen Elizabeth II’s first cousin, Prince Michael of Kent visited the Chabad last afternoon and pledged his support. “I pledge to support the community in every manner,” said the Prince.

source: mid-day

2. Gates knows where the militants are: Pakistan and Afghanistan. puts pressure on Pakistan to straighten this out before something bad happens and it will be all Pakistan’s fault. oh and don’t bother “making distinctions” either - - just get them all. ok? yes of course we support you kiss kiss hug hug. good luck run along now we’re having lunch with india. tata!

ISLAMABAD - US DEFENSE Secretary Robert Gates warned on Thursday that Taleban safe havens along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border must be tackled or both nations would suffer ‘more lethal and more brazen’ attacks. Writing in Pakistan’s The News at the start of a two-day visit to Islamabad, Gates stressed Washington’s commitment to Pakistan and praised military offensives launched against the Pakistani Taleban in recent months. But US officials have made clear that Washington is anxious to see Islamabad also target the Afghan Taleban within its borders and Al-Qaeda-linked militants using the northwest tribal region to plot and launch attacks into Afghanistan.

‘It is important to remember that the Pakistani Taliban operates in collusion with both the Taleban in Afghanistan and Al-Qaeda, so it is impossible to separate those groups,’ Mr Gates wrote. ‘If history is any indication, safe havens for either Taleban, on either side of the border, will in the long run lead to more lethal and more brazen attacks in both nations,’ he added in the editorial. Mr Gates wrote that making distinctions between the different extremist groups was ‘counterproductive’. ‘Only by pressuring all of these groups on both sides of the border will Afghanistan and Pakistan be able to rid themselves of this scourge for good - to destroy those who promote the use of terror here and abroad,’ he said. — AFP

source: straits times

3. Pak army tells Gates where to stick the pressure. it can’t launch any new offenses for 6 months at least to stabilize gains already made. Gates totally understands. totally supportive. of course this will make it much easier to blame Pak when something goes wrong.

The Pakistani army said Thursday during a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates that it can’t launch any new offensives against militants for six months to a year to give it time to stabilize existing gains. The announcement probably comes as a disappointment to the U.S., which has pushed Pakistan to expand its military operations to target militants staging cross-border attacks against coalition troops in Afghanistan. Washington believes such action is critical to success in Afghanistan as it prepares to send an additional 30,000 troops to the country this year.

But the comments by army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas clearly indicate Pakistan will not be pressured in the near term to expand its fight beyond militants waging war against the Pakistani state. Whether it can be convinced in the long term is still an open question. “We are not talking years,” Abbas told reporters traveling with Gates. “Six months to a year” would be needed before Pakistan could stabilize existing gains and expand any operations, he said.

…Referring to intense political pressure in Washington to lean harder on Pakistan, Gates sounded sanguine. “As I try to remind Congress from time to time, and frankly some of the folks in the administration, it’s the Pakistanis who have their foot on the accelerator, not us,” Gates told reporters at the start of his two-day visit to Pakistan. The political pressure goes two ways. Suspicion of U.S. motives runs high in Pakistan, and many Pakistanis bristle as the notion that Washington could dictate the country’s priorities even with a recent promise of an unprecedented $1.5 billion in annual aid. “We have to do this in a way that is comfortable for them, and at a pace that they can accommodate and is tolerable for them,” Gates said. “Frankly, I’m comfortable doing that. I think having them set that pace as to what they think the political situation will bear is almost certainly the right thing to do.”

He also said his talks with Pakistan’s leaders were intended to explain the U.S. war strategy in Afghanistan and reassure Pakistan that the United States is “in this for the long haul.”

more @ naharnet

4. oh by the way, Tehran, Islamabad finalize gas pipeline deal, against the advice of Richard Holbrooke, and something that India wanted to do but dropped out of after 13 years. that should all blow over like a lead balloon.

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran and Pakistan finalized an agreement to build a gas pipeline which is due to take Iran’s rich gas reserves to his energy hungry nation, a Pakistani official announced.

The two countries will sign an accord on the pipeline next week, Pakistani Federal Minister for Petroleum Naveed Qamar said.  Qamar also said the federal government is taking serious measures to combat the current energy crisis in the country, Pakistani daily Dawn reported.  The Pakistani minister’s remarks came as the US special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke had earlier urged Islamabad to avoid the deal with Iran.

Holbrooke said the US would help Pakistan secure liquefied natural gas supplies, should it abandon the planned gas deal with Iran.

The 2,775 km Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline, nicknamed Peace Pipeline, was initially planned to take natural gas from Iran to India. However, due to rising tensions between India and Pakistan, New Delhi stepped back from the later stages of negotiations, although it has never formally withdrawn from the scheme. The IPI pipeline was proposed in 1995, and, after almost 13 years of negotiations, India decided to step back last year. Indian officials have many times cited security issues and the viability of the pipeline that would pass through the territory of rival Pakistan, where a near-civil war is raging between government forces and pro-Taliban militants.

In a major breakthrough on March 20, the Pakistani government approved Iran’s proposed pricing formula for gas supplies to the South Asian nation and the two sides eventually signed a bilateral agreement just a few months ago.

source: fars

5. Gates directing the narrative in India: opens the umbrella for LeT, al qaeda syndicate present, tells India that it must be running out of patience (wink wink wink!)

Warning that India may not show restraint in the event of another Mumbai-style attack, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates today said a “syndicate” of terror groups, including the Lashkar-e-Toiba, were “operating under the umbrella of al-Qaeda” and trying to destabilise the region, even attempting to provoke a war between India and Pakistan.

Gates, who met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Defence Minister A K Antony, called for a “high level of cooperation” from all countries to defeat the “syndicate” of terror which had “home and safe haven” in the border areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“While al-Qaeda is operating in Afghanistan along with the Taliban, the Tehreek-e-Taliban is focusing on Pakistan. The LeT is focusing on Pakistan as also India,” Gates told reporters. “The success of any one of them is success for all… Victory for one is victory for all. These groups operate under the umbrella of al-Qaeda from NWFP and Waziristan.”

“Under the umbrella, they intend to destabilise not only Pakistan, but the entire region by provoking confrontation between India and Pakistan through terror attacks. This is very dangerous for the entire region as a whole,” he said.

source: indian express

6. so India decides to crackdown on….. Maoists! watch out poor people.

Thousands of paramilitary personnel have launched a crackdown to target some 50 Maoist leaders across the country in a bid to crush what is described as India’s biggest internal security challenge.

“We would be breaking the neck (of the Maoist movement) by arresting all their senior leaders like Kishenji,” a highly placed official in the security establishment said in an interview. “We believe there could be around 50 such leaders scattered all over. We are targeting them to make the entire movement headless and make a serious dent,” the official told IANS. “With this it would be relatively easy to take on the rest of Maoist guerrillas,” the official added, providing for the first time operational details of the coordinated and sweeping security drive.

As of now, operations are under way in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal and Maharashtra — five states where the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) is most active, mainly among tribals living in remote interiors who are among the poorest of the poor. The operational methods would, however, differ from the way Sri Lanka’s military crushed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) last year, it was pointed out.

…According to rough estimates, over 60,000 paramilitary forces would be in action against 6,000-7,000 Maoists armed with heavy weapons as well as light machine guns, AK-47s, AK-56s and Insas rifles….Another official said the security forces, especially the CRPF, have got six trained dogs each for the “special sector” (Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra), “eastern sector” (Orissa and West Bengal) and the “Bihar sector” (Bihar and Jharkhand) to help take on the Maoists.

more @ mid-day

7. Soren govt calls off -anti-Naxal ops, has cops livid

At a time when states are teaming up to crack down on Naxalites, the Shibu Soren-led government in Jharkhand, one of the states worst affected by Naxal violence, has quietly halted operations, including long range patrols and raids directed at the extremists. And in one of the first fallouts, eight policemen were killed in a landmine blast triggered by Naxals in Gumla last Friday.

Central paramilitary forces, including 28 CRPF companies, are being made to wait by the state government while the Special Task Force, comprising personnel of the Jharkhand Armed Police who have been trained in jungle warfare and anti-landmine techniques, are back in the barracks. The securitymen were deployed in the districts of Ranchi, Palamau, Lohardaga and Gumla.

The Soren government’s move to put the brakes on anti-Naxal operations, within days of taking charge of the state, has set off alarm bells in the security establishment. An Intelligence official told The Indian Express that “Jharkhand is set to become a safe haven” for Naxalites who are beginning to feel the heat in the other states that make up the Red Corridor.

more @ indian express

8. November 2009: exploring connections between Naxalism, Chabad, India, Israel, mining

9. Hyderabad STF catch was in-charge of terror recruitments, including one who was planning something against Western tourists in Goa

Mohammed Abdul Khwaja (30), a commander of the militant group Huji for South India who was caught by the Hyderabad Special Task Force recently, was in-charge of recruiting youth from the region and training them to be terrorists, say the police. It is believed he was  responsible for making Raziuddin Nasir, who was planning serial blasts in Goa, a suicide bomber. Nasir, son of Hyderabad-based cleric Moulana Naseeruddin, has been arrested by the state police on charges of plotting a series of bomb attacks on western tourists in Goa.

Khwaja, who was working in Saudi Arabia, invited Nasir to Riyadh, from there he was sent to Pakistan with a duplicate passport for training.
Nasir returned to India
after the training and was in regular touch with Khwaja while taking shelter in North Karnataka.  He was acting as handler to Nasir giving instructions to Nasir and passing out information to his bosses in Pakistan and Bangladesh, said police officials.

more @ mid-day

10. Holbrooke — we won’t broker talks, you  kids work it out amongst yourselves

The United States has once again clarified that it would not broker talks between India and Pakistan, and said pending issues should be resolved by them amicably. Interacting with editors and columnists here, US Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke said Washington would support any initiative taken by both countries to improve their ties. “It is for Pakistan and India to engage in a process of dialogue, and we support it,” The Daily Times quoted Holbrooke, as saying.

Responding to Indian Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor’s recent statement that the Indian Armed forces were capable enough of taking on both Pakistan and China simultaneously, Holbrooke said it was his (General Kapoor’s) personal opinion and that it did not reflect New Delhi’s policy. “What General Kapoor said does not reflect the Indian national policy,” Holbrooke said.

source: indian express

11. India’s “massive” arms build up will jeopardize regional balance: Pak

Expressing concern over the alleged ‘massive’ arms build up by India, Pakistan’s National Command Authority (NCA) has said that New Delhi could jeopardise the regional balance by such moves. The NCA blamed India for rejecting Pakistan’s proposal for maintaining a strategic restraint regime in South Asia.

A press release issued after the meeting said that India’s massive inductions of advanced weapon systems, build up of nuclear arsenal and delivery systems could to destabilise regional balance. “This relentless pursuit of military preponderance will have severe consequences for peace and security in South Asia, as well as for the Indian Ocean region. Pakistan cannot be oblivious to these developments,” The News quoted the statement, as saying. The NCA also took note of remarks made in India that it was cable of conducting conventional military operations under a nuclear umbrella terming it as an ‘irresponsible’ statement.

“Such irresponsible statements reflected a hegemonic mindset, oblivious of dangerous implications of adventurism in a nuclearised context,” the statement said.

source: indian express

note that it’s called the PERSIAN Gulf

1. Iran will retaliate on Western warships if Gulf attacked

Iran’s Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said Tuesday that Western warships stationed in the Gulf are “best targets” for the Islamic republic if its nuclear sites are attacked, Fars news agency reported. Iranian officials have repeatedly threatened to deliver a “crushing response” and hit U.S. targets, including its bases in the Gulf and neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan, if Iran’s nuclear sites are attacked. “Why are there so many warships there? The Westerners know that these warships are the best target for operation by Iran if they do anything against (us),” Vahidi told a conference entitled “Persian Gulf” in Tehran. He also criticized the building of U.S. bases in the region and Washington’s “unofficial presence in Yemen.”(AFP)

source: naharnet

2. Iran’s FM visits Libya

Tripoli - Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki arrived in Tripoli Thursday at the start of a three-day visit to Libya. Mottaki was accompanied by a large political and economic delegation. Immediately upon his arrival in Tripoli, Mottaki held talks with Mr. Moussa Koussa, Secretary of Foreign Liaison in Libya where they reviewed bilateral relations and the means of strengthening them as to serve common interests, Jana reported….”Iran and Libya’s position in the Middle East and North Africa, [as well as the] unity and cooperation of Islamic countries will be discussed during the visit,” said Mottaki. He added that the two oil-rich counties could work together on oil and gas projects.
The two parties discussed political cooperation between the General People’s Congress and the Iranian Parliament.  Cooperation in the field of railroads and other economic activities was also discussed.

more @ tripoli post

3. in Libya, Mottaki stresses need for restructuring UN security council

Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki stressed the need for establishment of more logical and fair international bodies and the restructuring of the United Nations Security Council. He made the remark on Friday when conferring with his Libyan counterpart Musa Kusa in Libya….He further stressed the need for more collective measures to establish security and stability in the world and confront the interventionist and oppressive policies of big powers which have resulted in nothing but extremism, terrorism and insecurity.

Pointing to the oppressive policies of the big powers to safeguard and secure the illegitimate regime of Zionists in Palestine, Mottaki said the last three invasions of the Zionists to Lebanon and Gaza just discredited the usurper regime and its backers. Kusa described as great and excellent the ties between the two nations throughout history and said his country specially revered the supreme nation of Iran. He said Iran has supported and backed the Arab countries in the region and pointed out that the two countries enjoyed many shared stances. He criticized the double-standard policies and biased political policies against Iran and said these pressures were despite the fact that the Zionist regime was equipped with nuclear arms but was still backed by big powers.

more @ isria

4. Islamic Games axed over “Persian Gulf”

RIYADH: The Riyadh-based Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation yesterday called off the athletic games planned for Tehran in April because of Iran’s use of the term “Persian Gulf” on winners’ medals. The ISSF, headed by Saudi Olympic Federation president Prince Sultan bin Fahd, said after an emergency board meeting that Iran’s local organising committee “unilaterally took some decisions without asking the federation by writing some slogans on the medals and pamphlets of the games”.

…Swine flu worries and the dispute over Tehran’s insistence on using “Persian Gulf” for the waters between Iran and the Arabian peninsula had already caused the games to be postponed since an initial planned date of last October. The Arab countries of the oil-rich region insist on the term “Arabian Gulf” or simply the “Gulf”. It would have been the second time the games were held after a first tournament was held in the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah in 2005.

The cancellation comes amid a rise in tensions between Riyadh and Tehran, as Saudi Arabia has been seeking to unite Arab countries and isolate its regional rival. Both have traded accusations of interfering in the conflict in Yemen between government forces and Shiite rebels. And an Iranian official confirmed yesterday that Tehran has suspended Muslim pilgrimages to the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah in Saudi Arabia until Saudi religious police end their “appalling behaviour” towards Iranian Shiite pilg
rims.

more @ kuwait times

5. Iran warns of artificial islands’ environmental impact on Persian Gulf
TEHRAN - Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has criticized the construction of artificial islands in the Persian Gulf.

“The construction of artificial islands has environmental impacts on the Persian Gulf region,” Mottaki said in an address to the 19th International Conference on the Persian Gulf, which opened in Tehran on Monday.

Experts from Kuwait, Oman, Lebanon, Egypt, Romania, France, Germany, China, India, Russia, and five other foreign countries are participating in the two-day event, which is being sponsored by the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

Mottaki said the Persian Gulf is important because it is an international shipping route and because the region possesses vast energy resources.

Foreign forces trying to create insecurity in Persian Gulf

Mottaki also said that extra-regional powers are greedily eyeing the region and are attempting to create insecurity and to encourage regional countries to distrust each other in order to gain control of the region’s resources.

The Iranian foreign minister stated that the instability and problems in the region are caused by a number of factors, namely the presence and interference of foreign forces in the region, the massive arms sales, the support for extremist groups, and the efforts to sow discord between regional ethnic groups.
He pointed to the expansionist policies Israel is pursuing in the Persian Gulf region, saying, “The presence of the Zionist regime has been interconnected with insecurity and instability in the region, and U.S. officials are pursuing their foreign policy based on the (Zionist) regime’s security.”

He also attributed the extremism and terrorism in the Middle East to the discriminatory policies foreign countries are implementing in the region.

Regional cooperation necessary to solve Persian Gulf’s problems

The Iranian foreign minister insisted that the problems of the Persian Gulf region must be resolved through regional cooperation.

Iran has presented its proposal for a regional security treaty to regional nations, he said, adding that Tehran believes that there are two approaches for resolving the problems facing the region.

One approach was devised by extra-regional countries that seek to create discord between regional nations, and the other approach envisages regional cooperation, he observed.

Iran is also ready to cooperate with neighboring countries to create a secure environment for economic activities in the region, he added.

Yemen can solve its own problems

Mottaki said the interference of foreign countries in the Yemen conflict has only increased insecurity in the region.

Tehran believes that Sanaa is able to resolve the current crisis through negotiations without the interference of other countries, he added.

The conflict between the Yemeni government and Houthi fighters in northern Yemen began in 2004. It intensified in August 2009 when the Yemeni army launched Operation Scorched Earth in an attempt to crush Shia Houthi fighters in the northern province of Saada.

Regional meeting on dust pollution being organized

Mottaki also announced that a regional meeting will be held in the near future to discuss ways to tackle the region’s dust pollution problem.

He called Saudi Arabia the major source of regional dust pollution and said Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and Jordan are other sources of dust pollution.

Tehran to host trilateral meeting on Afghanistan crisis

Mottaki said that Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan plan to hold another trilateral meeting on the crisis in Afghanistan in Tehran in the near future.

Tehran is devising some regional approaches to deal with the crisis in Afghanistan, he stated.

He also asked certain countries, which claim they are helping Afghanistan resolve its problems, to support Tehran’s approaches.

Major powers pursuing double-standard policy toward Iran

Elsewhere in his remarks, Mottaki criticized the major powers for adopting double-standard policies toward Iran’s nuclear program.

He cited the fact that nothing is done about Israel’s hundreds of nuclear warheads and the nuclear cooperation between the U.S. and the Zionist regime, while illegal restrictions on the use of nuclear energy are imposed on Iran, which is a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

source: tehran times

iran is not the isolated country

1. Lebanon’s Hariri to Abu Dhabi, then to France

Prime Minister Saad Hariri met on Monday with UAE’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum at Mushrif palace in Abu Dhabi, Emirates News Agency reported. Sheikh Mohammed is also UAE vice president and Dubai’s ruler. The meeting was attended by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan and National Security Advisor Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed al-Nahyan, according to WAM. Hariri was in the UAE on a two-day official visit. The premier is scheduled to travel to Paris on Wednesday for talks with top French officials.

source: naharnet

note that Erdogan is also in Abu Dhabi, and this links back to the assassination in Cyprus: here and here — Lieberman again

2. Jumblatt: Syria reconciliation nearly complete

“I believe that three-quarters of the road to Syria has opened up and what remains is the final gesture which depends on the right moment,” said Jumblatt in an interview with AFP at his ancestral home in Lebanon’s Shouf mountains, southeast of Beirut.  The 60-year-old hereditary chieftain of Lebanon’s Druze minority has come under fire since defecting in August from the US-backed March 14 ruling coalition he helped create in order to move closer to the Hezbollah-led opposition camp supported by Syria and Iran. The move came as Syria emerges from its international isolation and amid a rapprochement between Damascus and Riyadh, two key regional players. Jumblatt justified his U-turn, saying it was a necessary step to preserve the peace and avoid sectarian bloodshed. “I am willing to sacrifice everything for the civil peace even if my decisions are not popular,” he said. “One must at times swim against the current.” He said the sectarian unrest that brought Lebanon close to civil war in May 2008, when members of his Druze clan fought bitter battles with the Shiite Hezbollah in the Shouf region, had been a rude awakening.

more @ iloubnan

3. meanwhile, Iran seems pretty popular. Iran and Syria, Iran and Georgia, Iran and Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela, etc.

TEHRAN (FNA)- Relations between Tehran and Damascus are invulnerable to third party interference, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki reiterated on Monday .

“Iran and Syria don’t allow any third party to interfere in their ties,” Mottaki stressed.  Mottaki, who was speaking to reporters in a joint press conference with his Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze, further pointed to the relations between Tehran and Tbilisi, and said the two nations enjoy historical, cultural and geographical bonds.

Iran and Saudi Arabia enjoy great potential

Asked on the relations between Tehran and Riyadh, Mottaki reiterated that Iran has designed a framework for the promotion of cooperation and intimate relations with the regional countries and the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) member states, including Saudi Arabia.  “We utilize capacities and potentials to develop cooperation,” he said, and added, “We are in contact with these states.  The two-day conference dubbed as “Persian Gulf: Challenges and Regional Mechanism” was officially kicked off at the ministry’s Political and International Studies Office following an inaugural address by Mottaki. Experts from 15 countries, including Kuwait, Oman, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Romania, France, Germany, Japan, India, China and Russia as well as academics from around the globe are present in the gathering to discuss protection of the environment, PGCC, Iraq’s role in Persian Gulf developments and stability, security of the area as well as the global economic crisis and its impacts on the Persian Gulf.

more @ fars

TEHRAN (FNA)- Venezuela’s oil reserves do not pose a threat to Iran’s position in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) as the two countries cover the two ends of the market, an Iranian oil ministry official said following the discovery of major oil reserves in the Latin American country….Venezuela and Iran are two of the 12 members of OPEC along with Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.  Iran and Saudi Arabia are considered as OPEC kingpins with strong clout on the policies and decisions adopted by the oil cartel.

more @ fars

Georgia welcomes Iran’s presence in Nabucco — yeah this one is a little suspicious

TEHRAN (FNA)- Georgia announced on Monday that it supports Iran’s presence and partnership in the Nabucco gas pipeline project to carry natural gas from Central Asia to Austria via Turkey and the Balkan states, bypassing Russia and Ukraine.

more @ fars

4. Iran to send 5th fleet of warships to Gulf of Aden because of Somali pirates

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior Iranian commander announced on Monday that the Navy is due to dispatch a fifth fleet of warships to the Gulf of Aden late January to defend the country’s cargo ships and oil tankers against continued attacks by Somali pirates.

5. Japanese envoy underscores Iran’s role in regional security

TEHRAN (FNA)- Japanese Ambassador to Tehran Akio Shirota stressed Iran’s key role in the restoration of security and tranquility in the region.

developments in the “war on terror”

1. Nigerian president reportedly brain-damaged in Saudi Arabia

President Umaru Yar’Adua is seriously brain damaged, is not able to recognise anyone, including his wife Turai, and can no longer perform the functions of the office of the president, according to multiple sources who have spoken to NEXT on Sunday.  But this fact, which has left a nation of 150 million people rudderless and its government in disarray, is being concealed from the public through an elaborate scam orchestrated directly and energetically by the First Lady.

read more @ NEXT

2. SITE says qaeda threatens to execute French hostage in Mali (three Saudis recently killed near Mali border recently, that was “al qaeda” too)

The north African branch of al-Qaida said it will execute a French hostage unless four of its militants are freed from jail in Mali in 20 days, the U.S. monitoring group SITE said on Monday.

source: naharnet

3. crew of seized plane turns to Kazakh president in Thai court

The four Kazakh crew members of an arms-laden cargo plane seized in Bangkok in mid-December have asked the president of Kazakhstan to defend them as they face major charges for illegal transportation of weapons….”We were making a flight ordered by the Air West Georgia company and the plane’s lessee, AirTech company, from Ukraine. In line with a contract, we should have transported a 35-ton civil cargo from Pyongyang to Kiev. The flight to Pyongyang was made on schedule… After landing in Pyongyang on December 10, 2009, in the evening, we went to a hotel,” the crew, which is now being held in the Bangkok Remand prison, said in the statement. According to the statement, the next morning, when the crew arrived at the airport, they found the cargo packed in wooden and iron boxes and sealed. “We were not allowed to inspect the cargo,” the crew said, adding “according to documents, the cargo consisted of ‘mechanical parts,’ and looked similar to oil drilling equipment.”

more @ ria novosti

4. Thailand: suspects in 20 year old Saudi case indicted

The case has received much attention from the public. Saudi charge d’affaires to Thailand Nabil Ashri, who on Monday voiced his concern over the handling of the case by Thai authorities to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, described the indictment of the five suspects as “good news” which Saudi Arabia has long been waiting for. He said Saudi Arabia waited for nearly 20 years to see the first case being brought into the judicial process.  The two other cases are the murder of three Saudi diplomats, also in 1990, and the jewellery theft in 1989.

more @ bangkok post

5. Saudi teen poses as pilot in Manila airport

A 19-year-old Saudi Arabian man dressed as a pilot was arrested Tuesday after he illegally entered a restricted area in the main airport in the Philippines, an airport official said. “He was able to elude our security by misrepresenting himself as a pilot of Saudi,” said airport general manager Alfonso Cusi, referring to the Saudi Arabian flag carrier. …The detained Saudi, identified by the local authorities as Hani Abdulelah Bukhari, told airport police he was there to meet his father, a retired Saudi pilot who later arrived on a flight from Saudi Arabia. He was wearing a pilot’s uniform from Saudi Airlines when airport security personnel noticed him lining up at the immigration section of the passenger terminal, Cusi told ABS-CBN television.

more @ naharnet

6. Canadian faces terror charges

OTTAWA - A TORONTO man who earned a six-figure salary as a computer programmer appeared in court on Monday for the first day of his trial on charges of plotting to attack Canada’s main stock exchange and other targets. Shareef Abdelhaleem, 34, is accused of conspiring to bomb Canada’s main stock exchange, spy agency offices and a military base in order to try to provoke Canada’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.

more @ straits times

7. FBI and Shin Bet tracked Teitel a year before his arrest — it was all just police work you understand

A year prior to Yakov “Jack” Teitel’s arrest, the Shin Bet and the FBI were in close contact as part of an investigation into bombings targeting homosexuals, messianic Christians and left-wing figures, Haaretz has learned.  Teitel was arrested on October 7. However, the initial exchanges on the case between the two security services on the case began in October 2008, when a Shin Bet officer, code-named Ariel, contacted the FBI with a request for assistance in the investigation. Eventually, the authorities would come to suspect Teitel as the person behind the bombings.

more @ haaretz  http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1142043.html

8. Houston TX consulate reportedly issued questionable passports

Three Indian citizens, including a man linked to the 1993 serial bomb blasts in Mumbai, were issued Pakistani passports by the country’s consulate in the U.S. city of Houston, an anti-corruption court has been told by a senior diplomat. Pakistan’s Consul General in Houston, Aqil Nadeem, appeared as a witness in the accountability court in Rawalpindi on Monday and confirmed that Pakistani passports were issued by the consulate to Indian nationals Aziz Moosa, Saleem Ali and Abdul Sadiq.

more @ the hindu

turkey plays central role in ME developments

1. Jim Jones to visit Saudi Arabia, Israel and Palestinian territories

WASHINGTON, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) — U.S. National Security Adviser James Jones will visit Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Palestinian territories, announced the White House on Monday….Diplomats of the Quartet, namely the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia, will meet in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss a new U.S. plan to resume the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.  Meanwhile, representatives from the P5+1 (the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany) are to meet in New York at the end of this week on additional sanctions against the Iranian government.

source: chinaview

2. Israeli campaign to conflate Lebanese Army and Hizbullah

Israel has launched a diplomatic campaign aimed at persuading countries providing military assistance to Lebanon that any equipment and technology delivered to the Beirut government is likely to fall into Hizbullah’s hands, The Jerusalem Post reported. The newspaper quoted Israeli government sources as saying the Jewish state is trying to convince countries supporting Lebanon that the “Lebanese army and Hizbullah are indistinguishable. As such, Israel is calling on countries that provide military aid to Lebanon to rethink the matter.” An Israeli official told The Post that “there has been a great deal of concern” in the Jewish state since the adoption of the Lebanese cabinet’s policy statement, which gave Hizbullah “the mandate to defend Lebanon” against Israel. The main concern, the official said, is weaponry being provided or pledged by the U.S. The issue is likely to be raised by Israeli officials during the expected meetings on Tuesday with U.S. National Security Advisor James Jones.

source: naharnet

3. Erdogan, in joint statement with visiting PM Hariri, says he will not go to Davos

ANKARA, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) — Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday that he would honor his word and would not attend this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos of Switzerland….Turkish Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek said he will attend this year’s Davos meeting instead of Erdogan and stressed the importance of Turkey’s presence at Davos in terms of relations with international investors, the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News reported on its website Monday.

more @ chinaview

4. Israel “hazes” Turkish ambassador

TEL AVIV - Israeli newspapers on Tuesday played up what they called the “hazing” of Turkey’s ambassador by Israel, in an incident likely to ratchet up already high tensions between the two allies. The media highlighted the fact that Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon made Ambassador Ahmet Celikkol sit on a low couch while the Israelis sat on high chairs. Rather than summoning Celikkol to the ministry as is the norm, Ayalon saw him in his parliamentary office after making him wait in the corridor and telling staff to remove the Turkish flag and refreshments that were on the table. “The important thing is that people see that he’s sitting low down and we’re high and that there is one flag,” Israeli television aired Ayalon as telling invited photographers and camera crews.

more @ middle east online

5. Lebanon signs six agreements with Turkey

Lebanon and Turkey have signed major agreements on military, agriculture and transport cooperation, including a deal to lift entry visas and a Turkish pledge to supply Lebanon with natural gas and electricity. …The agreement on visa-free travel between Turkey and Lebanon comes after similar deals between Turkey and Syria, and Turkey and Jordan. Visa requirements have already been cancelled between Syria and Lebanon and between Syria and Jordan.

more @ naharnet

6. last week: Iran, Turkey to discuss industrial cooperation

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Minister of Industries and Mining Ali Akbar Mehrabian and Turkish Industry and Trade Minister Nihat Ergun on Thursday discussed ways to bolster the two countries’ cooperation in Industrial fields….Mehrabian said during Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Iran visit, Turkish and Iranian authorities agreed to boost commercial ties, and the two countries have been working on it.

more @ fars

7. Saudi Arabia awards prize to Erdogan

RIYADH: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose achievements have set an example of judicious leadership in the Islamic world, on Monday won the 2010 King Faisal International Prize (KFIP) for Service to Islam….According to the citation read out by Othaimeen, Erdogan has pioneered a major campaign that placed Turkey among the world’s leading countries, economically and industrially. “His unyielding position on various Islamic and global issues, particularly the rights of the Palestinian people, has gained him the respect and admiration of the entire Islamic world and the international community at large,” it added.

more @ arab news

8. Assad to visit Saudi Arabia

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is to travel to Riyadh on Wednesday for talks with King Abdullah, who paid a landmark visit to Damascus last October, Saudi Arabia’s official news agency SPA said.  The visit on Wednesday comes amid stepped-up efforts by Riyadh to build Arab unity around the Palestinians ahead of a possible resumption of peace talks with Israel.  Damascus-Riyadh ties were severely strained for years, partly over Syria’s role in Lebanon and its support for Hezbollah, before a thaw marked by King Abdullah’s trip to Damascus. But the two countries still differ over Lebanese politics, over the Palestinian division between the Hamas and Fatah factions, and Iran’s role in the region, according to diplomats and analysts.

source: al manar tv

many people throwing their weight around

1. India, Bangladesh sign 5 pacts

NEW DELHI - LEADERS of India and Bangladesh met in New Delhi on Monday with talks focused on strengthening the previously difficult ties between the two south Asian neighbours, an Indian official said. Cross-border relations have improved in recent years and Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s delegation signed five cooperation agreements with India in areas ranging from cultural exchanges, security, preventing crime and power supply.

more @ straits times

2. India confers Indira Ghandi Peace Prize to Bangladeshi PM

NEW DELHI, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) — India Tuesday conferred Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina with the prestigious Indira Gandhi Peace Prize in recognition of her contribution to peace and democracy, reported the Indo-Asian News Service. Indian President Pratibha Patil conferred the award at a function in the Rashtrapati Bhavan presidential palace and praised Hasina for “shaping her country’s onward path of progress and development”, said the report.

more @ chinaview

3. Malaysian PM to visit Saudi Arabia

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) — Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak will be making an official visit to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 13-16 to deepen bilateral ties, the Malaysian Foreign Ministry said here on Tuesday. Najib will later attend the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Jan. 18. Malaysia will be working towards enhancing trade and investment relations with the two countries.

source: chinaview

4. Clinton to visit Japan, Pacific region

Since coming to power last year, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) has pushed to see negotiations restart on the SOFA agreement, creating tension between the two countries. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has pledged to decide by May how to proceed on the base issue. Apart from talks with Okada, Clinton will deliver a policy speech focused on Asia-Pacific multilateral engagement in Hawaii, and will be consulting with the Pacific Command. She will be traveling to Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia from Jan. 14 to Jan. 19, her first visit to the region since becoming the secretary of state. In Canberra, Clinton, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and their Australian counterparts Stephen Smith and John Falkner will participate in the 25th Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultations to discuss key global and regional security challenges.

source: chinaview

5. ASEAN prepares own “Marshall Plan’

MANILA, Philippines—Asean is preparing its own Marshall Plan, the United States program in post World War II to rebuild and create an economically stronger Western Europe to repel the threat of internal communism, the Asean Secretariat said Tuesday….In a working lunch in Jakarta Monday, Asean Secretary General Dr. Surin Pitsuwan described the plan to Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry Masayuki Naoshima. He urged the Japanese official and his delegation to look at the plan and the roles of Asean and Eria as a package….Surin, who coined the “Marshall Plan for Asia” tag for the plan, said his office was collaborating with Eria and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in the development of the plan. The plan aims “to contribute to coordinating, expediting, upgrading, and expanding sub-regional initiatives and promoting private sector participation.”

more @ inquirer

6. incoming EU trade chief sees WTO deal by 2011

BRUSSELS—Would-be new European trade chief Karel De Gucht expressed confidence on Tuesday that a deal to free up international commerce is attainable by next year.… The Doha round began in 2001, with a focus on dismantling obstacles to trade for poor nations by striking an accord that will cut agriculture subsidies and tariffs on industrial goods. Deadlines to conclude the talks have been repeatedly missed. Discussions have been dogged by disagreements on issues including how much the US and the EU should reduce aid to their farmers and the extent to which developing countries such as India, China and South Africa should cut tariffs. “We have to do that deal,” De Gucht added, refusing to concede that the terms of the talks had to change to take account of the aftermath of the global economic crisis.

more @ inquirer

7. China views Ethiopia as major economic trading partner

ADDIS ABABA, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) — China views Ethiopia as its major economic and trading partner in Africa, says Minister of Commerce Chen Deming on Monday….Chen put forward a four-point proposal on further development of bilateral trade and economic cooperation: First, further expanding its imports from Ethiopia through the use of tariff-free policies; Second, strengthening cooperation in investment and engineering contracts and continuing to encourage strong Chinese firms to invest in Ethiopia; Third, fully implementing the eight new measures to enhance cooperation with Africa; Fourth, further promoting cooperation in official development assistance to support Ethiopia’s infrastructure, and projects aimed to improve people’s well-being.

more @ chinaview

8. China, Morocco hold talks on enhancing bilateral ties

RABAT, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) — Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, who is on a five-nation African tour, held talks Monday with his Moroccan counterpart Taieb Fassi Fihri on ways to upgrade relations between the two countries….Yang is on his first official foreign visit of the year that includes five African nations, namely Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Algeria and Morocco, as well as Saudi Arabia. It has been China’s tradition for 20 years that its foreign minister visits Africa in the beginning of the year.

more @ chinaview

9. China VP meets Pakistan’s opposition party chief

BEIJING, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) — Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping met Tuesday in Beijing with Nawaz Sharif, chief of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), saying party exchanges would help facilitate bilateral relations….Highlighting the friendship between China and Pakistan, Xi said China had treated bilateral ties from a long-term and strategic perspective and would make efforts with Pakistan to lift pragmatic cooperation. Sharif expressed his admiration for the achievements China had made, saying the political parties in Pakistan shared the view of improving friendly cooperation with China.

more @ chinaview

10. experts discuss NATO’s future at Prague meeting

An international conference has opened in Prague, aiming to help redefine NATO’s mission for the 21st century. The international panel is led by former U.S. State Secretary Madeleine Albright. About hundred other experts are also participating. The group is working to update the alliance’s mission statement, which was written in 1999. Albright is present at Tuesday’s gathering. The draft will be submitted for consideration to the leaders of NATO’s member nations at their spring summit in Lisbon, Portugal. NATO started the process to update its outdated mission statement last year to focus on handling new challenges such as piracy, terrorism and cyber attacks as well a resurgent Russia.

source: taiwan news

11. new EU foreign chief criticized for lack of specifics

Under its previous holder Javier Solana, the post of top EU diplomat focused on smoothing relations and boosting Europe’s influence in such places as the Middle East, Iran, and the Balkans. But the job has greater powers under the new Lisbon Treaty of reforms, even though the EU’s 27 nations remain well in charge over foreign and defense policy, with Ashton set to be their mouthpiece. Despite the pressure, Ashton appeared relaxed throughout, confidently responding to questions mainly focused on institutional concerns and how the former EU trade commissioner saw the future of EU foreign policy. She gave answers that demonstrated an understanding of the issues, but would not be drawn into diplomatic minefields like her stance on sanctions against Iran and was cautious on Middle East policy. More broadly she urged Europe to play a greater role on the world stage. “I am convinced there is a clear call, inside the EU and around the world, for greater European engagement—to promote peace, protect the vulnerable, fight poverty ,and address the many problems of our time,” she said. “We have to answer this call.”

more @ inquirer

12. Kazakh minister visits Vienna, Austria

Secretary of State - Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, Kanat Saudabayev began his official visit to Vienna yesterday… According to the press release, the visit on part of OSCE Chairman Saudabayev, to Austria will take place on January 12 - 15. Saudabayev will meet with President of Austria, Heinz Fischer, and the Federal Minister for European and International Affairs of Austria, Michael Spindelegger, to discuss the further development of Kazakhstan-Austrian cooperation as part of international organizations. … According to the press release, Astana considers Vienna a key political and economic partner in the EU, and is interested in developing bilateral dialogue in all areas and levels. During the visit, the Minister of Foreign Affairs will hold meetings with UN structures administration based in Vienna – including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and Universal Prohibition of Nuclear Tests to discuss cooperation with these organizations, according to Kazakhstan Today.

source

13. Austrian president to visit China next week

BEIJING, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) — Austrian President Heinz Fischer will pay a state visit to China from next Tuesday to Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry announced Tuesday.  Fischer will make the visit as guest of Chinese President Hu Jintao, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu told a regular briefing.   This will be Fischer’s first China trip since he took office in 2004.

source: chinaview

14. China very very very unhappy with US weapons sales to Taiwan — in diplomatic language this is a full-blown fit

BEIJING, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) — The U.S. Defense Department announced on January 6 the approval of a plan of Lockheed Martin Corp. to sell Patriot III missiles to Taiwan. Although it was a step to implement the huge-scale arms sales package announced by the George W. Bush administration in October 2008, such a move only about one month after U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to China tarnished the China-U.S. ties….the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan fully justified any suspicion about the United States’ sincerity to take concrete actions to “respect each other’s core interests.”

Undoubtedly, the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan seriously violated the principles established in the three Sino-U.S. joint communiques and the spirit of the Sino-U.S. Joint Statement, breached the U.S. promise to respect the core interests of China and disobeyed the mainstream wish shared by the people across the Straits.  This move clearly showed the dual character of the United States in dealing with the major issues related to China’s core interests, especially at the moment that the cross-Straits relations have embarked on a path of peaceful development.

Profound lessons should be drawn from history. All previous U.S. arms sales to Taiwan have caused great damage to the Sino-U.S. relations and blocked their stable and smooth development.  This time is no exception, since the arms sales to Taiwan are rootless and absolutely harmful, whether from the perspectives of legal, moral and justice principles, or from the perspectives of joint interests of the two countries and the long-term development of their relations.

more @ chinaview