To send more troops or not to send them: that is the Afghan question

Posted in counterterrorism, foreign policy with tags , , , , , , on September 9, 2009 by admin

That is the central question the NYT wants to answer in this article:

In deploying 68,000 American troops there by year’s end, President Obama has called Afghanistan “a war of necessity” to prevent the Taliban from recreating for Al Qaeda the sanctuary that the terrorist group had in the 1990s.
….In interviews, most counterterrorism experts said they believed the troops were needed to drive out Taliban fighters from territory they have steadily reclaimed in recent years. But critics on both the right and the left say that if the real goal is to prevent terrorist attacks on the United States, there may be alternatives to a large ground force in Afghanistan. They say Al Qaeda can be held at bay using intensive intelligence, Predator drones, cruise missiles, raids by Special Operations commandos, and even payments to warlords to deny haven to Al Qaeda.
…But most specialists on counterterrorism and counterinsurgency, both inside and outside the government, say the threat of terrorism cannot be confronted from a comfortable distance, such as by airstrikes or proxy forces alone. While it may take years to transform Afghanistan into a place that is hostile to Al Qaeda, they say, it may be the only way to keep the United States safe in the long term. Many agree with the classified strategy for a troop buildup that Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, has presented to Mr. Obama and the Joint Chiefs of Staff in recent days. 

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NATO troops free reporter, while Afghan translator and UK soldier are killed

Posted in hostages with tags , , , on September 9, 2009 by admin

NYT reporter freed; Afghan aide killed in rescue – Yahoo! News

British commandos freed a New York Times reporter in an early Wednesday raid on a Taliban hide-out in northern Afghanistan. The journalist’s Afghan translator and one of the troops were killed in the rescue, officials said. 

Reporter Stephen Farrell was taken hostage Saturday along with his translator in the northern province of Kunduz when they went to cover a German-ordered airstrike of two hijacked fuel tankers. The bombing, carried out by U.S. jets, caused a number of civilian casualties.

A UK soldier was also killed. He is believed to be a paratrooper. Another two civilians were killed in the cross-fire (What were doing several civilians on a cross-fire there?).

About the Kunduz mission, Angela Merkel has defended the raid, while underlining she deeply regreted any civilian lifes lost after German actions. The difficulty in separating Talibans from civilians makes it,  in turn, very difficult to know how many of each were killed.

German Defense Minister on Afghan NATO’s air strike.
Scores killed after NATO air strike on tanks of petrol, hijacked by Afghan Taliban.

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Kirkuk blast kills 7

Posted in terrorist attacks with tags , on September 9, 2009 by admin

Among others killed there are a woman and a child. A high-ranking police official said the car was parked in a courtyard of a house when the bomb went off and so, it appeared the bomb may have gone off prematurely, as the car was being prepared for use in an attack.

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Plane plotters’ group likely to try again

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on September 9, 2009 by admin

Britain Fears More Airline Bomb Plots Likely

The convictions of three British Muslims for plotting to blow up trans-Atlantic airliners are evidence of al-Qaida’s “obsession” with using commercial aircraft to attack the West, anti-terrorism officials told the BBC Tuesday. And they say the group is “likely” to try again.

British jury find three Islamists guilty of plotting to explode planes

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FARC wants UNASUR/ALBA to recognise them as a “belligerent force”

Posted in foreign policy, ideology with tags , , , , on September 9, 2009 by admin –

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has written a letter to the Union of South American States (UNASUR), asking to be recognized as a belligerent force and not a terrorist organization.

In an open letter published on the Venezuelan state radio station, Mundial, the FARC starts by saying it is a “political-military organization covered by the universal right that legitimizes armed rebellion against tyrannical ignominious regimes.” The letter maintains that Colombia suffers the most cruel and prolonged internal conflict in South American history, something that President Alvaro Uribe denies since his government receives most US military aid in the region and 6.5% of the GDP goes to the war effort.

Something which would be entirely apporpriate for Chávez who has funded Farc for years, as Interpol has denounced.

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Hizbullah’s Madoff

Posted in funding with tags , , , , , , on September 9, 2009 by admin

‘Lebanese Madoff’ detained – Israel News, Ynetnews

Lebanese authorities are holding in custody a prominent Shiite financier close to Hezbollah on suspicion of fraud after he invested hundreds of millions of dollars of other people’s money before declaring bankruptcy, judicial officials said Wednesday.
…The judicial officials said Ezzedine had major business interests, particularly in oil and iron industries, in Eastern Europe and suffered substantial losses when oil prices dropped starting mid last year.
He tried to make up for his losses by taking money from Lebanese investors, promising them up to 40 percent interest on their deposits which he could not repay, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
….Media reports said among Ezzedine’s victims are high ranking members of Hezbollah, as well as Shiite investors from south Lebanon and the Hezbollah stronghold south of Beirut.   

The three Hizbullah’s leaders who lost funds are:

One of the three is Wafik Safa, the first to disclose during Israel’s prisoner swap with Hezbollah in 2008 that IDF reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, kidnapped by the organization two years earlier, were dead.
During the prisoner swap Wafik Safa became known in Israel for refusing to reveal the status of the two captured soldiers until the very last minute, just before their bodies were brought out in coffins.
Al-Arabiya reported that the other two men were the leader of Hezbollah’s parliament bloc, Mohammad Raad, and a member of the bloc, Amin Sherri. The report did not say whether they had lost their own private funds or those of the organization.
 Sources affiliated with Hezbollah have estimated Ezzadine’s losses at around a billion dollars, and a Kuwaiti daily reported Thursday that the organization had lost around $683 million. 

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Mohammed El Baradei critisized about report regarding Iranian nuclear program (U)

Posted in foreign policy with tags , , , on September 8, 2009 by admin

Times Online publishes an article about the report. After you read it, the expression “Iranian nuclear program may contain military dimensions” acquires a new dimension:

France and Israel have led the charge against Dr ElBaradei, saying that his latest report on Iran’s nuclear programme omitted evidence that the agency had been given about an alleged covert weaponisation plan.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry said that the report did not reflect all that the agency knew about Iran’s “efforts to continue to pursue its military programme”.
France went farther, alleging the existence of an unpublished annexe that addresses the evidence that Iran may be building an atom bomb.
Bernard Kouchner, the French Foreign Minister, said that France had attended a technical briefing that covered the material, so was surprised to find it missing from the report.
“In the annexes there are specifically elements which enable us to ask about the reality of an atomic bomb,” he said “There are issues of warheads, of transport.

So, they actually knew it actually has military dimensions. But plainly, they don’t want anyone to know.

Just for the record: Iran has just now named Interpol wanted terrorist Vahidi to be Minister of Defence. And yet, IAEA is hiding information about its nuclear military peaceful plans. Indecent. Dangerous. And absolutely irresponsable. IAEA is a watchdog, but clearly it’s not fulfilling its duty. And remember Hizbullah and Hamas are just Iranian proxies in Lebanon and Gaza.

(U) “In a speech at The Brookings Institution, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said investigations by his office show Iran is using Venezuela’s established banking network to skirt international sanctions and acquire the materials needed for its nuclear program. At the same time, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez wants to build a “nuclear village” in Venezuela with Iran’s help, according to Morgenthau, who said such a development would be a “destabilizing force” in Latin America“.