Wednesday, August 31, 2011

US vapor trails will lead to "Jasmine revolts" in India and China come 2015...

US vapor trails will lead to "Jasmine revolts" in India and China come 2015...
By Francesco Sisci

BEIJING - Over the past few days, the United States' strategy in the Muslim world has been paying high rewards, objectively foreboding even larger US plans.

Last week, a drone operated by the Central Intelligence Agency killed al-Qaeda's second-in-command, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, after the earlier elimination of the group's founder, Osama bin Laden, in May.

The announcement of the death of Rahman, who is of Libyan origin, occurred as rebel forces were taking Tripoli, with Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi on the run.

These successes have many implications in various parts of the

Muslim world. In Libya, rebels supported by Western forces proved at long last able to topple the Gaddafi regime. In this way, the West managed to prove that it did not have to be bogged down in a long fight of resistance.

Meanwhile, food scarcity and high inflation didn't totally disrupt Egypt, as was feared some months ago. Although Egypt is far from stable now, people in Cairo can look forward to some months of relative tranquility as the weather cools down, more food is brought in, and domestic tensions are more under control. From now until next March or April, Egypt could have a chance to get into economically better shape for the next hot summer.

In Syria, the anti-regime forces are gaining momentum, and there is news that larger groups of people are adding strength and posing an even greater challenge to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. It is possible that Turkey could intervene in the country in the same fashion that France and Britain stepped into the Libyan fray. Even the vague possibility of Turkish intervention in Syria is putting further pressure on the regime to find some kind of political compromise with the rebels.

The real aim from the Western point of view in Syria is not to have a functioning democracy there, something extremely hard to accomplish given tribal tensions. The goal should be to disengage Syria from its alliance with Iran and then leave the pro-Iranian Hezbollah forces in Lebanon without military assistance from Iran and Syria.

In Pakistan non-Western witnesses report that the killing of bin Laden has lifted the spirits of the common people in the main cities. People who had left the streets, hotels, and restaurants for fear of attacks, bombings, and shootings by al-Qaeda have come back feeling more secure. Attacks and bombings are not waning, but witnesses claim there is a different atmosphere, where people feel Al Qaeda and their supporters are no longer invincible.

The Pakistani army, or at least a part of it, is feeling under siege by the Americans, who evidently don't trust it. But this sense of insecurity in the country's strongest structure paradoxically is not bringing down the country; there is little expectation that crisis in the Pakistani army, will break down into a feud between diverse and competing regions.

This apparently leads to some very difficult questions for Pakistan. If the strongest structure of the country feels insecure while the rest of society doesn't feel the political strain, it means that the army should reform itself because it is unable to provide for the overall security of its own country.

In Pakistan, there is a knot of enormous contradictions. The army, which should bring security to the country, has been doing so by supporting the Kashmiri rebels, who carry on a fight deemed essential to the identity of Pakistan – the liberation of Indian-controlled Kashmir. However, these same rebels, aided by the Pakistani army, which in turn is supported by the US, are also assisting the al-Qaeda forces in the fight against the new pro-American Afghani regime. Similarly some Pakistani leaders view Afghanistan as an outpost of Indian expansionism. In this way, Pakistan feels squeezed by India on the east and a pro-Indian government in the north.

The vision held by the military was once shared by the people. However, the al-Qaeda forces were similarly mistrusting of the Pakistani army in Pakistan and tried to impose their de facto political control over parts of Pakistani territory by terrorizing the population. It seems that the killing of bin Laden has started breaking this deadlock, and it could help the Pakistani military to find a different role in line with the interest of safety for the Pakistani population.

This could go hand in hand with finding a new broad political solution with India to the Kashmiri issue - something that could de facto help to bring peace to the whole region.

All this can be quite difficult to achieve from Libya to Syria to Pakistan, and many things could go wrong. However, the present American strategy is quite different from that of the George W Bush administration. Basically, the idea is to keep American intervention light and to have other countries take the lead in a war of attrition. In Libya, it was Britain and France; in Syria, it could possibly be Turkey; and in Pakistan, it might be a part of the Pakistani establishment in the army and India. In this way, America could reaffirm its international political clout while cutting expenses and risks.

If something goes wrong in any of these areas, the Americans will not have to be the first to put the pieces together since there will be other countries working de facto as a security buffer.

This brings back the centrality of the main force of the Cold War covert operations, the work of the Central Intelligence Agency in place of military action whose costs - as the Iraq and Afghanistan interventions have attested - can drain American coffers. If this strategy works, one can surmise that in a few months there could be new activity in Iran, and the Jasmine uprising could start in Tehran in a few weeks or months.

With Tehran, there is obviously much more at stake than in Libya and Syria. Iran is a much larger country, it is sitting on more oil and gas reserves, and it can stop the flow of oil from the state of Ormuz, thus brining havoc to the world's entire energy system. However, what we have seen in recent months proves that this is not impossible although it remains very difficult. The ultimate goal, unlike with Libya, could not to bring down the Ayatollah regime, but simply to cook Tehran on a slow fire.

The next step after Iran could be of course China. Here we are speaking of a double jump: we don't know if, when, or how a Jasmine Revolution could take hold in Iran. Therefore, it is even more difficult to think of a Jasmine Revolution in China, where people are scared of chaos and largely satisfied with what the government has given them over the past 30 years - much better living conditions and far greater freedom than during Maoist times.
However, it is not impossible to conceive that some internal opposition forces could be leveraged to make Iran's leadership tense and Chinese leadership nervous. And just the idea of de facto bringing China and Iran closer together in the eyes of the international community could help feed more domestic tension in and around China.

The result might not be the toppling of the Iranian regime or the Chinese government, but it could be enough to put Tehran or Beijing on the defensive. The result of this could be to make the Chinese government more oppressive internally or to spur it to start political reforms inside the country.

Either result is good for America. If China begins political reforms, America can claim that it has managed to push for this change. If China becomes more oppressive, then it is perhaps even better as China would become the new Grand Enemy Americans wished to have after the fall of the Soviet Union, and China might become the lightning rod for all of America's and the world's troubles.

In all cases, the Obama administration could score many international successes, which if kept on track could help to reestablish American global authority. This would not seal Obama's re-election. In the early 90s, President George H W Bush brilliantly managed to disintegrate the Soviet Union and defeat Saddam Hussein in Iraq, establishing the essential role of America in the events. Yet, he failed to win re-election because the economy did not perform well.

For Obama, it could be the same. Still, for the moment, we can just say that at least half of American policy is working, and if the economy doesn't unravel in the coming months, there could be a new American order in the world in 2012.

Francesco Sisci is a columnist for the Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore.
China's second coming in Libya....?
By Jian Junbo

LONDON - With Libyan rebels taking over Tripoli and authoritarian leader Muammar Gaddafi on the run, the rebellion aided by North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led air strikes to overthrow the Gaddafi regime will come to the end soon. Now reconstruction is an urgent practical issue on the agenda for the Libyan people and international society.

China, an active player in Libya's economic affairs, had to evacuate some 35,000 Chinese nationals - workers, managers, engineers, traders and tourists - leaving dozens of projects unattended after civil war broke out in February. It has made it plain that it is ready to return "to play an active role in future reconstruction", as Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Chaoxu put it on August 24, under the United Nations' lead.

All this shows that the world's second-largest economy may be

willing to take a bigger role in international affairs and that in the particular case of Libya, Beijing hopes to recover and expand economic interests.

According to China's Ministry of Commerce, before the civil war started, 75 Chinese enterprises including 13 large state-owned enterprises were involved in 50 large projects in Libya worth at least US$18.8 billion and covering property, railways, crude oil services and telecommunications.

China urged Libya to protect its investments after an official at a rebel-run oil facility warned that Chinese and Russian oil companies could lose out after Gaddafi's ouster. If acted on, the warning from Abdeljalil Mayouf, an information manager at AGOCO, would be a headache for China, the world's second-biggest oil consumer, which last year obtained 3% of its imported crude from Libya, Reuters said in a report.

"We hope that after a return to stability, Libya will continue to protect the interests and rights of Chinese investors and we hope to continue investment and economic cooperation with Libya," Wen Zhongliang, deputy head of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce's trade department, said in response to questions about the threat. "China's investment in Libya, especially its oil investment, is one aspect of mutual economic cooperation between China and Libya," Wen said at a press conference in Beijing.

China, as well as Russia, Brazil India and South Africa, did not support North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) air strikes aimed at defeating Gaddafi nor did they provide military aid to the rebels. Criticizing NATO for intervening in Libya's internal affairs, Beijing has also kept a deaf ear to the rebels' appeals to be recognized as the legitimate authority in Libya.

Even if, as some predicts, NATO air strikes against Gaddafi loyalists translate to a bigger reconstruction role, Libya cannot afford to overlook China. French President Nicolas Sarkozy proclaimed an international conference on Libya's reconstruction would be held in Paris on September 1, to which China, as well as Russia and Brazil, have been invited. France led the NATO action.
Xie Yajing, commercial counselor of the Commerce Ministry's department of west Asian and African affairs, said on August 30 that Chinese companies had vast opportunities to cash in on post-war reconstruction of Libya, but should wait until after the political situation became stable and clear.

"It is true that some Chinese companies are considering exploring opportunities or resuming their business in Libya, but the time is far from ripe, as there are still short-term risks," she was reported as saying by China Daily.

The end game to the Libyan revolt is unfolding. Gaddafi's wife, daughter and two of his sons were reported to have fled Libya for neighboring Algeria as the hunt for the ousted dictator continued. Pockets of resistance remained from forces loyal to Gaddafi, with fighting still particularly intense around the coastal city of Sirte, his home town.

Restoring contracts
According to the Ministry of Commerce, China does not have direct investments in Libya, only contract projects. The ministry said on August 24 it was conducting research into the possibility of restoring Chinese projects.

China has yet to officially recognize the Transitional National Council (TNC) as Libya's legitimate government. Still, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on August 23 called on UN chief Ban Ki-moon to work with regional organizations such as the African Union and the Arab League to restore order.

In post-Gaddafi Libya, many observers think China inevitably will lose its economic interests as enterprises of Western countries that participated in the air strikes would monopolize reconstruction contracts.

But such view is unrealistic.

International relations are never governed by so-called "international friendship" but by "real interests". Many factors are in favor of China taking a share in the cake of Libya's reconstruction.

As in the case of Sudan, China takes a hedging policy toward Libya. While China has largely remained indifferent in the Libya crisis, it doesn't mean Beijing has shut its eyes and ears to what was happening or pretended that the crisis had nothing to do with China. When the result of the civil war was unpredictable, Beijing kept open to the warring Tripoli regime and rebels.

Beijing did not denounce the legitimacy of Gaddafi's regime and at the time invited its foreign minister to visit China. Yet at the same time, it also sent an envoy to contact the rebels. Zhang Zhiliang, the Chinese ambassador to Qatar, met the leader of the NTC in Doha in June. And on June 6, Li Lianhe, a Chinese diplomat to Egypt, inspected the humanitarian situation and the legacy of Chinese-funded institutions in Benghazi, and also met the NTC's chairman, Mustafa Mohammed Abdul Jalil and other leaders.

This was followed the same month with a visit by Mahmoud Jibolile, the president of the NTC's executive board, to China to talk with Chinese leaders. Then in July, Chen Xiaodong, the director of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's Africa department, visited Benghazi for discussions with NTC leaders.

Beijing also reportedly sent humanitarian aid to the rebels via the China Red Cross. Undoubtedly, such a hedging policy at least makes it possible for Beijing to keep relations with Libya after regime change.

There is sure to be a cacophony of voices among opposition groups, said Yin Gang, an expert on the Arab world at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, as quoted by Reuters. Yin doubted whether remarks by a middle-ranking official of the rebel camp - that China would lose out in the reconstruction of Libya - represented the official position of the post-Gaddafi regime.

"This was one individual's opinion. I can say in four words: They would not dare; they would not dare change any contracts," said Yin. Chinese companies have relatively few investments in Libya, where Western companies were favored even under Gaddafi in recent years, he said.

China's top three state oil firms CNPC, SINOPEC Group and CNOOC all had engineering projects in Libya, but no oil production, according to Reuters, which added that China shipped in roughly 150,000 barrels per day of crude oil from Libya last year through UNIPEC, the trading arm of Asia's top refiner Sinopec Corp that holds the long-term supply contract. That amounted to about one tenth of Libya's crude exports.

Greater opportunities
Leaders of the new regime may be wiser to realize that Libya's reconstruction cannot be accomplished by Western countries alone. Since it relies on oil exports for revenue, Libya for its reconstruction cannot depend on engagement by just a few powers but needs instead to diversify its export markets.

The economy otherwise would be in danger of being unduly outside control. It is typical that a county dependent on resources exports, particularly to Western markets and their enterprises' investments, and therefore makes itself vulnerable to neo-colonialism.

Moreover, most Chinese economic activities in pre-war Libya were related to civilian projects. According to Commerce Ministry official Zhong Manying, until the civil war, Chinese projects in Libya were mainly in housing development, railway construction, oil services and communications.

That means China's engagement in Libya has mainly been in areas of infrastructure, in which China's cheap labor and comprehensive experiences make it more competent to be involved than Western countries. If Libya opens its infrastructure projects to international competition through fair tendering, China should have greater opportunities to win.

The rules of engagement in the "big power" game may also be favorable to China. Reconstruction of Libya now becomes an international affair in which all big powers are preparing to play a role.

It may not be a coincidence that Sarkozy paid a "sudden" brief visit to Beijing on August 25. He reportedly discussed the debt crisis in the euro region with his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao. Behind the diplomatic vocabulary, this meant he has asked China to help stabilize the crisis in Europe. It is suspected that in exchange, he may have promised a role for China in Libya's reconstruction.

Taking part in Libya's reconstruction could mark the first step for China to play a more active role in international affairs. Hopefully, a rising China can take this good chance to demonstrate that it can be a "responsible player"

Hariri Bombing Indictment intentionally Based on Flawed Premises, since Daniel Bellemare is a well known CIA/MOSSAD stooge....

Hariri Bombing Indictment intentionally Based on Flawed Premises, since Daniel Bellemare is a well known CIA/MOSSAD stooge....

Analysis by Gareth Porter*

WASHINGTON, Aug 29, 2011 (IPS) - The indictment of four men linked to Hezbollah in the 2005 assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri made public by the Special Tribunal on Lebanon Aug. 17 is questionable not because it is based on "circumstantial evidence", but because that evidence is based on a flawed premise.

The evidence depends on a convoluted theory involving what the indictment calls "co-location" of personal mobile phones associated with five distinct networks said to be somehow connected with the plot to murder Hariri.

The indictment, originally filed Jun. 10, says that, if there are "many instances" in which a phone is "active at the same location, on the same date, and within the same time frame as other phones", but the phones do not contact each other, then it is "reasonable to conclude from these instances that one person is using multiple phones together".

Based on that assumption the indictment asserts that "a person can ultimately be identified by co-location to be the user of a network phone."

On that reasoning, one of the four accused, Salim Jamil Ayyash, is said to have participated in a "red" network of phones that was activated on Jan. 5, 2005, only contacted each other, and ceased operations two minutes before the blast that killed Hariri. The "red" network is presumed to have been used by those who carried out surveillance as well as prepared the logistics for the bombing.

But Ayyash is also linked by "co-location" to a "green" network that had been initiated in October 2004 and ceased to operate one hour before the attack, and a "blue" network that was active between September 2004 and September 2005. The only basis for linking either of those two sets of mobile phones to the assassination appears to be the claim of frequent "co-location" of Ayyash's personal cell phone with one of the phones in those networks and one red phone.

But the idea that "co-location" of phones is evidence of a single owner is a logical fallacy. It ignores the statistical reality that a multitude of mobile phones would have been frequently co-located with any given phone carrying out surveillance on Hariri in Beirut over an hour or more on the same day during the weeks before the assassination.

In the area of Beirut from the parliament to the St. George Hotel, known as Beirut Central District, where the "red" network is said to have been active in carrying out its surveillance of Hariri, there are 11 base stations for mobile phones, each of which had a range varying from 300 meters to 1,250 meters, according to Riad Bahsoun, a prominent expert on Lebanon's telecom system. Bahsoun estimates that, within the range of each of those cell towers, between 20,000 and 50,000 cell phones were operating during a typical working day....

Given that number of mobile phones operating within a relatively small area, a large number of phones would obviously have registered in the cell tower area and in the same general time frame - especially if defined as an hour or more, as appears to be the case - as at least one of the red network phones on many occasions.

The indictment does not state how many times one of Ayyash's personal phones was allegedly "co-located" with a "red" network phone.

To prove that Ayyash was in charge of the team using the red phones, the indictment provides an extraordinarily detailed account of Ayyash's alleged use of red, green and blue phones on seven days during the period between Jan. 11 and Feb. 14, the day of the assassination.

But according to that information, during the final nine days on which the red network was active in surveillance of Hariri, including the day of the bombing itself, Ayyash was in phone contact with the red and blue networks on only three days – a pattern that appears inconsistent with the role of coordinating the entire plot attributed to him.

The most senior Hezbollah figure indicted, Mustafa Amine Badreddine, is accused of involvement only because he is said to have had 59 phone contacts with Ayyash during the Jan. 5-Feb. 14 period. But those phone contacts are attributed to the two Hezbollah figures solely on the basis of co-location of their personal mobile phones with two phones in the "green" network on an unspecified number of occasions – not from direct evidence that they talked on those occasions.

Evidence from the U.N. commission investigating the Hariri assassination suggests that investigators did not stumble upon the alleged connections between the four Hezbollah figures and the different phone networks but used the link analysis software to find indirect links between phones identified as belonging to Hezbollah and the "red phones".

In his third report, dated Sep. 26, 2006, then Commissioner Serge Brammertz said his team was using communications traffic analysis for "proactive and speculative" studies.

Brammertz referred in his next report in December 2006 to the pursuit of an "alternative hypothesis" that the motive for killing Hariri was a "combination of political and sectarian factors". That language indicates that the "proactive and speculative" use of link analysis was to test the hypothesis that Shi'a Hezbollah was behind the bombing.

This is not the first time that communications link analysis has been used to link telephones associated with a specific group or entity to other phones presumed to be part of a major bombing plot.

In the investigation of the Buenos Aires terror bombing of a Jewish community center in 1994, the Argentine intelligence service SIDE used analysis of phone records to link the Iranian cultural attaché, Mohsen Rabbani, to the bombing, according to the former head of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation's Office on Hezbollah, James Bernazzani.

Bernazzani, who was sent by the White House in early 1997 to assist SIDE in the bombing investigation, told this reporter in a November 2006 interview that SIDE had argued that a series of telephone calls made between Jul. 1 and Jul. 18, 1994 to a mobile phone in the Brazilian border city of Foz de Iguazu must have been made by the "operational group" for the bombing.

SIDE had further argued that a call allegedly made on a mobile phone belonging to Rabbani to the same number showed that he was linked the bombing plot.

Bernazzani called that use of link analysis by SIDE "speculative" – the same word that Brammertz used to describe the U.N. investigation's employment of the same tool. Such speculative use of link analysis "can be very dangerous", Bernazzani said. "Using that kind of analysis, you could link my telephone to [Osama] bin Laden's."

*Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specializing in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, "Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam", was published in 2006....

Kremlin’s Fear of China Drives Its Foreign Policy

Russia is very concerned about China, but this is driven more by fears about China’s capabilities than any real threats....Westerners have little understanding of Russian concerns of the "yellow peril" .... a cultural condition that has been driven into the Russian psyche for generations. Is it justified .... yes .... because China is becoming the dominant power in the world, and Siberia is one vast area of land and resources that will beckon (if not already) Chinese interests and .... eventually .... strategic decision making objectives.

Russia perceives China as being highly unpredictable and worries about Beijing’s technological dominance, growing military strength and demographic and economic expansion into Siberia, which is sparsely populated but resource-rich.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin’s saber-rattling in the Far East, while purportedly aimed at protecting the Kuril Islands from a weak Japan, is Moscow’s subtle signal to Beijing.

The real threat for Russia is China’s capabilities. Beijing’s ability to expand its nuclear arsenal is worrisome because at parity levels, Russia’s nuclear deterrent loses credibility in relation to China’s greater counterstrike potential. Thus, fear, which is the dominant factor behind the Kremlin’s policy of maintaining nuclear superiority over China, hinders global efforts to decrease Russia’s nuclear arsenal — in particular, its tactical weapons.

Moscow’s appeals to engage other nuclear states in arms control are implicitly driven by fears of China. But Russia does not fully understand how to engage China and needs the United States to pressure Beijing to talk and for political cover should talks fail. But engaging China on arms control is not practical yet, given the disparities in size and type of each country’s arsenals.

Russia’s urgency to set its foot down amid China’s rise is also driven by unsuccessful attempts to assert itself on many European security issues, namely NATO and U.S. missile defense systems. Moscow has learned its lesson and wants to assure that it has a voice on Asian security matters.

Shared concern over China offers Russia and the United States an opportunity to deepen relations with a strategy to engage and help contain China. Assuaging their concerns will require, among other initiatives, pressuring China to be more transparent about its military, eventually engaging China on arms control, and demonstrating that U.S. and Russian missile defense systems do not undermine China’s strategic weapons.

Such a strategy, however, is wishful thinking for the time being. Historic distrust between Moscow and Washington, as well as the Kremlin’s fear of provoking China, have shaped their dialogue for the past decade or so. But Russia’s and the United States’ place in the global arena will depend largely upon their ability to find the right balance between each other and China.

Alejandro Sueldo is a scholar with the Project on Nuclear Issues of the Center for Strategic & International Studies and author of “Engaging and Contextualizing Russian Nuclear Policy.”

The CIA’s/MOSSAD Islamist Cover Ups.....

Members of the Muslim Brotherhood outside a Cairo court, February 2007. Internal CIA documents describe the movement as a potential ally against Islamist terrorism.The tenth anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington will be accompanied by the usual solemn political pronouncements and predictable media retrospectives. Pundits will point out that the West’s own economic mismanagement of the past decade has done more to weaken Europe and North America than the Islamists’ attacks. Some others will note how radical Islamists are still strong in Afghanistan and point to the recent downing of a military helicopter with dozens of US troops dead. Still others will use the anniversary to pontificate on how our concerns about Islamism have given racists an excuse to tarnish an entire religion. We will also hear about how the democratic uprisings in the Arab world—Libya being the latest—have undermined Islamists (by providing the region’s disgruntled masses with examples of positive, instead of destructive change).

All of these points are well and good and worth hearing again. But they shouldn’t distract us from a very precise and practical problem that hasn’t been addressed: the refusal of the CIA to disclose the details of its involvement with Islamist groups. In recent weeks, the agency has tried to block sections of a new book that deals with its handling of al-Qaeda before and after September 11. But this is only one part of a large-scale cover-up that Western governments have been perpetrating about decades of ties to Islamist organizations. Until we clarify ourmurky history with radical Islam, we won’t be able to understand the background of the September 11 attacks and whether our strategies today to engage the Muslim world are likely to succeed.

Of course some of this history is well known. The blowback story—how the USarmed the mujahedeen, some of whom morphed into al-Qaeda—has been told inbook and film. We are also getting a sense now of how parts of the US-backed Pakistani military-intelligence complex have actively supported radical Islamists. Collusion between Britain and Islamist movements over the past century has also been explored. And of course, Israel’s support for Hamas as a counterweight to the Palestinian Liberation Organization has gone down as one of the great diplomatic miscalculations of recent history.

But compared to the full scope of the issue, these insights are meager. To date, the Central Intelligence Agency continues to block access to its archives relating to radical Islam or cooperation with Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood. In the course of researching my book on the Brotherhood’s expansion into the West, I applied numerous times under the Freedom of Information Act to see documents concerning events in the 1950s, some of which had been confirmed by already declassified State Department cables. Inevitably the CIA responded with the blanket exception of “national security” to justify denying access to any files.

Said Ramadan

Despite the CIA’s information blockade, it is clear from interviews with CIA operatives and other countries’ intelligence archives that the CIA was courting groups like the Brotherhood as allies in theUS’s global battle against communism. In Egypt, the charge was often made by the government of Gamel Abdel Nasser that the Muslim Brotherhood was in theCIA’s pay. This was also a view of some Western intelligence agencies, which flatly declared that Said Ramadan, the Swiss-based son-in-law of the group’s founder, was a US agent. The agency may have—but for this we need access to its archives—colluded with Ramadan in attempting a coup against Nasser.

The CIA certainly did help the Brotherhood establish itself in Europe, helping to create the milieu that led to the September 11 attacks. The mosque in Munich that Ramadan helped found, for example, became a hotbed of anti-US activity. The man convicted as a key perpetrator of the 1993 attack against the World Trade Center had sought spiritual counseling at the mosque before leaving to carry out his attacks. And in 1998, the man believed to be al-Qaeda’s chief financial officer was arrested near the mosque and also sought spiritual counseling from the mosque’s imam. An investigation based on this arrest traced radical Islamists right to a second mosque—the al-Quds mosque in Hamburg—where three of the four 9/11 pilots worshipped, it but failed to make the final link. This isn’t to say that theCIA was behind the September 11 attacks but that US collusion with Islamists in the Cold War bore bitter fruit in later years—making it imperative that we understand exactly what happened in those seemingly distant years of the 50s, 60s and 70s of the last century.

More recently, despite Washington’s sometimes hostile public rhetoric toward to the Brotherhood, it is clear that the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama have tried to court the movement. Internal CIA analyses from 2006 and 2008, which I obtained, show that the Brotherhood was viewed as a positive force and potential ally—this time not against communism but Islamist terrorism: the Brotherhood was considered a moderate Islamist group and thus able to channel grievances away from violence toward the United States (even if Brotherhood theoreticians did not renounce violence against Israel or US soldiers). The State Department also used US Muslims close to the Brotherhood to reach out to Islamists in Europe. Such support has given these groups legitimacy in the United States and Europe.

The CIA is blocking the release of information because the subject remains sensitive—both for the West and the Muslim world. In Washington, the CIA could come under fire if its own archives would confirm and fill out the current sketch view of history. For the Brotherhood, amid its current re-emergence as a major political force in Egypt and other countries, it would be extremely damaging to know that illustrious figures in its history were working for the country that most exemplifies the decadent, imperialist forces it has struggled against for decades.

Revealing this history could be painful but necessary to strip away the doublespeak that both sides have used to describe their dealings with each other. This isn’t to say that releasing information should be used to bash cooperation with Islamists. Clearly the United States and other Western countries need to deal with groups like the Brotherhood, and perhaps in some situations even to support them: for example if the Brotherhood really were to come to power democratically in Egypt, the United States would be obliged to deal with such a government. For the Brotherhood a case could be made that in past decades, when its members were so badly repressed by authorities in the Middle East, that some sort of help from the West was necessary to avoid destruction by the authoritarian governments that persecute it.

These are legitimate arguments. But they can only be made if the full history of these relationships is made known rather than kept hidden. To do this will require action from Congress. The CIA did not release documents concerning USintelligence dealings with Nazi officials, for example, until it was forced to by the passage of the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act of 1998. This piece of legislation compelled US government agencies to release all files on their dealings with the Nazis during and after the war. It lead to an incredible flood of information on the topic, helping us understand, for example, US collaboration with ex-Nazis after the war.

We need a similar law today. This is not to draw a parallel between Islamism and Nazism—an argument that is tendentious and counter-productive. The only parallel is that the US government has dealt with these questionable organizations and is so unwilling to admit this that it will take specific instructions from Congress to make these dealings public. Whatever the merits of these policies they are based on a long-standing, but still mostly secret, strategy. As Western governments seek to distinguish between “good” and “bad” Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, or between the Muslim Brotherhood and more radical groups in the Middle East, understanding this strategy—and its efficacy—has never been more urgent....

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan (Left) attends a CIA-Al-Qaeda meeting in Libya. ”In the last 17 days, more than 2,000 residents of the city of Sirte were killed in NATO air strikes.” (Libyan fighters prepare for assault on Sirte)‎

The following are all part of the USA’s fascist New World Order:



Saudi Arabia.

All three reportedly helped the CIA carry out the 9 11 attacks.(TURKEY …)

All three have supported the recent CIA coups which have wrecked Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

And yet, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, unlike Israel and the USA, are said to want a Palestinian state.

Prince Turki al Faisal meeting his Jewish friends in Washington.

On 11 September 2011, there was
an article in the New York Times by Saudi Arabia’s Prince Turki al Faisal.

He wrote that, if the U.S. vetoed the Palestinian state, “Saudi Arabia would no longer be able to cooperate with America in the same way it historically has.

“(It would) pursue other policies at odds with those of the United States (and) …might part ways with Washington in Afghanistan and Yemen as well.”

This is probably not to be taken seriously.

Prince Turki al Faisdal knows that the CIA toppled Mubarak and that it could easily topple certain Saudi royalty.

The CIA-Mossad have long term plans to balkanise Saudi Arabia.(
Saudi Arabia – You are next?)

Turkey may also be balkanised. (TURKEY TO BE SPLIT UP?)

Turkey is to be split up?

On 12 September 2011, M J Rosenberg, Senior Foreign Policy Fellow at the Media Matters Action Network, wrote an article entitled:

The U.S. Abandons Israel

Aangirfan doubts that the USA has abandoned Israel!

According to Rosenberg:

1. The Turkish government has essentially broken relations with Israel.

What Rosenberg does not mention is that Turkey is very much part of the New World Order.

We suspect that either (A) Turkey’s leaders are only pretending to ‘oppose’ Israel, or, (b) Turkey’s leaders are about to be toppled.

The USA and Israel ‘are joined at the hip’.

Recently Turkey and the USA signed an agreement on the deployment of a US radar as part of a NATO-backed missile defense system.

US officials described this as “the most significant military cooperation between Washington and Ankara since 2003.” (Reinforced Turkey-US Military Cooperation)

If Turkey’s leaders really do want to make an enemy of Israel, and its friend America, then the CIA-Mossad-NATO can easily change the leadership in Turkey.

The CIA-Mossad-NATO found it so easy to topple Tusisia’s Ben Ali, even though Tunisia was, like Turkey, a prosperous and moderate Moslem state.

The CIA-Mossad-NATO can so easily stir up the Kurds, and various others, in order to produce a Turkish Spring.

Since July 2011, over 40 Turkish soldiers have been killed by Kurdish insurgents. (Asia Times Online :: Israel turns tables on Turkey)

The Turkish military, having discovered that the CIA cannot be trusted, and having decided to become more nationalistic, has been drastically weakened by the present Islamist government.

The present Turkish government is reportedly under the influence of the CIA’s Islamist Gulen movement. (TOP TURK FRIEND OF ISRAEL, OBAMA AND HEROIN?)


2. According to Rosenberg:

“Ordinary Egyptians (not the government) attacked the Israeli embassy in Cairo, forcing all its personnel to return home to Israel.”

What we should note here is that the CIA coup in Egypt has weakened Egypt.

A weakened Egypt is exactly what Israel wants.

3. According to Rosenberg:

“The Palestinians… are taking their case to the United Nations where an overwhelming majority of the General Assembly will endorse Palestinian statehood, even though Israel will still control the territory of the new state.”


Israel will still be in control.

Moslem friends of Israel have toppled Ben Ali, Mubarak and Gaddafi. Moslems fight Moslems in Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan etc.

4. According to Rosenberg:

In the USA, “politicians always want to give Israel whatever it wants in an election year.

“After all, both the Israeli government and its lobby here make it clear to them that refusal to ‘stand with Israel’ will cost them mightily in terms of campaign contributions…”

When Obama “tried to push the Israelis to start negotiations …Israel’s monied supporters in America went crazy…

“When Netanyahu told them to get Obama to back down ‘to save Israel,’ they did.

“AIPAC made sure that every member of Congress knew that they were being ‘scored’ on the level of their support for Netanyahu. A low score meant closed checkbooks.

“Obama, no less immune to financial threats than a Congressman from Queens, surrendered. Over and over again…”



On 16 September 2011, “NATO attacked the city of Sirte … with more than 30 rockets directed at the city’s main hotel and the Tamin building, which consists of more than 90 residential flats.

“In the last 17 days, more than 2,000 residents of the city of Sirte were killed in NATO air strikes.”

Libyan fighters prepare for assault on Sirte

NATO air strikes kill 354 in Sirte-Gaddafi’s spokesman

Monday, August 29, 2011

The dangers lurking in the Arab spring...

[Once the Libyan disaster is revealed as the grand fiasco that it truly is, then the Syrian disaster should already be a fait accompli, dragging Lebanon along with it, ever closer to a critical mass. After merging these Sunni-based conflicts with the festering wound of Iraq, the CIA master manipulators should have the real regional conflict on their hands that they have been so diligently seeking. That will be the point where all military restraint will go out the window. NATO will be free to use all of their forces--that is, ALL OF THEIR FORCES--first the massive saturation bombing campaigns will get underway. By then, Iran will clearly be Public Enemy Number One. This is the perfect planner's moment for spooks like Mike Vickers, who is the "limited warfare" specialist who formulated the allegedly fictitious “take-over-the-world plan” that the Pentagon/CIA has been following for the past thirty years. Selective nuke strikes would then become an acceptable solution to a regional war in the Middle East, settling the Middle East down like nothing else that has ever been tried in the past. At that point everybody would be whipping-out their own nukes (including Saudi Arabia), to deny their own impotence and to deny Iran the right to have its own nuclear defense.

They have unleashed a real "shit storm" for the next round.]

By Vali Nasr

The Arab Spring is a hopeful chapter in Middle Eastern politics, but the region’s history points to darker outcomes. There are no recent examples of extended power-sharing or peaceful transitions to democracy in the Arab world. When dictatorships crack, budding democracies are more than likely to be greeted by violence and paralysis. Sectarian divisions – the bane of many Middle Eastern societies – will then emerge, as competing groups settle old scores and vie for power.

Syria today stands at the edge of such an upheaval. The brutality of Bashar Assad’s regime is opening a dangerous fissure between the Alawite minority, which rules the country, and the majority Sunni population. After Assad’s butchery in the largely Sunni city of Hama on July 31, on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan, the Muslim Brotherhood, a Sunni group, accused the regime of conducting “a war of sectarian cleansing.” It is now clear that Assad’s strategy is to divide the opposition by stoking sectarian conflict.

Sunni extremists have reacted by attacking Alawite families and businesses, especially in towns near the Iraqi border. The potential for a broader clash between Alawites and Sunnis is clear, and it would probably not be confined to Syria. Instead, it would carry a risk of setting off a regional dynamic that could overwhelm the hopeful narrative of the Arab Spring itself, replacing it with a much aggravated power struggle along sectarian lines.

That is because throughout the Middle East there is a strong undercurrent of simmering sectarian tension between Sunnis and Shiites, of whom the Alawites are a subset. Shiites and Sunnis live cheek by jowl in the long arc that stretches from Lebanon to Pakistan, and the region’s two main power brokers, Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia, are already jousting for power.

So far this year, Shiite-Sunni tensions have been evident in countries from Bahrain to Syria. But put together, they could force the United States to rethink its response to the Arab Spring itself.

Sectarianism is an old wound in the Middle East. But the recent popular urge for democracy, national unity and dignity has opened it and made it feel fresh. This is because many of the Arab governments that now face the wrath of protesters are guilty of both suppressing individual rights and concentrating power in the hands of minorities.

The problem goes back to the colonial period, when European administrators manipulated religious and ethnic diversity to their advantage by giving minorities greater representation in colonial security forces and governments.

Arab states that emerged from colonialism promised unity under the banner of Arab nationalism. But as they turned into cynical dictatorships, failing at war and governance, they, too, entrenched sectarian biases. This scarred Arab society so deeply that the impulse for unity was often no match for the deep divisions of tribe, sect and ethnicity.

The struggle that matters most is the one between Sunnis and Shiites. The war in Iraq first unleashed the destructive potential of their competition for power, but the issue was not settled there. The Arab Spring has allowed it to resurface by weakening states that have long kept sectarian divisions in place, and brutally suppressed popular grievances. Today, Shiites clamor for greater rights in Lebanon, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, while Sunnis are restless in Iraq and Syria.

This time, each side will most likely be backed by a nervous regional power, eager to protect its interests. For the past three decades the Saudi monarchy, which sees itself as the guardian of Sunni Islam, has viewed Iran’s Shiite theocracy as its nemesis. Saudis have relied on the United States, Arab nationalism and Sunni identity to slow Iran’s rise, even to the point of supporting radical Sunni forces.

The Saudis suffered a major setback when control of Iraq passed from Sunnis to Shiites, but that made them more determined to reverse Shiite gains and rising Iranian influence. It was no surprise that Saudi Arabia was the first Arab state to withdraw its ambassador from Damascus this month.

The imprint of this rivalry was evident in regional conflicts before the Arab Spring. Saudis saw Iran’s hand behind a rebellion among Yemen’s Houthi tribe – who are Zaydis, an offshoot of Shiism – that started in 2004. Iran blamed Arab financing for its own decade-long revolt by Sunni Baluchis along its southeastern border with Pakistan. And since 2005, when Shiite Hezbollah was implicated in the assassination of Rafik Hariri, a popular Sunni prime minister who was close to the Saudis, a wide rift has divided Lebanon’s Sunni and Shiite communities, and prompted Saudi fury against Hezbollah. The sectarian divide in Lebanon shows no sign of narrowing, and now the turmoil in Syria next door has brought Lebanon to a knife’s edge.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah’s audacious power grab has angered Saudi Arabia. Officials in Riyadh see the turn of events in Lebanon as yet another Iranian victory, and the realization of the dreaded “Shiite crescent” that King Abdullah of Jordan once warned against.

In March, fearing a snowball effect from the Arab Spring, Saudi Arabia drew a clear red line in Bahrain, where a Shiite majority would have been empowered had pro-democracy protests succeeded in ousting the Sunni monarchy. The Saudis rallied the Persian Gulf monarchies to support the Sunni monarchy in Bahrain in brutally suppressing the protests – and put Iran on notice that they were “ready to enter war with Iran and even with Iraq in defense of Bahrain.”

The Saudis are right to be worried about the outcome of sectarian fights in Lebanon and Bahrain, but in Syria it is Iran that stands to lose. Both sides understand that the final outcome will decide the pecking order in the region. Every struggle in this rivalry therefore matters, and every clash is pregnant with risk for regional stability.

The turn of events in Syria is particularly important, because Sunnis elsewhere see the Alawite government as the linchpin in the Shiite alliance of Iran and Hezbollah. The Alawite-Sunni clash there could quickly draw in both of the major players in the region and ignite a broader regional sectarian conflict among their local allies, from Lebanon to Iraq to the Persian Gulf and beyond.

The specter of protracted bloody clashes, assassinations and bombings, sectarian cleansing and refugee crises from Beirut to Manama, causing instability and feeding regional rivalry, could put an end to the hopeful Arab Spring. Radical voices on both sides would gain. In Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, it is already happening.

None of this will benefit democracy or American interests. But seeking to defuse sectarian tensions wherever they occur would help ensure regional stability. Even if Washington has little leverage and influence in Syria, we should nevertheless work closely with our allies who do. Turkey, which is a powerful neighbor, could still pressure the Assad government not to inflame sectarian tensions. And both Turkey and Saudi Arabia could use their influence to discourage the opposition from responding to President Assad’s provocations.

Beyond Syria, the two countries most at risk are Bahrain and Lebanon, and here we can have an impact. The United States should urge Bahrain’s monarchy to end its crackdown, start talking seriously with the opposition, and agree to meaningful power sharing. Washington has strong military ties with Bahrain and should use this leverage to argue for a peaceful resolution there.

In Lebanon, we should not encourage a sectarian showdown; instead we should support a solution to that country’s impasse that would include redistribution of power among Shiites, Sunnis and Christians. Lebanon last had a census in 1932, and its power structure has since favored Sunnis and Christians based on that count. Meaningful power-sharing in Beirut is as important to peace and stability in Lebanon as disarming Hezbollah.

The Middle East is in the midst of historic change. Washington can hope for a peaceful and democratic future, but we should guard against sectarian conflicts that, once in the open, would likely run their destructive course at great cost to the region and the world.

(Vali Nasr is a professor at Tufts University, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the author of “The Shia Revival: How Conflicts Within Islam Will Shape the Future.”)

Iran makes a u-turn on Syria...? LOL
By Kaveh L Afrasiabi

After months of tacitly echoing Damascus' dismissal of the growing political opposition as armed gangs and foreign agents, Tehran has adjusted its policy by referring to the "legitimate demands" of protesters and the need for the embattled regime of Bashar al-Assad to respect "people's right to elect and achieve freedom", to quote Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad in a recent interview with an Arab network.

Simultaneously, in the wake of last week's European Union sanctions on the elite al-Qods branch of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, accusing it of providing material support to Damascus to suppress the ongoing revolt, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Ramin Mehmanparast, has categorically denied the EU's accusation, branding it "unfounded

and aiming at blaming other countries".

At least 88 people, including 10 children, have died in detention in Syria since unrest broke out in March, according to Amnesty International. Majority of the victims were tortured or ill-treated, Amnesty said this week. At least 2,200 people have been killed since the start of the uprising, according to the United Nations.

"Iran's reading of the crisis situation in Syria has turned a leaf toward political realism, that is, the knowledge and realization that Assad's regime may crumble in the not too distant future and Iran should not be hooked to a sinking ship," said a Tehran University political science professor who spoke to the author on the condition of anonymity.

He added, however, that Iran's ruling elite was still optimistic that with "due changes and reforms", the embattled Syrian government could survive and "in essence Iran has not advocated anything that President Assad himself has not already accepted in principle".

The million dollar question, though, is whether or not Assad's reform initiatives, such as adopting a more liberal press law, reflect a remedy too late, in light of the climbing death toll in the streets of various cities and the likely prospect of the capital city's imminent infection by the virus of popular protests.

Behind Tehran's decision to alter its approach to the Syrian political crisis are a number of important regional as well as internal considerations. As masters of survival who have successfully weathered the torrents of war, armed opposition and mass protests over the past 32 years, the leaders of the Islamic Republic are political pragmatists who rarely allow the rather thick lens of ideology or dogma to obliterate their grasp of political dynamics. They prefer to be ahead rather than behind political curves.

In essence, that means a dualistic approach toward Syria from now on, one track being in league with Turkey and other regional powers pushing for democratic reform, the other still in sync with alliance politics dictating discrete support for Assad's regime and opposing any Libyan-style foreign intervention.

According to various media reports in Iran, last week's Tehran visit by the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, was an important catalyst in shifting Iran's policy away from a blind support for Assad and in favor of a more nuanced approach that emphasizes genuine political reforms.

There are those in Tehran who think that Iran has decided to move closer to its Arab neighbors in the Persian Gulf by distancing itself from the moribund Assad regime, which may experience serious cracks in its political, administrative and military institutions in the immediate future as a result of the growing mass discontent.

In turn, this raises a fundamental question: how valuable is Syria's alliance to Iran today, and is it worth risking a major cognitive dissonance, in light of Iran's overt support for the Arab Spring?

Indeed, the instant result of Iran's new approach toward Syria is that it closes the previous gap, between Iran's support for political transformations in other parts of the Arab world and Iran's non-support for the similar process underway in Syria, thus allowing Tehran to declare that it pursues a consistent and logical policy with respect to the current Middle East upheavals.

Perhaps equally important, the new Tehran policy toward Syria is bound to reward the regime by also bringing Iran and Turkey closer together, in light of Ankara's recent announcement that it has "lost confidence" in the Assad regime. (See
Iran draws the line with Turkey on Syria Asia Times Online, July 26, 2011.)

Iran's primary concern is the vital Persian Gulf, and despite all the talk of "strategic depth" as a result of the alliance with Syria, the principal concern of Iran is to improve its standing in the immediate region that has vast geo-economic value.

No longer menaced by Iraq, as it was during the bloody eight-year war during the 1980s, Iran is fundamentally less beholden to Syria acting as a "vital bridge to the Arab world", particularly since the gates of diplomacy with the Arab world's biggest power, Egypt, have begun to slowly open, given the prospect of normalization between Tehran and Cairo.

In addition, Tehran's leaders have not forgotten recent statements from Damascus of support for Saudi intervention in Bahrain, in the name of Arab nationalism, which truly surprised and even dismayed Tehran.

"There has always been a nagging concern that Assad's regime would sell out Iran in no time if the price was right, but that never happened and Assad we may recall solidly supported Iran during the upheaval of 2009 following the presidential elections," says the Tehran professor.

As a result, Tehran has nuanced itself rather than come out too strongly against Damascus, thus protecting itself from the charge of hypocrisy and double standards, this while harvesting the gained ability to push for reform in neighboring Bahrain, where the simmering protests have met the iron fist of Saudi-backed official repression. Said otherwise, Iran can now have a greater say in Bahraini affairs, by opting to recognize the legitimacy of the Syrian opposition.

But, as with any major policy shift, there are also unintended consequences, such as a cooling in relations with Damascus in the event that Assad survives. Damascus would then look at Iran as a half-loyal friend that cannot be fully trusted.

There is, in other words, an inevitable element of risk in Iran's new policy that could adversely affect its regional fortunes, depending on the dynamic of political change in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East....

Come now, there are snowflakes in hell with a better chance than that of the Sunnis accepting any Alawi as a head of State.

However, the Alawis are neither better nor worse than the Sunnis or the Shiites or the Wahhabis. for all Arab cultures and most Islamic ones (to exempt certain 'heretical' minorities) are mired, from the family to the clan to the tribe to the Ummah, in 'rule or be ruled'. Simple as that. Even a male child can boss his older sisters around -and to a lesser extent even his mother - for being none other than male.

As such, the real culprit is none other than the religion of peace; when your God is a capricious, wrathful slave-master bent on servitude, that's what you wind up emulating.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

India Emerging As the Voice of Sanity....Getting the regional act together.


India Emerging As the Voice of Sanity....Getting the regional act together.

[A lot of news about India today, all of it sounding positive. Not only is the Indian leadership charting a new course in Afghanistan and throughout the region, it has joined with the other "BRIC" nations to challenge US perpetual war initiatives in the UN (SEE: Russia Introduces Competing U.N. Draft on Syria {The Russian draft is backed by China, Brazil, India and South Africa}), as well as taking on corruption at the national level (SEE:India parliament begins debate to end corruption).

Let us hope that all of this is sincere and India emerges as a world leader, to challenge all the anti-leaders who have created so much trouble between them.]
”In sum, the new thinking in the government on the Afghan situation, as was manifest during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Kabul in May (and presently over Hajigak), has come not a day too soon.” In this photo, Manmohan with Karzai during his Afghanistan visit

By deciding to work with Russia, China and the Central Asian countries within a regional framework, India has made a significant policy decision.

An appreciable level of seriousness underscores the government’s thinking on pressing ahead with the bid for iron ore blocks in the fabulous Hajigak mines in Afghanistan as well as to sponsor the Steel Authority of India proposal to set up a steel plant in that country. The Hajigak mines hold an estimated reserve of 1.8 billion tonnes of iron ore. The “hands-on” interest shown by the new Foreign Secretary, Ranjan Mathai, in the progress in the bidding process testifies to the new thinking. From the Indian policy perspective, the Hajigak project has three dimensions.

The project, quite obviously, stands at a junction where foreign policy intersects national policies. National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon said in New Delhi recently: “Our primary task now and for the foreseeable future is to transform and improve the life of the unacceptably large number of our compatriots who live in poverty, with disease, hunger and illiteracy as their companions in life. This is our overriding priority, and must be the goal of our internal and external security policies. Our quest is the transformation of India, nothing less and nothing more.”

Looking back, an esoteric Afghan policy conceived in the ivory tower in the classical mould of the “great game” in the Hindu Kush never really made sense for India. Things, after all, need to add up in life. When Russia supplies helicopters to the Afghan government, it makes the United States buy them at market price from Russian stocks, and servicing and repairs will be met from a trust fund set up by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to that end.

NATO’s war is related to Russia’s own security as well as its “near abroad.” Yet, when the western alliance (or the U.S.) uses the Northern Distribution Network to transport supplies for the troops in Afghanistan, Russia levies a transit fee, estimated to be in excess of $1 billion. Such realism makes sense. Again, the Pentagon, although neck-deep in the uncertain war, did undertake an exhaustive study of Afghanistan’s multitrillion-dollar mineral wealth. Indeed, has there ever been a “pure war” in history since Alexander? Hopefully, the Hajigak project will be a “leap of faith” also for the Indian strategic pundits. It is senseless to pursue politics without economics. This realism has long been in coming in our regional policies — be it toward Sri Lanka, Nepal or Bangladesh.

Second, New Delhi is beginning to look beyond the din of the war into a future that seems misty. The Hajigak project is located in the central Bamyan province, which is relatively stable, but it can be optimally realised only if peace arrives in Afghanistan. So what lies ahead in Afghanistan? The U.S. is finding itself in a strategic cul-de-sac and the Taliban pushing the NATO commanders into an “increasingly reactive operational posture,” as a former Pentagon analyst, ‘Chuck’ Spinney, blogged recently, where they are reacting to events rather than moulding them. Indeed, the Taliban has switched gear and is focussing on exhausting the NATO forces and paralysing American willpower “by inducing our [U.S.] military to over and underreact to an unfolding welter of widely dispersed insurgent attacks.” In a brilliant analysis, Spinney added: “The probable result is that the U.S. will not leave Afghanistan on its own terms but on its adversary’s terms … other than reversing the troop withdrawal and escalating the conflict with yet another troop surge, the only way out of the trap is to negotiate a political settlement with the insurgents … The goal should be one of establishing conditions for the emergence of a neutral and prosperous Afghanistan … It is too late for American leaders to be adhering to the primitive idea that one can only negotiate from a position of strength abroad and economic strength at home — both those bases of power have been blown.”

Without doubt, the Taliban is demonstrating great skill in adapting itself to the changing conditions. Its recent operations testify to the impressive reach of the insurgency and a loss of initiative for the U.S. From this point, small decentralised insurgent groups can be expected to create havoc when the American troop withdrawal continues. Fewer and fewer forces will be available to counter them. There is also the great danger that somewhere along the line the Taliban might do a “Khobar” on the NATO. It took just a single team of suicide bombers belonging to Hezbollah Al-Hejaz in October 1983 to attack the famous Khobar Towers in Beirut, where the U.S. Marines were based, and kill 241 of them. This, in turn, compelled President Ronald Reagan to order the troops home post-haste.

In sum, the new thinking in the government on the Afghan situation, as was manifest during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Kabul in May (and presently over Hajigak), has come not a day too soon. Delinking the Indian policy from U.S. strategies in Afghanistan was long overdue. As indeed the need to keep communication lines open with all Afghan groups while dealing principally with the Kabul government; scrupulously avoiding taking sides in that country’s fratricidal strife; not even remotely contemplating a military deployment; and, most important, doing all we can to ensure that Afghanistan does not become an arena of conflict with Pakistan. The indications are that much ground has been covered in this direction. Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar’s reference to Islamabad’s “outreach to Afghanistan and India” in the same breath, in her recent speech at the National Assembly, conveyed a positive signal. This brings us to a third point. How do the Indian regional policies adapt to the U.S. retreat from Afghanistan?

In a nutshell, the U.S. retreat should encourage India to be more active in its regional policies. If one thing is absolutely certain about the Hajigak project, it is that India’s involvement in it — or, for that matter, in any Afghan or Central Asian project of large scale — is one hundred per cent predicated on the climate of relations with Pakistan and Iran. Pressing ahead with the Hajigak project would seem to convey a degree of optimism that the improving relationship with Pakistan is sustainable and could possibly be taken to a qualitatively new level of cooperation. Similarly, it also presupposes, perhaps, that new life can be breathed into the insipid ties with Iran. These are hopeful signs.

What has been lacking at the policymaking level is a conceptual framework of regional cooperation. This is evident from the predicament inherited by Mr. Mathai as regards a possible mechanism to evacuate iron ore from Hajigak. The options being considered are through a Pakistani land route and/or through the port of Bandar Abbas in Iran. Evidently, for this to happen, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran ought to form a hub of regional cooperation. Clearly, such a hub has immense potential, be it in terms of energy, market, mineral resources or manpower. But the ground reality is that we have a long way to reach that goal.

Most certainly, Mr. Mathai asked a pertinent question: how do we evacuate iron ore from Afghanistan? A land route via Pakistan is theoretically possible but it will mainly have to be through the Iranian port of Chabahar. That being the case, do we factor in adequately the importance of India’s ties with Iran, which are in great disrepair? The fact remains that India hurt Iran’s core interests and thereafter subjected the relationship to benign neglect. It could afford this misadventure because it had no economic ties worth mentioning with Afghanistan or the Central Asian countries. Alas, India failed to evolve coordinated policies toward Central Asia in the post-Soviet period. And the appalling failure to exploit our enormous soft power to build the sinews of an economic relationship is all-too evident. Presidents, Vice-Presidents and Prime Ministers fly back and forth every now and then, but no one regards India as a serious player in the region.

However, things can change when India gets full membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). The American rhetoric often spoke of a Great Central Asia strategy aimed at rolling back Russian and Chinese influence in that region by bringing it closer to the Indian market. By deciding instead to work with Russia and China and the Central Asian countries within a regional framework, India has made a significant policy decision. The diplomatic challenge now will be to put in place the underpinning to galvanise India’s economic ties with Central Asia once the SCO membership gains traction. This underpinning principally involves robust ties with Iran and pressing ahead imaginatively with the normalisation process with Pakistan. In sum, India’s Hajigak challenge is to get the act together in its regional policies by evolving a strategy of mutually beneficial cooperation with Afghanistan and Central Asia, built on predictable ties with Pakistan and Iran.....

Friday, August 26, 2011

Saudi Arabia Forging a New Zioconned Sunni State?

The kingdom may be aiding Syrian protesters in an effort to break up their nation and create a Sunni state.

Is Saudi Arabia conniving with the United States to unseat the Assad regime in Syria? The possible smuggling of satellite phones into the country suggests so but the kingdom’s ultimate aim may not necessarily align with American policy in the region—the creation of a new Sunni state between Syria and Iraq. [ed.--SEE: US, Saudi Arabia Smuggle Satellite Phones to Syrian Rebels]

Iranian intelligence experts in Damascus attempted to disrupt the Syrian opposition’s telephone and Internet connections in recent weeks, making it all the more difficult for news of the uprising to reach the outside world. To help the rebels, Saudi Arabia and the United States reportedly smuggled thousands of satellite phones into Syria. Other than that, there’s little the Americans can do short of military intervention. President Bashar al-Assad may have lost the “legitimacy to lead” but he doesn’t need Washington for anything, rendering sanctions virtually useless.

Protests erupted in Syria in March after the “Arab spring” deposed veteran dictators in Tunisia and Egypt. In Bahrain, Shī’ah Muslims also took to the streets to pressure their largely Sunni government into enacting reforms but Saudi troops quelled the uprising before it could pose a serious threat to the small Arab Gulf state’s monarchy.

The oil kingdom is now rooting for the protesters in Syria, or at least some of them. Besides supposedly supplying the anti-government forces with satellite phones in conjunctions with the Americans, Saudi Arabia privately and clandestinely poured money and arms into the country in the hopes of stiffening the resistance and buying the loyalty of desert tribes.

The ultimate aim could be the erection of a new state encompassing not only the Euphrates’ river valley in Syria roughly corresponding with the southeastern Deir ez-Zor Governorate but Iraq’s central Al Anbar province as well. Both are overwhelmingly Sunni and home to more than a couple of million people. Such a country would put a natural geostrategic ally of Saudi Arabia’s in the heart of the Arab world—a “forward operating base” for Riyadh from where to watch Syria, Turkey and Iraq, three Middle Eastern states that are increasingly assertive, and from where to counter Iranian influence.

Riyadh blamed Tehran for stirring the uprising in Bahrain even if there was little evidence of Iranian involvement. The accusation and Saudi led military action nevertheless demonstrated just how worried the Saudis were about Iran extending its influence in the region.

They have ample reason to be concerned. The Saudi backed government in Lebanon was undermined by Iranian ally Hezbollah earlier this year while two of the kingdom’s allies in containing the Islamic Republic, Egypt and Iraq, have been rocked by internal unrest. With Iraq now a democracy—ruled by a Shiite prime minister—and Hosni Mubarak out of office and facing trial, Saudi Arabia and Iran are the only two powers still standing in the Middle East.

A political disintegration of Iraq and Syria, prompted by the creation of another Saudi client state, would weaken both a friend of Iran’s and one of its traditional foes. The United States, after spending considerable blood and treasure stabilizing Iraq, might rather not see its experiment in multiethnic Arab democracy fall apart. It’s anyone’s guess what will happen to Syria after Assad moreover. But the development could bolster the club of pro-Western regimes in the region.

Neighboring Jordan conveniently joined the Gulf Cooperation Council two months ago which formally sanctioned March’s intervention in Bahrain. Whether Morocco also joins the organization or not, it is a moderate Islamist bulwark against Iranian encroachment in West Asia, providing Saudi foreign policy with extra legitimacy and sometimes an alternative to dollar diplomacy. Whatever the emirates contribute in funding, the Saudis are obviously in the lead. And they’re disappointed about their American ally’s reluctance to support them.

The Saudis didn’t particularly care for President Barack Obama’s championing of human rights and reform in the face of the Arab spring and blamed him for forcing Mubarak out of power.

From Washington’s perspective, the alliance with the Wahhabi kingdom is one of convenience. It regards its religious intolerance and backwardness as an embarrassment even if the two countries share interests in the region. Both want to keep the oil flowing, the Gulf free of Iranian influence and neither wants the ayatollahs to go nuclear and embolden their terrorist proxies in the Levant. The clear strategic rationale of the relationship tends to be overshadowed by moral objections on America’s part however. Saudi nation building abroad is likely to raise more than a few eyebrows in the State Department therefore.

Actually, sponsoring the foundation of a brand new republic (presumably) in the Middle East wouldn’t be such a stretch for the United States ideologically. It’s not as though today’s national boundaries in the Middle East necessarily reflect cultural and religious divides—let alone encompass specific peoples or nations. Rather, a Sunni polity separate of multicultural Syria and Shī’ah majority Iraq conforms much better to notions of sovereignty and self determination than the status quo.

It’s not often that American interests and ideology coincide in the Middle East. The risks of too overtly endorsing the Saudi effort—if it is a serious effort to begin with—are clear. America could be perceived as once again meddling in the internal affairs of Arab states. Success, on the other hand, could leave Iraq, then virtually a Shiite homeland, much stabler and Saudi Arabia, a pivotal Western ally, in an enhanced position to balance against Iranian intrigue. Now Washington has only to recognize the opportunity.

Nick Ottens is an historian from the Netherlands who researched Muslim revivalist movements and terrorism in nineteenth century Arabia, British India and the Sudan for his Master’s thesis. He also studied the history of transatlantic relations and is currently a contributing analyst with Wikistrat. Nick blogs about politics and economics at Free Market Fundamentalist.