Military Intervention

Turkey to Host NATO Ground Forces, Multiple Assassination Attempts in the Middle East: Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan Safe after Convoy Attacked, Ahmadinejad Survives Assassination Attempt During a Visit to an Oil Refinery Unit, U.S. Investigators: Yemen’s President Hit By Advanced U.S.-Made Missile, Afghan President’s Brother Killed, Turkey Tells West it Might Launch Offensive against Syria, Tehran Warns Ankara it Will Bomb U.S. Bases in Turkey, Iranian Message Conveyed to Saudi Arabia: the Syrian Regime is a Red Line, Supporting the Unrest Means that Arab Monarchies in the Persian Gulf Will Not Be Spared, U.S. Defense Secretary Visits Iraq to Extract New Troop Agreement, Rockets Hit Baghdad Green Zone as Leon Panetta Visits, Israel Conducts Nationwide Drills Simulating Missile Attacks from Lebanon, Syria, Iran and Gaza, Iran’s Large Missile Drills Message of “Deterrent Power”, Saudi Arabia to Remove Most Troops from Bahrain, Plans to Buy $90Bn Arms from U.S., Will Buy Hundreds of Tanks from Germany, Lebanon Lawmakers Approve Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Backed Government, Timely Response: Lebanon International Tribunal Files Indictment against Hezbollah Members in Hariri Case

Turkey to host NATO ground forces

The alliance would transfer its ground forces from a military base in the city of Heidelberg in southwestern Germany and another outpost in Spain to the Izmir Air Station in western Turkey, Journal of Turkish Weekly reported earlier in the month.

The base, NATO’s oldest stronghold in Turkey, currently accommodates 400 operational and technical forces.

The move constitutes a part of sweeping reforms in the alliance, which according to its Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen would ultimately “make NATO leaner, more flexible, and better able to deal with future challenges.”

Outlining the changes, Rasmussen has said, “We have agreed to reshape NATO’s command structure, making it more efficient, more deployable, and more compact.”

The reforms include effort to “streamline the agencies, which run individual NATO projects, such as ground surveillance and strategic airlift,” he added.

The developments come amid Turkey’s recent adoption of a toughened stance vis-à-vis its southern neighbor Syria, which has been grappling with unprecedented unrest since mid-March.

The turmoil, which the government blames on armed groups and foreign elements, has left scores of people dead, including many soldiers and other members of its security forces.

Ankara has, meanwhile, threatened Damascus with military intervention in the countrywide unrest, which has been troubling the latter since mid-March. It has also created an expansive military camp close to the common border.

Early June, armed groups, who had received their weapons from Turkey, killed 120 Syrian police and other members of the security forces in the northwestern town of Jisr al-Shughour before burying them in mass graves.

Press TV | June 19, 2011

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan safe after convoy attacked

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday one policeman was killed and another injured when his convoy was attacked on its way to a campaign rally.

Erdogan was not in the convoy at the time of the attack and was airlifted to his next stop in a helicopter, NTV news reported.

The attack happened in northern Turkey, between the cities of Kastamonu and Cankiri, where the prime minister had a campaign event.

A bomb exploded in front of the police convoy escorting the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party bus after it made a stop in Kastamonu.

Continue Reading >> CNN | May 4, 2011

Ahmadinejad survives assassination attempt

A large explosion set fire to an oil refinery unit in Abadan, Iran’s biggest oil city, during a visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Tuesday, May 24. He came to inaugurate a unit for expanding production capacity by 4.2 million liters a day. Two people were killed and 12 injured. The blast was attributed by officials to a gas leak or “a technical fault” in one of the units, without specifying whether it was the same unit Ahmadinejad was scheduled to visit. However, according to DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources, the explosion was triggered by his pushing the button to activate it.

Continue Reading >> DEBKAfile | May 24, 2011

US investigators reportedly say Yemen’s Saleh hit by advanced US-made missile

An investigation team from the United States has reportedly found that an attack that wounded President Ali Abdullah Saleh and several senior members of his government while performing the Friday prayers in his Sana’a presidential compound earlier in June was carried out by an advanced US-made missile designed for special assassination operations, sources close to the probe told Al Arabiya.

“The missile is very advanced and still not widely used. Only the United States and Russia currently employ this weapon,” a source said.

Continue Reading >> Al Arabiya | May 20, 2011

Afghan president’s brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai, killed

The half-brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been assassinated in Kandahar.

Ahmad Wali Karzai, a leading power broker in the country’s south, was shot dead at his home in a blow to Nato’s battle against the Taliban in the area.

He was shot twice by his long-time head of security, Sardar Mohammed, who was himself killed almost immediately.

The Taliban said they carried out the attack, calling it one of their top achievements in 10 years of war.

But Khaled Pashtun, a Kandahar province politician, was sceptical about the Taliban claims, saying the Islamist group had claimed responsibility for many attacks in the past without much evidence of their involvement.

The White House condemned the assassination “in the strongest possible terms”.

Continue Reading >> BBC News | July 12, 2011

Turkey tells West it might launch offensive against Syria

Turkish officials have told Western countries that Turkey might launch a military operation in Syria’s north to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, a Kuwaiti newspaper reported on Monday.

Continue Reading >> Today’s Zaman | June 27, 2011

Iran threatens Turkey for support of Assad’s victims in Syria

Iranian regime-run site Entekhab reports:

According to sources close to the Iranian regime, who were interviewed by Al-Manar [Hezbollah affiliated TV run out of Lebanon], Iran’s resolve is as strong as a rock and defending Damascus is as much of a priority as defending Beirut and Tehran. … Tehran does not meddle in any of the events taking place in Syria.

Quoting the Iraqi daily newspaper Al-Akhbar, Entekhab wrote:

Tehran has threatened Turkey by announcing that Iran will bomb every single NATO and U.S. base in Turkey, should they allow any attacks on Syria to be launched from within Turkish soil. The Iranian regime believes protecting Syria to be as important as protecting both Lebanon and Iran.

Though Iranian regime officials have claimed that this threat has not affected Turkish-Iranian relations, there are reports that privately a number of Turkish officials are extremely incensed by the Iranian regime’s belligerence. So far, neither Iran nor Turkey has publicly commented on this matter.

Continue Reading >> Prairie Pundit | June 28, 2011

US defense secretary visits Iraq to extract new troop agreement

The Obama administration’s recently installed defense secretary, Leon Panetta, flew unannounced into Iraq on Monday to pressure the Iraqi government to finalise a formal treaty to sanction the continued occupation of the country by American forces.

Continue Reading >> WSWS | July 14, 2011

Iraq Green Zone Attacked As Panetta Visits

AFP reports “Rockets Hit Baghdad Green Zone as Panetta Visits.” Aswat Al Iraq reports: “U.S. Defense Secretary’s visit aims to keep U.S. forces in Iraq, MP says.”

Continue Reading >> infoZine | July 11, 2011

Israel conducts missile attack drills

Israel Sunday began a nationwide, week-long drill simulating missile attacks from Lebanon, Syria, Iran and Gaza.

Continue Reading >> UPI | June 19, 2011

Iran’s missile drills message of “deterrent power”

A ballistic missile is launched during the second day of military exercises codenamed Great Prophet-6, for Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards at an undisclosed location. Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards fired 14 missiles in the exercise. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)

Iranian lawmakers said that the missile maneuvers of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) convey Iran’s message of “might” and “deterrent power”, the local English language satellite Press TV reported on Wednesday.

Continue Reading >> People’s Daily | June 30, 2011

Saudi Arabia to remove most troops from Bahrain

Saudi Arabia is to withdraw most of its security forces from Bahrain starting on Monday after deciding the situation is calmer in the Gulf Arab country after protests in February and March.

Continue Reading >> Reuters | June 28, 2011

S. Arabia plans to buy $90bn arms from US

Saudi Arabia plans to raise its arms purchases from the United States to $90 billion from the $60 billion announced last year, as the kingdom seeks to upgrade it navy, diplomats in the Gulf said this week.

Continue Reading >> Dawn | July 7, 2011

Saudi Arabia in deal to buy German tanks

Saudi Arabia is buying hundreds of tanks from Germany, Saudi security sources said, in a multibillion euro deal that German opposition lawmakers say contravenes the country’s export guidelines for military hardware.

The oil-rich Gulf state has bought 44 Leopard tanks in the first phase of the deal for a total of 200 tanks in coming months, the sources said.

Continue Reading >> The China Post | July 6, 2011

Lebanon lawmakers approve Hezbollah-backed government

Western-backed coalition walks out of parliament after Hezbollah-run cabinet wins vote of confidence.

The Hezbollah-backed Lebanese government of Prime Minister Najib Mikati won Thursday a parliamentary vote of confidence after three days of heated debate.

Lebanon’s new government won the votes of 68 lawmakers in the 128-seat parliament.

Parliamentarians loyal to former prime minister Saad Hariri of the Western-backed coalition walked out of the chamber as the voting began.

Continue Reading >> Haaretz | July 7, 2011

Lebanon tribunal files indictment against Hezbollah members in Hariri case

The UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) on Thursday released to Lebanese authorities an indictment with four arrest warrants in relation to the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri. The warrants were issued for Mustafa Badreddine, Salim al-Ayyash, Hasan Aineysseh and Asad Sabra, who are alleged members of Hezbollah. Lebanon has 30 days to arrest the suspects before the STL personally summons them and makes the indictment public. In a press conference, Prime Minister Najib Mikati stated that “the indictments, from whatever source, [are] not sentences, and the charges need to contain compelling evidence beyond any doubt, and that every defendant is innocent until proven guilty.” Many have interpreted this statement as an indication that Hezbollah members will not be arrested. Although Mikati was endorsed in the election by Hezbollah, he said he will not “take sides.”

Continue Reading >> Jurist | June 30, 2011

NATO Seeks to Disintegrate Libya and Plunder its Rich Oil Resources, Russia and China Concerned By Western Interference in Middle East and North Africa, Condemn the Idea of Ground Military Operation, Russian Special Forces Kill Top Militant in Breakaway Chechnya, Moscow Will Hold Large-Scale Naval Drills With Norway, China Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan Hold Counterterrorism Drill in the Breakaway Region of Xinjiang, the Scenario Called on the Three Countries to Coordinate a Manhunt for anti-China Separatists, Beijing Sees a Role amid Pakistan-U.S. Rift, Urges World to Back Pakistan in Terror Fight, Indian Prime Minister Plans Trip to Afghanistan

NATO Seeks to Disintegrate Libya

A senior Libyan politician warned of the NATO’s suspicious moves in his country, saying that the West is seeking to prolong the war in Libya in a bid to disintegrate the North African country to plunder its rich oil resources.

“We know that the NATO coalition seeks its own interests by prolonging the war and wants to divide the country into several parts, but the Libyan nation is opposed to this option,” Secretary-General of Libya’s National Movement Meftah Lamloum told FNA on Sunday.

Lamloum expressed his deep suspicion about NATO’s goals in Libya, and cautioned that the western countries are seeking to plunder the country’s rich oil resources.

He further opposed foreign military intervention in his country, and underlined that the crisis in Libya can only be settled by the Libyan people.

Since the revolution against Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi’s regime began in mid-February, hundreds have been killed and injured in clashes between Libyan revolutionaries and pro-Gaddafi forces.

Many civilians have reportedly been killed since the Western coalition unleashed a major air campaign against the Libyan regime forces on March 19 under a UN no-fly zone mandate.

The Western military alliance has refused to apologize for the deadly bombardments.

Meantime, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also cautioned that the West is using the conflict in Libya as an excuse to sell its arms productions.

“They (the West) have frozen (Libya’s) funds under the pretext of the war and right now they are selling their stockpiled armaments and they withdraw the money for these arms sales from the account of those killed (in the war),” President Ahmadinejad said in Tehran on Thursday.

Fars News Agency | May 8, 2011

Russia, China concerned by western interference in Middle East

Russia and China are concerned about the situation in the Middle East and North Africa and will tighten cooperation in the region. The two countries’ foreign ministers made the decision during talks in Moscow.

Continue Reading >> Press TV | May 6, 2011

Russia kills top al-Qaeda militant in Chechnya

Hot on the heels of the United States special forces operation that ended in the death of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, Russia says its own forces have killed a top al-Qaeda militant in Chechnya.

Continue Reading >> Mail & Guardian Online | May 4, 2011

Russia, Norway to hold joint naval drills next week

Russia and Norway will hold large-scale naval exercise Pomor 2011 on May 11-16, a spokesman for Russia’s Northern Fleet said on Friday.

The drills in the Barents and Norwegian seas will involve Russian Udaloy class destroyer Vice Admiral Kulakov from the Northern Fleet, Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen class frigate Helge Ingstad, coastal guard vessels and naval aircraft.

“The drills will include artillery firing at air and surface targets, anti-submarine warfare, an anti-piracy mission, and the freeing of an oil platform or a commercial ship from armed extremists,” Capt. 1st Rank Vadim Serga said.

Continue Reading >> RIA Novosti | May 6, 2011

China, Central Asian states hold anti-terror drill

Security forces from China and two Central Asian neighbors practiced hunting down violent separatists in a counterterrorism drill along a border area where ethnic Muslim rebels have staged attacks against Beijing’s rule, the government said Saturday.

Friday’s one-day exercise involved forces from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan as well as China and took place along their borders in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang, the government and media reports said.

The scenario called on the three countries to coordinate a manhunt for anti-China separatists who had set up a training camp on the Chinese side of the border, the China News Service said. Flushed out, the rebels hijacked a tourist bus that television footage showed black-suited tactical units storming, shattering the windows to get inside.

Continue Reading >> The Associated Press | May 7, 2011

China sees a role amid Pakistan-U.S. rift

Renewed strains in relations between Pakistan and the United States following last week’s killing of Osama bin Laden have been seen in China as opening the door for closer engagement with Islamabad.

According to officials and analysts here, China is keen to further tighten its already close relationship with its long-term strategic ally, driven by the view that the country is going to play a crucial, even defining, role in Afghanistan, amid declining U.S. influence there.

Continue Reading >> The Hindu | May 8, 2011

China urges world to back Pakistan in terror fight

China reaffirmed its support on Thursday for efforts by its ally Pakistan to combat terrorism after the killing of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by US forces, and urged the world to help Islamabad.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu stopped short of directly criticising the daring raid by US special forces on Pakistani soil that ended with bin Laden’s death but said national sovereignty “should be respected” at all times.

Continue Reading >> AFP | May 5, 2011

Eye on Afghan endgame, PM plans trip to Kabul

[...] Though Singh has been planning the visit to Afghanistan for sometime now, the recent developments there as well as the killing of Bin Laden have “brought a sense of immediacy to the whole thing”, sources explained.

Continue Reading >> Hindustan Times | May 7, 2011

Washington Provoking China and Russia in Mediterranean Sea, the Main Objective Behind Engineering the Libyan War and Syrian Unrest is to Remove the Two Major Powers from the Region, Pakistan and China Holding Joint Military Exercises, Osama Bin Laden Supposedly Found Hiding Near top Pakistani Army Base, U.S. and Saudi Arabia Trying to Wean China off Iranian Oil, China Focuses on Stability Says Pakistan Made “Important Contributions” to International Fight against Terrorism, Vladimir Putin “Dumbfounded” Over NATO Operation in Libya, Moscow Concerned Over U.S. anti-Missile Base in Romania, Will Deliver 3 Combat Helicopters to Peru

U.S. Provoking China and Russia in Mediterranean

The United States is at the risk of a war with China and Russia as its main objective behind engineering the Libyan war and Syrian unrest is to remove the two major powers from the Mediterranean, a senior former U.S. official has warned.

“Washington is all for invading Libya and is putting more and more pressure to intervene in Syria because we want to… clear China and Russia out of the Mediterranean,” Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, who served as an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration, said during an interview with Press TV on Tuesday.

Continue Reading >> The Journal of Turkish Weekly | April 28, 2011

Pakistan, China to hold joint military exercises

Pakistan and China will hold two joint military exercises in 2011, a Pakistani senior military leader said Tuesday.

The two exercises, one army drill and one air force one, will be held to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Pakistan and China, said General Khalid Shameem Wynne, chairman of Pakistan’s Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.

Continue Reading >> China Daily | February 23, 2011

Frenemies: U.S. ally in hot seat after bin Laden found in Pakistani army town

U.S. officials have left little doubt that they did not sufficiently trust their counterparts in Pakistan to keep quiet on the plan to send a team of U.S. special forces and CIA operatives into the country on Sunday to kill Osama bin Laden. And now that the whole world knows U.S. forces found and killed bin Laden in a large, conspicuously fortified compound in an affluent Pakistani military town less than forty miles from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, American officials are likewise making it clear that they don’t fully buy the Pakistani government’s see-no-evil line on bin Laden’s whereabouts. It’s hard for Pakistani military leaders in particular to make a credible case that they were shocked–shocked!–to learn bin Laden was right there under their noses; the Pakistani army, after all, has a college in Abbottabad about 800 yards away from the compound where bin Laden was found and killed.

Continue Reading >> Yahoo News | May 2, 2011

How U.S. trying to wean China off Iranian oil

The United States collaborated with Saudi Arabia to increase crude oil supplies to China at the expense of Iran, U.S. diplomatic cables show. The move was designed to hurt Iran and win Beijing’s support for sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear programme.

China has long worried that oil supplies from Iran could be choked off if Beijing sides too closely with the West over Tehran’s disputed nuclear activity, which opponents say is intended to give it the means to assemble nuclear weapons. Iran insists its nuclear programme is peaceful.

But as Saudi deliveries of crude increased to China over the past years, so has Beijing’s support for U.N. sanctions against Tehran — although Chinese state oil conglomerates have been moving into the vacuum created by the withdrawal of most major players from the Iranian oil patch.

Continue Reading >> Reuters | May 2, 2011

China focuses on stability in Pakistan

China has indicated it will deepen cooperation with Pakistan on counterterrorism issues and back its long-term strategic ally’s efforts to maintain stability, in the wake of renewed international concern over the country’s efforts to clamp down on terrorist groups on its soil following Osama bin Laden’s killing.

Continue Reading >> The Hindu | May 3, 2011

China says Pakistan made “important contributions” to international fight against terrorism

China on Tuesday said Pakistan has made “important contributions” to the fight against terror worldwide following the U.S. announcement of Osama bin Laden’s death.

“We noticed that the Pakistani Foreign Ministry has pledged not to allow its territory to be used for terrorist attacks against any country and it will continue to support the world’s anti-terror efforts,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu told a regular media briefing.

Jiang said the south Asian country is at the anti-terror front-line, and its anti-terror resolve is unwavering and its action powerful.

Continue Reading >> Xinhuanet | May 3, 2011

Putin says ‘dumbfounded’ over NATO operation in Libya

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin continued on Wednesday to criticize NATO military operations in Libya, saying that he was “dumb-founded” over how easy decisions are made to use force against countries.

When asked by a Swedish journalist, Putin, who is currently on a visit in Stockholm, said “this happens despite human rights and humanity concerns which the civilized world is believed to advocate,” apparently referring to reports about NATO planes bombing civilian objects in Libya.

“Don’t you think that there is a serious controversy between words and practice of international relations?” he said, adding that this “misbalance” should be eliminated.

Continue Reading >> RIA Novosti | April 27, 2011

US antimissile base to be deployed in Romania

The US and Romania have agreed on the deployment of US missile defence elements on Romanian soil.

Continue Reading >> Voice of Russia | May 3, 2011

Russia to deliver 3 combat helicopters to Peru

The Peruvian Air Force will receive next week three Russian combat helicopters intended for military operations in remote areas of the country.

Continue Reading >> Andina | May 4, 2011

Russia Hopes Turkey Will Eventually Give the Green Light to the South Stream Gas Pipeline Project, “Turkey to OK South Stream When Conditions Met”, “Project is Not in the Best Interest of Ukraine and the Country is Working against it”, Iran Plans to Invest $90 Billion in South Pars Gas Field, U.K. Royal Dutch Shell Drilling 17 Gas Wells in China, Beijing Urges Quick End to American-Led Airstrikes in Libya, Considers the Security Situation in the Asia-Pacific as “Volatile”, Points to the U.S. Reinforcement of Military Alliances and Rising Suspicions in the Region, Seeks to Reinforce Trust With Neighbours, Will Stick to a Defensive Military Doctrine, The World’s Largest Arms Importer is Now India Not China, South Korea U.S. Conduct Large Military Exercise in Yellow Sea, Singapore Thailand U.S. Conclude Military Drill, Naval Exercises Between the Philippines and Malaysia, Venezuela’s $15 Billion Weapons Purchase Concerns Latin America, Joint Ghana U.S. Jungle Warfare Exercise Ends

Russia hopes Turkey will approve South Stream

Russia hopes Turkey will eventually give the green light to the section of the South Stream gas pipeline project that crosses its territory, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.

Turkey has not given its consent to the laying of part of the 15.5-billion-euro marine pipeline across its Black Sea territory. South Stream is designed to diversify Russian gas export routes, and will stretch to Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast and then on to Italy and Austria.

[...] The land section of the pipeline will go across Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Greece, Slovenia, Croatia and Austria, with whom Russia has already signed intergovernmental agreements.

Continue Reading >> RIA Novosti | March 22, 2011

“Turkey to OK South Stream When Conditions Met”

Energy Minister Taner Yıldız said Turkey would still abide by the terms of a 2009 agreement with Russia over a proposed underwater pipeline that will carry natural gas to Europe bypassing Ukraine.

South Stream, controlled by Russian Gazprom and Italian Eni, is planned to carry Russian natural gas under the Black Sea to Bulgaria and on to Europe via Italy and Austria. In an exclusive interview with Today’s Zaman, Yıldız reaffirmed the Turkish position on the $21.5 billion pipeline project called South Stream, saying nothing had changed on the Turkish side. “We are still waiting for the environmental impact studies, as well as feasibility studies, on South Stream to see if the required criteria demanded by Turkey are met. If met, there is no question we would give our approval to the project,” he said.

Continue Reading >> Today’s Zaman | March 26, 2011

Minister: Ukraine Works Against South Stream

The South Stream natural gas pipeline project is not in the best interest of Ukraine and the country is working against it, according to Ukrainian Minister of Energy Yuriy Boyko.

Boyko said his country is undergoing “tense discussions” with Russia, the main country supporting the project, set to deliver gas to southern and central Europe, bypassing Ukraine.

“South Stream is a political project of our Russian partners, who want to create an excess of transit capacities for gas, like what they did back in the day for oil,” said the Ukrainian minister, quoted by MIGnews.

Boyko said that in collaboration with Ukraine’s “EU partners,” the country will be putting efforts so that in the end the pipeline be not built.

Sofia News Agency | April 2, 2011

Iran Plans to Invest $90B in South Pars

Iran’s Oil Ministry plans to invest about $90 billion in South Pars gas field in the current Iranian calendar year (started March 21), Oil Minister Masoud Mirkazemi said.

According to Mirkazemi, about $60 billion of the mentioned amount will be allocated to the upstream projects and about $30 billion to the downstream sector, SHANA News Network reported.

The official also noted that an extra $20 billion will be invested in the petrochemical projects of the giant field.

Mirkazemi further said that the Oil Ministry plans to complete the developing projects of all the remaining phases of the field within 35 months.

The Iranian oil minister also stressed the need for foreign investment in the site to speed up the projects, saying that once all the phases of the South Pars come on stream, the field can produce 25 million cubic meters of natural gas and about 40,000 barrels of liquefied natural gas per day, making the country’s annual revenue from the field hit $110 billion, Press TV reported.

The South Pars gas field is located in the Persian Gulf in the border zone between Iran and Qatar. The field’s reserves are estimated at 14 trillion cubic meters of gas and 18 billion barrels of liquefied natural gas.

Payvand Iran News | April 1, 2011

Shell Drilling 17 China Gas Wells

U.K. oil major Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA.LN) is drilling 17 wells in China, including for tight gas and shale gas, Reuters reported Sunday, citing Chief Executive Peter Voser.

If drilling is successful, Shell plans to spend $1 billion a year during the next five year years on shale gas in China, Voser was quoted as saying.

MarketWatch | March 20, 2011

China Urges Quick End to Airstrikes in Libya

China escalated its opposition to American-led airstrikes on Libya on Tuesday, joining Russia and India in calls for an immediate cease-fire and suggesting that coalition forces were imperiling civilians by exceeding the United Nations-mandated no-fly zone.

[...] China’s response to the campaign has been the most forceful, warning that the assault could bring about a “humanitarian disaster.” In a news briefing Tuesday, Jiang Yu, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, called for an end to hostilities. “We’ve seen reports that the use of armed force is causing civilian casualties, and we oppose the wanton use of armed force leading to more civilian casualties,” she said.

China was one of five countries to abstain from the United Nations resolution that authorized the allied airstrikes against the forces of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, which have been seeking to crush a rebellion against his four-decade rule. Russia, Brazil, India and Germany also abstained, while South Africa joined nine other Security Council members in supporting the resolution approved last week.

In its decision to abstain rather than block the resolution through its veto power, China said it was heeding the wishes of the Arab League and the African Union.

Continue Reading >> The New York Times | March 22, 2011

China to Reinforce Trust With Neighbours

The Chinese government on Thursday said it viewed the security situation in the Asia-Pacific as “volatile”, pointing to the United States “reinforcing” regional military alliances and rising suspicions among China’s neighbours.

In a national defence white paper issued on Thursday, China said it would seek to expand confidence-building measures with its neighbours, as well as stick to a defence policy that was defensive in nature.

The white paper, the seventh that China has issued since 1998, portrayed a strained regional security environment, describing the Asia-Pacific region, in particular, as “volatile.”

“Relevant major powers are increasing their strategic investment,” said the paper. “The United States is reinforcing its regional military alliances, and increasing its involvement in regional security affairs.”

Continue Reading >> The Hindu | March 31, 2011

The World’s Largest Arms Importer is Now India, Not China

India has spent US$80 billion to modernize its military to keep up with China and now, India has become the world’s number one arms importer according to Swedish think-tank keeping tabs on global arms transactions. India makes up 9 percent of global arms purchases while China has 6 percent of market share in comparison.

“India has ambitions to become first a continental and [then] a regional power,” Rahul Bedi, an analyst with London-based Jane’s Defence Weekly, told AP.

“Just from what they have already ordered, we know that in the coming few years India will be the top importer,” said Siemon Wezeman, a senior fellow at SIPRI told the International Business Times.

SIPRI’s report stated India’s defense budget for the coming fiscal year is in the region of $32.5 billion, 40 percent more than in 2009. In addition, India will spend over $50 billion in the next five years to modernize its military – including purchasing new fighter jets and aircraft carriers.

“The kind of purchases that India is buying, no country in the world buys,” added Bedi of Jane’s Defence Weekly. India has also been importing 82 percent of its weapons from Russia and plans to purchase 250 to 300 advanced fifth-generation stealth fighter jets worth $30 billion in the next decade.

SIPRI also included in its report:

Average volume of global arms transfers in 2006-2010 increased 24 percent from 2001-2005.

Asia and Oceania accounts for 43 percent of arms imports, Europe for 12 percent, 17 percent in the Middle East, 12 percent in the Americas and 7 percent in Africa.

The largest arms importers are locate in Asia with India accounting for 9 percent of all imports, 6 percent in China, 6 percent in South Korea and 5 percent in Pakistan.

USA remains the world’s largest exporter of military equipment and totals 30 percent of global arms exports in 2006-2010; of which 44 percent were exported to Asia and Oceania, 28 percent in the Middle East and 19 percent to Europe.

EconomyWatch | March 30, 2011

S. Korea, US Conduct Large Military Exercise in Yellow Sea

A large-scale South Korea-U.S. military exercise in the Yellow Sea seeks to prepare for North Korea`s use of nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, submarines and special forces to destroy or blockade major infrastructure in the South.

Continue Reading >> | March 24, 2011

Singapore, Thailand, US Conclude Military Exercise

Singapore, Thailand and the United States concluded the trilateral “Exercise Cope Tiger 2011″ at Korat Air Base in Thailand on Friday.

[...] About 100 aircraft and 34 ground-based air defence systems were deployed.

[...] More than 2,300 personnel took part.

Continue Reading >> Channelnewsasia | March 26, 2011

Military Exercises Strengthens RP-Malaysian Relations

The ten-day military exercises between the Philippine Navy and the Royal Malaysian Navy, which concluded March 25, has been beneficial to both parties and was a success in its purpose, the Naval Forces West (NFW) claimed. The activity opened on March 16.

Continue Reading >> Zamboanga Today | April 1, 2011

Hugo Chavez’s $15 Billion Weapons Purchase Concerns Latin America

With the acquisition of hundreds of tanks, helicopters and bulletproof vehicles as well as submarines and missile networks, Venezuela is arming itself at a speed unprecedented in the history of the South American country.

Continue Reading >> McClatchy | March 21, 2011

Joint Ghana, US Military Exercise Ends

The Africa Partnership Station (APS) 2011 jungle exercise, conducted by personnel of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) and the United States Marines, has ended at Achiase Jungle Warfare in the Eastern Region.

[...] The two-week training exercise comprised 100 troops from GAF and 42 US Marines.

Continue Reading >> Vibeghana | March 22, 2011

U.S. Says Saudi Forces in Bahrain “Not an Invasion”, Gulf Arab States and Saudi-Controlled Arab League Approve Military Action in Libya, It Doesn’t Constitute “Intervention”, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates Conducting Joint Military Exercise Focusing on Air Defense Skills, Iran Raises Doubt about True Objectives of West in Attacking Libya, Calls for Immediate Withdrawal of “Foreign Forces” from Bahrain, French Far Right Leader More Popular than President Sarkozy, Gaddafi’s Son Says Libya Funded Sarkozy’s Presidential Campaign, French Plane Fires “First Shot” in Libya Intervention, British Spies Phone Libyan Generals to Warn : Defect or Die, Swedish Weapons Used By Rebels, European Union Urges Yemen’s President “to End Violence”, Yemen’s Generals Join Protesters, Oil Price Jumps on Libya Attacks and Japanese Demand, Vladimir Putin Likens “Deficient and Flawed” UN Libya Resolution to “Mediaeval Crusade” Call, Russian Computer Programmer Sentenced in U.S. for Stealing Computer Code from Goldman Sachs, China and India Regret Multinational Air Strikes, Chinese Warship Off Coast of Libya, China Signs Red Sea Refinery Deal With Saudi Arabia, Robert Gates : U.S. Won’t Have Dominant Role in Libya Action, Turkey to Serve as “Protecting Power” for U.S. in Libya, Greece Asks Turkey to Halt Its Nuclear Plant Plans

U.S. Says Saudi Forces in Bahrain “Not an Invasion”

The United States does not consider the entry into Bahrain of Saudi Arabian security forces an invasion.

[...] “We’ve seen the reports that you’re talking about. This is not an invasion of a country,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told a news briefing.

Continue Reading >> Reuters | March 14, 2011

Gulf Arab States Defend Military Action in Libya

The organization that represents the conservative Arab Gulf states Monday defended military action in Libya by the U.S. and its allies, saying it doesn’t constitute “intervention.”

“What is happening now is not intervention, it is protecting the people from bloodshed,” said Abdel Rahman bin Hamad Al Attiyah, the secretary general of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council. “These operations are to stop bloodshed in Libya,” Mr. Al Attiyah added.

Mr. Al Attiyah’s statement follows criticism of allied military strikes on Libya by the Arab League, the group whose endorsement of a no-fly zone gave political cover for U.S. and European military action in a Muslim country.

Continue Reading >> The Wall Street Journal | March 21, 2011

Arab League Gets Back Behind Libya Strikes

The Arab League got back behind international military strikes against Libya on Monday after comments by its leader had indicated divisions over the campaign against Moamer Kadhafi.

Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa declared his commitment to the UN-mandated action after a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Ban, who later had to be rescued from pro-Kadhafi activists in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, said it was essential for the world “to speak with one voice” on the Libya crisis and Mussa gave new backing to the campaign.

“We are commmitted to UN Security Council Resolution 1973, we have no objection to this decision, particularly as it does not call for an invasion of Libyan territory,” Mussa told a press conference with the UN chief.

Continue Reading >> AFP | March 21, 2011

While Battling Riots at Home, Bahrain Military Joined Exercise With UAE

Bahrain’s military, amid bloody riots, has staged an exercise with the United Arab Emirates.

[...] The Royal Air Force of Bahrain conducted an air defense exercise with the United Arab Emirates this month. The two militaries were said to have focused on the U.S.-origin Hawk air defense battery, manufactured by Raytheon.

[...] The exercise took place in the UAE on March 8 and was deemed part of military cooperation between Abu Dhabi and Manama. Officials said the exercise facilitated interoperability as well as air defense skills.

[...] Manama has one of the smallest militaries in the GCC. Bahrain has been bolstered by a significant U.S. military presence, including that of the Navy’s Fifth Fleet.

Continue Reading >> World Tribune | March 18, 2011

Iran Raises Doubt about True Objectives of West in Attacking Libya

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast cautioned about the objectives of the western military intervention in Libya, and called on the regional states to keep vigilant about the plots hatched by the hegemonic powers.

Continue Reading >> Fars News Agency | March 20, 2011

Iran Calls for Immediate Withdrawal of Foreign Forces from Bahrain

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi called on the Bahraini regime to end the crackdown on popular demonstrations in the country, and stressed the necessity for an immediate withdrawal of foreign forces from the Persian Gulf island.

[...] Saudi Arabia has deployed more than 1,000 troops to the country, while the United Arab Emirates has dispatched around 500 police forces to assist in the repression of the peaceful protesters.

Continue Reading >> Fars News Agency | March 21, 2011

French Far-Right Leader Marine Le Pen Spooks Rivals in Vote Poll

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen had her political rivals on the run after a poll showed she could beat any of the top likely candidates in a first-round presidential election.

The survey by pollster Harris Interactive published in Le Parisien newspaper showed Le Pen would win 24 percent of the first-round vote, ahead of the leading contenders from the main left- and right-wing rival parties.

Continue Reading >> Herald Sun | March 9, 2011

Gaddafi’s Son Says Libya Funded “Clown” Sarkozy’s Presidential Campaign

The son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has claimed that his country helped fund French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s election campaign in 2007.

In an interview with Euronews, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi said Sarkozy would have to return the money, given his government is now the first to officially recognise the opposition council.

Gaddafi said Libya funded Sarkozy’s campaign and was prepared “to reveal everything” about it.

“The first thing we want this clown to do is to give the money back to the Libyan people. He was given assistance so that he could help them. But he’s disappointed us: give us back our money. We have all the bank details and documents for the transfer operations and we will make everything public soon.”

A spokesperson for Sarkozy’s office in Paris has denied the claims.

Sarkozy’s 2007 campaign funding is already a hot topic in France, where an investigation involving allegations L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt donated money to the campaign illegally has been underway for months.

Continue Reading >> The Journal | March 16, 2011

French Plane Fires First Shot in Libya Intervention

The French air force destroyed Libyan tanks and armored vehicles on Saturday, the first shots fired in a U.N.-mandated military intervention to protect civilians from attacks by Muammar Gaddafi’s forces.

A French defense ministry official said “a number of tanks and armored vehicles” were destroyed in the region of Benghazi, with initial action focusing on stopping Gaddafi’s forces from advancing on the rebels’ eastern stronghold.

Continue Reading >> International Business Times | March 19, 2011

MI6 Puts Gun to Generals’ Heads: Our Spies Phone Gaddafi’s Men Direct to Warn : Defect or Die

British intelligence is warning Colonel Gaddafi’s generals that it could be fatal to remain loyal to the Libyan leader.

MI6 spies and military officials are contacting commanders in Tripoli trying to persuade them to defect, the Daily Mail can reveal.

Their message is blunt: ‘General, we’ve got the GPS co-ordinates of your command post. They are programmed into a Storm Shadow missile. What do you want to do?’

As Gaddafi vowed to wage a long war with the ‘crusader alliance’, British officials said the intelligence services had the telephone numbers of many key military officials in his regime.

A senior source said: ‘They will be doing their best to get in touch. This is a situation where success breeds success. Once you get air superiority it becomes suicidal for Libyan army commanders to want to move tanks or to use artillery.

Continue Reading >> The Daily Mail | March 21, 2011

Swedish Weapons Used By Rebels in Libya

Libyan rebels have been seen using Swedish-designed weapons in their battle to oust Muammar Qaddafi from power. Swedish arms export officials suspect the weapons arrived via the UK.

At least two foreign television reports of the fighting in Libya have shown rebels carrying older models of the Carl Gustaf recoilless rifle, according to Sveriges Television (SVT).

Continue Reading >> The Local | March 14, 2011

EU Urges Saleh to End Yemen Violence

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton called Friday on Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh to stop violence against peaceful protesters.

Continue Reading >> IOL News | March 18, 2011

Yemen Commanders Join Democracy Protesters

Rival tanks deployed in the streets of Yemen’s capital Monday after three senior army commanders defected to a movement calling for the ouster of the U.S.-backed president, leaving him with virtually no support among the country’s most powerful institutions.

[...] Two Yemeni ambassadors also resigned their posts in protest at the government’s crackdown on protesters.

Continue Reading >> MSNBC | March 21, 2011

Oil Price Jumps on Libya Attacks and Japanese Demand

The price of oil jumped by more than $2 a barrel on Monday morning, driven higher by the military action in Libya and strong demand from Japan.

As Operation Odyssey Dawn continued in the Middle East, the cost of a barrel of Brent crude gained $2.29 to $116.22. US crude rose by the same amount, to $103.35. Analysts have predicted that the strikes against Colonel Gaddafi could push oil above its recent highs, with Brent tipped to rise above $120 a barrel.

Continue Reading >> The Guardian | March 21, 2011

Putin Likens UN Libya Resolution to Crusade Call

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Monday likened the UN Security Council resolution on Libya to a Medieval crusade call.

Russia abstained from a UN Security Council resolution adopted on Thursday imposing a no-fly zone over Libya and measures to protect civilians from leader Muammar Gaddafi’s forces.

“The Security Council resolution is deficient and flawed; it allows everything and is reminiscent of a medieval call for a crusade,” Putin told workers at a ballistic missile factory in the Urals region. “It effectively allows intervention in a sovereign state.”

Ten of the Security Council’s 15 members voted in favor of the resolution, with Russia, China, Germany, India and Brazil abstaining. The resolution was co-sponsored by France, Britain, Lebanon and the United States.

“This U.S. policy is becoming a stable trend,” Putin said, recalling the U.S. air strikes on Belgrade under Bill Clinton and Afghanistan and Iraq under the two Bush administrations.

“Now it’s Libya’s turn – under the pretext of protecting civilians,” the premier said. “Where is the logic and conscience? There is neither.”

“The ongoing events in Libya confirm that Russia is right to strengthen her defense capabilities,” he added.

Continue Reading >> RIA Novosti | March 21, 2011

Russian Computer Programmer Sentenced In U.S.

A Russian programmer accused of stealing proprietary computer code from the U.S. financial firm Goldman Sachs has been sentenced in New York City to 97 months in prison.

Sergey Aleynikov was found guilty in a jury trial in December.

He was employed by Goldman Sachs between 2007-09 to develop and maintain computer platforms for high-frequency trading.

Prosecutors said that during his time with Goldman Sachs, Aleynikov stole proprietary computer code, with the intention of using it later at a competitor firm.

In addition to the prison sentence, Aleynikov, who is a dual Russian-American citizen, is required to pay a $12,500 fine.

Radio Free Europe | March 19, 2011

China Regrets Multinational Air Strikes in Libya

China expressed regret on Sunday over the multinational air strikes in Libya, saying in a foreign ministry statement that it opposed the use of force in international relations.

“China has noted the latest developments in Libya and expresses regret over the military attacks on Libya,” the statement said.

Russia also issued a similarly worded statement in which it called for a ceasefire as soon as possible.

China’s statement made no mention of a ceasefire and stressed that China respected the north African country’s “sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity”.

“We hope Libya can restore stability as soon as possible and avoid further civilian casualties due to an escalation of armed conflict,” it added.

Continue Reading >> AFP | March 19, 2011

India Regrets Airstrikes in Libya

Regretting air strikes over Libya, India today called upon all parties to abjure use of violence saying the need of the hour was “cessation of armed conflict” in the North African country.

“We view with grave concern the ongoing violence, strikes and deteriorating humanitarian situation in Libya. We regret the air strikes that are taking place,” External Affairs Minister S M Krishna told reporters here.

“India calls upon all parties to abjure violence and the use of threat and force to resolve the differences. I think the need of the hour is cessation of armed conflict,” he added.

Continue Reading >> The Indian Express | March 21, 2011

No Need to Panic Over Chinese Warship Off Coast of Libya

One of the most ironic developments in the Libyan crisis is the reaction of American military pundits to China dispatching a warship to the Mediterranean Sea.

The warship Xuzhou, which media outlets described as a “4,000-ton frigate, fully armed with air defence missiles,” or simply as a “Chinese missile ship,” would appear to a layperson to be both massive and powerful. The rationale that American analysts give for the Chinese deploying the Xuzhou is “projecting China’s power off the coast of Libya.”

Continue Reading >> The Chronicle Herald | March 21, 2011

Aramco and Sinopec Sign MoU for Refining Partnership

Saudi Aramco and China Petrochemical Corporation (Sinopec) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) related to the ongoing development of the Red Sea Refining Company (RSRC), a world-class, full-conversion refinery in Yanbu’, on the west coast of Saudi Arabia. The MOU was signed by Khalid A. Al-Falih, president and CEO, Saudi Aramco, and Su Shulin, president, Sinopec.

Continue Reading >> Arabian Oil and Gas | March 17, 2011

U.S. Won’t Have Dominant Role in Libya Action : Gates

Aboard a U.S. military aircraft — US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Sunday the United States would not play a “preeminent role” in military action against Libya, with other countries soon taking the lead.

US President Barack Obama “felt strongly, I would say, about limiting the scale of US military involvement in this,” Gates told reporters on his plane, en route to Russia.

“We will have a military role in the coalition. But we will not have the preeminent role,” Gates said.

In deciding to back intervention in Libya, Obama stressed the “importance of a meaningful coalition” with partners “making serious military contributions,” Gates said.

Continue Reading >> AFP | March 21, 2011

Turkey to Serve as Protecting Power for U.S. in Libya

Turkey will serve as a “protecting power” for the United States in Libya, senior State Department officials told CNN on Sunday.

As a protecting power, Turkey will represent the United States in Libya, including acting as consular officers on behalf of U.S. citizens in Libya and looking after American diplomatic facilities in the country.

Turkey can also pass messages between the United States and Libya, as what little communication remains between the two countries is likely to come to a grinding halt now that the U.S. is bombing Libyan targets as part of enforcement of a no-fly zone.

Levent Sahin Kaya, Turkish ambassador to Libya, told CNN he will represent America in Libya along with the United Kingdom and Italy.

Continue Reading >> CNN | March 20, 2011

Greece Asks Turkey to Halt Its Nuclear Plant Plans

Turkey is planning to building its first nuclear power station at Akkuyu, in the south of the country, under a deal signed last year with the Russian state nuclear energy corporation, Rosatom.

President Karolos Papoulias said Friday that the European Union should intervene to prevent a “catastrophe on its doorstep.”

Prime Minister George Papandreou’s office said the premier also telephoned his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to express opposition to the venture.

Cumhuriyet | March 19, 2011

Uruguay Joins South American Nations in Recognizing Palestinian Statehood, French Foreign Minister : European Union Should Consider Recognizing Palestinian State, Mossad Ex-Chief : Israelis and Palestinians Won’t Agree Anytime Soon on Clear Borders for a New State, Israel Seizes Boat “Carrying Weapons from Turkey to Gaza”, “Arms Came from Iran Via Turkey, Syria, and Egypt”, Iran on Arms Seizure : “Zionist Regime is Full of Lies”, “Turkey Stops Iranian Cargo Plane en Route to Syria”, Turkish Government Denies, Egypt Uncovers Israeli Spy Network Reporting on “Developments in the Country” and Collecting Detailed Information About the Size of Armed Forces Stationed on the Streets Government Officials and Natural Gas Lines in Sinai Peninsula, Egyptian Military Delegation in Damascus to Restore Relations, Saudi Troops Deployed in Bahrain, Iran Warns Against Foreign Military Intervention Recalls Ambassador from Bahrain Cancels Jordanian Monarch’s Trip, Saudi Envoy Delivering Message from King Abdullah to Syria’s President Situation in Bahrain Discussed, Syrian Foreign Minister on a One Day Visit to Tehran “to Confer on the Latest Developments in the Region”, China Paying $6 Billion to Develop Iran Oil Fields, Warship Deal With Russia Losing Support in France “Because of Concerns Among Russia’s Neighbors”, Turkish Prime Minister in Moscow, Russia to Build Turkey’s First Nuclear Power Station, Final Step in Visa-Free Regime

Uruguay Joins South American Nations in Recognizing Palestinian Statehood

Uruguay has joined a string of South American nations in recognizing an independent Palestinian state.

A Foreign Ministry statement says Uruguay has communicated its decision to the Palestinian Authority.

However the statement does not explicitly say whether the country recognizes
Palestine’s borders predating the Six-Day War of 1967, when Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza.

Foreign Ministry officials declined Tuesday to clarify the matter.

More than a half-dozen countries in South America have recognized Palestine recently, though in different ways.

Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay recognized the pre-1967 borders.

Chile and Peru said the issue must be worked out between Israelis and Palestinians.

Haaretz | March 16, 2011

French FM : EU Should Consider Recognizing Palestinian State

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Tuesday that the European Union should consider the option of recognizing a Palestinian state if no peace agreement with Israel is reached.

“Recognizing the Palestinian state alone is useless,” he said, explaining that the measure should be taken in collaboration with other countries within the EU. Juppe made the statement during a hearing at the Committee on Foreign Affairs of National Assembly in the lower house of the French Parliament. “We’re not there yet, but personally I think it is an option that one must have in mind,” he added.

YnetNews | March 15, 2011

Mossad Ex-Chief Halevy Says Mideast Talks Won’t Settle Borders

Israelis and Palestinians probably won’t agree anytime soon on clear borders for a new state, leaving them to maintain current political arrangements for another generation, former Mossad Director Efraim Halevy said.

Even if Palestinians declare a state later this year and garner significant support at the United Nations, the move will have little practical significance and will probably perpetuate Israeli’s occupation of the West Bank.

Continue Reading >> Bloomberg | March 10, 2011

IDF Seizes Boat Carrying Weapons from Turkey to Gaza

The Israeli navy seized a ship on Tuesday that was apparently smuggling weapons destined for Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The Israel Defense Forces Spokesman Unit said that the ship “Victoria” originated from the Lattakia port in Syria and sailed to Mersin, Turkey. It was seized while on its way from Turkey destined for the El-Arish port in Egypt.

Continue Reading >> Haaretz | March 15, 2011

Netanyahu : Arms on Seized Ship Came from Iran Via Syria

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that weapons seized by the Israel Navy from a ship bound for Egypt earlier in the day had come from Iran, via Syria, and were intended for militants in Gaza.

“We are currently collecting information and the one thing that is certain is that the weapons are from Iran with a relay station in Syria”.

Continue Reading >> Haaretz | March 15, 2011

Iran on Arms Seizure : “Zionist Regime is Full of Lies”

Iranian Army Commander-General denies sending weapons to Gaza on “Victoria” ship; Hamas also claims weapons weren’t for them.

Continue Reading >> The Jerusalem Post | March 16, 2011

“Turkey Stops Iranian Cargo Plane en Route to Syria”

Turkish government denies earlier reports that plane was stopped because it carried weapons meant for Syria, says it is “standard procedure” for planes to be checked.

The Turkish government on Wednesday denied reports that Turkish military jets forced an Iranian cargo plane to land at Biyarbakir airport Tuesday night in order to check it for Iranian arms meant for Syria, reported AP.

The government confirmed that the Iranian plane landed in Turkey, but that it is standard procedure for cargo planes to request permission to fly over Turkey and that sometimes they are required to make unscheduled landings to be searched.

Continue Reading >> The Jerusalem Post | March 16, 2011

Egypt Uncovers Israeli Spy Network

Egyptian authorities have uncovered a spy network that has been working for Israel, said an official report on Wednesday. The discovery is the first of its kind since the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak last month.

Official reports circulated by state newspapers said state security prosecutors were interrogating one of the suspects involved in the cell, and he will remain in custody pending investigations. Initial reports said the suspect is Egyptian and that the network includes another foreigner and two Israelis who fled the country before the uncovering of the network.

State-owned al-Ahram newspaper reported on Wednesday that the foreigner admitted he came to Egypt after the 25 January revolution to report on developments in the country. It is believed he is a Syrian national who entered Egypt under the guise of being a businessman.

The suspect said he was working for Mossad, Israeli intelligence, according to al-Ahram.

Bikya Masr | March 17, 2011

Israeli spy Ring Aimed at Conducting Espionage against Egyptian Army

Mossad agents were arrested in Egypt 5 days ago, and the mission was sent to collect detailed information about the size of the Egyptian armed forces stationed on the streets; its places, prominent Egyptian government officials and natural gas lines in Sinai”, Israeli online edition said.

“The cell received its first assignment after the January 25 revolution on the purpose of gathering key strategic and political information about the situation in Egypt,” The Hebrew-language news site Inyan Merkazi said.

The Higher State Security Prosecution ordered the imprisonment of the first suspect in custody for 15 days while investigations take place. The suspect is a 34-year-old Jordanian who arrived in Cairo during the demonstrations and allegedly sent information concerning recordings of phone calls made by Egyptian officials and important locations in Cairo to Israel. He was charged with spying for Israel and harming Egypt’s national interests by the Public Prosecutor.

IkhwanWeb | March 18, 2011

Egypt’s New Rulers Friendly with Assad

Egypt’s temporary military rulers sent a delegation to Syria on Thursday to meet with President Bashar al-Assad. Egyptian General Murad Mohammed Muafi and Assad agreed to boost cooperation between the two countries, according to Syria’s SANA news agency.

The meeting follows long-term tension between Egypt and Syria. Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak refrained from developing warm ties with Assad due to disagreement over Syria’s role in Lebanon.

Continue Reading >> Israel National News | March 18, 2011

Saudi Troops Have Entered Bahrain : Saudi Official

More than 1,000 Saudi troops, part of the Gulf countries’ Peninsula Shield Force, have entered Bahrain where anti-regime protests have raged for a month, a Saudi official said Monday.

The troops entered the strategic Gulf kingdom on Sunday, the official told AFP, requesting anonymity.

The intervention came “after repeated calls by the (Bahraini) government for dialogue, which went unanswered” by the opposition, the official said.

According to the regulations of the Gulf Cooperation Council, “any Gulf force entering a member state becomes under the command of the government,” the official added.

The Bahraini government has not confirmed the presence of Saudi troops in the archipelago, which is home to the US Fifth Fleet.

Continue Reading >> AFP | March 14, 2011

Iran Warns Against Military Intervention in Bahrain, Recalls Ambassador

Iran warned against the consequences of military interventions of foreigners in Bahrain and recalled its ambassador from Manama due to the relevant disputes, local media reported on Thursday.

In telephone conversations with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister Muhammad al-Sabah on Wednesday over the recent developments in Bahrain, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi talked about the military meddling in Bahrain.

Iranian foreign minister called for the continued consultations between regional countries to prevent a humanitarian crisis in the Gulf kingdom.

Iranian Parliament (Majlis) Speaker Ali Larijani also warned against foreign military intervention in Bahrain, saying the ” tragic occurrence, would exacerbate the situation in the country.”

“The entering of foreign forces into Bahrain will complicate the situation in the region and make it difficult to find a solution to the ongoing crisis in the country,” Larijani was quoted as saying by satellite Press TV.

Larijani described the move as “detrimental” to the region and added “Foreign troops are committing a bigger crime as they are involved in the crackdown against Bahraini people.”

Continue Reading >> Xinhua News Agency | March 17, 2011

Jordanian Monarch’s Trip to Iran Cancelled

Iranian MP, Hamid Resai has announced that the King of Jordan’s visit to Iran has been cancelled. “In view of the current critical situation,” he said, “the Jordanian Abdullah’s trip to Tehran did not meet the approval of senior Islamic Republic officials.”

Continue Reading >> Payvand Iran News | March 15, 2011

Message from Saudi King to President al-Assad on Bilateral Relations, Developments in Arab Arena

President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday received a message from Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia highlighting the special relations between their brotherly countries.

The message was delivered during President al-Assad’s meeting with Advisor to the Saudi King, Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah.

The latest developments in the Arab arena, including the situation in the brotherly Kingdom of Bahrain, were discussed in the message.

Continue Reading >> SANA | March 17, 2011

Syrian FM Due in Tehran Today

Syrian Foreign Minister Valid Muallem is due to visit Tehran on Thursday to confer with the Iranian officials on the bilateral relations between the two countries and the latest developments in the region.

Muallem is also scheduled to meet a number of high ranking Iranian officials in addition to his counterpart Ali Akbar Salehi during his one day visit.

Muallem and Salehi’s latest meeting was on January 29 in Damascus.

Iran and Syria have forged an alliance ever since the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the two countries’ officials exchange visits on a regular basis.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was last in Tehran at the head of a high-ranking politico-economic delegation in October 2010.

The two countries enjoy strategic relations in a wide variety of fields.

Fars News Agency | March 17, 2011

China Paying $6 Billion to Develop Iran Oil Fields

An Iranian official said Beijing has contracted Iran’s Azadegan oil fields for projects estimated at more than $6 billion. The contractor was identified as the state-owned China National Petroleum Corp. assigned to cooperate with the National Iranian Oil Co, Middle East Newsline reported.

Continue Reading >> World Tribune | March 14, 2011

Warship Deal With Russia Losing Support in France – Paper

The agreement to sell advanced warships to Russia is losing support in France because of Moscow’s wish to get hold of sensitive military technology and concerns among Russia’s neighbors, Le Figaro daily said on Wednesday.

[...] A number of Russia’s neighbors have expressed concern over the upcoming deal, in particular Georgia, Lithuania, and Japan, especially after a Russian Defense Ministry source said in early February the ships would be inducted with the Pacific Fleet to protect the South Kuril Islands claimed by Japan.

Continue Reading >> RIA Novosti | March 16, 2011

Russia, Turkey to Take final Step in Visa-Free Regime

The final official step in the process of introducing a visa-free regime between Black Sea neighbors Russia and Turkey will be taken during Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s three-day visit to Russia.

Continue Reading >> Today’s Zaman | March 15, 2011

U.S. Training Quietly Nurtured Young Arab Activists, Pentagon Places Its Bet on Army Chief of Staff Sami Enan in Egypt, U.S.-Saudi Tensions Intensify With Middle East Turmoil, Saudi-Led Military Force Crosses into Bahrain, Iran’s Arming of Afghan Insurgents Hits Lethal Level, Israeli Military Believes Experts from Iran Hezbollah Training Gaza Militants, Pro-Western Opposition Protests Against Syria-Iran-Backed Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israel Moving to Define National Policy on Iran, Soft War Carried Out Financial Institutions Targeted, “Lebanon War Will Include 230 Villages”, Iran : Power Equations in the Region are Changing Middle East Uprisings Boost Anti-Israel Front, Turkey Iran Syria and Iraq to Issue Joint Visas, China to Help Iran Build World’s Tallest Dam, Supreme Leader’s Advisor Warns of Iran’s Crushing Response to Aggressors “Iran Will Chase and Punish Invaders Beyond the Country’s Borders”

U.S. Training Quietly Nurtured Young Arab Democrats

[...] And when 2011’s winter of discontent exploded into a pro-democracy storm in Tunisia and then Egypt, opposition activist Bilal Diab broke away from his six-month “young leaders school” and its imported instructors, and put his new skills to use among the protest tents of Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

“It helped us organize the revolution,” Diab, 23, said of his made-in-America training. “People were scattered, but we had learned how to bring them together and we did, and when we opened our tent we announced formation of the Revolution Youth Union.”

[...] That success, meanwhile, points up a core paradox: A U.S. government that long stood by Mubarak and other Arab leaders as steadfast allies was, at the same time, financing programs that ultimately contributed to his and potentially others’ downfall.

[...] “One of the beauties of the U.S. system is that there are many, many entry points in many centers of power, and they can have conflicting policies.”

[...] National Endowment money, $100-million-plus a year, is at work in more than 90 countries worldwide. But it’s the USAID grants, from an $800 million budget for developing “political competition” and “civil society” in 67 nations, that have proved vital to activists in a half-dozen Arab lands, from Morocco to Yemen. Some $104 million was requested for them in the proposed 2011 budget.

Continue Reading >> The Washington Post | March 13, 2011

Pentagon Places Its Bet on a General in Egypt

[...] Today General Enan, a favorite of the American military, is the second in command among the group of generals moving toward some form of democracy in Egypt. In meetings of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, he sits to the right of its leader, the 75-year-old defense minister, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, and is considered his potential successor. In the meantime, American officials say, General Enan, 63, has become a crucial link for the United States as it navigates the rocky course ahead with Cairo.

If he is not yet the Pentagon’s man in Egypt, many hope he will be.

[...] Some experts on the Egyptian military have suggested that General Enan could be a candidate, a proposal swiftly dismissed by Pentagon officials and the Egyptian military. “The Supreme Council will not field a candidate from one of their own,” an Egyptian military official said in a rare interview on Friday in Washington. The official requested anonymity under ground rules imposed by the Egyptian government.

No one disputes, though, that General Enan will play a central role in Egypt’s future government, more likely from behind the scenes, where the country’s powerful and traditionally secretive armed forces are still most comfortable. There, out of sight of most Egyptians, they run national security policy and operate lucrative businesses as part of a parallel “Military Inc.” economy that produces electronics, household appliances, clothing and food.

Continue Reading >> The New York Times | March 10, 2011

U.S.-Saudi Tensions Intensify With Mideast Turmoil

[...] Saudi officials have made no secret of their deep displeasure with how President Obama handled the ouster of the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, charging Washington with abandoning a longtime ally. They show little patience with American messages about embracing what Mr. Obama calls “universal values,” including peaceful protests.

When Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton were forced to cancel visits to the kingdom in recent days, American officials were left wondering whether the cause was King Abdullah’s frail health — or his pique at the United States.

“They’re not in a mode for listening,” said one senior administration official, referring to the American exchanges with Saudi officials over the past two months about the need to get ahead of the protests that have engulfed other Arab states, including two of Saudi Arabia’s neighbors, Bahrain and Yemen.

Continue Reading >> The New York Times | March 14, 2011

Saudi-Led Military Force Crosses into Bahrain

A Saudi-led military force crossed into Bahrain on Monday to prop up the monarchy against widening demonstrations, launching the first cross-border military operation to quell unrest since the Arab world’s rebellions began in December.

[...] Gulf leaders are also concerned that political gains by Bahrain’s Shiites might give Shiite Iran a stepping stone to its arch-rival Saudi Arabia, connected to Bahrain by a wide causeway.

Instead, the Saudis and other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council sent forces the other way, deploying about 1,000 troops by land and air and cementing the entire six-nation alliance to the fate of Bahrain’s rulers, who are key U.S. allies as hosts of the American Navy’s 5th Fleet.

Continue Reading >> Associated Press | March 14, 2011

Iran’s Arming of Afghan Insurgents Hits Lethal Level

British Foreign Minister William Hague has lashed out at Iran after extensive tests verified without a doubt that 122 mm rockets intercepted by the British Special Air Services in Southern Afghanistan were being shipped by Iran to the Taliban there. “This is a really significant indication of Iranian support for the insurgency,” said one British military source

Continue Reading >> Israel National News | March 10, 2011

Israeli Military Believes Experts from Iran, Hezbollah Training Gaza Militants

[...] Hamas, an anti-Israel group backed by Iran and Syria, took control of Gaza by force in June 2007.

[...] Iran and its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, frequently send in experts to train Hamas forces, crossing through illicit tunnels on the Gaza-Egypt border that are also used to smuggle in weapons. Some foreign experts are even stationed in Gaza.

Continue Reading >> The Canadian Press | March 11, 2011

Lebanon Pro-Western Opposition Protests Against Hezbollah Arms

Tens of thousands of supporters of outgoing Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri gathered in Beirut on Sunday to protest the weapons arsenal held by the rival Shiite movement Hezbollah.

In a rally which marked the 2005 uprising that ended Syria’s 30-year domination of Lebanon.

[...] The militant group Hezbollah, which is backed by Syria and Iran, was the only Lebanese political faction allowed to keep its weapons after the 1975-90 civil war. The group argues it needs them to defend Lebanon from possible Israeli attacks.

Continue Reading >> Haaretz | March 13, 2011

Israel Finally Moving to Define National Policy on Iran

[...] Recently, activists in the United States and Germany, especially Stop the Bomb, have increased pressure on Angela Merkel’s government to close the Hamburg-based European-Iranian trade bank EIH. The bank, founded in 1971 during the shah’s rule, has for years functioned as Iran’s main financial arm in Europe to fund its undercover activities. It is considered a German bank and is supervised by Germany’s central bank, but it is owned by four large banks, all of them owned by the Iranian government.

Continue Reading >> Haaretz | March 10, 2011

Lebanon Lifts Banking Secrecy on 23 Cases Involved in Money Laundering

Report comes as U.S. scrutinizing Lebanese banks for possible links to terrorist financing.

Lebanon lifted the banking secrecy on 23 accounts involved in money laundering, financial embezzlement and terrorist funding in 2010, according to a report by the Special Investigation Commission (SIC).

[...] The U.S. Treasury Feb. 10 accused the Lebanese-Canadian Bank of money laundering in connection with Hezbollah, which is labeled by Washington as a terrorist group.

Central Bank governor Riad Salameh immediately left to Washington and held urgent talks with officials from the U.S. Treasury.

Salameh, who is keen to protect the reputation of the Lebanese banks, persuaded the management of the Lebanese-Canadian Bank to sell its entire stake to a major Lebanese bank to protect customers’ deposits.

Continue Reading >> The Daily Star | March 12, 2011

Israeli Television : Third War with Hizbullah Will Include 230 Villages South of Awali River

Israeli Channel Ten television broadcast preliminary images of what it claimed was a base in Syria where Hizbullah stored its rockets.
The report said: “Hizbullah is arming itself at an unprecedented rate under the misleading cover of calm in the North.”

The base, located in Adra in Syria, lies 50 kilometers east of Damascus and serves as an “emergency storage unit for Hizbullah in Syria or Hizbullah’s special region in the heart of Syria.”

These rockets are transported on a daily basis from Adra to northern Lebanon, the Bekaa, and the South, through smuggling routes.

“The international community is aware of these images,” the report stressed.

It also addressed the Iranian deputy foreign minister’s recent meeting to Lebanon, which it said was aimed at inspecting the “Iranian unit that it deployed at Lebanon’s border with Israel.”

“In fact, the official arrived to make sure that Hizbullah is not wasting the gifts and funds Iran has invested in Lebanon. They want all matters to be ready should Iran’s nuclear facilities be attacked,” it continued.

Given the extent of smuggling and the number of rockets being delivered, some of which have a range of 300 kilometers, then an attack by the Israeli army would include 230 villages south of the Awali River North of Sidon, and not just 180 villages as had previously been discussed, said the report.

Naharnet | March 9, 2011

“ME Uprisings Boost Anti-Israel Front”

Iran’s Majlis (parliament) Speaker Ali Larijani says power equations in the region are changing in favor of resistance against Israel.

In a meeting with Syrian Prime Minister Mohammed Naji Otri on Thursday, Larijani described the recent popular uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa as a good opportunity for “those countries [which are] in the resistance front against Israel and its arrogant supporters.”

[...] The Iranian lawmaker stressed the strategic importance of cooperation among Iran, Syria, Turkey and Iraq for the whole region.

Larijani accused foreign powers of “taking advantage of the region’s current situation” and said, “The vigilance of regional nations will prevent the plots devised by international powers to regain their hegemony in the region.”

Continue Reading >> Press TV | March 10, 2011

Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq to Issue Joint Visas

Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq have agreed to issue joint visas in an effort to boost their tourism sectors, local media reported on Monday (March 7th). The measure, proposed by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, would cut tourist costs, allowing them to visit all four countries with one visa. The new document will be called “Shamgen”, from “Sham”, the Arab name for Syria.

SETimes | March 8, 2011

China to Help Iran Build World’s Tallest Dam – Tehran

China signed a $2 billion contract with Iran to build the world’s tallest dam in the Islamic state, the Iranian energy minister was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

[...] Iran has been hit by foreign sanctions and Western firms are wary of investing in the Islamic Republic for fear of sanctions. State-owned Asian firms are less susceptible to Western pressure to stay away from the Iranian market.

Continue Reading >> Reuters | March 14, 2011

Leader’s Advisor Warns of Iran’s Crushing Response to Aggressors

A senior advisor to the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution warned enemies of Iran’s crushing response to any possible action against the country, adding that Iran will chase and punish invaders beyond the country’s borders.

[...] Speculation that Israel could bomb Iran mounted since a big Israeli air drill last year. In the first week of June, 2008, 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighters reportedly took part in an exercise over the eastern Mediterranean and Greece, which was interpreted as a dress rehearsal for a possible attack on Iran’s nuclear installations.

Iran has, in return, warned that it would target Israel and the US as well as their worldwide interests in case it comes under attack by either country.

Iran has also warned it could close the strategic Strait of Hormoz if it became the target of a military attack over its nuclear program.

Strait of Hormoz, the entrance to the strategic Persian Gulf waterway, is a major oil shipping route.

Continue Reading >> Fars News Agency | March 12, 2011

Cyprus Approves Partnership With North Atlantic Alliance, U.S. French British Military Presence in Libya, David Cameron Secretly Consulting Tony Blair About “How to Make Gaddafi Quit”, British Diplomat Special Forces on “Secret Mission to Establish a Dialogue With Opposition Fighters” Captured, Dutch Marines Detained Military Helicopter Seized in Libya, Pentagon “Repositioning” Its Naval and Air Forces in the Region” to “Prepare the Full Range of Options”, China Insists Libyan Sovereignty Must Be Respected, Israel Blocks Russian Anti-Tank Rocket in the Gaza Strip for First Time, Creates “Rapid Reaction Forces” Prepares for “Major Military Operations”, Invasion of Lebanon “Possible”, Iran Contacting Opposition Movements in Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen, U.S. Defence Secretary on Urgent Mission to Egypt, Iran’s Navy Commander : Iran Will Continue Deployment of Warships in Foreign Waters, U.S. to Send Warship to the Mediterranean Sea to “Support Europe Defense Shield”, Italian Warship Sailing to the Indian Ocean for “Anti-Piracy Mission”, Indian Vessel Crew-Members Detained in Iran, Indian Army Chief to Visit U.S. to “Enhance Defence Cooperation”, Russian Military : Airstrikes Against Protesters in Libya Did Not Take Place, Poland to Launch Construction on Its First Nuclear Plant, Hillary Clinton Confirms Plans for Missile Base in Poland, Election Risks Causing Capital Flight in Russia, North-Caucasus-Based Rebel Leader Calls on Russsian Muslims to Wage a Holy War Against the Russian State, Russia’s Foreign Minister Rejects No-Fly Zone for Libya, Urges Anti-Terror “Cooperation” With British Intelligence

Cyprus Joins Atlantic Alliance

On February 24 a majority in the Cyprus parliament voted for the country to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Partnership for Peace program, a transitional mechanism employed to bring twelve Eastern European nations into the U.S.-dominated military bloc from 1999-2009: The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania and Croatia. Macedonia would have become a full member of the Alliance in 2009 along with the last two except for the lingering name dispute with Greece.

Cyprus is the only member of the 27-nation European Union that is not either in NATO or the Partnership for Peace (PfP), the only EU member that did not need to join NATO or be on its doorstep in order to be accepted, and the only European nation (excluding the microstates of Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City) that is free of NATO entanglements. Every other nation on the continent and island state in the Mediterranean Sea is a member of NATO or the PfP. (NATO still lists Russia as a member of the second and since last November’s NATO summit in Portugal it has been active again in the NATO-Russia Council.)

[...] Cyprus was split into northern ethnic Turkish and southern Greek sections after the Turkish military invasion of 1974, although only Turkey recognizes the northern entity.

Continue Reading >> Global Research | March 5, 2011

U.S., France, Britain Set up Bases in Libya

Britain, France and the United States have dispatched hundreds of military advisors to Libya to set up military bases in the country’s oil-rich east, reports say.

Several Libyan diplomats have been quoted by news outlets as saying these forces are setting up bases in the eastern cities of Benghazi and Tobruk — the two oil-rich cities that have been liberated by the opposition forces.

British and US special forces entered Libyan port cities of Benghazi and Toburk on February 23 and 24.

Continue Reading >> Press TV | March 1, 2011

David Cameron’s Secret Talks With Tony Blair Over Libya Crisis

David Cameron has been secretly consulting Tony Blair about Libya despite publicly criticising his links with Colonel Gaddafi.

Senior officials say the Prime Minister has held at least two conversations in the past fortnight with the former Labour premier, now a Middle East peace envoy.

Mr Cameron has consulted Mr Blair about the Libyan dictator’s state of mind and sought advice about how to make him quit.

Continue Reading >> The Daily Mail | March 3, 2011

SAS Forces, Diplomat “Captured in Libya”

Members of the SAS have been captured by anti-government troops in Libya, according to a report.

The Sunday Times has claimed that rebels in the troubled North African state captured the eight elite soldiers as they escorted a British diplomat in a mission to establish a dialogue with opposition fighters.

According to the newspaper, the SAS men were armed but travelling in plain clothes and were seized as they accompanied the official in eastern Libya, before being taken to Benghazi for interrogation.

[...] It is thought that members of the anti-Gaddafi movement are unhappy that British special forces were operating in the country, despite the diplomatic offer of assistance, as has been perceived as Western interference.

[...] In a statement, the Ministry of Defence said: “We neither confirm nor deny the story and we do not comment on the special forces.”

Continue Reading >> UK Net Guide | March 1, 2011

Libya : Captured Dutch Marines, Seized Helicopter Shown on State TV

Libyan state TV has aired footage of three detained Dutch marines who were captured along with their helicopter by forces loyal to leader Moammar Kadafi near the Kadafi-stronghold of Sirte on Sunday as they reportedly were carrying out a mission to evacuate two Europeans.

The Dutch Defense Ministry insists the crew was simply carrying out a “consular evacuation” — a claim that Libya seems to find dubious.

Continue Reading >> Los Angeles Times | March 4, 2011

Preparing for “Operation Libya”: The Pentagon is “Repositioning” its Naval and Air Forces

“The United States is moving naval and air forces in the region” to “prepare the full range of options” in the confrontation with Libya: Pentagon spokesperson Col. Dave Lapan of the Marines made this announcement yesterday, March 1. He then said that “It was President Obama who asked the military to prepare for these options,” because the situation in Libya is getting worse. The military then began “the planning and preparation” phase for an intervention in Libya. Pentagon planners are working on several specific plans, depending on how the “repositioning of forces” begins so as to have maximum flexibility to implement any option.

Continue Reading >> Global Research | March 3, 2011

China Insists Libyan Sovereignty Must Be Respected

China on Thursday stressed the need to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Libya and also promoted a peaceful solution to the crisis in that country.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu also said that an important principle for China was that the UN Security Council should the views of Arab and African nations.

She said Beijing hopes that all Libyan sectors can work together to restore order as soon as possible.

Regarding protests in Bahrain, she said the Chinese government welcomes the efforts of authorities with a view to reducing tension through dialogue.

All Middle Eastern nations are friends of China, she said, noting that her country had developed friendly relations and cooperation with these countries based on equality and mutual respect and benefit.

Prensa Latina | March 3, 2011

In First, Israel Blocks Palestinian Anti-Tank Rocket

For the first time, an Israeli system has intercepted an enemy missile fired toward a main battle tank.

[...] “For the first time during operational activity, the Trophy system, designed to actively protect against anti-tank missiles, identified, alerted and intercepted the missile.”

[...] The military did not identify the Palestinian anti-tank missile but said its crew was tracked and struck in counter-fire.

[...] In December, Hamas fired a Russian-origin AT-14 Kornet anti-tank missile that penetrated the Merkava Mk-4. The Hamas operation sparked an Army effort to install Trophy on all Merkavas deployed along the Gaza border.

Continue Reading >> World Bulletin | March 2, 2011

Israel Prepares for Major Military Operations

After the overthrow of a neighboring multi-year ruler of Egypt Hosni Mubarak, Israel has created rapid reaction forces in case the situation in Judea and Samaria gets out of control. It enhanced the guard of a number of military and civilian targets inside the country and abroad.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak inspected the military units stationed near the northern border and made a number of important statements. New Israeli war preparations are consistent with the anxiety that has seized the Middle East in recent weeks.

Recently Benny Ganz was appointed the new Chief of General Staff of Israel. Just like his predecessor, he had a career as a combat officer. One of his first decisions in his new position was separating of Haifa and a number of settlements located in the north of the country in a separate military district.

This is not a formal change in the structure, but an important step aimed at strengthening of the defense of the North. In summer of 2006, it was Haifa and Kiryat Shmona that suffered the most from the attacks of the radical Lebanese Shiite organization Hezbollah.

During a visit to battalion 932 “Granit” of the Infantry Brigade of IDF, Ehud Barak stated the possibility of a new invasion to Lebanon. This measure can be undertaken by the Israeli army in the event of another attack of Hezbollah.

According to Benny Ganz, Israel is preparing for major military operations in the face of the external threat. Despite the requirement under the UN resolution 1701, the Lebanese resistance movement not only has failed to disarm, but also significantly strengthened its position.

Continue Reading >> | March 1, 2011

Iran Contacting Arab Opposition Movements : Clinton

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that Iran is directly or indirectly communicating with opposition groups in Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen in a bid to shape events there.

[...] They are doing everything they can to influence the outcomes in these places,” Clinton told the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“They are using Hezbollah… to communicate with counterparts… in (the Palestinian movement) Hamas who then in turn communicate with counterparts in Egypt.”

“We know that they are reaching out to the opposition in Bahrain. We know that the Iranians are very much involved in the opposition movements in Yemen.”

“So either directly or through proxies, they are constantly trying to influence events. They have a very active diplomatic foreign policy outreach.”

Continue Reading >> AFP | March 3, 2011

Gates on Urgent Mission to Cairo as Military Rulers Lose Grip

President Barack Obama Saturday, March 5, asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates to set out for Cairo without delay on an emergency mission as the unrest in Egypt veered out of control, DEBKAfile’s exclusive sources report from Washington. Friday night, thousands of protesters seized control of the headquarters Egyptian security police in Alexandria, Cairo and the nearby 6 of October town, shutting down its operations across the country.

In the last hours, information reaching Washington indicated that control was slipping out of the hands of the Egyptian military junta ruling the country since Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow; anti-American elements energized by Iran appeared to have strengthened their hold on the protest movement, causing deep concern in the White House.

Continue Reading >> DEBKAfile | March 5, 2011

Commander : Navy to Continue Deployment of Warships in Foreign Waters

Commander of Iran’s Navy Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari on Saturday praised an Iranian flotilla of warships dispatched to the Mediterranean Sea and the Syrian coasts for their success in accomplishing their long-term mission, and announced that the Navy will continue similar missions in future.

Continue Reading >> Fars News Agency | March 5, 2011

U.S. to Send Warship to Mediterranean to Support Europe Defense Shield

In a bid to protect Europe from possible Iranian missile strikes, the United States military is considering sending a warship to the Mediterranean next week.

Continue Reading >> All Headline News | March 3, 2011

Italian Warship Sails for Anti-Piracy Mission in Indian Ocean

An Italian warship sailed to the Indian Ocean on Tuesday to take part in the international anti-piracy mission.

The Atalanta mission is part of an EU joint task force operation aimed at patrolling the Indian Ocean against pirates and escorting the UN World Food Program and the African Union humanitarian relief ships to Somalia, according to a statement by the Italian Navy.

Continue Reading >> Mareeg | March 4, 2011

Indian Vessel, Nine Crew-Members Detained in Iran Since Feb 16

An Indian vessel ‘MVS Ramban’ carrying livestock, alongwith its nine crew members has been detained by the Iranian authorities for over two weeks now, the Salaya Sailing Vessel Owner’s Association in the district said on Saturday.

[...] “The Iran Navy took the vessel to Chabahar Navy port. They have kept two crew members on board, while other seven members have been sent to jail.”

[...] This is the first time in the recent history that a vessel from Gujarat has been detained by Iran Navy.

Continue Reading >> Hindustan Times | March 5, 2011

Indian Army Chief to Visit U.S. to Enhance Defence Cooperation

In the light of enhanced defence cooperation between India and the United States, over the last five years, Indian Army Chief, General VK Singh will visit the United States from March 7.

Continue Reading >> Daily India | March 4, 2011

“Airstrikes in Libya Did Not Take Place” – Russian Military

The reports of Libya mobilizing its air force against its own people spread quickly around the world. However, Russia’s military chiefs say they have been monitoring from space – and the pictures tell a different story.

According to Al Jazeera and BBC, on February 22 Libyan government inflicted airstrikes on Benghazi – the country’s largest city – and on the capital Tripoli. However, the Russian military, monitoring the unrest via satellite from the very beginning, says nothing of the sort was going on on the ground.

At this point, the Russian military is saying that, as far as they are concerned, the attacks some media were reporting have never occurred.

The same sources in Russia’s military establishment say they are also monitoring the situation around Libya’s oil pumping facilities.

Russia Today | March 1, 2011

Poland One Step Closer to Building Nuclear Plant

All laws necessary for the launch of a nuclear power plant construction program in Poland are to be adopted by Parliament before the end of June, reports Rzeczpospolita.

Continue Reading >> Warsaw Business Journal | January 26, 2011

Clinton Confirms Plans for Missile Base in Poland

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has confirmed Washington’s plans to deploy missile defenses and Air Force units in Poland.

“As was announced by our two presidents in December, we plan to establish a new permanent U.S. air detachment in Poland, build missile defenses in Poland, and as agreed at the NATO summit, develop a contingency plan in the region,” Clinton told journalists ahead of talks with Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski in Washington.

Wikileaks published U.S. cables in late 2010 showing that NATO was drawing up a plan on the protection of Estonia, Lithuania and Poland from external threats on a request from the United States and Germany.

The Guardian reported that under the plan, reportedly approved by Clinton, the United States, Britain, Germany and Poland would deploy troops in the region in case of a military aggression against the Baltic States or Poland itself.

According to the British newspaper, NATO members approved the draft plan during the alliance’s summit in Lisbon in November 2010.

In 2009, the United States decided to deploy several F-16 fighter jets and Hercules transport aircraft in Poland. Polish Defense Minister Bogdan Klich has said the United States was also planning to deploy Patriot missile defense systems in Poland at a base just 100 kilometers from the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.

Continue Reading >> RIA Novosti | March 3, 2011

Russia Election Risks Causing Capital Flight – Finance Minister

Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said Thursday that a perception of political risk leading up to the 2012 presidential election was causing capital to flee the country, a factor which battered the ruble in the second half of last year.

Russia saw over $30 billion in capital outflows last year, more than four times the amount forecast by the central bank.

The Wall Street Journal | March 3, 2011

Islamist Leader Calls for Jihad by Russian Muslims

Islamist rebel leader Doku Umarov called on Muslims throughout Russia to wage jihad (holy war) against the state, in a video posted on websites on Thursday.

A decade after federal forces drove separatists out of power in the second war in Chechnya, the Kremlin is struggling to contain an Islamist insurgency throughout the North Caucasus, where rebels want to create a separate Islamic state.

The Jerusalem Post | March 3, 2011

Russia’s Foreign Minister Rejects No-Fly Zone for Libya

Russia’s top diplomat ruled out the idea of creating a no-fly zone over Libya on Tuesday as embattled leader Moammar Gadhafi unleashed bombing raids, special forces and army troops in a desperate bid to retain power.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov described the idea of imposing limits on Libyan air space as “superfluous” and said world powers must instead focus on fully using the sanctions that the U.N. Security Council approved over the weekend.

Continue Reading >> CNS News | March 1, 2011

Russia’s Lavrov Urges Anti-terror Cooperation With British Intelligence

[...] Lavrov urged cooperation against terrorism and said he had discussed the issue with British Foreign Secretary William Hague during his visit to London last month.

[...] He said Britain should act first on un-freezing contacts with Russia’s Federal Security Service.

Tensions remain high after Britain expelled a Russian diplomat from London over allegations of spying in December. The Russian authorities responded in kind.

Continue Reading >> RIA Novosti | March 2, 2011

Vladimir Putin : North Africa Must Be Allowed to Determine its Own Future, Hopes Germany Will Permit Nord Stream Pumping Soon, NATO Calls Emergency Meeting on Libya, Imposition of No-Fly Zone Possible “as Soon as the Last Westerner is Pulled Out of the Country”, Reports of Airstrikes Against Protesters Unconfirmed, French President in Turkey for 6-Hour Visit, Calls for Gadhafi to Retire, France “Cautiously Discussing” Military Intervention, German Warships Arrive in Malta for “Libya Rescue”, U.S. British and French Military Advisers “Dropped from Warships and Missile Boats” in Eastern Libya, Senior U.S. Senators on Middle East Tour, Israel Navy Plans to Defend Mediterranean Gas Fields, Chinese-Modified Grad Rockets “Apparently Supplied By Iran” Hit Israel

Putin Hopes Germany Will Permit Nord Stream Pumping Soon

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he hoped Germany will soon grant permission for Russia to pump gas through the Nord Stream pipeline, which is supposed to carry gas under the Baltic Sea to Europe.

Continue Reading >> RIA Novosti | February 24, 2011

NATO Calls Emergency Meeting on Libya

NATO’s chief has called for an emergency NATO council meeting for Friday afternoon to discuss the situation in Libya, according to Reuters.

“I have convened an emergency meeting in the NATO council this afternoon to consult on this fast-moving situation. So I will return to Brussels in a few hours,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told the wire service in an interview.

In the interview, he said the more immediate priority would be given to evacuation “and possibly humanitarian assistance.”

“It’s a bit premature to go into specifics but it’s well-known that NATO has assets that can be used in a situation like this and NATO can act as an enabler and coordinator if and when individual member states want to take action,” Rasmussen said in the interview.

Meanwhile, government sources in Malta, which has deep ties with Libya, told CBS News that they expect the imposition of a no-flight zone as soon as the last westerner is pulled out of the country.

CBS News | February 25, 2011

Gaddafi’s Son Rejects Reports of Airstrikes Against Civilians

The son of Libyan strongman Moamer Gaddafi rejected reports that the country’s air force attacked civilian protesters, as demonstrators on Thursday geared up for a 10th day of rallies against the regime.

[...] Arab media reported airstrikes in recent days against barracks and ammunitions depots aimed at preventing anti-government forces from obtaining weapons.

However, witnesses reported that fighter aircraft also opened fire on protesters.

Continue Reading >> Monsters and Critics | February 24, 2011

Sarkozy in Turkey for 6-Hour Visit

French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrived in the Turkish capital of Ankara on Friday for a short working visit as G-20 president, which has disappointed top Turkish officials.

Sarkozy is visiting Turkey as president of the Group of 20 (G20), a policy forum for the world’s leading rich and developing economies.

Sarkozy will meet President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for talks that mostly focusing G-20 issues, Turkey’s accession talks with the EU and the issue of Cyprus.

The six-hour visit has disappointed Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said the length of the visit “is far from reflecting the depth of Turkish-French ties.”

World Bulletin | February 25, 2011

Sarkozy Calls for Gadhafi to Retire

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France said Friday that Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi should step down and that those responsible for the killings in Libya, as well as people who now continue to cooperate with the regime, should face investigation and prosecution at the International Criminal Court.

[...] Mr. Sarkozy said France was “cautiously discussing” military intervention in Libya and called for both the United Nations Security Council and the European Union to meet and reassess their policy in the region.

Continue Reading >> The Wall Street Journal | February 25, 2011

German Warships Arrive in Malta for Libya Rescue

Three German military vessels arrived at the Mediterranean island of Malta on Friday to take part in a rescue operation for German citizens fleeing Libya, Maltese officials said.

Two of the vessels will pick up German nationals who landed in Malta earlier this week after being evacuated from Tripoli airport. The third is awaiting instructions and could be sent to Libya to evacuate more Germans.

The Berlin supply ship and the Rheinland Pfalz frigate were berthed in Malta’s picturesque Grand Harbour, while the third vessel, the Brandenburg, also a frigate, remained offshore.

Malta, the closest European state to Libya, has become a hub for worldwide efforts to evacuate thousands of foreign nationals escaping escalating violence in the north African state.

The Inquirer | February 25, 2011

U.S. Military Advisers in Cyrenaica. Qaddafi Loses His Air Force

Hundreds of US, British and French military advisers have arrived in Cyrenaica, Libya’s eastern breakaway province, DEBKAfile’s military sources report exclusively. This is the first time America and Europe have intervened militarily in any of the popular upheavals rolling through the Middle East since Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution in early January. The advisers, including intelligence officers, were dropped from warships and missile boats at the coastal towns of Benghazi and Tobruk Thursday Feb. 24, for a threefold mission:

1. To help the revolutionary committees controlling eastern Libyan establish government frameworks for supplying two million inhabitants with basic services and commodities;

2. To organize them into paramilitary units, teach them how to use the weapons they captured from Libyan army facilities, help them restore law and order on the streets and train them to fight Muammar Qaddafi’s combat units coming to retake Cyrenaica.

3. The prepare infrastructure for the intake of additional foreign troops. Egyptian units are among those under consideration.

Continue Reading >> DEBKAfile | February 25, 2011

McCain, Lieberman Meet with Israeli PM

[...] McCain and Lieberman are on a five-nation tour of the Middle East during this week’s congressional recess. They visited Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Tunisia (which has also seen protests) and Egypt.

The two senators also visited the Palestinian territories, where they met with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

Continue Reading >> The Hill | February 25, 2011

Israel Navy Plans to Defend Med Gas Fields

Israel’s navy is drawing up plans to protect the state’s new-found strategic resource, a natural gas bonanza in the eastern Mediterranean, parts of which Lebanon and the Palestinians claim.

The arrival in the Mediterranean this week of an Iranian frigate, accompanied by a supply ship, the first Iranian warships in the region in more than 30 years, added a new twist amid the unprecedented ferment in the Arab world at this time.

Continue Reading >> Energy Daily | February 24, 2011

Chinese Rockets, Apparently Supplied by Iran, Hit Israel in First Such Attack Since Hamas War

Israeli military sources said Palestinian gunners aligned with Iran fired at least two Chinese-modified BM-21 Grad rockets into Israel on Feb. 23. They said the rockets, believed supplied by Iran, slammed into the southern city of Beersheba, about 45 kilometers from the Gaza Strip.

[...] The rocket attack on Beersheba was the first since the Israel-Hamas war in December 2008. During the war, Hamas fired scores of Chinese-modified Grads with a range of at least 45 kilometers.

[...] The sources said the military expected additional rocket strikes from the Gaza Strip and Lebanon. They said military intelligence has assessed that Iran and Syria were believed working with their proxies to escalate tension along Israel’s borders to divert from the Arab revolt in the Middle East.

Continue Reading >> World Tribune | February 24, 2011

Oil Prices Rise on Middle East Unrest and China’s Inflation Report, British Petroleum to Begin Offshore Exploration Drilling in Libya, Political Crisis in Ivory Coast, Connections to Regional Banking System Severed, President Vows to Nationalise Banks, Military Intervention on the Table, South Africa Sends Warship to Gulf of Guinea, Christian-Muslim Divide in Nigeria, Chevron, USAID Putting $50M Into Niger Delta Region

Oil Prices Rise on China’s Inflation Report

Oil prices rose Tuesday on news that China’s inflation rate rose less than expected and traders kept an eye on unrest in the Middle East.

Continue Reading >> Bloomberg Business Week | February 15, 2011

BP, After Delays, Eyes Start of Libyan Drilling

BP Plc, recovering from last year’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill, plans to begin offshore exploration drilling in Libya by the end of June, later than previously expected.

[...] The Libyan drilling will be the first under a $900 million deal BP signed with Libya in 2007 after the lifting of international sanctions on Libya removed barriers to doing business in the country.

[...] BP’s Libyan plans have aroused suspicion in the United States, where some politicians have said the British government and BP wanted convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset al-Megrahi released to smooth BP’s deal with Libya. He was freed by Scottish authorities in 2009.

Continue Reading >> Reuters | February 17, 2011

Ivory Coast On the Brink

[...] Gbagbo, who in his younger days was a trade union leader with leftist pretensions.

[...] Ouattara, who has held senior positions in the International Monetary Fund and other financial institutions.

Continue Reading >> Frontline | January 15, 2011

Ivory Coast’s Gbagbo Vows to Nationalise Banks

Ivory Coast’s incumbent Laurent Gbagbo decreed on Thursday that major banks suspending business in Ivory Coast are to be nationalised, the latest turn in a bitter struggle for political control of the West African state.

The banking system of the world’s top cocoa grower has been heading towards total collapse this week, with virtually all commercial banks shut and others swamped by customers trying to withdraw savings.

The closures are the consequence of an international sanctions effort to squeeze Gbagbo of funds and force him to stand down after UN-certified results of a November 28 election showed his rival Alassane Ouattara the winner.

Continue Reading >> Reuters | February 18, 2011

South Africa Explains Presence of Warship Off Cote d’Ivoire Coast

Following the diplomatic spat triggered by the presence of a South African warship off the coast of Cote d’Ivoire, the South African government has explained the reason for the ship’s deployment. ‘The South African government confirms that it instructed the SA National Defence Force to pre-position the SA Navy support vessel, the SAS Drakensberg, in the Gulf of Guinea for possible assistance to SA diplomats, designated personnel and other South African citizens in Ivory Coast,’ Department of International Relations and Co-operation spokesperson Clayson Monyela said in a statement made available to PANA here Wednesday.

[...] ECOWAS Commission President James Victor Gbeho had accused South Africa of deploying the warship to Cote d’Ivoire in support of outgoing President Laurent Gbagbo, who is refusing to step down after being widely-acknowledged to have lost the country’s presidential runoff 28 Nov. to Alassane Ouattara.

[...] South Africa is believed to be among the nations propping up Gbagbo, in defiance of the international community which has recognised Ouattara as the country’s legitimately-elected President.

Continue Reading >> Afrique en Ligne | February 17, 2011

Church Attacked in Northern Nigeria

Gunmen attacked a church Tuesday in northern Nigeria, but it was unclear if there were casualties in the latest such incident in the region where dozens have been killed in recent months.

[...] “We don’t know who the attackers are yet,” he added, saying he could not provide further details.

[...] Previous such incidents have been blamed on an Islamist sect known as Boko Haram, which launched an uprising in 2009 put down by a brutal military assault.

Three churches were attacked on Christmas Eve in Maiduguri, killing six people. The sect has also claimed responsibility for the recent assassination of a high-profile candidate for governor.

Continue Reading >> AFP | February 16, 2011

Chevron, USAID Putting $50M into Poor Nigeria Delta Region

A Chevron Corp. foundation and the United States Agency for International Development agreed to put $50 million into the poor Niger Delta area of Nigeria.

San Ramon-based Chevron (NYSE: CVX) has a strong interest in fostering political stability in Nigeria, where it has invested billions of dollars in finding and getting oil. The region around the Niger River delta is very poor and a people there sometimes attack oil company installations or hold workers hostage, demanding a share of their country’s oil wealth.

Continue Reading >> San Francisco Business Times | February 17, 2011

The History of Military Rule in Egypt

Gilbert Achcar: Military rule in Egypt began with Nasser’s overthrow of King Farouk and increasing independence from the U.S.

The Real News | February 13, 2011

Palestine Papers Leaked, Palestinian Authority Undermined, Israel “Must Be Prepared to Reoccupy Gaza” Two-State Solution Unlikely, “Crisis of Authority” in Jordan, Tribes Threaten Revolution, Jordanian Citizenship Granted for Senior Palestinian Officials, Substitute Palestinian Homeland Doctrine Tacitly Implied

What “sceptics” have said all along since the onset of the peace process two decades ago has now an abundance of evidence to support it: Palestinian-Israeli negotiations since Oslo in 1993 have seen nothing but escalating Palestinian concessions and the expansion of the Israeli occupation. There is no “two state solution” in sight.

[...] By releasing a selection of 1,600 secret documents and minutes of Palestinian-Israeli peace talks from 2003 to 2010 on Sunday, Al-Jazeera mainly exposed the weakness of the Palestinian Authority (PA), and its concessions to and collaboration with the occupier Israel against its own people. The release has stripped it of any remaining legitimacy; one can say that Al-Jazeera morally assassinated the PA.

[...] The documents show that the PA made unprecedented compromises on Haram Al-Sharif (the compound that contains Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, one outer wall of which —known as the Wailing Wall —is of significance to Jews); ceded the right of six million Palestinian refugees to return home (agreeing to the return of a limited quota of 10,000); offered to Israel the annexation of all settlements in East Jerusalem except Har Homa; agreed to land swaps that gave up precious Palestinian territory to Israel; supported Israel’s self-identification as a “Jewish state”; cooperated with Israel against the Palestinian resistance, especially Hamas; made efforts to help the Iranian opposition (the minutes revealed that PA chairman Abbas convinced a Palestinian businessman to give Iranian opposition leader Hussein Mousavi $50m to fund his radio station); and pursued negotiations for the sake of its political survival.

Continue Reading >> Al-Ahram Online | January 27, 2011

Israel Braces for a New Egypt

Israelis are bracing for a more adversarial regime in Egypt, one they expect could lead their country to expand its army, fortify the two countries’ desert frontier and possibly re-invade the Palestinian-ruled Gaza Strip.

[...] Several former military and intelligence officials are arguing publicly that Israel must be prepared to reoccupy Gaza, or at least a wide swath of the enclave along its eight-mile border with Egypt. Other experts counsel caution, warning that such an operation would plunge Israel into years of fighting.

“There’s no reason for us to make any decisions in the next few weeks or even more than that,” said Giora Eiland, a former Israeli national security adviser. “We have to observe, and if the situation changes in a bad way, we will have time to shift whatever has to be shifted.”

Continue Reading >> The Wall Street Journal | February 10, 2011

Jordan Tribesmen Warn King to Reform or Risk Revolt

[...] It was a rare rebuke to King Abdullah from Jordan’s tribesmen, who are the main domestic allies of the ruling Hashemite monarchy. The king already has faced weeks of public protests organized by Islamists and other opposition groups angered by growing poverty and a lack of political freedoms.

Continue Reading >> VOA News | February 8, 2011

Jordan Tribes Threaten Revolution Over Country’s Palestinian Queen Rania

Jordanian tribal figures have issued a petition urging King Abdullah to end his Palestinian wife’s role in politics, in a new challenge to the monarch grappling with fallout from uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

Evoking comparisons with the wives of Tunisia’s former strongman Zine al Abidine Ben Ali and Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak, the signatories attacked Queen Rania’s Palestinian origin and accused her of using state funds to promote her image abroad without concern for the hardship of ordinary Jordanians.

The 36 figures are drawn from conservative East Bank tribes who form the backbone of the Hashemite monarchy’s support — as opposed to Jordanians of Palestinian, or West Bank, origin who are the majority of the country’s 7 million population.

Continue Reading >> Hareetz | February 8, 2011

Jordan Strips Palestinians’ Citizenship

A US-based human rights group criticized Jordan Monday for stripping the citizenship of nearly 3,000 Jordanians of Palestinian origin in recent years.

Nearly half the kingdom’s 6 million people are of Palestinian origin and Jordan fears that if Palestinians become the majority, it will disrupt the delicate demographic balance.

Concerned about increasing numbers of Palestinians in the country, Jordan in 2004 began revoking citizenship from Palestinians who do not have the Israeli permits that are necessary to reside in the West Bank.

Continue Reading >> The Jerusalem Post | February 1, 2011

Abbas Receives Jordanian Citizenship

Jordanian citizenship has been given to senior Palestinian Authority officials, including President Mahmoud Abbas and his sons, a Jordanian politician said.

[...] A significant number of senior Palestinian officials are registered as full Jordanian citizens, the London based al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper.

It noted that Abbas and his entire family have Jordanian citizenship as well as other senior Palestinian officials such as Fatah official Mohammed Dahlan and Abbas’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh.

Continue Reading >> UPI | February 9, 2011

Canada’s Next Military Deployment Will Likely Be in Sudan

A former Canadian diplomat to Africa said Canada’s next military deployment will likely be in war-torn Sudan.

John Schram — who was Canada’s ambassador to Ethiopia, Eritrea and the Sudan from 1998 to 2002 — said now that Sudan has completed a referendum, big issues are being raised, and the fractured country will need international support to bring some measure of calm.

Continue Reading >>

Cnews | January 23, 2011

Iran Considers Military Incursions in Pakistan

Iran is on the verge of emulating the U.S. tactic of shooting terrorists and insurgents inside Pakistan, according to the latest chatter in Iranian military and intelligence circles. Following the fatal suicide bombing in Chabahar on December 15 that killed and injured more than a hundred people during an important Shia ceremony, many military and security officials in Tehran have started talking openly about the need to cross the border and target Baluch insurgents on Pakistani soil. The suicide attacks on Iranian targets has worn Tehran’s patience thin. Iran usually blames such attacks on Israel, the United States, and other Western countries such as the United Kingdom. But after recent attacks in Zahedan and other locations in Sistan and Baluchistan, Iran has increasingly blamed Pakistan.

Continue Reading >>

Tabnak | December 26, 2010

US to boost military presence in Yemen

The Obama administration has laid a military plan in the Middle East with “mobilizing military and intelligence resources” to Yemen to allegedly fight terrorism.

According to a report published in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, Washington has stepped up pressure on Yemen for what it calls al-Qaeda’s use of Yemeni soil as a safe haven for terrorist operations against the US.

A senior Obama administration official claimed that limited US intelligence experience in Yemen has created “a window of vulnerability” that the US government is “working fast to address.”

Last week, The Washington Post cited top US officials that the US deployed unmanned Predator drones in Yemen to allegedly eradicate al-Qaeda militants.

The drones have been patrolling the Yemeni skies for several months in search of al-Qaeda leaders and operatives allegedly hiding in the country, according to the report.

This is while Yemeni Prime Minister Ali Mujawar has repeatedly criticized the West for linking al-Qaeda to his country.

“Al-Qaeda is mainly a Western-made group,” Mujawar said. The militant group “was not created in Yemen at all as it is being alleged by those who propagate this perception internationally about Yemen.”

His comments hinted at America’s funding of fighters in Afghanistan who were resisting the Soviet occupation back in the 1980s.

Following the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York, the US invaded Afghanistan in order to eradicate al-Qaeda and Taliban militants — whom Washington accused of being behind the attacks.

However, as the war entered its tenth year, the US has failed to present sufficient evidence proving that the al-Qaeda was behind the incident.

Another exampled of Washington military adventurism is the invasion of Iraq.

When the Afghan war was in its second year, the administration of George W. Bush invaded Iraq under the pretext that former Iraqi dictator was hiding weapons of mass destruction, but such weapons were never found.

Moreover, recently released documents by the UK’s Iraq war inquiry suggest that the American and British leaders knew that Iraq was not in possession of such weapons prior to the invasion.

The US now claims that it is planning to begin a new front in Yemen in order to deploy troops to search for al-Qaeda leaders.

Press TV | November 16, 2010

UK Army Chief : Might Need Afghan-Style Invasion of Yemen

Insists Military Doesn’t Want Another Front, However

Just four days after taking over the position, Britain’s new military Chief of Staff General Sir David Richards today told Parliament that he could not rule out the need to launch another massive Afghanistan-style invasion/occupation in Yemen.

“I don’t think we want to open up another front there and nor do the Yemenis want us to do that,” insisted Sir David, adding that in the end it might be necessary to do so anyhow. He insisted, however, that right now the British Army’s top priority was “making sure Afghanistan doesn’t revert to becoming a second Yemen.”

Britain’s military participated in the US-led 2001 invasion of Afghanistan and has continued to participate in its occupation, now in its 10th year. There is no end in sight for the Afghan War, but increasingly interest is on starting a new war in Yemen.

Sir David’s comments come in the wake of Prime Minister David Cameron’s promise to do whatever it takes to “cut out the terrorist cancer” from Yemen. US President Barack Obama has also pledged to see Yemen’s al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula “destroyed,“.

Antiwar | November 2, 2010

Is Venezuela the Next Flashpoint for Oil?

In a world desperate for new oil supplies, Venezuela beckons. But will its fumbling management of oil production lead to foreign intervention, covert or otherwise, in a effort to raise Venezuelan output?

In the days of ample oil supplies a poorly managed nationalized oil industry or a hostile political regime just meant that exploration companies had reason to search for oil elsewhere. Now with 88 percent of the world’s oil reserves under the control of national oil companies and few good prospects for large finds available beyond areas controlled by such companies, oil importing countries will be forced to rethink how they will supply themselves with adequate quantities of oil.

Robert Rapier recently explained the reasons behind the drop in Venezuela’s oil production: failure to reinvest in new production and fear of expropriation among those companies that deal with Venezuela and its national oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela S. A. (PDVSA). Whatever one thinks of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s programs designed to assist the nation’s poor, they have been largely paid for with oil revenues. And, he has now undermined the ability of the oil industry to fund his programs.

But that also means he is undermining Venezuela’s ability to provide oil exports to importing nations. In a world awash in oil, this would merely be Venezuela’s problem. But with oil supplies tight and a near-term peak in the world’s rate of oil production a major risk, it’s possible that oil importing countries–particularly the United States which is one of Venezuela’s largest oil customers–may decide that it is necessary to solve Venezuela’s problem of declining oil production for it.

I am not necessarily predicting armed conflict. But a country advertised to have 513 billion barrels of technically recoverable heavy oil alone is a tempting target for international mischief. (I’m inclined to believe that a significant portion of this heavy oil will never become economically recoverable. But in geopolitics, perception, not a careful assessment of the facts, often drives the action.)

Iraq’s oil reserves proved too tempting a target early in the previous decade. The country had mismanaged its nationalized oil industry, and its unelected leader, Saddam Hussein, was reviled even in the Middle East. But Iraq proved to be a problematic conquest, and attempts to realize its untapped oil wealth continue to be frustrated by ongoing civil strife. It seems unlikely that, given the experience in Iraq, direct military intervention would appear wise in Venezuela, especially if the problem is framed as raising the country’s oil production.

There are other complications as well. Unlike Saddam Hussein, Chavez was elected. There can be no claim that he somehow seized power illegitimately. And, he has friendly relations with many South and Central American regimes. An attempt to oust him in a 2002 coup engineered by the country’s opposition with tacit support from the United States failed. By that time–already three years into his presidency–many elements of Venezuelan society including many in the military had grown loyal to his regime. But I would not put a second attempt out of the realm of possibility.

It is worthwhile to contrast the Chinese and Russian approach to Venezuela with that of the United States. Both China and Russia recently signed joint-venture agreements to develop heavy oil in the country. Of course, each government has its own government-run oil company. The Chinese especially seem less concerned about private property rights and making a profit and more concerned about developing Venezuela’s oil to meet China’s growing oil import needs. The Chinese may not make much money on their joint venture. But they will at least have speeded the development of additional oil supplies which they badly need.

U. S. policymakers, however, are hampered in this regard since oil companies under U. S. jurisdiction are not owned by the government and naturally focus on their shareholders’ desire to make a profit, not on the United States’ need for additional sources of imported oil. The Chavez record on expropriation makes non-government-owned oil companies leery of investing in Venezuela though some still do.

In another part of the world there is the curious and largely unnoticed case of the world’s largest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia, announcing in 2008 that it will limit daily production to no more than 12.5 million barrels per day. Back then the U. S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) was still counting on the Saudis for 16.4 million barrels per day by 2030. Only four years earlier the EIA had projected 23.8 million barrels per day for the country by 2025. It’s not clear that this is a case of voluntary restraint from Saudi Arabia. It may be that oil production there has run into a wall and cannot rise. Is the hands-off attitude toward Saudi Arabia a tacit recognition that the country cannot pump any more oil than it currently does? No one can be sure.

Still, the need for additional oil supplies seems likely to lead to pressure on Venezuela to raise its production. Actually, President Hugo Chavez says that this is what he wants to do. The problem isn’t intent, then, but execution. Perhaps powers such as the United States will decide that someone else at the head of the Venezuelan government will be better able to bring that increase to fruition–if only Chavez can be removed from the presidential palace through the electoral process or otherwise.

Scitizen | October 4, 2010

Why Is NATO In Yugoslavia?


The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has recently sent a large task force into Yugoslavia, ostensibly to enforce a settlement of the Bosnian war arrived at in Dayton, Ohio at the end of 1995. This task force is said to consist of some 60,000 men, equipped with tanks, armor and artillery. It is backed by formidable air and naval forces. In fact, if one takes account of all the support forces involved, including forces deployed in nearby countries, it is clear that at least two hundred thousand troops are involved. This figure has been confirmed by U. S. defense sources. [ 1 ]

By any standards, the sending of a large Western military force into Central and lSastern Europe is a remarkable enterprise, even in the fluid situation created by the supposed end of the Cold War. The Ball:an task force represents not only the first major NATO military operation, but a major operation staged “out of area”, that is, outside the boundaries originally established for NATO military action.

However, the sending of NATO troops into the Balkans is the result of enormous pressure for the general extension of NATO eastwards.

If the Yugoslav enterprise is the first concrete step in the expansion of NATO, others are planned for the near future. Some Western powers want to bring the Visegrad countries into NATO as full members by the end of the century. There was resistance to the pressures for such extension among certain Western countries for some time. However, the recalcitrants have now been bludgeoned into accepting the alleged necessity of extending NATO.

The question is: why are the Western powers pressing for the expansion of NATO? Why is NATO being renewed and extended when the “Soviet threat” has disappeared? There is clearly much more to it than we have so far been told. The enforcement of a precarious peace in Bosnia is only the immediate reason for sending NATO forces into the Balkans.

There are deeper reasons for the dispatch of NATO forces to the Balkans, and especially for the extension of NATO to Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary in the relatively near future. These have to do with an emerging strategy for securing the resources of the Caspian Sea region and for “stabilizing” the countries of Eastern Europe — ultimately for “stabilizing” Russia and the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States. This is, to put it mildly, an extremely ambitious and potentially selfcontradictory policy. And it is important to pose some basic questions about the reasons being given for pursuing it.

For the idea of “stabilizing” the countries which formerly constituted the Socialist bloc in Europe does not simply mean ensuring political stability there, ensuring that the regimes which replaced Socialism remain in place. It also means ensuring that economic and social conditions remain unchanged. And, since the so-called transition to democracy in the countries affected has in fact led to an incipient deindustrialization and a collapse of living standards for the majority, the question arises whether it is really desirable.

The question is all the more pertinent since “stabilization”, in the sense in which it is used in the West, means reproducing in the former Socialist bloc countries economic and social conditions which are similar to the economic and social conditions currently prevailing in the West. The economies of the Western industrial nations are, in fact, in a state of semi-collapse, although the governments of those countries would never really acknowledge the fact. Nonetheless, any reasonably objective assessment of the economic situation in the West leads to this conclusion. And that conclusion is supported by official statistics and most analyses coming from mainstream economists.

It is also clear, as well, that the attempt to “stabilize” the former Socialist bloc countries is creating considerable tension with Russia, and potentially with other countries. Not a few commentators have made the point that Western actions in extending NATO even raise the risks of nuclear conflict. [2]

It is enough to raise these questions briefly to see that the extension of NATO which has, de facto, begun in Yugoslavia and is being proposed for other countries is to a large extent based on confused and even irrational reasoning. One is tempted to say that it results from the fear and willfulness of certain ruling groups. To put it most bluntly, why should the world see any benefit in the enforced extension to other countries of the economic and social chaos which prevails in the West, and why should it see any benefit in that when the very process itself increases the risks of nuclear war?

The purposes of this paper are to describe what lies behind the current efforts to extend NATO and to raise some basic questions about whether this makes any sense, in both the narrow and deeper meanings of the term.

NATO in Yugoslavia

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was founded in 1949 with the stated purpose of protecting Western Europe from possible military aggression by the Soviet Union and its allies.

With the dissolution of the Communist regimes in the former Socialist bloc in 1990 and 1991, there was no longer any possibility of such aggression, if there ever really had been. The changes in the former Communist countries made NATO redundant. Its raison d’être had vanished. Yet certain groups within the NATO countries began almost immediately to press for a “renovation” of NATO and even for its extension into Central and Eastern Europe. They began to elaborate new rationales which would permit the continuation of business as usual.

The most important of these was the idea that, with the changes brought about by the end of the Cold War, the Western countries nonetheless faced new “security challenges” outside the traditional NATO area which justified the perpetuation of the organization. The spokesmen for this point of view argued that NATO had to find new missions to justify its existence.

The implicit premise was that NATO had to be preserved in order to ensure the leadership of the United States in European and world affairs. This was certainly one of the reasons behind the large-scale Western intervention — in which the participation of US NATO partners was relatively meager — in Kuwait and Iraq in 1990 and 1991. The coalition which fought against Iraq was cobbled together with great difficulty. But it was seen by the United States government as necessary for the credibility of the US within the Western alliance as well as in world affairs.

The slogan put forward by the early supporters of NATO enlargement was “NATO: out of area or out of business”, which made the point, although not the argument, as plainly as it could be made. [3]

Yugoslavia has also been a test case, and obviously a much more important one. The Yugoslav crisis exploded on the edge of Europe, and the Western European nations had to do something about it. Germany and the United States, on the other hand, while seeming to support the idea of ending the civil wars in Yugoslavia, in fact did everything they could to prolong them, especially the war. in Bosnia. t41 Their actions perpetuated and steadily deepened the Yugoslav crisis.

It is important to recognize that, almost from the beginning of the Yugoslav crisis, NATO sought to involve itself. That involvement was obvious in 1993 when NATO began to support UNPROFOR operations in Yugoslavia, especially in the matter of the blockade against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the enforcement of a no-fly zone in Bosnian airspace.

That involvement, however, had much smaller beginnings, and it must be remembered that NATO as an organization was involved in the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina at a very early stage. In 1992, NATO sent a group of about 100 personnel to Bosnia-Herzegovina, where they established a military headquarters at Kiseliak, a short distance from Sarajevo. Ostensibly, they were sent to help United Nations forces in Bosnia.

It was obvious, however, that there was another purpose. A NATO diplomat described the operation to INTELLIGENCE DIGEST in the following terms at the time:

This is a very cautious first step, and we are definitely not making much noise about it. But it could be the start of something bigger…You could argue that NATO now has a foot in the door. Whether we manage to open the door is not sure, but we have made a start. [4]

It seems clear that NATO commanders were already anticipating the possibility that resistance to US and German pressures would be overcome and that NATO’s role in Yugoslavia would be gradually expanded.

Thus NATO was working to create a major “out of area” mission almost from the time that the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina began. The recent dispatch of tens of thousands of troops to Bosnia, Austria, Hungary, Croatia and Serbia is thus simply the culmination of a process which began almost four years ago. It was not a question of proposals and conferences. It was a question of inventing operations which, with the backing of key countries, could eventually lead to NATO’s active engagement “out of area”, and thus to its own renovation.

The Eastward Expansion of NATO

NATO had never carried out a formal study on the enlargement of the alliance until quite recently, when the Working Group on NATO Enlargement issued its report. No doubt there were internal classified studies, but nothing is known of their content to outsiders.

Despite the lack of clear analysis, however, the engines for moving things forward were working hard from late 1991. At the end of that year, NATO created the North Atlantic Cooperation Council. NATO member nations then invited 9 Central and East European countries to join the NACC in order to begin fostering cooperation between the NATO powers and former members of the Warsaw Pact.

This was a first effort to offer something to East European countries wishing to join NATO itself. The NACC, however, did not really satisfy the demands of those countries, and in the beginning of 1994 the US launched the idea of a Partnership for Peace. The PFP offered nations wishing to join NATO the possibility of co-operating in various NATO activities, including training exercises and peacekeeping. More than 20 countries, including Russia, are now participating in the PFP.

Many of these countries wish eventually to join NATO. Russia obviously will not. join. It believes that NATO should not be moving eastwards. According to the Center for Defense Information in Washington, a respected independent research center on military affairs, Russia is participating in the PFP “to avoid being shut out of the European security structure altogether.” [5]

The movement toward the enlargement of NATO has therefore been steadily gathering momentum. The creation of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council was more or less an expression of sympathy and openness toward those aspiring to NATO membership. But it did not carry things very far. The creation of the Partnership for Peace was more concrete. It actually involved former Warsaw Pact members in NATO itself. It also began a “two-track” policy toward Russia, in which Russia was given a more or less empty relationship with NATO simply to allay its concerns about NATO expansion.

However, despite this continuous development, the public rationale for this expansion has for the most part rested on fairly vague premises. And this leads to the question of what has been driving the expansion of NATQ during the last four years. The question must be posed for two areas: the Balkans and the countries of Central Europe. For there is an important struggle going on in the Balkans, a struggle for mastery of the southern Balkans in particular. And NATO is now involved in that struggle. There is also, of course, a new drift back to Cold-War policies on the part of certain Western countries. And that drift is carrying NATO into Central Europe.

The Struggle for Mastery in the Balkans

We have been witnessing, since 1990, a long and agonizing crisis in Yugoslavia. It has brought the deaths of tens of thousands, driven perhaps two million people from their homes and caused turmoil in the Balkan region. And in the West it is generally believed that this crisis, including the civil wars in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, was the result of internal Yugoslav conflicts, and specifically of conflicts between Croats, Serbs and Bosnian Muslims. This is far from the essence of the matter.

The main problem in Yugoslavia, from the first, was foreign intervention in the country’s internal affairs. Two Western powers, the United States and Germany, deliberately contrived to destabilize and then dismantle the country. The process was in full swing in the 1 980s and accelerated as the present decade began. These powers carefully planned, prepared and assisted the secessions which broke Yugoslavia apart. And they did almost everything in their power to expand and prolong the civil wars which began in Croatia and then continued in Bosnia-Herzegovina. They were involved behind the scenes at every stage of the crisis.

Foreign intervention was designed to create precisely the conflicts which the Western powers decried. For they also conveniently served as an excuse for overt intervention once civil wars were under way.

Such ideas are, of course, anathema in Western countries. That is only because the public in the West has been systematically misinformed by war propaganda. It accepted almost from the beginning the version of events promulgated by governments and disseminated through the mass media. It is nonetheless true that Germany and the US were the principal agents in dismantling Yugoslavia and sowing chaos there.

This is an ugly fact in the new age of realpolitik and geopolitical struggles which has succeeded the Cold War order. Intelligence sources have begun recently to allude to this reality in a surprisingly open manner. In the summer of 1995, for instance, INTELLIGENCE DIGEST, a respected newsletter published in Great Britain, reported that:

The original US-German design for the former Yugoslavia [included] an independent Muslim-Croat dominated Bosnia Herzegovina in alliance with an independent Croatian and alongside a greatly weakened Serbia. [6]

Every senior official in most Western governments knows this description to be absolutely accurate. And this means, of course, that the standard descriptions of “Serbian aggression” as the root cause of the problem, the descriptions of Croatia as a “new democracy”, etc. are not just untrue but actually designed to deceive.

But why? Why should the media seek to deceive the Western public? It was not simply that blatant and large-scale intervention in Yugoslav affairs had to be hidden from public view. It was also that people would ask questions about why Germany and the US deliberately created havoc in the Balkans. They wanted inevitably to know the reasons for such actions. And these had to be hidden even more carefully than the destructive actions of great powers.

At root, the problem was that the United States had an extremely ambitious plan for the whole of Europe. It is now stated quite openly that the US considers itself a “European power”. In the 1980s, this assertion could not be made so easily. That would have caused too much dissension among Western allies. But the US drive to establish its domination in Europe was nonetheless a fact. And the United States was already planning what is now openly talked about.

Quite recently, Richard Holbrooke, the Assistant Secretary of State for European affairs, made the official position clear. In a recent article in the influential journal FOREIGN AFFAIRS, he not only described the United States as a “European power” but also outlined his government’s ambitious plans for the whole of Europe. Referring to the system of collective security, including NATO, which the US and its allies created after the second world war, Mr. Holbrooke said:

This time, the United States must lead in the creation of a security architecture that includes and thereby stabilizes all of Europe — the West, the former Soviet satellites of Central Europe and, most critically. Russia and the former republics of the Soviet Union. [7]

In short, it is now official policy to move towards the integration of all of Europe under a Western political and economic system, and to do so through the exercise of “American leadership”. This is simply a polite, and misleading, way of talking about the incorporation of the former Socialist countries into a vast new empire. [8]

It should not be surprising that the rest of Mr. Holbrooke’s article is about the necessity of expanding NATO, especially into Central Europe, in order to ensure the “stability” of the whole of Europe. Mr. Holbrooke states that the “expansion of NATO is an essential consequence of the raising of the Iron Curtain ” [9].

Thus, behind the repeated interventions in the Yugoslav crisis, there lay long-term strategic plans for the whole of Europe.

As part of this evolving scheme, Germany and the US originally determined to forge a new Balkan order, one based on the market organization of economies and parliamentary democracy. They wanted to put a definitive end to Socialism in the Balkans. [10] Ostensibly, they wanted to “foster democracy” by encouraging assertions of independence, as in Croatia. In reality, this was merely a ploy for breaking up the Balkans into small and vulnerable countries. Under the guise of “fostering democracy”, the way was being opened to the recolonization of the Balkans.

By 1990, most of the countries of Eastern Europe had yielded to Western pressures to establish what were misleadingly called “reforms”. Some had accepted all the Western conditions for aid and trade. Some, notably Bulgaria and Romania, had only partially accepted them.

In Yugoslavia, however, there was resistance. The 1990 elections in Serbia and Montenegro kept a socialist or social-democratic party in power. The Federal government thus remained in the hands of politicians who, although they yielded to pressures for “reforms” from time to time, were nevertheless opposed to the recolonization of the Balkans. And many of them were opposed to the fragmentation of Yugoslavia. Since the third Yugoslavia, formed in the spring of 1992, had an industrial base and a large army, that country had to be destroyed.

From the German point of view, this was nothing more than the continuation of a policy pursued by the Kaiser and then by the Nazis.

Once, Yugoslavia was dismantled and thrown into chaos, it was possible to begin reorganizing this central part of the Balkans. Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina were to be brought into a German sphere of interest. Germany acquired access to the sea on the Adriatic, and potentially, in the event that the Serbs could be overwhelmed, to the new :Rhine-Danube canal, a route which can now carry 3,000 ton ships from the North Sea into the Black Sea. The southern reaches of Yugoslavia were to fall into an American sphere of interest. Macedonia, which commands the only east-west and north-south passages across the Balkan Mountains, was to be the centerpiece of an American region. But the American sphere would also include Albania and, if those regions could be stripped away from Serbia, the Sanjak and Kosovo. Some American planners have even talked of the eventual emergence of a Greater Albania, under US and Turkish tutelage, which would comprise a chain of small Muslim States, possibly including Bosnia Herzegovina, with access to the Adriatic.

Not surprisingly, Germany and the US, although they worked in concert to bring about the dismantlement of Yugoslavia, are now struggling for control of various parts of that country, notably Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. In fact, there is considerable jockeying for influence and commercial advantage throughout the Balkans. [11] Most of this competition is between Germany and the US, the partners who tore Yugoslavia apart. But important companies and banks from other European countries are also participating. The situation is similar to that which was created in Czechoslovakia by the Munich Agreement in 1938. Agreement was reached on a division of the spoils in order to avoid clashes which would lead immediately to war.

The New “Great Game” in the Caspian Sea

Yugoslavia is significant not just for its own position on the map, but also for the areas to which it allows access. And influential American analysts believe that it lies close to a zone of vital US interests, the Black Sea-Caspian Sea region.

This may be the real significance of the NATO task force in Yugoslavia.

The United States is now seeking to consolidate a new European-Middle Eastern bloc of nations. It is presenting itself as the leader of an informal grouping of Muslim countries stretching from the Persian Gulf into the Balkans. This grouping includes Turkey, which is of pivotal importance in the emerging new bloc. Turkey is not just a part of the southern Balkans and an Aegean power. It also borders on Iraq, Iran and Syria. It thus connects southern Europe to the Middle East, where the US considers that it has vital interests.

The US hopes to expand this informal alliance with Muslim states in the Middle East and southern Europe to include some of the new nations on the southern rim of the former Soviet Union.

The reasons are not far to seek. The US now conceives of itself as being engaged in a new race for world resources. Oil is especially important in this race. With the war against Iraq, the US established itself in the Middle East more securely than ever. The almost simultaneous disintegration of the Soviet Union opened the possibility of Western exploitation of the oil resources of the Caspian Sea region.

This region is extremely rich in oil and gas resources. Some Western analysts believe that it could become as important to the West as the Persian Gulf

Countries like Kazakhstan have enormous oil reserves, probably in excess of 9 billion barrels. Kazakhstan could probably pump 700,000 barrels a day. The problem, as in other countries of the region, at least from the perspective of Western countries, has been to get the oil and gas resources out of the region and to the West by safe routes. The movement of this oil and gas is not simply a technical problem. It is also political.

It is of crucial importance to the US and to other Western countries today to maintain friendly relations with countries like Kazakhstan. More importantly, it is important to know that that any rights acquired, to pump petroleum or to build pipelines to transport it, will be absolutely respected. For the amounts which are projected for investment in the region are very large.

What this means is that Western producers, banks, pipeline companies, etc. want to be assured of “political stability” in the region. They want to be assured that there will be no political changes which would threaten their new interests or potential ones.

An important article in THE NEW YORK TIMES recently described what has been called a new “great game” in the region, drawing an analogy to the competition between Russia and Great Britain in the northwest frontier of the Indian subcontinent in the nineteenth century. The authors of the article wrote that,

Now, in the years after the cold war, the United States is again establishing suzerainty over the empire of a former foe. The disintegration of the Soviet Union has prompted the United States to expand its zone of military hegemony into Eastern Europe (through NATO) and into formerly neutral Yugoslavia. And — most important of all — the end of the cold war has permitted America to deepen its involvement in the Middle East. [12]

Obviously, there have been several reasons which prompted Western leaders to seek the expansion of NATO. One of these, and an important one, has clearly been a commercial one. This becomes more evident as one looks more closely at the parallel development of commercial exploitation in the Caspian Sea region and the movement of NATO into the Balkans.

On May 22, 1992, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization issued a remarkable statement regarding the fighting then going on in Transcaucasia. This read in part as follows:

[The] Allies are profoundly disturbed by the continuing conflict and loss of life. There can be no solution to the problem of Nagorno-Karabakh or to the differences it has caused between Armenia and Azerbaijan by force. “Any action against Azerbaijan’s or any other state’s territorial integrity or to achieve political goals by force would represent a flagrant and unacceptable violation of the principles of international law. In particular we [NATO] could not accept that the recognized status of Nagorno-Karabakh or Nakhichevan can be changed unilaterally by force. [13]

This was a remarkable statement by any standards. For NATO was in fact issuing a veiled warning that it might have to take “steps” to prevent actions by governments in the Caspian Sea region which it construed as threatening vital Western interests.

Two days before NATO made this unusual declaration of interest in Transcaucasian affairs, an American oil Company, Chevron, had signed an agreement with the government of Kazakhstan for the development of the Tengiz and Korolev oil fields in the Western part of the country. The negotiations for this agreement had been under way for two years prior to its being signed. And reliable sources have reported that they were in danger of breaking down at the time because of Chevron’s fears of political instability in the region. [14]

At the time that NATO made its declaration, of course, there would have been little possibility of backing up its warning. There was, first of all, no precedent at all for any large, out-of-area operation by NATO. NATO forces, furthermore, were far removed from Transcaucasia. It does not take a long look at a map of the Balkans, the Black Sea the Caspian Sea to realize that the situation is changing.

The Next Stage: “Stabilizing” the East

The current pressure for the enlargement of NATO to Central and Eastern Europe is part of an effort to create what is mistakenly called “the new world order”. It is the politico-military complement of the economic policies initiated by the major Western powers and designed to transform Central and East European society.

The United States, Germany and some of their allies are trying to build a truly global order around the North Atlantic Basin economy. There is actually nothing very new about the kind of order which they are trying to establish. It is to be founded on capitalist institutions. What is new is that they are trying to extend “the old order” to the vast territories which were thrown into chaos by the disintegration of Communism. They are also trying to incorporate into this “order” countries which were previously not fully a part of it.

In a word, they are trying to create a functioning capitalist system in countries which have lived under Socialism for decades, or in countries, such as Angola, which were seeking to break free of the capitalist system.

As they try to establish a “new world order”, the major Western powers must also think about how to preserve it. So, in the final analysis, they must think about extending their military power toward the new areas of Europe which they are trying to attach to the North Atlantic Basin. Hence the proposed role of NATO in the new European order.

The two principal architects of what might be a new, integrated and capitalist. Europe are the United States and Germany. They are working together especially closely on East European questions. In effect, they have formed a close alliance in which the US expects Germany to help manage not only West European but also East European affairs. Germany has become, as George Bush put it in Mainz in 1989, a “partner in leadership”.

This close relationship ties the US to Germany’s vision of what German and American analysts are now calling Central Europe. It is a vision which calls for: 1 ) the expansion of the European Union to the East; 2) German leadership in Europe; and 3) a new division of labor in Europe.

It is the idea of a new division of labor which is particularly important. In the German view, Europe will in the future be organized in concentric rings around a center, which will be Germany. The center will be the most developed region in every sense. It will be the most technically developed and the wealthiest. It will have the highest levels of wages, salaries and per capita income. And it will undertake only the most profitable economic activities, those which put it in command of the system. Thus Germany will take charge of industrial planning, design, the development of technology, etc., of all the activities which will shape and co-ordinate the activities of other regions.

As one moves away from the center, each concentric ring will have lower levels of development, wealth and income. The ring immediately surrounding Germany will include a great deal of profitable manufacturing and service activity. It is meant to comprise parts of Great Britain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and northern Italy. The general level of income would be high, but lower than in Germany. The next ring would include the poorer parts of Western Europe and parts of Eastern Europe, with some manufacturing, processing and food production. Wage and salary levels would be significantly lower than at the center.

It goes without saying that, in this scheme of things, most areas of Eastern Europe will be in an outer ring. Eastern Europe will be a tributary of the center. It will produce some manufactured goods, but not primarily for its own consumption. Much of its manufacturing, along with raw materials, and even food, will be shipped abroad. Moreover, even manufacturing will pay low wages and salaries And the general level of wages and salaries, and therefore of incomes, will be lower than they have been in the past.

In short, most of Eastern Europe will be poorer in the new, integrated system than it would have been if East European countries could make their own economic decisions about what kind of development to pursue. The only development possible in societies exposed to the penetration of powerful foreign capital and hemmed in by the rules of the International Monetary Fund is dependent development.

This will also be true of Russia and the other countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States. They will also become tributaries of the center, and there will be no question of Russia pursuing an independent path of development. There will obviously be some manufacturing in Russia, but there will be no possibility of balanced industrial development. For the priorities of development will be increasingly dictated by outsiders. Western corporations are not interested in promoting industrial development in Russia, as the foreign investment figures show.

The primary Western interest in the Commonwealth of Independent States is in the exploitation of its resources. The breakup of the Soviet Union was thus a critical step in opening the possibility of such exploitation. For the former republics of the USSR became much more vulnerable once they became independent. Furthermore, Western corporations are not interested in developing CIS resources for local use. They are interested in exporting them to the West. This is especially true of gas and petroleum resources. Much of the benefit from the export of resources would therefore accrue to foreign countries. Large parts of the former Soviet Union are likely to find themselves in a situation similar to that of Third World countries.

What Germany is seeking, then, with the support of the US, is a capitalist rationalization of the entire European economy around a powerful German core. Growth and high levels of wealth in the core are to be sustained by subordinate activities in the periphery. The periphery is to produce food and raw materials, and it is to manufacture exports for the core and for overseas markets. Compared to the (Western and Eastern) Europe of the 1980s, then, the future Europe is to be entirely restructured, with lower and lower levels of development as ones moves away from the German center.

Thus many parts of Eastern Europe, as well as much of the former Soviet Union, are meant to remain permanently underdeveloped areas, or relatively underdeveloped areas. Implementation of the new division of labor in Europe means that they must be locked into economic backwardness.

Thus, for Eastern Europe and the countries of the CIS, the creation of an “integrated” Europe within a capitalist framework will require a vast restructuring. This restructuring could be very profitable for Germany and the US. It will mean moving backwards in time for the parts of Europe being attached to the West.

The nature of the changes under way has already been prefigured in the effects of the “reforms” implemented in Russia from the early 1990s. It was said, of course, that these “reforms” would eventually bring prosperity. This was, however, a hollow claim from the beginning. For the “reforms” implemented at Western insistence were nothing more than the usual restructuring imposed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund on Third World countries. And they have had the same effects.

The most obvious is the precipitous fall in living standards. One third of the population of Russia is now trying to survive on income below the official poverty line. Production since 1991 has fallen by more than half. Inflation is running at an annual rate of 200 per cent. The life expectancy of a Russian male fell from 64.9 years in 1987 to 57.3 years in 1994. [15] These figures are similar to those for countries like Egypt and Bangladesh. And, in present circumstances, there is really no prospect of an improvement in economic and social conditions in Russia. Standards of living are actually likely to continue falling.

Clearly, there is widespread, and justified, anger in Russia, and in other countries, about the collapse of living standards which has accompanied the early stages of restructuring. This has contributed to a growing political backlash inside Russia and other countries. The most obvious recent example may be found in the results of the December parliamentary elections in Russia. It is also clear that the continuing fall in living standards in the future will create further angry reactions.

Thus the extension of the old world order into Eastern Europe and the CIS is a precarious exercise, fraught with uncertainty and risks. The major Western powers are extremely anxious that it should succeed, to some extent because they see success, which would be defined in terms of the efficient exploitation of these new regions, as a partial solution to their own grave economic problems. There is an increasingly strong tendency in Western countries to displace their own problems, to see the present international competition for the exploitation of new territories as some kind óf solution to world economic stagnation.

Western analysts rightly suppose that the future will bring political instability. So, as Senator Bradley put it recently, “The question about Russia is whether reform is reversible”. [ 16] Military analysts draw the obvious implication: the greater the military power which can potentially be brought to bear on Russia, the less the likelihood of the “reforms” being reversed. This is the meaning of the following extraordinary statement by the Working Group on NATO Enlargement:

The security task of NATO is no longer limited to maintaining a defensive military posture against an opposing force. There is no immediate military security threat to Western Europe. The political instability and insecurity in Central and Eastern Europe, however, greatly affect the security of the NATO area. NATO should help to fulfill the Central and Eastern European desires for security and integration into Western structures, thus serving the interests in stability of its members. [17]

This represents an entirely new position on the part of NATO. It is a position which some NATO countries thought imprudent not long ago. And it is alarming, because it does not confront the real reasons behind the present pressure for NATO’s extension. However evasive and sophistical the reasoning of the Working Group may be, it appears that the debate in many countries is now closed. It would, of course, be much better if the real issues could be debated publicly. But for the moment they cannot be, and the pressure for NATO enlargement is going to continue.

The Dangers of Extending NATO

The current proposal to expand NATO eastward creates many dangers.

It should be stated that many leaders in Western countries oppose the expansion of NATO, and they have repeatedly explained the dangers of such expansion. It is important to recognize, that despite the official position of NATO and the recent report of the Working Group, there is strong opposition to NATO’s moving eastward. Nonetheless, for the moment, those in favor of NATO expansion have won the day.

Four dangers of NATO expansion in particular require discussion here.

The first is that the expansion of NATO will bring new members under the NATO umbrella. This will mean, for instance, that the United States and other Western members are obliged to defend, say, Slovakia against an attack. Where will an attack come from? Is NATO really prepared to defend Slovakia in the event of a conflict with another East European country?

In a country like the United States, this would be very unpopular. As Senator Kassebaum put it in October of last year:

Are the American people prepared to pledge, in the words of the North Atlantic Treaty, that an armed attack against one or more of these potential new members will be considered an attack against all? [18]

The issue of extending the umbrella is a critical one. For the NATO powers are nuclear powers. The Working Group report stated that, in appropriate circumstances, the forces of NATO allies could be stationed on the territory of new members. And the Working Group did not rule out, as it should have, the stationing of nuclear weapons on the territory of new members. The failure to rule out such a possibility means that NATO is embarking on a dangerous path, a path which increases the risks of nuclear war.

The Working Group’s silence on this matter cannot fail to be taken as a threat by those who are not joining NATO. And, clearly, the most important of these is Russia, because it, too, possesses nuclear weapons — as do the Ukraine and Kazakhstan.

The second danger is that expansion will jeopardize relations between the United States and Russia, or even lead to a second Cold War. While NATO countries present the organization as a defensive alliance, Russia sees it quite differently. For more than forty years, the Soviet Union considered NATO as an offensive alliance aimed at all the members of the Warsaw pact. The general opinion in Russia is still that NATO is an offensive alliance. The former Foreign Minister, Mr. Kozyrev, made this quite clear to NATO members. How can Russia possibly see things differently in the future?

The expansion of NATO is inevitably perceived by Russia as encirclement. It is seen as assuming that Russia will inevitably again become an aggressive state. This, however, is much more likely to push Russia toward belligerence than to do anything else. It will certainly not calm its fears about the intentions of NATO in moving into Eastern Europe. Referring to the recent NATO decision on expansion, the Director of the Institute of USA and Canada Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, stated recently that:

Russia is still a military superpower with a huge area and a large population. It is a country with enormous economic capabilities which has extraordinary potential for good or ill. But now it is a humiliated country in search of identity and direction. To a certain extent, the West and its position on NATO expansion will determine what direction Russia chooses. The future of European Security depends on this decision.” [19]

The third danger in extending NATO is that will undermine the implementation of the START I Treaty and the ratification of the START II Treaty, as well as other arms control and arms limitation treaties designed to increase European security. The Russians, for instance, have made it clear that they will go ahead with the implementation of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty “if the situation in Europe is stable”. The expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe, however, significantly changes the present equilibrium in Europe. So NATO countries are risking many of the achievements of the last 25 years in the field of disarmament. Some argue convincingly that NATO expansion will undermine the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Such consequences will hardly make Europe, or the globe, a safer place in the future.

The fourth principal danger in NATO expansion is that it will unsettle the situation in Eastern Europe. NATO claims that its expansion will help to ensure stability. But Eastern Europe, particularly after the changes of the last five years, is already an unstable place. The piecemeal expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe will increase tensions between new members and those left outside. It cannot fail to do so. Those left outside NATO are bound to feel more insecure when NATO has established itself in a neighboring country. This would place place them in a buffer zone between an expanding NATO and Russia. They are bound to react in a fearful, and even hostile manner. The piecemeal expansion of NATO could even trigger an arms race in Eastern Europe.

The Weakness of the Western Position

When closely considered, the proposal to extend NATO eastward is not just dangerous. It also seems something of a desperate act. It is obviously irrational, for it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It can lead to a second Cold War between the NATO powers and Russia, and possibly to nuclear war. It must be assumed that no one really wants that.

Why, then, would the NATO countries propose such a course of action? Why would they be unable to weigh the dangers of their decision objectively?

Part of the answer is that those who have made this decision have looked at it in very narrow terms, without seeing the larger context in which NATO expansion would take place. When one does look at the larger context, the proposal to expand NATO is obviously irrational.

Consider the larger context. NATO proposes to admit certain countries in Central Europe as full members of the alliance in the near future. Other East European countries are being considered for later admission. This extension has two possible purposes. The first is to prevent “the failure of Russian democracy”, that is, to ensure the continuation of the present regime, or something like it, in Russia. The second is to place NATO in a favorable position if a war should ever break out between Russia and the West.

In an age of nuclear weapons, pursuing the second purpose is perhaps even more dangerous than it was during the years of the Cold War, since there are now several countries with nuclear weapons which would potentially be ranged against NATO. The argument that NATO should be expanded eastward in order to ensure the West an advantage in the event of a nuclear war is not a very convincing one. And it would certainly not be convincing to Central European countries if it were openly spoke of. Those would be the countries most likely to suffer in the first stages of such a war. Their situation would be similar to that of Germany during the Cold War, as the German antiwar movement began to understand in the 1980s.

The main purpose of expanding NATO, as almost everyone has acknowledged, is to make sure that there is no reversal of the changes which have taken place in Russia during the last five years. That would end the dream of a three-part Europe united under the capitalist banner and close a very large new space for the operation of Western capital. A NATO presence in Central and Eastern Europe is simply a means of maintaining new pressure on those who would wish to attempt to change the present situation in Russia.

However, as has been seen, this also means locking Russia, and other countries of the CIS, into a state of underdevelopment and continuous economic and social crisis in which millions of people will suffer terribly, and in which there is no possibility of society seeking a path of economic and social development in which human needs determine economic priorities.

What is horribly ironic about this situation is the the Western countries are offering their model of economic organization as the solution to Russia’s problems. The realist analysts, of course, know perfectly well that it is no such thing. They are interested only in extending Western domination further eastward. And they offer their experience as a model for others only to beguile. But the idea that “the transition to democracy”, as the installation of market rules is often called, is important in the world battle for public opinion. It has helped to justify and sustain the policies which the West has been pursuing toward the countries of the CIS.

The Western countries themselves, however, are locked in an intractable economic crisis. Beginning in the early 1970s, profits fell, production faltered, long-term unemployment began to rise and standards of living began to fall. There were, of course, the ups and downs of the business cycle. But what was important was the trend. The trend of GDP growth in the major Western countries has been downward since the major recession of 1973-1975. In the United States, for instance, the rate of growth fell from about 4 per cent per year in the 1950s and the 1960s, to 2.9 per cent in the 1970s and then to about 2.4 per cent in the 1980s. Current projections for growth are even lower.

The situation was not very different in other Western countries. Growth was somewhat faster, but unemployment was significantly higher. The current rates of unemployment in Western Europe average about 11 per cent, and there is more unemployment hidden in the statistics as a result of various government pseudo employment plans.

Both Western Europe and North America have experienced a prolonged economic stagnation. And capitalist economies cannot sustain employment and living standards without relatively rapid growth. In the 25 years after the second world war, most Western countries experienced rapid growth, on the order of 4 and 5 per cent per year. It was that growth which made it possible to maintain high levels of employment, the rise in wages and the advance of living standards. And there is no doubt that, in the postwar period, the Western countries made great advances. Large numbers of working class people were able to achieve decent living standards. The middle and upper classes prospered, indeed, many of them reached a standard of living which can only be called luxurious.

The postwar honeymoon, however, is clearly over. The great “capitalist revolution” touted by the Rockefellers is no more. “Humanized capitalism” is no more. Declining growth has now returned us to the age of “le capitalisme sauvage”. It has triggered economic and social crisis in every Western country. It is undermining the principal achievements of the postwar period. In Europe, the Welfare state has been under attack for fifteen years by those who would shift the burden of crisis onto the shoulders of the less fortunate. In the United States, a relatively meager “social net” to protect the poor is now being shredded by the aggressive and ignorant defenders of corporate interests, who also want to be sure that those who can least afford it bear the brunt of the system’s crisis of stagnation.

The West, then, is itself locked in crisis. This is not a transient crisis or a “long cycle”, as academic apologists would have it. It is a systemic crisis. The market system can no longer produce anything like prosperity. The markets which drove the capitalist economy in the postwar period, automobiles, consumer durables, construction, etc. are all saturated, as sheaves of government statistics in every country demonstrate. The system has not found new markets which could create an equivalent wave of prosperity. Moreover, the acceleration of technical progress in recent years has begun to eliminate jobs everywhere at a staggering rate. There is no possible way of compensating for its effect, for creating new employment in sufficient quantity and at high wage levels.

Government and industry leaders in the West are fully aware of the situation in one sense. They know what the statistics are. They know what the problems are. But they are not able to see that the source of the problem is the fact that, having achieved very high levels of production, income and wealth, the present capitalist system has nowhere to go. Half-way solutions could be found, but Western leaders are unwilling to make the political concessions which they would require. In particular, the large concentrations of capital in Western countries are led by people who are constitutionally incapable of seeing that something fundamental is wrong. That would require them to agree to the curtailing of their power.

Therefore, the leaders of government and industry drive blindly on, not wishing to see, not prepared to accept policies that might set the present system on a path of transition to some more rational and more human way of organizing economic life. It is this blindness, grounded in confusion and fear, which has clouded the ability of Western leaders to think clearly about the risks of extending NATO into Eastern Europe. The Western system is experiencing a profound economic, social and political crisis. And Western leaders apparently see the exploitation of the East as the only large-scale project available which might stimulate growth, especially in Western Europe.

They are therefore prepared to risk a great deal for it. The question is: will the world accept the risks of East-West conflict and nuclear war in order to lock into one region economic arrangements which are already collapsing elsewhere?


1. DEFENSE NEWS, 25 November 1995; see also Gary Wilson, “Anti-War Activists Demand: No More US Troops to the Balkans”, Workers World News Service, December 7, 1995.
2. See for instance: “NATO Expansion: Flirting with Disaster”, THE DEFENSE MONITOR, November/December 1995, Center for Defense Information, Washington, D.C.
3. Senator Richard Lugar, “NATO: Out of Area or Out of Business”, Remarks Delivered to the Open Forum of the US State Department, August 2, 1993, Washington, D.C.
4. “Changing Nature of NATO”, INTELLIGENCE DIGEST, 16 October 1992.
5. THE DEFENSE MONITOR, loc. cit., page 2.
6. “Bonn’s Balkans-to-Tehran Policy”, INTELLIGENCE DIGEST, 11 – 25 August 1995.
7. Richard Holbrooke, “America, A European Power”, FOREIGN AFFAIRS, March/April l995, page 39.
8. The crucial point is that Eastern Europe and the countries of the former USSR are to adopt the institutions prevailing in Western Europe, i.e., capitalism and parliamentary democracy.
9. Holbrooke, loc. cit., page 43.
10. See National Security Decision Directive, “United States Policy toward Yugoslavia”, Secret Sensitive, (declassified), The White House, Washington D.C., March 14, 1984.
11. Joan Hoey,”The U.S.’Great Game’ in Bosnia”, THE NATION, January 30, 1995.
12. Jacob Heilbrunn e Michael Lind, “The Third American Empire”, THE NEW YORK TIMES, January 2, 1996.
13. “The Commercial Factor Behind NATO’s Extended Remit”, INTELLIGENCE DIGEST, May 29, 1992.
14. Idem.
15. Senator Bill Bradley, “Eurasia Letter: A Misguided Russia Policy”, FOREIGN POLICY, Winter 1995-1996, page 89.
16. Ibid. page 93.
17. Draft Special Report of the Working Group on NATO Enlargement, May 1995.
18. Quoted in THE DEFENSE MONITOR, loc. cit., page 5.
19. Dr. Sergei Rogov, Director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of USA and Canada Studies, quoted in DEFENSE MONITOR, loc. cit. page 4.

This paper was presented by the late Sean Gervasi at the Conference on the Enlargement of NATO in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean, Prague, 13-14 January 1996. It was published on Global Research, as part of first articles, when the site was launched on September 9, 2001. Sean Gervasi had tremendous foresight. He understood the process of NATO enlargement several years before it actually unfolded into a formidable military force. He has also predicted the breakup of Yugoslavia as part of a US-NATO project.

Global Research | January 14, 1996

What’s ahead for Afghanistan

CNTV | August 24, 2010

U.S. Military Intervention in Africa

The New Blueprint for Global Domination

The United States’ intervention in Africa is driven by America’s desire to secure valuable natural resources and political influence that will ensure the longevity of America’s capitalist system, military industrial complex, and global economic superiority – achieved through the financial and physical control of raw material exports. While America’s prosperity may be waning due to a number of current factors, policy makers are bent on trying to preserve America’s global domination and will pursue policy objectives regardless of the downturn in the economy at large.

The U.S. has a long history of foreign intervention and long ago perfected the art of gaining access to other countries’ natural, human, and capital resource markets through the use of foreign trade policy initiatives, international law, diplomacy, and, when all else fails, military intervention. Typically and historically, diplomatic efforts have largely been sufficient for the U.S. to establish itself as a player in other nations’ politics and economies. While U.S. intervention in Africa is nothing new, the way the U.S. is going about the intervention features a new method that is being implemented across the globe.

The U.S. has followed a great deal of its diplomatic interventions with the establishment of extensive networks of foreign military posts – designed to influence other nations and protect what are defined as U.S. strategic national interests. This global reach is evidenced by an extensive network of over 737 military installations [1] all around the globe, from Ecuador to Uzbekistan, Colombia to Korea. The model for successfully accessing these nations and their critical financial and commodities markets is changing, however, particularly as it relates to renewed intervention in Africa. The new intervention is directly linked to two factors: the fast paced and heated battle with rivals China and Russia over their access to key natural resources, and the U.S.’ declining ability to manage a bloated international network of overseas military outposts.

I. Resources Rivalry

Access to natural resources – particularly oil and rare earth elements – is critical for the U.S. to remain a dominant industrial and military power, especially since the U.S. has experienced a decline in natural resource production while China’s production and foreign access to strategic materials has only increased. A sustained increase in oil imports has been underway since domestic U.S. oil production peaked in the 1970s, with oil imports surpassing domestic production in the early 1990s. Strategic metals, such as the titanium used in military aircraft, and rare earth elements used in missile guidance systems are increasingly produced by China or under the control of Chinese companies. The issue is of such importance that 2009 saw the creation of the annual Strategic Metals Conference, a forum designed to address concerns related to US access to metals with important industrial and military uses. The second annual conference, held in Cleveland, Ohio in January 2010, saw dozens of engineers and military personnel express heightened concern over China’s near monopoly over rare earth metals. [2] China controls around 95% of the world’s rare earth output and has decided to restrict the export of these metals, leaving international consumers short by approximately 20,000 tons in 2010. [3]

China’s rapidly developing economy, recently over taking Japan as the world’s second largest, continues to log nine to ten percent annual growth in Gross Domestic Product, and is fueled by a rapidly growing middle class as well as new export markets around the world. The demand for raw materials has led to new policy initiatives in which Africa has taken center stage for Chinese investment. China has gained access to Africa by, in large part, offering favorable aid packages to several nations which include loans, debt forgiveness, and job training. [4] In contrast to Western aid packages, Chinese aid has few if any strings attached.

China’s platform for developing trade with and providing aid to Africa was of such importance that in October 2000, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was launched. Fifty African nations participate in the forum which serves as the foundation for building bridges of economic trade as well as political and cultural exchange. [5] The forum, and indeed China’s Africa strategy as a whole, has been so successful that Africans view China as an equal partner in trade and development, validating the politically and culturally significant “South-South” economic alliance that the FOCAC maintains is at the foundation of its engagement with Africa. This plays on the historical disparities that Western powers created and exploited in their former “North-South” colonial relationships with Africa and has been a key factor in developing strong bonds and a highly favorable opinion of China among Africans. Survey data indicates that most Africans share the view of Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade when he says:

“China’s approach to our needs is simply better adapted than the slow and sometimes patronizing post-colonial approach of European investors, donor organizations and nongovernmental organizations. In fact, the Chinese model for stimulating rapid economic development has much to teach Africa. With direct aid, credit lines and reasonable contracts, China has helped African nations build infrastructure projects in record time—bridges, roads, schools, hospitals, dams, legislative buildings, stadiums and airports. In many African nations, including Senegal, improvements in infrastructure have played important roles in stimulating economic growth.”

“It is a telling sign of the post-colonial mindset that some donor organizations in the West dismiss the trade agreements between Chinese banks and African states that produce these vital improvements—as though Africa was naive enough to just offload its precious natural resources at bargain prices to obtain a commitment for another stadium or state house.” [6]

In fact, opinion polls clearly reveal that Africans see Chinese influence as being far more positive than U.S. influence. [7] China has clearly gained a substantive advantage in working with dozens of African nations as U.S. influence continues to wane.

Russia has also taken a renewed interest in Africa, reminiscent to some in the U.S. media as a revision of the Soviet Union’s Africa Strategy in which the Soviet Union created numerous “Soviet Treaties of Friendship and Cooperation” as a counterweight to Western capitalism and institutions like the United States Agency for International Development. [8] Russian President Medvedev, and Prime Minister Putin have been making their rounds in Africa with “legions of Russian businessmen, targeting diamonds, oil, gas, and uranium” and have been establishing commodities production agreements with several nations. [9] Putin’s push to restore Russia’s international stature, power, and prestige has led Russia to purchase in excess of $5 billion of African assets between 2000 and 2007. [10] Russia’s investments in and trade with Africa are quite small when compared with both the U.S. and China. Still, Russia has made an increase in trade and the acquisition of African raw materials a geostrategic imperative.

Chinese and Russian influence is quickly spreading and is seen in many cases as a viable and preferable alternative to the Western model which, particularly considering Africa’s colonial past, is seen to attach unfavorable conditions to aid and development that are designed to enrich the West at the expense of the people of Africa. Africans have in effect identified what sociologist Johan Galtung considers to be a “disharmony of interests” that the U.S. is trying to manage through new diplomatic efforts. The U.S. continues to lose influence in Africa to China and Russia, both of which are increasing their influence at a steady clip, and continues to be branded as imperialist in the eyes of Africans. The U.S. is well aware that it needs to improve its image in Africa in order to realize its strategic goals.

II. The Weight of Empire

While there is no reliable data on the precise cost of maintaining the United States’ network of over 700 military bases, it is estimated that the cost is $250 billion per year. [11] This is 38% of the entire disclosed 2010 budget for the Department of Defense of $663.7 billion. The cost includes facilities, staff, weapons, munitions, equipment, food, fuel, water, and everything else required to operate military installations.

In 2004, then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld stated that the U.S global military presence had to change and adapt to the post-cold war world. The post-cold war world did not require large garrisons of heavy armor throughout the European theater – garrisons stocked with enough soldiers and armament to challenge the massive Soviet military and Warsaw Pact nations on the borders of Eastern and Western Europe. The new military would be lighter, faster, rely more on light infantry and special-forces, and would used to fight multiple smaller scale wars across the globe in what was branded as an eternal Global War on Terror (GWOT). In Rumsfeld’s opinion, the U.S. would save up to $6 billion of its annual operating budget by closing (or realigning) 100 to 150 foreign and domestic bases [12] and save $12 billion by closing 200 to 300 bases. [13] Clearly, the cost of maintaining America’s legions was central to the Rumsfeld’s transformation initiative and to the U.S. military’s new role.

This military transformation would reduce the number of heavy garrisons abroad and would increasingly rely on pre-positioned war materials managed by smaller staffs at foreign military installations. These military installations would be available for a massive influx of U.S. troops if needed. Bilateral treaties and Status of Forces Agreements created by the Department of Defense and host nations would ensure that these installations would be available, to the extent required, to the American military and would ensure that the American military could operate freely with few constraints on its activities, legal or otherwise.

In the case of Camp Lemonier in Djibouti, a key military outpost and strategically important piece of real-estate in the Horn of Africa, precisely where the Red Sea meets the Gulf of Aden, the United States government entered into an agreement [14] with the government of Djibouti that has several striking features:

· U.S. military personnel have diplomatic immunity
· The United States has sole jurisdiction over the criminal acts of its personnel
· U.S. personnel may carry arms in the Republic of Djibouti
· The U.S. may import any materials and equipment it requires into the Republic of Djibouti
· No claims may be brought against the U.S. for damage to property or loss of life
· Aircraft, vessels, and vehicles may enter, exit, and move freely throughout the Republic of Djibouti.

Such an agreement allows the U.S. to maintain a small permanent presence in Djibouti, but staff and stock up with as many military personnel and weapons as it deems fit for any particular operation inside or outside of Africa as needed. Additionally, the agreement gives the U.S. the flexibility it wants to operate freely without interference from or liability to the people and government of Djibouti.

III. The New Model – AFRICOM

With all of the concern over U.S. access to key natural resources, it is hardly a surprise that United States conceived of and finally launched United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) in 2007. The unveiling AFRICOM was done under the auspices of bringing peace, security, democracy, and economic growth to Africans. The altruistic rationale for the creation of a new military command was belied by the fact that from the start it was acknowledged that AFRICOM was a “combatant” command created in response to Africa’s growing strategic importance to the United States; namely, “the size of its population, its natural resource wealth, its potential”. [15]

Africans were aware of U.S. described strategic national interests in their oil and gas fields, and raw materials long before most Americans were had any idea that renewed intervention in Africa was being planned. In November 2002, the U.S. based Corporate Council on Africa held a conference on African oil and gas in Houston, Texas. The conference, sponsored by ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco among others, was opened by United States Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Walter Kansteiner. Mr. Kansteiner previously stated that, “African oil is of strategic national interest to us and it will increase and become more important as we go forward,” while on a visit to Nigeria. [16] In fact, President Fradique de Menezes of Sao Tome and Principe said at that time that he had reached agreement with the United States for establishment of a U.S. naval base there, the purpose of which was to safeguard U.S. oil interests. [17] The U.S. Navy has in fact proceeded with its basing plans in Sao Tome and recently reported on its activities in that nation on its website in July, 2010. [18] Since the establishment of AFRICOM, numerous training exercises have been carried out in Africa by U.S. military forces, and basing agreements have been worked out with several African partners across the continent – even in the face of strong dissent from the citizens of several countries. The U.S. has been able to create these relationships through the careful structuring of its operations, size and make-up of its staff, and public relations efforts.

The structuring of AFRICOM was a critical component in making AFRICOM palatable to Africans. After several nations objected to the presence of a physical headquarters in Africa, AFRICOM’s commander, General William E. Ward, went on record several times to say that a physical command presence was not needed in Africa (even though the U.S. initially did try quite hard but unconvincingly to establish a permanent headquarters there). The command is currently based in Stuttgart, Germany, and will remain there for the foreseeable future, mainly in deference to African objections.

AFRICOM’s size was also an important factor. It has no large garrisons, no sizeable staff beyond the headquarters in Germany and the small number of forces and civilian support personnel based at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti as part of Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), and no large armory to sustain division or brigade sized operations. The small size and staff of U.S. basing operations like CJTF-HOA is the new model for U.S. foreign intervention. Instead of large garrisons, the U.S. has is created a series of Forward Operating Locations (FOLs). FOLs are “smaller, cheaper, and can thus be more plentiful. In short, the FOL can lie in wait with a low carrying cost until a crisis arrives, at which point it can be quickly expanded to rise to whatever the occasion demands.” [19] Arrangements have been made with several countries, north, south, east, and west, including Gabon, Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Tunisia, Namibia, Sao Tome, Senegal, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Zambia. [20]

AFRICOM’s staffing structure is a military-civilian hybrid for two reasons: to convey the message that the combatant command does not have an exclusive military purpose, and to gain influence over African nations’ domestic and foreign policies. AFRICOM has a civilian deputy commander and a large civilian staff, in part made up of U.S. State Department personnel. These civilian personnel include foreign policy advisors from the U.S. Bureau of African Affairs, humanitarian assistance advisors from the U.S. Agency for International Development, as well as advisors from the U.S. Department of Treasury and the Department of Homeland Security. [21] Africa’s burgeoning relationships with China are seen as undermining Western “efforts to bolster good governance, improve respect for human rights, and reduce corruption,” [22] hence the need for civilian subject matter expertise to help the Africans manage their civil affairs and security.

U.S. officials have long been cognizant of African hostility to any efforts that could be perceived as neo-colonialist and imperialist. A number of missteps to rectify were (and continue to be) identified as the new command took shape. Several contradictory statements were made with respect to AFRICOM’s role, whether with respect to terrorism, natural resources, China, or the militarization of the continent. Even the timing of the command’s creation was criticized, it being created during a dramatically deteriorating time of war in Iraq. The actions of the U.S. government sent “mixed signals” [23] and fueled anti-Americanism among the citizens that would eventually become unwilling hosts of American forces. To overcome poor public relations, the command built several activities into the structure of AFRICOM, to include the building of schools in poor villages, air and sea port construction projects, the distribution of medicine and textbooks to children, military-to-military training programs, and legal operational support. Military personnel have also taken a more deferential tone in speaking about the way AFRICOM interfaces with African nations. Vice Admiral Robert T. Moeller explained: “We do not lead or create policy . . . . Our programs are designed to respond to what our African partners have asked us to do.” [24]

Public relations efforts have been of such importance to the military, the U.S. Army War College published a research paper in March 2008, entitled “Combating African Questions about the Legitimacy of AFRICOM”. The paper expressed Africa’s strategic importance to the United States, yet offense that the creation of AFRICOM prompted a “hostile” response from African leaders. [25] It urged the U.S. to learn more about African institutions and to engage them rather than ignore them. It also advocated that U.S. personnel gain a stronger understanding of Africa’s colonial past while pushing for African nations to become more multilateral in working towards a common goal. It called for the increased use of “soft power that could be leverage by the U.S. Department of State in winning the public relations fight for Africa. [26]

AFRICOM has certainly run into a number of roadblocks but it appears that the new command will flourish as a result of intensive diplomatic and public relations efforts by the United States government. The structure and domestic operations of AFRICOM also makes it more palatable to African leaders who can more easily claim that they have a harmony rather than a disharmony of interests with the U.S. while the U.S. is building roads, training military forces, and passing out textbooks to children. A leaner, smaller, less intrusive, and more culturally engaged network of military outposts is America’s new blueprint for foreign intervention and global domination.

Paul C. Wright is an attorney, business consultant, and legal researcher who has practiced both military and civil law. His legal practice areas have included criminal, international, insurance, and consumer law.


[1] Johnson, Chalmers, “737 U.S. Military Bases = Global Empire,” Global Research , March 21, 2009. Mr. Johnson continues: “The Pentagon continues to omit from its accounts most of the $5 billion worth of military and espionage installations in Britain, which have long been conveniently disguised as Royal Air Force bases. If there were an honest count, the actual size of our military empire would probably top 1,000 different bases overseas, but no one — possibly not even the Pentagon — knows the exact number for sure.”
[2] Schoenberger, Robert, “Developing a U.S. supply of strategic metals is on the agenda at Cleveland Conference, The Plain Dealer , February 1, 2010,
[3] Zhang, Yajun, Vincent, Lee, and Jung-Ah, Lee, “China Dangles Rare-Earth Resources to Investors, The Wall Street Journal , August 16, 2010,
[4] In Angola, for example, China secured future oil production rights by offering $2 billion in loans “for Chinese companies to build railroads, schools, roads, hospitals, bridges, and offices; lay a fiber-optic netword; and train Angolan telecommunications workers.” Hanson, Stephanie, “China, Africa, and Oil,” Council on Foreign Relations , June 6, 2008,
[5] Forum on China-Africa Cooperation,
[6] Cooke, Jennifer G., “China’s Soft Power in Africa and its Implications for the United States,” p.31,
[7] Ibid, p. 41
[8] Cohen, Ariel, “Russia’s New Scramble for Africa – Moscow tries to rebuild its sphere of influence on the African continent,” The Wall Street Journal , July 2, 2009,
[9] Ibid
[10] Matthews, Owen, “Racing for New Riches – Russian and Chinese investors are battling for African resources to fuel their growing empires,” Newsweek , November 8, 2007,
[11] Feffer, John, “How Much Does the U.S. Empire Cost?” Huffington Post , July 14, 2009,
[12] Colonel Schwalbe, Stephen, “Overseas Military Base Closures,” Air & Space Power Journal , January 4, 2005,
[13] Vine, David, “Too Many Overseas Bases,” Foreign Policy In Focus , February 25, 2009,
[14] “Agreement Between The Government Of The United States Of America And The Government Of The Republic Of Djibouti On Access To And Use Of Facilities In The Republic Of Djibouti,” February 19, 2003,
[15] See remarks of Ms. Theresa M. Whelan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) for African Affairs, “Foreign Press Center Briefing on U.S. To Establish New U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM),” US Fed News Service, Including US State News , Washington D.C., Feb 9, 2007. Ms. Whelan foreshadowed the structure of national vertical integration into the AFRICOM framework by stating that “AFRICOM isn’t going to be used to protect natural resources in Africa. To the extent that AFRICOM through its interaction with other African countries and through whatever help we can provide in terms of developing their capacities to promote security in their own country and in the region, if they will be able to protect their natural resources more effectively, then that will be a good thing.”
[16] Akosah-Sarpong, Kofi, “Touting West African Oil In The U.S.,” Modern Ghana , November 10, 2002,
[17] Ibid. See also, “US naval base to protect Sao Tome oil,” BBC News , August 22, 2002, in which President Menendez revealed the new model for U.S. military outposts abroad. He stated, “It is not really a military base on our territory, but rather a support port for aircraft, warships and patrol ships so that they can come to this port and stay for some time.”
[18] Kennon, Yan, “NMCB 7 Detail Deploys to Sao Tome in Support of Exercise West Africa Training Cruise,” , July 27, 2010,
[19] Fillingham, Zachary, “U.S. military bases: a global footprint,” Geopolitical Monitor , December 9, 2009,
[20] Volman, Daniel, “Why America wants military HQ in Africa,” New African , London: January 2008, Iss. 469 (ProQuest)
[21] Schaefer, Brett D. and Eaglen, Mackenzie M., “U.S. Africa Command: Challenges and Opportunities,” Backgrounder , The Heritage Foundation, p.4, November 19, 2008
[22] Ibid, p.7
[23] Stevenson, Jonathon, “The U.S. Navy: Into Africa,” Naval War College Review , Washington: Winter 2009, Vol 62, Iss.1 (ProQuest)
[24] “AFRICOM Helps Nations Build Secure Future,” US Fed News Service, Including US State News , Washington D.C., Apr 9, 2010
[25] Dr. Putman, Diana B., “Combating African Questions about the Legitimacy of AFRICOM,” U.S. Army War College , March 19, 2008, pp. 1-2
[26] Ibid, p. 21

Global Research | August 20, 2010


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