Monday, February 18, 2008

Mughniyeh's Death: Keystone Kops in Damascus

A must read commentary from Pajamas Media:

There is something deeply satisfying about the flawlessly executed assassination of Islamofascist terror master Imad Mughniyeh, writes Youssef Ibrahim. “Sometimes a single bullet, or mini-bomb, blazes a path to clarity. This upset shook a Syrian edifice of invulnerable macho terror, showing a way to widen a breach.”

Read more ....

My Comment: If history has taught us anything, by not responding against one enemies will only embolden them. The way this operation was done gives everyone pause.

U.S. And EU Powers Recognize Kosovo -- Update Of News

From Yahoo News:

PRISTINA, Serbia (Reuters) - Europe's biggest states and the United States said on Monday they were recognizing Kosovo, a day after it seceded from Serbia.

Paris was first to announce its move after a European Union foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels, and Britain, Germany and Italy followed immediately.

Then Washington said the words Kosovo's 2 million Albanians have long dreamed of.

"The United States has today formally recognized Kosovo as a sovereign and independent state. We congratulate the people of Kosovo on this historic occasion," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a statement.

Read more ....

More News reports:
Separatists Watch Kosovo Gain Independence -- Telegraph

Hold the Fireworks: Kosovo Not Really Independent -- Pajamas Media

Britain And US Join Rush To Recognise Kosovo -- Times Online

Fireworks Exploded. Horns Were Sounded. And So The Nation Of Kosovo Was Created -- Independent

US And EU Powers To Recognise Kosovan Statehood -- Guardian

Bush: ‘The Kosovars Are Now Independent’ -- MSNBC

U.S. And Most Of The EU Recognize Kosovo -- International Herald Tribune

Recognition For New Kosovo Grows -- BBC News

My Comment: What may help Kosovo from falling into an endless civil war with its Serb citizens and Serb neighbors is the presence of Nato and its arm forces in the region. But relying on this arm presence is not the long term solution to developing trust and cooperation with your opposite numbers.

Kosovo is independent today .... yes. But to maintain this independence, a long term solution will need to be found with the Serbs. Failure to do so will ...... and declaring unilateral independence is one way to do this .... will only foster animosity and distrust.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Can Peace Be Restored In Kenya?

New Constitution Could End Violence -- Washington Times

Kenyan Rivals Agree to Write New Constitution as Part of Deal -- FOX News

Kenya Political Rivals To Review Vote -- Yahoo News

Kenyans To Review Disputed Poll -- BBC News

Agreement Signed To End Kenyan Violence -- CBS News

Kenyan Politicians Discuss Power-Sharing -- ABC News

Kenyan Rivals Agree To Independent Review Of Disputed Poll -- Guardian

Kenya Peace Talks Move Forward -- CNN

Kenya Political Rivals to Review Vote -- San Francisco Chronicle

Kenya Rivals Sign Agreement, Talks Will Continue -- MSNBC

Rape Used As Weapon In Kenya’s Ethnic Clashes -- MSNBC

Rice To Visit Strife-Torn Kenya -- LA Times

Signs In Kenya Of A Land Redrawn By Ethnicity -- International Herald Tribune

My Comment: Everyone is trying. But unfortunately too much blood has been spilled and ethnic divisions are now forming. Even if violence is stopped in its tracks completely today, it is going tol take a few generations to forget what happened last month.

Iraq War Updates -- February 15, 2008

Iraq War News Updates:
Surge General Accuses Tehran Of Backing Militias To Weaken Iraq -- Times Online

Ahmadinejad Announces Landmark Visit To Iraq -- Times Online

Iranian President To Make First Iraq Visit -- Telegraph

Iran Postpones Iraq Security Talks With U.S. -- MSNBC

Four Killed In Suicide Bombing At Iraqi Mosque -- Yahoo News

Iraq Masses Security Forces For Shiite Festival -- Yahoo News

Is The US Really Bringing Stability To Baghdad? -- Independent

The Final Mission, Part III -- Middle East Journal

Inside Iraqi Politics – Part 3. Examining The Legislative Branch -- Long war Journal

Despite Raw Sewage In the Streets, U.S. Troops See Progress In Their Baghdad Neighborhood -- U.S. News And World Report

The Key To Iraqi Reconciliation -- Belmont Club

Iraqis Pass Law To Hold Key Oct. 1 Elections -- MSNBC

Iraqi Lawmakers Pass 3 Key Bills -- LA Times

Iraq Progress Update -- Strata-Sphere

Grisly Reports On al Qaeda -- Washington Times

Will Contractors Lose Iraq Immunity? -- Time Magazine

Jordan Slaps Visa Restrictions On Iraqis -- MSNBC

Marines Yield Control Of Town To Iraqis -- LA Times

Sunni Anger In Iraqi Province -- LA Times

U.S. Military: Al Qaeda In Iraq Seeks Female Patients As Bombers -- CNN

Special Groups Behind Sadr City Bombing -- Long War Journal

The Worst Government Money Can Buy -- Strategy Page

U.N. Seeks Help For 'Desperate' Iraqi Refugees -- CNN

Chad Leader Declares 15-Day State Of Emergency


N'DJAMENA, Chad - Chad's president declared a nationwide state of emergency Thursday, telling citizens that tightened controls are needed to restore order after recent rebel attacks.

In a speech broadcast on national radio and television, President Idriss Deby said he signed a decree increasing the government's powers for 15 days, as provided for in Chad's constitution.

Deby said the decree instituted "measures important and urgent to maintain order, guarantee stability and assure the good functioning of the state."

Read more ....

My Comment: What I find interesting about this article is that with the exception of Sudan, all of Chad's neighbors as well as the West have no interest for the rebels to succeed. They are also backing up their rhetoric by providing the necessary military support for the Chad government to succeed. The experience of Sudan's involvement with the genocide in Darfur has clearly given everyone in the region a bad taste in their mouths.

Blowback From The Assassination Of Imad Mughniyeh

Summary Of News Reports:

Hezbollah Vows To Hit Back -- Washington Times

Hizbollah's 'Open War' Threat To Israel -- The Telegraph

Hezbollah Threatens Attacks On Israeli Targets -- International Herald Tribune

Hizbullah Chief Mourned In Beirut -- Video From The Guardian

Mughniyeh Was in Midst of Planning Mass Terror Attack -- Israel National News

Killing Of Hezbollah Operative Costly For Syria -- MSNBC

Syria 'To Name Mughniyeh Killer' -- BBC News

Iran, Syria Probe Mughniyeh Killing -- Yahoo News

Mughniyah's Killing Offers Lessons For The U.S. -- MSNBC

Imad Mugniyah, Iran and al Qaeda -- National Review

Mughnieh Killing Exposes Hizbullah -- From Beirut To The Beltway

A Fitting Death For Terrorist Imad Mughniyeh -- Telegraph

Hezbollah Appoints Successor To Slain Commander -- Reuters

Mugniyah's Mother Pleased All Her Sons Died In Name Of Jihad -- Ynet News

My Comment: The death of Imad Mughniyeh, after being free to do anything that he wanted to do for the past 25 years, is probably a big shock for Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran. There is no immunity from the actions that you are responsible for, and that while leaders in the West, Israel, and opponents to people like Imad Mughniyeh are always on guard for terrorist attacks, it appears that on the opposite side these leaders must sometimes be reminded that they are also not immune.

Kosovo Independence -- A New War In Europe?

Summary Of News On Kosovo:

Serbia Braces For New Nation -- Washington Times

Kosovo Vow As Independence Looms -- BBC News

Serbian President Tadic Vows To Preserve Kosovo -- Reuters

Serbia To Act Against Kosovo -- LA Times

Kosovo Breakaway Illegal, Says Putin -- Video From The Guardian

Kosovo A Frustration For Russia -- LA Times

On The Road To A Lawful Kosovo: Evictions -- International Herald Tribune

War’s Dead Haunt Both Sides In Kosovo -- MSNBC

Kosovo: Born Under A Bad Sign -- Analysis From The Financial Times

My Comment: I can appreciate and respect a people who wish to be independent. A majority of the population in Kosovo wants this independence, and if we are a people that respects democracy and freedom we must also respect this desire among the Kosovars for their own independent country.

Unfortunately, this pathway to independence is not going to give a positive outcome. The history of the Balkans is filled with blood and conflict. Instead of going through a slow and steady pace that would help future generations to adjust to this new situation, this rush to be independent is giving the impression (probably correct) that minority opinions and recommendations will be ignored .... and also history be damned.

Santayana is usually correct .... ignore the past and be prepared to repeat it.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Burmese Rebel Leader Is Shot Dead

From The BBC:

The secretary general of Burma's largest rebel group, the Karen National Union, has been killed.

Pado Mahn Shar, who was in his sixties, was shot at his home in the Thai border town of Mae Sot, his family said.

He was targetted by two men in a pick-up truck, while sitting on the veranda of his home. He died instantly.

The KNU and its military wing, the Karen National Liberation Army, have spent nearly 60 years fighting the Burmese government.

Read more ....

My Comment: A conflict that has been going on since the end of the second world war .... it appears that this war is on its last legs.

Mughniyeh Assassination: Another Setback For Iran's Intelligence Agency

A Must Read Analysis From Pajamas media:

The assassination of Imad Mughniyeh, Iran’s top man in Syria and Lebanon, should set off alarm bells in Tehran. His assassination, according to Iranian media sources, took place in the Kafarsoose neighborhood of Damascus, close to an Iranian school and the headquarters of the Syrian Mukhabarat (intelligence agency). At first glance, the elimination of such a highly valuable Iranian asset, under the very noses of the Syrians, could be taken as a sign that Western intelligence agencies have managed to infiltrate the once seemingly impenetrable walls of Iran’s intelligence operations abroad.

To say that Mughniyeh was a sought-after man would be an understatement. He had been on U.S. and Israeli wanted lists since the early 80s for having participated in operations such as the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847, during which U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem was killed, as well as the 1994 AMIA bombing in Argentina, which killed 85 people.

Read more ....

My Comment: When I first heard of this assassination, I instinctively thought of Israel. But the more that I read about him, the more I realized that his enemies are many. Israel, The United States, France, Iraqi's with grudges against Syrians and Hezbollah, numerous Lebanese groups, and .... well .... you get the picture.

One thing that is clear is that after Afghanistan and Iraq, Intelligence services are now focusing their enormous resources on Iran, Syria, and their allies. Michael Leeden is right in his comment that intelligence estimates on Iran are changing, and the reason why is probably because their information is becoming more reliable and accurate.

If that is the case, opportunities to liquidate terror cell leaders like Imad Mughniyeh must now be starting to present themselves. If this is the case, expect more strikes against these individuals in the next few months.

President Bush Defends US Record On Darfur

From BBC News:

US President George W Bush has defended his decision not to send troops to the Sudanese region of Darfur, despite what he calls a genocide taking place there.

He called it a "seminal decision" not to intervene with force, taken partly out of the desire not to send US troops into another Muslim country.

Mr Bush was speaking to BBC World News America before flying to Africa.

Read more ....

In Full: George W Bush's BBC Interview

My Comment: The prospect of U.S. military forces invading and occupying another Muslim country is zero. I find it amazing that the same people who are voracious in their protests against American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan are on the same page advocating American military intervention in Darfur.

When it comes to foreign affairs, one of America's greatest weakness has been its inconsistency. On the one hand the U.S. has been supportive of democracy, on the other they have always turned a blind eye to dictatorships. President George Bush knows that an active involvement in Darfur will be very bloody ..... maybe in the long run even more bloodier than Afghanistan ..... and will take decades to come to some sort of stability. The President knows that the will among the American people is not there. As for other Western countries, I believe that I can say with confidence that the will to stick with this conflict for the long term is even less.

Somalia Is 'The Forgotten Crisis'

From The BBC:

The lives of up to 15,000 children are at risk in Somalia unless emergency aid arrives in the next two weeks, the UN children's agency, Unicef, has warned.

"It is the forgotten crisis," Unicef's Christian Balslev-Olesen told the BBC, saying Somalia was the world's worst place for children.

Without extra funding, emergency feeding programmes could be closed down next month, he warned.

He said fighting had created "a time-bomb" of people living in camps.

Read more ....

My Comment: The last time Western forces were in Somalia we had the "Blackhawk Down" episode. After Afghanistan and Iraq, there is little if any will in the West to be actively involved in this conflict. Will Africa become involved .... using half measures they will publicly talk about their commitment, but on the ground this participation will be very limited. Africa has enough problems that have the potential to make Somalia just a minor family dispute.

US Intel Links Iran With Nuke Bomb Bid

From Yahoo News:

VIENNA, Austria - The U.S. has recently shared sensitive information with the International Atomic Energy Agency on key aspects of Iran's nuclear program that Washington says shows Tehran was directly engaged in trying to make an atomic weapon, diplomats told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The diplomats said Washington also gave the IAEA permission to confront Iran with at least some of the evidence in an attempt to pry details out of the Islamic republic on the activities, as part of the U.N. nuclear watchdog's attempts to investigate Iran's suspicious nuclear past.

The decision by the U.S. administration to declassify its intelligence and indirectly share it with Iran through the IAEA was a clear reflection of Washington's' drive to pressure Iran into admitting that it had focused part of its nuclear efforts toward developing a weapons program.

Read more ....

My Comment: Why share classified information? Iran's leaders have not only made their intentions clear, but in fact have been very public about it. If you want to destroy Israel, I doubt that they are talking about a peaceful process. Since Israel is too strong to me defeated using conventional military forces, the only way that it can be destroyed will be through the use of unconventional military forces .... i.e. nuclear.

The fact that they also provide financial and logistical support to organizations such as Hezbollah, elements of Al Qaeda, Hamas, and who knows who else .... it is very clear that their intentions are not peaceful nor accommodating.

‘Our Country Is In Trouble’ -- An Ex-bin Laden Hunter On Why The U.S. Hasn't Beaten Al Qaeda.

From Newsweek:

Michael Scheuer is a worried man—and an angry one. He's worried by what he regards as the United States's failure to devise a successful strategy against Osama bin Laden and angered by what he sees as the political timidity behind that failure. Scheuer has a claim to be heard. He was a CIA officer for almost 20 years. In the 1980s he was involved in the arming of the Afghan mujahedin against the Soviets. For much of the 1990s he ran the team hunting for Osama bin Laden. In 2004 he quit the CIA to write a book titled "Imperial Hubris," an account of years of Western failure to take seriously the growing threat of Islamist terrorism. Now Scheuer has written a new book, "Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam After Iraq." He spoke with NEWSWEEK'S John Barry about it.

Read more ....

My Comment: Since the seventies, after the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee headed by Senator Church had hearings on "illegal" conduct of the C.I.A. that resulted in the elimination of much of its traditional "body on the ground" intelligence work to favor more electronic and equipment surveillance, America's Intelligence capability has not been the same. While it is probably the best in monitoring leaders of state, it is clear that it is not effective against individuals and quasi organizations such as Al Qaeda.

To change the culture of America's Intelligence Organizations will, in my opinion, only come about through an act of god. Since 911, there are two images that sum up to me on what is the best and worse of the CIA. The first one is right after 911, when CIA operatives were dropped into Afghanistan and were successful in organizing opposition groups in that country as well as coordinating U.S. air strikes against the Taliban and their Al Qaeda allies. The second one is learning about Valerie Plame and her involvement in sending her husband to Niger, and the fallout after that escapade. The clear nepotism and politicization of the CIA for all to see.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

UN: 13 Countries Use Child Soldiers

From Time Magazine:

The situation for children caught in conflict remains "grave and entirely unacceptable" because 58 groups in 13 countries still recruit and use child soldiers, according to a senior U.N. official.

Undersecretary-General Radhika Coomaraswamy told the U.N. Security Council Tuesday that in addition to being pressed into service, children in several countries are also killed, maimed, abducted and raped and denied access to humanitarian groups.

She cited a recent report from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the Security Council on Children and Armed Conflict that named 58 groups in 13 countries "responsible for the recruitment and use of child soldiers."

Read more ....

My Comment: A problem that has been with man since the beginning of recorded history. Young generations lost and destroyed to fulfill an adults view of what should be.

U.S. Military Aid To The Phillipines Found Effective In Separatist Clash

From The Washington Times:

U.S. military assistance to the Philippines has been effective in building counterinsurgency capacity, according to a U.S. military study, but critics say it has come at the price of a U.S. blind eye to extrajudicial killings there.

The government of the far-flung archipelago nation has been locked for decades in a conflict with separatist groups in the southern region of Mindanao, home to the Philippines" Muslim minority.

Peace deals and cease-fires were negotiated with the mainstream rebel groups in the 1990s, and Mindanao was granted autonomy in 1996, but more radical elements, some linked to al Qaeda and other Islamic terror groups, have since emerged.

Read more ....

My Comment: Conflict in the Philippines is nothing new. But the fact that the central government is starting to be successful against many of these insurgent groups is new. Concerns about extrajudicial killings is an area of concern. Unfortunately, civil war and conflict is never clean, and the prospect of brutality and war crimes being committed is almost a given.

Will the Philippines ever achieve a level of peace .... maybe ..... but like all low level conflicts this is a very long term prospect. The only hope is to minimize it and localize it to the regions that have always bred this level of violence.

Infamous Hezbollah Terrorist Imad Mughniyeh Assassinated By Car Bomb In Syria -- Roundup Of News

From Yahoo News:

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Imad Mughniyeh, the militant accused of attacks that left hundreds of Americans and Israelis dead, including a U.S. Navy diver during the infamous 1985 hijacking of a TWA jetliner, has been killed, Hezbollah said Wednesday.

The militant group blamed Israel for the assassination — a charge the Jewish state denied — but it did not say how he died. However, Middle East media reported he was killed in a recent car bomb in Syria.

His killing is a major blow to Hezbollah, which fought Israel in the summer 2006 war in Lebanon, and its Iranian and Syrian backers.

Read more ....

News Updates From Other News Services:
News FromThe BBC: Bomb Kills Top Hezbollah Leader

News From Haaretz: Hezbollah Deputy Leader Was Behind String Of Terror Attacks

From Yahoo News: Attacks Blamed On Mughniyeh

From First Post: Death Of The ‘Original Bin Laden’

From Breitbart: Hezbollah Says Top Militant Is Killed

From Times Online: Imad Mughniyeh, Hezbollah Terror Leader, Killed In Car Bomb

From The Belmont Club: Mughniyeh Killed in Damascus

From CNN: Hezbollah Commander On FBI Terrorist List Killed

My Comment: You can run, but you cannot hide. Aside from the story that he is now dead, the next story should be what is Syria's involvement in giving sanctuary to such a person. Obviously there is and always has been a direct collaboration between the two.

With his death Syria's role in terror attacks against U.S. interests will probably now never be known. But what is known is that this is a clear signal to Hezbollah that their leadership are not immune to attacks and being safe in countries that support their efforts.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The US Troop Surge In Iraq, A Year Later

From Yahoo News:

BAGHDAD - A year ago in Baghdad: Shiite militiamen and Sunni insurgents owned entire neighborhoods and key areas beyond. Iraq's government was adrift, and U.S. commanders weighed the real possibility of being trapped in a full-scale civil war.

Washington's response was "the surge," launched Feb. 14, 2007, with the 82nd Airborne as the vanguard of an American troop buildup that would climb to 30,000 extra U.S. soldiers by the summer.

A year later — through a mix of military might, new allies and some fortunate timing — Iraq looks very different.

Read more ....

My Comment: What difference a year makes. BUT ..... violence and problems still persist. Animosity and a total lack of trust persists between all sides. Political and religious extremists are active on the local, provincial, and central government levels. Poverty, community displacement, ethnic cleansing, corruption, discrimination against minorities, and the presence of death squads are everywhere.

Is there hope for Iraq .... I think so. The direction for peace and stabilization appear to be going the right way. But the healing process is going to take a long time, and it can still change to the worse in a flash.

Saddam Hussein and his supporters devastated and corrupted the culture of Iraq. The 2003 invasion and occupation further shocked Iraqi society, with the subsequent involvement of Al Qaeda, foreign agents, scores to settle, and subsequent short but bloody civil war further galvanizing everyone.

The U.S. troop surge bought a little time for healing and providing a veneer of security. The true test will happen when American forces start to go home this summer,

Troops On Timor Streets After President Shot

From The Times Online:

Reinforcements flooded into East Timor today to enforce a state of emergency as President Ramos-Horta remained in a serious condition with gunshot wounds a day after an apparent coup attempt.

Eleven people are understood to have been questioned over the attack, in which the rebel leader Alfredo Reinado was killed leading a band of rebels that shot Dr Ramos-Horta up to three times. Xanana Gusmão, the Prime Minister, was uninjured in a related attack.

Read more ....

More News From the Telegraph: East Timor President 'Lucky' To Be Alive

More News From The Independent: East Timor Reeling After Coup Attempt

My Comment: We now know that the leader of the coup and assassination attempt was a former East Timor rebel leader known as Alfredo Reinado. Trained by Australia, he deserted the East Timor Army last year complaining of regional discrimination in Army promotions. Peace negotiations were underway, but it is clear that these talks fail in the past month.

For a fragile and new democracy in the heart of Indonesia, this is terrible news for all those who have been working very hard to develop and bring peace to East Timor. It is also clear that for the U.N. and Australia, this instability is a black eye in their attempts to bring peace to this region.

Transcript Of An Al Qaeda Diary in Iraq

A few days ago I wrote about a diary written by an Al Qaeda member that was found by coalition forces in a raid on a safe house. The transcript of this diary can be read by all here. A fascinating snippet can be found here.(Hat Tip to Strata-Sphere)

Its group Emir called [redacted] (Detained), and the number of fighters in the Battalion were 200. … The battalion was one of the first battalions whose numbers of fighters was tarnished after Abu-Haydar al-Ansari Battalion, and the number of fighters is now only ten.

"The al-Ansari Battalion mentioned here went from 300 fighters to 17. The passages are very interesting to read, as the anger at those who turned their backs against jihad just comes rushing out, demanding more brutality for the snub. Thus is the vicious cycle of hate and defeat al-Qaeda finds itself in across the Muslim world." (Again A Hat Tip To Strata-Sphere)

My Comment: It is clear that after five years Al Qaeda and their allies have been degraded to a level of only a few survivors. While they still enjoy a significant amount of support in the Muslim world, those who would support them actively in a military manner is clearly diminishing.

A tipping point has been reached. If coalition forces and their Iraqi allies continue to pursue a military as well as a diplomatic and reconstruction policy, Al Qaeda's influence will only become a minor one with no public support in Iraq. A remarkable achievement when one realizes that only a year ago most politicians and experts were predicting the demise of Iraq and our coalition allies.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Hamas Leaders Fear Assassination

From Time Magazine:

(GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip) — Leaders of Gaza's ruling Hamas movement have gone into hiding, fearing Israeli assassination attempts in response to a wave of Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israel, officials said Monday.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the military to prepare to invade Gaza, and told Israeli lawmakers that under certain circumstances, Israel would "even take down Hamas."

Read more ....

More From Yahoo News: Hamas Leaders Hiding From Israeli Hits

More From MSNBC News: Fearing Israeli Attacks, Hamas Leaders Hide

My Comment: Let me see now. Hamas leaders call for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jewish civilians. They launch attacks against Jewish civilian communities. They send suicide bombers against civilians. They murder their own Palestinian political opponents.

And now .... they are telling everyone that they must hide because they are being targeted?!?!?!?

Everyone is accountable for their actions. Israeli leaders, the U.S. Government, the Palestinian Authority .... and yes .... even leaders of Hamas. No one will ..... or can even expect to get a pass.

Asia's Newest Nation Reeling After Coup Attempt On President And Prime Minister

From the Independent:

The President of East Timor was in a serious but stable condition in hospital last night after rebel soldiers launched a coup attempt that targeted the political leadership of the tiny Asian country.

Jose Ramos-Horta, a Nobel Prize laureate, was flown to Darwin in Australia after being hit in the stomach and chest by bullets when would-be assassins opened fire at his home in the city of Dili. Just an hour later, the motorcade of the Prime Minister, Xanana Gusmao, was also attacked, but he escaped unhurt.

"I consider this incident a coup attempt against the state ... and it failed," said Mr Gusmao, who for years led the armed struggle for East Timor's independence from Indonesia. "This government won't fall because of this."

Read more ....

More From Yahoo News: East Timor President In Stable Condition

More News From the Guardian: East Timor PM Declares State Of Emergency After 'Coup Attempt'

My Comment: I wish to know if Indonesia has a role in this coup attempt. Their hostility to East Timor is well known, but does this also extend to actively participating in the assassination of its leaders .... this unfortunately opens a number of disturbing questions.

Chadian Army Force Rebels To Retreat

From The Telegraph:

Along the roadside at Naala, 50 miles north of the Chadian capital, lies the debris of war.

At least a dozen burnt-out vehicles, two of them armoured personnel carriers scarred black by terrible fires, stand a few hundred yards from the road. Scattered around are the boots of the dead.

Along the roadside at Naala, 50 miles north of the Chadian capital, lies the debris of wa
"They burned together, the people and the vehicles"

Nothing flammable survived any of the infernos, and the trucks' floors are littered with ash, melted glass, and the occasional shard of bone.

"They burned together, the people and the vehicles," said Mbatna Psychique, 25, a nurse.

Read more ...

My Comment: The Sudan backed rebels, with their pick-ups, had the element of surprise and preparedness that surprised everyone when they attacked. But once the Chadian army, with their tanks, became organized and ready to fight, there was no contest.

This is a huge loss for the rebels. While this conflict has taken people's eye away from the plight of refugees in Darfur, it does highlight Sudan's direct involvement in destabilizing this region. If Sudan cannot be made accountable for its actions, more refugees and more attacks against Chadian forces will continue.

Will War Return To Lebanon?

From Beirut To The Beltway:

In one of his most aggressive speeches since the civil war, Walid Jumblatt said March 14 will go to war against Hizbullah if that’s what the militia wants. “Our existence, dignity and Lebanon are more important than anything else. You want disorder, so be it.”, he said, addressing Hizbullah and the forces he said are trying to bring back Syrian hegemony. ”You want war, so be it. We have no problem with weapons, no problem with missiles. We will take your ready-to-use missiles. We have no problem with martyrdom and suicide.”

Read more ....

From The Middle East Journal:

Just a few nights ago I said to some out of town friends that I thought another war, between Hezbollah and whichever adversary first decides to pick up the sword, is all but inevitable in Lebanon. I wish it weren't so, but it probably is. If the Israelis don't do it, someone in Lebanon will unless the Syrian and Iranian regimes are first brought to heel.

Right on schedule, Druze chief Walid Jumblatt throws down the gauntlet.
Abu Kais has the story, from articles he translated from Arabic:

Read more ....

My Comment: Hizbullah has rearmed itself, and with internal problems growing in the countries of their sponsors (Syria and Iran) another war can only help to divert attention from their own problems.

So .... will there be another war?

All sides have rearmed, political disputes have not been solved, political leaders murdered, and resentment and bitterness are now open for all to see. I do not know if a war will break out, but all sides are clearly positioning themselves for war.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Nuclear Watchdog Warns Of 'Disarray' -- Biggest Threat Is Extremist Groups, Not Iran, He Says

From The San Francisco Chronicle:

The United Nations' chief nuclear watchdog provided a singularly bleak vision of a world "in disarray" Saturday, warning that the most imminent threat is not a new nation joining the nuclear club but deadly material falling into the hands of extremists.

The specter of nuclear terrorism is not a new theme for International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei, who has been managing the crisis over Iran's nuclear program for the past six years, but his language was particularly gloomy at a conference of international leaders on security in Munich.

Read more ....

More News from Threatswatch: "Revelation" – Dirty Bomb Vulnerability

My Comment: Unfortunately, a number of terrorist organizations have direct ties to governments and their officials. If a country decides to produce nuclear material, and that nuclear material is found after an explosion in a city like New York .... well .... accountability has to stop somewhere. To blame terrorists is one thing ..... but if one cannot keep the nuclear material that one is willing to produce under lock and key .... if that material is used then the blame will rest at the producers door.

Nuclear bombs do not kill people .... it is the people who produce and use them that do.

UN: 12,000 Flee Darfur For Chad

From The San Francisco Chronicle:

Up to 12,000 refugees fled Sudan's Darfur region to neighboring Chad over the weekend following air strikes by the Sudanese military and thousands more may be coming, the U.N. refugee agency said Sunday.

The agency was bringing emergency assistance to the Chad border where the Darfur refugees were giving detailed descriptions of air attacks Friday on three West Darfur towns.

The refugees are "destitute and terrified," said Helene Caux, spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees headquartered in Geneva. "They told of their villages being looted and burned, and encircled by militia." Most of the new refugees in Chad are men and they told the U.N. that thousands of women and children are on their way, Caux added.

Read more ....

My Comment: This has been going on for a number of years .... and unbelievable as this is, it is going to get worse.

Afghanistan War News Updates -- February 11, 2008

Gates: NATO Survival At Stake In Afghanistan -- MSNBC

Gates Is Right About NATO's Counterinsurgency Deficiencies -- Threatswatch

US Warns Failure In Afghanistan Is A Threat To Europe -- Yahoo News

US Warning On Nato's Afghan Role -- BBC News

Norway Closes Embassy In Afghan Capital -- MSNBC

The $9 Billion Spring Offensive -- Aby Muqawama

McCain Wants More EU Troops For Afghanistan -- Telegraph

All-Clear For Afghan Combat Video Diaries -- The Guardian

Good Books: Afghan Campaign, Rifleman Dodd -- Kings Of War

My Comment: Now entering the seventh year, most NATO members are now beginning to realize that this is a long term commitment that will need NATO participation (both combat and reconstruction) for the next 10 to 20 years (minimum).

This realization is now beginning to give many members cold feet. Like Iraq, an evaluation is now needed on what needs to be done to take the upper hand again.

This winter has been a bitter and cold one in much of Afghanistan. Fighting has all but the disappeared, with many Taliban staying at home or in Pakistan. How the west will respond when the snow melts in the next two months will dictate how long we will be staying in that country.

Iraq War News Updates -- February 10, 2008

More Than 50 Killed In Iraq -- Yahoo News

Series Of Iraq Attacks Mark Bloody Sunday -- CBS News

More Than 50 Killed In Iraq -- Newsweek

Car Bomb In Balad Kills 23, U.S. Military Says -- MSNBC

The Diary Of An Insurgent In Retreat -- MSNBC

Diary Of Defeat -- Commentary From Tigerhawk

Insurgent Diaries ... And The IO Campaign -- Abu Muqawama

al-Qaeda On Last Legs In Iraq According To AQ Documents -- Strata-Sphere

Al Qaeda In Iraq Under Pressure In Balad, Anbar -- Long War journal

Gates: Iraqis Showing Signs of Progress -- U.S. News And World Report

The Link Between Security and Identity in Iraq -- Threatswatch

Look What Made The News -- Iraq Pundit

Murder or Exhaustion in Iraq? -- Time Magazine

U.S. Army Buried Study Faulting Iraq Planning -- International Herald Tribune

US Military Deaths In Iraq At 3,959 -- Yahoo News

My Comment: Sunday, February 10, 2008 was a bloody day in Iraq. Over 50 killed, many wounded. While the direction for this scale of violence is downward, it will still happen. The next few months will prove critical for Iraqi reconcialition and compromise.

Trouble spots will be in the north with the Kurds demanding more autonomy .... and Turkish concerns over this development, Shiite and Sunni animosity, Al Qaeda and its few remaining units, and political obstruction and intolerance for compromise on the federal level.

The direction of the U.S. Presidential election is also important. Any scrap of hope for a quick American departure can only embolden groups like Al Qaeda in Iraq, Bathists, and foreign elements.

News On Kenya -- February 10, 2008

A Political Compromise in Kenya? -- Time Magazine

As Violence Escalates, Kenyans Turn Vigilante -- MSNBC

Kenya Lifts Ban On Public Rallies -- MSNC

Found: The Boy Caught In Kenya's Bloody Hell -- The Guardian

Sun, Sea And Miles Of Empty Beach: The Paradise That Faces Disaster -- The Guadian

Kosovo Independence Seen Likely For Feb. 17 -- Will Another Civil War Be The Result?

From The Washington Times:

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — The Serbian minister for Kosovo said yesterday that his government has learned the province's ethnic Albanian leadership will declare independence on Feb. 17. Western diplomats said they expected the move a day later.

Slobodan Samardzic said Serbia's government has received "relevant information" that Kosovo's government will "illegally declare unilateral independence of Kosovo on Sunday, Feb. 17." He did not specify the source of information and Belgrade remains fiercely opposed to the loss of the province.

Read more ....

More From The Guardian: Serbs warn of Kosovo clash

My Comment: Past decisions in the former country of Yugoslavia in calling for unilateral independence have led to strife, violent conflict, ethnic cleansing, and all out war. It looks like the groundwork for another stage in the Yugoslav civil war is being laid down without any appreciation of the consequences.

Poll: Bin Laden Popularity Fading In Pakistan


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Sympathy for al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden and the Taliban has dropped sharply in Pakistan amid a wave of deadly violence, according to the results of a recent opinion poll.

The survey, conducted last month for the U.S.-based Terror Free Tomorrow organization, also identified the party of assassinated opposition leader Benazir Bhutto as the country's most popular ahead of Feb. 18 elections, and said most Pakistanis want President Pervez Musharraf to quit.

The poll suggests Pakistanis are looking to peaceful opposition groups after months of political turmoil and a wave of suicide attacks.

Read more ....

My Comment: Even though Bin Ladin's and Al Qaeda's popularity have gone down, a significant minority still support them. In the frontier regions .... where such polls can never be done .... my gut tells me that his popularity is still very high.

We can never succeed under these circumstances. The people who support and give shelter to the Bin Ladin's of the world are not held accountable for their actions. As long as this situation persists, Bin Ladin and his supporters will not be touched.

How To Make OPEC Blink

A must read piece from Foreign Policy.

Crude oil prices continue to hover around the $90 mark. And the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), a consortium of the world’s top oil producers, has something to say to consumers: Tough luck. This message was delivered at last week’s OPEC meeting in Vienna, where the cartel’s member states ignored consumers’ pleas to open the spigot and provide some relief.

For OPEC, whose flush-with-petrodollars members seem unconcerned by the pain inflicted on the global economy by oil’s meteoric rise, increasing output is not a matter of capacity, but of will. The cartel owns 78 percent of the world’s proven reserves and produces about 40 percent of its oil. Its members have plenty of cash to invest in new production, and OPEC has repeatedly claimed it holds spare production capacity of more than 3 million barrels per day. This claim is impossible to verify, thanks to OPEC’s notorious lack of transparency. But, if true, it means OPEC can inject a significant amount of oil into the market almost immediately, dropping prices by as much as $20 to $30 a barrel.

Read more ....

My Comment: Many of the major wars and political battles that involve us revolve around the issue of energy. In particular oil.

Oil is not only the lifeblood for us in the West, but it is also the source of monies and funds for Al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists. If OPEC was not awash in petrodollars, I very much doubt that countries like Iran, Chavez in Venezuela, the growing militarism of Russia, Al Qaeda and their allies, as well as many other minor players would even be a factor in todays world.

I can even make the argument that U.S. forces would not be in Iraq or Afghanistan today.

This is unfortunately not the case now. To change this present environment it is clear that we must diversify our need for foreign oil. I know that this will take a long time, but this article is a good way to start this conversation.

Iraq -- The Diary Of An Insurgent In Retreat


BAGHDAD - On Nov. 3, U.S. soldiers raided a safe house of the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq near the northern city of Balad. Not a single combatant was captured, but inside the house they found something valuable: a diary and will written in neat Arabic script.

"I am Abu Tariq, Emir of al-Layin and al-Mashadah Sector," it began.

Over 16 pages, the al-Qaeda in Iraq leader detailed the organization's demise in his sector. He once had 600 men, but now his force was down to 20 or fewer, he wrote. They had lost weapons and allies. Abu Tariq focused his anger in particular on the Sunni fighters and tribesmen who have turned against al-Qaeda in Iraq and joined the U.S.-backed Sunni Sahwa, or "Awakening," forces.

Read more ....

More News From Times Online: Al-Qaeda Leaders Admit: 'We Are In Crisis. There Is Panic And Fear'

My Comment: With coalition and civilian deaths going down, especially now when the climate is ideal for insurgent activity (not too hot, not too cold), gives testimony to the hypothesis that Al Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgents are at the end of a losing battle. This small diary, if authenticated, definitely gives a clear indication of this trend.

The fact that coalition forces have released this diary now ..... 3 months after it was obtained ..... also gives the impression that coalition forces believe that it is an authentic item, and that it would serve a better purpose now to have it released to the general public. The information war is just as important as the real one. This diary is a clear win for the forces against extremism.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

US Commanders Welcome Fallujah Revival

From New York Post:

FALLUJAH, Iraq (AP) -- Women shrouded in black shop for gold jewelry and fabric. Young boys tote trays of tea. The smell of tangerines wafts through the air. This is Fallujah 2008 - a former insurgent stronghold that U.S. commanders now hold up as an example for the rest of Iraq.

But a simmering provincial power struggle is threatening to raise new tensions among the fractured Sunni tribal chiefs and politicians of Anbar that some fear could distract them from the fight against al-Qaida in Iraq.

Read more ....

My Comment: I still always remember how happy the citizens of Fallujah were when 4 American contractors were ambushed and murdered in that city four years ago. I knew then that after such a public show of defiance to Coalition forces, the result will only be a massive military response. Over time American resolve, determination, and having the will to confront and kill the enemy is what then changed this situation. I guess it is better to be feared, and when American military might is unleashed it can be over whelming.

I personally hope that after so many dead and so much destruction that peace will stay and be maintained in that city. All sides certainly deserve that break.

Fears Of Sudan-Chad Proxy War


A SENIOR UN official warned that a reported proxy war between Sudan and Chad through rebel groups on each side of their border threatened to destabilise the region and could lead to a wider conflict.

Jean-Marie Guehenno, the French Under-Secretary-General of UN peacekeeping operations who toured Sudan's strife-torn Darfur last month, told the Security Council that the situation had been exacerbated by the violence in Chad over the past several days.

Read more ....

My Comment: Do we really want to get involved in this mess?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

6 Palestinian Militants, 1 Teacher Killed In Gaza

JERUSALEM - Israeli forces on Thursday killed seven Palestinians, including a schoolteacher, in its campaign to stop daily rocket barrages from the Gaza Strip, while adding new economic pressure —approving a symbolic cut in electricity for the beleaguered territory.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak vowed even harsher military action if Gaza militants persist with their rocket fire at southern Israel. "If the (rocket) fire continues, we will intensify our activity and the other side's losses, until we resolve the (rocket) problem," he said.

In one incident, an Israeli rocket hit a field school, killing the teacher. News footage showed there was a rocket launcher near the school.

Read more ....

My Comment: The wall with Egypt now sealed .... misery and conflict returns to Gaza.

Afghan Failure 'Will Bring Terror To The West'

From The Telegraph:

The Nato secretary-general today warned that failure to bring peace to Afghanistan would result in further terror attacks on Western cities, as David Miliband and Condoleezza Rice began a surprise visit to the country.

Speaking ahead of a Nato meeting in Lithuania, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer urged member states to pledge more resources to help train the Afghan army.

"This is the front-line in the fight against terrorism, and what is happening in the Hindu Kush matters, because if terrorism is not dealt with in Afghanistan, the consequences will be felt not just in Afghanistan and the region, but also in London, Brussels, and Amsterdam," he told the BBC.

Read more ....

Rice, British Foreign Secretary Visit Afghanistan's Kandahar Province -- Voice of America

Update: Talking To The Taliban -- Belmont Club

My Comment: His comments are true ..... but are people in the West listening?

Iran Or Saudi Arabia: Pick Your Poison

A must read commentary from Pajamas Media:

What’s your poison: Saudi Arabia or Iran?

That is a choice the next U.S. president must make. In strategic gist the West too is at a point where its myriad of religious-political establishments must decide what wings of Islam, those sponsored by the Saudis or the Iranians, are adept for coexistence.

That a choice has to be made is clear from the savage wars between Shiites and Sunnis and those tearing at Sunni Muslim societies as well as nipping at the heels of Islamic democracies from Turkey to Pakistan and even the Muslim communities of Europe and America. That, too, is a war between Iran and Saudis over corpses of others.

Read more ...

My Comment: There are no good choices available for the west to grab. Both sides are continuing with their centuries old conflict, and there is no desire for a reconciliation. The breaking point will come when Iran's oil reserves and production cannot meet the financial and economic needs of its people and government. To insure its legitimacy Iran will then start to lay the groundwork for conflict with its neighbors.

As a religious belief, Islam has always been used as an excuse by Middle Eastern elites to give them the authority to influence and control political/economic developments in their countries. Oil has complicated this picture completely, giving a false sense of expectation and further economic and political growth within their communities.

If oil prices decline and economic prospects diminish, religion will then be used for exerting political pressure on others. This is the worse case scenario .... a scenario that can easily get out of control.

How Can Pakistan Hang On To Its Nukes, If It Can’t Hang Tn To Its Prisoners?

From The Pajamas Media:

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf clearly doesn’t like being asked about terrorists who “escape” his police force’s custody. This does not inspire Annie Jacobsen’s confidence.

During his recent European public relations tour, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf was asked the world’s most pressing question by a London-based journalist named M. Ziauddin.

How can Pakistan hang on to its nukes, if it can’t hang on to its prisoners?

Read more ...

Commentary from Captain's Quarters.

My Comment: This article is written clearly and to the point .... Pakistan's nukes are not secure, and the country's leadership are in denial.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

One District In Pakistan Now More Deadly Than All Of Iraq

From The Long War Journal:

More than two months after the Pakistani military launched an operation to clear the district of Swat in the Northwest Frontier Province, pockets of Taliban forces and safe havens remain. The Pakistani military and police have taken casualties comparable to the combined US and Iraqi forces have fighting the insurgency in Iraq, according to an Interior Ministry report obtained by the Daily Times.

Read more ....

My Comment: My credit goes to Bill Roggio for covering the growing conflict in Pakistan. His articles put everything in perspective. Our focus is on Iraq, but more important conflicts with long term implications are occurring elsewhere that need to be covered. This article is one of many that does this job.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Afghanistan War News Updates -- February 5, 2008

Condoleezza Rice Wants Nato Allies To Do More In Afghanistan -- Times Online

Raid On Taleban Hideouts Leaves Civilians Dead -- Times Online

19 Dead In Raids, Clashes In Afghanistan -- Yahoo News

Afghans Claims UK Planned To Train Ex-Taliban -- The Telegraph

Revealed: British Plan To Build Training Camp For Taliban Fighters In Afghanistan -- Independent

'Britain Planned Secret Camp In Afghanistan To Retrain Taliban Soldiers To Fight For Nato' -- Daily Mail

Teams Work To Rebuild Afghanistan -- Washington Times

Afghan Prison Blues -- Newsweek

Kabul Police Surround Home Of The Former Warlord Dostum -- International Herald Tribune

Rift In NATO Over Afghanistan Forces -- CBS News

A Flea In The Ear For Mullah Omar -- Asia Times

My Comment: NATO is in disarray, the British are pursuing an independent course of action, and the Taliban are organizing. The future is not looking bright.

Iraq War News Updates -- February 5, 2008

Prince Andrew Rebukes America Over Iraq -- The Telegraph

US Admits Killing Nine Civilians In Iraq -- Times Online

US Admits Killing Nine Iraqi Civilians -- Guardian

US Troops Kill 15 Suspected Militants, Detain 26 In Raids against al-Qaida in Iraq -- International Herald Tribune

The Surge In Iraq -- One Year Later: Photo Essay

U.S. Military Rules Kept Troops Out Of Mosques -- Washington Times

Iraq OKs Rehiring Baath Party Members -- CBS News

Iranian-Backed Terror Cells Still Active in Iraq -- Weekly Standard

The Final Mission, Part II -- Middle East Journal

Heavy Fighting Resumes In Chad's Capital -- Full Coverage

From Yahoo News:

N'DJAMENA, CHAD - Chadian rebels renewed their assault on the capital of this oil-rich central African country Monday, and tens of thousands of people fled as gunfire crackled and artillery shells exploded across the city.

The third day of fighting in N'Djamena threatened to further destabilize an already violent swath of Africa that is home to hundreds of thousands of refugees and borders Sudan's war-ravaged Darfur region.

Hours after the rebels went back on the attack following an overnight retreat, the U.N. Security Council authorized France and other nations to help Chad's government.

Read more ....

More News Updates From:

France Given Green Light To Intervene In Chad -- Telegraph

UN Backs French Help Against Chad Rebels -- Yahoo News

Support Chad President, Says UN -- BBC News

U.N. Urges Support For Chad's Government -- Reuters

Chad Rebels Forced Out Of N'Djamena -- Telegraph

Thousands Are Reported To Flee Chad's Capital -- International Herald Tribune

Thousands More Flee Deadly Rebel Fighting In Chad -- CNN

Dead In Street As Chad Forces In Three Day Clash With Sudan-Backed Rebels -- Times Online

Chad Rebels Pull Back From Capital -- Guardian

Chad Rebels Threaten New Assault -- Time Magazine

Rebels Fight for Chad's Capital -- Time Magazine

Fighting In Chad Could Affect Darfur -- LA Times

U.N. Condemns Rebel Attacks In Chad -- CBS News

Chad's Future Taliban Enters Capital While The West Is Asleep -- Counter Terrorism Blog

The Crisis In Chad -- Belmont Club

My Comment: Counter Terrorism Blog's analysis on this situation is dead on right. The West is asleep on what is happening in this Central African country. Now the French, with the backing of the U.N., are going to intervene with their military. They, with their vaunted intelligence services, clearly missed out on what has been a growing danger for the past year.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Twin Bombs Kill Scores In Baghdad -- Full Coverage From War News Updates

From The BBC:

More than 70 people have been killed by two bombs in Baghdad, attached to two mentally disabled women and detonated remotely, says a security official.

"The al-Qaeda terrorists and criminals are proud of this method," Brig Qassem Ata al-Moussawi told the BBC.

The death toll in Friday morning's attacks at two animal markets was the highest in months in Baghdad.

Correspondents say a fragile sense of normality had returned to the capital following an influx of US troops.

Read more ...

Other News Stories on Iraq:
Female Bombers Strike Markets In Baghdad -- Yahoo News
Female Bombers Strike Markets in Baghdad -- ABC News
U.S.: 'Demonic' Militants Sent Women To Bomb Markets In Iraq -- CNN
Mentally Retarded Women Used As Bombers -- CBS News
Handicapped Bombers Kill Dozens In Iraq -- MSNBC
Al-Qaeda Straps Bombs to 2 Mentally Disabled Women-- Explosions Kill Dozens in Baghdad -- Gateway Pundit

My Comment: Even with this tragic loss of life, violence in Iraq has been steadily decreasing. Gateway Pundit examines this trend in a post today titled "Surge Success Continues-- Iraq Sees Great Gains Over Last Year".

It is still to early to predict the final outcome of this war, but all trends for the ending of this conflict are still positive. Unfortunately, the body count will still go on until this is over.

Al-Qaeda Figure Is Killed In Pakistan

From The Washington Post:

BERLIN, Jan. 31 -- A senior al-Qaeda commander was killed this week in Pakistan, according to Western officials and an Islamic radical Web site, marking a rare success in the flagging U.S. and Pakistani campaign to hunt down members of the network.

Abu Laith al-Libi, the nom de guerre of a Libyan fighter who had served alongside al-Qaeda and the Taliban since the late 1980s, had become an influential field commander in recent years, overseeing many operations against U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, officials said. The U.S. military blamed him for organizing a suicide attack that killed 23 people outside Bagram air base during a visit by Vice President Cheney in February last year.

Read more ...

My Comment: One has to wonder if this strike was approved by the Pakistani Government or was this just a solo mission done by the the U.S. In the past Pakistan has been resistant to pressure from the U.S. in pursuing known Al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan. Has Pakistan changed their policy, or has the U.S. changed their policy in now actively going after known Al Qaeda targets.

The attack by extremists today against Pakistani forces (5 Pakistani troops killed in attack) that were only two miles away from the airstrike is a clear sign that Al Qaeda believes that Pakistan was complicit in this attack.