Thursday, January 31, 2008

Civil War In Kenya -- News Updates January 31, 2008

US Calls Kenya Violence Ethnic Cleansing -- Telegraph

Stop Kenya Burning, Says AU Head -- BBC News

Lawmaker Killed In Kenya's Rift Valley -- Yahoo News

Talks Delayed After Kenyan MP Shot Dead -- Guardian

Nobody Is Optimistic At This Stage -- Video From The Guardian

Second Opposition Lawmaker Is Killed In Kenya -- International Herald Tribune

2nd Lawmaker Shot; Kenya "In Flames" -- CBS News

Kenya Talks On Hold As Lawmaker Slain -- CNN

Can Kenya Avert a Bloodbath? -- Time Magazine

A Nation In Pain -- Newsweek

Kenya Collapse Washes Across the Border -- Strategy Page

My Comment: All the ingredients for mass killing are now in place in Kenya. The question now is ..... who and when will the match be lit.

Pakistan: US Intelligence Agents 'Uncover Bin Laden Letters'

From Adnkronos:

Islamabad, 31 Jan. (AKI) - US secret service agents operating in the remote border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan claim to have found five letters signed by al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, Saudi daily Al-Watan said on Thursday.

Citing unnamed local security sources, the newspaper said that the letters are allegedly handwritten in Arabic and bear Bin Laden's apparent signature and seal.

They appear to have been sent last December to some of Bin Laden's followers in the region.

One of the letters is addressed to the Taliban leader in Afghanistan's volatile southern province of Helmand, Mansoor Dadallah.

Read more ....

My Comment: Whenever Osama Bin Ladin talks, people die.

Islam's Advance

From Newsweek:

The Shi’ite ritual of Ashura is one of the most extraordinary acts of devotion in the Islamic world. From the heart of the Shi’ite faith in Iran and southern Iraq, to the mountains of Lebanon, and the shores of Indonesia, millions of adherents mourn the murder of the prophet’s grandson, Hussein, 1300 years ago.

That seminal moment has split the Islamic world in two ever since, between the Shia, who claim Hussein and his descendants as the rightful rulers of the Muslim world, and the Sunni, who espoused the claims of the Caliph, or ruler, in Damascus.

Read more ....

My Comment: A must read article that examines the history of the Sunni-Shiite split in Islam.

Iraq -- The Mosul Offensive

From The Long War Journal:

Just over one year after the surge officially began Coalition and Iraqi forces continue to pursue al Qaeda in Iraq. After al Qaeda has been driven from its havens in Baghdad and the surrounding belts regions, and most recently in Diyala, the city of Mosul has emerged as the latest battleground.

Read more ....

My Comment: A side of me likes to believe that this is the end of Al Qaeda in Iraq, but I know that realistically this is not the case. Al Qaeda is weaker .... yes .... but as a force spent it is not. Al Qaeda, or its offshoots, will always be around. The best thing that we can hope for is that as a spent force it is diminished, and maybe over time it will be gone.

Is it Necessary To Confront Political Islam As An Anti-Western Ideology

From the Belmont Club:

One of the persons following the Belmont Club discussion over whether it is necessary to confront political Islam as an anti-Western ideology is a Marine in Anbar province. His email to me has been reproduced in toto below. It is clear and eloquent. I am grateful for it, not in the least because it lends some substance to my hope that "because of the size of the stakes this whole question will be resolved, not by some politician but by the 'decision of crowds'." Here's his email in toto.

Read more ....

My Comment: The Marine's letter from Anbar Province does give a positive outlook on the possibility that Islam can co-exist with other religions and political cultures. That its embrace of militant Islam and jihad by the average person in the Muslim world is just an aberration, and that it solely exists as a testament to the difficult times that people in the Middle East are going through.

Unfortunately, if history is any indication, there has always been majorities .... if not significant minorities ..... of muslims in the Middle East who have always had a very anti-Western and/or anti-Hindu and/or "just name that group" point of view that when they felt they were in a position of power was quickly manifested into war and bloodshed.

Religion has always been a predominant influence on many peoples, cultures, and civilizations through the ages. Europeans had to go through centuries of incredible bloodshed to get rid of this environment among its many different faiths .... unfortunately ..... many Muslims in the Middle East and elsewhere have not yet gone through their reformation.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Western Allies Developing Cold Feet In Afghanistan

These two stories recently caught my eye, one on Canada and the other on Australia:

Ready To Quit Afghanistan, Canada PM Tells Bush -- Yahoo News

West Will Never Beat Taliban, Rudd Warned -- Sydney Morning Herald

My Comment: Western allies are not only developing cold feet in Afghanistan, but are becoming vocal about it. The groundwork is being laid by these "allies" for their departure in the near future.

The following story is an indication of what people are now starting to fear. Afghanistan May Plunge Into 'Failed State,' Experts Warn -- Yahoo News

Kenya Mediation Resumes, Kibaki Heads To AU Summit

From Reuters:

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya's feuding politicians hold a second day of talks brokered by former U.N. chief Kofi Annan on Thursday and African leaders gather in neighboring Ethiopia for a summit likely to be dominated by the post-election crisis.

President Mwai Kibaki will travel to Addis Ababa for the 53-nation African Union meeting, a forum where his country is more used to playing the role of regional peacemaker than a cause of continental concern.

Political and ethnic violence has killed 850 people in Kenya since Kibaki's disputed re-election on December 27, a wave of instability that has shocked its neighbors and Western donors and battered its image as a stable trade and tourism hub.

"Kenyans are killing one another at an alarming rate and are putting the country in grave danger of civil war," said Jennifer Windsor, executive director of U.S.-based rights group Freedom House.

Read more ....

My Comment: While the politicians and leaders talk, the real story is summed up by the following report from Yahoo News and the Toronto Star. Tribe All But Vanishes From Kenyan City -- Yahoo News and Ethnic Cleansing Or Death, Kenya's Kikuyu Tribe Vows -- Toronto Star

Iraq Conflict Has Killed A Million Iraqis: Survey

From Reuters:

LONDON (Reuters) - More than one million Iraqis have died as a result of the conflict in their country since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, according to research conducted by one of Britain's leading polling groups.

The survey, conducted by Opinion Research Business (ORB) with 2,414 adults in face-to-face interviews, found that 20 percent of people had had at least one death in their household as a result of the conflict, rather than natural causes.

The last complete census in Iraq conducted in 1997 found 4.05 million households in the country, a figure ORB used to calculate that approximately 1.03 million people had died as a result of the war, the researchers found.

Read more ....

My Comment: 1,000,000 dead Iraqis for the past five years, 200,000 per year, 4,000 per week, 550 per day, 22 per hour. Their stats do not measure up unless one attributes other causes as being due to the war. i.e. hunger, disease, breakdown in medical services, etc.. But are all of these deaths as a result of the war .... hmmmm....

Monday, January 28, 2008

Afghanistan War Updates -- January 29, 2008

Canada Presses NATO for Afghan Help -- U.S. News And World Report

Canada Presses NATO For Afghan Help -- Newsweek

NATO Force Chief Vows More Pressure On Taliban In 2008 -- Yahoo News

NATO Needs More Intel On Afghanistan -- Yahoo News

NATO: More Eyes In The Sky Needed In Afghanistan -- Canoe News

Afghan President Hamid Karzai Fears on Pakistan -- Newsweek

Afghans Hunt For Kidnapped American -- Yahoo News

US Shift Seen To Pakistan, Afghanistan -- Yahoo News

Afghanistan Becomes Less Scary -- Strategy Page

Senior Leader Of Haqqani Network Killed In Pakistan -- Long War Journal

My Comment: The war drags on, and our allies are rethinking of changing their role in Afghanistan. From my vantage point it is clear that among the many nations involved in Afghanistan, only three countries are actually involved in supporting the Afghan government and its people. The U.S., the U.K., and Canada are the principle players. The other members of the coalition are stuck mainly in "training" or aid projects and are not actively involved in bringing the fight to the Taliban.

This lack of will among the allies is troubling at best, a tragedy if they choose to ignore the consequences of not being actively involved in Afghanistan. Everyone knows that the solution to the Afghan "problem" can only be measured in the long term ..... probably 20 years if not more .... before any semblance of stability and development can be brought to that poor and ravished country. This time duration is what is sapping the West's will to stay and fight. The fact that the Taliban is reconstituting itself in their safe Pakistan havens also complicates everything.

Will Canada leave? Will other allies lose the will to continue. I have to say yes. Politicians live for the short term, and a long term stay in Afghanistan is not on anyone's radar.

Kenya Violence Becomes More Organized -- Updates January 29, 2008

From The Telegraph:

Kenya was experiencing a "sinister step change" in violence, Britain's minister for Africa has warned, as it emerged that dozens of people had been killed in tribal bloodletting over the weekend.

Mark Malloch Brown said in the capital, Nairobi, that the violence had turned from spontaneous to "something more organised".

A child cries over the body of her mother who fell victim to tribal violence in Kenya
Watch: Riots spread after dozens of people have been killed in the recent wave of violence in Kenya

His warning came as machete-armed mobs rampaged through towns in the Rift Valley, burning shops and homes and setting up road blocks.

Read more ....

More News:
Ethnic Clashes Spread In Western Kenya -- Yahoo News

Gangs On Rampage In Kenyan Towns -- BBC News

Europe Threatens To Cut Aid As Kenyan Killings Spiral Out Of Control -- Times Online

Violence Spreading In Kenya, Red Cross Official Says -- CNN

Violence Rages On in Kenya Following Elections -- Gateway Pundit

10 People Burned Alive in New Kenya Violence -- ABC News

Machete-Wielding Youths Hunt Kikuyus As Ethnic Bloodletting Spreads In Kenya -- Canoe

Death Toll Climbs To 800 In Fresh Wave Of Kenya Violence -- Guardian

Kenyan Gangs Face Off in Clashes -- Time Magazine

Kenya Fighting Leaves Road ‘Covered In Blood’ -- MSNBC

Rioters Seek Revenge As Ethnic Tensions Rise In Kenya -- International Herald Tribune

26 Killed In Western Kenya Clashes -- IAfrica

All Hell Breaks Loose in Kenya -- Publius Pundit

Rival Tribes Have Showdown In Kenyan Town -- CBS News

Violence Continues To Roil Kenya -- American Thinker

In Pictures: Escaping Naivasha Mob -- BBC News

My Comment: As predicted, this is spreading. There is now an excellent chance that Kenya, once a model of moderation and decency in Africa, is going to end up as a typical African tragedy.

Iraq War Updates -- January 29, 2008

5 US Soldiers Killed in Iraq -- Time Magazine

US Troops Killed In Northern Iraq -- BBC News

US Military Deaths In Iraq At 3,940 -- Yahoo News

Bush: "No Doubt" The Surge Is Working -- CBS News

Iraq: The War So Far -- Strategy Page

Inside The New Terror Capital Of Iraq -- CBS News

Return to Fallujah -- Independent

Michael Totten's Take On Fallujah -- Michael Totten

Iraq Ready For "Final" Battle With Al Qaeda: PM -- Reuters

Iraqi Forces Positioning For Battle With al Qaeda Loyalists -- CNN

Good News From Iraq? More Than In The Past -- Pajamas Media

Iraq's Sadrists Seek To End Cease-Fire -- Yahoo News

Iraqi Forces Mass Outside Mosul -- Columbus Dispatch

With No Plans To Win, Iraq Becomes Costly -- Commentary From MSNBC

News From The War Front - Children As Weapons, Baitullah Fired -- Strata-Sphere

Mother Replaces Her Son On the Front Lines in Iraq -- Gateway Pundit

How Bush Decided on the Surge -- Weekly Standard

My Comment: The last battles against Al-Qaeda is now occurring in Mosul. The stage is now set for Sunni-Shiite-Kurd reconciliation.

Yemen Strikes Difficult Truce With Terrorists

From the International Herald Tribune:

SANA, Yemen: When the Yemeni authorities released a convicted Qaeda terrorist named Jamal al-Badawi from prison last October, American officials were furious. Badawi helped plan the attack on the American destroyer Cole in 2000, in which 17 American sailors were killed.

But the Yemenis saw things differently. Badawi had agreed to help track down five other members of Al Qaeda who had escaped from prison and was more useful to the government on the street than off, said a high-level Yemeni government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. He had also pledged his loyalty to the Yemeni president before being released, the official said.

The fracas over Badawi - whom the Yemenis quickly returned to prison after being threatened with a loss of aid - underscored a much broader disagreement over how to fight terrorism in Yemen, a particularly valuable recruiting ground and refuge for Islamist militants in the past two decades.

Read more ....

My Comment: Islamic militancy and rebellion against the central government is so interwoven in the culture of Yemen and many of its people that any discussion on peace is problematic. Then again .... one has to start somewhere.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

New Taliban Chief Entering Limelight

From Yahoo News:

PESHAWAR, Pakistan - Sometime in mid-December, as the winter winds howled across the snow-dusted hills of Pakistan's inhospitable border regions, 40 men representing Taliban groups all across Pakistan's northwest frontier came together to unify under a single banner and to choose a leader.

The banner was Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or the Taliban Movement of Pakistan, with a fighting force estimated at up to 40,000. And the leader was Baitullah Mehsud, the man Pakistan accuses of murdering former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

The move is an attempt to present a united front against the Pakistani army, which has been fighting insurgents along the border with Afghanistan. It is also the latest sign of the rise of Mehsud, considered the deadliest of the Taliban mullahs or clerics in northwest Pakistan.

Read more ....

List of key Taliban leaders in Pakistan.

My Comment: As the Taliban continue to gain support and military credibility in the frontier regions of Pakistan, the worse case scenario of a command structure to coordinate the various groups and units operating in the region be put in place has now become realized. In the past the Pakistani Intelligence Services coordinated and controlled these groups. They clearly do not now. I guess the student is now going to teach the professor.

I am confident that the central authorities will prevail, but the cost in blood and suffering in the frontier regions of Pakistan will be significant. Expect blow-back hitting allied forces in Afghanistan also.

Guards Injured In Egyptian-Gaza Border Chaos

From The Telegraph:

At least 36 Egyptian security personnel have been hospitalized, including some in critical condition, due to incidents with Palestinians at the breached Gaza border, the Egyptian foreign minister announced yesterday.

Pedestrians are now being joined by Gaza-registered trucks carrying food and taxis ferrying Palestinians across the border, which was breached by bombs from Hamas militants earlier in the week.

Traffic flows as clashes at Egyptian border continue
Traffic accompanies the thousands of pedestrians streaming across the border

Riot police and armoured vehicles attempted to regain control of the frontier by restricting Gaza motorists to a small area to stem the flow of traffic into the country.

Read more ....

More from Yahoo News.

My Comment: As I and others predicted, Egypt is now trying its best to close the border. They do not have the resources nor will to assist the Palestinians and Hamas in Gaza. Expect more conflict and frustration in the next few days.

Afghanistan Crisis As Karzai Blocks UN Super-Envoy

From the Times Online:

Lord Ashdown’s appointment as the UN special envoy in Afghanistan has been blocked by President Karzai after he met a series of Western leaders in Davos, diplomats said last night.

President Karzai objected to the former Liberal Democrat leader after Lord Ashdown, a former Marine who headed international efforts in Bosnia, insisted on far-reaching powers.

The Afghan leader made clear his intention to block Lord Ashdown at meetings with Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, and David Cameron, the Conservative Party leader, during the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort, one source said.

Read more ....

My Comment: I am curious if this is only a U.K. -- Afghanistan crisis, or something that also involves other allies. My reading of the situation is that there are clear cultural differences on handling the crisis in this area. Afghans have their way, the west their own way.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Did Israel Let Hamas Blow Up The Wall With Egypt On Purpose?

From Yahoo News:

CAIRO, Egypt - The Gaza border crisis caused another sharp flap Thursday in Egyptian-Israeli relations, with Egypt angrily accusing Israel of trying to dump all responsibility for the troubled Gaza Strip in its lap.

It was not clear if the proposal for Israel to relinquish all control over Gaza, expressed privately by several Israeli officials and publicly by one, was serious or just an effort to test international reaction to the idea.

But Egyptian officials were fuming.

Read more ....

My Comment: 24 hours after the wall was blown up, I am slowly beginning to realize that this may have been the strategic objective of Israel in the first place. When I first read this article from the Times (Exclusive: Hamas 'Spent Months Cutting Through Gaza Wall In Secret Operation' -- Times Online) my initial reaction was why did no one try to stop them. Israeli spy planes and their intelligence services must have been aware of what has been happening for the past few months. I mean .... after a few months of seeing people with acetylene torches working on the wall .... I am sure that after a while most people knew what they were doing.

So the question arises .... why were they permitted to do what they did. In particular, why did Israel permit them to do this.

Both Captain's Quarters and ShrinkWrapped analyze this and come up with an answer that is both simple and logical. By bringing down the wall Egypt has now become de facto responsible for the distribution of aid and supplies to the million and a half residents of Gaza. They will also now be responsible for providing services such as water, electrical, and sewage, as well ..... and this will be a major sticking point .... the security of the area.

If past actions are any indication, I doubt that this is what the Egyptian Government wants. They are not equipped to accommodate the aspirations and needs of a million and half Palestinians. In addition, the problem of security .... i.e. Palestinian militants attacking Egyptian resorts, this is a problem that no one wants.

I predict that in the next few days this wall will be put back up. If not .... this is a signal of Egypt becoming a more significant player for Palestinian needs in the region ..... and being a force that Hamas and militant Islamists must now also confront.

Previous Post: Gazans Flood Egypt After Border Breach

How China Will Fight The U.S. -- Dangerous Thinking From Chinese Military Planners

The US Air Force Aimpoints magazine describes how they would try to take out American forces in the region. The outlines of a hypothetical 21st century Pearl Harbor would look like this, according to Roger Cliff, a former Defense Department strategist and China military specialist.

Throw the first punch and hit hard. “Future conflicts are likely to be short, intense affairs that might consist of a single campaign,” Cliff said. “They’re thinking about ways to get the drop on us. ...

Striking U.S. air bases — specifically command-and-control facilities, aircraft hangars and surface-to-air missile launchers — would be China’s first priority if a conflict arose, according to Rand’s report.

U.S. facilities in South Korea and Japan, even far-south Okinawa, sit within what Rand calls the “Dragon’s Lair”: a swath of land and sea along China’s coast. This is an area reachable by cruise missiles, jet-borne precision bombs and local covert operatives.

China is designing ground-launched cruise missiles capable of nailing targets more than 900 miles away — well within striking range of South Korea and much of Japan, according to the report. Cruise missiles able to reach Okinawa — home to Kadena Air Base — are in development.

The Chinese would first launch “concentrated and unexpected” attacks ... Chinese fighter jets would scramble to intercept aerial refueling tankers and cargo planes sent to shuttle in fuel, munitions, supplies or troops. High-explosive cluster bombs would target pilot quarters and other personnel buildings.

(Hat Tip To The Belmont Club)

My Comment: The crux of the article is that Chinese military planners believe that a short military campaign that would cost numerous American lives will result with the U.S. then suing for peace.

Personally, I always find it amazing how governments are always interpreting American disagreements and differences as being weak and unwilling to fight the big fight....and as result start to pursue policies with this belief. The historical reality has always been different.

Grenada 1983
Air Strikes on Libya 1986
Panama 1989
The First Gulf War 1991
Kosovo And The Serb Air Campaign 1999
Afghanistan 2001
Iraq Invasion 2003

The above is just a short list of direct and sustained U.S. military involvement that has cost thousands of lives and multi-billions of dollars. While there has always been opposition to these campaigns, the fact is that these campaigns still went forward when it was deemed to be in America's interest and/or the right and moral thing to do.

Chinese military and political planners must realize that Asia is in America's interest, any idea otherwise is foolish and a prescription for disaster.

Afghanistan War Is Heading the Wrong Direction -- White House Coordinator

From the Times Online:

Iraq may turn out to be America’s “good war” while Afghanistan goes “bad”, the Bush Administration official responsible for co-ordinating efforts in Baghdad has told The Times.

For years Iraq appeared to be a country spiralling deeper into violence and anarchy with no end in sight to the war, while Afghanistan boasted a popular president, a stable capital city and an insurgency that was no match for US and Nato forces.

According to David Satterfield, America's Co-ordinator for Iraq, the roles may have now been reversed, with violence dropping markedly in Iraq, the economy improving and the first signs of real political progress between rival sectarian and ethnic groups.

Read more ....

My Comment: A realistic view on the growing problems of Afghanistan. While the problem with the Taliban is known, disunity and lack of will among NATO allies to confront the real security problems of Afghanistan has not received the attention that it should. This article is a start.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Peace Accord Signed For Eastern Congo

From Yahoo News:

GOMA, Congo - Years of fighting in Congo's restive east ended — on paper at least — Wednesday as warlords and militia fighters signed a long-awaited peace accord with the government of this huge Central African country.

The deal commits all sides to an immediate cease-fire, followed by a pullback of fighters from key areas that will become a U.N.-patrolled buffer zone, said Vital Kamerhe, a government spokesman for the talks.

Observers praised the deal but said fulfilling it would be long and difficult work, with many details yet undecided.

Read more ....

From CNN: 5M Dead As Congo Peace Deal Signed

From Internatinal Herald Tribune: Congo's Death Rate Unchanged Since War Ended

My Comment: There are so many details to work out. So many deaths after so many years. And in the end .... what was gained? African tribalism, hate, greed, corruption .... this region of Congo perfectly illustrates all the problems of Africa today.

Afghanistan - Pakistan -- War News Updates January 24, 2008


Attacks On Afghan Students Up Sharply -- Yahoo News

Death Sentence For Afghan Reporter -- CNN

Afghan Journalist Sentenced to Death On "Blasphemy" Charges -- Gateway Pundit

Terrorism A 'Political Mutant' Unleashed Across Region: Karzai -- Yahoo News

Taliban Offensive Unlikely In East Afghanistan: U.S. -- Yahoo News

Taliban, Al-Qaeda Staying Behind To Fight In Pakistan: US General -- Yahoo News

Canada Stops Afghan Detainee Transfers -- Yahoo News

Karzai’s Eagles: The Afghan Air Force Flies Again -- Long War Journal

U.S. Commander Orders Plans On Pakistan -- Yahoo News

S Waziristan Clashes 'Continue' -- BBC News

Forty Militants Killed In Pakistan Tribal Area: Military -- Yahoo News

Pakistani Forces Pound Militant Hideouts: Military -- Yahoo News

Pakistani troops, Taliban clash in South Waziristan -- Long War Journal

Retired Generals Tell Musharraf To Go -- Yahoo News

Rice Presses Musharraf To Ensure Free Elections -- International Herald Tribune

Iraq War Updates -- January 24, 2008

Iran's President Ahmadinejad To Make Landmark Visit To Iraq: Ministry -- Reuters

Blasts In Northern Iraq Kill At Least 22 -- CBS News

Explosion Kills 17 In Northern Iraq -- Yahoo News

U.S. Military Says Kills 20 In Al Qaeda Iraq Raids -- Reuters

Thirty al Qaeda In Iraq Killed In Diyala -- Long War Journal

US Military Deaths In Iraq At 3,931 -- Yahoo News

New Armored Truck Sees First Iraq Death -- MSNBC

Shiite Radical Rebuffs US Dialogue -- Yahoo News

U.S. War Costs In Iraq Up: Report -- Yahoo News

Gunmen Kill Dean Of Baghdad Dental School -- Reuters

Iraqi MP Iyad Jamal Al-Din Says Iraqis Should Be Grateful to US for Liberating Iraq -- Gateway Pundit

Al Qaeda Chase Seen As Constant -- Washington Times

Al-Qaeda Ousted In Parts Of Iraq, But Forces Can't Cut Off Cash Stream -- Dallas News

Papers Paint New Portrait of Iraq's Foreign Insurgents -- Washington Post

Iraqi Force Developments and Sensationalistic Press Reporting -- Long War Journal

Interesting Iraq Articles - Bin Laden’s Son Tells His Dad He Is Wrong! -- Strata-Sphere

Gazans Flood Egypt After Border Breach

From Yahoo News:

RAFAH, Gaza Strip - On foot, in cars and in donkey carts, tens of thousands of Gazans flooded into Egypt on Wednesday through a border fence blown up by militants — puncturing a gaping hole in Israel's airtight closure of the Gaza Strip and giving a boost to Hamas.

In a shopping spree that was both festive and frenzied, Gazans cleared out stores in an Egyptian border town, buying up everything from TV sets to soft drinks to cigarettes.

As waves of people swarmed through the destroyed barrier — some estimated the crowd in the hundreds of thousands — Egyptian security forces lined up on one side of the border and Hamas forces lined up on the other side. None of them interfered in any way, and it appeared Hamas militants actively participated in the border breach.

Read more ....

Exclusive: Hamas 'Spent Months Cutting Through Gaza Wall In Secret Operation' -- Times Online

Hundreds Of Thousands Of Palestinians Crossed Into Egypt -- Jerusalem Post

Gazans Knock Down Border, Flood Egypt -- Breitbart

Jews "Force" Palestinians to Blow Up Wall & Flood Into Egypt... Update: Hamas Had Been Slicing At The Wall For Months! -- Gateway Pundit

My Comment: This was a situation building-up for the past week, including continuous demonstrations at the border-crossing by Palestinians who need food and other essentials. This is a propaganda victory for Hamas ..... but this will only last a short time. Both Egypt and Israel do not want Hamas gunmen on the loose targeting Western or Israeli tourists in their resort areas. This is the main reason why the Egyptians closely supervise their border with Gaza in the first place.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Pre-Emptive Nuclear Strike A Key Option, Nato Told

From The Guardian:

The west must be ready to resort to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to try to halt the "imminent" spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, according to a radical manifesto for a new Nato by five of the west's most senior military officers and strategists.

Calling for root-and-branch reform of Nato and a new pact drawing the US, Nato and the European Union together in a "grand strategy" to tackle the challenges of an increasingly brutal world, the former armed forces chiefs from the US, Britain, Germany, France and the Netherlands insist that a "first strike" nuclear option remains an "indispensable instrument" since there is "simply no realistic prospect of a nuclear-free world".

Read more ....

The Telegraph is also following this story. Nato 'Must Prepare To Launch Nuclear Attack'

The Belmont Club has more, and his analysis is a must read.

My Comment: It is clear that heavy thinkers in Nato and other military think tanks and establishments feel that our present policy to counteract possible nuclear threats from terrorist and/or rogue nations is inadequate. The advocation of a first strike policy has its roots from the Cold war when Nato forces were numerically inferior to their Warsaw Pact opposites during the Cold War. The fact that this policy worked is probably the reason why this policy is now being talked about in reaction to today's threats.

I personally feel this is not a good idea. The idea of "fighting todays wars with the same thinking from the last one" is not appropriate in todays context of players. The Soviet machine knew that the West had the will to use tactical nuclear weapons in the event of a war. Their fear was the possibility and probability that such a conflict would quickly spiral into a massive nuclear exchange that in the end would obliterate them......hence no open warfare.

In today's world many of its players have a different philosophy .... a philosophy in which mass death is preferable than living under an environment of injustice and humiliation. They say that because they have no reference point to talk about mass death and extermination.

To me it is a frightening situation to live in when a country such as Iran can easily have its President openly deny the Holocaust, while its former ex-President openly admit his admiration for the efficiency of the Nazi war machine in committing the Holocaust. And while these pronouncements are bad enough, it gets worse when these same leaders also talk about having tens of millions of Muslims dead as justification in the event of the obliteration of Israel ..... well Houston ..... we do have a problem.

We in the West, Russia, Japan, China, Israel ..... we are all sensitive to what is the true cost of total and complete war. The destruction that can be brought down. The complete obliteration and extermination of entire peoples .... we are sensitive to this because our parents and grandparents lived through this. We know in the fabric of our being what is involved.

While the Israeli - Arab wars, the Palestinian uprisings, the Iraq-Iran war, The Kuwait invasion, and finally the Iraq war and its Occupation are bad enough, they pale ....I repeat .... they pale in comparison to the carpet bombings of Germany and Japan, the killing fields in Russia and China during the Second World War, and the constant warfare and bloodshed that the entire world went through for 6 years.

Countries such as Iran, Muslim extremists, the Wahabist in Saudi Arabia, and even supporters of Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Ladin .... all of these groups and institutions are not sensitive to what the true cost of what would happen if the safety's are released on the war machine capabilities of the West, Russia, Japan, China, and even Israel.

Discussions of first strike will not impress our enemies, and this for me is an unfortunate realization. They cannot be afraid of what they, their parents, and their grandparents have not experienced.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Pakistan Border Clash Kills Militants

From Yahoo News:

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan - Dozens of Islamic militants died in clashes with Pakistani troops Friday, the army said, amid reports that government forces had launched an operation to clear the area of fighters who overran military positions near the Afghan border.

The intensifying combat highlighted the deteriorating security in the region, a stronghold of Taliban and al-Qaida.

Last month, Islamist warlord Baitullah Mehsud unveiled an alliance of Taliban militants operating in the lawless tribal area. That represented a new challenge to the authority of President Pervez Musharraf, who has deployed nearly 100,000 troops in the region since joining the U.S.-led war on terror six years ago.

Read more ....

My Comment: This has the potential of becoming the world's longest and bloodiest civil war.

NKorea Unlikely To Abandon Nuclear Arms: Bush Human Rights Envoy

From Yahoo News:

WASHINGTON (AFP) - North Korea is unlikely to abandon its nuclear weapons before US President George W. Bush leaves office in January 2009, his special envoy said Thursday, calling for a revamp of six-party talks to end the crisis.

Jay Lefkowitz, special envoy for human rights in North Korea, also accused China and South Korea of not exerting enough pressure on North Korea during the talks that first began in 2003 to end Pyongyang's nuclear weapons drive.

"It is increasingly clear that North Korea will remain in its present nuclear status when the administration leaves office in one year," he told a forum in Washington.

Read more ....

My Comment: I cannot say that I am surprised. People are preparing the groundwork to cover their behinds when this entire process collapses (again).

CIA Chief Places Blame For Bhutto Assassination


The CIA has concluded that members of al-Qaeda and allies of Pakistani tribal leader Baitullah Mehsud were responsible for last month's assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto, and that they also stand behind a new wave of violence threatening that country's stability, the agency's director, Michael V. Hayden, said in an interview.

Offering the most definitive public assessment by a U.S. intelligence official, Hayden said Bhutto was killed by fighters allied with Mehsud, a tribal leader in northwestern Pakistan, with support from al-Qaeda's terrorist network. That view mirrors the Pakistani government's assertions.

Read more ....

My Comment: The list of those who wanted Bhutto dead is a long one. The idea that al-Qaeda may be behind her assassination is not a unique assertion. But the conclusion that Al-Qaeda is now actively developing alliances in the tribal regions is a new public statement.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Pakistan In Turmoil -- January 16, 2008

Militants Capture Pakistani Fort, 47 Dead -- Yahoo News

Militants Overrun Pakistan Army Base -- CBS News

Islamic Militants Seize Pakistan Army Post -- The Guardian

Islamist Army of Hundreds Raids & Captures Pakistani Fort!! -- Gateway Pundit

Iraq Reconstruction Figures Were Wrong, GAO Says -- International Herald Tribune

Islamic Militants Overrun Pakistani Fort -- MSNBC

Armed Militants Overrun Pakistani Military Base; Up to 25 Troops Missing -- FOX News

Scotland Yard Agrees: Looks Like al-Qaeda Killed Bhutto -- Strata-Sphere

Pakistan Says Foreign Intervention An 'Enemy Act' -- Times Of India

Militants Escape Control Of Pakistan: Officials -- Daily Times

Pakistan: Political Leaders In Danger, Says Government -- ADN Kronos

Admiral: Pakistan OKs Bigger U.S. Role -- Yahoo News

Iraq War Updates -- January 16, 2008

Displaced Iraqis Suffer Hardship -- Washington Times

3 US Soldiers Killed North Of Baghdad -- Yahoo News

Iraq's Healthcare Left In Disarray After Invasion -- Guardian

Eight Killed In Iraq Suicide Bombing -- Guardian

When The War Stories Have Nothing To Do With War -- Time Magazine

Police: Woman Bomber Kills 8 Civilians In Iraq -- MSNBC

In Diyala, A New Offensive -- Newsweek

Trust in Media Plummets--- Americans See More Success In Iraq Than Media- Say Media Hurts Troop Morale -- Gateway Pundit

Progress In Iraq, US Asked To Stay On
-- Strata-Sphere

The Number Is 1.6 Million -- Winds Of Change

U.N. Sees Iraq Progress Despite Misgivings -- Reuters

Friendly Fire Eyed In 3 U.S. Troop Deaths -- CBS News

Gallery Owner Battles for Art in Baghdad -- ABC News

Bomb Blast Kills 23 In Sri Lanka

Bomb Blast Kills 23 In Sri Lanka -- FOX News

Police: Bomb And Grenade Attack On Bus Kills 23 -- CNN

Bus Bombing Kills 23 In Sri Lanka -- Yahoo News

Deadly Blast Hits Sri Lanka Bus -- BBC News

Sri Lanka Says Bus Blast Kills 23 -- Reuters

Sri Lanka's Truce To End On Jan. 16 -- Xinhuanet

UPDATE: Bomb Kills 31 On Sri Lankan Bus As Peace Monitors Pull Out -- Times Online

My Comment: There never has been a ceasefire in Sri Lanka. But what is now different is that the Sri Lanka central government has clearly made a decision to go all out against the Tigers and their civilian support structure. Even though this war has been going on for a very long time, the real and bloody fighting is just about to begin.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Roadside Bomb In Beirut Leaves Four Dead

Four Killed In Beirut Explosion -- BBC

Roadside Bomb In Beirut Leaves Four Dead -- Guardian

Targeting The US Again In Beirut -- Time Magazine

Iran & Hezbollah Targeted U.S. Embassy Officials in Lebanon -- Counter Terrorism Blog

Lebanon Blast Hits U.S. Embassy SUV, 3 Killed -- MSNBC

Beirut Blast Kills Three, Injures 22 -- LA Times

Attack On U.S. Embassy Car Kills 3 Near Beirut -- International Herald Tribune

Official: 3 Killed, U.S. Vehicle Targeted in Beirut Blast -- FOX News

Beirut Attack Fuels Political Tension -- BBC

Attack On US Vehicle In Beirut Kills 3 -- ABC News

Bomb Blast Targeting US Officials in Beirut Kills 4 -- Gateway Pundit

My Comment: I have the impression that someone is sending us a message.

Afghanistan News Updates -- January 16, 2008

Foreigners In Afghanistan Now Key Targets For Taleban's Suicide Bombers -- Times Online

Taliban Promises More Kabul Attacks -- Time Magazine

Losing Kabul: A Bombing's Legacy -- Time Magazine

Taliban Vow To Attack Westerners In Kabul -- International Herald Tribune

Taliban Plan To Attack Kabul Restaurants -- Yahoo News

'Taleban Held' After Hotel Attack -- BBC News

Haqqani Network Behind Kabul Hotel Attack -- Long War Journal

Allies Feel Strain Of Afghan War -- MSNBC

Assault On Kabul Hotel Kills At Least 6 -- LA Times

4 Arrested In Deadly Attack On Kabul Hotel -- LA Times

Arrests Made in Afghanistan Hotel Attack -- ABC News

'Mastermind' Behind Kabul Hotel Attack Named By Afghan Officials -- Times Online

Gates Faults NATO Force In Southern Afghanistan -- LA Times

Afghanistan's Most Wretched Battle Addiction -- ABC News

More U.S. Marines For Afghanistan -- Xinhuanet

Military Targets Roadside Bombs -- Globe And Mail

Afghan Force On Track Despite Taliban Attacks: British Commander -- Yahoo News

Divide And Conquer: The British Strategy Against The Taliban -- Long War Journal

Battlefield Heroism: Don't Ask, Don't Tell? -- Winds Of Change

US Says It Has Broad Support For New Afghan Anti-Poppy Drive -- Yahoo News

My Comment: Every time I read a story about Afghanistan, the following thoughts come to mind. (1) Afghanistan is a backward country. (2) Education is only now being properly taught to its young. (3) There is little if any infrastructure. (4) Many of the people who make up the Taliban love to fight and to kill anyone .... in particular foreigners and their allies. (5)
No development and infrastructure work is happening in most of the country. (6) The taliban and Al Qaeda have a vast support structure in Pakistan, and for the moment it is free to do what it wants.

Translation ...... we in the west are going to be in Afghanistan for a very very long time. 50 years or more. This adventure is going to cost (in the end) probably thousands of lives from the west (not including Afghan losses), hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars, and .... here is the scary part .... be probably exposed to blowback at home from our Afghan enemies and their allies.

I have a number of questions .... after 6 years are we better off? Is this the right strategy? Should we go Genghis Khan on the Afghans? Should we just leave and close - up Afghanistan? Do we have the will? Comments are open.

Israeli Attack Kills 18 Palestinians In Gaza

Hamas Mourns Israeli Raid Victims -- CNN

Israeli forces kill 18 Palestinians in Gaza -- Reuters

Israeli Attack Kills 18 Palestinians In Gaza -- The Telegraph

Israeli Troops Kill Hamas Chief's Son -- Times Online

Israel Launches Lethal Raids Into Gaza -- Independent

19 Palestinians Killed In Raid On Gaza -- Guardian

19 Gazans, Ecuadorean Kibbutz Volunteer Killed In Israeli-Palestinian Clashes -- LA Times

Bloody Day In Gaza -- ABC News

Israeli Military Kills 19 Palestinians In Gaza Raid -- MSNBC

19 Gazans, Kibbutz Worker Killed -- Yahoo News

UPDATE: Israeli Attack Kills 23 People In Gaza -- Telegraph

Additional News on Gaza:
Gaza's Christian Population Wanes -- Washington Times

My Comment: No work. No money. Electrical shortages. Medical and social services cut to the bone. Food shortages. High inflation. Scarcity of the basic goods. A government that is run by an extreme Islamic group that has no hesitation to murder its own rivals within the Palestinian community .... let alone Jews or any other group that it is at war with.

The fact that the son of Mahmoud Zahar, the hardline leader of Hamas was also killed, does not bode well for the future.

No hope. No future. No possibilities.

Will the Palestinians ever wake up and smell the coffee?

The Bravery Of Iraqis

From Michael Totten:

Iraqi Army soldiers have a terrible reputation for cowardice and corruption – especially in Baghdad – but it’s unfair to write them all off after reading the news out of Iraq’s capital Sunday. Three Iraqi Army soldiers tackled a suicide bomber at an Army Day parade and were killed when he exploded his vest.

While embedded with the United States Army and Marines I heard over and over again that the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police have improved a lot in the past year. This is encouraging, on the one hand, but at the same time it is worrisome. If they are as bad now in some places as I’ve seen myself, they must have really been something in 2005.

At the War Eagle outpost in Baghdad’s Graya’at neighborhood, I was told by a military intelligence officer that the most likely reason we weren’t under mortar attack is because huge numbers of Moqtada al Sadr’s radical Mahdi Army militiamen had infiltrated the ranks of Iraqi Army soldiers who shared the base with us.

Read more ....

My Comment: An uplifting article, but at the end of the Commentary article the point is made that the Iraq Army will not be able to properly police and secure the region for the next two years. Yup ..... Americans are going to be in Iraq for a very long time.

Militant Groups Slip From Pakistan's Control

From the International Herald Tribune:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Pakistan's premier military intelligence agency has lost control of some of the networks of Pakistani militants it has nurtured since the 1980s, and is now suffering the violent blowback of that policy, two former senior intelligence officials and other officials close to the agency say.

As the military has moved against them, the militants have turned on their former handlers, the officials said. Joining with other extremist groups, they have battled Pakistani security forces and helped militants carry out a record number of suicide attacks this year, including some aimed directly at army and intelligence units as well as prominent political figures, possibly even Benazir Bhutto.

Read more ....

Additional Coverage And Analysis from Belmont Club.

My Comment: Both articles accurately outline how another country's policies and actions may initially be isolated within their own borders and neighboring countries ....... but when it comes to militant islam we now have a result that attacks on other countries which are thousands of miles away are bringing pain and grief back to host countries of terror such as Pakistan ........ 911 being a perfect example of this blowback.

The years when groups like Al Qaeda have enjoyed autonomy in these regions are now coming to a close. Unfortunately, for the next few decades Pakistan will now be experiencing violence and turmoil from this past policy of appeasement and accommodation of extremists.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Suicide Attack On Afghan Luxury Hotel Kills Seven

Attack On Luxury Kabul Hotel -- Breitbart

Suicide Attack On Afghan Luxury Hotel Kills Seven -- Reuters

Attack On Kabul Luxury Hotel Kills 6 -- Yahoo News

Militants Hit Kabul Luxury Hotel -- CNN News

Taleban Attack Kabul Luxury Hotel -- BBC

Taliban Says It Attacked Hotel In Kabul -- International Herald Tribune

Military History Carnival #10

For fans of military history, the 10th Carnival of Military history can be read at the "Walking The Berkshires" blog page.

There are a number of good links to look at.

Kenyan Opposition Refuses To Budge

From CNN:

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) -- Opposition leader Raila Odinga said Sunday his Orange Democratic Movement members plan to sit on the government side of parliament when it reconvenes Tuesday.

Odinga has said that he is prepared to call for strikes, boycotts and civil disobedience.

"The standing orders are very clear," he said. "They say the majority party is the government party. We are the majority party, and therefore we are going to be sitting on the government side, because we expect the minority party to sit on the opposition benches."

Odinga vowed not to call off further planned protests, which have racked the nation since last month's disputed presidential election. He added that he is prepared to call for strikes, boycotts and civil disobedience as well in his continuing effort to pressure Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, whom he accuses of trying to steal the election.

Read more .....

My Comment: Two different ethnic groups. One in power, the other not. A stolen election. Riots and ethnic cleansing. Next door to Rwanda that has already experienced genocide. This is a perfect text-book case of how war, civil war, and genocide starts.

Publius Pundit has more.

Iraq War Updates -- January 14, 2008

US Military Deaths In Iraq At 3,923 -- Yahoo News

Sunni Judge Assassinated In Baghdad -- Yahoo News

Turkish PM Says Iraq Operations May Be Extended -- Reuters

Iraq Announces The Defeat Of al-Qaeda Is At Hand, Time To Celebrate -- Strata Sphere

Ceremony Mourns Victims Of Iraq's "Anfal" Genocide -- Reuters

Uncertainty Surrounds New Iraqi de-Baathification Law -- International Herald Tribune

Former Iraq Baathists Skeptical Of Law -- Yahoo News

Newsweek Declares Iraq A Lost Cause For Surrendercrats -- Strata-Sphere

253 Terrorists Captured Or Killed In Operation Phantom Phoenix -- Gateway Pundit

U.S. Says 60 Killed In Offensive Against al Qaeda In Iraq -- Yahoo News

Iraq: Snow in Baghdad -- Global Voices Online

Commentary: Contra Sullivan On The Surge: A Small Wars Perspective -- Stephen Bainbridge

More News and Comments -- Iraq Pundit

Angry Pakistanis Turn Against Army

From the Times Online:

IT IS the most expensive - and talked about - property development in Pakistan, but few can get near it. Hidden behind barbed wire, the new state-of-the-art army headquarter to replace a garrison in Rawalpindi is costing a reputed £1 billion and will cover 2,400 acres of prime land in Islamabad, including lakes, a residential complex, schools and clinics.

Originally intended to represent the best of Pakistan, the new army HQ is now being seen as a symbol of all that is wrong with the country.

Amid nationwide anger over the killing of the opposition leader Benazir Bhutto and a widespread belief that the country’s military or intelligence may have been involved, the population is turning against the army for the first time.

Read more ....

Update From Yahoo News: Seven Dead In Karachi Bomb Blast: Police

Update From CBS News: Sharif: Pakistan Is “Drowned In Blood”

Update from Counter Terrorism Blog: Musharraf's Dangerous Liaisons And The Situation In The Tribal Areas

Update From The Long War Journal: Taliban Ambush Pakistani Forces In Mohmand; Bombing In Karachi

My Comment: With more than 50% of the population openly supporting Osama Bin Ladin, any hope in the short term of being successful against Al Qaeda in Pakistan are moot. This situation in Pakistan is a perfect illustration of why the war on terror is going to be a "long war".

Anti-War Soros Funded Iraq-Lancent Study

From The Times Online:

A STUDY that claimed 650,000 people were killed as a result of the invasion of Iraq was partly funded by the antiwar billionaire George Soros.

Soros, 77, provided almost half the £50,000 cost of the research, which appeared in The Lancet, the medical journal. Its claim was 10 times higher than consensus estimates of the number of war dead.

The study, published in 2006, was hailed by antiwar campaigners as evidence of the scale of the disaster caused by the invasion, but Downing Street and President George Bush challenged its methodology.

New research published by The New England Journal of Medicine estimates that 151,000 people - less than a quarter of The Lancet estimate - have died since the invasion in 2003.

“The authors should have disclosed the [Soros] donation and for many people that would have been a disqualifying factor in terms of publishing the research,” said Michael Spagat, economics professor at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Read more ....

My Comment: The deliberate politicization of information during a time of warfare is a clear sign that the people who are funding this propaganda are siding with the enemy and not with the U.S. and its Iraqi allies. The individuals who took this money and did their study knew that making public their beneficiary would only discredit their work .... hence no disclosure until now.

More comment from Gateway Pundit, Right Wing Nuthouse, and Tigerhawk.