Archive for October, 2012

Countering al-Qaida in Mali Requires Regional Cooperation

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2012 – Al-Qaida is establishing a presence in Mali, and the United States is working with regional and international partners to deal with the terrorist organization, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said here today.

“I’ve made clear … we have to ensure that al-Qaida has no place to hide and that we have to continue to go after them … wherever they try to develop a command-and-control capability from which they could conduct attacks, either on Europe or on this country,” the secretary said during a news conference with South Korean Minister of National Defense Kim Kwan-jin.

Al-Qaida is trying to establish a safe area in northern Mali. The United States will continue to work with the nations of the region to put pressure on the terror group, just as America has done in other areas. “We’re doing it in Yemen. We’re doing it in Somalia. We’re obviously continuing to do it in the [Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan],” Panetta said. “And I believe the effort now ought to be to work with nations in that region to ensure that al-Qaida does not develop that kind of base in Mali.”

But this cannot be something imposed by nations outside the area, the secretary said. “It ought to be an effort that is developed in conjunction with other countries in the region that share the same concern,” he said.

Discussions about an international response to issues facing Mali continue. For the United States, the State Department is the lead agency. This week, the French Ministry of Defense hosted an international discussion in Paris to evaluate proposals and options for intervention in Mali and the Sahel, DOD officials said.

Mali faces four overlapping problems. First there are questions of the legitimacy of the government following a coup in March. Since the coup, there has been an increase in criminal traffickers or people drugs and contraband. The Tuareg — a nomadic people of the desert — and al-Qaida in the Mahgreb are rising against the government, and there is a Sahel-wide humanitarian crisis stretching from Sudan almost to the Atlantic coast.

The United Nations Security Council is considering a resolution to address Mali’s problems. One part of the resolution would create a western-backed, African-led international force to meet security threats in Mali.

The Economic Community of West African States — which Mali is a member — said it would lead this force.

“I think what we’re prepared to do is to discuss with our regional partners a plan that … would deal with that threat and how to respond to it,” Panetta said.

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Saturday, October 20th, 2012

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Saturday, October 20th, 2012

Don't Under Think It

My name is Rupert Hope Denton.

Now close your eyes and conjure up an image of what Rupert Hope Denton might look like. A cherub perhaps? Surrounded by other cherubs with names like Caleb, Alexander and Tobias? Maybe Caleb, Alexander and Tobias are savagely beating Rupert Hope Denton with their lutes and harps for having such a wussy name. So when a guy called Rupert Hope finds himself in a city called Philly he ought to be scared.

Philadelphia is a tough city. Everyone looks like a character from The Wire, The Sopranos or Skins. I on the other hand look like a character from Doug. Everyone has a take no shit suffer no fools attitude. I on the other hand, am a fool and talk a lot of shit.

I’m standing in line at a restaurant in Italian Market in South Philadelphia. One of those establishments were the walls…

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Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

CYBER ARMS - Computer Security

(Photo: Reuters)

Israel is facing daily electronic attacks against critical systems, and the attacks are on the increase. To counter the rising cyber storm, they are in the process of creating a digital “Iron Dome”. Which according to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will help block the attacks and “protect Israel from cyber terror“.

Israel has been in a battle to survive ever since the nation was re-formed. They have been under constant threat by Islamic nations that simply do not want the country to exist. Now, along with the possibility of physical and even possible nuclear attack, electronic attacks have been rapidly on the rise. All together, Netanyahu recently said that these are “the greatest security-related challenges Israel has faced since its inception”.

Israel has not been sedentary in preparing for these threats. They have put their best and brightest minds at work creating defenses against…

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Fordow Nuclear Plant, Qom, Iran

Sunday, October 14th, 2012


Sanctions hurt Iran; regime will survive

Sunday, October 14th, 2012


Iran’s currency virtually collapsed last week, and the public protests that followed in Tehran stirred memories of the massive anti-regime protests of 2009. This has caused excited speculation in the United States and its allies about the imminent fall of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the abandonment of Iran’s uranium enrichment program or even the end of the whole Islamic regime. Don’t hold your breath.

Ahmadinejad blamed the currency crisis on the foreign sanctions that are crippling Iran’s trade, of course. His critics at home just blamed him: “The smaller part of the problem relates to sanctions while 80 percent of the problem is rooted in the government’s mistaken policies,” said Ali Larijani, the speaker of the Iranian parliament. But he would say that, wouldn’t he?

It’s true that Ahmadinejad has used the country’s large oil revenues to paper over some serious mistakes in running Iran’s economy, but the current crisis was caused by a steep fall in those revenues — which is directly due to the sanctions.

Four rounds of United Nations-backed trade sanctions, ostensibly meant to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, had already cut the country’s oil exports from 2.5 million barrels a day to 1.5 million barrels a day by early this year.

In July came new European Union sanctions banning oil imports from Iran entirely. Since Europe was taking one-fifth of Iran’s remaining oil exports, that blow was enough to send the Iranian rial into free-fall.

Until 2009, the rate of exchange was fairly stable at about 10,000 rials to the dollar. Then it started to fall slowly, and then faster — and in a hectic few days last week, it tumbled a further 40 percent to a low of 35,000 rials to the dollar. That was when the protests began in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar, whose merchants were amongst the strongest supporters of the revolution in 1979.

The protests were contained without any deaths, and the shops in the bazaar are now open again. The rial has recovered slightly, stabilizing at around 28,000 to the dollar. But that is one-third of what it was worth three years ago, and the effects are being felt in almost every household in the country. Formerly comfortable middle-class families are scrambling to put food on the table, and the poor are really suffering.

So the sanctions are working, in the sense that they are hurting people. But what are they accomplishing in terms of their stated purpose of forcing Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons program? More important, perhaps, what are they achieving in terms of their unstated purpose: triggering an uprising that overthrows the whole Islamic regime?

First of all, Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapons program. The International Atomic Energy Agency and the U.S. and Israeli intelligence service are all agreed on that, although the public debate on the issue generally assumes the contrary. Iran says it is developing its ability to enrich uranium fuel for use in reactors, which is perfectly legal under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Israel’s current government has talked itself into a state of existential panic over Iran’s uranium enrichment program, but the U.S. government certainly doesn’t believe that Iran has any immediate plans to build nuclear weapons. So what are these sanctions really about?

Overthrowing the Iranian regime, of course. American sanctions against Iran long predate any concerns about Iranian nuclear weapons and would not be ended even if Iran stopped all work on uranium enrichment tomorrow. The U.S. legislation that imposes the sanctions makes that very clear.

Before sanctions are lifted, the president must certify to Congress that Iran has “released all political prisoners and detainees; ceased its . . . violence and abuse of Iranian citizens engaging in peaceful political activity; investigated the killings and abuse of peaceful political activists . . . and prosecuted those responsible; and made progress toward establishing an independent judiciary.” In other words, it must dismantle the regime.

Since stopping the enrichment program would not end the sanctions, why would the Iranian government even consider doing so? And will the Iranian people rise up and overthrow the regime because sanctions are making their daily lives very difficult? Even anti-regime Iranians are proud and patriotic people, and the likelihood that they will yield to foreign pressures in that way is approximately zero.

Gwynne Dyer is a London-based independent journalist whose articles are published in 45 countries.

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

A former senior analyst in the United States Central Intelligence Agency has come out in support of a bilateral compromise between Iran and the West on Tehran’s nuclear program. In an article published last week, Georgetown University professor Paul R. Pillar, who spent nearly three decades with the CIA, dismissed the widespread view that the differences between Iran, Israel, and the West are insurmountable. Commenting on news of a nine-step negotiation plan offered by Tehran in early October, but dismissed by Washington as “unworkable”, Pillar said the offer provided the initial steps of an “eminently achievable agreement” between the interested parties. The CIA veteran, who rose to be one of the Agency’s top analysts prior to his retirement in 2005, argued that a possible outcome of bilateral negotiations would be for Iran to curtail its enrichment of uranium to the 20 percent level in…

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Sunday, October 7th, 2012

CNN Security Clearance

As unrest unfolds on the streets of Tehran over Iran’s collapsing currency, and international sanctions take their toll on the economy, new signs are emerging that Iran may be willing to suspend its disputed nuclear program. But that all depends on if the country gets something in return. Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty reports.

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