Peace Like A River

It was a wide river, mistakable for a lake or even an ocean unless you'd been wading and knew its current. Somehow I'd crossed it... Now I saw the stream regrouped below, flowing on through what might've been vineyards, pastures, orhards... It flowed between and alongside the rivers of people; from here it was no more than a silver wire winding toward the city. - Leif Enger, Peace Like A River

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Turnabout is fair play

At the beginning of the year, Russia shut off the gas to Ukraine, sparking a major uproar. Today, Turkmenistan threatened to do much the same thing to Russia.

Turkmenistan's Foreign Ministry warned in a statement today after a suspension of talks on gas deliveries to Russia that supplies will be cut off in September if Moscow and Ashgabat fail to reach a new import deal.

Russian gas giant Gazprom said today that it has been unable to reach agreement on price in a new import deal with Turkmenistan and that negotiations have been suspended.

The announcement of the negotiations' collapse came after a meeting between Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov and Gazprom chief Aleksei Miller.

Turkmenistan wants to raise the price of its gas sales to Russia to $100 per 1,000 cubic meters for supplies in the second half of 2006 and in 2007.

The Turkmen Foreign Ministry today confirmed that Ashgabat would honor a previous, 30 billion-cubic-meter contract to sell gas to Russia for $65 per 1,000 cubic meters.

Turkmenistan has recently looked to other prospective markets to sell its gas, including signing a deal in early April that foresees a gas pipeline to deliver Turkmen gas directly to China.

Turkmenistan is also looking to Iran. The $190 million Korpezhe-Kurt Kui pipeline from Turkmenistan to Iran, launched in 1997, is the first natural-gas export pipeline in Central Asia to bypass Russia.

With other potential markets for its gas, Turkmenistan is in a strong position, at least strong enough that it doesn't need to cave in to Russia pressure.

And there is Russian pressure. Russia would like Turkmenistan to join the SCO, in part so it could better control Turkmenistan's oil and gas. Russia went so far as to help foment an attempted coup in Turkmenistan in 2002. If Turkmenistan joined the SCO, and if and when Iran and Pakistan become full members, Afghanistan will be completely surrounded by SCO nations. The major presence for the US in Central Asia would certainly feel the pressure of an organization led by rival nations.

Another reason Turkmenistan is enjoying a stronger position is Gazprom is increasingly in need of additional gas supplies.

Russia's rising appetite for Central Asian gas is a direct result of the shifting fortunes of Gazprom, the state-run Russian company that controls lucrative exports. The company's total gas production has flatlined at around 550 billion cubic meters (bcm) a year. With major fields yielding less as they age, Gazprom has chosen to maintain its all-important gas balance by purchasing gas on the side -- from independent producers in Russia and from Russia's Central Asian neighbors -- instead of investing in the lengthy and costly development of untapped Arctic fields, former Deputy Energy Minister Vladimir Milov explained in a 26 December article in "Novaya gazeta."

Maintaining the gas balance is crucial because Gazprom needs to keep up both domestic shipments, which serve to preserve social stability and subsidize the Russian economy, and exports, which produce profits. Domestic shipments at regulated, reduced prices totaled 258 bcm in 2004 and 325 bcm in 2005, when they generated losses of nearly $1 billion, Prime-TASS reported on 29 November. Exports to the West, which account for the bulk of Gazprom's profits, are planned at 151 bcm in 2006 and set to rise to 163 bcm by 2008, Prime-TASS reported on 23 November.

Faced with declining yields at home and rising demand across the board, Gazprom is looking south to make up the difference. In an October 2005 book titled "The Future Of Russian Gas And Gazprom," Professor Jonathan Stern, director of gas research at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, argues that Gazprom will undergo a signal shift in coming years, with dependence on Russian production giving way to "imports of around 100 bcm [a year] from Central Asian countries -- Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan."

The US has human rights concerns with Turkmenistan and its president Saparmurat Niyazov. Still, we have to deal with Turkmenistan as it is, and we should be encouraging good relations with Turkmenistan.

New leader, same as the old one

Chechnya's new rebel leader isn't going to turn over too many new leaves.

In his first public comments since becoming Chechnya's new rebel leader, Doku Umarov has threatened to expand separatist operations further into Russia.

Umarov also praised his predecessor, Abdul-Khalim Sadulayev, who was killed by Russian special forces in Chechnya on June 17, and urged Russia to leave the breakaway region.

Umarov said preparations were under way to take the Chechen separatists' fight for independence deeper into Russian territory with attacks on military targets.

In comments posted on the rebel website today, Umarov also said a special unit is being formed to fight what he called "the most odious traitors" to the separatist cause -- an apparent reference to Chechnya's pro-Moscow administration.

Umarov said rebel forces this summer planned to expand their attacks to "many regions of Russia."

But, he stressed, they would target only military and police facilities. Civilians would be spared, except for those who participate in what he called "subversive activities against us."

In contrast to Chechen rebel field commander Shamil Basayev, Umarov has opposed attacks against civilians like the September 2004 Beslan school siege.

Umarov's threats to expand the Chechen conflict continues the move begun by his predecessor Sadulayev to create six so-called "fronts" in the war with Russia -- four in Chechnya itself, one for Daghestan and one for the remainder of the North Caucus region.

His remarks also appear to be an attempt to demonstrate that the resistance movement has survived Sadulayev's death June 17 at the hands of Russian special forces.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Doing what it takes

China has significant oil interests in Sudan. As such, China has an interest in preserving its relationship with the current government, and in preserving the government, period. News like this only underscores China's blind eye approach when its economic interests are at stake.

The United Nations has determined that China has been supplying weapons to Sudanese troops and rebels in the war-torn Darfour province.

A UN report said China has been supplying weapons and ammunition to rebels and regime-backed militias in Darfour. The report said China has violated an arms ban on Darfour, where about 200,000 people have been killed in the province.

"China has been, and continues to be, a major supplier of light weapons to the government of Sudan and many of the neighboring states," Ernst Jan Hogendoorn, a UN expert, told a conference on small arms proliferation on Monday.

The report said Sudan's neighbors have also supplied weapons to Darfour. The UN cited Chad, Eritrea and Libya.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Somalia Challenge

An interesting column at the CS Monitor, on the growing problem in Somalia:

Just this past week, Martin Adler, a distinguished Swedish newsman and filmmaker, became the 21st journalist - by my count - murdered there in the past decade. Immediately afterward, the powerful Islamic Courts Union (ICU), which now controls the capital, Mogadishu, and much of southern Somalia, named Sheikh Hassan Aweys, an Islamist on Washington's list of terrorist suspects, as head of its de facto parliament.

Somalis have lived with anarchy since the dictatorship of Siad Barre in 1969-81. Mr. Barre forcibly and superficially unified an intricate society of somewhat Afghan-style clans and warlords. Since then, Somalia has suffered war, famine, and a breakdown of civil society. As in too many other African countries, its children often do not go to school but become child soldiers or bandits.

Humanitarian nongovernmental organizations question whether they dare return to alleviate starvation.

President George Bush has wisely convened a symposium of experts on this neglected land. His senior military men must wonder how to avoid future mistakes like those that impelled President Bill Clinton to end the humanitarian military intervention of 1995, familiar to viewers of the film "Black Hawk Down."
Meeting the Somali challenge should concentrate on control of the incessant arms traffic. It should consider calling in African Union or UN forces to protect aid to hungry Somalis, and lending political support to the transitional regime to transform it into a unified and strong federal system. This might reduce clan politics and encourage constructive action by neighboring African and Arab states to bring about peaceful change.

Russia and Iran gas ventures

Just this sort of thing was discussed in the recent SCO summit in Shanghai.

Russia’s natural gas monopoly Gazprom said on Monday, June 26, that it is considering joint oil and gas projects with Iranian state energy companies.

Gazprom’s CEO Alexei Miller met with Iran’s Deputy oil minister M.H. Nejad Hosseinian to discuss creating a joint venture to explore and develop oil and gas fields, and to transport and sell natural gas, the company said in a statement.

Despite international concerns over Iran’s nuclear program, Russia has close business ties with Iran. Moscow has arms contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars with Tehran and is building a nuclear power plant in the Iranian southern port of Bushehr under a $800 million contract.

Sergei Kiriyenko, the head of Russia’s atomic energy agency, said on Monday that work at the plant was on schedule and would be completed in 2007, RIA-Novosti reported. “Our Iranian colleagues wanted it to be built faster, but it will be built to the schedule agreed,” the agency quoted him as saying.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Why Russia?

On Sunday, the Mujahideen Shura Council in Iraq said it had executed the four Russian diplomats being held hostage. The diplomats were taken June 3 in Baghdad. A fifth Russian diplomat was killed in the attack.

The announcement included a grim reminder of barbaric nature of the terrorists in Iraq.

The statement said the posting included footage of the "execution". The group had demanded that Russia withdraw its troops from Chechnya and release all Muslim prisoners.

The Web posting showed video footage of the killing of two men it said were Russian hostages and the beheaded body of a third man.

It showed two militants beheading one of the men and the shooting of a second, after showing four men speaking in Russian in video statements dated June 13, 2006.

While the diplomats were taken June 3, it wasn't until June 19 that the Council claimed responsibility for the kidnappings. The Council is an umbrella group for 8 terrorist organizations in Iraq, and their statement claimed the Russians were taken in response to Russian activity in Chechnya. On June 21, the Council said that since Russia had not acted, the diplomats would be killed.

On June 19, the Mujahideen Shura Council in Iraq (an umbrella organization that includes al-Qaida in Iraq) claimed responsibility for this action and gave the Russian government a 48-hour ultimatum to pull its troops out of Chechnya and release Muslims from Russian prisons. On June 21, the Mujahideen Shura Council announced that since Moscow had not met its demands, a ruling had been made by the Council's Islamic Court to execute the four Russian hostages.

As I remarked when the Russians were first taken, it is puzzling why the terrorists would target Russian diplomats. Russia is quite opposed to the US efforts in Iraq, and certainly does not have troops there assisting Coalition forces. There was no need to punish Russia for its Iraq policy because it already opposed the US.

I don't believe it was a random targeting. I don't think the terrorists went out to kidnap people and happened upon the Russians. I believe someone was trying to send a message to Russia. Who, and why, is really the interesting question here.

The Council referred to Chechnya. It is possible that Chechnya was the driving motive here, as evidenced by the fact the kidnapping and Chechnya were not linked until June 19.

This is interesting because Russia killed a top Chechen terrorist leader only two days before, on June 17.

Police killed the Chechen rebel leader Saturday allegedly acting on a tip from within his network and dealing a possible blow to efforts to spread the increasingly Islam-inspired insurgency throughout southern Russia.

Abdul-Khalim Sadulayev was shot during a raid on a hideout in his Chechen hometown of Argun, nine miles east of Grozny. He had been planning a terror attack in Argun to coincide with the Group of Eight summit of leading industrialized nations in St. Petersburg in mid-July, the Moscow-backed Chechen premier claimed.

Wearing combat fatigues, Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov posed for TV cameras next to a half-naked bloodied body identified as the rebel leader's. He said a close associate of Sadulayev's tipped police to his whereabouts for the equivalent of $55.

It's possible a criminal gang took the Russians and sold them to the Council for money, something that happens all the time in Iraq. Perhaps elements within the Council with ties to Chechnya then used the killing of Sadulayev as a motive to execute the Russians.

On the wider scale, Russia maintains relationships with states throughout the Middle East. Russia is not an enemy of the regimes there. An article in the latest issue of The Middle East Review of International Affairs looks at Russia's Middle East policy. Here is an excerpt.

Russia's policy towards the Middle East today is a far cry from the ideologically-driven, Cold War zero-sum thinking which guided the Kremlin for many years. In fact, Putin's policy towards the region has been anything but ideological. Learning from U.S. policymakers who for many years developed relations with both Arab states and Israel and were thus at an advantage when it came to resolving disputes and capitalizing on economic opportunities, Russian officials now similarly avoid any ideological principle that would force their policy to be zero-sum. As Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the Russian newspaper Pravda, "Russia's policy is neither pro-Arab, nor pro-Israel. It is aimed at securing Russian national interests. Maintaining close and friendly ties with Arab states and Israel is among them."

The Kremlin's modus vivendi in the region is marked by pragmatism, cynicism, and economic calculations occasionally mixed with an undertone of anti-Americanism. Russian policymakers recognize that the Middle East is not a primary area of concern, even if it is, increasingly, becoming an area where Russia can exert influence. While Russia plays more than a "niche role" in the region, it lacks the well-defined, long-term strategy necessary to be considered a "real great power." Russia simply cannot penetrate the Middle East as the Soviet Union once could nor does it necessarily have an interest in doing so. Russia's limited capacity to affect change far from her borders forces Russian leaders to distinguish primary from secondary objectives. Tangibly, this has meant that Russia has concentrated on maintaining its traditional role in the region as a leading arms supplier while simultaneously opening new markets to Russian companies. This was demonstrated most clearly when on his only trip to the Middle East in April of 2005, Putin's fellow travelers included the chief executives from the MiG Corporation and Rosoboroneksport (Russian Defense Exports). Indeed, Putin is interested not only in continuing exporting arms to the region, but also expanding the role of Russian companies in the energy sector. For years, Russian firms have been buying oil from Iraq and then reselling it to Europe and the United States, but only recently has Russia begun crafting energy deals with Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, Jordan, and even Israel.

As such, Arab terrorists should not have reason to be angry with Russia. However, the article does elaborate on Russia's growing relationship with Israel, and that may be a motive for terrorists to strike at Russia's diplomats. The article says:

During Putin's presidency, Israel has come to play an increasingly significant role in Russia's Middle East policy. Putin has done more than any other Russian leader to improve economic and strategic ties with Israel. At the same time, however, the Kremlin's dealings with some of Israel's adversaries have complicated the full development of Russian-Israeli ties, as was seen in the Israeli response to the Kremlin's controversial February 2006 decision to invite Hamas to Moscow for meetings with senior Russian officials.

On the surface, Russian-Israeli cooperation has never been closer. As Putin told his Israeli hosts in late April 2005, "We have all the conditions for success, and most important, there is the will and desire on both sides to strengthen our friendship, trust and cooperation and to build a constructive partnership together."[8] Trade between the countries has doubled under Putin and today amounts to close to $1.5 billion in direct trade,[9] and over a billion in energy deals. Israelis and Russians are working together in sectors spanning heavy industry, aviation, energy, and medicine. Since 1989, almost one million Jews from the former Soviet Union have immigrated to Israel, creating a natural economic bridge between the two countries. Today, they make up approximately 20 percent of Israel's population. As Putin told the Egyptian Newspaper Al-Ahram in April of 2005, Russia "is not indifferent to the fate of these people,"[10] many of whom have dual Israeli/Russian citizenship and business ties with both countries.

Gazprom has been pursuing gas deals with Israel, including an undersea pipeline from Turkey to Israel. From this commentary at MosNews:

Gazprom had no intention of giving up a foothold in Israel. Last March, eight months and one CVA later, with Olmert serving as Prime Minister, the Ministry of National Infrastructures received a request from Gazprom to renew the meetings about the major deal. The Russians didn’t content themselves with a meeting with Roni Bar-On, the then Minister of National Infrastructures, and requested a meeting between Olmert and the delegation, headed by company President Miller, and that’s exactly what took place.

At the meeting the Russians presented their plan: laying an undersea gas pipeline from Turkey to Israel, that would make it possible to supply gas for decades. The project, whose scope is estimated in the billions, was examined in the past but not carried out because the Israeli estimate was that the asking price for the gas would be high. Aside from the economic aspect, ministers expressed a fear that the Russian government, by means of Gazprom, would attempt to create Israeli dependency on Russian energy, as it has done with other countries. “Putin wants a foothold in this region,” explains a senior party at the Ministry of National Infrastructures. “What does he have to offer? Weapons aren’t relevant, and he doesn’t have other significant resources. Gas is a product that could do the trick.”

Looking the opposite direction from Israel, Russia has done a couple of things to anger Iran. Last October, when Ahmadinejad made his remarks about wiping Israel off the face of the map, Russia publicly condemned the remarks. (Why? Perhaps for reasons discussed above, to preserve growing business ties?)

Also, just this weekend Iran criticized Russia for dragging its heels in completing the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi on Sunday said that Russia has not fulfilled its commitments properly, IRNA reports.

Addressing reporters in his weekly press conference in Tehran, he made the above remark in response to a question about the Russians delay in completing Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant.

Criticizing the Russian partner working on the project, he hoped that the relevant contractor will comply with its commitments to this end and will make up for the delay.

Replying to a question about the timetable of the project and whether its implementation has been postponed until 2007, he hoped that they will comply with their commitments and compensate for the delay.

Iran would be foolish to drive Russia, its protector in the UN, away by having Russian diplomats killed. If Iran was involved, it would be through typical Iranian means, by proxy. However, there would be no point to it if Russia didn't know Iran was behind it, if it was an attempt to warn Russia not to stray too far from a strong relationship with Iran. And so, Iran would seem to be an unlikely culprit here.

It is a mystery. And make no mistake, this wasn't random. Someone was trying to tell Russia something. As Olivier Guitta points out at the Counterterrorism Blog, the question now is how Russia will respond.

It will be interesting to see how Russia reacts to these murders. Indeed Russia has been known for dealing with sometimes excessive force to terrorists. And not only with Chechen rebels.

For example, in September 1985 when four Russian diplomats were kidnapped in Beirut by Hezbollah, the then USSR responded in kind by first abducting a family member of an Hezbollah leader and then killing him very very gruesomely. The hostages were given back right away and Russia was never targeted in Lebanon again.

Will Russia do the same today?

Monday Winds of War Briefing

Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Friday. Monday's Winds of War briefings are given by Peace Like a River and Security Watchtower.

Top Topics

* NRO's MediaBlog says that "The duo of Eric Lichtblau and James Risen have published the details of yet another classified national-security program. This time, they exposed the workings of a database of financial records that the administration has used to track al Qaeda's banking transactions." Reactions and roundups from Hugh Hewitt, BizzyBlog, Patterico, All Things Beautiful and GroupIntel. VP Cheney vigorously defended the program.

* A fundamentalist Muslim who is listed by the U.S. State Department as a suspected al-Qaida collaborator was named Saturday as the new leader of an Islamic militia that has seized control of Somalia's capital. The militia, which changed its name Saturday from the Islamic Courts Union to the Conservative Council of Islamic Courts, said in a statement it had appointed Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys as its new leader. The Bush administration has said Aweys was an associate of Osama bin Laden in the early 1990s.

* Saudi Arabia announced the arrest of 42 terror suspects, some of them since a shootout in Riyadh between gunmen and Saudi security forces left six al Qaeda operatives dead. Minister of Interior Prince Naif said terror cells would continue to exist unless international action was taken to dry up their sources.

* Israel is threatening strong military action against Palestinian terrorists in Gaza after two Israeli soldiers were killed and another kidnapped by Hamas after members tunneled under the border 300 yards. Corporal Gilad Shalit is the first Israeli soldier kidnapped in over a decade, and in response Israel is vowing to secure his return. Britain sent condolences but is urging the Israelis to show restraint, while Mahmoud Abbas said Hamas is accountable for the soldier's well being. The Fatah party said Hamas leaders in Syria are responsible for the attack.

Other topics today include: Palestinian attack on Israeli army post; al Aqsa and WMD; Talks between Abbas and Hamas; Iran rejects deadlines; Hariri family targeted in Beirut; IDF captures 2 Hamas terrorists; Hezbollah-al Qaeda relations; Iran unhappy over Bushehr; Explosion in Turkey; Syrian-Iranian relations; Iranian role in Iraq; 10th anniversary Khobar bombing; Arrest in Miami; Homeland security updates; US votes to block Hamas aid; Suskind's new book; Video of Ontario cell; Chechen militants captured; Violence in Daghestan; Taliban suffers major defeats; Fierce fighting continues in Southern Afghanistan; Aid workers kidnapped in Afghanistan; Audiotape from Mullah Omar; Enduring Freedom lessons; Pakistani-Afghan relations; Attacks in Kashmir; Shootings in Bangladesh; Bombing in Philippines; Japan warns North Korea; Australian-Indonesian relations; Security scare in Australia; Anarchy in Sudan; Zawahiri tape praises Zarqawi; U.S. missile defense; and more.

Iran & the Middle East

* Palestinian gunmen attacked an Israeli army post near the Gaza Strip on Sunday, killing two Israelis before soldiers shot dead three terrorists.

* In a leaflet distributed in the Gaza strip, the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade announced they had developed more than 20 types of chemical and biological weapons, and threatened to deploy them against Israel.

* Negotiations between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas are ongoing, as the groups attempt to resolve differences and form a unified approach to dealing with Israel.

* Iran said it was seriously considering incentives to halt its nuclear program and that the United States and other nations should be patient, but on Saturday rejected a deadline for their response.

* In Beirut, a bomb was discovered near the building of Future television, owned by the family of assassinated former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. In 2003, two rockets were fired at the structure as well.

* Israeli forces captured two Hamas members in the Gaza strip on Saturday, reported to have been plotting imminent attacks against Israel. The pair was identified as Osama and Mustafa Abu Muamar, sons of Hamas member Ali Muamar.

* Donna Abu-Nasr reports on the alleged widening rift between Hezbollah and al Qaeda and says the verbal dispute "threatens to burst into confrontation."

* On Saturday, Jordan's King Abdullah called for increased efforts to root out terrorism and extremists threatening Islam and the world, saying that "we must move quickly to uproot terrorism, stop accusations in the name of religion, and harness all efforts to find comprehensive solutions for the problems and challenges facing the Islamic world."

* Kuwaiti women hope to make a historic leap into parliamentary representation in the national elections on Thursday, that for the first time in the history of the Persian Gulf nation will allow female citizens to vote.

* Iran criticized Russia on Sunday for not fulfilling its commitments on the Bushehr nuclear power plant.

* An explosion at a Turkish resort has killed four people and injured twenty-five others, and the cause has yet to be determined.

* Michael Slackman writes in the New York Times about the growing relationship between Syria and Iran in the face of perceived threats from the United States. Hezbollah is the direct beneficiary of this cooperation.

* Iran denies recent charges by U.S. General George Casey that Teheran was playing a role in the unrest and violence in Iraq by supporting radical Shi'ite elements. Wretchard at the Belmont Club offers additional commentary and links.

* On the 10th anniversary of the bombing of the Khobar Towers, Steve Schippert of ThreatsWatch cites former FBI Director Louis Freeh in questioning whether Iran will ever be held accountable for their involvement in the attacks.

America Domestic Security & the Americas

* Seven people were arrested in Miami after a sweep by law enforcement authorities in connection with an alleged plot against targets that may have included the Sears Tower, officials told CNN. Federal officials say there is no immediate threat against the landmark skyscraper. Reactions and roundups from Michelle Malkin, AllahPundit, and Blogs of War.

* The Transportation Security Administration’s intelligence office needs to improve its IT links with other intelligence units within the Homeland Security Department, a senior TSA official said at a congressional hearing Wednesday. Connectivity needs to expand between TSA and other agencies, including Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Coast Guard, said William Gaches, assistant administrator for intelligence at TSA.

* Almost five years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security continue to clash over who is in charge of coordinating and vetting terrorism information. As a result, many state and local officials continue to get conflicting or incomplete information -- and sometimes none at all -- on threats inside the United States, state officials say.

* The United States Senate voted to block U.S. aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian government and ban contacts with Hamas until it renounces violence and recognizes Israel's right to exist.

* The FBI disputes allegations made in Ron Suskind's new book that claims that U.S. intelligence officials warned Britain that the alleged leader of the July 7 suicide bombings in London had been in touch with extremists plotting to blow up synagogues in the United States.

* Suspected Ottawa terrorist Mohamed Harkat was freed on bail Wednesday amid claims in a newly published book that Abu Zubaydah, a former "high-ranking" al-Qaida informant whose information triggered Harkat's arrest was, in fact, a relatively minor and "certifiably insane" man with multiple personalities.

* CBC News has obtained a copy of the video allegedly handed out by one of the Toronto bomb-plot suspects in the parking lot of a local mosque. The video offers a chilling glimpse inside the jihadist mind and is intended as a wake-up call to Muslim youth in Canada.

* A leader of the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) said on a television interview that the rebel group was willing to release some 60 hostages, including three Americans, in exchange for scores of jailed rebels.

* Canada's intelligence service says foreign spies from Russia and China are trying to infiltrate key federal departments in their quest for secrets according to the Canadian Post. In its latest annual report, the CSIS says scientific and technological developments in Canada's natural resource sector remain a prime target.

Russia, Caucasus & Central Asia

* The Azerbaijani media has accused Russia of cooperating with Iran, with the aim of fomenting religious confrontation in Azerbaijan between the Shi'ite majority and the Sunni minority.

* Officials in Russia are denying media reports and several eyewitness accounts that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il had entered the country, as reported on by RIAN a day earlier.

* A Ukrainian military official is saying that 3 proposed NATO radar systems in the Ukraine are intended to control Russian airspace.

* Russian authorities captured two Chechen militants in the Grozny region, accused of fighting against Russian forces in the 1990s.

* An explosion in the village of Tazen-Kale in Chechnya wounded two Russian soldiers on Sunday.

* On Friday a bomb exploded in the Republic of Daghestan, wounding two police officers. A separate bombing in Vladikavkaz caused damaged to a communications transmission tower. Jeff Kouba has more analysis and links regarding the violence in Daghestan at Peace Like a River.

* Russia's Air Force will receive seven new Mi-28N Night Hunter military helicopters by the end of 2006 according to Air Force Commander Vladimir Mikhailov.

* On Friday a Chechen militant was detained by Federal authorities after he was caught checking a weapons cache in the Urus-Martan District.

* Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev is calling on western countries to stop interfering in Russia's domestic affairs, saying "I have said myself that Putin has made mistakes. But the principles of democracy are realised in a specific context, and you have to bear in mind the Russian historical, economic and social situation."

* According to a report by the Foreign Policy Center, Russia does not meet democratic standards for membership of the Group of Eight and its leadership risks destroying the G8’s credibility.

Afghanistan & Southern Asia

* U.S.-led forces have killed more than 30 Taliban fighters in clashes during a major operation against rebels in volatile southern Afghanistan, the U.S. military said on Friday. Eight insurgents were killed in a raid on Thursday on a cave complex used as a "meeting place and sanctuary" for Taliban bomb-makers in Uruzgan province.

* Four US soldiers were killed and one was wounded in clashes with militants in north-eastern Afghanistan, the coalition said Thursday. The four were killed yesterday during "combat operations and combat rescue operations" in Nuristan province near the border with Pakistan, they said.

* British paratroopers told on Wednesday how they knocked out a Taliban mortar team in a deadly fire fight during a five-day covert search and destroy mission.

* Around 45 Taliban insurgents and two U.S.-led coalition soldiers have been killed in a clash in southern Afghanistan, the U.S. military said on Sunday. The clash erupted after coalition forces engaged a group of eight to 10 Taliban in Panjwai district of Kandahar province on Saturday.

* C.S. Scott details the heavy losses suffered by the Taliban since April. Afghan and Coalition forces have not gone unscathed, though.

* Five Afghan aid workers, including three employed by a Swedish aid agency, were abducted in eastern Afghanistan, a police official said Sunday. The five — two doctors and an employee of the aid agency Swedish Committee for Afghanistan and two local government workers — were kidnapped on Thursday while driving in the province of Nuristan, said Ghalamullah Nuristani, the provincial deputy police chief.

* After Al Qaeda's top deputy urged Afghans in a videotape to rise up against U.S.-led forces, President Hamid Karzai called Ayman al-Zawahiri the enemy of the people and said the Egyptian-born fugitive had killed thousands of Afghans. The video, al-Zawahiri's sixth this year, was posted Thursday on an Islamic Web site and called "American Crimes in Kabul."

* Afghan President Hamid Karzai says Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar should emerge from hiding if he is "really in charge" and "face the danger that he is causing to hundreds of young people in Afghanistan and Pakistan." In an audiotape purportedly made by Omar aired by a Pakistani television station on Sunday, the reclusive spiritual leader claims Taliban militants control large areas of Afghanistan, including mountainous regions.

* A Taliban commander Maulvi Jalal Al Din Haqani has asked his supporters not to wage war against Pakistan, while renewing his pledge to continue the jihad against the United States and the government of Afghan president Hamid Karzai.

* Taliban militants beheaded four Afghans they accused of spying for the US military in southern Afghanistan, a local government official and the insurgent group said. The beheaded corpses of the men were found Thursday in Shajoy district of insurgency-hit Zabul province where the rebels launch almost daily attacks on US troops and government targets, the official said on Friday.

* A major anti-Taliban operation by Afghan and coalition forces has killed 149 insurgents in the past two weeks, with three Afghan soldiers also losing their lives, the defence ministry said. Another 32 insurgents have been wounded and 61 arrested as part of Operation Mountain Thrust in the past fortnight, ministry spokesman General Mohammad Zahir Azimi said on Saturday.

* Eccentric Star links to a Washington Post story which says "An unofficial attempt by Afghanistan's national intelligence service to quash sensational and negative coverage by the Afghan news media appears to have backfired badly this week, provoking both outrage and ridicule among journalists and opinion makers, and swift repudiation by the office of President Hamid Karzai."

* An article in the July 1 issue of Joint Force Quarterly looks at lessons learned (PDF) in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

* Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed to step up their cooperation in the fight against terrorism, an official statement said after a meeting between Kabul's foreign minister and Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf.

* A tide of Islamic militancy is spreading across and beyond the semiautonomous tribal areas of northwest Pakistan that hug the Afghan border, despite the deployment of some 70,000 Pakistani army troops there, according to a variety of people with close family, professional or political ties to the tribal regions. There may be talks of truce underway, however.

* Security forces arrested 11 Afghan nationals in southwest Pakistan, a day after rounding up five foreigners suspected of links with the Al-Qaeda terror network, an intelligence official said. The 11 were arrested during a raid in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province, on information gleaned from four Turkish nationals and one Afghan arrested on Thursday in the same province, the official said on Friday.

* The Government of Balochistan in Exile blog reports that "President Hamid Karzai voiced his concern on Thursday over growing attacks by Islamist insurgents in Afghanistan and urged the world to extend the war against the militants beyond his country’s borders into Pakistan." Also, "Karzai did not elaborate on 'foreign factors' but Afghan officials have repeatedly accused neighboring Pakistan of offering full military support to Taliban and al Qaeda militants who they say launch attacks from the Pakistani side of the border."

* Here are the daily updates from the South Asia Terrorism Portal for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

* The Indian government is experimenting with new ways of fighting back against Maoist fighters, who now operate in almost half of the country's 28 states. In the past year, the Chhattisgarh state government has introduced new anti-terrorism training for the police - and is backing a civil militia called Salwa Judum.

* Nine policemen and eight civilians were wounded in two separate grenade blasts in Indian Kashmir, while the army shot dead two Muslim rebels in the restive region, police said.

* Two Islamic militants and an Indian army officer were killed and 15 people hurt in fresh shootouts and a grenade blast in revolt-hit Indian Kashmir, police said. The deaths took place in the district of Pulwama early Saturday when the Indian army raided a rebel hide-out, a police spokesman said on Saturday.

* Police in India's northeastern state of Tripura arrested 10 guerrillas after they entered the country from bases inside Bangladesh, police said. A police spokesman said the rebels were members of the outlawed Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) and were arrested late Thursday near Hirachara village close to the border with Bangladesh.

* Four Bangladeshis, including a woman, were shot dead by Indian border guards along the southwestern frontier, local officials said on Saturday. In a separate shootout, four Bangladeshi youths were in critical condition after being shot by the BSF in Bagachhara area in Jessore district, also on Friday.

* Police in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka baton charged a group of hardline Islamic protestors as they tried to march on a mosque belonging to the Ahmadiya Muslim minority.

* It's thanks to Sri Lanka's overseas Tamils -- people like engineer S. Vijayadeva or accountant Kana Naheerathan -- that the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) can afford to keep up its insurgency. The Tigers say the Tamil diaspora of an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 people -- many of them professionals living in Canada, Scandinavia and Northern Europe -- only give money for development in rebel areas, funding the Tigers' police force, courts, banking system and political offices, not its weapons.

* Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers on Saturday extended a deadline for European Union truce monitors to withdraw from the island, while the army accused the rebels of shooting dead two soldiers in the northwest.

* For 10 years, Nepal's Maoist rebels were beyond the pale — hunted, shunned and feared as they waged a brutal war against the government. Now they have been welcomed into the establishment. A quiet euphoria swept the nation when the government signed a deal with the rebels to give them a share of power for the first time and end the conflict. But as the elation ebbs, stark questions arise: What is the rebels' agenda? Can they adapt to mainstream politics? Will they disarm?

Far East & Southeast Asia

* An explosion at a market on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao on Sunday has killed 5 people and wounded 10 others. According to authorities, Andal Ampatuan, the governor of Maguindanao province, was the target of the attack.

* Japan warned on Sunday that it would consider "all options" against North Korea, including sanctions on oil and food sales, if Pyongyang goes ahead with a test launch of a long-range missile.

* Australian Prime Minister John Howard and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will meet on Monday to discuss relations that includes talks about terrorism.

* Leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said the Bush administration should hold direct talks with North Korea as concerns grow over a possible test launch of a missile that could reach the U.S.

* On Saturday, thousands of protesters demanded the ouster of Mari Alkatiri, East Timor's prime minister, blaming him for provoking violence and political chaos. New Zealand has announced the deployment of 25 police officers to the island in an effort to help restore security.

* Joshua Eisenman & Josh Rogin write in the Weekly Standard about the necessity of Japan and the United States to form a unified policy with respects to Taiwan.

* An estimated 200 Singapore Airlines passengers and staff were quarantined at an airport in southern Australia on Sunday after white powder was found on luggage, airport and emergency officials said. Authorities said 80 of the passengers were required to take showers at Adelaide airport in a "wet decontamination process," although tests showed the substance was not dangerous.

* Abu Sayyaf and Rajah Solaiman Movement cells in the Philippines are reported to be targeting malls, mass transit, and oil depots.

* William Perry and Ashton B. Carter, two Clinton-era defense officials have called on President Bush to strike the North Korean missile on its launch pad should Pyongyang persist in its determination to fire the device.


* Christopher Caldwell has an article in the New York Times Magazine titled "After Londonistan" that discusses how London became a bastion of Islamic fanatics. Joe Katzman also offered his analysis and some good additional links yesterday.

* German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier met with Iranian officials in Berlin and called on Teheran to cease enrichment of uranium if it wants to resume negotiations with the international community.

* According to Martin Gilbertson, a former associate of several of the men that carried out the 7 July 2005 London subway attacks, he tried to warn British authorities about the pair before the attacks.

* Wives and family members of British soldiers fighting in Iraq have received telephone calls believe to be from insurgents, issuing death threats after phone calls home from the soldiers using cell phones were apparently intercepted.

* The Serbian government is planning to request help from Germany to catch war crimes suspects Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, according to German media. Serbian foreign minister Vuk Daskovic told the Freie Presse newspaper that Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica would like to hold a meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss the issue.

* British-Muslim leaders have condemned the killing of innocent people as against Islam in a religious edict as the one year anniversary of the London subway attacks approach. Robert Spencer notes the ambiguous nature of the condemnation though.

* The UK Telegraph reports that British MI5 operatives think it's only a matter of time before Islamists set off a dirty bomb attack against London or another western capital.

* Scheherezade Faramarzi looks at the lack of public condemnation of terrorism by European Muslims and says they must engage on an issue many have plenty to say about in private.


* Anarchy in Sudan's Darfur is spilling over into Chad, where rival armed groups supported by the governments of Chad and Sudan are committing serious crimes against civilians, a human rights group said Thursday. Hundreds of Chadian civilians have been killed in recent weeks in cross-border attacks by Sudanese militias known as janjaweed and allied Chadian fighters, and more than 50,000 have been displaced.

* Marvin Hutchens at ThreatsWatch looks at the situation in the Horn of Africa, where Islamists are denying terror ties and an Ethiopian incursion.

* Sudan has suspended the work of a U.N. mission in its violent Darfur region after accusing the world body of transporting a rebel leader who opposes a recent peace deal, a Sudanese official said on Sunday.

* In a rebel camp along the barren, windswept border between Sudan and Chad, dozens of trucks packed with dreadlocked fighters manning heavy machine guns are lined up. Piled up behind them are ammunition boxes, covered in Chinese symbols -- it's impossible to know exactly where the bullets in the boxes came from but they offer a glimpse of the complex and circuitous routes of the global arms trade.

* An award-winning Swedish journalist was fatally shot in the back as he filmed a demonstration Friday in the restive capital of Somalia, where lawlessness and anger at foreigners run high despite peace efforts.

* Britain agreed Friday to provide $9 million in aid to improve the living conditions of three brigades in the army of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The Global War

* Rape and sexual violence in conflict appear to be worsening and very little is being done to tackle the problem, a major UN conference has heard.

* The US military is relying ever more on space satellites to help wage combat in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, though analysts say that Washington's space supremacy could be threatened by rivals in the future. The Pentagon is using sophisticated satellites that orbit Earth in a bid to track down its enemies and keep a round-the-clock watch on unfriendly foes.

* In a new video tape, al Qaeda deputy commander Ayman al-Zawahiri praises the recently liquidated Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and vows revenge on his behalf.

* Here is the Reading Room from Vital Perspective for May 9 through June 12. It collects material on Iran and Iraq, as well as coverage of Israel, Hezbollah, Syria, Egypt, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the War on Terrorism, United Nations, U.S. politics and policy on the region, commentary on the infamous Harvard paper and energy concerns.

* Since 9/11, hundreds of U.S. bomb technicians, police chiefs, police officers, and FBI, Secret Service, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) agents have made repeated trips to Israel to learn from their counterparts and their extensive experience in detecting and deterring Palestinian suicide bombers.

* A RAND monograph entitled War and Escalation in South Asia examines how the advent of two nuclear powers in South Asia, discoveries of nuclear trafficking, and insurgencies and terrorism that threaten important U.S. interests and objectives directly have transformed the region from a strategic backwater into a primary theater of concern for the United States.

* Rich Lowry writes an article at the National Review that looks at the U.S. missile defense program in the context of the recent preparations of a missile launch being made by North Korea.

* According to a report from the United Nations, the AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifle will remain the world’s favorite killing machine in conflict zones for at least the next 20 years because its production is poorly regulated.

* 1,200 people gathered at a Los Angeles hotel on the weekend for what organisers billed as the largest conference on the numerous conspiracy theories surrounding the 9/11 attacks.

* John Rosenthal reports on some background information on Khaled Al-Masri that has not received coverage in English.

Thanks for reading! If you found something here you want to blog about yourself (and we hope you do), all we ask is that you do as we do and offer a Hat Tip hyperlink to today's "Winds of War". If you think we missed something important, use the Comments section to let us know. For ongoing tips, email "MondayWindsOfWar", over here

Friday, June 23, 2006

Sudan and Chad

From this CNN report:

Anarchy in Sudan's Darfur is spilling over into Chad, where rival armed groups supported by the governments of Chad and Sudan are committing serious crimes against civilians, a human rights group said Thursday.

Hundreds of Chadian civilians have been killed in recent weeks in cross-border attacks by Sudanese militias known as janjaweed and allied Chadian fighters, and more than 50,000 have been displaced, New York-based Human Rights Watch said in "Violence Beyond Borders: The Human Rights Crisis in Eastern Chad."

The group added Darfur rebels were forcibly recruiting children and others in camps in Chad for Sudanese who had fled Darfur.

The full report from Human Rights Watch can be read here.

The Sudan Tribune adds this:

Growing numbers of Chadian civilians are joining raids on their black African countrymen by mounted Arab Janjaweed militia from Sudan’s neighbouring Darfur region as violence worsens in eastern Chad, survivors say.

A Chadian refugee hides between relatives after her family fled to Geylu in Sudan’s troubled western Darfur region March 18, 2006.(Reuters).There is a long history of cross-border Janjaweed incursions along the Chad-Sudan border, but observers say in the last three months there has been a marked upsurge in the frequency and violence of attacks, and more involvement of Chadian civilians as an insurgency by Chadian rebels has intensified.
Local people talk about their countrymen joining an "Arab alliance" although both Arab and some black African tribes from Chad have thrown their lot in with the Janjaweed.

They have attacked villages of other black tribes, mirroring the pattern of three years of Janjaweed raids in Sudan’s Darfur.

Apart from stealing cattle and other goods, attacks appear motivated by opposition to Chad President Idriss Deby.

And what's the difference?

Benedict Arnold's infamy was devising a plot to turn West Point, which he commanded, over to the British. In addition, he gave the British other information on troop locations, etc... Why? Because Arnold disagreed with the colonies' relationship with the French. So, Arnold took it upon himself to decide foreign policy, and in so doing he betrayed his country.

Today, there is news of more perfidy from the New York Times.

Not content to reveal the existence of the program to track calls made by terrorists into and out of the country, the New York Times has now revealed the existance of a program to use banking transactions to find terrorists. From NRO's Media Blog:

According to the NYT's own reporting, the program is legal. The program is helping us catch terrorists. The administration has briefed the appropriate members of Congress. The program has built-in safeguards to prevent abuse. And yet, with nothing more than a vague appeal to the "public interest" (which apparently is not outweighed in this case by the public's interest in apprehending terrorists), the NYT disregards all that and publishes intimate, classified details about the program. Keller and his team really do believe they are above the law. When it comes to national security, it isn't the government that should decide when secrecy is essential to a program's effectiveness. It is the New York Times.

The NYTimes does not agree with this nation's foreign policy, and so has taken it upon itself to oppose that policy. In so doing, it has betrayed secrets that will hinder our ability to defend ourselves.


When will the Justice Department grow a spine and start doing something about this?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Pakistan's other war

TIME Magazine has an article on the conflict in Balochistan. The article also interviews Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, the Sardar of the Bugti tribe, one of the main tribes in Balochistan. Here's an excerpt, but the whole thing is worth a read. (HT: GOB Exile)

The conflict in Baluchistan has consequences beyond its desert wastes. Pakistan is one of Washington's bulwarks in the war on terror, and receives around $600 million a year in U.S. military aid. According to Baluch rebel sources in Quetta and military sources in Islamabad, U.S. helicopters supplied to Pakistan for hunting members of al-Qaeda have been redirected to Baluchistan's deserts to fight Bugti and his two comrades-in-arms. Three Cessna aircraft, outfitted with sophisticated surveillance equipment and given to Pakistan last year by the U.S. to help catch heroin smugglers, have also been drafted into service against the Baluch rebels. Quetta military base sources say that when U.S. antinarcotics agents examined the Cessnas' flight records last month, they found that only seven hours were spent chasing drug runners, while most of the flying time was logged over Bugti's craggy domain scanning for rebel camps.

The U.S. military partnership with Pakistan was designed principally to take the fight to al-Qaeda and those members of the Taliban who have fled across the Afghan border. But a Pakistani military official in Islamabad says the Bush Administration is "fully in the know" that U.S. weaponry is also being used against the Baluch insurgency. "This is all part of a bigger battle against troublemakers challenging the state," says the official. A U.S. State Department official told Time that there's nothing in the agreement with Pakistan to prevent Musharraf using U.S. military aid against Baluch insurgents. "When we transfer the equipment for them, it's for internal security and self-defense," the official says. "There's no 'for al-Qaeda use only' tag on it." Unlike the Taliban and al-Qaeda operating further north along the mountainous Afghan border region, however, the Baluch are not Islamist militants. "They are secular and anti-Taliban," says Samina Ahmed of the International Crisis Group, "yet American guns are being used against them." (Bugti says he's an agnostic, and some clan leaders espouse socialist values and enjoy whisky.) Baluch sources say that U.S. surveillance aircraft and Cobra gunships have targeted tribesmen. The State Department official says, "We've seen no evidence that our equipment has been used to violate human rights."

China in Africa

I've talked about it before (see here and here and here), but China is actively scouring Africa for energy and mineral resources. The Asia Times has a good article today on this, and points out the Chinese Premier's visit to Africa this week is not a sightseeing trip.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's extensive tour of Africa this week - part of Beijing's quest to secure future energy supplies and raw materials for the country's economy - is also being used as a platform to advance China's foreign-policy orientation on the continent and elsewhere in the developing world.

The official media have portrayed Wen's trip as an example of "win-win" diplomacy and emphasized China's features as a kinder and softer rising power that does not exploit others' resources in pursuit of economic gain or mix business with politics. Chinese diplomats have also publicly defended China's record on the continent, saying Beijing was "selfless" in its desire to provide help and serve as a development model for poor countries.

Wen's eight-day Africa tour, which began on Saturday, is taking him to Egypt, Ghana, the Republic of the Congo, Angola, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. His trip comes less than two months after President Hu Jintao visited Morocco, Nigeria and Kenya and five months before a high-level China-Africa cooperation forum is to be held in China.

The flurry of diplomatic activity underscores China's hunger for energy and supplies that, critics say, has led it to cooperation with some unsavory regimes in Africa and beyond. This month, rights watchdog Amnesty International accused China of fueling conflicts and human-rights violations by selling arms to repressive regimes such as Sudan and Zimbabwe in exchange for oil and minerals (see How to curb China's arms trade, June 14).

The Jamestown Foundation adds this:

In the past few years, the demands from China and other developing economies for oil and natural gas have become the major factor, although not the only one, that has driven up world energy prices. Chinese energy companies' extensive activities in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Central Asia in search of oil and gas assets have created anxiety regarding the world's future supply of energy. Discussions of a new "great game"—a term traditionally associated with competition among major world powers for the control of Eurasian oil resources since the late nineteenth century—have become frequent among observers of energy security.

Today, Africa supplies China with nearly a third of its oil imports. Beijing's extensive engagement and its ascending status in Africa also raises important questions on the nature of China's involvement in the continent as well as Beijing's long-term objectives in the region. Critics charge that China has pursued mercantilist policies in the region for pure economic benefits without human rights or environmental concerns. Due to China's support, they argue, the Sudanese government has been able to continue its genocidal policy in the Darfur region, and the Mugabe regime has been able to survive and carry on its abuses of human rights in Zimbabwe.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Unrest in Dagestan

MosNews reports the following from Dagestan:

Head of the Dagestani Interior Ministry’s Khasavyurt district organized crime department Saigidsalim Zabitov and road police inspector Shamsudi Kachakayev were killed in an attack early Wednesday morning, Interfax reported.

“A car carrying Zabitov came under fire at the intersection of Nekrasov and Pobedy Streets at about 12:30 a.m. Both policemen sitting in the car died from wounds on the spot,” the Dagestani Interior Ministry press service told Interfax.

It's not clear if this is the work of the Shariat militant group, but that group has killed many Interior Ministry officials and other law enforcement officials in Dagestan. The group is part of the Islamic insurgencies that have ravaged much of the North Caucasus.

Johnson's Russia List described the Islamic elements in Dagestan here:

Dagestan is "the scene of one of the most fervent examples of Islamic revival in the world," so it is not surprising that religious issues have a major impact on the region's politics. One aspect of Dagestan's religious politics is the division between the minority inclined toward fundamentalist (salafi) forms of Islam and the majority who remain loyal to traditional Sufi belief. (1) Professors Matsuzato (Hokkaido University) and Ibragimov (Dagestan State University) focus on another aspect that is much less well-known but of no less importance -- the overlapping ethnic and confessional divisions within the Sufi majority.

A BBC reporter has been trekking across the Caucasus, and this week has two reports from Dagestan.

Tough lessons in defiant Dagestan

But the Russian authorities view Gimri as a hotbed of radical Islam. In the past, Wahhabi militants have tried to blow up the tunnel.

A few months ago, the security forces launched a giant military operation just outside the village.

Discovering that up to eight suspected Islamic militants were hiding out in a nearby forest, the military bombarded the woodland with mortars and bullets.

The men escaped and slipped back into the village. The authorities are currently negotiating with them to get them to disarm.

Violence makes Dagestan vigilant

Derbent is 5,000 years old, making it the oldest city not only in Dagestan, but in the entire Russian Federation.

It sits on the west coast of the Caspian Sea and is dominated by an old fortress built by the Sassanids, an ancient Iranian empire, some 1,500 years ago.

I stood on the battlements looking out to sea, and pondered what we'd experienced over the last few days.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Central Asian gas

At the SCO summit last week, Iran proposed a joint gas venture with Russia, but today the Russian Foreign Minister denied there was any plan to create a "gas OPEC."

Russia's foreign minister Tuesday said Russia and Iran had no plans to create a "gas OPEC," and criticized a Polish proposal to establish an "energy NATO."

Iran proposed at a Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit last week to set up a joint gas-industry venture with Russia that the media quickly dubbed a "gas OPEC," drawing an analogy with the Organization of Oil Exporting Countries that works to regulate global oil prices.

"There are no plans to create a 'gas OPEC,'" Sergei Lavrov told reporters. "I have not heard of such plans."

The analogy was also prompted by an Iranian proposal that the two countries fix global gas prices together.

Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier said Iran had proposed starting a JV that would allow the two countries to join efforts in exploration and production.

"There is no talk of a 'gas OPEC.' The proposal was to set up a joint venture to work together on some deposits in both countries," Putin said.

Perhaps any such venture wouldn't be called a "gas OPEC", but Putin himself proposed an energy club while at the SCO summit.

Russia's president Thursday proposed creating an energy club within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and said Russia could finance some economic projects pursued by the six-nation regional forum.

Speaking at the SCO's annual heads-of-state summit, Vladimir Putin said: "I believe that creating a SCO energy club is a pressing issue, as is more intensive cooperation in transport and communications."

"Russia is considering financing some projects in the economic sphere," he said, adding that the forum had the "appropriate organizational and legal structure" to advance lucrative economic projects.

As I've talked about here any number of times, Russia is using its energy resources as an instrument of foreign policy. As such, Russia would like to use the SCO as a way to bind Central Asian nations together through energy ties, and in turn push the US out of the region.

Russia already has Europe in a tough position, as Europe is quite dependent on Russian gas. The effects of that dependence are showing in preparations for the G8 summit next month.

The US would like to use the summit to talk about problem areas involving Russia, such as Moldova and Georgia. Not surprisingly, Russia doesn't want to talk about such things. In a column this week at the Washington Post, Jackson Diehl described the machinations going on.

Vladimir Putin must wait another month before he can play the coveted role of host to the world's most powerful democratic leaders at the Group of Eight summit in St. Petersburg. But already the Russian president appears close to accomplishing his principal objective: preventing a serious response by the G-8 to his autocratic domestic policies and imperialist bullying of neighbors.

A couple of months ago Western officials were confidently promising that Putin would not be allowed to strut among the elected presidents and prime ministers in St. Petersburg without being reminded that he is not their political peer. At the insistence of the Bush administration, Russia's interventions in Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova -- former Soviet republics trying to establish themselves as independent democracies -- were placed on the agenda of G-8 preparatory meetings. U.S. diplomats pressured NATO to allow the first steps toward membership this spring for Georgia and Ukraine.
Putin's strongest move was his agreement to participate in a pending Western bid to freeze Iran's nuclear program. In exchange for its support Russia won the postponement of a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have ordered an end to the program; it also delayed a looming rift between Russia and the West over sanctions against Tehran. As long as Moscow is nominally on board with its most important foreign policy initiative, the Bush administration is constrained from pressing the issues raised by Cheney -- though officials insist that they haven't been dropped.

European policymakers don't suffer such scruples. In Washington and in Brussels, they are arguing straightforwardly that Putin's noxious policies should be tolerated -- not just because of Iran but also because of Russia's importance as an energy supplier. Brussels has been intimidated: At a meeting at the Black Sea resort of Sochi in late May, Putin flatly rejected European Union appeals that Russia loosen its stranglehold on pipelines carrying gas and oil to Europe and allow greater European investment in Russian fields. Last week his government confirmed that Western companies will be allowed only minority stakes in all but the smallest projects.

Putin's intransigence has produced a response that a U.S. official summed up in one word: "appeasement." A senior European official explained the logic to me this way: For the foreseeable future, European economies will depend on Russian energy. But that energy won't be available unless Russia makes huge new investments in the coming years and chooses to continue marketing its oil and gas in Europe, rather than China. "That means we have no choice but to support a powerful center in Moscow," the official said, "so that the necessary investments are made and the supplies are available to us."

With Russia and China highly unlikely to use their leverage against Iran, and indeed are moving towards welcoming Iran into the SCO as a full member, and with European nations unlikely to cross Russia, thorny issues like Iran and North Korea are left to the US to deal with.

This article from the Asia Times points out the friction that is arising. Some of this you've read about here before.

This was perhaps first signaled on May 4, when Vice President Dick Cheney went to Lithuania, a former Soviet republic, to lambaste the Russian government at a pro-democracy confab. He accused Kremlin officials of "unfairly and improperly" restricting the rights of Russian citizens and of using the country's abundant oil and gas supplies as "tools of intimidation [and] blackmail" against its neighbors. He also condemned Moscow for attempting to "monopolize the transportation" of oil and gas supplies in Eurasia - a direct challenge to US interests in the Caspian region.
The next day, Cheney flew to another former Soviet republic, Kazakhstan, in oil-and-natural-gas-rich Central Asia, where he urged that country's leaders to ship their plentiful oil through a US-sponsored pipeline to Turkey and the Mediterranean rather than through Russian-controlled pipelines to Europe.

Then, on June 3, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld weighed in on China, telling an audience of Asian security officials that Beijing's "lack of transparency" with respect to its military spending "understandably causes concerns for some of its neighbors". These comments were accompanied by publicly announced plans for increased US spending on sophisticated weapons systems such as the F-22A fighter and Virginia-class nuclear attack submarines that could only be useful in a big-power war for which there were just two realistic adversaries - Russia and China.

Like Russia, China has also aroused Washington's ire over its aggressive energy policies - but in China's case over its increasing attempts to nail down oil and gas supplies for its burgeoning, energy-poor economy. In "Military Power of the People's Republic of China", its most recent report on Chinese military capabilities, issued on May 23, the Pentagon decried China's use of arms transfers and other military aid as inducements to such countries as Iran and Sudan to gain access to energy reserves in the Middle East and Africa, and for acquiring warships "that could serve as the basis for a force capable of power projection" into the oil-producing regions of the planet.

I've also said before that such times require a strong national will, and yet the rabid anti-war Left is sapping the ability of the US to act decisively in the face of such opposition in Asia.

We may indeed eventually find our allies in Europe and Asia at the mercy of a "gas OPEC". Venezuela is cozy with Iran and China. Who knows what would happen to Iranian oil in the event of a crisis. Nigeria is still a trouble spot. And on and on. Can we do more than just issue weak statements about the desire to "talk"? Talk is cheap and will constrain no hostile nation without a demonstration of will to back it up.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Air strikes in Balochistan

The Government of Balochistan in Exile blog has this report today:

The Pakistani armed forces have once again targeted Baloch civilian population. Last week on Thursday, one F-16 fighter jet bombed a Baloch nomad’s tent and killed two women and two children in the Gazital area, 20 Km east of Kahan in occupied Balochistan on Wednesday.

According to sources, the F-16 fighter jet used MK-82, 500 lbs. bombs to target a tent where the family of Savzali Marri was having a meal; one woman and her 7-year-old son were killed instantly. They were blown up into pieces and very little remained of them.

Two other members of Marri’s family, a woman and her 3-year-old daughter, were away at a distance, and bomb shrapnel critically injured them both. Due to total blockade imposed by the Pakistani military regime in the Marri and Bugti tribal areas of occupied Balochistan, there were no medicine, medical facilities or doctors available to treat the injuries sustained by the victims. Due to heavy bleeding and major internal injuries, both mother and daughter succumb to their injuries and died a few hours later.

A report by B. Raman at the South Asia Analysis Group said this about the use of air power by Pakistan in Balochistan:

Even six months after President General Pervez Musharraf ordered his Army and the Air Force to suppress the freedom struggle launched by the Baloch nationalist elements, the freedom struggle continues to gather strength with no sign of any impact on the freedom-fighters despite the large-scale use of heavy weapons and air strikes. Their motivation and determination to achieve independence remain as strong as ever. There has been a steady flow of volunteers to the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and other groups carrying on the freedom struggle and the military operations have not been able to disrupt the training of the new volunteers by these organisations in the liberated pockets set up by them.
In the face of international concern over the large number of civilian casualties due to the military operations, the Pakistani military had suspended the use of Air Force planes and helicopter gunships for a while. Helicopters were used only for logistics purposes and not for strikes directed against the freedom-fighters. But for the last few days, the use of air strikes has been resumed and over eight helicopter gunships have been going into action against the freedom-fighters resulting in many casualties. Air strikes have been directed against not only the armed freedom-fighters, but also against villagers suspected of assisting them. While the air strikes have been taking place in many parts of the province, they have been particularly concentrated in the areas inhabited by the Bugti, Marri and Mengal tribes. The freedom-fighters have claimed to have shot down two helicopters, but the shooting down of only one has so far been confirmed.

Previous Posts

More unrest in SE Iran
The growing civil war in Baluchistan
Roundup of events in Balochistan
Iran hits back
The Port of Gwadar
Roundup of events in Balochistan
The Government of Balochistan in Exile
The toll in Balochistan
Why Balochistan is up in arms
Why Pakistan wants to hold on to Balochistan
Roundup of events in Balochistan
An interview with Mir Azaad Khan Baloch
Roundup of events in Balochistan
No AQ or Taliban in Balochistan?
The crisis in Balochistan
A good start
Roundup of events in Balochistan

Monday Winds of War Briefing

Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Friday. Monday's Winds of War briefings are given by Peace Like a River and Security Watchtower.

Top Topics

* Afghan and coalition troops killed about 45 insurgents in attacks on Taliban camps in southern Afghanistan as U.S.-led forces pressed on with their largest offensive since 2001, military officials said Saturday. A total of about 85 suspected militants have been killed in the past week as some 10,000 U.S.-led troops spread out over four southern provinces in the campaign dubbed Operation Mountain Thrust aimed at quelling a Taliban resurgence.

* At least 52 people have been killed in Sri Lanka as heavy sea and land battles erupted while Tamil Tiger rebels warned that the island would plunge in a "fatal war" if the military kept up air strikes.

* Palestinians fired five more Qassam rockets into Israel on Friday, which responded with an airstrike on a vehicle carrying militants in Gaza city, killing one (see also Gaza Rocket Threat). According to Hamas, they were prepared to resume the ceasefire if Israel refrained from targeted strikes in Gaza.

* Russian special forces have killed Abdul Khalim Saidullayev, leader of the separatist Chechen militants in a major coup for Russia's fight against terrorism. Two Russian soldiers were also killed in the raid, which took place in the village of Argun. In response, Chechen militants are vowing to continue their fight.

Other topics today include: Trial of Egyptian bombers; Gaza weapons smuggling; IDF raids in West Bank; Iran remains defiant; Iran-Syria defense agreement; U.S. House votes against Iraq withdrawal; al Qaeda plot to hit NY subway; Explosions in Danshube; Militants killed in Ingushetia; Fighting in southern Afghanistan; Taliban suffering heavy losses; Bombing in Balochistan; Violence in Kashmir; fighting in Sri Lanka; Abu Sayyaf leader captured; Thai forces captured Indonesian bombmaker; North Korean missile launch; Unrest in East Timor; Controversy simmers of Bashir release; Terror suspects appear in British court; Violence in Nigeria; and more.

Iran & the Middle East

* The trial of 14 Egyptians accused of terror involvement in an April 2005 attack, has begun in Cairo. Three tourists were killed and 19 others wounded in the duo suicide bombings.

* The "Quartet" of world power seeking a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians have agreed on a plan to resume aid for Palestinians, frozen since the Hamas government came to power.

* Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee ten days ago that weapons smuggling from Egypt into the Gaza Strip has increased greatly since the Israeli withdrawal on 12 September 2005 (H/T: Matt from Eurabian Times).

* Israeli defense forces captured 11 terrorists belonging to Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Tanzim organizations in raids throughout Judea and Samaria.

* According to Palestinian militant Abu Yousuf, weapons transferred last week by the Israeli's to the presidential guard units of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, have been used in attacks against Israelis (H/T: Matt from Eurabian Times).

* Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is attempting to rally Arab nations to block Israeli's plans to redraw its borders.

* Amir Taheri explains in Arab News why the U.S. is unlikely to get any help at next month's G-8 Summit, towards checking Iran's nuclear ambitions.

* According to reports, Iran is prepared to limit its nuclear program but will not suspend uranium enrichment as a pre-condition for multi-party talks.

* Hossein Khomeini, the grandson of Ayatollah Khomeini, is calling for the United States military to overthrow the regime in Teheran, saying his "grandfather's revolution has devoured its children and has strayed from its course."

* Iran and Syria have signed a defense cooperation agreement that would include the Syrian procurement of Iranian missiles, air defense systems and main battle tanks.

America Domestic Security & the Americas

* On Friday, the US House voted 256 to 153 to affirm "that the United States will prevail in the Global War on Terror." Of the 153, 149 Democrats voted against the resolution.

* A Time magazine report says Al-Qaeda terrorists came within 45 days of attacking the New York subway system with a lethal gas similar to that used in Nazi death camps. They were stopped not by any intelligence breakthrough, but by an order from Osama bin Laden's deputy, Ayman Zawahiri.

* In Trinidad, the state intends to respond to allegations made by incarcerated Jamaat al Muslimeen leader Yasin Abu Bakr that Prime Minister Patrick Manning had waived a multi-million debt in exchange for election muscle during the run up to the 2002 general elections.

* The first ship of the U.S. Navy’s newest class of aircraft carrier (CVN-21) is likely to be named the USS Gerald Ford, after the nations 38th President.

* According to a new book by Ron Suskind, U.S. authorities discovered in 2003 that Mohammad Sidique Khan was plotting attacks against the United States and included his name on a no-fly list, two years before his involvement in the 7 July 2005 London subway bombings. The British government has denied the allegations.

Russia, Caucasus & Central Asia

* Three explosions in the Tajik capital of Danshube damaged a pipeline and several structures on Friday morning. Authorities are investigating the incidents.

* Two militants were killed and a militant base was discovered near Psedakh during a special operation in Ingushetia carried out by the Russian Federal security service.

* World-renowned Russian sculptor Zurab Tsereteli has created a monument entitled "To The Struggle Against World Terrorism," a gift from Russian President Vladimir Putin, the people of Russia and the artist to the people of the United States. The monument will be dedicated on the five-year anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

* Wanted militant Andzor Barchashvili was killed on Sunday during a government operation in the Ingush village of Nesterovskaya.

* Timur Gayev, the Emir of Grozny, was captured at a bus stop in the Chechen town of Urus-Martan, along with four other militants.

* Russia and Belarus began exercises Union Shield 2006 in Belarus on Sunday, involving an estimated 8,800 troops, 40 tanks, 180 combat vehicles, and more than 40 artillery pieces.

Afghanistan & Southern Asia

* Taliban militants killed five people in an ambush Sunday while U.S.-led coalition troops moved deeper into Afghanistan's southern mountains in an offensive that has killed about 90 insurgents in less than a week, officials said.

* British troops said they had killed six Taliban rebels who had been firing mortars at one of Afghanistan's few functioning hydro-electric dams. British forces returned fire with mortars after they also came under fire late Saturday near the Kajaki dam and power plant in southern Helmand province, a British military spokesman said on Sunday.

* As fighting in Afghanistan has intensified over the past three months, the U.S. military has conducted 340 airstrikes there, more than twice the 160 carried out in the much higher-profile war in Iraq, according to data from the Central Command, the U.S. military headquarters for the Middle East.

* A mid-level Taliban commander said to lead more than 100 men in southern Afghanistan surrendered to a government reconciliation drive s authorities arrested 12 other rebels.

* A suicide bomber with explosives strapped to his body blew himself up near an Afghan army vehicle in southwestern Afghanistan, wounding three civilians and two soldiers, an official said.

* In Afghanistan, on paper, the Peace Through Strength program maintains a blacklist of Taliban members who aren't eligible because of their serious crimes. But the program has been getting ambitious, using fresh recruits from the Taliban to send delegations to the highest levels of the insurgency with offers of amnesty.

* An update by Bill Roggio on Friday details recent Taliban activity in Afghanistan.

* Here is the CDI's Afghan update for the month of May. It is a roundup of events in Afghanistan throughout the month.

* Here is a roundup of events in Balochistan.

* In Balochistan, a restaurant and two shops were destroyed in a bomb blast in the Barkhan district’s Rakhni town on Friday. A tower of the Sibi-Harnai power transmission line was blown up near Sibi and security forces seized a huge quantity of arms and ammunition from the Neligh area of Sui during an operation. A checkpost of the FC was also attacked in the Bolan area. The bomb planted inside the Noor Restaurant in the Rakhni bazaar went off when the restaurant was closed for Friday prayers, official sources said.

* Pakistani troops shot dead two pro-Taliban militants after an attack on a military checkpoint in a restive tribal region near the Afghan border, officials said. Soldiers at the post near the town of Mir Ali in North Waziristan tribal district spotted two armed men and cautioned them to stop. But the pair opened fire and were killed in a "retaliatory strike" by the troops.

* Here are the daily updates from the South Asia Terrorism Portal for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

* The deputy superintendent of Karachi Central Prison was gunned down in broad daylight in one of the city’s busiest markets on Thursday. Eight gunmen peppered Amanullah Khan Niazi’s Toyota Corolla car with bullets as he was on his way to the Home Department.

* Suspected Islamist militants killed a villager in Indian Kashmir by slitting his throat and cut off the tongues and noses of four others, accusing them of being police informers, authorities said today. The attackers also beat up seven other villagers and set several houses ablaze late on Wednesday in a remote village near Mahore town, 65 km north-east of Jammu city, the Indian state's winter capital.

* A Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist was gunned down by police in Gandoh area of Doda district on Sunday, police said in Jammu.

* Security agencies were put on high alert in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday following reports that about two dozen terrorists had entered the region after sneaking across the LoC, days ahead of a visit to the area by Congress president Sonia Gandh.

* A top leader of India's main Maoist group has been killed in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, police say. Police say the Maoist leader, Ravi Kumar, was shot dead in an exchange on Friday night.

* Sri Lanka's air force bombed areas around the headquarters of Tamil Tiger rebels for a second night on Friday as victims of a suspected rebel civilian bus ambush were buried in a mass grave. Jets raided areas near the de facto rebel capital Kilinochchi at first light, but attacks then ceased apparently while the funerals of the 64 people killed in Thursday's attack were held. Witnesses said bombing resumed at nightfall.

* Sri Lankan troops in boats and helicopters battled Tamil rebels Saturday, and witnesses accused government forces of opening fire in a fishing village, killing five people — one inside a church — and wounding dozens.

* In Sri Lanka, no one is betting on a quick return to calm, certainly not the 2,000 Sri Lankans who have crossed over to India since April or the 500 others who have flocked to this area hoping to follow suit. A dozen people have drowned making the attempt.

* Suspected Tamil Tiger rebel attacks killed three policemen and left two soldiers missing on Sunday, the army said, and rebels said they were attacked by government forces as a recent upsurge of violence continued.

Far East & Southeast Asia

* Philippine forces have captured Basit Usman, who served as an "executioner" for Abu Sayyaf on the southern island of Mindanao. Usman took part in a June 2001 attack which Abu Sayyaf kidnapped and executed 10 farmers.

* Thai security forces have captured Sabri Amiruddin, an Indonesian who had a kilo of fertilizer and two kilos of nails in his possession.

* Japan and the United States are both warning North Korea not to test fire the expected launch of a Taepodong-2 long-range ballistic missile, saying the move would lead to greater isolation. Signs out of North Korea are pointing towards an imminent launch (H/T: Matt from Eurabian Times).

* On Monday, Australia summoned the North Korean ambassador to warn North Korea against conducting the long-range ballistic missile test, saying such a move would have "serious consequences."

* North Korea is vowing to "increase the military deterrent" against the United States, which according to Pyongyang is "hell-bent on provocations for war."

* Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao is touring six African nations in an effort to boost economic and trade ties, as well as access to raw materials such as oil, copper and timber.

* At the request of President Xanana Gusmao, rebels in East Timor are handing over weapons to foreign peacekeepers, but the group is still opposed to Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri.

* Following a U.S. travel advisory on Saturday, Filipino authorities are saying there is no immediate threat from terrorist attacks, despite the recent series of intimidating bombings, defense and military officials.

* Australians are angry over the release of radical Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, spiritual leader of al Qaeda linked Jemaah Islamiyah, and sentenced to prison for involvement with the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians. Prime Minister John Howard is prepared to express the anger in a meeting later this month with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

* Australian troops will still have a role in Iraq after foreign forces hand over security to Iraqi forces in the country's south, Prime Minister John Howard said Sunday, indicating his country's troops would not be brought home anytime soon.

* More international police will soon be sent to East Timor to restore order following recent deadly violence.


* The British government deported an Algerian man suspected of being a senior member of a group linked to al Qaeda, in the first of what it expected to be a wave of deportations.

* The global war on terror must observe the rule of law, French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said on Friday in a thinly-veiled criticism of the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay.

* On Friday, Omar Khyam, 24, and Jawad Akbar, 22, appeared in front of a jury at Old Bailey courthouse, where tapes were played of the men talking about crashing a jet with 300 people on board with the help of 30 sympathisers.

* A French appeals court on Friday eased restrictions on the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an Iranian exiled opposition group with links to an armed guerrilla movement which is listed as a terrorist group by the United States. In response, Iran condemned the decision as "a green light to terrorism and violence."

* The British government has warned citizens of the UK that al Qaeda was targeting westerners in Saudi Arabia, and terror attacks could be imminent (H/T: Matt from Eurabian Times).

* Abubaker Deghayes, a British-Muslim cleric at the al-Quds mosque, told an undercover reporter that British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. President George Bush were both "legitimate targets" for terrorist attacks.


* At least six people were killed in the southeast Nigerian city of Onitsha when a feud between a separatist group and a transport union degenerated into street battles, residents said on Saturday. One witness said men armed with guns and machetes boarded a bus, forced out all the passengers and shot and beheaded one of them at the roadside.

* The leader of the Islamic militia that seized Somalia's capital said Saturday that 300 Ethiopian soldiers had entered the country to help his rivals, but he promised not to attack the weak government that represented his only challenge. An Ethiopian official denied Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's claims, but said his government had massed troops along the border and was monitoring the Islamic militants' advance across the country.

* The leader of Somalia's newly dominant Islamists denied any links to al Qaeda on Saturday and warned the interim government not to put any conditions on proposed peace talks in Yemen. Islamic Courts Union Chairman Sheikh Sharif Ahmed gave his first news conference to foreign journalists days after the fall of Jowhar, where his militias routed warlords from their last stronghold, 90 km (55 miles) north of the capital Mogadishu.

* A US military vessel has picked up two defeated Somali warlords from Mogadishu, while a third defected to the Islamic Courts militia now in control of the capital, officials said.

* In Senegal, the begging industry has become so successful that children are smuggled from neighboring Mali, Gambia or Mauritania to beg in Dakar, U.N. child agency UNICEF said. Koranic schools are fueling the child trafficking.

The Global War

* Senior law enforcement officials from G8 countries convened Thursday in Moscow for two days of talks on combating terrorism and organized crime. Protection of transportation and communication networks should top the list of security concerns, Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev said.

* Ryan Schmalz and Carl Wingate, sailors aboard the USS Cole when it was attacked in 2001, recall the attack, which was carried out by al Qaeda and killed 17 of their shipmates.

* Abu Abdullah Rashid al-Baghdadi, a key insurgency leader in Iraq, said the U.S. killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was a 'great loss,' but one that will strengthen the militants' determination, according to an audio tape broadcast Friday.

* Barry Rubin explains in the Turkish Daily News why capturing or killing terrorist leaders matters for those in need of having this explained.

Thanks for reading! If you found something here you want to blog about yourself (and we hope you do), all we ask is that you do as we do and offer a Hat Tip hyperlink to today's "Winds of War". If you think we missed something important, use the Comments section to let us know. For ongoing tips, email "MondayWindsOfWar", over here

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Putin: US is a bull in a china shop

From the RFE/RL newsline:

Speaking to journalists on June 15 in Shanghai, where he was attending a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), President Vladimir Putin, who has recently avoided sharp criticism of the United States, referred to U.S. behavior in Uzbekistan as that of "a bull in a china shop," international news agencies reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," May 10, and June 6 and 15, 2006). He also dismissed as "arrogant" alleged U.S. suspicions about the SCO. He argued that Washington does not "like the fact that countries like China and Russia have joined efforts in solving common problems, that India and Pakistan are taking part [in the SCO], and that it has attracted Iran. [Washington's] worry is that they can't influence [the SCO]." Apparently alluding to recent criticism of Russian policies by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and some other leading politicians, Putin said: "we do not respond to provocative statements...we pursue a well-balanced policy, not least of all with the United States. People in the [United States] with common sense understand us," RIA Novosti reported. Putin charged that Russia's critics are impatient and want change "immediately and in a way they consider proper. [But] those who are wiser understand that Russia will be useful for them."

Explosions in Dushanbe

From India Daily:

Three explosions rocked central Dushanbe, Tajikistan's capital, on the night of June 15 and morning of June 16, with a fourth occurring about 12.5 miles away from the city, damaging a pipeline that supplies the capital with natural gas. The first explosion struck near the Iranian Embassy and the Tajik parliament. The second explosion hit near a charity run by Said Abdullo Nuri, the leader of the Islamic Renaissance Party. The third went off near Tajikistan's Constitutional Court. The Interior Ministry said it is investigating the incidents.

This report suggested the explosions were not terror-related.

Tajikistan's police said they think three explosions that shook Dushanbe overnight were not terrorist acts.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khudoinazar Asoev said a preliminary investigation suggests the three explosions were linked and could be the work of teenagers. No casualties have been reported.

The first blast was near Dushanbe's Iranian cultural center. The second occurred near the offices of a charity run by the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan. The third was in front of the Constitutional Court building.

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Surrenderist Party

The US House just voted on the resolution concering the Global War on Terror. The title of the resolution (H. Res. 861) was Declaring that the United States will prevail in the Global War on Terror, the struggle to protect freedom from the terrorist adversary. (You can read the entire text of the resolution here. The roll call on the vote is here.)

And, incredibly, 153 Representatives voted No on this! What kind of Representative says no, the US will not prevail in the Global War on Terror?

(Of the 153 No votes, I counted 4 Republicans 3 Republicans and 1 Independent. Of the 4 Minnesota DFL Representatives, 3 voted No. Only Peterson in the 7th voted Yes.

Also, 3 Democrats voted Present, and 7 did not vote.)

This is what the Democrats said No to:
Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

(1) honors all those Americans who have taken an active part in the Global War on Terror, whether as first responders protecting the homeland, as servicemembers overseas, as diplomats and intelligence officers, or in other roles;

(2) honors the sacrifices of the United States Armed Forces and of partners in the Coalition, and of the Iraqis and Afghans who fight alongside them, especially those who have fallen or been wounded in the struggle, and honors as well the sacrifices of their families and of others who risk their lives to help defend freedom;

(3) declares that it is not in the national security interest of the United States to set an arbitrary date for the withdrawal or redeployment of United States Armed Forces from Iraq;

(4) declares that the United States is committed to the completion of the mission to create a sovereign, free, secure, and united Iraq;

(5) congratulates Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki and the Iraqi people on the courage they have shown by participating, in increasing millions, in the elections of 2005 and on the formation of the first government under Iraq's new constitution;

(6) calls upon the nations of the world to promote global peace and security by standing with the United States and other Coalition partners to support the efforts of the Iraqi and Afghan people to live in freedom; and

(7) declares that the United States will prevail in the Global War on Terror, the noble struggle to protect freedom from the terrorist adversary.

No to honoring the Americans who have taken and are taking part in the war on terror.

No to honoring the sacrifices made.

But, Democrats still support the troops, right?

No to finishing the job in Iraq.

No to supporting the efforts of the Iraqi and Afghan people to live in freedom.

No to affirming that the United States will prevail in the Global War on Terror.

Good luck running on that in November, Democrats.

Fallout followup

From StrategyPage:

Al Qaeda in Iraq has been virtually wiped out by the loss of an address book. The death of al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi was not as important as the capture of his address book and other planning documents in the wake of the June 7th bombing. U.S. troops are trained to quickly search for names and addresses when they stage a raid, pass that data on to a special intelligence cell, which then quickly sorts out which of the addresses should be raided immediately, before the enemy there can be warned that their identity has been compromised. More information is obtained in those raids, and that generates more raids. So far, the June 7th strike has led to over 500 more raids. There have been so many raids, that there are not enough U.S. troops to handle it, and over 30 percent of the raids have been carried by Iraqi troops or police, with no U.S. involvement. Nearly a thousand terrorist suspects have been killed or captured. The amount of information captured has overwhelmed intelligence organizations in Iraq, and more translators and analysts are assisting, via satellite link, from the United States and other locations.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Fallout from taking out Zarqawi

From the AP:

American and Iraqi forces have carried out 452 raids since last week's killing of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and 104 insurgents were killed during those actions, the U.S. military said Thursday.

Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, said the raids were carried out nationwide and led to the discovery of 28 significant arms caches.

He said 255 of the raids were joint operations, while 143 were carried out by Iraqi forces alone. The raids also resulted in the captures of 759 'anti-Iraqi elements.'

Dems, meet mirror

Peggy Noonan in her column today on the state of the Democratic Party:

The Democratic Party is that amazing thing, out of power for six years and yet exhausted. They're pale, tired and unready. Too bad, since it's their job to be an alternative, not an embarrassment.

This week Democratic members of Congress and other elected officials unveil their "New Direction for America," the party's declaration of its reason for being. It said it stands firmly and unequivocally, without fear or favor, unwaveringly and with grit for . . . reducing the cost of student loans. And making prescription drugs less expensive. And raising the minimum wage. Etc.

This is not a philosophy but a way--an inadequate way, but a way--of hiding the fact that you don't have a philosophy.

And no philosophy means no anchor in anything that produces an allegiance to something larger than themselves. You see it in the constant denigration of US efforts in the war on terrorism. Where is the celebration of the good that has been accomplished? Where is the reflection on the world would really be like if the US didn't exist? Why the assumption that the US is wrong and evil, a rampaging elephant in a sea of tender grasses, and oh why can't we be more like the Europeans?

Without a philosophy there is no vision, and without a vision you cannot truly love the society you are responsible for. You don't feel a part of it, but instead feel perfectly entitled to call your President a Hitler, the biggest terrorist in the world, a liar. You feel entitled to disrupt public speaking engagements by conservatives, even to the point of throwing pies and other such objects at them. You feel entitled to send vile emails to people you don't even know. Such unhinged behavior is a sign of hatred, not of a guiding philosophy.

I'm not talking here about the traditional kind of liberalism that truly has compassion on the needy. I'm talking about a selfish outlook that seeks to hack away at the chains that have historically bound us to the founding principles of our nation, unaware that if unmoored from our past, the ship of state will simply drift wherever the currents take it.

Where is the Democratic Ronald Reagan, a figure who can lift the party by reminding us that we are a shining city on a hill, not a garbage heap in a ditch? Until the party develops a philosophy beyond buying votes with government handouts, that person will be difficult to find.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

What to watch for in Shanghai

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit got underway today in Shanghai.

The leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Russia and China will mark five years since the regional security forum was founded in Shanghai in July 2001.

Under the chairmanship of the host, Chinese leader Hu Jintao, the SCO summit is expected to review the five years of the organization's activities, exchange opinions on international and regional affairs and draw up plans for further development. The leaders are also expected to sign a set of agreements, the forum's press center said.

The SCO originally dealt with security and confidence-building measures, including border conflicts, terrorism and militant Islam. Today the organization also covers economics, transportation, culture, disaster relief, and law enforcement, but security and economic cooperation are priorities.

What will be most interesting to watch in this summit, though, is what the SCO does with Iran. Iranian President Ahmadinejad is going to meet with the Chinese and Russian leaders in Shanghai. Though reports are it won't happen at this summit, if the SCO decides to give full membership to Iran, it will be a clear signal that Russia and China are willing to be more confrontational with the US.

Ahmadinejad was to represent his nation, which has observer status in a regional grouping now gathering in China's largest city, but he was expected to also have his first meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao on the sidelines.

Ahmadinejad is only a guest at Thursday's summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which groups China, Russia, and four Central Asian states plus a handful of observer nations, including Iran.

But attention will be on him more than anyone else, not least because he is also set to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time since an encounter at the United Nations last year.

This article in the Asia Times glibly describes the danger:

But the gambit, coming in the context of Iran's strained relations with the West over Tehran's nuclear program, drew notice. The Washington Times quoted David Wall, professor at the University of Cambridge's East Asia Institute, as saying that "an expanded SCO would control a large part of the world's oil and gas reserves and [a] nuclear arsenal. It would essentially be an OPEC [Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries] with bombs."

Pakistan made some news today at the summit.

President Pervez Musharraf on Wednesday said Pakistan wants to expand the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project up to China, reports Online news agency.

The report provided no further details on Pakistan's plans are to extend the pipeline up to China.

Pakistan, India and Iran are exploring the possibility of building a 2,775-km pipeline to deliver Iranian gas to the two South Asian nations.

Pakistan has long been exploring ways to be an energy conduit to China, and thereby profit from it. I've written before that one of the reasons China is developing the port in Gwadar (in Pakistan's Balochistan province) is energy resources could be transported up to China from that port.

If this pipeline also included China, it would have ramifications across the region. India actually wouldn't mind extending the pipeline to China, because then any disruptions in the supply upstream in Iran or Pakistan would also affect China, not just India, and so the move is seen as a way to help ensure stability.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Roundup of events in Balochistan

As before, these updates are from the South Asia Terrorism Portal.

May 17

A bomb exploded close to the office of an Afghan refugee organisation in the Nushki town of Balochistan province on May 16, according to Dawn. A wall of the office and windowpanes of nearby buildings were damaged. However, no casualty was reported.

Meanwhile, armed clashes occurred between security forces and insurgents in different areas of the Dera Bugti and Kohlu districts, while many landmines were defused in Loti and Sangsilla on May 16. However, no casualty was reported.

May 18

An explosive device planted under a gas pipeline exploded in Bugti Colony of the Sui area on May 17, killing a seven-year old girl, injuring two women and suspending gas supply to Sui gas plant. A large part of the 16-inch diameter pipeline was blown up, while sources added that following the explosion, armed tribesmen fired atleast 16 rockets attack on an Oil and Gas Development Corporation (OGDC) camp in the area. Three employees of the OGDC were injured as two rockets landed in the camp area, while a shop was destroyed and a patrol pump damaged in the rocket attack.

May 20

Suspected insurgents blew up two state-owned gas pipelines on May 19 in Balochistan, disrupting supplies but causing no casualties, according to Daily Times. No one claimed responsibility for the separate pre-dawn attacks in Sui, 350 kilometers east of provincial capital Quetta. Tariq Zubairi, a spokesman for the Sui Southern Gas Pipelines Ltd, said engineers had started repair work.

Meanwhile, the railway track linking Quetta with the border town of Chaman, near Faqirabad area, was blown up on May 19-night. Police said the powerful explosive device was planted under the railway line that went off blowing up the railway line. “One-and-a-half feet long piece of railway track blew up in the blast,” railway authorities confirmed to Dawn, adding that train service between Quetta and Chaman had been suspended for the time being.

In another incident, insurgents hurled a hand grenade at the house of Dr Hameed Panizai in the Geological Survey of Pakistan colony at Sariab road late night. However, no casualty was reported in the blast. Another explosion was reported from the industrial town of Hub. A wall of the office was slightly damaged, police said.

May 22

According to Daily Times, a tractor trolley carrying wheat crop hit a landmine near Patokh village in the Dera Bugti district of Balochistan province on May 21, leaving the driver Wahid Bakhsh Bugti dead and one Abdul Majeed Bugti injured.

In the Hub town, four police personnel and five civilians, including a woman and her five-year-old daughter, were wounded when a bomb planted on a bicycle exploded near a police vehicle parked at the shrine of Pir Abdullah Shah Bukhari on Sakran Road.

In another incident, Baloch insurgents blew up a 16-inch gas pipeline in the Sui area of Dera Bugti district affecting supply from well No.50 of the gas field to the main plant.
Explosions from Karachi to Neelum valley and the present insurgency in Balochistan and North Waziristan are conspiracies of the Indian intelligence and its military, said Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) ‘supreme commander’ and chairman of the Muttahida Jihad Council (MJC) Syed Salahuddin on May 21, reported The News. Addressing the Shan-e-Mustafa conference at Kasur in Punjab, he warned if Pakistan showed any kind of retreat or leniency on Kashmir issue at this critical stage, it would destabilise Pakistan because Jihad in Kashmir has entered a decisive stage and showing cowardice would provide an opportunity for Indian forces to infiltrate Balochistan and Waziristan.

May 25

According to Daily Times, clashes between security forces and Bugti tribesmen in various parts of Dera Bugti in Balochistan on May 24 left four security force personnel injured. “Four security men were injured in clashes with Bugti tribesmen in Loti, Samnay and Herog areas,” tribal elder Alam Khan Bugti told reporters.

Further, suspected insurgents fired rockets at the Pir Koh and Sui gas field. However, no damage was reported.

Meanwhile, security agencies have reportedly arrested an Afghan intelligence official, a former governor of Kandahar, two other Afghan nationals and two Pakistani gun-runners from a refugee camp in Loralai. According to Dawn, the intelligence officer, Abdul Rashid, had crossed into Pakistan illegally along with former Kandahar governor Abdul Qadir and they had been staying in the camp for two weeks. Official sources claimed that initial investigations had revealed that Rashid was trying to recruit Afghan refugees for subversive activities in Quetta and other areas.

May 26

According to Dawn, two villagers were killed when a landmine blew up a bullock cart near Lehri in the Sibi district of Balochistan province on May 25. “It was an anti-tank mine planted on the mud-road,” officials said.

Meanwhile, three missiles exploded in the outskirts of Sui. Further, security forces are reported to have foiled a second attempt in a week to blow up the house of Miwa Khan Bugti, seizing 25 kilograms of explosives planted near it in the Pir Koh area. Miwa Khan recently joined hands with the Government against Jamhoori Watan Party chief Nawab Akbar Bugti. Official sources said security forces also seized three anti-tank landmines in the Pir Koh area.

May 27

A huge fire broke out at Sui in the Balochistan province after two pipelines supplying gas to the Sui plant exploded on May 26-night, according to Dawn. Another pipeline was blown up near the Goth Mazari in the Punjab-Balochistan border area suspending supply of gas to some parts of the Punjab province, official sources said. Reports said that high explosives planted around the two big pipelines exploded at brief intervals. The blasts caused the huge fire which engulfed shops in the Sui bazaar. The Sui grid station and a police station were completely destroyed. “At least 60 shops, Sui grid station and levies thana were gutted, and the fire is still raging, posing threat to other shops in the township and nearby civilian settlements, a senior officer of the Sui police station told Dawn. However, no casualty has been reported.

In another incident, a 24-inch diameter main pipeline was blown up near the Goth Mazari village on the Balochistan-Punjab border on May 26-night. The pipeline supplies gas to many areas of Punjab.

Further, a shop was destroyed in a hand-grenade attack in the Nushki town, some 160 kilometers west of provincial capital Quetta, on May 25-night.

Elsewhere in the province, Baloch insurgents opened fire on the gas well No.1 in the Sui field. However, no damage was reported. Insurgents also fired three rockets in the Loti gas field area, but the rockets exploded in an open place. Police also found three rockets in the industrial town of Hub.

May 28

According to Daily Times, six security force (SF) personnel were killed and eight others sustained injuries during clashes with insurgents in the Dera Bugti area of Balochistan on May 27. “Sporadic clashes between security forces and tribesmen resulted in the killing of three security personnel and injuries to five others in Pir Koh area where a fierce exchange of fire took place between the two sides,” said insurgents’ ‘commander’ Mir Alam Khan Bugti. He said that SFs and insurgents also exchanged fire in the Sarloop area, 30kms east of Dera Bugti, which left one soldier dead. Two more SF personnel were killed as violence continued in the Loti area where rockets were fired on a gas field and shelling was continuing.

Elsewhere in the province, insurgents reportedly fired 19 rockets on SF check posts in the Sangsila, Gol Thekri and Pir Koh areas of Dera Bugti on May 27. No loss to life and property was reported.

May 29

Two soldiers were injured when insurgents fired five rockets at the Kohlu township in Balochistan province from nearby mountains on May 28.

Two more security force personnel were injured when their vehicle hit a landmine in the Sangsilla area of Dera Bugti district, according to Dawn.

Official sources informed that two civilians were wounded in another landmine explosion that was reported from the Haideri Nullah area of Pir Koh gas field.

Further, armed insurgents blew up a 16-inch- diameter gas pipeline in the Pash Bogi area with explosives. Gas supply to the Sui plant was reportedly suspended after the explosion.

Elsewhere in the province, two bomb explosions occurred in the Wadh town, some 380km south of provincial capital Quetta.

May 30

One person was killed and another sustained injuries in a landmine explosion at Sui in the Balochistan province on May 29, according to Dawn.

A six-year-old girl, identified as Maria, was killed and four women and two men sustained injuries in Mach when a powerful hand-grenade was hurled at a house in Makrani street.

During a landmine explosion in the Patokh area, 10-km from the Dera Bugti town, two security force personnel were wounded and in another incident in the Pash Bogi area, a civilian was injured.

Elsewhere in the province, armed insurgents reportedly fired at least 10 rockets on Frontier Corps check-posts in the Sangsilla, Chamasha and Ghori Pul areas. However, no loss of life or property was reported.

May 31

Four people were killed in landmine blasts in the Dera Bugti district of Balochistan province on May 30, Daily Times reported. The blasts occurred in the Habib Rai, Putikh and Jodi areas.

Meanwhile, Baloch insurgents’ leader Mir Alam Khan Bugti claimed on May 30 that two security force personnel were killed and three injured during landmine blasts in the Cengari locality. “Security forces set fire to 26 houses of Bugti tribesmen in the Munjo area,” he added.

Elsewhere in the province, insurgents are reported to have blown Well Number 25 at the main Sui gas plant, suspending gas supply to Sui, Pir Koh and adjacent areas. However, no casualities were reported.

June 1

A bomb exploded near the city branch of the National Bank of Pakistan in Quetta, capital of Balochistan province, on May 31. Windowpanes of the bank and nearby buildings were damaged. However, no casualty was reported.

According to Dawn, the Bolan Mail from Karachi escaped a major disaster by a few minutes when saboteurs blew up a section of the rail track near Dera Murad Jamali in the Nasirabad district on May 31. The blast occurred soon after the train had passed the point. Quetta, consequently, remained cut off from the rest of Pakistan for several hours as a result of the attack on the main track linking Quetta with Sindh, Punjab and the North West Frontier Province. Officials told Dawn that high explosives and a timer had been planted under the track.

June 3

Two people were injured in a landmine blast in the Nelakh area of Dera Bugti district in Balochistan province on June 2, according to Daily Times.

Elsewhere in Balochistan, police seized a large quantity of arms from a house on the outskirts of the provincial capital Quetta and arrested a man, identified as Mohammad Azam, who allegedly smuggled the weapons from Afghanistan.

June 4

On June 3, suspected militants blew up two pipelines disrupting gas supply to a gas field and plant at Pir Koh and Pathar Nala in Balochistan, according to Daily Times. Security forces defused two landmines planted along the gas pipelines. Separately, suspected militants blew up two electricity pylons in Barkhan, suspending power supply to Kohlu.

Militants also fired 11 rockets on security check-posts in Sangsela, Chashma, Gori Nala and Kohlu. No loss of life, however, was reported in these incidents.

June 7

Gas supply to vast areas in the country was suspended late on June 6-evening when the main compressor plant at Sui in the Balochistan province was closed after the main pipeline feeding the plant was blown up, according to Dawn. “The plant has been closed temporarily as a precautionary measure,” official sources in Sui said. Sources in the Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) said the region to which the supply had been affected stretched from Balochistan to Sindh to Punjab to the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). “Gas supply has been stopped to many industrial units, including fertiliser plants, in Punjab, Sindh and other areas of the country,” the sources said. According to reports, armed insurgents planted a powerful explosive device beneath the pipeline of 20 inches diameter taking gas to the Sui plant from the gas field destroying a large portion of the pipeline on the outskirts of Sui town.

Meanwhile, one person, identified as Younus Baloch, was killed in a bomb blast in the Western Panjgur district of Balochistan province on June 6, according to Daily Times.

Further, the part of a railway track was blown up in the Nothal area of Dera Murad Jamali disrupting train services. “Trains have been stopped as the track has not yet been repaired,” a local journalist told Daily Times. He said that two more bombs had been recovered and defused near the track.

Elsewhere in the province, insurgents fired at least three rockets at a Frontier Corps check-post in the Muach area of Bolan district.

June 8

The Harnai-Sibi railway track in Balochistan province was once again blown up on June 7 by suspected insurgents who used high-power explosive material. However, no loss of life was reported. Provincial officials told The News that some unknown saboteurs had planted powerful explosive material in the Sundhari area and the consequent explosion damaged a large portion of the railway track. Due to successive bomb blasts on the railway track, train service is already under suspension for the last four months on the Sibi-Harnai section. Railway authorities in Sibi said due to security concerns, they could not start the repair work on the track so far.

Meanwhile, the insurgents also fired at least eight rockets at the Frontier Corps check-post in the Sangsela area of Kohlu district and the Kahan area of Dera Bugti district on June 7. However, the rockets missed the target and landed outside the check-post, causing no loss of life or property.

June 10

Eleven people were reportedly injured when a bomb exploded in a restaurant in the industrial town of Hub in Balochistan province on June 9. Police sources said the bomb planted inside the Taj Mahal restaurant in front of the Hub police station exploded at around 5.50pm, according to Dawn.

Meanwhile, suspected insurgents fired 19 rockets on security forces’ check posts in several districts on June 9, including Dera Bugti and Sui. Sources told Daily Times that rockets had also been fired on Frontier Corps (FC) check posts in Pir Koha, Sangsila, Kohlu and Wadh. However, the rockets did not cause any serious damage, they said.

In a separate incident, a railway track was blown up in Snari, disrupting the railway service. However, no loss of life or injuries was reported.

Further, a bomb exploded in front of the Sui Southern Gas Company Limited office in Mustung district, but no one was injured.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the banned Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), calling himself Azad Baloch, claimed to have killed four Government officials in Kohlu on June 9. However, the incident could not be confirmed through independent sources.

Elsewhere in the province, police arrested 16 suspected insurgents from Sui and Hub. Lasbela District Police Officer Ghulam Haider Baloch told Daily Times that 10 men had been arrested in Sui for their suspected involvement in rocket attacks on military check posts, while six had been detained in Hub for the murder of Station House Officer Hayat Baloch last week.

June 11

The supply of gas to most of Balochistan province was suspended on June 10 after two gas pipelines of the main Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) supplying gas from Sui to Quetta were blown up by a powerful explosion in the Mastung district, Daily Times reported. The explosion occurred at approximately 2.20am on June 9 in the Kalpar area, 30 kilometers from provincial capital Quetta, damaging two gas pipelines and suspending gas supply to the Quetta, Mastung, Kalat, Pashin and Ziarat districts. No group has claimed responsibility for the explosion thus far.

June 12

Five unidentified insurgents were reportedly killed and 11 injured when security forces (SFs) retaliated to an attack at Dera Bugti in the Balochistan province on June 11. Balochistan Government spokesperson Raziq Bugti said militants attacked the SFs with heavy rocket and gunfire, but fled when they retaliated, Geo Television reported. “We came to know from their conversation through satellite telephones that five miscreants were killed and 11 injured,” he said.

In another incident, unidentified insurgents attacked a SF vehicle on patrol near the Sui gas plant, injuring an official. Security forces killed one insurgent when they retaliated.

Further, seven rockets were fired at a Frontier Corps (FC) check post on June 11 at Buleda. However, no casualties were reported.

Meanwhile, the Machh Criminal Investigation Department arrested four suspected militants belonging to the banned Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) on June 11 for alleged involvement in the Machh bomb blasts, Daily Times reported.

June 13

Five people were killed and 17 sustained injuries in a bomb blast at a hotel in Quetta, capital of Balochistan province, on June 12, according to Daily Times. An improvised explosive device weighing four kilograms and placed under a bicycle reportedly exploded at Gul Balochistan Hotel on the Sariab Road at 10:35am. Mir Shoaib Nausherwani, the Balochistan Home Minister, blamed the Balochistan Liberation Army for the blast. However, Sardar Akhtar Mengal, the Balochistan National Party President, accused intelligence agencies of masterminding the blast in order to defame the Baloch leaders.

Previous Posts

More unrest in SE Iran
The growing civil war in Baluchistan
Roundup of events in Balochistan
Iran hits back
The Port of Gwadar
Roundup of events in Balochistan
The Government of Balochistan in Exile
The toll in Balochistan
Why Balochistan is up in arms
Why Pakistan wants to hold on to Balochistan
Roundup of events in Balochistan
An interview with Mir Azaad Khan Baloch
Roundup of events in Balochistan
No AQ or Taliban in Balochistan?
The crisis in Balochistan
A good start

Monday, June 12, 2006

Happy Birthday, John!!

Happy Birthday, John! Six years old today! Where has the time gone? Have a good day, my special boy.

A good start

The US House voted to reduce aid to Pakistan, a courageous move considering Pakistan can choose how much it wants to crack down on the terrorists in its territory. The House has gone on record as saying the US should not turn a blind eye to Pakistan's dismal human rights record.

The United States’ foreign aid to Pakistan has been reduced from the current fiscal year by 250 million dollars to 300 million dollars as Islamabad has failed to do enough’’ to improve democracy and human rights.

According to the appropriations bill that was passed yesterday by the House of Representatives by a 373-34 vote, the foreign military financing (FMF) funds for Pakistan for 2007 were also dropped to 200 million dollars, with a decrease of 100 million dollars from the current fiscal.

The bill specifically cited the ’’increasing lack of respect for human rights, especially women’s rights, and the lack of progress for improving democratic governance and the rule of law,’’ as chief reasons for reducing Pakistan’s funds.

Unstated here is the fact many of these human rights abuses, and lack of support for democracy, have to do with Balochistan, which readers here will be familiar with.

An independence movement is underway there, and the US can show strong support for the Balochs by taking just this step of reducing aid to Pakistan.

Monday Winds of War Briefing

Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Friday. Monday's Winds of War briefings are given by Peace Like a River and Security Watchtower.

Top Topics

* More than 40 suspected Taleban militants have been killed in clashes since Monday, the US-led coalition in Afghanistan says. The clashes between militants and Afghan and coalition soldiers took place in Zabul and Uruzgan provinces, a coalition statement said. Separately, three people have been killed in an explosion near the Afghan capital, Kabul on Friday. Canadian troops were involved in the action.

* Islamist militia, days after winning control of Mogadishu, advanced on Friday toward the last stronghold of secular warlords in Jowhar further north. Residents said the militia, who won control of the Somali capital on Monday after driving out a self-styled anti-terrorism coalition of warlords, advanced overnight closer to the warlord stronghold of Jowhar, 90 km (55 miles) to the north.

* Iran has given a mixed response to an international offer of incentives. "We should study the package offered. We should classify it. There are points which are acceptable. There are points which are ambiguous and there are points that we believe should not exist," said Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi. On Sunday Iran warned the IAEA not to do anything that could harm diplomatic efforts.

Other topics today include: Iran's secret nuclear activities; Extension on Hariri investigation; Jordanian MP's detained over Zarqawi death; Israeli airstrikes; Qassam rocket attacks on Israel increase; Hamas-Fatah feuding continues; U.S. student kidnapped in West Bank; Egyptian bombers trained by Hamas; Syrian plot to destabilize Qatar; Hamas ends truce with Israel; NYPD commissioner warns of homegrown terror threat; Gitmo suicides; Texas border monitoring plan; More on the aftermath of the Toronto plots; Shootings in Chechnya; Protests in the Crimea; Heavy fighting in southern Afghanistan continues; Bombing in India; Militants arrested in Pakistan; Militant compound destroyed in Waziristan; Shootings in Sri Lanka; Bashir to be released from prison; Saudi pilot with 9/11 links deported from New Zealand; German security around World Cup; Swiss thwart attack on El Al Airliner; Protests in Spain over ETA talks; Islamists consolidating power in Mogadishu; U.S. Terror warning in China; the art of aerial assassination; and more.

Iran & the Middle East

* Fresh evidence has emerged that Iran is working on a secret military project to develop nuclear weapons that has not been declared to United Nations inspectors responsible for monitoring Iran’s nuclear programme. IAEA experts are pressing Iran to make a full disclosure about a network of research laboratories at a secret military base outside the capital Teheran. The project, codenamed Zirzamin 27, is aimed at enabling the Iranians to undertake uranium enrichment for military application.

* Chief United Nations investigator Serge Brammertz is seeking a one-year extension on the investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiki Hariri.

* Four Islamist members of the Jordanian parliament have been condemned by other MPs after they paid condolences to the family of slain al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. On Sunday the men were detained and held for questioning by the government.

* An Israeli airstrike on Sunday left two Hamas terrorists dead in the Gaza Strip, after the pair were on their way to launch rockets at Israel. An Israeli citizen was critically wounded in Negev after Palestinians launched a salvo of Qassam rockets from Gaza. Later on Sunday, a second Israeli airstrike destroyed a vehicle and wounded the driver.

* Palestinian terrorists fired more Qassam rockets at the southern Israel city of Sedot, where 54 rockets have been fired since Friday. A debate in the Israeli parliament is taking place about whether or not to retake the Gaza strip, a move Defense Minister Amir Peretz was against.

* No progress was made on a possible referendum following meetings between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniya. The two Palestinian factions remain at odds over the referendum and the policy towards Israel.

* A 35-year-old Israeli Arab was shot and killed Sunday and two others wounded along a major West Bank highway on the outskirts of Jerusalem, after a gunmen fired on a packed van of Israeli Arabs, then fled back to Ramallah.

* An American student was briefly kidnapped and threatened on Saturday by members of the al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades in the West Bank city of Nablus.

* Egyptian officials indicated on Saturday that they had evidence demonstrating that the suicide bombers who carried out the attacks in the Sinai Peninsula in April were trained in the Gaza Strip by Hamas operatives.

* According to the Kuwaiti daily Al Seyassah, 100 Syrian workers and 5 Syrian intelligence agents were arrested in Qatar last week where they were seeking to destabilize the ruling monarchy.

* On Saturday, Lebanon said it had arrested a man who was a key mastermind in a car bombing that killed a senior Islamic Jihad official, and who has links to Israeli intelligence.

* On Friday, Hamas' military wing announced it would no longer honor a truce with Israel, following a deadly Israeli artillery strike that killed seven civilians.

America Domestic Security & the Americas

* Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, in her first visit to the White House, discussed with President George W. Bush fortifying democracy in Latin America. Bachelet denied that Bush had pressured her to oppose Venezuela's bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council. Both Venezuela and Guatemala are seeking a Security Council seat representing Latin America and the Caribbean.

* Police commissioner Raymond Kelly has a warning for New Yorkers: Homegrown jihadists pose an increasing risk to the city. Kelly described the dangerous fanatics, during an exclusive interview with the Daily News, as mostly impressionable young men in their late teens and early 20s. "Immediately after 9/11 the first concern was people trying to get into the country," Kelly told The News. "Now there is an equal concern about sympathizers here in the United States taking up the cause."

* Three prisoners at the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, hanged themselves, the U.S. military said Saturday. They are the first confirmed suicides at the compound.

* The U.S. Congress wants the Department of Homeland Security to explain where anti-terrorism grants are going. Criticism just keeps coming over money and how it's being doled out, USA Today says.

* The governor of Texas has announced a $5 million plan to install hundreds of night-vision cameras on private land along the Mexican border and put the live video on the Internet, so that anyone with a computer who spots illegal immigrants trying to slip across can report it on a toll-free hotline.

* Extremist internet sites are to blame for terrorists targeting Canada, not Canada's military presence in Afghanistan, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said. "Worldwide, there's a tiny percentage of individuals who, unfortunately, are affected by bizarre and horrendous items on the Internet that lead them to various ideologies," Mr. Day said.

* Critics are warning that some spiritual conferences held by Muslim organizations in Toronto and elsewhere in Canada provide platforms for extremist views that could radicalize young people. One such conference, Reviving the Islamic Spirit, which was held at the CNE grounds in Toronto last December.

* A Canadian court denied a request on Friday to delay the release on bail of an Algerian man found to have engaged in terrorist activities and to have lied about links to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network.

* Two men accused of plotting a terrorist rampage in Canada were convicted last year of smuggling weapons into Canada that they had bought in Ohio, according to a federal agency.

* A Muslim religious leader in Toronto who knows some of those charged in the suspected bomb plot says the young men underwent rapid transformations from normal Canadian teenagers to radicalized introverts.

* The 17 boys and men whom Canadian police are calling "homegrown terrorists" forged their bonds in student clubs and on school soccer fields, chatted on the Internet, and urged each other to be heroes for their faith.

* CNN has an article on the forgotten child warriors of Colombia's largely forgotten guerrilla war. The army seized a video in northwest Colombia in May which gives fresh insight into how the country's largest Communist rebel force (FARC) continues to train children for combat in its decades-old effort to overthrow the state.

Russia, Caucasus & Central Asia

* The Russian Federal Security Service is carrying out a special operation on the outskirt of the settlement of Yandare, where a base of militants was blocked in the woodland. A car was found at the site that was used in assaults of policemen and civilians over the past weeks.

* Gunmen raked a car with automatic fire Friday and killed a top police commander, his three young children and two other people in Ingushetia, a troubled Russian province neighboring Chechnya.

* About 200 US reservists, whose arrival in Crimea in southern Ukraine sparked anti-NATO protests, will leave by Monday, but planned military exercises may still take place. According to a Ukraine weekly publication, the riots were masterminded by the Russian special security services (FSB) on the heels of warnings from Moscow against the expansion of NATO.

* One of Russia’s leading human rights groups, Memorial, has produced what it says is documentary evidence of a secret torture and murder cell in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya.

* On Saturday afternoon gunmen opened fire on Russian Defense Ministry troops near the village of Bugaroi in the southern Itum-Kala district of Chechnya, wounding two. On Saturday night, militants attacked interior troops on the outskirts of the village of Niki-Khita in the republic's southeastern Kurchaloi district, killing one soldier and wounding another.

Afghanistan & Southern Asia

* Afghan troops killed 13 suspected Taliban rebels including two Pakistani nationals in an operation in southern Afghanistan, a commander said. The rebels were killed in an army sweep of an area around Tirin Kot city, the capital of restive Uruzgan province which has seen several counter-insurgency operations in the past weeks.

* Afghan Taleban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar says Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's death will not weaken efforts against the West in Afghanistan, reports say.

* Gunmen on a motorbike killed two Afghan aid workers and government forces battled Taliban militants in the restive south as 26 people died in violence across Afghanistan, officials said Friday.

* The deadliest three weeks of violence since the fall of the Taliban has left more than 500 people dead, the U.S-led coalition said Saturday. The toll included at least 44 deaths last week.

* A large springtime offensive by Taliban fighters has turned into the strongest show of force by the insurgents since American forces chased the Taliban from power in late 2001.

* A roadside bomb hit a convoy carrying the intelligence chief of the Afghan capital, missing him but killing three others, police said Saturday. Kabul intelligence chief Humayoon Aini was returning from a meeting just south of the capital when the bomb hit his convoy in Musayi district, said Amanullah Ghazar, the Kabul police chief.

* Canadian and coalition forces cut the ribbon on a base deep in Taliban country Saturday to show rural elders their support for the Afghan government. Forward Operating Base Martello is a bleak, dusty fortress gouged deep into the top of rocky ridges that command the El Bak valley about 200 kilometres north of Kandahar.

* At least five people died and six were injured when a bomb exploded in crowded marketplace in Guwahati, the main city in India's northeastern Assam state, police said. "The explosion was very powerful with limbs of victims strewn around all over the place," police chief N. Gogoi told AFP on Friday.

* In India, the anti-terrorist squad (ATS) of the Gujarat Police Friday arrested two youth for their alleged links with militant outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT).

* Suspected separatist guerrillas in India’s northeastern state of Assam triggered four explosions, blowing up oil and gas pipelines, hours after a market-place bomb killed five people, police said on Saturday. The militants blew up a pipeline carrying crude oil from a drilling site in the state’s Duliajan area, and a gas pipeline in the town of Digboi, 400 km (250 miles) east of Guwahati, the state’s main city.

* Pakistani police said they had arrested six operatives of a banned Sunni Muslim extremist group who were allegedly planning to carry out a suicide attack on a Shiite mosque. Police arrested the suspects in an early morning raid on their hideout in the rural town of Rahim Yar Khan in central Punjab province.

* A home-made bomb exploded in a restaurant in southern Pakistan today, wounding nine people, police said. It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack in Hub, a town about 30 miles west of Karachi. The Balochistan police said they suspected that the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) was behind the act.

* Pakistani security forces have attacked a militant hideout near the Afghan border, killing at least 15 guerrillas, the military says. It says rockets and helicopters were used in Saturday's pre-dawn attack in the tribal region of North Waziristan. Pakistan’s army on Sunday raised the number of militants killed in a raid on a training camp a day earlier to more than 30.

* In Pakistan, police said on Friday that they had arrested six operatives of a banned Sunni extremist group who were allegedly planning to carry out a suicide attack on a Shia mosque. Police arrested the suspects in an early morning raid on their hideout in the rural town of Rahim Yar Khan in central Punjab, the town’s police chief Ahsan Mahboob told AFP.

* Pakistan strenuously denies granting sanctuary to the Taleban, yet their cause still finds succor among local Pashtuns and Islamic hard-liners, fueling suspicions that jihadi leaders may be plotting their campaign of violence from southwestern Pakistan, with militants crossing the long, porous border to launch attacks.

* Here are the daily updates from the South Asia Terrorism Portal for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

* Nepal's rebel leader Prachanda piled more pressure on the country's new government, saying that the political parties who came back into power in April were ignoring Maoist demands. The Himalayan state's parliament was reinstated in April, ending 14 months of direct rule by King Gyanendra.

* At least five people were shot dead in Sri Lanka’s restive northeast port district of Trincomalee and the main city of Colombo at the weekend, military officials said on Sunday.

Far East & Southeast Asia

* Natalie O'Brien has an article in the Australia that focuses on the three Bali bomb leaders still on the run in southeast Asia.

* Japan is seeking to work together with Malaysia in the fight against terrorism and efforts to safeguard the strategic Malacca Strait, according to a senior Japanese official. "Malaysia is our important partner because you are in command of the Malacca Strait. It is an important oil route and a lifeline to the Japanese economy," the official added.

* Three simultaneous bomb explosions rocked the Philippines on Sunday, killing one person and injuring at least four others. No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

* Abu Bakar Bashir, the spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiah, is scheduled to be released from prison in Indonesia this week and there are concerns that he may reenergize terrorists in the region. Rohan Gunaratna warned about the release, saying "He will mobilise them, he will politicise them. He has the credentials because he went to prison and he suffered. So people will join him, people will work with him. That's why he must stay in prison forever." Zachary Abuza also offers more insight.

* North Korea says it will punish the U.S., after claiming the US carried out three aerial espionage missions over North Korea in the last week.

* The New Zealand Weekend Herald is reporting on the story of Rayed Mohammed Abdullah Ali, a Saudi pilot who trained with Hani Hanjour in Phoenix, Arizona in the months before Hanjour flew American Airline Flight 77 into the Pentagon. Ali arrived in New Zealand in February from Aucklund on a student visa, and spent four months flying at the Manawatu Aero Club before being identified and deported back to Saudi Arabia as a security risk. On Sunday, Prime Minister Helen Clark voiced her support of the operation.

* Japan's Cabinet has given its backing to new legislation which would create a defence ministry. Japan's armed forces are currently under the control of an agency which reports to the prime minister. This latest proposal, if passed by parliament, would expand the role of the country's armed forces and give the defence minister new powers.


* Two Muslim brothers arrested in an anti-terrorism raid last week on their home in London, were released without charge. Mohammed Abdul Kahar, who was shot and injured in the dawn swoop, and Abul Koyair had been held for questioning for a week as officers scoured their house, reportedly looking for some kind of chemical weapon. Reports indicate the pair may now bring a lawsuit against the police.

* German authorities have assigned a crack police team of 24 officers to keep track of Imam Saddiq Ayub, a radical Islamist with links to both the September 11 terror attacks and the Madrid train bombings because they lack evidence to detain him.

* The Swiss authorities have arrested seven North Africans on suspicion of planning a rocket attack on an Israeli El Al airliner in Geneva. The attack was due to be carried out in December. One of the suspects, Moroccan-born Mohamed Achraf, also stands accused of masterminding a plot to blow up Madrid's National Court. (Hat tip: Crossroads Arabia)

* Hundreds of people have gathered in Nuremberg to protest against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ahead of a World Cup match between Iran and Mexico. The protesters, who include local Jewish community and Iranian exile groups, denounced Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for casting doubt on the Holocaust. Gateway Pundit has more analysis on the protests.

* Norway said it would continue to act as peace broker between Sri Lanka and Tamil Tiger rebels despite the recent breakdown in talks between the two sides, which had thrown its role into doubt.

* An estimated crowd of 200,000 marched in Madrid on Saturday, opposing government talks with ETA, the Basque nationalist group that recently abandoned its long terror campaign.

* In London, an internal Metropolitan Police report concluded that Asian Muslim officers were more likely to become corrupt than their white counterparts. "Asian officers and in particular Pakistani Muslim officers are under greater pressure from the family, the extended family...and their community against that of their white colleagues to engage in activity that might lead to misconduct or criminality."


* A symposium at NRO on Somalia examines possible consequences of the violence currently dividing that country, threatening to give Islamic militias control.

* South Sudan announced the launch of negotiations to end more than two decades of fighting in northern Uganda and appealed for the withdrawal of international arrest warrants out against rebel chiefs. Riak Machar, deputy head of south Sudan's autonomous regional government, said Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) leader Joseph Kony had agreed take part in landmark peace talks in the region's capital Juba.

* The head of the UN Mission in Liberia, Mr. Alan Doss says disciplinary action has been taken by the UN Headquarters in six of the 2005 cases involving UNMIL Personnel for sexual exploitation and abuse.

* Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, a radical Islamic sheikh linked to Al-Qaeda, was tightening his grip on the devastated capital of Somalia this weekend after the defeat of an alliance of secular warlords. According to reports, the Islamists are calling for holdout warlords to surrender.

* Factions from two Sudanese rebel groups that had refused to sign the Darfur Peace Agreement signed a declaration of commitment to the pact on Thursday, effectively pledging to abide by its terms.

The Global War

* The U.S. government warned Friday of possible terrorist threats to American interests and places where Americans gather in China, particularly in major cities. The notice, posted on the Web site of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and transmitted by e-mail to American citizens, said the warning was based on unconfirmed information.

* The House of Representatives voted Friday to forbid US aid to Saudi Arabia, a statement of far more symbolic importance than economic.

* The G8 finance ministers resolved to step up their efforts to combat financial flows to terrorist organisations at a meeting in St Petersburg. "We confirm our resolve to fight money laundering and terrorism financing and are committed to strengthening our systems for freezing assets and sharing information, and development of multilateral financial tools to disrupt criminal and illicit activities," the ministers said in a statement after two days of talks in this Russian city.

* TCS looks at the art of aerial assassination.

* According to a recent study, kidnappings have a more damaging financial impact on companies than other forms of terrorist attacks. The study, co-written by a Canadian finance professor, examined 75 terrorist attacks of all types between 1995 and 2002 on publicly traded companies.

* Many of the next generation of terror leaders have been killed and the results are replacements that "have fewer connections than the men they are replacing, less training and sparser resources."

* Jason Burke has an editorial in the Guardian on Sunday titled "Why bin Laden is losing his war of terror."

* A new tape release by al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri called on Muslims to reject any referendum that would open the path towards recognizing Israel.

* Gulf-News is proliferating the online controversy strummed up by leftwing anti-war blogs over the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and in doing so giving them far more acknowledgment and credibility then they deserve.

* Evan Kolman's paper on "The Afghan-Bosnian Mujahideen Network in Europe" is available now.

Thanks for reading! If you found something here you want to blog about yourself (and we hope you do), all we ask is that you do as we do and offer a Hat Tip hyperlink to today's "Winds of War". If you think we missed something important, use the Comments section to let us know. For ongoing tips, email "MondayWindsOfWar", over here

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Did you know?

This is taken from the excellent book Eternal Iran, by Patrick Clawson and Michael Rubin. The book provides a wonderful overview of Iranian history from centuries back to the present. I'll do a review of it at some point, but for now, this paragraph caught my eye.

While the Abbasids brought greater prosperity to the Iranians, ethnic tensions continued to strain the Islamic Empire. The caliphs were Arab, and Arabs continued to claim a priviliged position within the world of Islam. After all, God had chosen to reveal the Qur'an in Arabic, not in Persian. While the Abbasids remained in power for more than 500 years, their peak came within a century, under the rule of Harun al-Rashid (786-809). It was duringn his reign that the famous tales of One Thousand and One Nights, stories like "Aladdin", "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves", and "Sinbad" were first written. Harun, though, was intensely paranoid and intolerant of religious minorities. He originated the practice--revived by the Nazis more than a millenium later--of requiring Jews to wear yellow patches.

Who needs luxuries

...when you have leopard-print nightgowns.

The ruins of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's house are strewn with a random jumble of wreckage -- magazines, a leopard-print nightgown, a religious slogan and a few hints at the violent career of Iraq's most wanted man.

What is left of the "safe house" where the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq lived suggests that he and his companions lived there with few luxuries.

The U.S. military took reporters to the village of Hibhib, near the town of Baquba north of Baghdad, three days after its air strike killed Zarqawi, blamed for the grisly beheadings of hostages and the killings of thousands in suicide bombings.

Friday, June 09, 2006

The MN DFL convention

I "liveblogged" some of the MN DFL convention today over here by audio.

You'll be glad to know the Democrats are still not serious about national security.

In Search Of... XIII

It's time for another installment of In Search Of... These are some of the more amusing web searches that have stumbled across my blog. (The previous installment is here.)

-analysis of pickpocket in malaysia government
-after effects of being stabbed in the neck [this came from the City of New York]
-why don't they (middle east ) like us?
-market of brachial pipes (uranium)
-desert steel toe boots in size eee
-2006 guestbook of rich men in europ and asia
-baby fussy from 11:00 am-2:00 pm
-the advantages of having domestic maid
-2006 email,guestbook and contacts of wealthy doctors in asia
-orange count chooper
-jack bauer's catch phrase

Iranian Azeris

In this post I talked about Azeris in Iran, and their importance.

This article from Today.Az adds some more good information.

Much as did imperial Iran, the Islamic regime has downplayed the ethnic differences between Persians and Azeris. Despite the fact that influential figures in the establishment, such as Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, are of Azeri descent, the mullahs did not hesitate to crack down hard on Azeri Turkish nationalism, using heavy weapons to put down a 1981 uprising in Tabriz and summarily executing hundreds of Azeris.

Azeris have had mixed relationships with other Iranian minorities. Kurds, who make up around 14 percent of Iran's population, do not have particularly good relations with ethnic Azeris; several cities in western Iran, such as Urumieh and Mako, are inhabited by both Kurds and by Azeri Turks. In the last decade, the ethnic majority of the Azeri Turks in some areas close to the border with Turkey has been diluted by immigration of Kurds. The attitudes of the Turkic-speaking ethnic Turkmens, who live in the part of Iran near the independent republic of Turkmenistan, are unclear.

The last fifteen years has seen a boom in nationalist publications for Iranian Azeris and growing interest in both Turkey and the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan. A considerable number of Iranian Azeris watch Turkish television broadcasts now available via satellite; this has increased their knowledge of Turkey as well as the Anatolian dialect of Turkish.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Zarqawi killed

An extraordinary success in the War on Terror, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in a Coalition air strike last night.

It is an intelligence success of the highest rank. US and Coalition intelligence units have been tracking Zarqawi for months, and their efforts paid off that gave them 100% certainty Zarqawi was in a safe house near Baquba, north of Baghdad.

In a press conference this morning, Gen. Caldwell, spokesman for MNF-Iraq, said tips from inside Zarqawi's network played a role, but he didn't elaborate.

He also said that the raid last night was followed by 17 additional raids that led to a "treasure trove" of intelligence. He said the targets of these raids had been tracked for awhile, but they had held off on apprehending them so they could be used to track Zarqawi, to build up intel on his habits, travel patterns, etc...

As the military and Pentagon spokesmen have been saying, this will not end the violence, but don't underestimate the importance of this.

Zarqawi had made it a point to kill Iraqi civilians. He, as much as anyone, was encouraging the bloodshed in Iraq.

More important, he undoubtedly knew everyone worth knowing in terror circles in that part of the world. As I've said before, Zarqawi was the nexus of the three main terror influences in Iraq.

He got his start in Ansar al-Islam, a terror group that began in northern Iraq. Such a group could not have operated without the knowledge, and even tacit blessing, of Saddam Hussein. As such, Zarqawi surely had ties to Hussein's Baathist regime that carried over into the insurgency.

Zarqawi was Al Qaeda's chief representative in Iraq. Zarqawi pledged his loyalty to Osama bin Laden in 2004.

And, Zarqawi had contacts in Iran. Zarqawi was known to go in and out of Iran.

The terrorists will find it exceedingly difficult to replace Zarqawi, and his Rolodex, and the relationships he had. Strangers are not going to be able to walk up to his contacts and say "trust me", and work as closely with them as Zarqawi did.

It is fitting that on this same day, Iraq finally named ministers for Defense and Interior. With a complete Cabinet, the Iraqi government can focus on the future.

There are bad days and good days in war. The bad days should never obviate the need for war. By definition war brings bad days.

But this was a very good day. A murderer with the blood of thousands on his hands is dead.

Now, maybe we can look forward to a sitcom on Al Jazeera, about Zarqawi trying to organize his 72 virgins into terror squads.

"No, dear, you pull back on the bolt like this. And you've got the clip in backwards again. Come on, we've been over this a hundred times!"

As he always does, C.S. Scott has a good roundup, and has links to raids in recent weeks that took out some of Zarqawi's aides, as the intelligence task force closed in on him.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Blogger, gaaaah!

Apologies for the diminished output lately. Blogger has either been slow, erratic, or just plain down the last few days.

I curse thee, Blogger! I curse thee! To the last, I grapple with thee; From Hell's heart, I stab at thee; For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Somalia update

The Islamic militants are gaining the upper hand in Somalia, a worrisome development to say the least.

Muslim militias claimed Monday to have routed warlords allegedly backed by the United States after weeks of fighting for control of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, dealing a setback to U.S. efforts to contain the spread of militant Islam.

U.S. officials and other experts warned that if the militias consolidated their victory they would establish an Islamist state where al-Qaida could secure bases from which it could spread its violent ideology to other East African and Horn of Africa nations.

The Islamists’ claim of victory in Mogadishu comes as the United States and its allies struggle to contain growing Islamic violence in Iraq and some of the fiercest attacks in Afghanistan by the Taliban since that Islamic militia was driven from power in 2001.

Al-Qaida-inspired extremists might be allowed to use Somalia as a refuge from which to support and mount operations against Yemen and Saudi Arabia, the world’s No. 1 oil producer, located a boat ride away across the Red Sea, said U.S. officials and other experts.

The Islamic Courts are expanding their reach, as well.

New Islamic Courts have been announced today around Balad some 30KMs north of Mogadishu and Capital suburbs district of Deynile, both previously controlled by the Islamic Courts rival secular.

Supporters of Former powerful warlord Mohamed Qanyare Afrah at his defense position of Deyniile have totally converted into Islamic Courts fantasies this morning after Alliance members lost control of much in the capital and surroundings.

Armed vehicles belonged to Mohamed Qanyare and militiamen f formerly loyal to him have given in themselves to protect their living areas from fresh fighting.

The blow came after Islamists consecutively defeated rival Anti Terror Alliance inside and outside the Capital for the past days.

StrategyPage has a few words about what the Islamic Courts are.

The Islamic Courts are a coalition of warlords that use Islamic judges (usually small groups of clerics or clan elders) to decide disputes. This cuts down on feuding within the organization, and provides more control over criminal behavior. Beyond that, the Islamic Courts militias are still your average Somali warlord gangsters. But these are pro-al Qaeda gangsters, who are known to harbor some wanted al Qaeda terrorists. The Islamic Courts oppose the current transitional government, and want to establish a religious dictatorship.


Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have
striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The
hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.
In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on
other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war
machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of
Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well
equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of
1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats,
in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their
strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home
Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions
of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men.
The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to

I have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill in
battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!

Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great
and noble undertaking.

SIGNED: Dwight D. Eisenhower

Monday, June 05, 2006

Followup to report of attack on Russians in Iraq

A Russian diplomat was killed Saturday in an attack in Iraq, and 4 others were kidnapped.

There was a report that the four were subsequently released, but that report was apparently untrue.

From Axis comes a rather bizarre report:

Several Russian analysts brought up a claim, widely published by the media, that the US confidential services inspired this attack to “worsen relations between the Russian and Iraqi people”. They said that Russia for a long time was one of the friendliest states to Iraq, and such an attack was impossible without “foreign incitement”. It was also claimed that these attacks are unprecedented and the attackers perfectly knew whom are they attacking. Some Iraqi officials also sounded similar accusations.

As daily Kommersant newspaper’s source in circles close to the Iraqi government supposed, the attack on the Russian diplomats might by favorable for Washington, which dislikes both Iraqi policy of Moscow, which runs counter to the American one, and excessive, from US point of view, activity of the Russian special services in Iraq. Iraqi ex-Ambassador to Russia Abbas Khalaf stated that the attack on the Russians is a provocation by the US troops. According to Khalaf, the USA “has continued trying to punish Russia for its active political role in the region and especially in Iraq” in such way.

Yikes. I wonder if these Russian "analysts" have their heads wrapped in tin foil.

Certainly, this is a puzzling attack. It's not clear which faction among the insurgency would do this, or why. Russia is not an ally of the US in Iraq.

But to suggest the US would be involved in this attack is nuts.

Japan eyes Central Asia

From the RFE/RL today:

Japan and four Central Asian countries held a one-day foreign ministerial meeting today in Tokyo, agreeing on an action plan for regional cooperation. The plan includes a call for improving border management to prevent the proliferation of terrorism and drugs. It also envisions a number of other initiatives. Observers believe Japan is trying to position itself as a new regional player but will other, more powerful regional power brokers let it achieve its purported ambitions?

Dubbed "Central Asia plus Japan Dialogue," today's meeting brought together the foreign ministers of Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
Yet, Swenson-Wright says Japan's willingness to seek a more active role in Central Asia is also motivated by specific geopolitical concerns.

"With the emergence of China as a major player Japan is increasingly concerned that it may be eclipsed, [that] it may see its own influence in the region to some extent challenged,"he said. "I suspect what we're seeing here is an effort on the part of the Japanese foreign-policy establishment -- particularly the Foreign Ministry -- to continue to underline the importance of taking Japan seriously [in the region] and see that its own interests are well represented."

It is still questionable whether China and the region's other major player -- Russia -- will let Japan have a greater say in Central Asian affairs.

This would certainly create an interesting dynamic in Central Asia. Russia obviously has interests in its former territories. China is making moves in Central Asia to secure energy resources. Through the SCO, Russia and China are making an effort to pull the region away from the US.

(To be sure, Russia and China also compete in Central Asia. I touched on that here. See also another article from RFE/RL.)

So, the involvement of Japan, perceived as a pro-US ally, will create some tension in the region.

Japan, too, wants to secure dependable energy supplies, which the Central Asian republics are providing in increasing volume.

In January, Russia said that a long-discussed pipeline would first supply China, not Japan was was once contemplated.

Also, China and Japan are jockeying for position in Africa, a race I would say China is winning.

Making friends in Central Asia might provide Japan with some needed allies on the energy front. For this reason, it will interesting to see what Russia and China to do block this.

Monday Winds of War Briefing

Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Friday. Monday's Winds of War briefings are given by Peace Like a River and Security Watchtower.

Top Topics

* A day after security council nations agreed to a proposal to present Teheran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has reiterated that Iran would not surrender enrichment activities. On Saturday, Iranian officials said they would consider proposals before presenting their position. According to U.S. Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte, Iran is determined to have a nuclear weapon and could possess one within 10 years.

* The Friday arrest of two men at a suspected bomb-making factory in East London is a stern reminder of the continuing threat Britain faces from Islamic extremists. According to security services, the arrests were not related to the London subway attacks last July, but to a new set of plots thought to involve the use of chemicals. Some reports indicate authorities were searching for a chemical weapons vest and MI5 operative suspect the men were plotting a subway attack using nerve gas.

* The last two weeks have seen an ambitious Taliban offensive shot to pieces. As many as a thousand Taliban gunmen, in half a dozen different groups, have passed over the Pakistani border, or been gathered within Afghanistan, and sent off to try and take control of remote villages and districts. The offensive was a major failure, with nearly half the Taliban getting killed, wounded or captured.

* Seventeen Canadian residents were in custody Saturday on terrorism-related charges, including plots to use explosives in attacks on Canadian soil, authorities said. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said they arrested 12 male adults and five youth and foiled plans for terrorist attacks against targets in southern Ontario. C.S. Scott has put together an excellent roundup on this story.

Other topics today include: Fatah-Hamas on the brink of civil war; Clashes in Gaza; Hamas rejects Abbas plan; Khamenei warns U.S. over oil supply; Terror attack in Damascus; Sinai bombers killed; Fatah march of force; Explosions in Turkey; Iran to publish incentive package; Senior Hamas leader killed in Gaza; USS Cole heads for Gulf; Tour of Gaza rocket factory; scrutiny of Muslim communities in Mexico; Hugo Chavez and Carlos the Jackal; Russian rifles arrive in Venezuela; Russia outlaws two Islamist groups; Roadside bombings in Chechnya; Russia eyes Mediterranean base; Putin warns NATO; Fighting in southern Afghanistan; suicide car bombing outside of Kandahar; Aftermath of Kabul riots; NATO to double troops in Afghanistan; Kandahar governor escapes car bombing; Violence in Waziristan continues; Panel discussion on Balochistan; IED kills 12 Indian police; Cocaine bust off coast of India; Maoist rebels gather in Nepal; Sri Lanka looks at autonomy for Tamils; Asahara nears execution; NPA kills Filipino soldiers; Violence in East Timor; al Jazeera journalist jailed as al Qaeda; German female suicide bomber thwarted; UAVs to watch European borders; Denmark passes anti-terror legislation; Kidnappings in Nigeria; UN boost peacekeepers in Ivory Coast; Fighting continues in Somalia; and more.

Iran & the Middle East

* If cornered by the West over its nuclear program, Iran could direct Hezbollah to enlist its widespread international support network to aid in terrorist attacks according to U.S. intelligence officials. The AP reports that U.S. officials are studying Iran's retaliation options.

* Five Palestinians were killed in Gaza on Sunday in two separate incidents. In Khan Younis, a Hamas vehicle was fired on by suspected Fatah gunmen, killing two people. In Gaza city, three more were gunned down at a Fatah memorial function, with Hamas being blamed for the attack.

* Hamas has rejected an ultimatum from President Mahmoud Abbas to endorse a plan implicitly recognizing Israel.

* A Turkish soldier was killed on Friday during a military operation against militants with the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in southeast Turkey. The operation, part of an annual spring offensive spanning several provinces of the mountainous southeast region, was proceeding at full force, backed up by helicopter gunships.

* In a speech on Iranian state television, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that fuel shipments from the Gulf region could be disrupted if the US makes a "wrong move". Khamenei also reiterated that Iran would not surrender enrichment rights.

* A terror attack in Damascus on Friday left four gunmen along with one security guard dead. "The security force dealt effectively with the group as shown from the number of casualties among its members," according to Fayez al-Sayegh, head of Syrian radio and television. The Syrian government is pointing the finger of blame at the United States and Israel.

* On Saturday morning, three terrorists alleged to have been involved in the recent Sinai bombings in Dahab were killed in a shootout with Egyptian security forces.

* In the West Bank, more than 2,500 Fatah militiamen marched through the town of Jenin on Saturday in a show of force aimed at Hamas. A senior Fatah official warned that Hamas is pushing the Palestinians towards civil war.

* An explosion in the Turkish port city of Mersin on Saturday left eight people wounded and authorities investigating the cause. One report cited a hand grenade while another cited a remote detonation.

* Fatah has swept the Al-Quds University student elections, winning 80 percent of the vote from the five institutes. An estimated 10,000 students voted in the election.

* The Daily Star reports that an Islamic revival is spreading in Syria, despite the rule of the secular Ba'athists. "The relationship between the government and the direction of Islam is now suitable," said Mohammad Habbash, the country's leading Islamist MP and head of the Islamic Studies Center in Damascus. "We can now speak about what role Islam can play in people's lives." Habbash's recent invitation to lecture army cadets on religious morals - the first time the Syrian military has officially cooperated with Islamist figures since the Baath Party came to power in 1963 - is just one of a series of recent moves to allow Islam into public life.

* Hundreds of Palestinian security officers threw stones at the Gaza parliament building, breaking windows, in a protest about unpaid salaries. They demanded the government pay wages for the first time since February. On Sunday PA workers began withdrawing wages.

* President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran would publish details of the package of incentives and possible penalties prepared by the United States and five other major powers aimed at halting Iran's nuclear program. In a speech in which he warned Iran's critics against "threats and intimidation," Ahmadinejad sweept aside a request by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to keep the process confidential.

* Abdel Hadi Siyam, a senior member of the Hamas military wing, was shot in the chest in a driveby shooting in Gaza City on Saturday. According to Hamas, Siyam was fired at in the same neighborhood two months ago by Palestinian security forces.

* The USS Cole is heading to the Middle East for the first time since terrorists bombed the Navy ship almost six years ago in Yemen, killing 17 sailors. The guided missile destroyer is one of seven ships with 6,000 sailors and Marines leaving the East Coast next week to conduct maritime security operations in support of the global war on terror.

* Ben Weddemen of CNN tours a Gaza rocket factory operated by the al Aqsa Martyr Brigade.

* Disagreements emerged in Sunday's cabinet meeting between Defense Minister Amir Peretz and Public Security Minister Avi Dichter over the appropriate response Israel should adopt over the launching of Qassam rockets from the Gaza Strip against targets inside Israel. Dichter said that the IDF should escalate its operations and, if necessary, reoccupy parts of the Gaza Strip to ensure that no rockets are fired against Israeli towns. Peretz said that the reoccupation of parts of the Gaza Strip was not a relevant tactic.

* Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has indicated he is ready to meet with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to discuss the stalled Middle East peace process. The announcement came from the Egyptian resort of Sharm al-Sheikh, after talks with President Hosni Mubarak that included discussion of the killing of two Egyptian police officers at the border.

* Thirty-two women will be among 402 parliamentary candidates standing for election in Kuwait on 29 June, the first time in the history of the Gulf Arab state that women will be allowed to seek office.

America Domestic Security & the Americas

* In assessing the threat of illegal immigration, Muslim communities in Mexico have come under increasing scrutiny by U.S., Mexican and international security officials both as potential enablers for terrorist infiltration and as ideological sympathizers for the brand of radicalism characteristic of al-Qaeda. Muslim conversion trends in Mexico and Latin America have also raised concerns, especially given al-Qaeda's successes in luring some Muslim converts to its cause.

* The Bush administration has spent $2 billion to protect Washington D.C. since the September 11 attacks -- assigning law-enforcement personnel, rerouting traffic and erecting barriers -- and countless millions have been disbursed by state and local governments to avoid a gridlock catastrophe in the event of another attack. But the prospect of being able to get either in or out of the city without being caught in a massive traffic jam remains in doubt in the event of an incident or the evacuation of government buildings.

* The panel that guided the distribution of $711 million in antiterrorism money in a process that led to New York City's share being reduced by 40 percent is a shadow player in the war on terror, its work kept secret and its members shielded from view.

* The Canadian government has appealed a judge's decision to release on bail an Algerian man she had found to have lied about being part of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network, a spokeswoman said on Thursday.

* President Hugo Chavez brought up Carlos the Jackal during a meeting of oil producers Thursday, calling the Venezuela-born terrorist who once took hostages at an OPEC meeting "a good friend." Carlos, whose real name is Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, gained notoriety during the Cold War for staging a string of bombings and assassinations. He is serving a life sentence for murder in France.

* Venezuela on Saturday received 30,000 Russian-made assault rifles, the first shipment in a deal for 100,000 rifles. Russia will deliver the remaining 70,000 rifles in two shipments, in August and October, Maniglia told government media.

Russia, Caucasus & Central Asia

* The Russian Supreme Court has outlawed the Islamic Jihad Group (known in Russia as Jamaata Mojahedin) and Jund-al-Sham (Soldiers of the Levant). “These organizations have been outlawed in a number of countries. They pose a danger to Russia,” said Alexander Novokshchenov, a senior prosecutor, adding that they had carried out terrorist attacks in Chechnya, Uzbekistan, and Lebanon.

* Unidentified gunmen in the Republic of Ingushetia, open fired on a military vehicle transporting troops, killing one soldier and wounding two others. Authorities have launched a manhunt to find the attackers.

* Five Russian police officers were wounded in three separate roadside bombing attacks on Sunday in Chechnya.

* Russia is denying a report that Moscow hopes to create a permanent naval base in Syria that would give it a Mediterranean outpost and represent a major shift in the regional security balance. Russia is currently working on deepening the Syrian port of Tartus and is also widening a channel in another Syrian port, Latakia.

* Vladimir Putin spoke on Friday night about the relationship between Russia and the United States, saying there were more pluses than minuses, but he warned Washington about NATO expansion and signaled that Russia won't blindly follow the Americans into sanctions against Iran. Putin also reiterated that Russia was against the use of force on Iran under any circumstances.

* One Russian diplomat was killed and four others kidnapped when their embassy vehicle was attacked in the Mansour district of Baghdad on Saturday.

* The World Newspaper Association (WAN) is meeting in Moscow on Monday, despite criticism of Vladamir Putin's clampdown on the media. At the top of the agenda is the Mohammed cartoon that appeared in the Danish newspapers and sparked controversy.

Afghanistan & Southern Asia

* Taliban-led rebels were still in control of a district in southern Afghanistan more than 24 hours after forcing out government troops, a military general said. Scores of Taliban militants stormed Chora district of southern Uruzgan province late Tuesday, overrunning the police and district headquarters.

* Dozens of Afghan and coalition troops retook a southern Afghanistan district from Taliban fighters in an assault in which at least 15 rebels were killed, the defence ministry said. The troops dropped from coalition aircraft stormed remote Chora district in southcentral Uruzgan province late Friday and pushed Taliban fighters back into nearby mountains.

* Three civilian men riding a motorbike were killed when a suspected suicide car bomb exploded near a convoy of Canadian and Afghan troops in southern Afghanistan, police said. The bomb exploded on a stretch of highway about 15 kilometres (nine miles) northeast of Kandahar city, said the police chief of Kandahar province's Arghandab district, named only Zamarai.

* U.S. troops fired into a crowd of stone-throwing rioters, killing at least three Afghans, as their convoy left the scene of an accident that triggered anti-American riots, Kabul's chief of highway police said on Thursday. General Amanullah Gozar told Reuters he had witnessed Monday's incident, from the point when a U.S. military truck ran out of control down a hill, crashing into vehicles and killing at least five people, to the clashes afterwards, and when U.S. troops opened fire.

* Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai has sacked dozens of senior police officials days after anti-U.S. riots in Kabul, an official said on Saturday. The shake-up includes Kabul's police chief, General Jamil Junbish, whose forces failed to prevent rioters from rampaging through the city on Monday after a U.S. military truck crashed into Afghan vehicles and killed at least five people.

* The offensives against NATO forces in Afghanistan are particularly strong this spring, the commander of the Dutch armed forces said, shortly after Dutch soldiers were ambushed in the south of the country. "We were expecting a resurgence of offensives in spring, but not like this. However the attacks are not of such a nature that it will keep us from carrying out our mission," General Dick Berlijn said at a press briefing in The Hague.

* NATO will deploy twice as many troops to southern Afghanistan as a U.S.-led coalition has had there in recent years and it will adopt new tactics in an attempt to quash a burgeoning rebellion, the new commander of the NATO force said Sunday.

* Afghan security forces said Saturday they had killed 12 suspected Taleban and captured 18 others. In one incident, dozens of suspected Taleban rebels stormed a police checkpost late Friday north of Kandahar city, the main urban centre in the troubled south, said Daud Ahmadi, spokesman for the Kandahar governor.

* A suicide car bomb exploded Sunday near a Canadian military convoy carrying the governor of Afghanistan's southern Kandahar province, missing the apparent target but killing three civilians and injuring a dozen, officials said. The target appeared to be the governor of the province.

* Two suspected terrorists have been captured in Afghanistan and a bomb exploded in a bazaar in Khost, in the Paktika Province. The American Forces Press Service reported that the makeshift bomb injured three civilians. Coalition forces captured two men in Paktika's Sharan district.

* A bomb exploded as Pakistani police were investigating it in a trouble-plagued region on the border with Afghanistan, killing one policeman and wounding three, a government official said on Saturday.

* Four Pakistani soldiers were killed and eight wounded in a suicide car-bombing in a troubled tribal region near the Afghan border. Two militants also died in the blast targeting two military vehicles from a convoy that had stopped to deal with mechanical problems in North Waziristan.

* At least two Pakistani soldiers were killed and two wounded when pro-Taliban militants attacked a paramilitary convoy in remote tribal region near the Afghan border, officials said. Fighting erupted on Sunday between security forces and militants following the attack near Miranshah leaving a tribal policeman dead and six injured, witnesses said.

* A recent panel discussion at the US Institute of Peace looked at the crisis in Balochistan, and factors in the unrest there.

* At least 12 policemen have been killed in a landmine blast triggered by suspected rebels in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand, police say. The incident took place when a police team was attempting to defuse a bomb planted in a school building in the West Singhbhum district.

* India's Narcotics Control Bureau has seized 200 kilograms (440 pounds) of cocaine worth over 40 million dollars from a cargo ship near Mumbai, officials said.

* Here are the daily updates from the South Asia Terrorism Portal for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

* More than 100,000 Maoist rebels and supporters thronged Kathmandu where top leaders addressed their first mass meeting here and offered to merge forces with Nepal's army. The giant gathering swelled to around 180,000 people, according to estimates by diplomats, overflowing a large open air theatre earmarked for the event.

* Sri Lanka has moved closer to granting more autonomy to minority Tamils under a new initiative backed by the opposition, as the United States warned against a return to full-scale war on the island.

Far East & Southeast Asia

* According to Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, "regional governments have substantially disrupted the operational capacity of the Jemaah Islamiyah, but dangerous JI operatives are still at large, recruiting and training new members in the pursuit of their own violent agenda."

* Following the arrest of 12 terror suspects in Malaysia said to belong to Jemaah Islamiyah splinter group Darul Islam, the Filipino military has acknowledged it had no information on the group that trained several members in the southern Philippines.

* Lawyers for Shoko Asahara, the founder of the Aum Shinrikyo cult which carried out the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway that killed 12 people, will make a final attempt to spare him from execution on Monday.

* The Philippines' largest Islamic rebel group said on Thursday it doubted whether a peace deal could be signed this year due to difficulties in agreeing the size and wealth of a proposed Muslim homeland. The government had hoped to strike a deal for a homeland for 3 million Muslims on the southern island of Mindanao by mid-September but talks have dragged over how much territory to sign over and how to split the region's rich resources.

* The United States has broad support for a resolution it plans to introduce in the UN Security Council compelling Myanmar's military junta to change its repressive policies, but in a rare move Japan has joined with China and Russia in opposing the resolution.

* The New People's Army (NPA) communist insurgents have killed at least three Filipino soldiers in an ambush in the mountains of the northern Philippines.

* A U.N. official warned Saturday that violence could spill into refugee camps where tens of thousands of East Timorese have sought haven from fighting between military factions and rival gangs. Aid workers estimate 100,000 residents have fled to more than 30 camps in Dili since violence erupted last month.

* On Sunday, fresh fighting broke out in a district of East Timor's capital Dili. Youths threw rocks, set fire to homes and smashed windows in another eruption of the violence which has left at least 20 people dead in two weeks. Malaysian and Australian troops sent to try to quell the unrest kicked in doors as they searched for weapons. Tens of thousands of people have fled to refugee camps since the violence flared two weeks ago.


* On Friday, the Oxford University Student Union (OUSU) passed a motion to twin with Birzeit University, a Hamas dominated institution in the West Bank, setting off outrage from some students. Earlier in the week, Britain's largest lecturers' union, the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE), voted to boycott Israeli lecturers and academic institutions who do not publicly dissociate themselves from Israel's "apartheid policies".

* Scotland's emergency services would be overwhelmed in the event of a major terrorist attack according to a government watchdog. Two reports from the chief fire officer for Scotland warned that failure to deal with outdated equipment and control structures would place the public at greater risk.

* Al Jazeera journalist Tayseer Allouni has been jailed for seven years by the Spanish Supreme Court for having links to al Qaeda and collaborating with Osama bin Laden's group.

* A German woman who converted to Islam has been placed under surveillance after police thwarted her attempt to travel to Iraq and become a suicide bomber. The 40-year-old, identified only as Sonja B., is one of three German women said to have used the internet to disclose their intention to carry out missions against US soldiers.

* Questions are being raised in the British press over the circumstances of a huge anti-terror raid here two days ago as police questioned two terror suspects, one of whom was shot in the operation.

* European countries are planning to use fleets of UAVs with powerful cameras to patrol Europe's borders to thwart people-smuggling, illegal immigration and terrorism.

* Denmark's parliament adopted two new anti-terror measures conceived in the aftermath of the July 2005 London terrorist attacks. The new laws give the Danish Security Intelligence Service (PET) broader access to the financial and medical records of suspects and to communications made by suspected terrorists and details of airplane passenger lists without a warrant. They also allow expanded use of video monitoring in public areas like those employed in the UK.


* Mauritanian security services have rounded up dozens of suspected members and supporters of an al Qaeda-linked Islamic rebel group who were plotting attacks, security sources said on Friday. At least two of the detainees were suspected of involvement in a June 2005 raid on a remote military post which killed 15 Mauritanian soldiers while another was accused of belonging to an al Qaeda cell in Barcelona, Spain, the sources said. The arrests were made during a manhunt for three suspected members of the Algerian-based militant Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) who escaped from a jail in Mauritania's capital Nouakchott on April 27.

* Eight Westerners -- six British, one American and one Canadian -- were kidnapped while working on an offshore oil rig in Nigeria, the platform's owners said. Nigerian police confirmed the abductions, the latest in a series, saying they were hunting for the perpetrators, and no claim of responsibility or demands had been made.

* Nigerian militants on Sunday released eight foreign oil rig workers, who looked tired but unharmed after two days in captivity. Police involved in negotiating the release of the six Britons, one American and one Canadian would not say whether a ransom was paid.

* Thirteen years ago, the US pulled out of the east African country after the bloody events that inspired 'Black Hawk Down'. Now it is back, supporting warlords in their battle with Islamist militants. Kim Sengupta reports from Merka.

* The U.N. Security Council on Friday added 1,500 peacekeepers to its mission in Ivory Coast in renewed efforts to restore order in the troubled West African country. The increase, which lasts until the middle of December, is meant to address council concerns about "the persistence of the crisis" in Ivory Coast and obstacles to peace there.

* Eritrea has responded to a recent United Nations resolution to cut the number of peacekeepers on its tense border with Ethiopia, by calling the move unjust. The U.N. Security Council voted on Wednesday to cut the number of troops policing the border from 3,300 to 2,300 after Ethiopia failed to agree on a shared border drawn by international experts and Eritrea refused to end restrictions on peacekeepers' movements.

* A visa fraud ring operating around the United States embassy in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, has been broken up according to Kenyan officials. They said 77 people were arrested when Kenyan police and the US authorities carried out a joint sting operation.

* Somalia's Islamic Courts militia has seized a key town outside the capital, Mogadishu, from a member of the warlord alliance it is fighting. Balad, 30km (19 miles) north of Mogadishu, lies on the main road to Somalia's most fertile regions.

* Five people were killed in fighting between Islamic militiamen and their secular rivals on the outskirts of Somalia's war-torn capital Saturday. Hundreds fled their homes but hundreds of other Somalis celebrated after the two sides ended a month long standoff in the Sii-Sii area, the center of many of the worst clashes in recent weeks.

* A report from the International Crisis Group looks at the deteriorating situation in Chad, and wonders if war is ahead. Chad is next door to Darfur, and the unrest there has spilled over into Chad.

The Global War

* Abu Musab al-Zarqawi railed against Shiites in a four hour audiotape posted on the Internet on Friday, saying militias are raping women and killing Sunnis and the community must fight back.

* India is ready to do its part to ensure peace and stability in East Asia including helping protect the busy Strait of Malacca, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee said. He told a high-level regional security conference in Singapore that India would increasingly become a key driver of Asian prosperity alongside other big countries like China, Japan and Indonesia.

* US Defence Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld called Iran the world’s leading terrorist nation yet hoped Teheran seriously would consider incentives from the West in exchange for suspending suspect nuclear activities. Rumsfeld, attending an annual security conference, also took aim Saturday at Russia and China for allowing Iran’s involvement in a group [SCO] that has stated opposition to terrorism and extremists.

Thanks for reading! If you found something here you want to blog about yourself (and we hope you do), all we ask is that you do as we do and offer a Hat Tip hyperlink to today's "Winds of War". If you think we missed something important, use the Comments section to let us know. For ongoing tips, email "MondayWindsOfWar", over here

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Iran's oil

Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei made some not so veiled threats today:

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threatened on Sunday that the Islamic Republic may disrupt oil supplies in the region if the United States continued to pressure it to abandon its nuclear activities.

“If the U.S. makes a wrong move against Iran, energy flow in the region will be definitely put at serious risk”, Khamenei said in a speech aired on state television.

“You can never maintain security for [the flow of] energy in the region”, the Supreme Leader said in comments directed at the U.S.

This comes on the heels of efforts by Iran's toady in Venezuela, Chavez, at an OPEC meeting in Caracas last week to urge OPEC to cut back on production. OPEC was not real keen on the idea.

Oil-rich nations brushed off a push by Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez to cut production, but he used the OPEC meeting to push for expanding the cartel´s membership and praised Bolivia´s nationalization of its natural gas industry.

Qatar´s oil minister, Abdullah al-Attiyah, said ahead of Thursday´s meeting that he did not believe output should be cut now, echoing comments by other important OPEC players.

But he said OPEC will be watching the situation between now and its next meeting in September, and could then change course.

Many other ministers said prices have shot ever higher because of events like nervousness over Iran´s nuclear weapons program, but insisted supplies are adequate even in the face of rising demand from countries like China and India.

"To tell you the truth, I won´t be surprised to see prices go even higher," the head of Libya´s oil policy, Shokri Ghanim, told reporters. "There are so many factors like geopolitics and speculation, so there is no reason why prices won´t go up."

Though Chavez has repeatedly said a cut is justified, he seemed to back off the effort in a speech Wednesday night, choosing to focus on South American energy politics instead of pressing anew for a reduction.

Iran knows it can hurt the West by squeezing the oil supply if attacked, but Iran would think long and hard about such a move. Iran's economy is not exactly on fire, and if oil revenues dropped significantly, Iran would feel the pinch. A crisis would become a stand-off to see who would capitulate first.

Terrorism in Canada

For an excellent roundup of all the details surrounding the terror-related arrests in Canada over the weekend, see this post from C.S. Scott at Security Watchtower.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Russian diplomats attacked in Iraq

From the NYTimes:

Gunmen ambushed five Russian Embassy workers as they were shopping near their residence in western Baghdad on Saturday, killing one and kidnapping the others in the kind of bold attack that has become common in many parts of the capital.

It would be most interesting to know who did this, and why. Russia was a friend of Saddam Hussein's regime. Russia has never expressed great enthusiasm for the US effort in Iraq. If the insurgents had any ally, Russia would be it.

Perhaps a score is being settled, perhaps this is a sign of how far gone the insurgents are.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Not live from the MN GOP Convention

Well, guldurnit. I went to the MN GOP Convention hoping to do some blogging. But. I couldn't get a wireless connection. No idea why. Everyone else could. Grrrr.

Andy posted a video of Michele Bachmann's address to the convention this morning, so I won't bother posting my notes. Andy and I got to say hi to her afterwards.

Update: I posted my notes over at Bachmann v Wetterling.

So, I might try again tomorrow. You can check out the other bloggers who are there: Residual Forces, KvM, EckerNet, SD63, and MDE.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Somalia update

The Islamic fundamentalists seeking to turn Somalia into an Islamic state ruled by Islamic law are pressing their campaign north of the capital.

Islamic militia who have increased control of Somalia's capital in fighting that has killed some 330 people pressed their campaign north of Mogadishu on Thursday in a bid to build on their gains.

The latest battleground in the third and fiercest bout of fighting since the turn of the year between militia linked to Islamic courts and a self-styled anti-terrorism coalition of warlords was north of Mogadishu towards the town of Balad.

"It's an open terrain, many must have been killed, but I don't know how many have died and are wounded so far," Ibrahim Mallim, a coalition militiaman, told Reuters by telephone.

And naturally, civilians are caught in the fighting, and are being driven from their homes.

Islamic militiamen clashed with their secular rivals Thursday, and civilians fled the battleground near Mogadishu's livestock market.

At least three combatants were killed and seven others wounded in the fighting in northern Mogadishu, residents and medical workers said.

The fundamentalist Islamic militiamen have steadily expanded their control of parts of Mogadishu since February and their military supremacy is growing.

Thursday's battle began after Islamic fighters confronted dozens of secular combatants who were heading into Mogadishu to try to recapture a base near the city's livestock market. Heavy fighting prevented the raiders from moving toward their target, said Yahya Haji, a journalist for Horn Afrik radio who lives in the neighborhood where the fighting occurred.

Hundreds of civilians fled their homes near the market, fearing that secular militias could later push past their rivals and go on to recapture the area they lost to Islamic fighters Wednesday, residents said.

The terrorists sure have the NYTimes figured out

They know all they have to do is set off a few explosions, kill some people, get themselves killed by the hundreds, and the New York Times will fall in line and start writing editorials like this:

Something has gone alarmingly wrong in Afghanistan, previously touted as the Bush administration's one quasi-successful venture in nation-building. Afghanistan's rising carnage still has not reached Iraq-like levels. But the trend is running in decidedly the wrong direction. Poorly thought-out American policies are at least partly to blame.

Is Afghanistan perfect? No. Has Taliban activity been increasing lately, as opposed to last year? Yes. And it's true, the Afghan government's authority is not strong out in the provinces where warlords rule. The drug trade is booming.

But is Afghanistan on the verge of hell and anarchy? Have things "gone alarmingly wrong?" Challenges abound, but, instead of immediately lapsing into defeatism, can we not as a nation toughen our resolve? As Victor Davis Hanson wrote:

What we need, then, are not more self-appointed ethicists, but far more humility and recognition that in this war nothing is easy. Choices have been made, and remain to be made, between the not very good and the very, very bad. Most importantly, so far, none of our mistakes has been unprecedented, fatal to our cause, or impossible to correct.

So let us have far less self-serving second-guessing, and far more national confidence that we are winning — and that radical Islamists and their fascist supporters in the Middle East are soon going to lament the day that they ever began this war.

Sticky Transdniester

The Russian Defense Minister said Russian troops will remain in the breakaway Transdniester region.

Speaking at a meeting of defense ministers from the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in the Azerbaijani capital, Baku, Ivanov accused the United States and NATO of double standards.

He said that the United States and NATO demand that Russia pull out its 1,800 troops in Transdniester, but insist that, in his words, the planned deployment of up to 3,000 U.S. troops at several bases in Bulgaria is "not a significant military presence."

The reference to US troops in Bulgaria indicates Russian nervousness with perceived Western efforts to push Russia out of the Transdniester region. The removal of Russian troops has long been discussed, but if Russia feels the US and Europe are ganging up on Russia, Russia may react negatively.

Regnum reports that NATO troops may even be deployed in Moldova, which would only add to the pressure on Russia, as it might seem like the door is being opened for a larger presence.

New European-standard barracks for 160 soldiers have been opened in the Lunga-Marculesti air unit, the press service of the Moldavian Defense Ministry informed REGNUM on May 30. Attending the opening ceremony was Moldavian Defense Minister Valeriu Plesca.

Moldavian political expert Yevgeny Solar says that this event is part of the Moldova-NATO individual partnership action plan approved on May 22. “I would also like to remind you that on May 18 the Moldavian Parliament adopted a law exempting NATO troops and hardware from registration and visa procedures. They in the Moldavian Defense Ministry have pointed out that this law has nothing to do with Russian troops.

Talks were scheduled today with Transdniester , but the separatist leader didn't seem willing.

The head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) today called on Transdniester to resume talks with Moldova in a bid to settle a 16-year-old separatist dispute.

Karel De Gucht said after talks in Tiraspol with separatist leaders that Transdniester should return to negotiations mediated by the international community without imposing preconditions.

De Gucht, who also called on Transdniester to respect human rights, said it would be "illogical" to set terms for talks held under the auspices of Russia, Ukraine, the OSCE, as well as the European Union and the United States.

Separatist leader Igor Smirnov later told the media that Transdniester would only return to the negotiating table if new customs regulations imposed earlier this year by Moldova, Ukraine, and the European Union are abolished.

Previous posts

The Transdniester region
Russian meddling
New customs rules in the Transdniester region
Could Russian troops leave the Transdniester region?