Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pakistan: The South Waziristan Migration

Global Security and Intelligence Report

Pakistan has been a busy place over the past few weeks. The Pakistani armed forces have been conducting raids and airstrikes against the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other foreign Islamist fighters in Bajaur Agency, a district inside Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), while wrapping up their preparations for a major military offensive into South Waziristan. The United States has conducted several successful missile attacks targeting militants hiding in areas along the Afghan-Pakistani border using unmanned aerial vehicles.

Threatened by these developments -- especially the actions of the Pakistani military -- the TTP and its allies have struck back. They have used larger, vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) in attacks close to their bases in the Pakistani badlands to conduct mass-casualty attacks against soft targets in Peshawar and the Swat Valley. They have also used small arms and small suicide devices farther from their bases to attack targets in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, the respective seats of Pakistan's military and civilian power.

Initially, we considered devoting this week's Security and Intelligence Report to discussing the tactical details of the Oct. 10 attack against the Pakistani army headquarters. But after taking a closer look at that attack, and the bigger mosaic it occurred within, we decided to focus instead on something that has not received much attention in the media -- namely, how the coming Pakistani offensive in South Waziristan is going to have a heavy impact on the militants currently living and training there. In fact, we can expect the Pakistani offensive to cause a large displacement of militants. Of course, many of the militants who are forced to flee from South Waziristan, the epicenter of Pakistan's insurgency, will likely land in areas not too far away -- like Balochistan -- but at least some of the militants who will be flushed out of South Waziristan will land in places far from Pakistan's FATA and North-West Frontier Province.

The Coming Offensive

The Pakistani military has been preparing for the coming offensive into South Waziristan for months. They have positioned two divisions with some 28,000 troops for the attack, and this force will be augmented by paramilitary forces and local tribal militias loyal to Islamabad. As seen by the Pakistani offensives in Swat and Bajaur earlier this year, the TTP and its foreign allies are no match for the Pakistani military when it turns its full resources to address the problem.

The Pakistanis previously attempted a halfhearted offensive in South Waziristan in March of 2004 that only lasted 12 days before they fell back and reached a "negotiated peace settlement" with the militant leaders in the area. A negotiated peace settlement is a diplomatic way of saying that the Pakistanis attempted to pay off Pakistani Taliban leaders like Nek Mohammed to hand over the foreign militants in South Waziristan and stop behaving badly. The large cash settlements given to the militants did little to ensure peace and instead allowed the Taliban leaders to buy more weapons, pay their troops and essentially solidify their control in their areas of operation. The Taliban resumed their militant activities shortly after receiving their payments (though the most prominent leader, Nek Mohammed, was killed in a U.S. missile strike in June 2004).

This time, the South Waziristan offensive will be far different than it was in 2004. Not only do the Pakistanis have more than four times as many army troops committed to it, but the Pakistani military has learned that if it uses its huge airpower advantage and massed artillery, it can quickly rout any serious TTP resistance. In Bajaur, the Pakistanis used airstrikes and artillery to literally level positions (and even some towns) where the Taliban had tried to dig in and make a stand. Additionally, in January 2008, the Pakistani army conducted a successful offensive in South Waziristan called "Operation Zal Zala" (Earthquake) that made excellent progress and resulted in the loss of only eight soldiers in four days of intense fighting. This offensive was stopped only because Baitullah Mehsud and his confederates sued for peace -- a truce that they quickly violated.

The lessons of past military operations and broken truces in South Waziristan, when combined with the recent TTP strikes against targets like the army headquarters, have served to steel the will of the government (and particularly the military). Pakistani government sources tell STRATFOR that they have the intent and the ability to "close the case for good." This means that there should be no negotiated settlement with the TTP this time.

Of course, we are not the only people who can anticipate this happening. The TTP and others like the al Qaeda core leadership know all too well what happened in Bajaur and Swat. They have also been watching the Pakistani military prepare for the South Waziristan offensive for months now. The TTP leadership realizes that if they attempt to stand and fight the Pakistani military toe-to-toe they will be cut to shreds. Because of this, we believe that the TTP will adopt a strategy similar to that used by the Taliban in the face of overwhelming U.S. airpower following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, or that of the Iraqi military following the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Rather than fight in set-piece conventional battles to the bitter end and be destroyed, after some initial resistance the TTP's fighters will seek to melt away into the population and then conduct insurgent and terrorist strikes against the Pakistani military, both in the tribal regions and in Pakistan's core regions. This is also the approach the TTP leadership took to the Pakistani offensive in Swat and Bajaur. They made noises about standing and fighting in places like Mingora. In the end, however, they melted away in the face of the military's offensive and most of the militants escaped.

Afghan/Pakistani Border

Contrary to popular perception, the area along the Afghan-Pakistani border is fairly heavily populated. The terrain is extremely rugged, but there are millions of Pakistanis living in the FATA, and many of them are extremely conservative and hostile toward the Pakistani government. This hostile human terrain poses perhaps a more significant obstacle to the Pakistani military's operations to root out jihadists than the physical terrain. Accurate and current population numbers are hard to obtain, but the government of Pakistan estimated the population of South Waziristan to be nearly 500,000 in 1998, although it is believed to be much larger than that today. There are also an estimated 1.7 million Afghan refugees living on the Pakistani side of the border. This human terrain should enable many of the TTP's Pashtun fighters to melt into the landscape and live to fight another day. Indeed, the militants are already heavily embedded in the population of South Waziristan, and the TTP and its rivals have controlled much of the area for several years now.

We have seen reports that up to 200,000 people have already fled areas of South Waziristan in anticipation of the coming military operation, and it is highly likely that some TTP fighters and foreign militants have used this flow of displaced people as camouflage to leave the region just as they did in Swat and Bajaur. Whether the coming offensive is as successful in destroying the TTP as our sources assure us it will be, the military action will undoubtedly force even more militants to leave South Waziristan.

The Camps

In the wake of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the many militant training camps run by al Qaeda and other organizations in Afghanistan were destroyed. Many of the foreign jihadists who were at these camps fled to Pakistan with the Taliban, though others fled to Iran, Iraq or elsewhere. This migration shifted the focus of jihadist training efforts to Pakistan, and South Waziristan in particular. Quite simply, there are thousands of foreign jihadists who have traveled to Pakistan to receive paramilitary training at these camps to fight in Afghanistan. A smaller number of the trainees have received advanced training in terrorist tradecraft, such as bombmaking, in the camps.

Due to the presence of these transplanted training installations, South Waziristan is "jihadist central," with jihadists of all stripes based in the area. This confluence will complicate Islamabad's attempts to distinguish between "good" and "bad" Taliban elements. Both the good Taliban aligned with Islamabad that carry out their operations in Afghanistan and the bad Taliban fighting against Islamabad are based in South Waziristan, and telling the difference between the two factions on the battlefield will be difficult -- though undoubtedly elements of Pakistani intelligence will attempt to help their Taliban friends (like the Haqqani network and Mullah Omar's network) avoid being caught up in the coming confrontation.

There are literally thousands of Arab, Uzbek, Uighur, Chechen, African and European militants currently located in the Pakistani badlands, and a good number of them are in South Waziristan. Many of these foreigners are either teaching at or enrolled in the jihadist training camps. These foreigners are going to find it far harder to hide from the Pakistani military by seeking refuge in Afghan refugee camps or small tribal villages than their Pashtun brethren.

Some of these foreigners will attempt to find shelter in North Waziristan, or perhaps in more heavily -- and more heterogeneously -- populated areas like Quetta (Mullah Omar's refuge) or Peshawar. Others may try to duck into the Taliban-controlled areas of Afghanistan, but there is a good chance that many of these foreign militants will be forced to leave the Pakistan-Afghanistan area to return home or seek refuge elsewhere.

This exodus will have mixed results. On one hand it will serve to weaken the international jihadist movement by retarding its ability to train new jihadists until replacement camps can be established elsewhere, perhaps by expanding existing facilities in Yemen or Africa. On the other hand, it will force hundreds of people trained in terrorist tradecraft to find a new place to live -- and operate. In some ways, this migration could mirror what happened after the number of foreign jihadist began to be dramatically reduced in Iraq -- except then, many of the foreigners could be redirected to Pakistan for training and Afghanistan to fight. There is no comparable second theater now to attract these foreign fighters. This means that many of them may end up returning home to join insurgent movements in smaller theaters, such as Chechnya, Somalia, Algeria and Central Asia.

Those with the ability and means could travel to other countries where they can use their training to organize militant cells for terrorist attacks in much the same way the foreign fighters who fought in Afghanistan in the 1980s and left after the fall of the Soviet-backed government there went on to fight in places like Bosnia and Chechnya and formed the nucleus of al Qaeda and the current international jihadist movement.

The Next Generation

There is a big qualitative difference between the current crop of international fighters in South Waziristan and those who fought with the mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 1980s. During the earlier conflict, the foreigners were tolerated, but in general they were not seen by their Afghan counterparts as being particularly valiant or effective (though the Afghans did appreciate the cash and logistical help they provided). In many engagements the foreigners were kept out of harm's way and saw very little intense combat, while in some cases the foreign fighters were essentially used as cannon fodder.

The perception of the foreigners began to change during the 1990s, and units of foreigners acquitted themselves well as they fought alongside Taliban units against the Northern Alliance. Also, following the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the foreign jihadists have proved themselves to be very effective at conducting terrorist attacks and operating in hostile territory.

In fact, over the past several years, we have witnessed a marked change in the ways the Afghan Taliban fight. They have abandoned some of their traditional armed assault tactics and have begun to employ al Qaeda-influenced roadside IED attacks and suicide bombings -- attacks the Afghan fighters had previously considered "unmanly." It is no mere coincidence that the number of suicide attacks and roadside IED attacks in Afghanistan increased dramatically after al Qaeda began to withdraw its forces from Iraq. There is also a direct correlation between the IED technology developed and used in Iraq and that now being employed by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

All this experience in designing and manufacturing IEDs in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan means that the jihadist bombmakers of today are more highly skilled than ever, and they have been sharing their experience with foreign students at training camps in places like South Waziristan. Furthermore, the U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan has provided a great laboratory in which jihadists can perfect their terrorist tradecraft. A form of "tactical Darwinism" has occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan as coalition firepower has weeded out most of the inept jihadist operatives. Only the strong and cunning have survived, leaving a core of hardened, competent militants. These survivors have created new tactics and have learned to manufacture new types of highly effective IEDs -- technology that has already shown up in places like Algeria and Somalia. They have been permitted to impart the knowledge they have gained to another generation of young aspiring militants through training camps in places like South Waziristan.

As these foreign militants scatter to the four winds, they will be taking their skills with them. Judging from past waves of jihadist fighters, they will probably be found participating in future plots in many different parts of the world. And also judging from past cases, they will likely not participate in these plots alone.

As we have discussed in the past, the obvious weakness of the many grassroots jihadist cells that have been uncovered is their lack of terrorist tradecraft. They have the intent to do harm but not the ability, and many times the grassroots cells end up finding a government informant as they seek help acquiring weapons or constructing IEDs. When these inept "Kramer terrorists" manage to get linked up with a trained terrorist operative, they can cause considerable damage.

The possibility of these militants conducting attacks or bringing much-needed capability to grassroots cells means that the South Waziristan migration, which has almost certainly already begun, will give counterterrorism officials from Boston to Beijing something to worry about for the foreseeable future.

Broken promises from EU members on crisis missions risk more fragile states collapsing into failed states

October 15

Broken promises and treating Afghanistan, DR Congo and Iraq like Bosnia has left the EU without the capacity to prevent fragile states from becoming failing states. This is the main finding of the latest report from the European Council on Foreign Relations, published today.

According to the report, Can the EU rebuild failing states? A review of Europe's civilian capacities, by ECFR's security experts Daniel Korski and Richard Gowan:

  • EU member states break promises and significantly under-staff key international missions.
    No member state has deployed even half of what they promised in the 2004 Civilian Headline Goal process, and the EU has a shortage of 1,500 personnel across its 12 ongoing EU state building missions. All eyes are on Afghanistan: but the EU's police mission there is at half its authorised strength.
  • Crisis missions still rely on the 'Bosnia-template', ignoring reality on the ground.
    The 2005-2006 mission to DR Congo, for instance, was rendered largely irrelevant because EU planning failed to take into account corruption and the country's size compared to Bosnia.
  • Turf wars between the European Commission and the European Council weaken missions.
    In practice, spheres of influence overlap, leading to squabbles over who is responsible for what. In 2004 this led to a case at the European Court of Justice over who should get involved in a project tackling weapons trafficking in West Africa.

Daniel Korski says:

"If Yemen descends into full blown civil-war or al Qaeda gains new bases in Africa, the EU will be ill-equipped to offer the strategic and development assistance likely to be needed. Getting EU crisis missions right is essential in a world where stability in faraway places is key to security on the streets of Hamburg, Marseille and Manchester."

Broken promises and weakened missions

The EU prides itself on its involvement in civilian missions to fragile states, with successes in countries like Bosnia and Aceh. But this reputation is being undermined by the broken promises of some member states.

The worst offender in breaking promises is Spain, which deploys less than 3% of its pledged civilian experts. Britain does little better, fulfilling only 7% of its promises. France is more than twice as likely to stand by its undertaking, but Korski and Gowan rank France below Britain because France's civilian missions have serious flaws elsewhere - for instance, debriefing procedures in France are very inconsistent.

Korski and Gowan's report is the first-ever audit of the EU's civilian crisis management capabilities based on extensive research in all 27 member states, interviews with more than 50 EU officials and reviews of completed and ongoing European missions, including former EU Special Representatives, heads of missions and senior generals.

For the full text of the report:

Key recommendations to policy makers include:

  1. The EU needs to scrap the 'Bosnia template' and rethink its entire approach to foreign interventions, with a focus on speed, security and self-sufficiency. EU member states need to recruit the right specialists, officials and administrative staff. Then the EU must be able to deploy these civilian experts rapidly to dangerous places and to let them operate closely with local populations. Civilian personnel must become better at taking the initiative, and Brussels must be prepared to cut the apron-strings.
  2. The EU should appoint senior envoys in each of the twenty countries the EU considers to be at greatest risk of instability. These twenty countries should be based on the European Commission and Council Secretariat's watch lists of countries in danger of slipping into violence. This would allow the EU to have a more seamless approach to foreign interventions, taking steps to prevent crisis before they erupt and offering immediate assistance on the ground when they do.
  3. Set up a "European Institute for Peace" which should be the standard setter of member states' civilian missions training.
  4. Ensure each member state devises a National Action Plan, to make certain all recruitment, training, funding, debriefing and planning targets are met. This should be peer-reviewed by another member state every four years.


1. Daniel Korski is a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations and is based in London. He is a former British official who has worked in Bosnia, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan. He can be contacted at, or on +44 7876 616302.

2. Richard Gowan is a policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations and is based in New York City. He can be contacted at, or on +1 917 975 6629.

3. Results of the audit: The analysis of the 27 member states conducted in this audit allowed the authors to divide them into four groups on the basis of their civilian crisis management capabilities.

a) The professionals: Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The EU's top performers take the role of civilians in crisis situations seriously. They recruit carefully and comprehensively, offer extensive training for civilians, have developed cross-governmental planning processes, and seek to debrief all deployed personnel to learn lessons.

b) The strivers: Austria, Belgium, France, Ireland, Italy and Romania. These countries show signs of wanting to build their civilian capacities but have yet to put in the necessary hard work. While France, Italy and Romania are all major contributors to missions in terms of numbers deployed, they fall down elsewhere. None of these countries appears to take have put much thought into recruitment, and debriefing procedures in France and Italy are extremely patchy.

c) The agnostics: the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain. These countries seem unconvinced about the value of civilian deployments. Planning is a problem; all countries report poor governmental co-operation; and debriefing is mostly patchy and informal.

d) The indifferents: Other than Lithuania, which seems to be attempting to improve its performance, no country in this category seems to take the task of developing civilian capacities seriously. Only Greece and Malta have compulsory training for police; Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia only train personnel deploying to Afghanistan. Planning and debrief procedures in these countries are also very weak. Others, such as Bulgaria, Luxemburg and Cyprus, need more coordination between the ministries responsible for their involvement.

4. This report, like all ECFR publications, represents the views of its authors, not the collective position of ECFR or its Council Members.

5. For all media enquiries please email or telephone +44 20 7031 1623.

6. The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) is the first pan-European think-tank. Launched in October 2007, its objective is to conduct research and promote informed debate across Europe on the development of coherent and effective European values based foreign policy.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The North Korea's Gulag

The Long Road Home. Testimony of a North Korean Camp Survivor, by Kim Jong is the account of life in a labor camp in North Korea. Although the existence of those camps on the North Korean territory is known, little information is available about their organisation and conduct, since prisoners rarely escape both camps and the country alive. This book shares the story of one such survival, a former lieutenant in the North Korean National Security Agency and a career military officer earning foreign currency. He was suddenly sent to a labor camp in 1993. Accused of treason, he was condemned to gulag no. 14 in Hamkyeong province. As a condemned prisoner - after a life enjoying priviledges, as driving an imported car and free travel across the country, and various contacts with corrupt party officials and business trade partners from overseas, mainly from Japan - he worked in a coal mine 2.400 feet underground and becoming intimately acquainted with political prisoners, subhuman camp guards and the famine that already killed millions. He succeeded to flee the camp and found refuge in China and since 2003 he came to the US.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Iraq Releases First Official Count of War Dead

October 14

More than 85,000 Iraqis were killed during the country's violent upheaval between 2004 and 2008, according to the Iraqi government's first official count. The Human Rights Ministry based its numbers on death certificates issued once the country regained a functioning government in 2004, according to the Associated Press. (For this reason, there are no reliable statistics for 2003, the year the U.S. invasion began.) The casualties include 1,279 children and 2,334 women, as well as 263 university professors, 21 judges, 95 lawyers, and 269 journalists—"some of the professions which were specifically targeted as the country descended into chaos," the AP notes.

Nobel Geopolitics

George Friedman
October 13
U.S. President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize last week. Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, established the prize, which was to be awarded to the person who has accomplished “the most or the best work for fraternity among nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the promotion of peace congresses.” The mechanism for awarding the peace prize is very different from the other Nobel categories. Academic bodies, such as the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, decide who wins the other prizes. Alfred Nobel’s will stated, however, that a committee of five selected by the Norwegian legislature, or Storting, should award the peace prize.

The committee that awarded the peace prize to Obama consists of chairman Thorbjorn Jagland, president of the Storting and former Labor Party prime minister and foreign minister of Norway; Kaci Kullmann Five, a former member of the Storting and president of the Conservative Party; Sissel Marie Ronbeck, a former Social Democratic member of the Storting; Inger-Marie Ytterhorn, a former member of the Storting and current senior adviser to the Progress Party; and Agot Valle, a current member of the Storting and spokeswoman on foreign affairs for the Socialist Left Party.
The peace prize committee is therefore a committee of politicians, some present members of parliament, some former members of parliament. Three come from the left (Jagland, Ronbeck and Valle). Two come from the right (Kullman and Ytterhorn). It is reasonable to say that the peace prize committee faithfully reproduces the full spectrum of Norwegian politics.
A Frequently Startling Prize
Prize recipients frequently have proved startling. For example, the first U.S. president to receive the prize was Theodore Roosevelt, who received it in 1906 for helping negotiate peace between Japan and Russia. Roosevelt genuinely sought peace, but ultimately because of American fears that an unbridled Japan would threaten U.S. interests in the Pacific. He sought peace to ensure that Japan would not eliminate Russian power in the Pacific and not hold Port Arthur or any of the other prizes of the Russo-Japanese War. To achieve this peace, he implied that the United States might intervene against Japan.
In brokering negotiations to try to block Japan from exploiting its victory over the Russians, Roosevelt was engaged in pure power politics. The Japanese were in fact quite bitter at the American intervention. (For their part, the Russians were preoccupied with domestic unrest.) But a treaty emerged from the talks, and peace prevailed. Though preserving a balance of power in the Pacific motivated Roosevelt, the Nobel committee didn’t seem to care. And given that Alfred Nobel didn’t provide much guidance about his intentions for the prize, choosing Roosevelt was as reasonable as the choices for most Nobel Peace Prizes.
In recent years, the awards have gone to political dissidents the committee approved of, such as the Dalai Lama and Lech Walesa, or people supporting causes it agreed with, such as Al Gore. Others were peacemakers in the Theodore Roosevelt mode, such as Le Duc Tho and Henry Kissinger for working toward peace in Vietnam and Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin for moving toward peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Two things must be remembered about the Nobel Peace Prize. The first is that Nobel was never clear about his intentions for it. The second is his decision to have it awarded by politicians from — and we hope the Norwegians will accept our advance apologies — a marginal country relative to the international system. This is not meant as a criticism of Norway, a country we have enjoyed in the past, but the Norwegians sometimes have an idiosyncratic way of viewing the world.

Therefore, the award to Obama was neither more or less odd than some of the previous awards made by five Norwegian politicians no one outside of Norway had ever heard of. But his win does give us an opportunity to consider an important question, namely, why Europeans generally think so highly of Obama.
Obama and the Europeans
Let’s begin by being careful with the term European. Eastern Europeans and Russians — all Europeans — do not think very highly of him. The British are reserved on the subject. But on the whole, other Europeans west of the former Soviet satellites and south and east of the English Channel think extremely well of him, and the Norwegians are reflecting this admiration. It is important to understand why they do.

The Europeans experienced catastrophes during the 20th century. Two world wars slaughtered generations of Europeans and shattered Europe’s economy. Just after the war, much of Europe maintained standards of living not far above that of the Third World. In a sense, Europe lost everything — millions of lives, empires, even sovereignty as the United States and the Soviet Union occupied and competed in Europe. The catastrophe of the 20th century defines Europe, and what the Europeans want to get away from.
The Cold War gave Europe the opportunity to recover economically, but only in the context of occupation and the threat of war between the Soviets and Americans. A half century of Soviet occupation seared Eastern European souls. During that time, the rest of Europe lived in a paradox of growing prosperity and the apparent imminence of another war. The Europeans were not in control of whether the war would come, or where or how it would be fought. There are therefore two Europes. One, the Europe that was first occupied by Nazi Germany and then by the Soviet Union still lives in the shadow of the dual catastrophes. The other, larger Europe, lives in the shadow of the United States.
Between 1945 and 1991, Western Europe lived in a confrontation with the Soviets. The Europeans lived in dread of Soviet occupation, and though tempted, never capitulated to the Soviets. That meant that the Europeans were forced to depend on the United States for their defense and economic stability, and were therefore subject to America’s will. How the Americans and Russians viewed each other would determine whether war would break out, not what the Europeans thought.
Every aggressive action by the United States, however trivial, was magnified a hundredfold in European minds, as they considered fearfully how the Soviets would respond. In fact, the Americans were much more restrained during the Cold War than Europeans at the time thought. Looking back, the U.S. position in Europe itself was quite passive. But the European terror was that some action in the rest of the world — Cuba, the Middle East, Vietnam — would cause the Soviets to respond in Europe, costing them everything they had built up.
In the European mind, the Americans prior to 1945 were liberators. After 1945 they were protectors, but protectors who could not be trusted to avoid triggering another war through recklessness or carelessness. The theme dominating European thinking about the United States was that the Americans were too immature, too mercurial and too powerful to really be trusted. From an American point of view, these were the same Europeans who engaged in unparalleled savagery between 1914 and 1945 all on their own, and the period after 1945 — when the Americans dominated Europe — was far more peaceful and prosperous than the previous period. But the European conviction that the Europeans were the sophisticated statesmen and prudent calculators while the Americans were unsophisticated and imprudent did not require an empirical basis. It was built on another reality, which was that Europe had lost everything, including real control over its fate, and that trusting its protector to be cautious was difficult.
The Europeans loathed many presidents, e.g., Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan. Jimmy Carter was not respected. Two were liked: John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton. Kennedy relieved them of the burden of Dwight D. Eisenhower and his dour Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, who was deeply distrusted. Clinton was liked for interesting reasons, and understanding this requires examining the post-Cold War era.
The United States and Europe After the Cold War
The year 1991 marked the end of the Cold War. For the first time since 1914, Europeans were prosperous, secure and recovering their sovereignty. The United States wanted little from the Europeans, something that delighted the Europeans. It was a rare historical moment in which the alliance existed in some institutional sense, but not in any major active form. The Balkans had to be dealt with, but those were the Balkans — not an area of major concern.
Europe could finally relax. Another world war would not erase its prosperity, and they were free from active American domination. They could shape their institutions, and they would. It was the perfect time for them, one they thought would last forever.
For the United States, 9/11 changed all that. The Europeans had deep sympathy for the United States post-Sept. 11, sympathy that was on the whole genuine. But the Europeans also believed that former U.S. President George W. Bush had overreacted to the attacks, threatening to unleash a reign of terror on them, engaging in unnecessary wars and above all not consulting them. The last claim was not altogether true: Bush frequently consulted the Europeans, but they frequently said 'no' to his administration’s requests. The Europeans were appalled that Bush continued his policies in spite of their objections; they felt they were being dragged back into a Cold War-type situation for trivial reasons.
The Cold War revolved around Soviet domination of Europe. In the end, whatever the risks, the Cold War was worth the risk and the pain of U.S. domination. But to Europeans, the jihadist threat simply didn’t require the effort the United States was prepared to put into it. The United States seemed unsophisticated and reckless, like cowboys.
The older European view of the United States re-emerged, as did the old fear. Throughout the Cold War, the European fear was that a U.S. miscalculation would drag the Europeans into another catastrophic war. Bush’s approach to the jihadist war terrified them and deepened their resentment. Their hard-earned prosperity was in jeopardy again because of the Americans, this time for what the Europeans saw as an insufficient reason. The Americans were once again seen as overreacting, Europe’s greatest Cold War-era dread.
For Europe, prosperity had become an end in itself. It is ironic that the Europeans regard the Americans as obsessed with money when it is the Europeans who put economic considerations over all other things. But the Europeans mean something different when they talk about money. For the Europeans, money isn’t about piling it higher and higher. Instead, money is about security. Their economic goal is not to become wealthy but to be comfortable. Today’s Europeans value economic comfort above all other considerations. After Sept. 11, the United States seemed willing to take chances with the Europeans’ comfortable economic condition that the Europeans themselves didn’t want to take. They loathed George W. Bush for doing so.
Conversely, they love Obama because he took office promising to consult with them. They understood this promise in two ways. One was that in consulting the Europeans, Obama would give them veto power. Second, they understood him as being a president like Kennedy, namely, as one unwilling to take imprudent risks. How they remember Kennedy that way given the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the coup against Diem in Vietnam is hard to fathom, but of course, many Americans remember him the same way. The Europeans compare Obama to an imaginary Kennedy, but what they really think is that he is another Clinton.
Clinton was Clinton because of the times he lived in and not because of his nature: The collapse of the Soviet Union created a peaceful interregnum in which Clinton didn’t need to make demands on Europe’s comfortable prosperity. George W. Bush lived in a different world, and that caused him to resume taking risks and making demands.
Obama does not live in the 1990s. He is facing Afghanistan, Iran and a range of other crises up to and including a rising Russia that looks uncannily similar to the old Soviet Union. It is difficult to imagine how he can face these risks without taking actions that will be counter to the European wish to be allowed to remain comfortable, and worse, without ignoring the European desire to avoid what they will see as unreasonable U.S. demands. In fact, U.S.-German relations already are not particularly good on Obama’s watch. Obama has asked for troops in Afghanistan and been turned down, and has continued to call for NATO expansion, which the Germans don’t want.
The Norwegian politicians gave their prize to Obama because they believed that he would leave Europeans in their comfortable prosperity without making unreasonable demands. That is their definition of peace, and Obama seemed to promise that. The Norwegians on the prize committee seem unaware of the course U.S.-German relations have taken, or of Afghanistan and Iran. Alternatively, perhaps they believe Obama can navigate those waters without resorting to war. In that case, it is difficult to imagine what they make of the recent talks with Iran or planning on Afghanistan.
The Norwegians awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to the president of their dreams, not the president who is dealing with Iran and Afghanistan. Obama is not a free actor. He is trapped by the reality he has found himself in, and that reality will push him far away from the Norwegian fantasy. In the end, the United States is the United States — and that is Europe’s nightmare, because the United States is not obsessed with maintaining Europe’s comfortable prosperity. The United States cannot afford to be, and in the end, neither can President Obama, Nobel Peace Prize or not.

OSCE media freedom representative deplores latest imprisonments of journalists for defamation in Azerbaijan, calls for urgent reform

VIENNA, 14 October - The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Miklos Haraszti condemned today recent criminal defamation trials in Azerbaijan which resulted in the conviction of five journalists, with two receiving prison sentences. Haraszti said he had expressed his concern about the convictions in a letter to Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov.
"These convictions have exacerbated the legal persecution of media workers in Azerbaijan in the recent years. There are five imprisoned journalists in Azerbaijan, the highest number in the OSCE region," he said.Chief editor Sardar Alibayli and correspondent Faramaz Allahverdiyev of Nota newspaper lost an appeal in Baku on 8 October, and must serve sentences of three months' imprisonment for defamation. Another correspondent of Nota, Ramiz Tagiyev, was sentenced to six months suspended imprisonment for the same offence.In a separate case, a Baku court convicted the chief of website, Zahid Azamat, and a staff member, Natig Mukhtarly, for defamation. They were sentenced to six months and one year of corrective labour respectively."I call on your Government to review the latest sentences against the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, which in no case has approved imprisonment of journalists for professional mistakes," said Haraszti in the letter to Minister Mammadyarov.
"I ask the Government of Azerbaijan to start the reform process to decriminalize defamation completely. It is high time that Azerbaijan stopped launching such discreditable cases once and for all."
For PDF attachments or links to sources of further information, please visit:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Untold stories

of China and Taiwan.
Fighting against violence and lies and mystification with the power of the testimonies. A weapon of social dissent present in the works of many artists and writers from China.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Armenia and Turkey, a new beginning?

After the agreement concluded at the end of the last week, in Switzerland, the Armenian president is ready to attend a football match in Turkey.
See also:
How the two parts are seeing the future

A possible encouragement in the Middle East?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Pros and cons for Obama's prize

Congratulations from Cuba and Russia, harsh critics from the Republicans.

OSCE Chairman welcomes 'historic' accord between Armenia, Turkey

ATHENS, 11 October 2009 - The OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Greek Prime Minister and Foreign Minister George Papandreou, welcomed today the signing of an agreement between Armenia and Turkey to normalize ties. "I welcome the historic agreement to normalize relations between Turkey and Armenia, and commend the effort and political will both leaders have invested to overcome differences and work towards a more secure and stable region, which is in all our interests," Papandreou said.
The accords were signed in Zurich on 10 October following months of Swiss-mediated talks. A roadmap for normalizing relations between Turkey and Armenia was agreed in April. Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 because of its war with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Papandreou was sworn in as Greece's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister on 6 October. The Foreign Minister of the country holding the Chairmanship serves as the OSCE's Chairman-in-Office.
-- For PDF attachments or links to sources of further information, please visit:
More about the agreement

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Trolling for illegals

in Israel. The last actions of the Oz brigade.

N Korea talks

the emergency call.

The British elections - the rehearsal

Gordon Brown's optimism.
Cameron's promises and the media feed-back.

The best prime minister of our times

self-introduced and self-advertised - Silvio Berlusconi.
And, of course, the perfect victim.
Laudatio that don't have nothing in common with the accusations, and could be considered at least a way to continue the pressure against the justice.
See also:

Friday, October 9, 2009

Obama's Nobel Prize

Pew Research
October 9
Today's news that President Barack Obama has won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize is another sign of his international appeal. A 25-nation Pew Global Attitudes survey conducted in May-June of this year highlighted the extent of Obama's popularity, especially among many of America's traditional allies in Western Europe, but also noted that challenges still persist in much of the Muslim world.
My question regarding Obama's designation is related to the simple fact concering what he really done by now. Promising and assuming some statements it's one thing, effectively working for peace and achieving it it's another.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The counter-revolution in Iran

The Revolutionary Guards are consolidating their presence in the economic and telecommunications field.

The World Muslim Population

- 23% of the population, according to a Pew Research Study.

The Sunni Muslims are predominant - 87-90% - with predominantly Shi'a concentration - 68-80% - in Iran, Pakistan, India and Iraq.

More than 300 million Muslims, or one-fifth of the world's Muslim population, live in countries where Islam is not the majority religion. These minority Muslim populations are often quite large. India, for example, has the third-largest population of Muslims worldwide. China has more Muslims than Syria, while Russia is home to more Muslims than Jordan and Libya combined.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pakistan: Biting the Hand that Feeds You

Scott Stewart


October 7

The Islamabad office of the United Nations’ World Food Program (WFP) was struck by a suicide bomber just after noon local time Oct. 5. The bomber, who wore an improvised explosive device (IED) concealed under his clothing, was wearing the uniform of the Frontier Constabulary, a paramilitary force, and reportedly made his way past perimeter security and into the facility under the ruse of asking to use the restroom. Once inside the facility, he detonated his explosive device, killing five WFP employees — one Iraqi national and four locals — and injuring six others.

The attack, claimed by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), would be the first successful TTP attack in Islamabad since June 6, and the first attack against Western interests in a Pakistani city since the June 9 attack against the Pearl Continental hotel in Peshawar using a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED).

In his Oct. 6 call to The Associated Press and other media outlets to claim responsibility for the attack, TTP spokesman Azam Tariq said the group is planning additional attacks against similar targets. “The WFP is promoting the U.S. agenda,” Tariq said, and “such types of suicide attacks will continue in the future. We will target all people and offices working for American interests. We have sent more suicide bombers in various parts of the country and they have been given targets.”

The WFP office in Islamabad is located in an upscale part of town but outside of the diplomatic enclave. While the roads leading into the area are blocked by police checkpoints, the sector is not nearly as heavily locked down as the diplomatic enclave, which made it easier for an attacker to approach the WFP office. The office does have an exterior security wall, but that wall provides very little standoff — in other words, there is not much distance between the building and the road. From an attacker’s perspective, the WFP is a far softer target than a facility such as the U.S. Embassy, which has a significant standoff.

The only thing that provides protection from a large explosive device is distance, and due to the small amount of standoff at the WFP office, if that office had been attacked using a large VBIED like the one used in the September 2008 attack against the Marriott hotel in Islamabad, the attack would have been devastating. However, the attack against the WFP office was not conducted with a massive device but with a small one. It appears that the pressure the Pakistani government has placed upon the TTP (with U.S. assistance) has reduced the group’s ability to conduct high-profile attacks. Indeed, following the attack on the Pearl Continental hotel, there had been a noticeable lull in the TTP’s operations — even before the Aug. 5 death of TTP leader Baitullah Mehsud in a U.S. missile strike. The WFP bombing serves as a message that while the TTP is down, it is not yet out and more low-level attacks can be expected in the near term.

Going Small

Small-scale attacks like the one the TTP launched against the WFP office are relatively easy to conduct and require very few resources. This makes them far easier to sustain than large-scale VBIED attacks. The approximately 2,000 pounds of explosives used in the massive VBIED deployed against the Islamabad Marriott could be used to create scores of suicide IEDs like the one used against the WFP. There has been a trend in the last few years in which militant groups have shifted away from larger devices in favor of smaller ones.

This trend is especially noticeable when the group is under intense pressure, like Tanzim Qaedat al-Jihad in Indonesia (and the TTP at the present time). Small-scale attacks require fewer resources, and smaller devices can be built and transported more clandestinely than huge VBIEDs. They can also be manufactured more quickly, which allows for a higher tempo of operations. However, these smaller devices must be used in a different type of attack and are often taken into the targeted site using a ruse, like a Frontier Constabulary uniform in Islamabad; posing as hotel guests and workers in Jakarta; or even hidden inside the bomber’s body, as we saw in Saudi Arabia on Aug. 28.

In the wake of the WFP attack and the TTP’s warning that more attacks are coming, security measures at the offices of humanitarian aid, intergovernmental, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are certain to be inspected and tightened up (at least until complacency sets in) to protect against this type of ruse attack using a small suicide device.

One of the other advantages of using these small devices is that they provide attackers a great deal of flexibility in employing them — a flexibility that is often used to bypass security measures. However, identifying gaps in security requires surveillance — often extended surveillance — and during that surveillance attackers are susceptible to being identified.

Historically, aid organizations simply do not have the security budget to afford the types of physical security equipment and guard coverage afforded to embassies or even commercial establishments like large hotels, and this makes them relatively soft targets. But even if these offices are hardened by increased security and by proactive measures such as employing countersurveillance teams and the offices thus become more difficult to strike using small devices, the employees of these organizations will remain vulnerable as they do their work in the field.

Aid Workers as Targets

By its very nature, the work conducted by an aid group is very different from that conducted by a diplomatic mission. While diplomats like to travel to different parts of the country they are assigned to and meet with a variety of people, their primary mission is to be the representatives of their home government to the foreign government where they are assigned and accredited. This means that, while they may balk at strict security measures, they can still perform many of their functions in dangerous locations like Islamabad or Baghdad, even though their movement outside of the embassy is tightly restricted and requires considerable security. The same is simply not true for organizations like the WFP, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Doctors Without Borders or the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), among others. These organizations exist to bring shelter, food and medicine to refugees and displaced people, and such people are often found in conflict zones such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia. This means that aid employees are very vulnerable to being targeted when they are outside of their offices.

Last October, STRATFOR discussed the growing trend of jihadists attacking aid workers and the tension the trend was creating among jihadist ideologues. Some ideologues, such as Isam Mohammed Taher al-Barqawi, more popularly known by the nom de guerre Abu-Muhammad Asem al-Maqdisi, have taken a clear stand against targeting “genuine” humanitarian organizations. In his writings, al-Maqdisi has specifically referred to the International Committee of the Red Cross, noting how it is a legitimate humanitarian organization with no hidden agenda and that its valuable services to the poor and dispossessed should be appreciated.

However, many jihadist leaders do not differentiate between the political aspect of the United Nations and the separate organizations that operate under the aegis of the United Nations for humanitarian purposes, such as the WFP, UNHCR, UNDP and UNICEF. In addition to the Oct. 6 message from the TTP spokesman who noted that the WFP is an infidel organization that promotes the U.S. agenda, other jihadist leaders have also spoken out against the United Nations. In an April 2008 speech, al Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri said, “The United Nations is an enemy of Islam and Muslims: It is the one which codified and legitimized the setting up of the state of Israel and its taking over of the Muslims’ lands.”

Clearly, over the past year this ideological battle inside jihadist circles has been decided in favor of those who advocate attacks against humanitarian workers, since such attacks are increasing — and the problem is not just confined to Pakistan. A recent report by the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office noted that attacks against aid workers in Afghanistan are twice as frequent as they were last year — and 2008 had seen significantly more fatalities than 2007 — so things are clearly getting worse there, and the Afghan Taliban are launching more frequent ambushes and roadside IED attacks against clearly marked white aid vehicles. In Pakistan, at least three UNHCR employees have been assassinated so far this year, and a UNHCR employee and UNICEF employee were among those killed in the June bombing of the Pearl Continental Hotel in Peshawar. The Pearl was essentially the headquarters for many of the aid organizations in Peshawar. Outside of Afghanistan and Pakistan, aid workers also have been attacked in Iraq, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan, among other places.

For these aid workers, the perception by groups like the Afghan Taliban, the TTP and al Qaeda that they are a part of the U.S. agenda — and this translates into a war against Islam — means that they will be targeted for attacks.

The increase in attacks has often led to the drawdown of Western aid employees in a given country, and this has forced these organizations to rely heavily on local, mainly Muslim, employees to conduct most of the relief work in the most dangerous places. However, the track record over the past few years has demonstrated that local employees are every bit as likely to be targeted as their Western colleagues. This is in part due to the fact that jihadists declare that all Muslims who work with infidels are apostates and therefore no better than infidels themselves. (This is called the doctrine of Takfir, or apostasy, and the fact that the jihadists claim to have the ability to declare another Muslim an apostate is very controversial within Islam, as is the killing of non-combatants such as humanitarian workers.)

In Pakistan, local aid workers are dedicated to reaching the hungry, sick and dispossessed people they serve, and this makes them extremely vulnerable to attack because they operate in some very remote and dangerous places. They are far more likely to be working outside of the larger, more secure organizational offices and in smaller, more vulnerable clinics and food distribution points. Because of this, there is a high likelihood that if the organizational offices present too hard a target, these lower-level aid workers and smaller aid distribution points could be targeted in lower-level TTP attacks. This would be part of the TTP effort to derail what it perceives as the U.S. agenda to stabilize (or, in the TTP’s eyes, influence and control) Pakistan by providing aid to the people displaced by the fighting between the government of Pakistan and the TTP and its foreign allies.

Such attacks will hurt the TTP as far as public opinion goes, as have its attacks in Islamabad, Peshawar and elsewhere. But in light of the losses it has taken on the battlefield in places like Swat and in light of the coming offensive in South Waziristan, the TTP’s priority is to prove that it is still a force to be reckoned with — and more important, negotiated with. So the attacks will continue, and we can anticipate that many of them will be against humanitarian workers.

Joe Biden in Central and Eastern Europe

He will visit Czech Republic, Poland and Romania at the end of October, shortly after the official announcement of renouncement of the implementation of the BMD project in this area.

Joe Biden in Central and Eastern Europe

at the end of October, shortly after the announcement of changing the BMD plans.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mediators and Observers meet on Transnistria conflict

VIENNA, 6 October- Ambassador Charalampos Christopoulos, Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, released the following statement today on behalf of the Mediators and Observers in the Transnistria settlement process (the "3+2"):

"Representatives of the Mediators and Observers in the Transnistria Settlement Negotiations process - the Russian Federation, Ukraine, OSCE, U.S. and EU - the '3+2' - met in Vienna, Austria, on 6 October under the auspices of the OSCE Chairmanship. Ambassador Christopoulos, the Chairperson-in-Office's Special Representative, convened the meeting.

The Mediators and Observers reaffirmed their commitment to helping the Sides find a just and durable political settlement to the Transnistria conflict based on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Moldova and an agreed status for Transnistria that upholds OSCE principles and commitments. They called on both Sides to renew serious negotiations towards that goal.

The Mediators and Observers discussed recent political events in Moldova and expressed their readiness to continue to work closely with both Sides.

The Mediators and Observers called on both Sides to renew the work of the Joint Experts' Working Groups on Confidence-Building Measures. The Mediators and Observers supported plans for an OSCE-sponsored seminar on Co-operation between the Law Enforcement Bodies of both Sides."

Monday, October 5, 2009

Two Leaks and the Deepening Iran Crisis

George Friedman


Two major leaks occurred this weekend over the Iran matter.

In the first, The New York Times published an article reporting that staff at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N. nuclear oversight group, had produced an unreleased report saying that Iran was much more advanced in its nuclear program than the IAEA had thought previously. According to the report, Iran now has all the data needed to design a nuclear weapon. The New York Times article added that U.S. intelligence was re-examining the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of 2007, which had stated that Iran was not actively pursuing a nuclear weapon.

The second leak occurred in the British paper The Sunday Times, which reported that the purpose of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s highly publicized secret visit to Moscow on Sept. 7 was to provide the Russians with a list of Russian scientists and engineers working on Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

The second revelation was directly tied to the first. There were many, including STRATFOR, who felt that Iran did not have the non-nuclear disciplines needed for rapid progress toward a nuclear device. Putting the two pieces together, the presence of Russian personnel in Iran would mean that the Iranians had obtained the needed expertise from the Russians. It would also mean that the Russians were not merely a factor in whether there would be effective sanctions but also in whether and when the Iranians would obtain a nuclear weapon.

We would guess that the leak to The New York Times came from U.S. government sources, because that seems to be a prime vector of leaks from the Obama administration and because the article contained information on the NIE review. Given that National Security Adviser James Jones tended to dismiss the report on Sunday television, we would guess the report leaked from elsewhere in the administration. The Sunday Times leak could have come from multiple sources, but we have noted a tendency of the Israelis to leak through the British daily on national security issues. (The article contained substantial details on the visit and appeared written from the Israeli point of view.) Neither leak can be taken at face value, of course. But it is clear that these were deliberate leaks — people rarely risk felony charges leaking such highly classified material — and even if they were not coordinated, they delivered the same message, true or not.

The Iranian Time Frame and the Russian Role

The message was twofold. First, previous assumptions on time frames on Iran are no longer valid, and worst-case assumptions must now be assumed. The Iranians are in fact moving rapidly toward a weapon; have been extremely effective at deceiving U.S. intelligence (read, they deceived the Bush administration, but the Obama administration has figured it out); and therefore, we are moving toward a decisive moment with Iran. Second, this situation is the direct responsibility of Russian nuclear expertise. Whether this expertise came from former employees of the Russian nuclear establishment now looking for work, Russian officials assigned to Iran or unemployed scientists sent to Iran by the Russians is immaterial. The Israelis — and the Obama administration — must hold the Russians responsible for the current state of Iran’s weapons program, and by extension, Moscow bears responsibility for any actions that Israel or the United States might take to solve the problem.

We would suspect that the leaks were coordinated. From the Israeli point of view, having said publicly that they are prepared to follow the American lead and allow this phase of diplomacy to play out, there clearly had to be more going on than just last week’s Geneva talks. From the American point of view, while the Russians have indicated that participating in sanctions on gasoline imports by Iran is not out of the question, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev did not clearly state that Russia would cooperate, nor has anything been heard from Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on the subject. The Russian leadership appears to be playing “good cop, bad cop” on the matter, and the credibility of anything they say on Iran has little weight in Washington.

It would seem to us that the United States and Israel decided to up the ante fairly dramatically in the wake of the Oct. 1 meeting with Iran in Geneva. As IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei visits Iran, massive new urgency has now been added to the issue. But we must remember that Iran knows whether it has had help from Russian scientists; that is something that can’t be bluffed. Given that this specific charge has been made — and as of Monday not challenged by Iran or Russia — indicates to us more is going on than an attempt to bluff the Iranians into concessions. Unless the two leaks together are completely bogus, and we doubt that, the United States and Israel are leaking information already well known to the Iranians. They are telling Tehran that its deception campaign has been penetrated, and by extension are telling it that it faces military action — particularly if massive sanctions are impractical because of more Russian obstruction.

If Netanyahu went to Moscow to deliver this intelligence to the Russians, the only surprise would have been the degree to which the Israelis had penetrated the program, not that the Russians were there. The Russian intelligence services are superbly competent, and keep track of stray nuclear scientists carefully. They would not be surprised by the charge, only by Israel’s knowledge of it.

This, of course leaves open an enormous question. Certainly, the Russians appear to have worked with the Iranians on some security issues and have played with the idea of providing the Iranians more substantial military equipment. But deliberately aiding Iran in building a nuclear device seems beyond Russia’s interests in two ways. First, while Russia wants to goad the United States, it does not itself really want a nuclear Iran. Second, in goading the United States, the Russians know not to go too far; helping Iran build a nuclear weapon would clearly cross a redline, triggering reactions.

A number of possible explanations present themselves. The leak to The Sunday Times might be wrong. But The Sunday Times is not a careless newspaper: It accepts leaks only from certified sources. The Russian scientists might be private citizens accepting Iranian employment. But while this is possible, Moscow is very careful about what Russian nuclear engineers do with their time. Or the Russians might be providing enough help to goad the United States but not enough to ever complete the job. Whatever the explanation, the leaks paint the Russians as more reckless than they have appeared, assuming the leaks are true.

And whatever their veracity, the leaks — the content of which clearly was discussed in detail among the P-5+1 prior to and during the Geneva meetings, regardless of how long they have been known by Western intelligence — were made for two reasons. The first was to tell the Iranians that the nuclear situation is now about to get out of hand, and that attempting to manage the negotiations through endless delays will fail because the United Nations is aware of just how far Tehran has come with its weapons program. The second was to tell Moscow that the issue is no longer whether the Russians will cooperate on sanctions, but the consequence to Russia’s relations with the United States and at least the United Kingdom, France and, most important, possibly Germany. If these leaks are true, they are game changers.

We have focused on the Iranian situation not because it is significant in itself, but because it touches on a great number of other crucial international issues. It is now entangled in the Iraqi, Afghan, Israeli, Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese issues, all of them high-stakes matters. It is entangled in Russian relations with Europe and the United States. It is entangled in U.S.-European relationships and with relationships within Europe. It touches on the U.S.-Chinese relationship. It even touches on U.S. relations with Venezuela and some other Latin American countries. It is becoming the Gordian knot of international relations.

STRATFOR first focused on the Russian connection with Iran in the wake of the Iranian elections and resulting unrest, when a crowd of Rafsanjani supporters began chanting “Death to Russia,” not one of the top-10 chants in Iran. That caused us to focus on the cooperation between Russia and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on security matters. We were aware of some degree of technical cooperation on military hardware, and of course on Russian involvement in Iran’s civilian nuclear program. We were also of the view that the Iranians were unlikely to progress quickly with their nuclear program. We were not aware that Russian scientists were directly involved in Iran’s military nuclear project, which is not surprising, given that such involvement would be Iran’s single-most important state secret — and Russia’s, too.

A Question of Timing

But there is a mystery here as well. To have any impact, the Russian involvement must have been under way for years. The United States has tried to track rogue nuclear scientists and engineers — anyone who could contribute to nuclear proliferation — since the 1990s. The Israelis must have had their own program on this, too. Both countries, as well as European intelligence services, were focused on Iran’s program and the whereabouts of Russian scientists. It is hard to believe that they only just now found out. If we were to guess, we would say Russian involvement has been under way since just after the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, when the Russians decided that the United States was a direct threat to its national security.

Therefore, the decision suddenly to confront the Russians, and suddenly to leak U.N. reports — much more valuable than U.S. reports, which are easier for the Europeans to ignore — cannot simply be because the United States and Israel just obtained this information. The IAEA, hostile to the United States since the invasion of Iraq and very much under the influence of the Europeans, must have decided to shift its evaluation of Iran. But far more significant is the willingness of the Israelis first to confront the Russians and then leak about Russian involvement, something that obviously compromises Israeli sources and methods. And that means the Israelis no longer consider the preservation of their intelligence operation in Iran (or wherever it was carried out) as of the essence.

Two conclusions can be drawn. First, the Israelis no longer need to add to their knowledge of Russian involvement; they know what they need to know. And second, the Israelis do not expect Iranian development to continue much longer; otherwise, maintaining the intelligence capability would take precedence over anything else.

It follows from this that the use of this intelligence in diplomatic confrontations with Russians and in a British newspaper serves a greater purpose than the integrity of the source system. And that means that the Israelis expect a resolution in the very near future — the only reason they would have blown their penetration of the Russian-Iranian system.

Possible Outcomes

There are two possible outcomes here. The first is that having revealed the extent of the Iranian program and having revealed the Russian role in a credible British newspaper, the Israelis and the Americans (whose own leak in The New York Times underlined the growing urgency of action) are hoping that the Iranians realize that they are facing war and that the Russians realize that they are facing a massive crisis in their relations with the West. If that happens, then the Russians might pull their scientists and engineers, join in the sanctions and force the Iranians to abandon their program.

The second possibility is that the Russians will continue to play the spoiler on sanctions and will insist that they are not giving support to the Iranians. This leaves the military option, which would mean broad-based action, primarily by the United States, against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Any military operation would involve keeping the Strait of Hormuz clear, meaning naval action, and we now know that there are more nuclear facilities than previously discussed. So while the war for the most part would be confined to the air and sea, it would be extensive nonetheless.

Sanctions or war remain the two options, and which one is chosen depends on Moscow’s actions. The leaks this weekend have made clear that the United States and Israel have positioned themselves such that not much time remains. We have now moved from a view of Iran as a long-term threat to Iran as a much more immediate threat thanks to the Russians.

The least that can be said about this is that the Obama administration and Israel are trying to reshape the negotiations with the Iranians and Russians. The most that can be said is that the Americans and Israelis are preparing the public for war. Polls now indicate that more than 60 percent of the U.S. public now favors military action against Iran. From a political point of view, it has become easier for U.S. President Barack Obama to act than to not act. This, too, is being transmitted to the Iranians and Russians.

It is not clear to us that the Russians or Iranians are getting the message yet. They have convinced themselves that Obama is unlikely to act because he is weak at home and already has too many issues to juggle. This is a case where a reputation for being conciliatory actually increases the chances for war. But the leaks this weekend have strikingly limited the options and timelines of the United States and Israel. They also have put the spotlight on Obama at a time when he already is struggling with health care and Afghanistan. History is rarely considerate of presidential plans, and in this case, the leaks have started to force Obama’s hand.

Nabucco will effectively work

in 2014.

Countering Iranian power

with the United Emirates positioning as a new nuclear power in the area.

The surprises are coming from Eastern Europe

or how the Czech Republic could reverse the Irish success.

Gadhafi, another scandal

after his controversial tent deal in the center of NYC, the fine.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

New PM in Moldova

is Vlad Filat, the new - not fully, but more Western oriented than his precedessors, for sure.
What it is necessary, rapidly, is to offer to Moldova an incentive package, encouraging them to go closer to the EU. And some signs have been already sent.

Guantanamo is not such an easy task

as an electoral promise.

The self-imposed deadline will not be respected.

The problems and challenges for the left

in UK, Germany and Portugal.

The debacle?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Mexico: Emergence of an Unexpected Threat

Scott Stewart
September 30
At approximately 2 a.m. on Sept. 25, a small improvised explosive device (IED) consisting of three or four butane canisters was used to attack a Banamex bank branch in the Milpa Alta delegation of Mexico City. The device damaged an ATM and shattered the bank’s front windows. It was not an isolated event. The bombing was the seventh recorded IED attack in the Federal District — and the fifth such attack against a local bank branch — since the beginning of September.

The attack was claimed in a communique posted to a Spanish-language anarchist Web site by a group calling itself the Subversive Alliance for the Liberation of the Earth, Animals and Humans (ASLTAH). The note said, “Once again we have proven who our enemies are,” indicating that the organization’s “cells for the dissolution of civilization” were behind the other, similar attacks. The communique noted that the organization had attacked Banamex because it was a “business that promotes torture, destruction and slavery” and vowed that ASLTAH would not stop attacking “until we see your ashes.” The group closed its communique by sending greetings to the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the “eco-pyromaniacs for the liberation of the earth in this place.” Communiques have also claimed some of the other recent IED attacks in the name of ASLTAH.

On Sept. 22, authorities also discovered and disabled a small IED left outside of a MetLife insurance office in Guadalajara, Jalisco state. A message spray-painted on a wall near where the device was found read, “Novartis stop torturing animals,” a reference to the multinational pharmaceutical company, which has an office near where the IED was found and which has been heavily targeted by the group Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC). Novartis is a large customer of Huntingdon Life Sciences, the research company SHAC was formed to destroy because Huntingdon uses animals in its testing for harmful side effects of drugs, chemicals and consumer items. A second message spray-painted on a wall near where the device was found on Sept. 22 read, “Novartis break with HLS.” Two other IEDs were detonated at banks in Mexico City on the same day.

These IED attacks are the most recent incidents in a wave of anarchist, animal rights, and eco-protest attacks that have swept across Mexico this year. Activists have conducted literally hundreds of incidents of vandalism, arson and, in more recent months, IED attacks in various locations across the country. The most active cells are in Mexico City and Guadalajara.

For a country in the midst of a bloody cartel war in which thousands of people are killed every year — and where serious crimes like kidnapping terrorize nearly every segment of society — direct-action attacks by militant activists are hardly the biggest threat faced by the Mexican government. However, the escalation of direct-action attacks in Mexico that has resulted in the more frequent use of IEDs shows no sign of abating, and these attacks are likely to grow more frequent, spectacular and deadly.

The Wave
Precisely quantifying the wave of direct-action attacks in Mexico is difficult for a number of reasons. One is that the reporting of such incidents is spotty and the police, the press and the activists themselves are often not consistent in what they report and how. Moreover, is often hard to separate direct-action vandalism from incidents of plain old non-political vandalism or tell the difference between an anarchist IED attack against a bank and an IED attack against a bank conducted by a Marxist group such as the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR). Then there is the issue of counting. Should a series of five Molotov cocktail attacks against ATMs or the destruction of 20 Telmex phone booths in one night be counted as one attack or as separate incidents?
If we count conservatively — e.g., consider a series of like incidents as one — we can say there have been around 200 direct-action attacks to date in 2009. But if we count each incident separately, we can easily claim there have been more than 400 such attacks. For example, by our count, there have been more than 350 Telmex phone booths smashed, burned or otherwise vandalized so far this year. (Activists will do things like glue metal shavings into the calling-card and coin slots.) However, for the sake of this analysis we’ll go with the conservative number of about 200 attacks.
Now, Telmex seems to be the most popular target so far for direct-action attacks. In addition to hitting phone booths, activists also have attacked Telmex vehicles and offices and have cut Telmex cables. From their statements, the activists appear to hold a special hatred for Carlos Slim, one of the richest men in the world and the chairman of Telmex and several other companies. In many ways, Slim — a patriarchal billionaire industrialist — is the personification of almost everything that the anarchistic activists hate. In addition to Telmex and banks, the activists also have attacked other targets such as restaurants (including McDonald’s and KFC), meat shops, pet shops, fur and leather stores, luxury vehicles, and construction equipment.
The activists’ most common tactics tend to be on the lower end of the violence scale and include graffiti and paint (frequently red to symbolize the blood of animals) to vandalize a target. They also frequently release captive birds or animals as well as use superglue and pieces of metal to obstruct locks, pay phones and ATM card readers. Moving up the violence continuum, activists less frequently will break windows, burn buildings and vehicles, and make bomb threats — there have been at least 157 incidents involving arson or incendiary devices so far in 2009.
To help put this into perspective, these activists have conducted more arson attacks in Mexico to date in 2009 than their American counterparts have conducted in the United States since 2001.
At the high end of the violence spectrum are the IED attacks, and this is where there has really been an increase in activity in recent weeks. In the first six months of 2009, there were several bomb threats and hoaxes and a few acid bombs, but only two real IEDs were used. In June, July and August there was one IED attack per month — and so far in September there have been seven IED attacks in Mexico City alone and one successful attack and one attempted attack in Guadalajara. Again, by way of comparison, these eight IED attacks by Mexican activists in September are more than American activists have conducted in the United States since 2001.
Proliferation of IEDs
There are several factors that can explain this trend toward the activists’ increasing use of IEDs. The first is, quite simply, that IEDs generate more attention than graffiti, glue or even an arson attack — indeed, here we are devoting a weekly security report to activist IED attacks in Mexico. In light of the overall level of violence in Mexico, most observers have ignored the past lower-level activity by these activist groups, and IEDs help cut through the noise and bring attention to the activists’ causes. The scope and frequency of IED attacks this month ensured that they could not be overlooked.

The second factor is the learning curve of the cells’ bombmakers. As a bombmaker becomes more proficient in his tradecraft, the devices he crafts tend to become both more reliable and more powerful. The improvement in tradecraft also means that the bombmaker is able to increase his operational tempo and deploy devices more frequently. It is quite possible that the few IEDs that were reported as hoaxes in March, April and May could have been IEDs that did not function properly — a common occurrence for new bombmakers who do not extensively test their devices.
The third factor is thrill and ego. In many past cases, militant activists have launched progressively larger attacks. One reason for this is that after a series of direct-action attacks, the activists get bored doing lower-level things like gluing locks or paint-stripping cars and they move to more destructive and spectacular attacks, such as those using timed incendiary devices. For many activists, there is a thrill associated with getting increased attention for the cause, in causing more damage to their targets and in getting away with increasingly brazen attacks.
Finally, in recent years, we have noted a shift among activist groups away from a strict concern for human life. Many activists are becoming convinced that less violent tactics have been ineffective, and if they really want to save the Earth and animals, they need to take more aggressive action. There is a small but growing fringe of hard-core activists who believe that, to paraphrase Lenin, you have to break eggs to make an omelet.
The Ruckus Society, a direct-action activist training organization, explains it this way in a training document: “There is a law against breaking into a house. However, if you break into a house as part of a greater good, such as rushing into the house to save a child from a fire, it is permissible to break that law. In fact, you can say that there is even a moral obligation to break that law. In the same way then, it is permissible to break minor laws to save the Earth.” In general, activists do not condone violent action directed at humans, but neither do they always condemn it in very strong terms — they often explain that the anger that prompts such violence is “understandable” in light of what they perceive as ecological injustice and cruelty to animals.
In recent years there has been a polarization in the animal rights and environmental movements, with fringe activists becoming increasingly isolated and violent — and more likely to use potentially deadly tools like IEDs in their attacks.
The very name of ASLTAH — the Subversive Alliance for the Liberation of the Earth, Animals and Humans — illustrates the interesting confluence of animal rights, ecological activism and anti-imperialism/anarchism that inhabit the radical fringe. It is not uncommon for one cell of independent activists to claim it carried out its attacks under the banner of “organizations” such as ELF, ALF or SHAC. In true anarchistic style, however, these organizations are amorphous and nonhierarchical — there is no single ELF, ALF or SHAC. Rather, the individual activists and cells who act on behalf of the organizations control their own activities while adhering to guidelines circulated in meetings and conferences, via the Internet, and in various magazines, newsletters and other publications. These individual activists and cells are driven only by their consciences, or by group decisions within the cell. This results in a level of operational security that can be hard for law enforcement and security officials to breach.

As noted above, these activists have been far more active in Mexico than they have in the United States. One reason for this is that the operating environment north of the border is markedly different than it is in Mexico. In the United States, the FBI and local and state police agencies have focused hard on these activists, and groups like ELF and ALF have been branded as domestic terrorists. There have been several major investigations into these groups in recent years.
South of the border it is a different matter. Mexican authorities are plagued with problems ranging from drug cartels to Marxist terrorist/insurgent groups like the EPR to rampant police and government corruption. Simply put, there is a vacuum of law and order in Mexico and that vacuum is clearly reflected in statistics such as the number of kidnappings inside the country every year. The overall level of violence in Mexico and this vacuum of authority provide room for the activists to operate, and the host of other crime and violence issues plaguing the country works to ensure that the authorities are simply too busy to place much emphasis on investigating activist attacks and catching those responsible for them. Therefore, the activists operate boldly and with a sense of impunity that often leads to an increase in violence — especially within the context of a very violent place, which Mexico is at the present time.
This atmosphere means that the activist cells behind the increase in IED attacks will be able to continue their campaigns against assorted capitalist, animal and ecological targets with very little chance of being seriously pursued. Consequently, as the IED campaign continues, the attacks will likely become more frequent and more destructive. And given Mexico’s densely populated cities and the activists’ target sets, this escalation will ensure that the attacks will eventually turn deadly.