Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
June 19, 2008

The Pipeline Through Afghanistan

What is the war in Afghanistan about?

Yes, you guessed it: hydrocarbons. Today's Globe and Mail reports:

Afghanistan and three of its neighbouring countries have agreed to build a $7.6-billion (U.S.) pipeline that would deliver natural gas from Turkmenistan to energy-starved Pakistan and India – a project running right through the volatile Kandahar province – raising questions about what role Canadian Forces may play in defending the project.

To prepare for proposed construction in 2010, the Afghan government has reportedly given assurances it will clear the route of land mines, and make the path free of Taliban influence.
...
The so-called Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline has strong support from Washington because the U.S. government is eager to block a competing pipeline that would bring gas to Pakistan and India from Iran.

The TAPI pipeline would also diminish Russia's dominance of Central Asian energy exports.

The project to build that pipeline was nearly ready in 1998 when Unocal had a deal with the Taliban government and the Northern Alliance.

The deal was stopped in 1998 because no one was willing to finance it:

An internationally-recognised government in Kabul would have paved the way for securing the financing, but American anger at the Taleban for harbouring Osama bin Laden, has, for the time being, stopped that.

Following the US air strikes Unocal suspended its plans.

This time the deal is supposed to be financed by the Manila-based Asian Development Bank.

Still there are several issues that will make it very difficult to build the pipeline.

  • Russian and Iranian (and Chinese?) interests are touched and both have incentives and capabilities to hinder it by various means.
  • As the occupation troops continue to bomb the Afghan population, the support for the resistance against the occupation will increase.
  • It is impossible to 'make the path free of Taliban influence', because the most of the Taliban in that pipeline path is the native population living there.
  • Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan are getting worse by the day and may endanger the deal.
  • NATO countries will be reluctant to support further action in Afghanistan as the real interests behind these are now revealed.

Until now whoever mentioned such a deal as being behind the Afghan War was seen as falling for conspiracy theories. That will now end and I welcome the discussion that will follow.

Today we also learn that Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP are getting no-bid, two years contracts to 'service' Iraq’s largest fields. This puts them into the position to win further exploration rights.

As the real war reason are now in the open the key question is: How many of their sons and daughters are 'western' democracies willing to get killed in support of such schemes?

 

Posted by b on June 19, 2008 at 10:44 UTC | Permalink | Comments (26)

June 18, 2008

Campaigning It Ain't

U.S. campaign thougth of the day:

If McCain is President we will call it The Nursing House.

link

Someone timewarp me to December please.

Posted by b on June 18, 2008 at 19:02 UTC | Permalink | Comments (13)

Myanmar - The Junta Was Mostly Right

You will remember the 'outrage' in the media about Myanmar denying access by 'westerners' to the people hit by cyclone Nargis.

Today a U.S. government paid guy from RAND builds on that to attack China in the WaPo op-ed pages: China's Responsibility to Protect

The responsibility to protect is being tested today by the Myanmar military junta's refusal to allow massive aid to the victims of Cyclone Nargis, just as it has been tested by the Sudanese government's support for genocide against the people of Darfur.
...
Now the world is blocked by Myanmar's junta from getting aid to those caught in Nargis's path. The United States and its allies have little sway with the junta, except for force, which they seem disinclined to use. Once again, the country with the greatest leverage is China.
...
China obviously is big enough to be a world leader. But it is it principled enough? It is time -- high time -- for China to accept the code of conduct that befits a great power in an era of globalization. Nargis gives the Chinese a golden opportunity to do their fellow humans and themselves some good.

What this guy actually wants is China to join the U.S. in raping the rest of the world. (China will not do so.)

To that gain he is peddling false information about Myanmar, the help it did accept and the kind of additional economic help that is needed.

But, oh wonder, today we also get a mainstream media piece that actually reports the realities on the ground in Myanmar. It confirms to me that the junta was mostly right when it said that more 'western' helpers were unneeded.   

Now doctors and aid workers returning from remote areas of the delta are offering a less pessimistic picture of the human cost of the delay in reaching survivors.
...

They say they have seen no signs of starvation or widespread outbreaks of disease.
...
Most of the people killed by the cyclone, which struck on May 2-3, drowned. But those who survived were not likely to need urgent medical attention, doctors say.

“We saw very, very few serious injuries,” said Frank Smithuis, manager of the substantial mission of Doctors Without Borders in Myanmar. “You were dead or you were in O.K. shape.”
...
But relief workers say the debate over access for foreigners and the refusal of the government to allow in military helicopters and ships from the United States, France and Britain overshadowed a substantial relief operation carried out mainly by Burmese citizens and monks.

They organized convoys of trucks filled with drinking water, clothing, food and construction materials that poured into the delta.

“It’s been overwhelmingly impressive what local organizations, medical groups and some businessmen have done,” said Ruth Bradley Jones, second secretary in the British Embassy in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city. “They are the true heroes of the relief effort.”

That statement leaves out the Myanmar army which was also deployed and helped the people.

Anyway - we see that Myanmar was well able to handle the catastrophe and all the calls for intervention were the re-colonization efforts we suspected them to be.

---
Earlier MoA pieces on Myanmar:
Myanmar - Politics, Media Manipulation and Help, May 17, 2008
False Weather Warning by U.S. Military to Press Myanmar May 15, 2008
False Intervention, May 10, 2008
Myanmar Asks For Help May 6, 2008 by Debs is dead
Darfur, Myanmar and Masturbation October 9, 2007
Fatuity of Do-Gooders, September 30, 2007
Myanmar Protests September 26, 2007

Posted by b on June 18, 2008 at 11:26 UTC | Permalink | Comments (3)

June 17, 2008

Haji Habibullah Jan - Or Why 'The West' Will Lose in Afghanistan

An Afghan warlord and tribal chief welcomed the 'western' attack against Mullah Omar's Taliban. The Talibs were from a different power group than his own and he hoped to get a better deal with the new rulers.

But those 'westerners' put another rival group of his into power. Sure, they gave him a bit power too. He was elected into the parliament and the loot coming with that job made things better. But then the rival group in power screwed him. They used the 'westerners' to fight his interests with deadly consequences.

But he is a smart men and he fights back against these folks with sophisticated public relation. When that does not work, he shows off some of his real power.

The other side responds by again trying to use the 'westerners' to suppress him and his followers.

The outcome of this fight is uncertain. But it definitely shows one thing. Most 'westerners' have no real comprehension of what the conflict in Afghanistan is really about, what Taliban are and are not and why 'the west' will end up defeated in Afghanistan just like Alexander the Great, the British imperialist of the 19th century and the Sowiets.

Thus follows the story of Haji Habibullah Jan, the leader of the small but proud Pashtun Alizai tribe reconstructed from some deep Goggle dives.

It is longish, sorry for that, but it is also a mind opening look into a foreign culture even while based on 'western' news sources.

My search started with this story about the big Afghan jail break every major newssource recently covered. Those reports included this ridiculous line:

Lawmaker Habibullah Jan said some of the hunger strikers had been held without trial for more than two years. Others were given lengthy prison sentences after short trials.

Jan said 47 of the prisoners had stitched their mouths shut during the hunger strike in May.

The emphasised part is of course baloney. Pashtuns ain't fakirs. They do not stich their mouth shut. To reproduce that quote is pure Orientalism. But Habibullah Jan knew that the 'western' press would react to such a juicy quote. That is obviously the reason why he put it out.

Still I wondered who that loudmouth is and why he did this. Here is what I came up with.

The earliest story to find about Habibullah Jan is from April 2002. Under the headline Afghanistan looks to life without warlords we find an interview with, oh yeah, a warlord:

Habibullah Jan was 16 when he took up a gun in 1978 and joined the "holy war." His father, a tribal leader, had been imprisoned by the new communist regime. "He's still missing," Habibullah notes, for the record.

Today Haji Habibullah is a heavyset man, with soft black beard, who chain-smokes Marlboro Lights through thick fingers. He is, in effect, a brigade commander for Naqibullah, with more than 2,000 men in his charge. His entire adult life has been spent in fighting and exile, victory and defeat.

"We finally drove the Russians out and the communist government collapsed. But our bad luck was that the mujahedeen came into power. They can't sit down together," Habibullah said. "The second bit of bad luck was that the countries that supported us abandoned us."

Which country abandoned the resistance in Afghanistan after the Russians were defeated? Yes we know, the U.S did so. But Haji Habibullah Jan was ready to forget and to compromise:

Now that the Americans are back, Habibullah said, the "international community" must help finance and train a new national army to impose order on a disorderly map. "I hope that will mean the end of the warlords."

In 2004 some folks from Medicines Sans Frontieres asked for help from Habibullah:

In thirty minutes we arrived at our first destination, the compound of Commander Habibullah Jan in Senzari village. Habibullah Jan is security responsible for the area around the road leading to Helmand province west of Kandahar. His private army patrols the tracks and valleys of this region, often coming into conflict with destabilization forces. He was holding court in front of his compound with a group of elders as a smartly uniformed guard with a handlebar moustache waved us in.
...
He's an impressive man, strongly built and well dressed. He assured us there was no problem along the road to the camp and that he had many patrols in the surrounding area.

Haji Habibullah is also a smart man who has seen the world. He not only went to Mecca, but as part of an Afghan delegation which also included Hamid Karzai's brother Wali, visited Dubai and Japan in mid 2004.

The Washington Post spoke with Habibullah at a presidential election rally Hamid Karzai held in Kandahar in 2004.

The local military commander, who goes by the single name Habibullah, was busy preparing the rally and ticking off lists of tribes that had sent representatives. He said he had a good official relationship with the central government, but his Pashtun heart was clearly with Qanooni, the Tajik mujahid from Panjshir.

"When I was a boy, I carried a Kalashnikov on my shoulder. I do not want my children to carry a gun," he said, adding that he supported militia disarmament. But he complained that Karzai and many of his aides had lived in exile during the country's most bitter years and still keep foreign passports. "I am a citizen and I have the right to one vote," he said, "and it will not be for Karzai."

In 2005 Habibullah Jan was himself up for election as a candidate for a the Wolesi Jirga, the Afghan parliament. Unfortunately, as the Pakistani Dawn reported from Kandahar on September 5, 2005, that candidacy killed him:

Candidate Habibullah Jan was killed by the Taliban, provincial chief Abdul Rahman said.

“He was wounded by a mine planted outside his house and taken to hospital where he died,” he said.

Well, maybe not. On October 9, 2005 Haji Habibullah Jan got 5,928 votes and was thereby elected as member of the parliament. (Only 25% of the registered voters did actually bother to get a purple finger.)

Between 2005 and 2007 there is nothing I find about this Habibullah. Those years seem to have been relatively peaceful times.

But then stories including him again start to come up again. In September 2007 the Canadian Globe and Mail quotes him:

"The Taliban are much weaker than last year," said Habibullah Jan. "They can’t stay and fight if they’re confronted."

Habibullah the optimist who certainly does not like the Talibs. But soon thereafter trouble starts. Two Mullahs in Habibullah's district get killed by U.S. special forces.

Hundreds of enraged Afghans, some chanting "death to Canada," blocked a highway Wednesday following a raid by foreign troops that left two religious leaders dead.
...
Canadian military officials have denied involvement in the raids by both their own soldiers and NATO's.
...
"Their informers are giving them wrong information," one protester told CP, referring to the information that led to the raids. "It is disgusting."
...
Habibullah Jan, a lawmaker from Sanzari village, told the Associated Press that NATO forces were responsible for the deaths.

He warned that if international forces continued to target civilians, "people will take up arms against the government and NATO."

Besides killing two religious leaders the U.S. military also took some prisoners.

One Afghan man at the protest told CBC News that he had guests in his house when soldiers burst into the building. "The soldiers tied their hands and feet, covered their eyes and took them away," he said. Another witness said the raids were by American and Canadian soldiers, who took eight people and killed two.

It is a central issue in Pashtun tribal code to defend their guests.

Habibullah's son joined the protest:

Neither the Canadians nor other NATO soldiers were involved in the raids, a military spokeswoman said; the only other foreign troops operating in the area belong to U.S. Operation Enduring Freedom, a counterterrorism force.
...
The slain men belonged to the Alizai tribe, a group disenfranchised from the government, and their deaths happened in a Kandahar suburb known as Senjaray, south of Highway 1, a ramshackle warren of mud huts that is notorious for hiding Taliban. Insurgents were spotted among the protesters yesterday, and elders say it took some effort to dissuade the mob from marching into Kandahar city.
...
"This is the biggest protest we have had in years," said Hyat Ullah, 21, the son of local parliamentarian Habibullah Jan. "We ask the foreign forces to be very careful, to avoid getting into personal fights between people. These things make big problems."

(Sidenote:

Half of the U.S. military in Afghanistan is not under NATO command but is kind of freelancing. This is a ridiculous situation and a main cause for all the trouble in Afghanistan. Unity of command is a MUST in all military endevaours.)

Now things get a bit more complicate as we have to dive into Afghan tribal culture (scroll down).

The 13+ million Pashtun in Afghanistan have two branches, the Durrani and Ghilzai. There are Zirak Durrani and Panjpai Durrani. The Zirak Durrani are government aligned. One of the tribal group in these are Popalzai with their most prominent member being President Hamid Karzai and his brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai. Wali plays a major role in Kandahar as chairman of the provincial council.

After the Sowiets left Afghanistan, the Zirak Durrani dominated Kandahar. When the groups under Mullah Omar got into power, they disenfranchised the Zirak Durrani in favour of their own Ghilzai subgroup. Now the Zirak Durrani rule again and they disenfranchise all others.

One tribal group in the non-government aligned Panjpai Durrani are the Alizai.

AfghanProfile.net notes on the Alazai:

A bitter conflict between this tribe's leader in Kandahar, Habibullah Jan, and Ahmed Wali Karzai was a source of instability in the province until the two men reached a negotiated truce in recent weeks."

What was the reason for the bitter conflict? A fight about drug profits or some other loot? Did Wali Karzai, who has an MA from USC, send the Americans to kill the two Mullahs from Habibullah tribes?

We don't know. But something serious had happened and that 'negotiated truce' did not hold long.

A recent Times article about Wali Karzai's drug connections says:

At the end of last year, Habibullah Jan, a powerful tribal chief and member of parliament from Kandahar, became the first person to accuse Wali directly in parliament of involvement in the drugs trade.

That was a big embarrassment for the Karzai brothers as it made some international waves. There even seems to be some truthiness to it.

Another Kandahar MP made a similar allegation, but would speak only off the record.

A senior Afghan security official, who also asked not to be identified, claimed that Afghan officials had repeatedly complained about Wali to President Karzai. “The problem is that neither the Americans nor the Europeans are interested in doing anything about this,” he said.

Why are the 'westerners' not interested? They need both Karzais:

[Others] say that Wali brings co-operation and stability to the south, principally by maintaining the dominance and loyalty of President Karzai's tribe, the Popalzai.

Stability? Like more tribal feud? The Karzai brothers seem to have lost the senses to manage stuff on the ground.

Hamid Karzai last year selected the son of the deceased leader of the Alokazai tribe, which usually supports him, as the new chief of the tribe. That was a big mistake as the move was against the tribal rules where the elders decide about such, not the Afghan king and member of another tribe. Now the Alokazai are unruly and 'taliban' activity is up in their area.

So there are essentially feuds going on here. Habibullah never liked the Karzais anyway, but went along with the tide. Only after some U.S. forces, who support the Karzais rule in Kabul and Kandahar, raid his people, kill two of their religious leaders and take others as prisoner, he really  gets pissed. He starts to denounce Wali Karzai in parliament and makes this a major issue with the foreign press.

The next we hear of him is last month, when he visited unruly prisoners in Kandahar:

More than 200 Taliban suspects ended a weeklong hunger strike at a prison in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar after a parliamentary delegation promised their cases would be reviewed, a lawmaker said Monday.

Lawmaker Habibullah Jan said the three-member delegation received written demands from the prisoners and would pass them on to President Hamid Karzai's government in Kabul.

To get 'western' press attention a public relation experienced Habibullah came up with the colourful picture:

He said some of those on the hunger strike had been held without trial for over two years. Others were given lengthy prison sentences after short trials. Jan said 47 of the prisoners had stitched their mouths shut during the strike.

The inmates had been captured by Afghan, NATO and U.S.-led forces, who are battling a fierce Taliban-led insurgency in the south, Jan said.
...
The Kandahar prison is under the jurisdiction of Afghan authorities.

The Afghan authority in Kandahar is Ahmad Wali Karzai.

How many of Habibullah's tribesmen were in the prison he visited? How many had been labeled 'taliban' and incarcerated by his rival Wali Karzai and his U.S. forces?

The next thing we hear, only a few days after Habibullah pacified the prisoners (with what?), is the big prison break:

More than 1,100 inmates of a prison in southern Afghanistan, including militants, escaped after a Taliban suicide attack on the building, the NATO force in Afghanistan said Saturday.

After this PR disaster Hamid Karzai tried to divert criticism by threatening to attack Pakistan. That didn't help much.

But now, he lets us know, the area west of Kandahar, the main area of Habibullah Jan's Alazai tribe and some Alokazai, is suddenly in Taliban hands:

The Taliban have taken control of 18 villages west of the Argandab River and started digging trenches and mines, a tribal elder from the region said. NATO and Afghan forces moved troops in to the region and dropped leaflets from the air warning civilians to stay inside their homes if fighting erupted in their area.

Dropping leaflets in an area where most people are illiterate may not be good tactics. Anyway -  are those people really 'taliban' or is Karzai cooking up some atrocity to punish the rival tribe and its head, Haji Habibullah Jan?

The United States military said a patrol of Afghan police and American and allied forces conducted a five-hour patrol from daybreak on the west side of the Argandab River valley, where there have been reports of Taliban fighters. The patrol encountered no resistance, said Lt. Col. Rumi Nielson-Green, a United States military spokeswoman at Bagram air base north of Kabul.

Nothing but normal patterns of life were observed,” Colonel Rumi said. She could not confirm reports that the Taliban was destroying bridges.

Hmm - no Talibs observed even though some Karzai surrogat says they are there?

So far the story as I could reconstruct it. I am sure we will hear more from Habibullah. That could be in an obituary or in some other context.

One thing is for sure. This fight against 'Taliban' has little to do with a group of lunatics or revolutionaries. It has a lot to do with tribal feuds, disenfranchised groups and fighting over some loot poor people have lost or found.

The western forces may be knowledgeable in these structures and use them for their purpose. Then, of course, you might also believe that the U.S. military was the power behind the prison brake.

I do have some doubt over that though. Are the 'western forces' really smarter about Afghani society structures than Afghani academics? Are they smarter than Afghani warlords and tribal chiefs who have lived fighting and surviving for 30 plus years? Na.

From an remarkable 2008 survey and report by a Canadian reporter on the grounds in Kandahar:

In a sample of ordinary insurgents, 42 fighters in Kandahar province were asked by The Globe and Mail to identify their own tribe, and the results point to a divide within the Taliban ranks: Only five named themselves as members of the three major tribes most closely associated with the government, suggesting that tribal animosity has become a factor that drives the recruitment of insurgents.
...
"This government is a family business," said a prominent Afghan aid worker in Kandahar. "The other tribes get angry when a few tribes have all the power."

That is what it is about to Afghans. That is what 'taliban' are about.

Now please explain how the 'west' will win that war.

Posted by b on June 17, 2008 at 20:51 UTC | Permalink | Comments (18)

June 16, 2008

Oil Prices - Get Used To It.

The Saudis allegedly said they will produce more oil and promptly oil hits $140/barrel.

U.S. refiners don't want more Saudi Oil saying it is too pricy. If the journos were knowledgeable they would point out that U.S. refiners simply can not refine the sulphur heavy stuff the Saudis peddle as additional capacity.

This hapless UN idiot Ban Ki-moon was the one who brought the original message of increased Saudi oil production. Like usual, he has no idea of the real problems. He is now announcing even more of unusable Saudi spice. Is that in his job description?

Pat Lang thinks the Saudis are angry at the "west" and keep production down for that reason. Maybe that is part of the story, but I do not believe it is the main issue.

There is population growth on this planet - fed by and demanding oil.
There is too little additional supply possible for now to feed that demand.
There is too little refinery capacity to make use of marginal quality stuff.
There are too many conflicts in the producing areas to allow additional supply.
There is like always a lot of speculation that exacerbates price moves.

In short: Get used to it.

$250 a barrel by next June would be a slower increase in price than last years surge. 

That's a positive sign, isn't it?

Meanwhile many people will die because we covert food into gas.

Posted by b on June 16, 2008 at 19:11 UTC | Permalink | Comments (29)

The "generous offer" to Iran

Big powers to offer Iran "generous" deal in atom row

The EU's top diplomat said he would hand Iran a generous offer on Saturday aimed at resolving a deepening dispute over its nuclear ambitions that has helped push up oil prices to record highs.
...
"I am traveling to Tehran to present a generous and comprehensive offer," [European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana] said in a statement on Friday.

Thanks to the Tehran Times, we can now read the "generous" offer (slow link):

In order to seek a comprehensive, long-term and proper solution of the Iranian nuclear issue consistent with relevant UN Security Council resolutions and building further upon the proposal presented to Iran in June 2006, which remains on the table, the elements below are proposed as topics for negotiations between China, France, Germany, Iran, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, joined by the High Representative of the European Union, as long as Iran verifiably suspends its enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, pursuant to OP 15 and OP’ 19(a) of UNSCR 1803. In the perspective of such negotiations, we also expect Iran to heed the requirements of the IJNSC and the IAEA. For their part, China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union High Representative state their readiness:

  • to recognize Iran’s right to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes in conformity with its NPT obligations;
  • to treat Iran’s nuclear program in the same manner as that of any Non-nuclear Weapon State Party to the NPT once international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program is restored.

The "generous offer" is to recognize rights that Iran, as a member of the Non Proliferation Treaty, already has. As sweetener to the "generous offer" some fluffy material and immaterial promisses are added.

Some immaterial points are:

  • Support Iran in playing an important and constructive role in international affairs.
  • Promotion of dialogue and cooperation on non-proliferation, regional security and stabilization issues.

Ain't that "generous"?

The material points all have one common attribute. They do not include any prices:

  • Support for construction of LWR based on state-of-the-art technology.

Nice offer - but how much will those Light Water Reactors cost? That is of course still to be negotiated. The costs turn out to be prohibitive? Oh, too bad. But the offer to talk about them was really "generous".

This offer is exactly the same that was made two years ago. It is nothing but a public relation ploy to justify further sanctions, especially by the EU, against Teheran.

Solana will say: "See, we did give it a try." But that is incorrect. The offer contains nothing that is specific enough to be valuable. Most importantly it does not contain any security guarantees by the U.S.

Posted by b on June 16, 2008 at 5:17 UTC | Permalink | Comments (5)

June 15, 2008

al-Sadr's Recent Moves

Muqtada al'Sadr took several surprising step with interesting implications.

  1. His movement will not take part in the provincial elections, but will support 'independent' candidates.
  2. He shut down the general Sadr army and announced a special closed group that will as its sole task attack the occupation forces.
  3. He tasked his movement to take care of social issues and do welfare.

His official reasoning for the first point:

"We don't want anybody to blame us or consider us part of this government while it is allowing the country to be under occupation," said Liwa Smeisim, head of the Sadr movement's political committee.

That is certainly good marketing, but there are other reasons too. Maliki had threatened to forbid all parties that have a militia (and are not, like the Badr army, a government militia). As a Sadr party would likely win in the provinces in the south, Maliki would just as likely try everything to prevent that. The best way to avoid that threat is to support some surrogates that Maliki can not easily reject.

It is anyway unclear if the elections will be held this fall or next spring or whenever. It is also still open if there will be closed lists, i.e. only party votes are possible without knowing the candidates, or open lists where people can vote for actual candidates. The leader of the election commission, a Kurd, has his own agenda in the fight over that and clearly prefers closed lists and elections as late as possible. Al-Sadr is right to expect to get disenfranchised in the election no matter what he does. Now he avoids the fight over that while winning points with the nationalist public.

Number two is smart too.

Several top aides to Sadr said they would not be involved with the new group and said they knew nothing about it. Garawie said the members would have classified names and that some of their military activities might not be publicized.

The so far open Sadr army was neither well trained nor disciplined. But if Sadr, as one of his people says, really has some companies of trained fighters near the class of Hizbullah, these are best to operate from the underground and not wasted in open battles. To emphasize attacks only on occupation forces is another cookie point on the nationalist sheet.

The third point is what made his, and his dead father's, movement great in the first place. Sadr taking care of welfare delegitimizes the government which neither has the ability nor the will to take care of its people. It also allows him to nurture his base and to keep credibility in the eyes of the people.

The Maliki followers and the rightwing U.S. commentators will see this as a retreat of a beaten Sadr movement and a win for their side. I disagree with that view. This is a sidestep move that avoids useless open near-term conflict and will give gains in the long-term.

Posted by b on June 15, 2008 at 18:13 UTC | Permalink | Comments (6)

CIA, Khan and the Nuclear Weapon Designs

The task of this piece on the front page of today's Washington Post is to establish the believe that Iran has a nuclear weapon design.

An international smuggling ring that sold bomb-related parts to Libya, Iran and North Korea also managed to acquire blueprints for an advanced nuclear weapon, according to a draft report by a former top U.N. arms inspector that suggests the plans could have been shared secretly with any number of countries or rogue groups.

The drawings, discovered in 2006 on computers owned by Swiss businessmen, included essential details for building a compact nuclear device that could be fitted on a type of ballistic missile used by Iran and more than a dozen developing countries, the report states.

The Swiss 'businessmen', Friedrich Tinner and his two sons, are alleged to have sold several nuke related stuff to Lybia and other countries.

There is more to the Tinner story, but for now let me concentrate on the date. The WaPo says the laptop has been discovered in 2006. But Tinner was under CIA control at least since the 2003 bust of nuclear related stuff on board of the 'BBC China'.

The German magazine Der Spiegel had a big story about this in March 2006:

Two circumstances could prove to be Lerch's undoing: first, the fact that the German ship "BBC China" was intercepted in October 2003 carrying a cargo of containers filled with nuclear technology headed for Libya and, second, that the incident prompted a panicked Gadhafi to disclose the names of all those who had supplied the Libyans with material and expertise for their nuclear program.
...
The authorities caught up with Gotthard Lerch, who Tahir calls his "main contractor," in Switzerland. They also arrested members of the Tinner family -- Friedrich Tinner and his two sons, Urs and Marco -- all on the suspicion of having built parts for Gadhafi's nuclear weapons program in return for 15 to 20 million Swiss francs.

Tinner was flipped by the CIA at least since the 'BBC China' event but likely even earlier. Another man taking part in the alleged smuggling was also turned by the CIA or has worked for the CIA all along.

Indeed it somehow seems like everybody involved in the issue was somehow related to the CIA.

The usual story is that the Pakistani scientist A.Q. Kahn was the one who ran a smuggling network. That may not be true at all. Khan denies having been involved in such. A new book asserts that it was then Prime Minister of Pakistan Bhutto who personally gave Pakistani nuclear secrets to North Korea in exchange for North Korean No Dong missiles for the Pakistani army.

A Dutch court somehow 'lost' legal files about the Khan case and the CIA likely had a hand in this too. The CIA also successfully pressed (link in German) the Swiss government to destroy information it had about the Tinner case. Tinner will thereby never be convicted.

Now please explain to me how people arrested in 2003 and flipped by the CIA at least since then managed to keep nuclear plans on a laptop that were somehow found only in 2006?

This whole story stinks from A to Z and no one should assume that anything put out about the issue by David Albright and WaPo is somewhat the truth. The whole 'Khan network' stuff, including some of the reports about it, are part of an intelligence operation.

Indeed as Der Spiegel wrote:

It is becoming increasingly clear that the CIA and Britain's MI6 infiltrated the Khan network and that they probably even recruited some of the main suspects. How else, for example, could one explain the fact that vacuum pumps manufactured by Germany's Pfeiffer Vacuum, ended up in both Libya and Iran? The company, after all, never sent any vacuum pumps to Libya or Iran -- but did send some to the US nuclear weapons research facility in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

Also why would Khan peddle German vacuum pumps to other countries when his peronal company's main export product were vacuum pumps made in Pakistan?

By now I come to believe that the 'Khan network', if it ever existed as such at all, was throroughly penetrated as early as 1990. Iran may or may not have the design for a warhead. But if such design plans came through the 'Khan network', i.e. Tenner and others, they are likely to have U.S. fingerprints all over them.

Posted by b on June 15, 2008 at 13:44 UTC | Permalink | Comments (11)

June 13, 2008

Liberty vs. Secruity - Dimensions Vary

Picking up from Tangerine's comment:

In the Supreme Court decision on Boumediene vs. Bush (pdf, 134 pages) the majority opines (page 78):

The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times. Liberty and security can be reconciled; and in our system they are reconciled within the framework of the law.

Tangerine mocks the words I highlighted:

The opposition between liberty and security is in any case a false one and rests on the presuppositiion that being submissive to jackboots is for one’s own (the nation's!) good. The law can either accept this nonsense, or refute it. Here it is openly accepted


Well - no. There is opposition between liberty and security. It is not "in any case a false one".

Do I have the liberty to spend all money I earn now, or some guarantees of a social security program that will repay in my old age?

Do I have the liberty to drive as fast as possible wherever I am, or some security to cross the road unharmed that comes with speed limits in midtown?

It is not deniable that, in a general sense, there is usually some payoff between liberty and security and I believe that Scotus, in the closing words of a long important opinion, is refering to that general sense.

The whole war-of-terror scheme is not a liberty vs. security question with the law being the judge. It rests on a different goal. It emphasises insecurity, makes up threats to security, to justify taking away of liberties and security.

Usually the liberty vs. security balance is seen along a line of positive choices.

To the left-top is security and to the right bottom is liberty. A social group entity, a free nation, can find its balance position somewhere along the green line and put that into law. You can gain a bit of liberty by giving up a bit of security.

But the 'new reality' the Bush/Cheney neocons introduced is different. They widened the 'playing field'. The real intent is now neither security nor liberty determined in some democratic balance but control - along the way of the black arrow. This is a new dimension they introduced and we have to consider. They have moved the realm of public discussion.

The II quadrant at the upper right with the green line is the one we are supposed to live in. Quadrant I is a benevolent dictatorship - lots of security but little liberty. Quadrant III is a revolutionary anarchy - lots of liberties, but anyone may shoot you right now, IV is pure fascism.

There you may choose between keeping your mouth totally shut and still be on the no fly list, or to argue pure scientific facts, i.e. be neutral in liberty, and still getting fired or jailed for daring to do so.

Bush/Cheney have moved the U.S. discussion space from the green line towards the brown line. There are still choices, positions along that brown line, but the line has moved.

The Scotus decision is trying to pull the nation back from the brown line to the green one. Liberty and security can be reconciled if the line is in the right quadrant.

Discuss.

Posted by b on June 13, 2008 at 20:11 UTC | Permalink | Comments (21)

A Thanks to the Irish

Unlike Debs is dead predicted the Irish today voted against the European Lisbon treaties. Thanks folks!

Wikipedia has a bit on the history of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, shorter, the constitution.

The central point of the issue is a reform of the decision making process within the European Union. Today every head of state within the EU can block EU decisions. While I believe this to be a good solution, others believe that this hinders progress. (Haven't we progressed under the old rules too?)

But the constitution also did many other things. It was not a simple understandable paper of principles and rules, but a 500 page mashup that touched on every issue and speciality one can think of. That, in my view, was the real mistake the people who thought it up have made.

To stand behind it people have to understand and to accept a constitution. Having a bit of education on constitutional law, I read the proposed one, tried to understand it and failed. But maybe I am the dumbest person in Europe.

The constitution was rejected by voters in the Netherlands and in France. Voters in other countries were not asked, but their parliaments voted on it.

The politicians then found a way to circumvent the will of the people. They split the proposed constitution into two papers, the 'Lisbon treaties' and pushed these through their parliaments. Only Ireland allowed its people a direct vote on the issue.

Thankfully the Irish rejected it.

Now the trickery will start anew. Some politicians already speak of giving Ireland a 'special status' and keep the treaties for the rest of the EU.

A better solution would be to stop this project for now and start anew:

  • Define the fields a constitution will touch on, like how a European government is elected, how the European court is seated, the rights of the European parliament.
  • Develop alternative solutions for each field.
  • Let all people in the EU vote for the alternatives they like best.
  • Put the selected alternatives together into one constitution.
  • Let everybody vote on this final paper.

Posted by b on June 13, 2008 at 14:06 UTC | Permalink | Comments (21)

June 12, 2008

Scalia et al: We Fear Because Bush Told Us To Fear

Circular reasoning:

Definition:
Supporting a premise with the premise rather than a conclusion.

Example:
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES - Nos. 06–1195 and 06–1196

JUSTICE SCALIA, with whom THE CHIEF JUSTICE, JUSTICE THOMAS, and JUSTICE ALITO join, dissenting (pdf, page 110ff):

America is at war with radical Islamists. The enemy began by killing Americans and American allies abroad: ..
...
It has threatened further attacks against our homeland; one need only walk about buttressed and barricaded Washington, or board a plane anywhere in the country, to know that the threat is a serious one.

Shorter example:
Because the President says we have to fear, we do fear.

---
Why are such idiots allowed to judge?

Posted by b on June 12, 2008 at 18:58 UTC | Permalink | Comments (16)

A Good Reason to Vote

Good news with an ugly headline:

High Court sides with Guantanamo detainees again

This has nothing to do with taking sides. What the headline should have said is:

Supreme Court upholds rule of law

or

Supreme Court upholds constitution

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that foreign terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay have rights under the Constitution to challenge their detention in U.S. civilian courts.

In its third rebuke of the Bush administration's treatment of prisoners, the court ruled 5-4 that the government is violating the rights of prisoners being held indefinitely and without charges at the U.S. naval base in Cuba. The court's liberal justices were in the majority.
...
The court said not only that the detainees have rights under the Constitution, but that the system the administration has put in place to classify them as enemy combatants and review those decisions is inadequate.

This is the reason why the U.S. elections are so important. I do not really like Obama's policy proposals. But the danger of another wingnut judge replacing one of the moderate 'liberals' is just too big. This is the good reason to urge anyone who can to vote for him.

Posted by b on June 12, 2008 at 15:59 UTC | Permalink | Comments (1)

This Propaganda Video Proves Nothing

The US-led coalition in Afghanistan on Thursday deflected accusations that it killed 11 Pakistani soldiers in an air strike, releasing video footage which it says shows its forces targeting insurgents.

"Deflect accusations ..." Hmmm - AFP describes the video:

The video footage, taken by an unmanned drone, shows a first strike targeted at men hiding behind a rock, and three subsequent attacks on men seeking cover in a ravine.

"It is clear there are no structures or (Pakistani) outposts in the impact area," a voice says off-camera.

The video shows a total of four strikes. Now what is that supposed to deflect?

As WaPo reports the strikes:

U.S.-led forces dropped more than a dozen bombs in and near Pakistan's tribal regions Wednesday ..
...
According to the U.S. military, two Air Force F-15E jets and a B-1B Lancer bomber then dropped the bombs, which included both precision-guided and unguided munitions and which weighed between 500 and 2,000 pounds. The bombs were used "to destroy anti-coalition members in the open and in buildings in the vicinity of Asadabad," Afghanistan, according to a statement released by the U.S. military's Combined Air and Space Operations Center for Southwest Asia.
...
"This a complex attack involving . . . an airstrike and artillery and a number of forces . . . along a border that has traditionally been a problem and is often the cause of some confusion as to who the forces are that are involved," [Pentagon press secretary] Morrell said.

The video shows four precious strikes involving no structures.

But the military also used artillery and it dropped more than 12 bombs, guided and unguided once, including some hitting buildings. So what is this video supposed to prove?

Nothing!

But the media nevertheless will use it to explain how innocent the military is in this. They also will be outraged when the Pashtun and Pakistani will eventually hit back.

Posted by b on June 12, 2008 at 13:20 UTC | Permalink | Comments (5)

June 11, 2008

OT 08-22

News & views ...

We welcome your comments.

Posted by b on June 11, 2008 at 18:06 UTC | Permalink | Comments (119)

The Dollar Abuse Leads To A Multipolar World

Since World War II the U.S. has abused the status of the dollar as the world currency to live beyond its means. It has forced others to finance its wars by exporting inflation. This was done after the Vietnam war and today the U.S. is trying to do it again and to let the world pay for its War on Iraq.

As a defensive measure against abuses like after Vietnam european countries established their common currency. Today, as the U.S. tries to repeat its old trick, the defense gets tested and it seems to be working fine.

After World War II and the decline of the British Empire the U.S. became the leading economic power of the world. The Bretton Woods agreement fixed world currencies to the U.S. dollar and the U.S. dollar to gold. But soon the U.S. economy declined relatively to the western European and the Japanese economies.

President Johnson decided not to increase taxes to pay for the Vietnam War and his Great Society program. Instead the Fed printed more dollars. The war led to an outflow of these dollars, high inflation and a deterioration of the U.S. balance of trade position. The peg of the dollar to gold at $35/once became untenable.

In 1971 Nixon broke the Bretton Woods agreement and took the dollar off the gold standard. The important international currencies went into free float and the dollar declined. The OPEC oil cartel, which sold its product in dollars, replied to this loss of revenue with hefty price increases. This 'oil shock' increased the already rampant inflation while the U.S. went into a recession.  Despite the high inflation the Fed reduced interest rates to revive the U.S. economy.

European and the Japanese economies depended on exports into a dollar denominated world market. With their currencies rising against the dollar their export products became more expensive. At the same time the higher inflation due to oil prices demanded an interest rate increase.

But with interest rates lower in the U.S. than in most European countries money flowed into their currencies and the dollar threatened to decline further. Their export economies were in danger of collapse. They had to follow the Fed and also decrease their interest rates. As a consequence stagflation set in on both sides of the Atlantic.

As an answer to this effective export of U.S. stagflation to their economies the European Community decided in 1975 to launch the European Currency Unit ECU. This was the birth of the Euro.

Paul Volker's harsh interest increases, lower demand for oil and increased supply of OPEC independent energy sources killed off inflation (and cost Carter a second term). Reagan's debt financed tax stimulus revived the U.S. economy.

President Bush decided not to increase taxes to pay for the War on Iraq and his other programs. Instead the Fed printed more dollars. The war led to an outflow of these dollars, high inflation and a deterioration of the U.S. balance of trade position.

The important international currencies were in free float and the dollar declined. The OPEC oil cartel, which sells its product in dollars, replied to this loss of revenue with hefty price increases. The 'oil shock' increased the already rampant inflation while the U.S. went into a recession. Despite the inflation the Fed reduced interest rates to revive the U.S. economy.

But one thing has changed between the 1970s and 2000: There is now an alternative to the dollar as world exchange medium.

Most of Europeans exports are no longer denominated in U.S. dollar but in euros. Many countries have diversified their reserves away from the dollar and into euros and yen. The dependence of world trade on the U.S. dollar has declined. At the same time U.S. dependency on imports has increased.

While the U.S. in the 1970s could effordless export its inflation and recession to Europe and Japan it is now meeting hard resistance.

Bernanke would like to lower interest rates further to get the U.S. out of the recession and to inflate away the nation's debt. But he can not do so because this time the Europeans will not follow him but will increase their interest rates and fight inflation.

As Wolfgang Münchau explained in the Financial Times:

By moving in the opposite direction from the Fed, the ECB is providing a much more appropriate domestic policy response than what would have been possible under a national currency regime. The ability to do this constitutes quite possibly one of the biggest economic benefits of the euro.   It has not only domestic but global implications. In particular, it limits the Fed’s own room for manoeuvre, something that would have been unthinkable only a few years ago. If the Europeans had followed the Americans again, the Fed would probably have been in a position to cut interest rates further. The dollar would not have fallen as much and Ben Bernanke, Fed chairman, would not have needed to revert to verbal intervention to prop up the dollar as he did last week. This suggests that in terms of global monetary policy, we are in the middle of a shift from a unipolar to a bipolar world.
...
As US inflation rises, more and more countries may unpeg from the dollar to avoid imported inflation. If this trend persisted, the US would risk losing its exorbitant privilege – the ability to live beyond its means thanks to a globally domineering currency.

The leading country of the world can not lead anymore. We may now also see the end of the Anglo-Saxon financial model:

Continental Europe should take the lead in devising new rules for financial markets because the Anglo-Saxon model of regulation has failed, Angela Merkel has told the Financial Times.
...
The chancellor praised the euro as having allowed the economy of the EU to partially decouple from the US, at least in the industrial goods area if not in financial markets, and reaffirmed her support for the independence of the European Central Bank.

The euro-countries are now able to withstand U.S. inflation export. But the devaluation of the dollar still exports U.S. inflation to those economies that are still pegged to the dollar. As less they are pegged and more independent they are from the dollar, the better is their control over imported inflation.

The Gulf States, pegged to the U.S. dollar, now all have between 15 and 25% inflation. China is using drastic measures, increasing mandatory bank reserves to 17.5%, to reign in double digit inflation. Smaller currencies with a dollar peg like the Ukraine's hryvnia are inflating at a 30% rate.

The U.S. is making these countries pay for its war on Iraq by exporting inflation to them. The euro model shows that alternatives are possible.

This success of the euro will reinforce the moves towards currency unions in Asia, South America and the Gulf region. The ASEAN+3 group is developing an Asian Currency Unit which replicates the ECU model. The Gulf countries are in talks of launching a common currency of their own by 2010. The Bank of the South is working on a similar model for Latin America.

The future world will be multipolar with five to six currency blocks which will have about equal weight. When those currency blocks are established, the U.S. dollar will have lost its special position. With that the U.S. will have lost its special place in the world and the luxury to let others pay for its wars and consumption.

Posted by b on June 11, 2008 at 17:48 UTC | Permalink | Comments (12)

Silly Season and Other News

Some issues in today's news. Obviously the silly season has started.

In today's most degenerated op-eds the flatman muses about Arab reactions to Obama's "Muslim heritage" and Maureen Dowd warns of attacks on Obama's wife from the right while helpfully listing all attack lines, including the debunked "whitey" quote, and the links to the relevant hate sites.

Some excellent reviews, one even by Putin, the President of Germany, of the Father's Day McCain Golf Pack the McCain's campaign is selling for some cheap fifty bucks.

How do gag orders work in the U.S.?

A BBC investigation estimates that around $23bn (£11.75bn) may have been lost, stolen or just not properly accounted for in Iraq.
...
A US gagging order is preventing discussion of the allegations.

The order applies to 70 court cases against some of the top US companies.

The head of Gazprom, the Russian energy giant, says the price of oil will double "in the foreseeable future."

The IDF kills a 9 year old Palestinian girl and several "gunmen" and U.S. troops off four Afghan civilians, including a boy and two women.

Kucinich reads impeachment articles into the congressional record. A stunt which will of course lead nowhere. But let me ask Mr. Kucinich: What is in your 35 articles that has not be known for years? Why then are you doing this only now as time is too short for impeachment proceedings?

Posted by b on June 11, 2008 at 9:52 UTC | Permalink | Comments (31)

June 10, 2008

Dollar Peg Good, Dollar Peg Bad

Why are Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries urged to keep their currencies pegged to the U.S. dollar while China is chided for being too slow in abandoning their managed peg?

In early June Secretary of the Treasury Paulson visited several Gulf countries:

U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Saudi Arabian Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf agreed that the Gulf kingdom benefits from keeping its currency pegged to the dollar.

The riyal's peg "has served this country and the region well," Paulson said today at a joint press conference in Jeddah. "I totally agree with Secretary Paulson," al-Assaf said. "As we have said many times, we have no intention of de- pegging or of revaluation."

Paulson is getting an update on the fixed exchange rates retained by most oil-rich nations in the Middle East on his four-day trip to the region.
...
Any change to currency regimes in the region "is a sovereign decision," Paulson said.

But just a few days later Paulson says this:

Despite rising nearly 20 pct against the dollar in the last 3 years, China's yuan needs to appreciate even more -- and even more quickly -- if China is going to successfully deal with its growing economic imbalances, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said Tuesday.

So the Gulf shall stick to it the dollar and China shall not. Does this make any sense?

It can not be the trade deficit that is Paulson's problem here. That again increased last month against both, the Gulf states and China.

Both, the Gulf countries and China, have exactly the same monetary characteristic versus the U.S.

They export their goods to the U.S. and recycle the dollars they get by buying treasuries and other U.S. assets. In both cases it is a vendor financed deal that will stop when the vendor owns all the assets the buyer has. The U.S. people put themselves up for a garage sale.

The Gulf and China both have trouble with this as the scheme increases local inflation into the 10-20% range. Wal Mart pays a Chinese company in dollars. The company goes to Chinas central bank and exchanges the dollars for freshly created yuans to pay its workers. The increased yuan money supply heats Chinese local inflation. The same mechanism applies in the Gulf countries.

So why does Paulson think that a peg is good for the Gulf and bad for China?

Posted by b on June 10, 2008 at 18:27 UTC | Permalink | Comments (10)

Diplomacy, lack of

diplomacy

1 : the art and practice of conducting negotiations between nations
2 : skill in handling affairs without arousing hostility : tact

diplomacy, lack of

"We hope that Koreans will begin to learn more about the science and about the facts of American beef and that this issue can be addressed constructively," [U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Alexander] Vershbow said.

Posted by b on June 10, 2008 at 14:54 UTC | Permalink | Comments (4)

Treaty of Lisbon - The Absentee Landlords Return

by Debs is dead
excerpted from
a comment

The Treaty of Lisbon seems to be a naked grab for power by the already meglomaniacal european pols and technocrats who figure pushing this through in europe will be easy after a win in Ireland which is claimed to be the EU's greatest success story.

A rags to riches tale of neo-liberal alliances with corrupt pols exploiting a too trusting public who imagined that 'the boys' (their elected representatives) were still looking out for them while they had a couple of 'small drinks' on the side.

Those Irish pols must be desperate to remove a chunk of political power from the electorate before the shit hits the fan. That is before much of Ireland's new found wealth disappears down the gurgler, leaving the Irish people searching for culprits. The disadvantages of trans-national financial entanglements become revealed when the reality of being in hock to a plethora of foreign financiers takes shape.

If much of Ireland's power has been handballed to 'europe' then the local pols can blame them and say they would love to help but 'you people' went and voted our ability to do much across to Brussels.

In the meantime as Harry Browne explains the threat of economic doom and gloom arising from the 'no' vote getting up, is being used by these same pols to bludgeon the electorate into voting 'yes'.

As a fatalistic Celt myself, I can't but feel that the worst of both worlds will come to pass. That is the yes vote will win by a narrow margin and then Ireland's miracle will fade away completely to become another story to be passed on to future generations like all the other 'when we were once great' tales which sustain the ethos of being Irish no matter how many generations ago it was anyone from yer family set foot in the place.

Leaving the Irish as powerless to deal with the underlying issues which oppress their population as they were before they kicked out the english. Imperialism has a different face is all.

As a globalist at heart, but before anyone reels back in horror I should say I prefer the Internationalist label. Like the Wobblies of old, I have always believed the breaking down of national borders is a vital step towards global peace.

Of course at the same time as that happens major decison-making powers have to be brought down to community level so that individual communities can make the laws fit their needs.
The globalism practised by neo-libs is the reverse of that, borders are maintained while real political power is moved further and further away from the people and consolidated in the hands of distant elites. The absentee landlords return.

It is going to take a lot of blood split to get back those powers which were given away with a tick on a ballot paper. I used to think that would take a couple of generations to develop, but the beneficiaries of this consolidation of power have been too greedy, too fast.

The uprising around our planet as ordinary people express their anger at the 300% increase in basic food prices in 12 months may provide an opportunity to reverse this power shift before the elites have time to consolidate their new armies, or rather the militarised police forces who unlike traditional police are recruited because they have no ties to the communities they are to police.

Who needs criminal informants when you have CCTV on every lamp post and unlimited powers to intercept private communications? This is particularly true in Europe where the GWOT has provided the leadership with the perfect excuse to militarise what was meant to be a peaceful trading co-operative.

Posted by b on June 10, 2008 at 11:46 UTC | Permalink | Comments (6)

June 09, 2008

The Deep State Is Back in Action

Several Turkish prime ministers tried to eliminate the Deep State. An informal, hard right-wing, secularist group composed of military and intelligence officers, judges, corporatists and organized crime groups.

The Deep State was part of NATO's Operation Gladio during the cold war and, applying a strategy of tension, was responsible for the killing of several thousand people. Several military coups de état were done under its directions.

It is back in action:

An entity established by a former military general has been working to influence the political and social atmosphere in Turkey, the Taraf daily reported in its weekend editions.

Called the Republican Work Group (CÇG), the organization is similar to the Western Work Group, which was known to be active in most of the events that led up to the unarmed military intervention of Feb. 28, 1997 that overthrew the government.

The Deep State, of which the CÇG is the silent lobbying part, is alleged to have prepared another coup in 2004 when the AK Party won local elections. But the plotters were not put on trial. Instead the editor of the magazine that published proof in form of a diary of one of the plotting generals was investigated and the magazine temporarily shut down.

The reappearance of the group points to new activities and is seen as the direct threat to the government.

The mildly Islamic AKP of Prime Minister Erdogan is already in trouble. It passed a constitutional amendment to allow for headscarves to be worn in universities. The Turkish Constitutional Court, in a 9 to 2 vote, declared the amendment unconstitutional and a "threat" to the country's secular order.

With this vote the court put itself firmly into the Deep State camp of the conflict and against the popular government. Additionally public prosecutors are trying to ban the AKP.

The party won 48% of the popular vote in the last election and it is ruling quite successfully. It is now considering another snap election to confirm that it has the support of the people.

While the Deep State is secular and nominally liberal, it is also rightwing and anti-democratic. Internationally it has support from the neocon AEI and Israel. AEI's Michael Rubin a few day's ago called Erdogan Turkey's Putin and demanded his prosecution. 

A coup against Erdogan, with guns or by partisan judges, would likely lead to a radicalisation of the followers of his party.

That again would heat up the cauldron in the Middle East by several hundred degrees.

Posted by b on June 9, 2008 at 16:39 UTC | Permalink | Comments (6)