Monday, March 28, 2011

More WikiLeaks selective releases of cables endanger other governments...

March , 2011 -- More WikiLeaks selective releases of cables endanger other governments...

We are following up on our March 24-25 report on how the selective release of US State Department cables from the US embassy in Jakarta was being used to damage President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of majority Muslim Indonesia and even incite a revolution against him....

Assange said to be working for Mossad and CIA interests....

In what appears to be a concerted effort to create more political havoc in Muslim nations, we have now learned that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange passed cables sent by the then U.S. ambassador to Turkey, Eric Edelman, a notorious neocon and Israel supporter, to the Turkish newspaper Taraf in order to damage the election chances of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party. The leaked cables were then translated into Turkish and published by the newspaper. The cables mainly consisted of criticisms of the AK Party and Erdogan by Edelman, particularly of the AK Party's more independent foreign policy on the Middle East...

We have learned from knowledgeable Turkish sources that Turkish intelligence suspects that Assange has been working for some time for Israel's Mossad and the CIA in using selectively-leaked classified State Department cables, most of which contain information gleaned from diplomatic cocktail receptions and translations of local newspapers, to bring about rebellions against leaders of Muslim and Arab nations...

The WikiLeaks cable release operation, from the outset, targeted the government of a number of countries, but not Israel...

Interference in Turkish domestic politics by the United States and Israel has prompted severe criticism from a number of Turkish leaders. At a Turkish-American Friendship dinner held in midtown Manhattan on March 24, Mehmet Ali Sahin, speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, said that a year ago, in March 2010, "groups in the U.S. were working against Turkey." Sahin was referring to the Israeli attack on the Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara, which was transporting aid to Gaza and was attacked by Israeli military forces in international waters. A Turkish-American citizen, Furkan Dogan, was killed in the attack. Neither President Obama or Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ever called Dogan's family and offered condolences... The Israel Lobby, among the "groups" to whom Sahin was obviously referring, launched a vicious propaganda campaign against the organizers of the Gaza aid fleet -- largely through the auspices of the Israeli-influenced corporate media...

Sahin stated that "no country has the right to impose its policies on other countries," a remark that may also echo Turkey's thoughts on the current Western military attacks on Libya....
Anonymous has another stark warning for the world's elites: it is currently conducting data matching and fusion of information contained in the State Department cables and banking data and hacked email it has obtained from around the world... The picture that Anonymous is painting is one of the State Department being part and parcel of a global "pay-to-play" operation for foreign and U.S. defense contracts and the siphoning of kickbacks by world leaders to numbered bank accounts in Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, Liechtenstein, and elsewhere. From the information gleaned from multiple sources by Anonymous, it is clear that the CIA facilitates America's "pay-to-play" system of corruption and contract fraud...

The video below has singled out one-time George W. Bush political counselor Rove for special attention... Anonymous has discovered that Rove has traveled the world cutting deals between foreign governments and U.S. defense firms, including those involving Europe's EADS and the controversial US Air Force refueling tanker contract, as well as Swedish Saab fighter contracts with other nations. Rove's deals also involved Swedish firms, including those owned by the Wallenbergs, receiving U.S. defense contracts, including radar system deals, in return for the rendition of individuals in Sweden to Egypt and Syria for torture by an joint Egyptian-CIA apparatus headed up by Egypt's new vice president and former Mukhabarat intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, who is also known as "Sheik Al Torture." and with Asef Shawkat in Syria's MI who is one of the Chief Liaison with US intelligence .

The global payola scam also involved top French government officials who benefited from sweetheart rendition and defense contract deals with Tunisia and Egypt. French Prime Minister Francois Fillon apparently took more than a free vacation to Egypt from the Mubarak government. French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie, a former French defense minister, also received more than just a free Christmas vacation, along with her Cabinet minister husband, from Tunisia's dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali before he was ousted in a popular revolt. What Anonymous has discovered is a global pattern of such kickbacks in return for lucrative contracts and the world's elites growing wealthier as a result. The graft and corruption globally is sweeping, with details of pay-offs to then-Prime Minister Tony Blair and his ministers by BP in return for releasing accused Lockerbie bomber
Abdelbaset al-Megrahi from a Scottish prison to Libya in return for lucrative Libyan oil concessions and a defense contract with Sri Lanka during the Bush administration that permitted that nation's government to commit a genocidal campaign against ethnic Tamils being just the tip of the iceberg...

State Department cables previously leaked and those that have to be revealed show that U.S. diplomats are the prime facilitators of U.S. graft and corruption, with member companies of the US Chamber of Commerce and top Pentagon contractors reaping a financial whirlwind as a result.

Anonymous plans to release 40 more videos outlining the connections between U.S. political leaders and top-level bribery and kickbacks, including a deal worked out by then-President George W. Bush between Saudi Arabia and Boeing that saw Boeing receive a major Saudi Air Force contract in return for the King of Saudi Arabia receiving a plane similar to the Boeing 747 used as Air Force One. In the deal, Bush pocketed a "handling fee" that ended up in a Bush numbered account from a Saudi numbered account in an off-shore bank. And the trove of fused data from the cables and financial and email data show that Bush and Rove are not alone in receiving payola from his fronting for U.S. firms: the recipients of bribes and kickbacks include Hillary and Bill Clinton, Dick Cheney, Vice President Joe Biden, and President Obama. Anonymous has uncovered details of Obama personally lobbying overseas for Boeing, with the now "accepted" practice of kickbacks ending up in the president's off-shore accounts. Boeing is headquartered in Obama's hometown of Chicago. And when it comes to this level of corruption, America can always count on its political police force, the FBI, to protect the criminals and attack the sources of the information, as the G-men are now doing to Anonymous....
Access to the cables did not come from hacking into the network but from individuals who had legitimate access and clearances. It was Anonymous that provided the cables to Wikileaks. And Anonymous is planning on conducting leaks of more enhanced information, the combination of cable information with financial banking information to expose leaders around the world as corrupt. Anonymous did not give Wikileaks the "entire store." In addition to the Secret cable traffic from SIPRNet, Anonymous claims to have cables with classifications higher than Secret, traffic that sheds more light on the overriding role that "neocons and Zionists" play in shaping American foreign policy...

Anonymous apparently includes members inside the U.S. government who have access to classified information and who are determined to break America's chains to Israel by exposing more classified information. The original access to classified networks by Anonymous members came as a result of the government hiring consultants to examine the possible penetration of classified Pentagon networks by foreign intelligence agencies. In fact, the actual source of the State Department cables seen as most damaging to the interests of the neocons and Zionists is described to us as "an anti-Zionist/neocon faction" operating inside the U.S. government. Wikileaks and Assange, on the other hand, have done their best to suppress the cables seen as most damaging to neocon and Israeli interests...

It is the penetration of the State Department's communications networks by Anonymnous that prompted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to call all of America's ambassadors, consuls general, and special envoys to Washington for an unprecedented diplomatic "all hands" meeting. We have learned that Clinton briefed the envoys on the State Department's security problems and that information sent over channels through to be safe was no longer guaranteed security. Other means of communicating sensitive information from overseas posts to Washington were apparently discussed. In addition, the fallout from bigger and more damaging leaks of classified cables matched with off-shore banking information and emails was also discussed with the envoys. The fallout includes the spread of Tunisia- and Egypt-style popular revolts around the world and the need by the diplomats to be prepared for a surge in anti-American attitudes globally...

The word on the street is that the world's "military-industrial-political" complex is worried about further releases of sensitive information and is bracing itself for a global rebellion when the true nature of the world's elites is revealed around the world. Anonymous has an ultimate target based on what it has managed to obtain from computers and networks around the world: the Council on Foreign Relations and the Rockefeller family. It is now obvious why Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) wants an Internet "kill switch" to be thrown by the president of the United States. Their futures depend on it...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

“Al-CIAda” Creates “Cosmo” Magazine?–Seriously, You Guys Are Freakin’ Morons...

“Al-CIAda” Creates “Cosmo” Magazine?–Seriously, You Guys Are Freakin’ Morons...


The cover of Al-Shamikha magazineThe cover of Al-Shamikha magazine

Al-Qaeda has launched a women’s magazine that mixes beauty and fashion tips with advice on suicide bombings.

Dubbed ‘Jihad Cosmo’, the glossy magazine’s front cover features the barrel of a sub-machine gun next to a picture a woman in a veil.

There are exclusive interviews with martyrs’ wives, who praise their husbands’ decisions to die in suicide attacks.

The slick, 31-page Al-Shamikha magazine – meaning The Majestic Woman – has advice for singletons on ‘marrying a mujahideen’.

Readers are told it is their duty to raise children to be mujahideen ready for jihad.

And the ‘beauty column’ instructs women to stay indoors with their faces covered to keep a ‘clear complexion’.

They should ‘not go out except when necessary’ and wear a niqab for ‘rewards by complying with the command of Allah Almighty’.

A woman called Umm Muhanad hails her husband for his bravery after his suicide bombing in Afghanistan.

And another article urges readers to give their lives for the Islamist cause.

It advises: ‘From martyrdom, the believer will gain security, safety and happiness.’

More traditional content for a women’s magazine includes features on the merits of honey facemasks, etiquette, first aid and why readers should avoid ‘towelling too forcibly’.

A trailer for the next issue promises tips on skin care – and how to wage electronic jihad.

The magazine includes exclusive interviews with the wives of martyrs, who praise their husband's suicide missions. A beauty column instructs women to keep their faces covered and stay indoors The magazine includes exclusive interviews with the wives of martyrs, who praise their husband’s suicide missions. A beauty column instructs women to keep their faces covered and stay indoors....

The first issue’s editorial explains that the magazine’s goal is to educate women and involve them in the war against the enemies of Islam.

It says: Because women constitute half of the population – and one might even say that they are the population since they give birth to the next generation – the enemies of Islam are bent on preventing the Muslim woman from knowing the truth about her religion and her role, since they know all too well what would happen if women entered the field of jihad.

‘The nation of Islam needs women who know the truth about their religion and about the battle and its dimensions and know what is expected of them.’

The publication is being distributed online by the same Al-Qaeda media wing behind Inspire, a similarly slick magazine that encourages young Muslims in the West to commit terrorist atrocities.

James Brandon at anti-extremism think tank Quilliam, said: ‘Al-Qaeda see how effective magazines are at pushing the ideals of western culture and want to try the same thing.

‘As a result they have come up with a jihadist’s version of Cosmopolitan magazine.’

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Will China attack Siberia or just buy it out?

Will China attack Siberia or just buy it out?

As China gets more and more desperate because of the continued drought, it will look north to its Russian neighbor for water and arable land to feed the millions of starving Chinese....Or, Will Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Africa become the breadbasket of China?

It may not have to attack Siberia, it could just buy it outright...a new peaceful war?

Paper says China seeking to "assimilate" Russia's Far East....

The analysis on China's oil dependency is spot on .... but this same analysis can also be applied to the U.S., Europe, India, Japan, etc.....

Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Former Soviet Union. London: Feb 9, 2011.


It is significant that the Chinese authorities are already setting up special organs on their own territory to manage the zones of assimilation in Russia. "The Heilongjiang Administration has formed a special leadership group responsible for resolving issues that arise in the process of constructing and developing foreign industrial and agricultural zones," the Chinese state agency reports (Heilongjiang is a border province neighboring on Russia with a population of more than 38 million and its administrative centre in Harbin). Thus, the process of assimilating Russia's Far East is being managed and controlled not so much from Moscow or Khabarovsk as from Harbin - more exactly, from the "special leadership group" set up by Chinese officials in the Heilongjiang Province Administration. The management of Chinese zones on Russian territory from the PRC is perfectly justified - after all, he who pays the piper calls the tune. Investment to the tune of 3 billion dollars - if the calculations of the Chinese themselves are to be believed - constitutes a major financial resource which exceeds the subsidies from Moscow to the local budgets.

» Jump to indexing (document details)

Nezavisimaya Gazeta website, Moscow, in Russian 9 Feb 11; p 2/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Text of report by the website of heavyweight Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta on 9 February

[Editorial: "Chinese invest in Russian regions more than Moscow does. Administrations to manage Far East are being set up in PRC"]

China is actively assimilating the territory of Russia's Far East, investing far greater funds in this region than the Russian Government. According to an NCNA report, Chinese investors have established 34 special Chinese zones in Amur Oblast, Maritime Kray, Khabarovsk Kray, and also the Jewish Autonomous Region, where they have invested approximately 3 billion dollars. For comparison: Moscow is promising to transfer to these regions' budgets almost three times less money this year - the equivalent of less than 1 billion dollars.

Chinese investment in Russian lands is not just a private initiative by enterprising neighbors - vegetable growers, lumberjacks, and industrialists - but a clear state policy to assimilate new territories. "With the permission of the governments of China and Russia Chinese entrepreneurs may open industrial and agricultural zones in Russia, including zones of processing, stock raising, construction, timber cutting, and wholesale markets," NCNA explains.

It is significant that the Chinese authorities are already setting up special organs on their own territory to manage the zones of assimilation in Russia. "The Heilongjiang Administration has formed a special leadership group responsible for resolving issues that arise in the process of constructing and developing foreign industrial and agricultural zones," the Chinese state agency reports (Heilongjiang is a border province neighboring on Russia with a population of more than 38 million and its administrative centre in Harbin). Thus, the process of assimilating Russia's Far East is being managed and controlled not so much from Moscow or Khabarovsk as from Harbin - more exactly, from the "special leadership group" set up by Chinese officials in the Heilongjiang Province Administration. The management of Chinese zones on Russian territory from the PRC is perfectly justified - after all, he who pays the piper calls the tune. Investment to the tune of 3 billion dollars - if the calculations of the Chinese themselves are to be believed - constitutes a major financial resource which exceeds the subsidies from Moscow to the local budgets. Thus, in 2011 federal subsidies "to level out budgetary provision" are planned to the tune of approximately 170 million dollars for Amur Oblast, approximately 74 million dollars for the Jewish Autonomous Region, 234 million dollars for Khabarovsk Kray, and 344 million dollars for Maritime Kray. It is clear that these amounts bear no comparison with the 3 billion dollars in Chinese investments.

Of course, the possibility cannot be ruled out that the Chinese were not being modest and put the maximum value on their investments in Russia's Far East. It is possible that the amount of investment does not, in actual fact, reach the stated 3 billion dollars. Nevertheless, the state agency's official report on multibillion-dollar investments in Russia means that the authorities in the Celestial Kingdom are emphasizing their interest in assimilating our eastern territories - "in earnest and for a long time," moreover. At the same time the Chinese themselves emphasize the natural nature of their economic expansion into Russia. "The opening of zones in Russia by Chinese investors is mutually advantageous for both sides," Song Kui, a specialist at Heilongjiang Social Sciences Academy, believes, cited by NCNA. First, this makes it possible to increase the level of openness of China's border regions and to place superfluous work hands. Second, it helps the development of the Far East, increases collection of local taxes, and resolves the problem of the manpower shortage. Only we cannot understand why investment in the Far East is being initiated not by the Russian but the Chinese authorities, which are capable of organizing investment in promising production facilities and arranging production of output that is in demand both in Russia and in China.

Credit: Nezavisimaya Gazeta website, Moscow, in Russian 9 Feb 11; p 2

Or, Will Ukraine become the breadbasket of China?

Late January, Timothy Snyder - a Yale University history professor - packed auditoria and lecture halls at St Vladimir Institute in Toronto and the University of Toronto and spoke to an evenly distributed crowd from the Ukrainian, Polish and Jewish communities about his recent book, Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin.

Kudos’ to the organizers.

Prof. Snyder starts his lecture with the shocking finding that 17 million people were killed between 1933 and World War II, with a concentration of 14 million in the “bloodlands” - Ukraine, Poland and Belarus. Both Hitler and Stalin viewed Ukraine as a strategic asset; an eastern pastoral paradise, which Hitler even called “the Garden of Eden”. Nazi Germany was not self-sufficient in food. Hitler’s plan for the destruction of the Soviet Union would bring Ukraine’s breadbasket under German control, making Germany unassailable. Equally for Stalin, mastery of Ukraine was a precondition and proof of the triumph of his version of socialism. Germany concluded that Ukraine was “agriculturally and industrially the most important part of the Soviet Union.” After all, it produced 90% of all the food. According to Germany’s long term colonial plan, the western Soviet Union would become an agrarian colony dominated by Germans. This required the murder, displacement, assimilation or enslavement of 40 million people. Hitler believed that Germany would secure Ukrainian food and Caucasian oil in a matter of weeks after the invasion of the Soviet Union. When the War dragged on and the Soviet Union didn’t collapse, Jews in Ukraine were blamed for the Nazi failure and the Nazi extermination process started.

I had the chance to ask Prof. Snyder a question after his talk. What lessons can we learn from your book about preventing a similar deliberate, policy-triggered famine today, since historians are fond of saying that history is important to study so that we don’t repeat past mistakes? Without missing a beat, Snyder referred to his recent article in The New Republic on October 28, 2010, which was called: The Coming Age of Slaughter: Will Global Warming Unleash Genocide?

The recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland had food security as the main topic. While the figure of 17 million deaths in the “bloodlands” is hard to comprehend, today, over 50 times that number, or 925 million people mostly in Africa and South Asia are at risk of famine and starvation, says the UN.

One troubling scenario involves China, the most populous country on earth that has just half of the world average of fertile cropland per capita and one quarter the world average of potable water per capita. China has bought every hectare of available arable farmland in Africa and is exporting food back to feed hungry Chinese, who are suffering from the worst persistent droughts in six decades in the northern wheat-growing provinces. These exports have led to food shortages, price spikes and famine in some African countries. To add to their troubles, much of China’s potable water comes from Himalayan glaciers, which are now melting and shrinking. (see my b;og post Melting Himalayan glaciers & weather extremes caused by Indian & Chinese pollution, soot (carbon black) and not CO2)

To solve its food and water scarcity problem, it is quite plausible the China could soon invade Siberian Russia to secure precious water and cropland, becoming the next geopolitical conflict hotspot. This will become even more acute because in just 6 short years, China plans to build the largest mega city on the planet with a population of 43 million and they all have to eat and drink.

Grains are becoming scarce not just in Africa and China but around the world too, due to climate change, after floods in the Prairies in Canada, droughts in America, floods in Australia and Pakistan and last summer’s fires in Russia. Over 30 countries are now at risk of food shortages and famine including Tunisia, Egypt and Albania (totally ignored by the mass media in the West), whose government regimes are crumbling after massive street protests.

But, if you thought Ukraine is safe, you’d be wrong. According to the Nomura Food Vulnerability Index (NFVI), Ukraine is in 20th spot out of 80 countries at risk of a food crisis, due to high food inflation and the high percent of household wages going to purchase food – over 61%. (see The 25 Countries Whose Governments Could Get Crushed By Food Price Inflation )

Read report here

#1 Bangladesh

#2 Morocco

#3 Algeria

#4 Nigeria

#5 Lebanon

#6 Egypt

#7 Sri Lanka

#8 Sudan

#9 Hong Kong

#10 Azerbaijan

#11 Angola

#12 Romania

#13 Philippines

#14 Kenya

#15 Pakistan

#16 Libya

#17 Dominican Republic

#18 Tunisia

#19 Bulgaria

#20 Ukraine

#21 India

#22 China

#23 Latvia

#24 Vietnam

#25 Venezuela

(#30 Russia, #40 South Korea )

After recent trade talks, China along with Egypt, Libya and the United Arab Emirates are secretly eyeing the Ukrainian breadbasket, just like Hitler and Stalin did seven decades ago, not just for imports of grains, but to buy or lease land directly to ship crops back to feed their hungry people. A land grab resembling Chinese tactics in Africa-that could sideline the Ukrainian farmer, and potentially, lead to famine down the road.

While Ukraine is self-sufficient in grain production and exports today – it’s number ten in the world in grain exports, but its food exports total only 0.9 percent of GDP. So far, Ukraine has exported 5.9 million tonnes of grain since the beginning of this marketing year - July 2010. But, it won't take much to turn Ukraine into a net food importer from a grain exporter.

It’s plausible that the current Ukrainian regime-the Party of Regions, desperate for revenues, will arrange secret loans-for-land swaps. Watchdog groups in Ukraine should monitor for changes in the constitution, land privatization and visa-free travel of Chinese farm laborers, which would benefit China and others and threaten Ukraine’s food security....

Unstringing China's strategic pearls....
By Billy Tea

Ever since the term "String of Pearls" was coined by a team of experts at United States-based consultancy Booz Allen in 2004, journalists and academics have overplayed China's supposedly malevolent involvement with countries along its Sea Lines of Communication (SLOC), which stretch from the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean.

For them it was easy to believe that China, a country once known more for its bloody Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989 and one-child population control policy than its strategic might, had a hidden strategy to build military bases along its SLOC. Now, with the recent announcement that China plans to increase its military budget by 12.7% year-on-year, the "String of Pearls" strategy is expected to receive new critical attention and commentary.

There is still scant concrete evidence that China is currently or in the near future planning to build and maintain military bases along its SLOC. Indeed, to date the controversial theory is based more on speculation than fact. According to the 2005 Washington Post article that galvanized the debate, the "String of Pearls" refers to China's supposed aim to leverage diplomatic and commercial ties to build strategic bases stretching from the Middle East to southern China in order to protect its energy interests as well as "broader security objectives".

A map taken from the original Booz Allen report shows that China is intimately involved with countries along its SLOC in the Indian Ocean, including Bangladesh, Pakistan, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. In the Washington Post article, China was said to be building a container port facility at Chittagong, Bangladesh but at the same time was "seeking much more extensive naval and commercial access".

In Myanmar, China was supposedly building naval bases and had established electronic intelligence gathering facilities on the nearby Coco islands in the Bay of Bengal [1]. At Hainan Island, the supposed first in the chain of strategic pearls off the coast of China, the article said China was being allowed to "project air and sea power". Moreover, based on the Booz Allen map, China was said to be establishing a naval base and surveillance facilities in Pakistan.

Viewing a map of China's SLOC, there is certainly a correlation between China's relations with these countries and its energy security policy. Nearly 80% of China's fuel is imported, mostly from the Middle East and North Africa, and those shipments must travel through several strategic "choke points" along the way, including through the particularly narrow Strait of Malacca. But correlation does not always signify a causal effect.

The "String of Pearls" theory is based partially on the fact that China possesses one of the world's largest commercial shipping fleets and relies heavily on international maritime commerce. Energy imports carried on tankers from the Persian Gulf and Africa traverse often treacherous regions, including the threat of long-range pirates operating from Somalia. In accordance with those threats, China has developed diplomatic, economic and military relations with respective Indian Ocean countries. However, it is a large hypothetical leap to assert these relations are driven by a longer-term desire to construct actual military bases along its SLOC.

Ever since the publication of the Washington Post's alarmist article, journalists and researchers have hyped China's intentions in the Indian Ocean. For example, Commander Kamlesh Kumar Agnihotri, a research fellow at New Delhi's National Maritime Foundation, penned a paper in February 2010 entitled: "Chinese Quest for a Naval Base in the Indian Ocean - Possible Options for China" that weighs and outlines China's supposed "global power projection thinking". Retired Indian army Brigadier S K Chatterji painted a more threatening portrait of China's involvement with South Asian countries in his September 2010 article "Chinese String of Pearls could Choke India".

Strategic commerce
In analyzing China's supposed strategic "pearls", three key characteristics stand out. First and foremost, China does have some involvement in the identified ports. But with the exception of Sri Lanka's Hambantota and perhaps Myanmar's Sittwe, they are used not only by China and there are currently no signs whatsoever of any developments for future military purposes.

Second, while there is no denying that China has an interest in building relations with strategically located countries, it is important to understand the great power context these countries face. To openly side with China over other regional powers, including India and the United States, would be extremely risky diplomacy for these smaller countries.

Indeed, in today's globalized world, choosing one great power's side over another's unnecessarily limits countries' economic and political options. That's especially true for less-developed countries like Myanmar, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka - all of which are reliant on foreign trade, aid and investment and for development purposes need all they can get. In the current geopolitical context, countries stand to gain the most by subtly playing great power off one another, rather than committing to one in particular.

Third, government officials in the respective "pearl" countries have openly repudiated reports they have given China any preferential treatment and that Beijing is quietly building and/or planning to build military bases in their sovereign territories.

Hainan Island, located off China's coast in the South China Sea and often referred to as the first pearl in the chain, has often been at the center of this debate. In 2008, the United Kingdom-based Daily Telegraph newspaper claimed that China had built a secret underground nuclear submarine base at Yulin Naval Base on the southern tip of Hainan.

The report followed on US estimates that China would have five operational nuclear submarines, each capable of carrying 12 JL-2 nuclear missiles, by 2010. [2] Because Hainan island is China's sovereign territory, there has been no denial that Beijing maintains a military base there. Whether or not the base is dedicated more to securing China's SLOC or asserting its territorial claims in the South China Sea is less clear.

Bangladesh's Chittagong port is the country's principal seaport, currently handling around 92% of its import-export trade. The cash-strapped government in Dhaka does not have the finances needed to modernize the port and China, a long standing ally, recently agreed to help fund upgrades. [3] Bangladeshi authorities along with their Chinese counterparts set out an $8.7 billion development plan to raise bulk cargo handling capacity to 100 million tons and containers handling of three million 20 feet equivalent unit containers annually by 2055. [4] The ambitious plan also involves the development of a deep sea port and a road connecting Bangladesh to China via Myanmar. [5]

Because Chittagong port handles the majority of the country's trade, the scheme would appear to make rational business sense from China's perspective and the planned new connecting roadway. In 2010, India, Nepal and Bhutan also received Bangladesh's approval to use the port for trade. Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Mani said in March last year he had tried to woo China into a similar agreement, but as of 2011 there has not been any development suggesting China will use the port for its trade. [6]

The strengthening of Sino-Bangladeshi relations is a matter of strategic concern for both India and the US. Mani has stated publicly that China's involvement in building a deep sea port was only for economic purposes. He said that Bangladesh was acting as a "bridge" between China and India and would never let its territory be used for military attacks. [7] Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that the plans were part of her government's strategy to connect Bangladesh to the greater Asian region in order to develop its markets and promote economic growth "in the interest of the people of this country." [8]

Myanmar's Sittwe port, a small facility considered another of China's "pearl", is situated approximately 265 kilometers south of Chittagong. However, it was India - not China - that agreed to a contract with Myanmar in April 2009 for the development of the so-called Kaladan Transport Project, which includes plans for the development of the Sittwe port. The Indian company Essar Projects is currently building a coastal port at Sittwe and a river jetty at Paletwa.

As part of the same project, an additional 120 kilometers of road will be built in Myanmar from the river terminal in Paletwa to the India-Myanmar border in the northeast. The project is scheduled for completion in three years at a cost of between $75-$120 million, which will be financed entirely by New Delhi.

Both countries hope that the project will boost trade links between ports on India's eastern seaboard and Myanmar's western Arakan (Rakhine) State. From there, goods will be shipped along the Kaladan River from its confluence near Sittwe to Paletwa in Myanmar's Chin State and by road to India's Mizoram State, which will provide an alternative route for the transport of goods to India's landlocked northeast.

China is using the current port at Sittwe but its main interest is in the Kyaukphyu port in Rakine state and its access to the Bay of Bengal in order to pipe oil and gas from the Middle East and Africa to its land-locked southern and western hinterlands. Beijing is currently building two parallel oil and gas pipelines that will connect Kyaukphyu port to the Chinese city of Kunming in southern Yunnan province.
The oil pipeline will terminate in the city of Kunming, while the 2,806-kilometer natural gas pipeline will extend to China's Guizhou and Guangxi provinces. [9] It will allow Chinese oil tankers from Africa and the Middle East to pipe their fuel loads directly to China, therefore avoiding the potential strategic choke point of the Malacca Strait. The estimated construction cost of both pipelines is $3.5 billion, in addition to the development of an offshore gas field worth $3 billion, both of which will be financed largely by China. [10]

Rudimentary radar
Myanmar's Coco Islands, another supposed "pearl", have been allegedly used by China to gather signal Intelligence (SIGINT) and electronic Intelligence (ELINT) in the east Indian Ocean. News reports have claimed China intends to build naval bases on the islands in order to observe Indian naval and missile launch facilities in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the south and movements of the Indian navy and other navies throughout the eastern Indian Ocean. [11]

Because of the controversy, China and Myanmar invited Indian officers to visit the contentious premises. In 2006, Indian naval delegations were unable to find any evidence to confirm these intelligence-gathering suspicions. The radars they inspected on the islands were characterized as "rudimentary". In September 2009, Vice Admiral Anup Singh, flag officer commanding-in-chief of India's Eastern Naval Command, stated that up until then there had been no signs of Chinese naval movements in the region. [12]

A 2008 report entitled "Burma's Coco Islands: Rumours and Realities in the Indian Ocean" written by Myanmar security expert Andrew Selth argued that the lack of verifiable data regarding China's involvement in the Coco Islands had complicated the issue. He wrote that "credulous" media reporting, often pushed by individuals with their own agendas, led to the "myth" of a Chinese military base on the Coco Islands. [13] As of late 2009, there was no tangible evidence of China's military presence in the region and its supposed use of the Sittwe port for present or future military activities.

Sri Lanka's Hambantota port, yet another alleged "pearl", was previously a small fishing harbor on the country's southern coast and is located on the primary sea route connecting Europe to Asia. Sri Lanka has proposed to build a modern port facility near the existing harbor and first pitched the idea in 2005 to India, which had already refurbished the World War II-vintage oil-tank farm at Trincomalee. New Delhi was not interested in the project and China later agreed to fill the financing gap. In February 2007, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa signed eight agreements, including the Hambantota project, during an official visit to Beijing.

By 2023, Hambantota is projected to have a liquefied natural gas refinery, aviation fuel storage facilities, three separate docks to give the port a transshipment capacity and dry docks for ship repairs and construction. The project also envisages that the port will serve as a base for bunkering and refueling. [14] The Hambantota project is part of a larger $6 billion post-war infrastructure revitalization drive and China is among many countries now actively investing in the country. [15]

Priyath Wickrama of Sri Lanka's Ports Authority had been contacted by India, Singapore, Russia, Australia, Middle Eastern countries and major shipping lines to express their interest in the project, according to a Reuters report. [16] In dire need of reconstruction after years of civil war, the Rajapakasa government played its card to the highest bidder, which happened to be China. Rajapakasa has strongly repudiated any hints that China was given preferential treatment over other bidders. [17]

Empty docks
Pakistan's Gwadar port, on the Mekan Coast in Balochistan province, is considered the last on the chain of "pearls". According to the Pakistani government, Chinese companies have poured at least $15 billion into Baloch projects, including investments in oil refinery, copper and zinc mines, and a deepwater port at Gwadar in the Gulf of Oman. [18] The port is envisioned as a new gateway for trade between the Central Asian Republics (CARs), the Persian Gulf region, Afghanistan, Iran, and China's Xinjiang and Sichuan provinces and its Tibetan region.

Although China contributed an estimated 80% of Gwadar's construction costs, the port has actually been run by the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) since 2007 and contractually will be for the next 40 years. Business in Gwadar has been slow, partly due to the proximity of the competing Chabahar port in Iran that India helped construct. The conditions and environment in the surrounding area of Chabahar has made it easier for business to flow to Afghanistan and the CARs.

A budding strategic partnership between Iran, India and Russia will help to establish a multi-model transport link connecting Mumbai in India with Russia's Saint Petersburg and thus provide Europe and the CARs access to Asia and vice versa. Iran and Afghanistan have signed an agreement to give Indian goods destined for Central Asia and Afghanistan preferential treatment and tariff reductions at Chabahar Port. [19]

So far, China has preferred to use the port facilities at Karachi rather than Gwadar for maintaining vessels used in its anti-piracy patrols. In August 2009, in transit to and from the Gulf of Aden for anti-piracy operations, China's Huangshan and Weishanhu vessels used Karachi's port for rest and replenishment. [20] China's preference for Karachi's ports to manage its anti-piracy operations would thus seem to undermine the hypothesis that it plans to eventually use Gwadar as a military facility.

Yet "String of Pearls" speculation still swirls around the under-utilized facility. Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani, head of Pakistan's Balochistan province, has pledged to challenge in court what he has characterized as a "one-sided" deal with Singapore's PSA to run Gwadar. [21]

In 2009, Gwadar port handled about $700 million in cargo, less than half of its capacity, and PSA has apparently not invested any of the agreed $525 million it pledged in its agreement with the government. [22] The dispute has sparked rumors about a possible Chinese "takeover" of the port, though both Pakistan and China have denied the speculation. Raisani has reportedly said "Why can we not operate it ourselves? We have trained people." [23]

Stringing together the current status of China's involvement at each of the Indian Ocean port facilities in question, the "String of Pearls" theory quickly comes undone. With the exception of Hainan Island, where China has built a military base on its own territory, there is no clear sign that China has military base ambitions in Chittagong, Gwadar, Hambantota, or Sittwe.

It is significant that government officials in all the concerned countries have strongly refuted speculation that China would be allowed to use their sovereign ports as clandestine military bases, present or future. It is in each of the Indian Ocean countries' interest to balance Chinese, Indian, and US influence in the region. And all the evidence available so far indicates that's precisely what they are doing.

1., Christopher J. Pehrson, July 2006.
2., Daily Telegraph, May 1, 2008.
4., Reuters, Mar 14, 2010.
6., Reuters, Mar 14, 2010.
7., BBC, May 17, 2010.
8., Economic Times, Jun 17, 2010.
9., China Daily, Jun 4, 2010.
10,, Reuters, Feb 3, 2010.
11. 12. , Press Trust Of India, Sept 10, 2009.
13., Andrew Selth, November 2008.
, Outlook India, Apr 12, 2010.
15., Reuters, Aug 1, 2010.
16. Ibid.
17., New York Times, Feb 15, 2010.
18., Forbes Asia Magazine, dated May 10, 2010.
19., YaleGlobal , Jan 7, 2011.
20. , Daniel J. Kostecka, Naval War College Review, Winter 2010, Vol. 64, No. 1.
21., Reuters, Nov 9, 2010.
22. Ibid.
23. Ibid.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Libya puts China in world stage spotlight

Libya puts China in world stage spotlight....
By M K Bhadrakumar

Launcelot Gobbo told his elderly father in a poignant moment in William Shakespeare's play Merchant of Venice, "Truth will come to light; murder cannot be hid long." But the tragedy of life is often that by the time "truth is out", Gobbo would have become sand-blind and would no more be able to see his son.

For the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who perished since 2003, it is no consolation that the "truth is out" - that the war was a phony one bred by greed and imperial arrogance. Which is why it becomes important that the United States' proposed intervention in Libya shouldn't turn out to be another sojourn in yet another unknown land of killings.

A report in the London Sunday Times that a British special forces unit had been captured in the east of Libya underscores that "truth" is once again at a premium. Anyone who follows events in Libya would know that Muammar Gaddafi's hold over the eastern provinces of his country, especially Benghazi, was tenuous at the best of times. Libya is a complex tribal mosaic and Western intelligence exploited Gaddafi's Achilles' heel.

War option is the only option
British Defense Secretary Liam Fox wrote an article in the London Sunday Telegraph recently in which he argued that the impact of the Middle East uprising would be far-reaching and would resonate for many years and it raised the question of how British forces could respond to crisis situations. Fox actually pledged to strengthen Britain's special forces in response to the Arab revolt. These are excerpts:
The events over the recent days may produce a strategic shock and change in how we view the world. The speed of events in North Africa has shown how quickly circumstances can change and how quickly the UK can be drawn in. An island like Britain, with so many interests in so many parts of the world ... is inevitably affected by global stability ... If required, we could field a force of 30,000, including maritime and air assets for a one-off intervention. Although I cannot go into detail, our internationally respected and battle-tested Special Forces will receive significantly enhanced capabilities.
Clearly, the "intervention option" is propelling the Anglo-American juggernaut. A little behind, France tags along not to miss out on the "peace dividends" that follow the intervention - Libyan oil. The parallel with the Iraq war is striking, except that things are on a fast-forward mode.

United States senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman forcefully outlined the blueprint for President Barack Obama immediately after their return to Washington last week after consultations in Tel Aviv. They urged that Obama needed to take tougher action against Gaddafi. Lieberman demanded, "The fact is now is the time for action, not statements."

McCain spelt out specific steps: "Libyan pilots aren't going to fly if there is a no-fly zone and we could get air assets there to ensure it. Recognize some provisional government that they are trying to set up in the eastern part of Libya, help them with material assistance, make sure that every one of the mercenaries knows that ... they will find themselves in front a war crimes tribunal. Get tough."

Indeed, Obama got "tough". The chief military correspondent of Politics Daily, David Wood, reported from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, four days ago:
With orders from the White House to prepare "all options", military planners across the armed services are scrambling, from the XVIII Airborne Corps and 82nd Airborne Division headquartered here, to the U.S. Central Command and the U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla., down to the future operations cell of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, embarked on the USS Kearsarge, an ambitious assault carrier headed toward Libya from the Red Sea ... None of the US planners involved will talk on the record.

Privately, though, planners, strategists and analysts describe a range of potential missions from imposing "no-fly" and "no-drive" zones ... to launching limited and short-duration humanitarian and relief operations. And because operations planners must consider worst-case situations, some are also looking at larger-scale armed intervention.
Agence France-Presse reported from Athens on Friday that the USS Kearsarge and another warship, the USS Ponce, had already set anchor at the US naval base on the Greek island of Crete and that the amphibious ready group included 800 marines and a fleet of helicopters. The American aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (which has fighter jets that could enforce a "no-fly" zone) is also on call for the Libya crisis.

Defining a historical moment?
In short, the attempt by Washington to portray that its Libya plans are molded by events does not add up. Clearly, the US is defining a historical moment: if the Western world's vital economic interests come under threat, it is only the US that can salvage them, even when the theater is Europe's immediate neighborhood.

Unlike in the case of the Iraq war, Europe is solidly backing the US. There are no dissonant voices like France's Jacques Chirac or Germany's Gerhard Schroeder's mocking at the impending US intervention. Europe's vital economic and business interests are at stake in Libya.

But Obama's sail is also getting wind from two other quarters. First, Russia's "cooperative" stance. Russia is not opposing US plans, which makes things easy for Obama in the United Nations Security Council - and avoids the stigma of "unilateralism". Russian diplomats worked hard to push the unanimous Libya resolution through in New York, which was no mean contribution to US diplomacy.

Clearly, Obama's "reset" with Moscow is coming into play. Obama has successfully pandered to Russian demands to be treated as an "equal power". Now, there could even be more US-Russia tradeoffs in the coming months in the wake of the Middle East crisis. Iranians already voice disquiet that Moscow is again playing hide-and-seek on the commissioning of the Bushehr nuclear power plant.

Anyhow, coincidence or not, US Vice President Joseph Biden is visiting Moscow this week and Washington has held out missile defense and Russia's World Trade Organization membership as two priority areas in US policies in 2011.

In any case, all this business of democracy and "Arab awakening" never quite excited Russia. In Russia's "de-ideologized" world view, with 100% accent on self-interests, there is no requirement to promote democracy abroad. In fact, democracy can spread like a contagious disease and, after all, the Greater Middle East and the "Muslim world" also encompass the Caucasus and the Central Asian steppes.

For China, too, such uneasiness about the democracy virus probably exists. But that's a peripheral concern and probably a nuisance. But China is always a unique country and its behavior in New York was highly unusual in voting for the US resolution imposing sanctions on Libya and a referral of that country to the International Criminal Court.

Non-intervention has been a core principle for China. Over Myanmar, Zimbabwe or North Korea, China's stance has been consistent. Was it the specter of Gaddafi trampling on the holiest of Chinese principles - stability? Obviously, China has high stakes in the Middle East's stability and its economic interests happen to coincide with Eastern interests.

But that alone is insufficient to explain the novel Chinese stance on national sovereignty. One reason could be that China found itself on the defensive through much of last year by being pilloried (rightly or wrongly) as an "assertive" power and 2010 turned out to be China's annus horribilus in foreign policy. Libya presents an opportunity for China to be a "stakeholder" with Western countries.

The fashion in which China evacuated its nationals out of Libya is also relevant. A Chinese frigate was needlessly pressed into the mission and four Chinese military transport planes lifted off from Xinjiang and appeared in the Mediterranean skies in an unprecedented move. Besides, by not only evacuating its own nationals, but also lending a hand to rescue hundreds of Europeans, Bangladeshis and Vietnamese, China probably displayed its willingness to carry the burdens of a world power.

However, the big question still remains: Is this a one-off or has China's defining moment come as a collaborator of the US in securing the "global commons". We will know when and if the US presses the UN Security Council for the establishment of a "no-fly" zone over Libya.

From the fact that the US and its partners are discussing the "no-fly" zone option outside the UN if need arises to do so, it appears Obama isn't quite sure how far China is willing to go to concede its red lines.

A precedent of immense significance for international security is taking shape, and China has every reason to introspect. As Launcelot Gobbo posed to his blind father, "Do I look like a cudgel or a hovel-post, a staff or a prop? Do you know me, father?"
Fly me a Tuareg on time....
By Pepe Escobar
In the standoff - not civil war - between state power in Tripoli and a tribal-based parallel government plus "irregular militias", identifying key players in Libya gets increasingly murky. It's a long (1,000 kilometer), windy, desert road from Benghazi to Tripoli, or from uprising to victory, with a crucial midway stop in Sirte - Muammar Gaddafi's Tikrit (Saddam Hussein's home town) - until something emerges out of the final battle in a Tripoli encircled by a ring of steel. There's no evidence Gaddafi is about to embrace the daring, brand new Barack Obama administration Middle East strategy of "regime alteration".

Let's try to survey the battlefield. As much as tribes in Cyrenaica - eastern Libya - were always his number one strategic nightmare, Gaddafi's notorious co-option of tribal leaders is now history.

He still can count on some western and southern tribes, including

his own and Magariha, the tribe of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbeset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi. But most - but not all - tribes remain against the bunker (see
The tribes against the bunker Asia Times Online, February 25), including the top one, Warfallah (influential in the army), plus Zawiya (based in the oil-rich east), Bani Walid (they stopped collaborating with the security services), and Zintan (formerly allied with Gaddafi's own tribe).

If - or when - Gaddafi falls, Libya's provisional government will almost certainly be a mix of tribal leaders, with once again the more developed Tripolitania clashing with neglected Cyrenaica (one can't forget that Gaddafi's "modernizer" son Saif al-Islam blamed the uprising on tribal factions). Libyan tribes indeed have fought each other for centuries - much like in Afghanistan; but now the difference is that most are united against the common king of kings enemy.

The battle of Algiers
The military in Algeria is in dire need of pacemakers to keep up with events in Libya. No wonder; if Gaddafi falls, Algeria may be next (it's placed ninth in The Economist's shoe-thrower index - which aims to predict where the scent of Jasmine may spread next - ahead of already fallen Tunisia). Both are oil/gas powers - a wealth that does not trickle down to their increasingly desperate populations.

Rumors abound of Algeria being one of the only governments in the world practically supporting Gaddafi (Serbia is a different case; it's silent because of an array of juicy of military and construction contracts). So far the closest instance of Algiers directly helping Tripoli has been provided by the exiled human right group Algeria Watch, which insists Algiers has facilitated the air link for mercenaries from Niger and Chad to reach Libya (see
here). Algeria had done the same thing before - transporting troops to Somalia to help a US-backed puppet government fight rebel ''terrorist'' Somali tribes.

What's creepier, but still unconfirmed, is that one Colonel Djamel Bouzghaia - the "war on terror"-minded key security adviser to Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika - may be the designated smuggler of deposed Tunisian president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali's private security forces and Republican Guard to, where else, Libya. Among these nasty types are the snipers who killed Tunisian demonstrators in three different cities, and may now be killing Libyan civilians.

Tuaregs to the rescue
If Gaddafi can count on Tunisian snipers for his dirty work, what to say about the nomadic Tuaregs from the Sahel?

Historically, Gaddafi always wreaked havoc among his neighbors - and Tuaregs were always instrumentalized by his megalomaniac strategy of carving out a Grand Sahara nation around Libya. He could not but profit from Tuareg secession dreams.

Ten years ago, on the road in Timbuktu in Mali, Tuareg friends provided me a crash course on Tuareg rebellions and the secession movement. In the early 1970s, many Tuaregs enlisted in Gaddafi's Islamic Legion - an outfit that would in thesis fight for a unified Islamic state in northern Africa. At the time there was absolutely nowhere else to go in a drought-stricken Sahel-Sahara. The legion lasted till the late 1980s, and then dissolved.

Gaddafi also propped up Tuareg rebellions, especially in Mali and Niger. He paid for installations in Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal in Mali, opened a consulate in Kidal, and turned on the petrodollar charm. Tuaregs from north Mali simply abhor the central government in Bamako. The nomadic Tuaregs obviously don't trust any form of central government; essentially what they want is autonomy, or at least more investment in sanitation, health and education in the towns and desert villages they live.

Bamako and the Tuareg rebellion finally signed an agreement in July 2006, under Algerian mediation, leading in theory to peace and development in the Kidal region. The rebellion officially laid down their weapons in February 2009. Only one of the rebel leaders, Ibrahim Ag Bahanga, did not agree with the whole set up. He is exiled in Libya.

There are Tuaregs living in the southwest Libyan desert. But Bamako is now spinning that at least 800 Tuaregs from Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Algeria have already joined Gaddafi's forces; how to resist an offer of $10,000 in cash to join, plus a $1,000 day-rate to fight, when you are a young, unemployed Tuareg?

The difference now is that Gaddafi seems to be creating not only a secession between the Tuaregs and the countries they live, but a secession inside the Tuareg communities themselves - especially in Mali, Niger and Chad. Some Tuaregs already worked for him in Libya for years; some have been members of the Libyan armed forces, with Libyan nationality; as for the new ones, they are being recruited by the force of the petrodollar - to the despair of many Tuareg communities.

That's' exactly what Abdou Sallam Ag Assalat, the president of the regional assembly in Kidal, told Agence France-Presse, "These young people are going en masse to Libya ... the regional authorities are trying to dissuade them, particularly former rebels, but it's not easy because for them there are the dollars, and weapons to be recovered ... One day they will be back with the same weapons to destabilize the Sahel."

The Tuaregs leave from north Mali, cross to southern Algeria and then cross to southern Libya; it's a grueling 48-hour trip, usually in convoys. Of course these desert "borders" are mirages. The operation, according to Algerian media, is organized by a former rebel Tuareg leader from Mali, now in Libya; he could well be Ibrahim Ag Bahanga. And if there's an air link involved - either from Algeria or from Chad - that's where the Tuaregs meet the Algerian security facilitators.

One of his Ukrainian nurses, Oksana, now says that Gaddafi is a "great psychologist". He's a fine sociologist as well, because he has noted - and immensely profited from - the fact that there are no real nation-states in the Sahel-Sahara, from a sociological, political and juridical point of view. Blaming the Tuaregs is not the point. Both Algeria and Libya have done nothing to at least repair the ravages of colonialism - which has scattered nomadic Tuaregs among four countries. Algeria always benefited from - and repressed - Tuareg fragmentation. As for the African king of kings, he can always count on his nomadic reserve army.