Archive | June 29th, 2012

Syria: We thought downed Turkish plane was Israeli

NOVANEWS


Information minister says Syrian forces may have mistaken Turkish jet they shot down for Israeli plane. Adds: We don’t want crisis

ynet

A Syrian minister is quoted as saying his country’s forces may have mistaken the Turkish plane they shot down for an Israeli one.

Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoebi was quoted as telling Turkish news channel A Haber in a telephone interview Wednesday that his country did “not want a crisis between Turkey and Syria.”

Al-Zoebi said Turkish and Israeli fighter jets were mostly US-made, which may have led the Syrian forces to mistake it for an Israeli jet.

Turkey warned Syria on Tuesday to keep its troops away from the countries’ troubled border or risk an armed response, an angry reply to the downing of the Turkish reconnaissance plane last week.

Syrian news outlets quoted a military expert as saying that the anti-aircraft weapons used to down the Turkish fighter jet last weekend were made in Iran, Al-Quds al-Arabi reported Wednesday.

According to the Arabic newspaper, the Syrian expert said Damascus purchased an Iranian-made anti-aircraft gun two years ago. He said the gun can be mounted on armored vehicles.

The expert said the downed Turkish jet flew at a low altitude so as not to be detected by the Syrian radar. However, the expert said, the Turkish crew was not aware that the Syrian air force was in possession of a weapon capable of intercepting planes flying at such a low altitude.

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TUT Broadcast with Palestinian Journalist Sammi Ibrahem

TUT Broadcast with Palestinian Journalist Sammi Ibrahem LIVE today 4m eastern

by crescentandcross

Once again we will be LIVE at 4 pm eastern time. Sammi’s guest will be writer Israel Shamir who converted to Orthodox Christianity and now warns of the dangers of Judaism.

Those wishing to listen live can do so by clicking here–

Those wishing to participate in the discussion can do so by calling 503.881.1300 and then punching in the access code 179164#

We also have a NEW chat room that accomodates as many as 100 people which you can access here–

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TUT Broadcast with Palestinian Journalist Sammi Ibrahem

TUT Broadcast with Palestinian Journalist Sammi Ibrahem LIVE today 4m eastern

by crescentandcross

Once again we will be LIVE at 4 pm eastern time. Sammi’s guest will be writer Israel Shamir who converted to Orthodox Christianity and now warns of the dangers of Judaism.

Those wishing to listen live can do so by clicking here–

Those wishing to participate in the discussion can do so by calling 503.881.1300 and then punching in the access code 179164#

We also have a NEW chat room that accomodates as many as 100 people which you can access here–

Posted in InterviewComments Off on TUT Broadcast with Palestinian Journalist Sammi Ibrahem

Mask of Zion: Is The Palestinian Solidarity Campaign ‘PSC’ Another Form of Controlled Opposition ?

Mask of Zion Report with Jonathon Azaziah June 28, 2012

by crescentandcross

 

The Palestinian Solidarity Movement–the real deal or just another form of controlled opposition on the part of organized Jewish interests to make sure it goes nowhere?

Jonathon is joined by writer/researcher extraordinaire Martin Iqbal from the UK

moz28jun2012iqbal987.mp3

Download Here

THANK YOU FOR ASSISTING WITH THE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH PRODUCING THIS PROGRAM

Posted in InterviewComments Off on Mask of Zion: Is The Palestinian Solidarity Campaign ‘PSC’ Another Form of Controlled Opposition ?

Desperate jobseeker sets himself alight outside Selly Oak jobcentre

NOVANEWS
  • by Nick McCarthy,
  • Birmingham Mail
The Jobcentre Plus in Harborne Lane, Selly Oak

The Jobcentre Plus in Harborne Lane, Selly Oak

A DESPERATE job seeker set himself alight outside a Birmingham Jobcentre in an alleged row over his benefit payments.

Horrified eyewitnesses saw the man douse himself in flammable liquid after tying himself to railings at the Jobcentre Plus in Harborne Lane, Selly Oak, at around 9.20am.

Cops rushed to the aid of the 48-year-old man and sprayed him with fire extinguishers after he suffered burns to his lower legs.

The sign on the jobcentre door

The building remained closed throughout the day and claimants were told that payments would be made directly to banks. One eyewitness, who did not want to be named, said: “The guy came into the Jobcentre with petrol and made threats, so they evacuated the whole building.

**REACTION: OUTRAGE AND SHOCK AS MAN SETS FIRE TO HIMSELF OUTSIDE BIRMINGHAM JOB CENTRE**

I think it was something to do with a payment he had not received.

“He tied himself to the railings and tore open the bottom of his trousers. You could smell the fumes from the liquid he used, but the police arrived by the time he had set himself alight and they managed to put him out quite quickly.

“He would have to have been very desperate to have done something like that.

“It’s shocking that somebody could have been driven to those depths.”

*** Do you know the man who set himself on fire? Contact our crime reporter nick.mccarthy@trinitymirror.com ***

A spokeswoman for West Midlands Police said: “Officers were called at around 9.18am to reports that a man had tied himself to railings and was threatening to set himself on fire.

“The man doused himself in liquid and set himself alight.

Read More http://www.birminghammail.net/news/top-stories/2012/06/29/desperate-jobseeker-sets-himself-alight-outside-selly-oak-jobcentre-97319-31284847/#ixzz1zCYaMnWs

Posted in UKComments Off on Desperate jobseeker sets himself alight outside Selly Oak jobcentre

NATO Proxies Turkey and Saudi Arabia Move to War Footing on Eve of Syrian ‘Peace Summit’

NOVANEWS
By Finian Cunningham
 

Global Research

The NATO-backed covert aggression against Syria could be reaching a tipping point for all-out war involving state forces. That should be no surprise. For the past 16 months, NATO and its regional proxies have been steadily increasing the violence and turmoil inside and outside Syria, while the Western corporate-controlled media maintain the ridiculous fiction that the bloody chaos is largely due to the government forces of President Bashar Al Assad cracking down on “peaceful protesters”.

Ironically, the crisis is culminating at the same time that the United Nations convenes an emergency summit on Syria in Geneva this weekend. The meeting, which is ostensibly aimed at “reviving the Kofi Annan peace plan”, will be attended by the five permanent members of the UN security council and other “invited” regional states. The irony is that leading NATO members, the US, Britain and France, as well as their Turkish and Arab allies who will also be attending the crisis conference, are the very parties that have deliberately created the precipice for all-out war in the Middle East.

As dignitaries fly into Geneva to “salvage peace in Syria”, there is a lockstep military build-up on the northern and southern flanks of Syria underway, with news that Turkey has dispatched battlefield tanks, missile batteries and heavy artillery to its Syrian border, while to the south Saudi Arabia has announced that its military forces have been put on a “state of high alert”.

Ankara’s military mobilization along its 800km land border with Syria came within hours of the declaration by Turkey’s prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan slating Syria as “a hostile state”. The immediate cause of the deterioration in relations between the neighbouring countries is the downing of a Turkish fighter jet last week in Syrian territorial waters. Syria claims it was acting in self-defence after the Phantom RF-4E warplane entered its airspace on Friday. Ankara has so far failed to give an explanation for why one of its warplanes was making such a provocative low-flying manoeuvre into Syrian airspace. But the Turkish government has announced that any move by Syrian armed forces towards its border will be viewed as another “hostile act” that it will respond to. How’s that for a provocative tether? Especially towards a country that is being attacked by armed groups crossing over its border with Turkey.

Meanwhile, on the same day that Turkey is militarizing along its border with Syria, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah makes an unprecedented announcement putting his armed forces on high alert “due to the tense situation in the Middle East”. Using vague and contrived language, the Saudi ruler warned against “foreign or terrorist attacks” to justify the mobilization of the kingdom’s armed forces.

The military pincer movement against Syria tends to support the analysis that the downing of the Turkish fighter jet was a deliberate set-piece scenario designed to furnish a cause for war, or at least a stepping up of the international psy-ops campaign of intimidation against Syria.

It is notable that the circumstances surrounding the shooting down of the warplane have yet to be clarified. The Syrians seem to have firm grounds for acting in the way they did given the provocative conduct of the Turkish fighter jet. And there is an onus on the Ankara government to give some explanation for the unusual military manoeuvre, especially in the light of claims that the aircraft was on a reconnaissance mission on behalf of anti-Assad forces on the ground in Syria. Yet almost reflexively, before details have been established about the incident, Turkey has moved on to a war footing. Equally telling is that Saudi Arabia, a key ally of Ankara in opposition to Syria, has simultaneously moved also on to a war footing – without any substantive grounds for such a mobilization.

Some informed analysts have said that the Turkish-Saudi pincer on Syria is more aimed at intensifying the psy-ops pressure on Bashar Al Assad to cave in and relinquish power. Hisham Jaber, director of the Beirut-based Center for Middle East Studies, told Press TV that Ankara and Riyadh will balk at an all-out war with Syria because both are well aware that any such conflict will bring in Iran, Russia and China in support of their ally in Damascus.

Nonetheless, there is an ineluctable logic towards all-out war. Ever since the armed insurrection by foreign mercenaries was instigated in Syria’s southern town of Deraa in mid-March 2011, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have played key roles in fomenting the covert campaign of aggression to overthrow the Assad government – a campaign that is authored by leading NATO members, the US, Britain and France. The division of labour is such that Turkey has supplied land bases to organize the mercenaries from Libya, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Iraq; while Saudi Arabia provides the money – up to $100 million – to buy weapons and pay wages for the soldiers of fortune; and ultimately it is Washington, London and Paris that are calling the tactical shots in the NATO war plan on Syria.

As several other commentators have pointed out, this war plan is aimed at asserting Western capitalist hegemony in the oil-rich Middle East and Central Asia regions. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria are part of an overarching bid for “full-spectrum dominance” that will eventually target, overtly, Iran, Russia and China.

It is this crucial wider context of war-making by the waning capitalist powers that underscores the gravity of the military build-up inside and outside Syria. The dynamic for war has a compelling, nefarious logic – as the history of world wars testifies.

Which makes the Geneva “crisis conference” this weekend appear all the more ludicrous. In attendance are the US, Britain, France, Turkey and the Gulf Arab monarchical states of Kuwait and Qatar. All are professing to support a peaceful solution in Syria even though all the above are funnelling weapons, logistics and personnel to wage a brutal, terrorist assault on that country – an assault that has now led to the precipice of all-out regional war.

Also attending the UN conference are secretary general Ban Ki-moon and the UN/Arab League special envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan. The UN and the Arab League and these two figureheads in particular have shown themselves to be willing dupes to NATO’s war of aggression on Syria, and beyond, by indulging in the charade that the Western powers are “supporting peace” instead of denouncing them as “supporting war”. Significantly, the UN and Annan have not invited Iran to attend the conference as a result of US pressure. How provocative is that? Iran clearly has vital interests at stake given its proximity and geopolitical threats from the encroaching war on its Syrian ally.

The other ghost missing from the feast in Geneva this weekend is Saudi Arabia. The omission of Saudi Arabia should not be seen as some kind of consolation to Syrian and Iranian sensibilities, but rather as a way of shielding the House of Saud from embarrassment. Considering the incendiary role of Saudi Arabia in Syria, and possibly the region’s conflagration, the Saudi rulers should be summoned to a top seat at the “peace summit” – to face the most withering questions about their warmongering, criminal interference in a neighbouring state.

Then, using Nuremburg principles, prosecutors should proceed to arraign the rulers in Riyadh along with their accomplices in Washington, London, Paris and Ankara.

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US Supreme Court: Positive Youth Sentencing Ruling

NOVANEWS
Recognizes Juveniles’ Different Status; Bans Mandatory Life Without Parole
  • The Ryan Correctional Facility in Detroit. Michigan is among the states that sentence offenders under age 18 to life without the possibility of parole.
    © 2007 Associated Press
With this landmark ruling, the United States is no longer an egregious outlier among nations in requiring judges to put kids in prison until they die there. The court did not go far enough, still allowing the sentence in rare cases, but it recognized that it is nearly impossible to be certain that any child is beyond redemption – and that the US criminal justice system needs to change to reflect this fact.
Alison Parker, US program director at Human Rights Watch

(Washington, DC) – The Supreme Court decision on June 25, 2012, barring the mandatory sentencing of juvenile offenders to life without parole recognizes children’s capacity for change, Human Rights Watch said today. It also recognizes their distinct status from adults under international human rights and constitutional law, Human Rights Watch said.

The court’s ruling in Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs brings the United States closer to being in line with the rest of the world. No other country sentences people to life without parole for offenses they committed before the age of 18, even for homicide offenses. The ruling makes any mandatory sentence of juvenile life without parole unconstitutional and recognizes that in other cases in which life without parole may still be an option, judges should take into account the differences between children and adults.

“With this landmark ruling, the United States is no longer an egregious outlier among nations in requiring judges to put kids in prison until they die there,” said Alison Parker, US program director at Human Rights Watch. “The court did not go far enough, still allowing the sentence in rare cases, but it recognized that it is nearly impossible to be certain that any child is beyond redemption – and that the US criminal justice system needs to change to reflect this fact.”

Human Rights Watch estimates that over 2,500 people are serving life without parole for crimes they committed while a juvenile, in 38 states and federal prisons.The ruling should affect all cases in which courts did not take a youth’s age and status into account when sentencing – including cases in 29 states with mandatory sentencing schemes. In such cases, youth offenders should receive new sentences allowing for regular and periodic review of their eligibility for parole, and state legislatures should act to ensure that all youth offenders have access to such reviews, Human Rights Watch said.

Since 2004, through numerous interviews and in-depth data analysis, Human Rights Watch has been investigating the situation and conditions of confinement of youth sentenced to life without parolethroughout the United States, and in particular states such as California and Colorado.

This research has found that there are stark racial disparities in the imposition of the sentence, with black youth serving life without parole at a per capita rate that is 10 times the rate of white youth.

Human Rights Watch also estimates that 59 percent of the youth serving life without parole in the United States received this sentence for their very first offense – they had no juvenile or adult criminal record prior to the offense that resulted in their life sentence.

Moreover, often youth sentenced to life without parole were not the primary actors in the crime: they did not pull the trigger or physically commit the homicide. A significant number of these cases involved an attempted crime gone awry – a botched robbery attempt, for example – rather than a murder planned by the youth in advance.

“Racial disparities and the excessive nature of the sentence in light of many youths’ criminal histories are important reasons to question its fairness,” Parker said. “But the sentence is inappropriate in every case – mandatory or not – because both constitutional and international human rights law recognize that children must be treated differently from adults.”

Oversight and enforcement bodies for two treaties that bind the US as a party – the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination – have found that the practice is a clear violation of US treaty obligations.

This international consensus is reflected in the US Supreme Court’s previous rulings in Roper v. Simmons – which found unconstitutional the imposition of capital punishment on juvenile offenders, and Graham v. Florida – which held that juvenile offenders cannot be sentenced to life without parole for non-homicide offenses. The court has recognized, and has affirmed in its decision on June 25, that the differences between juveniles and adults make suspect any conclusion that a juvenile offender can be judged beyond rehabilitation at such a young age, Human Rights Watch said. After the Supreme Court’s decision, there is no longer any doubt that the US Constitution, like international human rights law, draws a clear line between juveniles and adults when it comes to matters of crime and punishment.

“The Court has recognized today what every parent knows – kids are different and are capable of tremendous growth and transformation,” Parker said. “Now, it is up to judges and state legislators to ensure that every child offender has a meaningful chance to work toward rehabilitation, to periodically demonstrate their achievements, and, if merited, to earn their release from prison.”

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TRUE ZIO-NAZI PROPAGANDA

NOVANEWS

Mubarak’s legacy of peace and stability has been upended

By Ron Kampeas

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt less than three weeks before the protests there led to Mubarak’s downfall, January 2011. (Moshe Milner/ GPO/Flash90)

Hosni Mubarak’s legacy was supposed to be an Egypt preeminent in the region and at peace with its neighbors, but the instrument he used to achieve it — the absolute power of the state — undid him and could sweep away the remnant of that legacy.

Mubarak, who as of Tuesday was reportedly in a coma, once wielded the type of power that ultimately did him in.

“It is not just Mubarak that is on life support at this moment — Egypt’s creaky institutions and its nascent democracy are as well,” Steven Cook, an Egypt expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote Wednesday on the Foreign Policy website.

“Its politics are broken, its infrastructure in disrepair, its economy near collapse, its state education system in disarray, and its public health system nonexistent,” Cook added. “If anything, this is the legacy of Hosni Mubarak: the evisceration of his beloved country.

Mubarak, sentenced earlier this month to life in prison for ordering hundreds of killings during the early 2011 protests that ended his 30-year reign, was placed on life support on Tuesday, according to media reports.

Prospects of the ailing Mubarak’s comeback were in any case worse than nil, but news of his deteriorating condition prompted renewed consideration of what the deposed president bequeathed Egypt.

Gabi Ashkenazi, the former chief of staff of the Israeli military, spoke Wednesday at the Israeli Presidential Conference of Mubarak’s importance not just in upholding the peace treaty with Israel, but in encouraging other Arabs to do the same.

“When Arafat was slow to sign the Oslo Accords, Mubarak was the one who forced him to the table to sign — even using undiplomatic language,” Ashkenazi recalled, referring to Oslo II, signed in September 1995 in Egypt.

Mubarak, in a televised ceremony, literally nudged then-Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat to the table as a bemused Yitzhak Rabin, then the Israeli prime minister, looked on. Israelis present insisted that they heard Mubarak whisper to Arafat, “Sign, you dog.”

“Try to think of an Egyptian president today doing that,” Ashkenazi said.

It was a concern echoed across the ocean, where Shaul Mofaz, the Kadima party leader, inaugurated his first Washington visit in his new role as deputy prime minister in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recently formed national unity government.

“Whatever happens, we will be facing a more radical regime,” Mofaz told the Washington Institute for Near East Policy think tank ahead of a series of meetings with top U.S. officials. He called the need to preserve his country’s peace with Egypt the “highest Israeli goal.”

Reports in Cairo said the rumors about Mubarak’s health helped swell the numbers in Tahrir Square protesting steps taken in recent weeks by the courts to support the interim military government’s decision to gut the parliament and limit the powers of Mubarak’s successor.

Both candidates in Egypt’s presidential election over the weekend — the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi and Ahmed Shafik, Mubarak’s last prime minister and a candidate with the tacit backing of the military — are claiming victory.

Joel Rubin, the director of government policy at the Ploughshares Fund, a body that promotes peace initiatives, said the very autocracy that spooked Arafat and others into heeding Mubarak ultimately turned on his enterprise.

“Mubarak’s legacy is that he created a state system that collapsed underneath him,” said Rubin, a former Senate staffer and State Department Egypt desk officer who has visited Egypt multiple times. “He certainly maintained peace with Israel — a cold peace, but he kept the border relatively calm and fought against extremist groups in the country. But he left a crushing legacy on the economy and political system. Stability under strongmen is never really stable.”

Mubarak spurred privatization reforms in the 1990s that helped grow Egypt’s economy, but they did not trickle down because he also tolerated — if not encouraged — the kleptocracy of the Egyptian elites, said David Schenker, an Egypt expert at the Washington Institute and a former Pentagon Middle East official.

“As a result, people have come to associate a free market economy with crony capitalism,” Schenker said.

“There is no longer respect or fear of Egypt,” he said. “Mubarak presided over this.”

Ultimately, the thieving weakened Egypt’s economy and undercut its regional influence. Whereas in the 1990s Mubarak could strong-arm Arafat into peace, in the 2000s he was barely able to get the Palestinian polity, split between Hamas Islamists and Palestinian Authority moderates, to heed his pleas for a unified front.

Additionally Mubarak, while working closely with the United States to advance strategy, promoted a “safety valve” of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism through the state-controlled media. The resulting resentments have exacerbated resentments among Egyptians of the West and suspicions of Israel.

These resentments also were the result of successive U.S. administrations that failed to make democratic reforms conditional on the billions of dollars that Egypt was receiving in defense assistance, much to the chagrin of lawmakers from both parties in Congress.

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A Clean Break

NOVANEWS

by mantiqaltayr

Ladies and gentlemen, it is time for a clean break.

Here’s a nice little quote from a recent article based on the work of the most excellent Grant Smith of IRmep.

Red highlights are mine:

Material obtained under FOIA by IRmep reveals that during the same time period Jonathan Pollard was active; American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) officials obtained and used stolen classified US confidential business informationpassed by an Israeli diplomat. Although industry groups such as the US Bromine Alliance filed formal complaints and the FBI investigated, no action was ever taken.Israeli spy-master Rafael Eitan—mentioned in the DIA video— earlier infiltrated the NUMEC facility in Apollo, Pennsylvania at the invitation of its owner Zalman Shapiro.Although FBI investigators obtained eyewitness affidavits of the mass diversion of weapons-grade uranium from the site, presumably into the Israeli nuclear weapons program, a 1978 GAO report concluded no bona fide effort was ever made to properly prosecute Israel’s US based operatives. Victims of NUMEC toxic pollution are currently filing hundreds of millions in health claims as the US Army Corps of Engineers struggles to manage a toxic cleanup that could cost taxpayers up to half a billion dollars.

Israeli espionage against the United States is long-standing, wide-spread, deeply penetrated into both the public and private sector and inimical to the interests of the citizens of the United States. This espionage activity is often discovered and thencovered up.  That espionage includes Israel’s getting its hands on nuclear weapons materials to include, but not limited to, uranium – weapons-grade uranium.

Add to that the Lavon Affair and the attack on the USS Liberty and you have not only espionage and theft of nuclear technology but actual military and terrorist attacks.

If Mike Piper is right, you can add to that Israeli participation in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

And lately a very steady and fact-based researcher and writer has been expressing views on at least a couple of interviews he has done recently that Israeli might have had just a bit more than just some foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks.  If this person is starting to go in that direction, well, I just find that quite interesting.

Now let’s also add to this witch’s brew the fact of the Israeli lobby’s virtual death grip on both houses of Congress and both parties and its deep infiltration of the executive branch at the very highest levels.

Fortunately, the major media outlets, Hollywood and the US financial sector are controlled by Salafists. Imagine if the same elements who have done and continue to do all of the things mentioned above – imagine if they exercised overwhelming control of our media, entertainment and financial industries. We’d really be fucked the, wouldn’t we?

Now as many of you are aware, IRmep has just obtained a Defense Intelligence Agency video about the threat Jonathan Pollard represented to the interests of the United States. That video is on youtube and on the IRmep site and you ought to give it a listen.  However, it is 15 minutes long, so I don’t expect most of you to watch it.

But here is that video for you if you want to take the time.

Here is another quote from a recent Smith article that in my view shows you exactly how pernicious Israeli infiltration into the Obama administration is.  Red highlighting is mine.

Less widely known is that Israeli front company Telogy was caught in the summer of 2010 illegally shipping nuclear weapons components out of California to Israel.  When such crimes occurred in the past — such as in the case of MILCO smuggling nuclear triggers out of California to Israel — the US at least criminally investigated Israel’s US operatives even while carefully steering around the true masterminds such as Arnon Milchan and high Israeli intelligence officials.  In the case of Telogy, the Obama administration simply leaked tidbits of the export violations to friendly press, helpfully allowing Telogy to quickly roll up its illegal US operations. 

I find it more than a little interesting that the article that the above quote is taken from is entitled “Why Obama Will Free Jonathan Pollard.”

It’s all about Pollard.

Last November I linked to the Amazon page of this book.

Capturing Jonathan Pollard: How One of the Most Notorious Spies in American History Was Brought to Justice

Here, Keith Johnson, working for AFP, interviews the author of that book, Ronald J. Olive, who describes Pollard as having stolen more secrets than any spy in US history. It’s a good short read and ends with a powerful quote by Mr. Oliver who was a key player in the investigation into Pollard’s crimes. Speaking about the many Republican and Democratic members of the House and Senate who support Pollard, he says:

“They don’t know what the true story is,” said Olive. “I wrote my book to tell the story from the inside. It tells them everything they need to know. It’s the true story—not just what Jonathan Pollard is saying now. It’s who he really is, what he really did and the devastation that he caused.”

Ladies and gentlemen, it is time for a clean break.

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Leon Panetta Lacks Statesmanship

NOVANEWS
By Sajjad Shaukat

A renowned political thinker Morgenthau opines that foreign policy of a country should be moulded in accordance with the circumstances of time and place. But it is most surprising that while serving at a key post of the sole superpower, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has always reflected confused policy, shown through his illogical and contradictory statements.

In this respect, during his recent visit to India, while pampering New Delhi, Leon Panetta has repeatedly pointed out that drone attacks would continue on save havens of terrorists in Pakistan. Afterwards, in Kabul by reviving US old blame game Panetta allegedly said on June 7 that the US was reaching the limits of its patience with Pakistan due to safe havens, “the country offered to insurgents in neighbouring Afghanistan.” He further remarked, “It is difficult to achieve peace in Afghanistan as long as there are safe havens for terrorists in Pakistan.”

On the one hand, US Defense Secretary Panetta has blamed Islamabad for cross-border terrorism, while on the other, American CIA, India RAW and Israeli Mossad, based in Afghanistan have been sending well-trained militants in Pakistan, who not only attack the check posts of Pakistan’s security forces, but also target schools and mosques intermittently. In this connection, Leon Panetta set aside the fact that US-led NATO forces have failed in coping with the resistance of Afghan Taliban who are fighting a war of liberation. Notably, at the same time, he stated, “Pakistan’s cooperation is critical to US efforts to stabilise Afghanistan before most foreign combat troops leave at the end of 2014.” However, it indicates contradictory thoughts of Panetta.

While no breakthrough occurred between Pak-US talks on various issues to restore NATO supplies across Pakistan to Afghanistan, US drone attacks killed more than 50 people in 14 days in North Waziristan and South Waziristan.. At a critical moment in negotiations with Pakistan, Panetta’s harsh comments created complication to narrow the differences between both the countries. It shows Leon Panetta’s irresponsible approach.

During his trip to New Delhi US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also encouraged India to take a more active role in Afghanistan as most foreign combat troops leave in 2014. In this regard, Indian rulers did not pay heed to Panetta’s demands, and showed their reservations because they know that by keeping permanent presence in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of NATO troops, US seeks to transfer the heavy burden to their shoulders by entangling News Delhi in Afghanistan to face regular attacks of the Afghan militants. They are also aware of the fact that if well-trained NATO forces, equipped with sophisticated weaponry, failed in coping with the Afghan militants, as to how American small contingency would succeed.

It is mentionable that on June 8, a US Senate panel voted cuts in aid to Pakistan and threatened to withhold even more cash, if Islamabad does not reopen its supply routes for NATO soldiers in Afghanistan.

Quite contrary to his earlier statements, on June 13, Leon Panetta remarked during a Congress hearing that the US should examine setting conditions for aid to Pakistan, but not cutting it off, because Islamabad’s closure of supply lines to the Afghan war costs American taxpayers millions of dollars a month. He elaborated that the reliance on a longer Central Asian route to transport supplies was costing Washington $100 million a month, which is very expensive. This shows enigmatic approach of Panetta who lacks foresight.

Earlier Leon Panetta had disclosed that Pakistan has demanded $5,000 per truck and has ruled out paying this amount “considering the financial challenges.” In this respect, Panetta’s false statement was exposed when on June 13, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar clarified by dispelling the impression that talks with America on reopening the supply routes were hostage to any Pakistani demand for high tariffs as pre-requisite.

Sources suggest that stalemate still exists between Pakistan and US to conclude agreement because by rejecting US duress for earlier restoration of NATO transport routes, Pakistan’s civil and military leaders remain firm on their stand that the issue of NATO supply lines would be decided in light of the parliamentary guidelines.

Nonetheless, Pakistan seeks to discuss all the related issues instead of resumption of NATO supply unilaterally. So it is especially, owing to US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s duplicity which is creating real obstacles in reaching an agreement between Pakistan and the US.

Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar reiterated that seeking apology from the US on Salala incident which killed 24 soldiers on Army outpost in Pakistan on November 26, last year is essential for resumption of the NATO route. But having no opinion of his own, and following obstinacy of other American officials, Panetta ruled out an apology on June 21.

Leon Panetta’s lack of statesmanship could also be judged from some of his other statements. For example, during his Asia visit, on June 2, 2012, he revealed in Singapore, “The United States will shift a majority of its warships to the Asia-Pacific region by 2020” as part of a new US military strategy in Asia. Panetta’s Asia visit came at a time of renewed tension over claims in the South China Sea between China and Philippines, a major US ally. US also backs Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam and Malaysia in this regard. Panetta sought to dispel the notion that the shift in US new defense policy was designed to contain China’s emergence as a global power.

But Panetta forgot that during his visit to Australia, on November 17, 2011, President Barrack Obama already pointed out, “The United States is a Pacific power, and we are here to stay,” and he would “send military aircraft and marines to Australia for a training hub to help allies and to protect US interests across Asia.” He also explained that the US is not afraid of China. It proves that, while remaining confused, Leon Panetta himself does not know what he is saying. His personality doe not possess leadership qualities.

Consequently, after the withdrawal of occupying forces, US ambivalent strategy will throw Afghanistan in an era of further uncertainty and chaos, intensifying country’s intractable issues.

In an era, when European governments are cutting defense budgets, the United States is increasingly tilting towards defense challenges in Asia, while many of NATO’s other members, preoccupied by economic problems, have little appetite for American foreign adventures. Even they will be reluctant to fund American military presence in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of NATO troops. It also raises the question of whether the US, which accounts for three-quarters of NATO defense spending, will remain committed to the organization.

Even in the US, in May, this year, the Pentagon has been under orders to cut spending by $487 billion from projected defense over the next decade as the Obama Administration tries to rein in its trillion-dollar deficit.

Leon Panetta strictly opposed the cut in defense budget, while Republican  representative Buck McKeon, Chairman of the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, told Panetta that he was “clearly operating under some misconceptions” about the defense policy bill.” In this context, some lawmakers who preferred other public welfare programmes have also criticized Panetta.

It is notable that the US cost of war against terrorism which is more than 8 trillion dollars is rapidly growing, causing other related problems inside America in wake of debt crisis. While public is protesting against the prolonged war in Afghanistan, and somewhere else including drone attacks especially on Pakistan. Moreover, modern world trends like renunciation of war, peaceful settlement of disputes and economic development have rapidly been strengthening in the Cyber age.

Nevertheless, while wavering between fact and skepticism, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has ignored all these ground realties. Politicians may follow ambivalent policy, but it is not the job of statesmen to reflect such an ambiguous strategy. In these terms, Panetta lacks statesmanship.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

 

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