Stop NATO News March 3, 2011

3 March 2011 — Stop NATO

1. U.S.-NATO European Missile Shield System Reaches New Milestone
2. Libya: Washington’s Third Front?
3. U.S. Says Mediterranean Warship Deployment Part Of Missile Shield
4. Russia Pleads Not To Be Targeted By Interceptor Missiles: NATO Control Button Always Be U.S. Button
5. Kuril Crisis: Russia Angry Over U.S. Interference
6. Norway: U.S. Marines Use Massive Cave Complex For Black Sea Operations, Afghan And Iraqi Wars
7. Kunar: 1,000 Afghans Protest Against NATO Slaughter Of 65 Civilians
8. Foreign Minister Lavrov: Unrest In Arab World To Impact Russian North Caucasus And Central Asia
9. New Defense Doctrine: Georgia Builds NATO-Standard Army Aimed At Russia
10. Georgia: Saakashvili, Five-Year-Old Son Drill With U.S.-Trained Special Forces
11. NATO Air Strike Kills Four Afghan Security Guards: Officials
12. Drive East: Joint Eastern Partnership-Visegrad Four Summit
13. Thousands Of Libyans Will Die If U.S., NATO Invade Country
14. Kosovo: Russia Firm On Not Recognizing U.S.-NATO Pseudo-State
15. Russia To Deploy Cruise Missiles, Air Defenses To Kurils
16. Russia Delivers Demarche To Japanese Charge D’Affaires
17. Cyprus Wants News On British Warplane Deployment For Libya
18. U.S. Assault Ships Clear Suez, Move Closer To Libya
19. Death Of 329 In Air India Explosion Possible Star Wars Experiment
20. U.S., British, French Warships Enter The Mediterranean
21. Venezuela Calls On UN To Stop Military Invasion Of Libya
22. “Incompatible With Our Country’s Position”: Japan Blasts Russian Military Buildup On Kurils
23. Libya Going The Way Of Iraq Or Afghanistan?
24. Report: Swedish Officers Killed By Friendly Fire In Afghanistan
25. Clinton: Libya Becoming “Giant Somalia”

1. U.S.-NATO European Missile Shield System Reaches New Milestone
U.S. Department of Defense
March 2, 2011
Milestone Nears for European Missile Defense Plan By Karen Parrish

WASHINGTON: The U.S. plan to defend Europe from a rapidly increasing ballisticmissile threat will reach a milestone next week with the first deployment of missile defense technology, a senior Defense Department official said yesterday.

The USS Monterey — equipped with systems to detect, track, engage and destroy ballistic missiles in flight — will deploy next week from its home port of Norfolk, Va., for a six-month tour in the U.S. European Command area of responsibility, [John F. Plumb, the Pentagon’s principal director for nuclear and missile defense policy] said.

The ship will participate in missile defense exercises and help to lay the foundation for future deployments, Plumb said, in “the first demonstration of our commitment to this in a long series of deployments that will follow.”

President Barack Obama approved the phased, adaptive approach to European ballistic missile defense in 2009, and the NATO alliance agreed to the plan at its November 2010 summit in Lisbon, Portugal.

The approach will begin with existing technology and add more sophisticated systems now in development to build sea- and land-based missile defense systems in Europe throughout the rest of this decade, Plumb said.

“The first phase involves ships, because we have sea-based missile defense capabilities now, as well as forward-based radar that can provide information to those ships,” he said.

The second phase will begin in 2015, he said, with the deployment of a land-based interceptor site in Romania. The interceptor, the Standard Missile-3 IB, or SM-3 IB, is in development now, Plumb said.

“That will be the first land-based deployment of this type of interceptor, and that will start to provide greater coverage for Europe,” he said.

The SM-3 IA already is deployed on ships around the world, he said, and two other variants of the interceptor, the IIA and IIB, are scheduled to be in place as part of phases 3 and 4 by 2020. Plumb said each version of the interceptor will defend against missiles of greater ranges and speeds.

While the phased, adaptive approach is currently under U.S. European Command’s authority, Plumb said, NATO agreed at the Lisbon summit to establish command-and-control systems allowing the alliance to take the lead in ballistic missile defense on the European continent.

“Europe is a big place,” he said. “The more you can cooperate, and the more assets other nations can contribute, the better the system can function.”

Those contributions may take the form of sensors, interceptors or land for sites, he said.

“The assets we’re deploying would be the U.S. national contribution to the missile defense of Europe,” Plumb said. “As with any other NATO mission, individual nations voluntarily contribute assets, and [all] would work under a NATO command structure.”


2. Libya: Washington’s Third Front?
Russian Information Agency Novosti
March 3, 2011
Libya: Washington’s third front?
Grigory Melamedov


The United States has begun moving warships and aircraft closer to Libya and called on its NATO allies to provide more effective assistance to the Libyan

opposition. Is the U.S. preparing to open a third front, in addition to the ones in Afghanistan and Iraq?

Experts are discussing the possibility of a full-scale military operation and

precision missile strikes. “Libya could become a peaceful democracy or it could face protracted civil war,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said. If Washington truly plans to use force, her statement should not be taken as

anything more than protocol.

There are many reasons why the Untied States could opt for military


[S]ome rebels are under the influence of Al-Qaeda, which could seize control of part of the country, while Gaddafi retains control over the rest. This is the worst-case scenario that the United States and its allies want to prevent.

U.S. President Barack Obama must do something to restore his prestige. He seemed caught off-guard by the unrest in Egypt, and has appeared out of step ever since.

The United States also has a problem with military bases in the region. Of the

80,000 U.S. troops deployed in Arab countries, 50,000 are stationed in Iraq.

Nearly all other U.S. outposts in the region are located south of Iran, with the central command in Qatar, airfields in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, a large military base in Kuwait, the U.S. Fifth Fleet headquarters and the Air Force command in Bahrain, seven bases in Oman, and units in Yemen and Djibouti.

But Washington has next to nothing in North Africa. It has no bases there and

can use airfields and seaports in Egypt only by prior agreement and in Morocco

in case of emergency…

Therefore, a military operation in Libya is the only chance for the United

States to deploy troops in the region.

But can the United States wage a successful war on three fronts simultaneously: in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya? Moreover, the Republican majority in Congress has called for expanding the operation in Afghanistan. Over the past few months, the Pentagon and the National Security Council have been discussing plans to send special operation forces to Pakistan to shore up the war effort against the

Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

Obama needs at least a small military success to his name, but unfortunately, the United States and Pakistan signed an agreement according to which U.S. troops may not be deployed in Pakistan. There are American troops there, of course, but everyone pretends otherwise.

In other words, it is unlikely that Obama will convince Pakistan to revise this agreement, and so he may redirect the U.S. war effort to North Africa instead.


3. U.S. Says Mediterranean Warship Deployment Part Of Missile Shield

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

March 2, 2011

U.S. Says Radar Ship Deployment Part Of Missile-Defense Shield

Russia has expressed concern that the shield could threaten its security

The United States military says it is sending a radar-equipped warship to the Mediterranean — and officials say the ship will be an early component of the planned European anti-ballistic missile defense shield.

John Plumb, the Pentagon’s principal director of nuclear and missile defense policy, said the “USS Monterey” ship is scheduled to leave port in Norfolk, Virginia, next week to start a six-month deployment in the Mediterranean.

Plumb said the ship is intended to start laying the foundation for a new ship- and land-based missile-defense system aimed at guarding Europe against a potential Iranian missile threat.

The “USS Monterey” is described as a guided-missile cruiser equipped with a sophisticated Aegis radar system designed to detect ballistic missiles.

NATO endorsed the missile-defense plan at a summit last year, but U.S. and Russian officials have been struggling to overcome Russian concerns that the system could threaten Russia’s security.

Compiled from agency reports


4. Russia Pleads Not To Be Targeted: NATO Button Always U.S. Button

Russian Information Agency Novosti

March 2, 2011

‘No-targeting’ pact key to missile defense deal with NATO – Lavrov

“This is not the first time we are being told, ‘This is not directed against you,’ and then end up with problems on our hands”

Moscow: A formal agreement guaranteeing that NATO and Russian missile defense systems are not directed against each other is the key to cooperation, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday.

“It is not intentions but capabilities that count,” he said in an interview with Ekho Moskvy radio.

“This is not the first time we are being told, ‘This is not directed against you,’ and then end up with problems on our hands,” he said.

Moscow would like to have legal guarantees before going ahead with a joint missile-defense system, Lavrov said.

“Needless to say, for our part, we are ready to provide such guarantees,” Lavrov said.

Russia and NATO agreed to cooperate on the so called Euro missile defense system at the Lisbon summit in November 2010. NATO insists there should be two independent systems, while Russia favors a joint system.

Moscow’s stance on European missile defense is that NATO defends the territory of NATO member states while Russia defends its own territory, Lavrov said.

“NATO’s [control] button will always be the U.S. button. The same goes for our button: We will have sole control of our button,” the Russian minister said.


5. Kuril Crisis: Russia Angry Over U.S. Interference


February 28, 2011

Russian-U.S. relations: One step forward, two steps back

U.S. statements to the effect that the southern Kuril Islands belong to Japan “have no legal basis, and raise serious misgivings in Russia,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with the Echo of Moscow radio station today.

Representatives of the U.S. Embassy in Russia said on February 18 that the United States recognized Japan’s sovereignty over the islands. Following this statement, U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle was summoned to the Foreign Ministry where he was told that such external interference in this bilateral issue was unacceptable.

The dispute over the southern Kuril Islands has sharpened in recent weeks. Russia has stated on numerous occasions that its sovereignty over the four islands was indisputable. Lavrov reiterated this position at the talks with his Japanese counterpart Seiji Maehara held in Moscow in early February. Japanese politicians responded to this by claiming Japan’s inalienable rights to the islands known in Japan as “the northern territories”.


6. Norway: U.S. Marines Use Cave Complex For Black Sea, Global Wars

U.S. European Command

March 1, 2011

Marine Corps Prepositioning Program Norway supports Black Sea Rotational Force

Cpl. Cullen J. Tiernan, Marine Forces Europe

– “As a part of their agreement with NATO, the Norwegians originally stored the gear in response to the Soviet threat to Scandinavia during the Cold War. Now, the gear is consistently utilized by Marine Forces Europe and has been used in support of exercises and operational contingencies all over the globe.”

-The Norwegian caves are strategically located to provide support to the United States Marine Corps’ operations around the globe…[T]he equipment from the climate controlled caves of Norway has seen action in places as diverse as the deserts of Iraq and mountains of Afghanistan in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

PANZER KASERNE, Germany: Well guarded within 671,000 sq. feet of six climate-controlled caves, $420 million worth of Marine Corps equipment and supplies lie ready for real world use. The caves, located in Norway, serve as a key strategic storage site for the Marine Corps.

Marine Forces Europe coordinated the draw and inspection of equipment and supplies from the cave site in Bjugn, Norway, Feb. 14 – 17 in support of the Black Sea Rotational Force. The gear is allocated to support a Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force with Black Sea Rotational Force 11.

The SPMAGTF that will participate in BSRF 11 includes personnel from the Marine Forces Reserve, with the 4th Tank Battalion forming the command element. The equipment stored in Norway is a part of the Marine Corps Prepositioning Program Norway which is managed by Blount Island Command.

“Marine Corps Prepositioning Program Norway is the Marine Corps’ only land based prepositioning program,” said Mike Harvey, MarForEur prepositioning officer. “MCPPN was established in 1981 through a bilateral memorandum of understanding between the governments of Norway and the United States. Since its creation, MCPPN has been transformed into more of a global capability with a regional focus.”

The Marines serving with BSRF 11 will deploy to Constanta, Romania and support security cooperation missions throughout the Black Sea region from April to September. The ability to store and maintain Marine Corps equipment and supplies in Norway continues to provide the Marine Corps a flexible, scalable capability and saves thousands of dollars in transportation cost when deployed in support of Marine Forces throughout the European Command’s area of responsibility.

The program is currently undergoing a transformation to gain greater efficiencies and enhance its ability to support lower to mid level spectrum operations.

“The Norwegians maintain the gear in a very high state of readiness,” said Maj. Timothy E. Robertson, logistics plans officer for MarForEur. “As a part of their agreement with NATO, the Norwegians originally stored the gear in response to the Soviet threat to Scandinavia during the Cold War. Now, the gear is consistently utilized by Marine Forces Europe and has been used in support of exercises and operational contingencies all over the globe.”

The Norwegian caves are strategically located to provide support to the United States Marine Corps’ operations around the globe, according to Robertson…[T]he equipment from the climate controlled caves of Norway has seen action in places as diverse as the deserts of Iraq and mountains of Afghanistan in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.


7. Kunar: 1,000 Afghans Protest Against NATO Slaughter Of 65 Civilians

Voice of Russia

March 2, 2011

Afghans resentful over civilian deaths

About a thousand people in the provincial city of Asadabad in northeastern Afghanistan have taken to the streets to vent their anger over mounting civilian casualties in NATO air raids.

On Tuesday, one such raid in the surrounding Kunar Province killed nine children.


8. FM: Arab World Unrest To Impact Russian N. Caucasus, C. Asia

Voice of Russia

March 2, 2011

Wave of revolts may impact Russia – Lavrov

Government crises in the Middle East and North Africa may cause the aggravation of the situation in Russia’s North Caucasus and the CIS Central Asian nations, says Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

According to him, Russia felt a negative influence from the Middle East even when the situation in the region was stable. But now that the situation in the Middle East has changed, it may cause the aggravation of the situation in Russia irrespectively of what parties come to power in the region.

Given the danger, Russia is prepared to join efforts to ensure a political settlement in the Middle East and North Africa.


9. New Doctrine: Georgia Builds NATO-Standard Army Aimed At Russia

Xinhua News Agency

March 2, 2011

Georgia revises national security concept with focus on Russia-related challenges

TBILISI: The parliamentary majority of Georgia on Wednesday again discussed the country’s new national security concept, scheduled to be adopted during the ongoing spring session of the assembly.

The new security concept will also be discussed by the parliament minority next week again.

Georgian lawmakers launched their current discussion and debate about the country’s new national security concept on Feb. 18.

Batu Kutelia, deputy secretary of the Georgian Security Council and former Georgian ambassador to the United States, on Wednesday briefed lawmakers about the modifications recommended by both majority and minority groups in the parliament.

The new national security concept is to become Georgia’s second version of its security strategy. The previous one was adopted in July of 2005.

Local security analyst Irakli Sesiashvili says the new draft of the national security concept has failed to meet national security requirements in that it has not defined security strategies of the South Caucasus country.

The obvious differences between the existing and soon-to-be versions of the Georgian national security concept lie in the fact that “Russia has become a major challenge.”

Russian military “occupation of parts of the Georgian territory” and “a risk of renewed military aggression by Russia” has been identified by the new draft as one of the major challenges Georgia is now facing.

The security concept adopted more than five years ago stated that there “is little possibility of open military aggression against Georgia” but that threat of cross-border hostilities from state and from non-state parties “is real.”

The new draft, however, mentioned Georgian relations with North Caucasus as necessary. “Georgia realizes the necessity of deepening and developing relations with brotherly people living in the North Caucasus” and “atmosphere of cooperation and peace in the North Caucasus is of special importance for Georgia.” [That is, attempting to subvert Moscow’s influence in the south of Russia – RR]

The new draft has also mentioned OSCE as the most important organization in ensuring and promoting security in the region of South Caucasus.

Georgia highly appreciates the OSCE’s assistance in development of democratic institutes and stability and underlines the importance of resumption of the OSCE’s presence in the occupied regions of Georgia, the new draft added.

Currently the European Union stations a monitoring group known as EUMM now around South Ossetia which pronounced independence after the August 2008 conflict between Georgia and Russia.

Russia and Georgia have been at odds since 2008 when they fought a brief war that resulted in Moscow’s recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states.

The new draft also describes Turkey as Georgia’s “leading regional partner” not only in economic but also in military cooperation. “Georgia draws huge importance to further development of relations in the sphere of security and defense with Turkey.”

Apart from boosting economic growth, Georgia is also boosting development in its military and defense capability.

“Georgia is carrying out large-scale defense reforms,” said the new draft of national security concept, in an attempt to forge an armed forces compatible with NATO standards and capable of overcoming the threats and challenges Georgia now faces.


10. Georgia: Saakashvili, Son Drill With U.S.-Trained Special Forces

Trend News Agency

March 2, 2011

Georgian president makes quick-march together with special-purpose forces

N. Kirtzkhalia

Tbilisi: Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili today spent the day with a group of the Georgian Defense Ministry’s Special-Purpose Forces. He made a quick-march together with the militaries and then trained with them in the gym, the Defense Ministry reported.

Saakashvili’s youngest son, five-year-old Nikoloz accompanied him at the Military Unit. After training in the gym, the president and his son gladly tasted military rations.

Saakashvili said he was proud that they spent a day together with the militaries and together they do one thing.

“We recently lost our heroes in Afghanistan, but we are obliged to participate in this operation, as it strengthens our power, serves to strengthen the army, and it is necessary to combat terrorism, which threatens the entire world,” he said, stressing that Georgia is making its contribution to international stability.

During his visit, Saakashvili was accompanied by Defense Minister Bacho Akhalaia and head of joint headquarters General Devi Chankvetadze.


11. NATO Air Strike Kills Four Afghan Security Guards: Officials

Trend News Agency

March 2, 2011

NATO airstrike kills four Afghan security guards, officials say

A NATO airstrike killed four guards working for a private security company in the southern Afghan province of Helmand, officials said Wednesday.

One more guard was injured in the strike in the Gerishk district on Tuesday, said Mohammad Hakim Andar, provincial police chief. The men were providing security for a road construction firm in the region, he said, DPA reported.

Major Michael Johnson, spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), said a joint investigation with Afghan officials was underway into incident.


12. Drive East: Joint Eastern Partnership-Visegrad Four Summit

Trend News Agency

March 2, 2011

Azerbaijan to attend Eastern Partnership and Visegrad Four talks

S. Agayeva

-The V4 summit in Bratislava will also be attended by the EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, the European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Fule, and Vice Chancellor of Germany, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.

-The Eastern Partnership Program is a Polish-Swedish initiative under the EU Neighborhood Policy aimed at improving EU relations with six former Soviet countries Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Belarus, Ukraine and Armenia.

Baku: Deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Mahmud Mammadguliyev will represent the country at an extended meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Visegrad Four V4 (Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia) with the representatives of member countries of the European Eastern Partnership, Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry’s spokesman Elkhan Polukhov told Trend.

The foreign ministers of the V4 and the Eastern Partnership will also be attending the GLOBSEC 2011 Bratislava Global Security Forum to be opened in Bratislava on Wednesday, the TASR Slovak news agency reported earlier.

The V4 summit in Bratislava will also be attended by the EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, the European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Fule, and Vice Chancellor of Germany, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.

At the meeting, Slovakia will be represented by Foreign Minister Mikulas Dzurinda, Czech Republic – Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, Hungary – Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi, Poland – Secretary of Foreign Ministry Nicholas Dovgelevich.

According to TASR, the foreign ministers of Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, as well as deputy foreign minister of Belarus will also arrive in Bratislava.

The Eastern Partnership Program is a Polish-Swedish initiative under the EU Neighborhood Policy aimed at improving EU relations with six former Soviet countries Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Belarus, Ukraine and Armenia. The program envisages the allocation of 600 million euro to these countries until 2013 to strengthen state institutions, control borders and help small companies.

The program does not envisage opportunities for EU membership, but instead envisages facilitating the visa regime, energy cooperation, and the introduction of free trade zones. Small projects on student exchange, environmental protection, and energy supply will also be implemented.


13. Thousands Of Libyans Will Die If U.S., NATO Invade Country

Indian Express/Agencies

March 2, 2011

Gaddafi warns of ‘bloody war’ in case foreign intervention

A defiant Muammar Gaddafi on Wednesday refused to give up power as he warned against any foreign intervention, saying it will lead to “a bloody war” in which “thousands of Libyans would die”.

“We will not accept [an] American intervention. This will lead to a bloody war and thousands of Libyans will die if America and NATO enter Libya,” Gaddafi said at a public gathering for the first time since the two-week-old uprising began, an event aired live on state television.

Digging in his heels, he claimed that the anti-regime protests were part of a “conspiracy” to grab the oil resources of Libya.


14. Kosovo: Russia Firm On Not Recognizing U.S.-NATO Pseudo-State


March 2, 2011

Russia still adamant on not recognizing Kosovo

Moscow: Russia remains committed to its position not to recognize the self-proclaimed Republic of Kosovo, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov said at a meeting with Lamberto Zannier, head of the UN mission in Kosovo, the Foreign Ministry announced today.

The Kosovo problem can be resolved only through talks based on UN Security Council Resolution 1244, which stipulates among other things that Serbia should have a say on the independence of Kosovo, Titov noted.

However, the Kosovo Republic unilaterally announced its independence on February 17, 2008 contrary to Serbia’s position.


15. Russia To Deploy Cruise Missiles, Air Defenses To Kurils

Xinhua News Agency

March 2, 2011

Russia to deploy cruise missiles on Kuril Islands

VLADIVOSTOK; Russia will deploy anti-ship cruise missiles and an advanced air defense system on the Kuril Islands, including the four Russian-held Southern Kurils claimed by Japan, Interfax reported Wednesday.

Russia will set up Yakhont anti-ship missiles and the Tor-M2 missile shield, Interfax news agency quoted an official of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces as saying.

The cruise missiles could be deployed in Iturup and Kunashir, two of the four disputed Pacific islands which have major military sites in the Kuril Islands, a move likely to rouse indignation in Japan.

A military buildup plan for the Kuril Islands has already been submitted to Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, presumably including the deployments of the Yakhont missiles and the Tor-M2 system.

Russia will continue consolidating its military presence on the Kuril Islands seen as a strategic region.


16. Russia Delivers Demarche To Japanese Charge D’Affaires


March 2, 2011

Russia expresses protest to Japanese charge d’affaires

MOSCOW: Russia has protested against the cancellation of criminal proceedings with regard to a group of Japanese extremists who insulted the Russian flag outside of the Russian embassy in Tokyo last February.

“On March 2 Japan’s charge d’affaires in the Russian Federation Keiji Ide was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry where a protest was expressed to him as it had learned that the Japanese authorities gave up the criminal prosecution of a group of Japanese extremists who on the occasion of the Day of Northern Territories on February 7 had committed anti-Russian actions outside of the Russian embassy in Tokyo,” the Russian Foreign Ministry reports.

“The Russian side insisted that a repeat investigation be conducted with regard to the above named individuals to establish their guilt and to duly punish them. If this is not done, the Russian authorities will have to take this circumstance into account in their future steps regarding Japan,” a statement posted on the mistily website on Wednesday says.

“The attention of the charge d’affaires was drawn to the fact that the softness of the Japanese authorities with regard to hooligans cannot be regarded otherwise than connivance,” the statement says.

“The Japanese diplomat promised to report Russia’s demarche to Tokyo,” the statement says.


17. Cyprus Wants News On British Warplane Deployment For Libya

Cyprus News Agency

March 2, 2011

Typhoon jets at RAF Cyprus base – government awaits news

The Cyprus government is expecting to be informed whether Britain is considering basing Typhoon jets at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou has said.

Invited to comment on relevant reports by British media, Stephanou said “that after we saw this information in the media, we’ve had some contacts and we are expecting to get some information on this issue. We still have nothing,” he said.

Asked if Britain is obliged to give information and ask for the Republic of Cyprus’ permission, Stephanou said there are certain Treaties regarding the operation of the British Bases in Cyprus. “As far as I know information must be given on this issue,” he noted.

Britain has retained two military bases in Cyprus after the country gained its independence in 1960 from British colonial rule.


18. U.S. Assault Ships Clear Suez, Move Closer To Libya


March 2, 2011

US assault ships clear Suez, enter Mediterranean

WASHINGTON: Two U.S. amphibious assault ships have reached the Mediterranean as Washington intensifies military pressure on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to end his decades-long rule, a U.S. official said on Wednesday.

The two ships, the USS Ponce and the USS Kearsarge, amphibious assault ships that typically carry Marines, cleared the Suez Canal from the Red Sea and entered the Mediterranean, the official said on condition of anonymity.

(Reporting by Missy Ryan; Editing by Sandra Maler)

RTT News

March 2, 2011

US Navy Vessels Move Closer To Libya

Two American naval vessels headed for Libya Wednesday reached the Mediterranean after passing through the Suez Canal, the waterway’s head of navigation monitoring has been quoted as saying in reports.

The USS Ponce and the USS Kearsarge are being despatched to the north African nation…US Defense Secretary Robert Gates had informed reporters on Tuesday that the vessels will have on board an extra 400 Marines.

Besides Kearsarge is carrying 42 choppers and is equipped with facilities for allowing helicopters to take off and land on its upper deck. Ponce and Kearsarge were reportedly accompanied by tug boats to ensure a safe passage.

Incidentally the arrival of the Naval ships coincided with efforts by Libya’s pro-Moammar Qadhafi forces to wrest control of key oil port of Brega in eastern Libya as part of efforts to check the advancement of anti-government protesters.

US defense officials indicated that they were game for creation of a no-fly zone over Libya as its enforcement will not require political endorsement at home, global mandate, or any kind of massive air power. However, the US is rather wary of the prospect of another military intervention.

The creation of a no-fly zone first mooted by British Premier David Cameron had earlier been rejected by France and Russia.


19. Death Of 329 In Air India Explosion Possible Star Wars Experiment

Indo-Asian News Service

March 3, 2011

‘Star Wars’ experiment caused Kanishka tragedy?

Shillong: Even as the mystery over the Air India Kanishka bombing continues, a report released on Wednesday by a rights activist in Meghalaya suggested that the plane could have been the victim of a ‘Star Wars’ experiment by the US.

‘The plane (Kanishka) could have been the victim of the Strategic Defence Initiative or the so called ‘Star Wars’ experiment,’ said Michael N Syiem in his report titled ‘The Sixth Possibility’.

The laser-based Star Wars technology was launched in 1983 by the Ronald Reagan administration with the aim of protecting the US from missile attacks by erecting an impenetrable defensive missile shield across the entire North American continent.

It was quietly shelved after the Kanishka explosion in 1985.

Kanishka, the Air India flight 182 operating on the Montreal-London-Delhi-Bombay route, was blown up by a bomb at an altitude of 31,000 feet June 23, 1985, killing all 329 people on board.

In his 29 page report, Syiem said that on June 23, 1985, the Americans, in their second attempt succeeded in testing their functional accuracy of the Star War technology, when Kanishka exploded mid-air into the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Ireland.

The US space agency NASA had launched the 18th flight of the space shuttle ‘Discovery’ June 17, 1985 with the mission to determine whether a laser beam could track the a speeding missile warhead and explode it in mid-air before it could reach its target.

‘There were five theories regarding the cause of the Kanishka disaster which includes: mechanical failure, mid-air collision after debris of a Soviet space rocket hit the plane, insurance fraud as per the angle of Canadian police, the alleged sabotage of Indian intelligence agencies and the bomb explosion carried out purportedly by Sikh terrorists, but none of these have been proven till date,’ he said.

‘The Indian government can also start their investigations on the role of the US with regards to the launching of the laser beams on that fateful morning when the Kanishka exploded in mid-air,’ Syiem told journalists.

Syiem claimed that his book can act as a reference on the Kanishka incident from 1985 till date, which can be of immense use to historians and investigators to find out the truth behind the disaster.

Syiem said that he would send the copy of his report to the Canadian embassy in India as the Canadian authorities in 1995 had announced $730,000 for the effort to solve the Air India bombing that killed all on board.


20. U.S., British, French Warships Enter The Mediterranean

Agenzia Giornalistica Italia

March 2, 2011


Paris: The USA, France and Great Britain now have military assets in the Mediterranean.

France has decided to send the Mistral, its helicopter-carrier, which, according to the Defense Ministry will contribute to evacuation of thousands of Egyptians.

In the meantime two American vessels entered the Mediterranean today, the USS Kearsarge and the USS Ponce, which is carrying 800 marines as well as a fleet of helicopters and a medical crew. The vessels sailed up the Suez Canal towards the coasts of Libya.


21. Venezuela Calls On UN To Stop Military Invasion Of Libya

El Universal

March 2, 2011

Venezuela asks the UN to prevent a military invasion of Libya

Venezuelan Ambassador Jorge Valero on Tuesday asked the United Nations “to stop invasion plans against Libya,” and rejected as “hasty” a decision to suspend the North African country from the UN Human Rights Council due to Muammar al-Gaddafi’s crackdown on popular protests.

“The free Libyan people should be able to define their own destiny without foreign interference. They are the leading actors in this story, and no foreign force is authorized to intervene in the internal affairs of the Libyan nation,” said Valero.

“Venezuela calls upon countries to reject the warlike mobilization of United States naval and air forces in the Mediterranean Sea. Those who promote the use of military force against Libya do not seek to defend human rights, but to establish a protectorate to violate such rights, as they have always done, in one of the most important oil and energy sources in the Middle East region,” he added.

He noted that Venezuela proposed a plan to establish a Peacebuilding Commission to restore stability in Libya

“President Hugo Chávez Frías proposed yesterday (Monday) to establish an international goodwill commission to seek peace in Libya. It is necessary to promote dialogue immediately between the government of Muammar al-Gaddafi and the opposition, in order to achieve understanding and reconciliation of the Libyan people,” he added.


22. Japan Blasts Russian Military Buildup On Kurils

Agence France-Presse

March 2, 2011

Japan slams Russian military build-up on islands

TOKYO: Japan on Wednesday branded Russia’s plans to deploy anti-ship cruise missiles on disputed islands off Tokyo’s northern frontier “very deplorable”.

Vice-foreign ministers from the two countries met in Tokyo for a regular “strategic dialogue” to discuss ties strained by the territorial row over the Kurils that has been unresolved since World War II.

The meeting came a day after Russia’s Interfax news agency reported Moscow was planning to deploy additional weaponry including anti-ship cruise missiles and air defences on the disputed islands.

“Russia’s military build-up on the four northern islands is totally incompatible with our country’s position and it is very deplorable,” Japan’s top government spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, told a regular news briefing.

At the half-day diplomatic meeting, the Russian side said that the military build-up was aimed at “reducing the military manpower through modernisation of weaponry,” Jiji news agency reported.

The chief cabinet secretary said: “We will remain consistent in asserting our country’s position on the islands and strive to realise it.”

Edano also said at a briefing earlier Wednesday that Japan was “watching Russian military activities in the Far East as a matter of course.”

The disputed Kuril islets, called the Northern Territories by Japan, were seized by Soviet troops in the days after Japan’s surrender in World War II, and the row has prevented both sides from signing a peace treaty.

The row flared up anew in November when President Dmitry Medvedev paid an unexpected visit to one of the four islands, followed by a series of trips there by other top Kremlin officials.

Tokyo and Moscow have since been engaged in a heated war of words that continued during a tense February 11 exchange in Moscow between Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.


23. Libya Going The Way Of Iraq Or Afghanistan?

The Star (Malaysia)

March 2, 2011

Will Libya be going the way of Iraq or Afghanistan?


By Bunn Nagara

The situation in Libya is fast deteriorating, but not as much as the diplomatic environment abroad concerning Libya.

Over the weekend the UN Security Council (UNSC) slapped an arms embargo on the country. The US itself imposed sanctions on Libya as soon as the last American nationals left last Friday.

US officials have since pressured its allies to act similarly. Germany has suspended oil payments for 60 days to stem the funding of Tripoli’s anti-revolt actions.

The US also blocked the international flow of US$30bil (RM91.3bil) in assets belonging to oil-rich Libya. It is the largest amount ever blocked by the US, and among the swiftest actions of its kind.

The US and British governments have also prepared their military forces for action. This week warships and fighter aircraft from the US Sixth Fleet began moving closer to Libya, supported by Australia.

However, Canada, France, Germany and Russia are less keen on another invasion of yet another oil-rich Third World nation. If this looks familiar, it is something of a replay of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in early 2003.

All vested interests aside, there are some facts and realities that are irrefutable and certain issues that cannot be ignored.

Among the facts is that Libya has seen the worst violence out of all the troubled states in North Africa and West Asia. This has involved virtually every political sector: government, military, opposition groups and the general public.

A fact that follows is that Libya is now embroiled in civil war, despite the denials of Col. Muammar Gaddafi and his aides. After defections in the military, civil service and government departments, elements of a civil war were confirmed with the attacks by Gaddafi forces on rebel troop outposts.

However, the fighting consists largely of sporadic exchanges of gunfire apart from a few aerial attacks on munitions dumps by government forces. Fighter jets for example have hit military stores in Ajdabiya in the east and Rajma to the south.

Gaddafi has denied such reports, while Western sources tend to overplay them. Undeclared interests on each side are in evidence yet again.

Another fact is that Libya’s oil production has been cut by half, which amounts to just 1% of world output. A feared oil crisis resulting from Libya’s troubles has not happened and may never occur.

Pressure on Gaddaffi to expedite his own exit is being applied mostly by the US and Britain. The US-UK axis has much to gain from a Western-friendly post-Gaddafi Libya, along with their ally Israel.

Among the realities is that neither Gaddafi nor his Western opponents possess the moral high ground. The Libyan people opposing Gaddafi know too well what happened in Iraq, and hope Libya will avoid a similar fate.

Add to this the reality that the spiralling violence cannot possibly end in the favour of “M. Gaddafi and Sons,” militarily, politically or diplomatically. There can no longer be “business as usual” whatever happens in the following days and weeks.

The situation continues to worsen in heading for the inevitable showdown. Yet however serious the consequences, they are an internal matter for the country requiring domestic political solutions.

Another reality is that parts of the country continue to ebb and flow between the government and its opponents. There is no clear distinction in territorial control, adding to an already murky situation.

A basic reality that the government needs to accept is that the official institutions of state are broken. They can no longer sustain, much less protect, Gaddafi’s hold on power.

Among the issues is that there is still no basis for anyone to claim global oil shortages or to act accordingly by raising prices. With countries like Saudi Arabia pledging to raise production to offset any shortfalls, self-seeking claims of a global crisis are premature if not spurious.

Politically, there is no clear successor to Gaddafi once he quits the scene. The situation is not unlike Egypt’s, where a shapeless revolution is aimed primarily at removing an incumbent rather than installing a successor.

In the interim confusion, Gaddafi has played the al-Qaeda card and indicated that allowing his government to fall could permit the influx of Islamist extremists. His authoritarian regime brooked little opposition, but his formula of an “Islamic socialism” also kept out militants.

As Western intervention looms, the question is whether a new Libya will be like Iraq, busy with mayhem and militants, or like Afghanistan, where an ineffectual government oversees little other than the prospect of more mayhem and militants.


24. Report: Swedish Officers Killed By Friendly Fire In Afghanistan

The Local

March 2, 2011

Swedish officers killed by friendly fire: report

Two Swedish officers who were shot to death in Afghanistan in February last year appear to have been killed by Swedish bullets.

The findings come from an autopsy report as well as an internal investigation by Sweden’s Armed Forces (Försvarsmakten), TV4 news reported on Tuesday.

The bullet holes in the Swedes were of a size which corresponds to the caliber of Swedish ammunition. The Afghan man who shot at the Swedes had ammunition caliber of 7.62 millimetres, while the Swedish ammunition had a caliber of 5.56 millimetres.

The autopsy report also shows that the entry wounds are higher up on the Swedes’ bodies than the exit wounds.

According to the angle of the wound, the shots came from a location four metres high and thus could have been fired from a Swedish armoured vehicle standing near the side of the road when the firefight took place, according to TV4.

Swedish officers Gunnar Andersson and Johan Palmlöv, as well as their Afghan interpreter Mohammad Shahab Ayoulay were shot to death on February 7th of last year in the village of Gurgi Tappeh, about 35 kilometres from Swedish headquarters in Mazar-i-Sharif.

An Afghan man dressed in a police officer’s uniform opened fire on the Swedes and their interpreter. The Afghan was then killed by return fire.

In the wake of the deaths of Andersson, Palmlöv, and Ayoulay rumours began circulating that they may have been killed by friendly fire. At first, the Armed Forced dismissed the rumours, saying on March 12th of last year that there was no evidence to suggest the three had been killed by Swedish bullets.

But on March 25th, the Armed Forces admitted that they could not rule out the possibility that the officers and their interpreter had been hit by friendly fire, but that they had likely been killed by the initial shots from the Afghan man.

On July 12th, chief prosecutor Krister Petersson announced he was closing a preliminary investigation launched following the shootings. Once again, it emerged that friendly fire could not be ruled out.

Green Party spokesperson Peter Eriksson reacted strongly against the Armed Forces upon hearing the news that the officers had been killed by Swedish bullets.

“I think it’s a scandal that the Riksdag and the Swedish people learned about this from the media. I think that the Riksdag should have been informed a long time ago about how things really happened,” he told the TT news agency.

Eriksson was critical of Swedish military for attempted to downplay the matter.

“I demand that a full account is given to the Rikgdag about what really happened,” he said.


25. Clinton: Libya Becoming “Giant Somalia”

Deutsche Presse-Agentur

March 3, 2011

Clinton: US worried about Libya becoming “giant Somalia”

A top priority for the United States during the crisis in Libya is preventing the North African country from becoming another Somalia and a base for terrorism, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday, dpa reported.

Clinton, speaking before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to defend the State Department’s budget, noted that many al-Qaeda activists detained in Afghanistan and Iraq “came from Libya and came from eastern Libya, which is now the so-called free area of Libya.”

“One of our biggest concerns is Libya descending into chaos and becoming a giant Somalia,” Clinton said.

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