30 June 2011 — Stop NATO
- Killing Of Libyan Civilians Weakens NATO’s War Stance
- Canadian Warship Deploys To Mediterranean For NATO’s Libyan War
- Quarter Million Displaced: NATO Air Strikes, Raids Fuel Afghan Refugee Crisis
- U.S. Building Alliance To Effect Regime Change In Syria
- Serbia Submits Kosovo Organ Trafficking Draft To OSCE
- China Warns Japan Over Disputed Islands
- U.S. AFRICOM To Supply Burundi, Uganda With Drones For Somali War
Killing Of Libyan Civilians Weakens NATO’s War Stance
June 28, 2011
NATO sees support waver after airstrike kills civilians in Libya
NATO aircraft have been bombing Gadhafi targets for over three months, but the Libyan leader has clung to power. Now NATO is taking criticism for civilian deaths in recent air strikes, and some allies are nervous.
This week marked the three-month anniversary since the start of NATO’s military operations in Libya, but there was little sign of a breakthrough.
Earlier this month, NATO acknowledged…killing several civilians during a bombing raid in the Libyan capital, Tripoli. NATO admitted in a statement that the civilians were killed when allied warplanes failed to hit a Libyan missile site.
The casualties have prompted accusations that NATO has overstepped its United Nations mandate. Even within the Alliance, some have voiced concern about where the campaign is heading.
Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini told reporters last week that NATO’s reputation was on the line.
On Monday, the International Criminal Court in The Hague issued an arrest warrant for Gadhafi, accusing him of crimes against humanity.
Ian Lesser of the German Marshall Fund in Washington said that the court’s decision could prolong NATO’s involvement.
‘I do think the decision by the court in The Hague raises the stakes. It would make it much more difficult for the Gadhafi regime to accept a graceful exit,’ said Lesser.
A pricy problem
Adding to NATO’s woes, key allies Britain and France are warning about the cost of the airstrikes, running at around 1 million euros ($143 million) per day. Others, like Canada, are considering pulling out in the autumn.
NATO’s current mandate runs out at the end of September. And if there’s no breakthrough by then, it could be forced to reconsider its mission in Libya.
Author: Vanessa Mock, Brussels / smh
Editor: Michael Lawton
Canadian Warship Deploys To Mediterranean For NATO’s Libyan War
June 29, 2011
HMCS Vancouver headed for Mediterranean to take part in Libyan mission
ESQUIMALT, B.C. – The frigate HMCS Vancouver is preparing to leave for the Mediterranean Sea to take part in the NATO-led mission in Libya.
Vancouver, a Halifax-class frigate, carries about 250 officers and crew and includes a CH-124 Sea King helicopter and air detachment.
The ship will replace HMCS Charlottetown, which has been on patrol with NATO forces in the region since the early spring.
In March, Canada sent fighter jets, patrol planes, aerial tankers and the warship…
The mission includes bombing by NATO countries who are trying to drive Gadhafi from power.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird visited Libya this week after Canada recognized rebels fighting Gadhafi as the legitimate government of that country.
June 29, 2011
Canadian Forces Frigate to Deploy to the Mediterranean Sea in Support of NATO Operations for Libya
ESQUIMALT, BRITISH COLUMBIA: Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Vancouver will depart in the coming days to the Mediterranean Sea to join NATO forces…HMCS Vancouver will replace HMCS Charlottetown, which has been on patrol with NATO forces in the region since the early spring with Operation Unified Protector, on a regular rotation of ship and crew.
‘Our ships and sailors are always ready to do the job asked of them by Canada. I am proud that Vancouver will soon continue the important work off the coast of Libya..,’ said Vice-Admiral Dean McFadden, Chief of the Maritime Staff. ‘Operating in the congested air-sea environment off Libya is particularly challenging, but the crew of Vancouver is well trained to meet this challenge and make a real difference.’
HMCS Vancouver, a Halifax-class frigate, is commanded by Commander Brad Peats, and carries a ship’s company of about 250 officers and crew, which includes a CH-124 Sea King helicopter and air detachment.
The Canadian contribution to Operation Unified Protector is known as Operation Mobile.
Quarter Million Displaced: NATO Air Strikes, Raids Fuel Afghan Refugee Crisis
June 29, 2011
NATO airstrikes, night raids blamed for Afghan IDP crisis –report
LONDON: More than 250,000 Afghans have fled their villages in the last two years, Refugees International said in a report blaming U.S. counterinsurgency strategy for causing greater instability in Afghanistan and forcing more people from their homes.
‘President Obama’s strategy in Afghanistan has not prioritized the needs of hundreds of thousands of Afghans whose lives have been made worse since the war began,’ Refugees International President Michel Gabaudan said in a statement.
Not only have NATO-led troops and Afghan forces failed to protect Afghans, but international airstrikes and night raids by U.S. Special Forces were destroying homes, crops and infrastructure, traumatising civilians and displacing tens of thousands of people, the advocacy group said.
The number of people displaced since the beginning of the year has more than doubled to 91,000 compared to the same period last year. In the north alone, nearly 30,000 people have been uprooted, a sevenfold increase compared to last year, it said.
Internal displacement is not new in a country that has suffered a decade of conflict. But the pattern of displacement in Afghanistan had changed, U.S.-based Refugees International said.
‘Before the military escalated its campaign, Afghans were fleeing for brief periods and returning home shortly thereafter,’ it said. ‘Now, people are increasingly unwilling to go back to their homes because they are afraid their villages are unsafe.’
Exacerbating the crisis were militias, many funded and trained by the United States as part of the Afghan Local Police programme favoured by U.S. General David Petraeus.
Security analysts have repeatedly raised fears the units could lead to a repeat of the tribal militias that received covert U.S. backing to fight the 1979 Soviet invasion, before later turning on their own government.
The defence units are meant to provide security for villagers wanting to resist the Taliban. But many of them are increasing insecurity, particularly in the south, with members accused of looting, harassing and forcibly taxing villages, Refugees International said.
It called on the U.S. Congress to withhold funding for the initiative until proper recruitment, vetting and command/control systems were in place.
LIMITED HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE
Refugees International’s report comes a week after President Barack Obama announced he was ordering 10,000 U.S. troops to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of the year and 23,000 more by next summer, leaving some 70,000 U.S. troops on the ground.
The report, based on field research carried out last month, also criticised foreign and Afghan troops for failing to share information with aid organisations about the humanitarian needs and displacement patterns in areas where they operate.
In a symptom of the ‘fractured’ relations aid groups had with the military brass, monthly NGO meetings with the deputy commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul had stopped altogether, Refugees International said.
‘At best, military coordination with humanitarian agencies is ad-hoc and personality-driven, worsened by the high turnover rates of the military,’ it said.
To tackle increasingly difficult humanitarian challenges in Afghanistan, the United Nations should immediately fill the post of Humanitarian Coordinator, which has been vacant for seven months, Refugees International said.
It also suggested that the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR double the number of humanitarian affairs and protection officers. For example, UNHCR has only one protection officer to cover nine northern provinces.
Not only have Afghans had to contend with the conflict but a drought in the north and increasing food prices have made life harder, leaving few options for safety or survival.
In one case a group of internally displaced people from northwestern Badgis province told researchers they had been uprooted more than five times in one year, and were forced to live in a cave during one period of intense fighting.
(Editing by Rebekah Curtis)
U.S. Building Alliance To Effect Regime Change In Syria
June 29, 2011
U.S. now quietly seeking regime change in Syria
-In late June, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff approved a proposal to enhance military monitoring of Syria. Officials said the U.S. Navy’s Sixth Fleet was stationed near the Syrian coast of the eastern Mediterranean…
WASHINGTON: [T]he United States is seeking to build an alliance against Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Officials said the administration of President Barack Obama was urging several U.S. allies in the region to undermine the Assad regime amid the revolt in Syria. They said Obama has sent messages to several of Syria’s neighbors, particularly Israel, Jordan and Turkey.
‘The United States cannot be seen as being involved in regime change in Syria, but it is clear that Assad must go for the sake of regional stability,’ an official said.
Officials said Obama has urged Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan to improve relations with Israel as part of a strategy against Assad. They said the president envisioned that Ankara and Jerusalem coordinate intelligence and military deployment…
In June, Israel and Turkey conducted high-level talks meant to improve relations and cooperation. Officials said Erdogan agreed to an Israeli request to stop a Turkish-flagged flotilla from sailing to the Gaza Strip, under siege since the Hamas takeover in 2007.
Officials said Obama, who has not publicly addressed Syria since May 19, was changing U.S. policy toward Assad. They said the change came in wake of recent talks between Obama and Erdogan in which the Turkish prime minister warned that Assad’s crackdown could destroy Syria and lead to a separate Kurdish entity along the borders of Iraq and Turkey.
‘Once Erdogan stopped his support for Assad, the president quickly changed as well, although he kept this private,’ the official said.
In late June, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff approved a proposal to enhance military monitoring of Syria. Officials said the U.S. Navy’s Sixth Fleet was stationed near the Syrian coast of the eastern Mediterranean…
Officials said Obama has been alarmed by the prospect of a military clash between Syria and Turkey. They said most of the Syrian Army’s Fourth Division, led by Assad’s younger brother, Maher, has been deployed along the Turkish border.
‘Turkey sees this as a threat and could lash out before long,’ the official said. ‘There is an attempt, coordinated with other neighbors of Syria, to force Assad to withdraw his forces from the Turkish border.’
Serbia Submits Kosovo Organ Trafficking Draft To OSCE
Tanjug News Agency
June 29, 2011
Serbia submits Kosovo organ trafficking draft to OSCE
COPENHAGEN: Serbia has proposed to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe a draft resolution on Kosovo organ trafficking.
It requires an urgent international investigation of allegations that atrocities were committed in Kosovo and Albania in 1999 and 2000.
Members of ethnic Albanian KLA have been named in Council of Europe Rapporteur Dick Marty’s report as perpetrators of the crimes, while their victims were Serb and other civilians kidnapped in the province.
The draft will be discussed at the annual meeting of OSCE PA in Belgrade from July 6 to 10, it was announced on Wednesday in Copenhagen.
The trafficking of human beings is one of the worst crimes against humanity, but the trade in human organs is an extreme form of this crime, head of the Serbian delegation in the Parliamentary Assembly Suzana Grubješi?, who filed the resolution, said.
The resolution, which is supported by 41 OSCE PA members from 17 countries, calls for closer international cooperation in the fight against criminal organizations involved in trafficking in human organs, OSCE PA said.
The Serbian delegation has scheduled a special meeting on the fight against illegal human organ trafficking for July 9 in Belgrade to further highlight the issue.
The event will be addressed by Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremi?, and Grubješi?.
The OSCE PA will hold its 20th annual meeting from July 6 to 10 in Belgrade, which will be attended by over 250 delegates from over 50 countries.
Parliamentarians will consider the inclusion of the resolution in the Belgrade Declaration, which will help shape future policies of OSCE member states.
All members present will vote on both documents.
China Warns Japan Over Disputed Islands
Xinhua News Agency
June 29, 2011
China reaffirms position on Diaoyu Islands
BEIJING: China reaffirmed its position on the Diaoyu Islands Wednesday, saying that any move by Japan against China’s sovereignty over the islands was ‘illegal and invalid.’
‘China’s indisputable sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands has been inherent since ancient times,’ Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a statement.
Media reports said a fishing boat from Taiwan was disturbed Wednesday morning by the Japanese Coast Guard while sailing around the Diaoyu Islands.
U.S. AFRICOM To Supply Burundi, Uganda With Drones For Somali War
June 29, 2011
Uganda and Burundi to get US drones to fight Islamists
The US is supplying drone aircrafts to Uganda and Burundi to help them fight Islamist militants in Somalia, its defence officials have told the BBC.
The four drones will be part of a $45m (£28m) military aid package aid to the two countries.
Uganda and Burundi contribute the 9,000 troops to an African peace force in Somalia battling Islamists that control much of the country.
The US military command for Africa (Africom) confirmed to the BBC that the Pentagon plan was to strengthen Uganda’s and Burundi’s counter-terrorism capabilities.
The military aid is to include body armour, night-vision gear, communications and surveillance systems.
The US has a military base in neighbouring Djibouti where some 3,000 US troops, as well as armour, aircraft and drones are based.