8 July 2011 — Stop NATO
- NATO Enlists More Member States For Lengthening Libyan War
- How Many Wars Are Too Many?
- An African Solution
- Germany’s Tank Deal With Saudi Arabia Violates Final Taboo
- Senegal: Western Client Regime Deploys Army Against Protesters
- Shanghai Cooperation Organization Opposes U.S. Missile Shield Plans
- Pakistan: 40th U.S. Drone Strike Of The Year Kills At Least Six
NATO Enlists More Member States For Lengthening Libyan War
Xinhua News Agency
July 7, 2011
NATO’s Libya campaign gets ‘additional contributions’
BRUSSELS:- NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said on Thursday that ‘quite a few’ NATO countries had pledged more support for the military alliance’s mission in Libya.
‘In this morning’s North Atlantic Council, quite a few allies made additional contributions to the mission, so in terms of staff and resources, we remain fully confident that all allies are continuing to contribute to this mission in the ways that they can,’ Lungescu told a press briefing at NATO headquarters.
‘They continue to support it both in terms of political will and contribution in assets and resources to see it through,’ she said.
However, the spokeswoman declined to give more details.
Libyan War: The Rising Voice Of Reason
July 8, 2011
Rising voice of reason
By Huang Shejiao*
The African Union should take a leading role in the continent’s affairs and in finding a peaceful solution to the Libya crisis
Since the beginning of this year Africa has entered an eventful period. The Republic of Cote d’Ivoire underwent a post-election crisis; South Sudan will officially declare separation on July 9 after a national referendum on independence; the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt stepped down; domestic clashes inside Libya invited continuing air strikes from NATO; and Somalia, which has been in anarchy for two decades, was once again listed as the No 1 ‘failed state’ by the United States for the fourth consecutive year.
All these have had a negative impact on Africa’s political and economic development, resulting in unprecedented challenges for the African Union (AU), which held its 17th summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea from June 23 to July 1.
Though the theme of the summit was ‘Accelerating Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development’, with Libya still in turmoil the AU cannot justify itself if it did not discuss the ongoing conflict in Libya and clearly express its position in safeguarding African interests.
To be fair, over the past six months, the AU has made unremitting mediation efforts and tried to restrain the warfare. After the UN Security Council approved a no-fly zone over Libya, forces from France, the United Kingdom and the United States launched air strikes against forces loyal to Muammar Gadhafi, causing civilian casualties and complicating the situation. The AU called for an immediate halt to the bombing as it went beyond the mandate of the UN Security Council and sought the beginning of negotiations.
As early as March 10, the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) charted a roadmap for peaceful resolution of the Libyan crisis. Later, the AU and some Western countries met with the two conflicting parties of Libya so as to reach a ceasefire as quickly as possible and start negotiations.
Taking advantage of the meetings of the Libyan Liaison Group held in Doha and Rome, and meetings with the EU Political and Security Committee and the UN Security Council, the AUPSC reiterated the need for an ‘African solution’ to the conflict.
However, the US-led NATO forces are continuing air strikes against the government in Tripoli until Gadhafi relinquishes power.
From the beginning of the armed conflict, some Western leaders have been declaring that the Gadhafi regime had already lost ‘moral legitimacy’ and he must step down. However, the continuation of outside military intervention has defeated the very purpose of the UN resolution to protect civilians and caused greater suffering for the Libyan people. The West is determined to remove Gadhafi at any cost and the International Criminal Court has now issued a warrant for Gadhafi’s arrest.
Through intervention in Libya some Western countries want to achieve their own purposes. First, to reverse the trend of the relationship between the West and Africa: Over the past 10 years, the AU has stressed the joint efforts of African countries in speaking with one voice and strengthening solidarity. At the past two EU-Africa summits, the AU held out against the West’s unreasonable demands for refusing the presence of the Sudanese and Zimbabwean presidents.
Second, some Western countries want to dominate African affairs in terms of the political process, economic development and external cooperation. Third, the West intends to indirectly suppress the cooperation between emerging economies and African countries, which is steadily growing.
In fact, the AU has perceived the West’s intentions. The extraordinary session of the AU held on May 25 expressed ‘surprise and disappointment’ at the attempts to marginalize the continent and restrict its efforts to resolve the Libyan conflict.
Though some African countries support the position of the West, in general they adhere to a peaceful solution to the Libyan crisis. The proposal drafted at the summit that the Libyan government and the rebel Transitional National Council (TNC) hold transitional negotiations in Ethiopia is a move in line with Africa’s interests.
AU Commission Chairman Jean Ping said at the opening of the summit that the AU opposes the NATO operations against Libya and will continue to seek a political solution. Now the problem is that with the support of some Western countries Libya’s TNC does not accept the new AU framework for ending the conflict. The AU needs to make greater efforts to fulfill its leading role in African affairs.
*The author is a research scholar with the China International Studies Research Fund.
How Many Wars Are Too Many?
July 7, 2011
Guest column: How many wars are too many?
H. Thomas Hayden*
– News reports say that an overwhelming number of voters believe the U.S. is involved in too many foreign conflicts and should pull back its troops, according to a new poll conducted for The Hill.
They report that 72 percent of those polled said the United States is fighting in too many places, with only 16 percent saying the current level of engagement represented an appropriate level.
There seems to be a problem with math at The Washington Post, or maybe they do not count all wars that the U.S. is involved in.
Maybe they count only bad wars and the ones that are being called ‘good wars’ do not count.
If my math is right, the U.S. is involved in five wars – count them: (1) Iraq, (2) Afghanistan, (3) Libya, (4) Yemen and (5) Somalia.
The Washington Post on June 28 referred to ‘two deeply unpopular wars.’
Maybe the others are ‘popular wars.’
We have Yemen, where we are using drones to hunt and kill al-Qaida members who are a large part of the rebels.
We have Libya, where we are funding or providing resources to NATO, not to mention the Navy in the Mediterranean flying reconnaissance missions.
And we have Somalia, where we have clandestine engagements to include providing funds, training and resources to the national government fighting the al Shabaab jihadists.
Even Gates does it
Defense Secretary Robert Gates responded in a recent interview: ‘There hasn’t exactly been time to be a bold visionary in the middle of two wars.’
If the focus has been on two wars, who is watching the others?
In January 2007, as the first 30,000 surge troops were heading toward Iraq, Gates scheduled a September review to evaluate whether the new war strategy and additional troops were producing tangible progress. He did the same thing again in Afghanistan.
However, before we get to the next review, the U.S. has already announced its withdrawal policy.
The White House policy decision to send 33,000 to Afghanistan has generally had a positive effect on bringing the war to a successful conclusion – no victory but possibly a successful political conclusion.
Sen. John McCain has predicted that the decision to have all surge troops out of Afghanistan before the next presidential election will result in the early exit from Afghanistan of all other coalition countries:
‘We’re going to see a domino effect here of this announcement. No elected leader of our alliance is going to tell his people they’re staying when the Americans are going.’
Drones at war
Maybe it’s not fair to call it a war in Yemen because what’s new is that this will be a CIA drone attack program that is a massive escalation.
Then on Libya, the administration decided it had the legal authority to continue the U.S. military campaign in Libya without congressional approval over the objections of Justice Department and Pentagon lawyers, according to a recent article in The New York Times.
In Somalia in January 2007, the U.S. militarily interceded in Somalia for the first time since the United Nations deployment by conducting airstrikes using AC-130 gunships against Islamist positions.
Also, naval forces have deployed offshore to prevent support by sea. Just last week a U.S. drone aircraft fired on a convoy in southern Somalia carrying two senior members of al-Shabaab.
News reports say that an overwhelming number of voters believe the U.S. is involved in too many foreign conflicts and should pull back its troops, according to a new poll conducted for The Hill.
They report that 72 percent of those polled said the United States is fighting in too many places, with only 16 percent saying the current level of engagement represented an appropriate level. Twelve percent said they weren’t sure.
*H. Thomas Hayden of St. Marys, Ga., served for over 35 years in the Agency for International Development, Marine Corps, defense industry and the Pentagon. He has a blog on current events at http://www.poliquicks.com.
An African Solution
July 8, 2011
Although Libyan rebels, backed by Nato, continue to clash with Muammar Qadhafi`s forces in parts of the North African country, the situation has, for all practical purposes, reached a stalemate.
Thousands, including civilians, have been killed thus far on both sides since anti-regime demonstrations, inspired by the `Arab Spring`, broke out in February. Col Qadhafi has struck back with a vengeance, and the result has been a bitter civil war that threatens the unity of Libya.
In such a bleak scenario, a South Africa-led African Union peace initiative seems to be the best option to end hostilities. The AU does not support the Nato-led military campaign targeting Col Qadhafi`s forces, and South African President Jacob Zuma has recently stepped up efforts to broker a peace deal.
There are some indications — according to foreign diplomats — that Col Qadhafi may be willing to step down, a development that should placate the Libyan opposition. The South African foreign minister told a press conference in Pretoria…that the African Union should be given the ‘political space’ to deal with the crisis, observing that the continental body is ‘central to any solution in Libya’.
We believe an African solution to an African problem is a far better alternative to reliance on military muscle. The colonel trusts South Africa as post-apartheid both countries have enjoyed cordial relations, unlike the Libyan strongman`s stormy relationships with the West and much of the Arab world.
He should commit to a time frame so that an exit strategy can be formulated. If there is indeed a negotiated settlement, Nato should respect the outcome. Overall, the AU has been quite active in trying to resolve Africa`s myriad crises, much more so than, say, the Arab League has been in trying to untangle the Arab world`s conflicts. In this, as in all other situations, a negotiated settlement should be preferred to force and the African Union should be allowed to bring Libya`s belligerents to the table to help resolve the crisis.
Germany’s Tank Deal With Saudi Arabia Violates Final Taboo
July 7, 2011
Germany’s tank deal breaks last export taboo
Germany’s tank deal with Saudi Arabia has caused outrage, drawing criticism from across the political spectrum. But while the government maintains its silence, critics say it marks a sea change in arms export policy.
The anonymous Saudi source probably had no idea what trouble he was causing. On Monday, the informant told a Reuters reporter about Saudi Arabia’s deal to buy 200 2A7+ Leopard tanks from Germany.
The news caused outrage throughout Germany. Memories of Saudi troops suppressing Bahraini democracy protestors are still fresh, and the mood was not improved by a video posted to Youtube apparently showing how the 2A7+ can be used to break up demonstrations.
The video showed a German army demonstration of a prototype Leopard, and came complete with a voiceover explaining how the tank can be fitted with a water cannon.
Renke Brahms, peace commissioner for the Evangelical Church in Germany, told the Passauer Neuen Presse newspaper, ‘If German Leopard tanks are being used to clear barricades and suppress demonstrations, then we carry some responsibility for violating human rights.’
A new precedent
This deal with Saudi Arabia is significant for historical reasons…Germany has been exporting other weapons there for some time, and is also part of a much bigger deal to export Eurofighters to the country.
‘Even Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s government delivered patrol ships, military vehicles, machine pistols and sniper rifles there,’ [Jürgen Grässlin, spokesman for the campaign ‘Action Outcry: Stop the Weapons Exports’] says. ‘Merkel’s government has exported even more weapons to Saudi Arabia, but with the export of the tanks the last taboo has been broken.’
‘The tanks are different,’ Grässlin explains. ‘By traditional thinking, the Leopard is a German combat tank, and the big companies involved in its manufacture are German – Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann.’
‘In the history of the German arms trade, combat tank exports were always very controversial. Saudi Arabia has been asking for German tanks since the 1980s, but up until now all the German governments – from Chancellor Helmut Kohl onwards – have refused to allow them,’ he added.
It seems particularly egregious that Germany should suddenly approve a major sale of heavy weaponry to a Middle Eastern dictatorship when the region is in massive turmoil. Grässlin points out that, were it not for this week’s leak, reports of the exports would probably not have emerged until next year, which may have been a factor.
And Germany has large economic incentives for approving the deal, according to Mark Bromley, a researcher with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). ‘The Free Democrats have argued that Germany is more restrictive than other European countries, and is missing out on business opportunities,’ he told Deutsche Welle. ‘Also, Germany, like other European countries, is facing falling defense budgets, leaving less money for domestic procurement from industry. This may be leading to more pressure to find markets abroad.’
There is speculation, therefore, that Israel’s attitude to Saudi Arabia may have been changed by the ‘Arab Spring.’ ‘It seems that with the German tank deal, there was contact with the Israeli government, so apparently objections weren’t raised,’ says Bromley. ‘Obviously there’s a change in Germany, but presumably Israel has voiced opposition to these deals in the past and is not doing so now, so maybe there’s a re-calculation in Israel as well.’
For the past few days, the German government has been avoiding questions about the deal, which was allegedly green-lit last week by the Federal Security Council, the cabinet sub-committee that deals with all arms exports. This committee, which meets behind closed doors, comprises Chancellor Angela Merkel, Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and other members of the cabinet.
According to official government policy, the council is supposed to veto all weapons deals with countries that have questionable human rights records. The principle, agreed by the cabinet in 2000, reads, ‘Armaments exports are categorically not approved if there is ‘sufficient suspicion’ that the armaments in question are being used for internal repression or other continuing and systematic human rights abuses.’
But Merkel, Westerwelle and de Maiziere have a perfect excuse for not answering awkward questions about the council’s decision – it would be illegal. According to government regulations, all cabinet sub-committee meetings are state secrets.
This allows the government to maintain silence in the face of vehement demands for information from opposition parties. In a parliamentary question and answer session on Wednesday, Hans-Joachim Otto, parliamentary state secretary at the Economics Ministry, said the Federal Security Council always met confidentially. ‘That is why the government cannot take a position on the press reports about the council’s alleged decisions. That has always been the case,’ he said.
So far, the government has not yet confirmed that the Leopard deal even took place, but as Grässlin says, the fact that they have not denied it speaks volumes.
Author: Ben Knight
Editor: Rob Mudge
Senegal: Western Client Regime Deploys Army Against Protesters
July 7, 2011
Senegal deploys army to halt anti-government riots
By Diadie Ba
DAKAR: Senegal said Wednesday it had deployed the army to help end a spate of riots that destroyed state buildings and left charred vehicles in the streets of the capital Dakar.
The normally tranquil West African country has been rocked by protests over power cuts that have catalyzed public anger against President Abdoulaye Wade…
‘We mean business now,’ Serigne Mbacke Ndiaye, a spokesman for Wade, told Reuters by telephone, confirming the deployment of the army around key sites in the city.
Another official said the deployment of the military would free up between 400 and 500 riot police and gendarmes to ‘deal with demonstrators’ if needed.
Several soldiers armed with rifles guarded Dakar’s only tunnel, while others were seen posted at the coastal city’s African Renaissance Monument – a towering $27 million statue built by Wade in 2009, Reuters witnesses said.
Monday night thousands of demonstrators went on a rampage over power cuts that had lasted more than 30 hours in some neighborhoods, destroying the offices of state utility Senelec, looting other buildings and trashing cars.
Senegal has earned a reputation as West Africa’s most stable and democratic country but is seeing rising public frustration over worsening public services, particularly in power generation, since Wade took power in 2000.
Monday night’s riots followed anti-government protests last week after Wade tried to alter the constitution in a way his rivals said would make it easier for him to get re-elected in February polls.
During the protests, police in full riot gear were seen huddling in groups, some with their backs turned, under a rain of rocks thrown by demonstrators.
Senegal’s opposition is calling for Wade to bow out of the coming elections, but has condemned the looting.
(Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Richard Meares)
Shanghai Cooperation Organization Opposes U.S. Missile Shield Plans
Voice of America News
July 7, 2011
Shanghai Cooperation Organization Opposes US Missile Defense Plan
André de Nesnera
Washington: Russia continues to oppose U.S. plans for a ballistic missile defense system. We look at Moscow’s view and the position taken by a group known as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which includes Russia and China.
For years, Russia has been very critical of U.S. plans for a ballistic missile defense system in Europe.
In 2009, President Barack Obama shelved a Bush administration proposal to station 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar facility in the Czech Republic.
Arms control expert Joseph Cirincione says the new plan is far more flexible.
‘The U.S. is deploying a new system of anti-missile interceptors based on Aegis destroyers and cruisers,’ he said. ‘But the plans for that system also include advanced land-based versions, some of which would be based in former Warsaw Pact countries, including Poland and Romania. And if those missiles achieve the capability the U.S. would like to see for them, they would have some capability to shoot down Russian long-range ballistic missiles – that worries Russia.’
The United States has consistently stated that the ballistic missile defense plan is not aimed at Russia but is to defend against possible missile attacks from countries such as Iran.
Cirincione says there is another reason why Russia opposes the missile defense plan.
‘Russia doesn’t like having such a strong U.S. presence on its borders – and it leads to suspicions,’ he added.
‘The U.S. presence in Afghanistan, in Iraq, the bases we have, the supply agreements we have with Uzbekistan and other countries,’ continued Cirincione. ‘…Russia is very concerned about what it sees as a growing U.S. presence on its borders.’
Shanghai Cooperation Organization
Russia is part of a regional alliance known as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The other members are Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and China. Some experts say Russia sees the organization as a potential counter to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – or NATO.
At its summit meeting last month, the six members criticized the missile defense shield, saying ‘it could harm strategic stability and international security.’
Marko Papic, analyst with STRATFOR, a private intelligence firm, says it is very significant that Moscow persuaded Beijing to sign a document opposing the U.S. ballistic missile defense plan – or BMD.
‘The organization itself is not important. What’s important is that China is also voicing displeasure over the BMD. And it’s not doing so because it cares about what’s going on in Europe for Europe’s sake, but rather it shows that Beijing is worried that the BMD system in Europe could become a model – a strategic model – that the United States applies in other parts of the world, including in China’s neighborhood,’ said Papic.
At the NATO summit in Lisbon last year, the United States and Russia agreed to collaborate on the issue of missile defense. Experts say while some progress has been made, Moscow is still fundamentally opposed to the U.S. missile defense plan.
Viktor Kremenyuk, a respected analyst at Moscow’s Institute for U.S. and Canada Studies, told Russian media that if Moscow and Washington do not agree on a joint missile shield, then Russia will turn to China for help.
Pakistan: 40th U.S. Drone Strike Of The Year Kills At Least Six
Xinhua News Agency
July 6, 2011
6 killed in US drone strike in NW Pakistan
ISLAMABAD: At least six people were killed and five others injured in a US drone strike launched late Tuesday night in Pakistan’s northwest tribal area of North Waziristan, reported local TV channel Express.
According to the local media reports, the strike took place at about 11:00 p.m. local time when US drones fired four missiles at a house suspected of hiding militants in the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan.
Tuesday’s US drone strike is the 40th (counted on daily basis) of its kind in Pakistan since this year. To date, a total of 349 people have reportedly been killed in such strikes in 2011.