Managua – The supposed initiative to incorporate Colombia in a military group like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is an attack on Latin American and Caribbean unity, the governments of Nicaragua and Venezuela denounced today.
The statements by Presidents Daniel Ortega and Nicolas Maduro occurred on Sunday night during a massive event at Revolution Square in the capital, marking the visit of the South American leader.
“When the region seeks more unity through the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), it is worrying that initiatives are presented to try to divide and weaken the process”, noted Ortega.
“It is inadmissible and I want to believe that this is not actually happening, I find it hard to believe that President Juan Manuel Santos expressed his decision to join NATO,” highlighted the leader.
“Strength does not lie in filling our countries with foreign military bases, or joining organizations whose focus is bombing, murdering and destroying; that is NATO’s tradition and it has a “keep-on-doing-it” policy, noted the president.
“CELAC has commitments and if anyone breaks them, there will always be other leaders that rectify mistakes and strengthen unity of our peoples”, underlined Ortega.
Maduro warned that Colombia’s attempt contradicts the doctrine and the international law on which regional unity is based. “They want to put dynamite in the heart of the achievements of the unity of Latin America, the Caribbean and South America”, the leader pointed out.
La Paz – The president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, described Colombia”s decision to join NATO as a threat to the region and called an extraordinary meeting of the Security Council of UNASUR.
During a ceremony in the southern city of Potosi, he considered that the decision of President Juan Manuel Santos to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a violation of the peace treaties signed by the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and involves a dangerous possibility of military intervention to the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean.
“We can not allow NATO to intervene Latin America. Having NATO is a threat to our continent, to Latin America and the Caribbean,” he said.
The president asked the General Secretariat of UNASUR to complete the formalities for the Security Council to convene an emergency meeting to take a joint position of rejecting the Atlantic Pact arrival to the region through Colombia.
He believed that the presence of that organization of military powers seeks to destabilize and undermine leftist governments in Latin America, primarily Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Bolivia itself.
Russia cannot see NATO expansion towards its borders as positive, as under certain circumstances the possibility of military confrontation remains, the Russian PM has said at the Euro-Arctic Council’s forum.
When a reporter asked Dmitry Medvedev how the balance of forces in Europe will change if Sweden and Finland decide to enter NATO, the Russian Prime Minister answered that his country would have to react to such developments.
“This is their own business; they are making decisions in accordance with the national sovereignty doctrine. But we have to consider the fact that for us the NATO bloc is not simply some estranged organisation, but a structure with military potential,” the head of the Russian government said adding that under certain unfavorable scenarios this potential could be used against Russia.
“All new members of the North Atlantic alliance that appear in proximity of our state eventually do change the parity of the military force. And we have to react to this,” the top official noted.
At the same time, Medvedev told reporters that currently Russia and NATO have a working and effective body of cooperation – the Russia-NATO council.
The issue of NATO expansion towards Russian borders is also important as it is directly connected with the deployment of global missile defense system in NATO member countries, including former Warsaw Pact members, such as Poland and the Czech Republic. As US and NATO refused to provide Russia with legally binding guarantees that the ABM systems would not target Russian forces, Russia is opposing the move, warning of future tensions and the possibility of a new arms race.
Earlier this week US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke at a joint press conference with Poland’s Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski and said that his country was not making any concessions to Russia as it altered the plans to develop and run the missile defense system.
“The United States of America has made zero concessions to Russia with respect to missile defense,” news agencies quoted the top US diplomat as saying.
He added that the elements of the missile defense shield would be placed in Poland by 2018 and that this was part of NATO’s modernized approach to security.
The plans to deploy a missile defense system in NATO member-countries such as Poland and the Czech Republic caused strong protests from Russia and in 2008 then President Dmitry Medvedev announced that his country would deploy the newest Iskander ballistic missiles in the Kaliningrad Region – Russia’s westernmost exclave – and this move would render the planned defense system useless. In 2012 Russia allocated additional means to upgrade the Iskander systems announcing that this would allow the weapon to effectively counter the US anti-missile systems.
Russian media have reported that Iskander deployment to Kaliningrad should have started in the second half of 2012, but the military denied this and said it is still in the preparatory stage.
This important documentary explores the decade long war in Afghanistan. It was produced as part of Hizb ut Tahrir Australia’s recent campaign on the decade anniversary of the war. It is high time for a honest and rigorous assessment of this war and, in the Australian context, continued involvement in it. The politicians, from both sides, have regurgitated the same platitudes, built on false narratives, for ten years, as more soldiers have died, more civilians have perished and more of Afghanistan has been destroyed.
- Top Israel Lobby Senator Proposes Permanent US Air Bases For Afghanistan (alethonews.wordpress.com)
NATO’s cyberwarfare center says cyber attacks launched against the Islamic Republic of Iran by the US and Israel constituted “an act of force” and were illegal under international law.
According to The Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare, commissioned by NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence in Estonia, “Acts that kill or injure persons or destroy or damage objects are unambiguously uses of force,” The Washington Times reported on Sunday.
Michael D. Schmitt, the manual’s lead author and professor of international law at the US Naval War College in Newport, said the group of researchers who wrote the manual all agreed that the use of Stuxnet virus, that attacked Iran’s cyber structures in 2009, was an act of force.
Washington and Tel Aviv are believed to have jointly developed the malware, although neither has accepted responsibility for the attack.
Iran has been the target of several cyber attacks over the past few years.
In June 2012, a report by the Washington Post said the US and the Israeli regime had cooperated in creating the computer virus Flame to spy on Iran. US National Security Agency, the CIA and the Israeli military worked together to create the Flame virus, the paper added.
In addition, the New York Times also revealed in the same month that US President Barack Obama secretly ordered a cyber attack with the Stuxnet computer virus against Iran in 2010 to sabotage the country’s nuclear energy program.
“From his first months in office, President Obama secretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities, significantly expanding America’s first sustained use of cyber weapons,” the report said.
In response to such attacks, Iran launched a cyber defense headquarters tasked with preventing computer worms from breaking into or stealing data from the country’s maximum security networks, including nuclear facilities, power plants, data centers, and banks.
Doha: Nato receives important strategic information about this region from Qatar, a Nato official said yesterday.
“Qatar is considered to be a very positive partner from this region. It has knowledge about this region that Nato doesn’t have in Brussels,” Lieutenant General Arne Bard Dalhaug, Commandant of Nato Defence College told The Peninsula yesterday.
He was leading an 80-member delegation to Qatar for a conference organised by the Qatar Armed Forces at the Hilton Hotel.
The delegation, arrived here from Rome, will visit Abu Dhabi today, followed by stopovers in Paris, London and Berlin.
General Dalhaug said the Nato Defence College often trains Qatari students on strategic issues. “We are an educational institute, so we provide different courses on strategic education, which is theoretical. We have Qatari students who come to our college quite often,” he said.
Students receive study materials and lectures on different issues at the college.
The General also revealed that the Denfence College has one student from Qatar this year.
Qatar spent over QR5bn in foreign aid projects, Dr Hassan Ibrahim Al Mohanadi, Director of the Diplomatic Institute at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a lecture at the conference.
Over QR3.7bn was spent in support mission for governments while non-governmental groups received some QR606m from Qatar.
Speaking about the foreign policy of Qatar, Al Mohannadi said that a large sum of this fund was spent to support poor countries in Africa. He said some part of the aid was directly provided to governments, while other funds were given in consultation with the UNDP.
Answering a question about Qatar supporting efforts to resolve border disputes between some countries, he said Qatar was ready to provide assistance to countries if they asked for it.
“Qatar has negotiating teams, which can provide assistance to states, if they wish,” Al Mohannadi said.
Brigadier Sanad Ali Rashid Al Naimi, In-charge of the Strategic Research Centre, spoke about the transformations in the Mena countries and their impact on international security in the region.
NATO’s supreme commander says the alliance is drawing up contingency plans for a possible military intervention in Syria.
Admiral James Stavridis, commander of US European Command, said at the Senate Armed Services Committee that US military would be ready to take part in the aggression, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
Stavridis also serves as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).
The United States is “looking at a variety of operations. We are prepared if called upon to be engaged,” he said.
The US commander said the 28-member military alliance is also looking into the option of assisting the foreign-backed militants fighting against the Syrian government.
Stavridis further added that the negotiations within the NATO member states also concentrated on imposing a no-fly zone over Syria and providing lethal support to the militants.
The official confirmed that targeting Syria’s air defenses would also be taken into consideration.
On March 18, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington would not ‘stand in the way’ of Europeans if they decide to arm the militants fighting against the Syrian government.
The Los Angeles Times reported on March 16 that the CIA is considering a secret contingency plan to expand the US assassination drone strikes to Syria, according to former and current US officials.
The US publicly claims that its role in Syria is merely limited to providing food and medical supplies to the anti-government militants, but the Croatian daily Jutarnji List revealed on March 7 that the US has coordinated shipments of weapons from Croatia to the militants in Syria.
The report said 3,000 tons of weapons in 75 planeloads have been transferred from Zagreb to the militants in Syria via Jordan and Turkey. The weapons were reportedly paid for by Saudi Arabia at the request of the US.
On March 1, a U.S./NATO helicopter gunship killed two Afghan brothers, seven and eight years of age, as they tended cattle in Uruzgan province. According to reports from residents, the boys were listening to a radio, which the helicopter crew interpreted as “radio signals” from Afghan resistance fighters.
The latest killing comes amidst a series of atrocities against civilians that has further inflamed opposition to the ongoing occupation.
On. Feb. 24, Hamid Karzai, the U.S.-installed “president” of Afghanistan, announced that he was demanding the withdrawal of all U.S. Special Forces troops from Wardak province within two weeks. Wardak is a key strategic region and an area of active resistance to the U.S./NATO occupation.
Will NATO commanders pay any more attention to Karzai’s latest “order” than the many earlier ones that NATO forces ignored and Karzai quietly dropped? Not likely.
What prompted Karzai’s latest proclamation was explained in a statement from his office, which read in part: “After a thorough discussion, it became clear that armed individuals named as US special force[s] stationed in Wardak province engage in harassing, annoying, torturing and even murdering innocent people.
“A recent example in the province is an incident in which nine people were disappeared in an operation by this suspicious force and in a separate incident a student was taken away at night from his home, whose tortured body with throat cut was found two days later under a bridge.”
While U.S. commanders predictably denied the accusations, the level of popular anger in Wardak was made clear by street protests and threats by civilian groups to join the armed resistance if U.S. forces were not withdrawn.
On Feb. 26, 500 people marched in protest of the killings. “If the situation remains like this, this province will collapse very soon,” protester Haji Abdul Qadim told the Reuters news service. “People will join the insurgency very soon because of the abuses of these forces.”
In another recent incident brought to international attention on Feb. 26, a Swedish organization that operates health clinics in Afghanistan said that U.S. military forces occupied and damaged one of their clinics in Wardak on Feb. 11.
The Swedish Committee for Afghanistan said in a statement: “Foreign soldiers entered the health facility by force, tied up and blindfolded the guard on duty, and occupied the facility.”
Andreas Stefansson, director of SCA, said that it was the second time one of SCA’s clinics had been occupied by NATO troops. The previous occupation lasted three days. Stefansson said that NATO has promised that such an occupation would not happen again.
“What we are seeking is that they actually live up to what they say,” Stefansson said. (Reuters, Feb. 26)
On Feb. 13, 10 people, including women and children, were killed in a NATO air strike in Kunar province. On June 6, 2012, 18 civilians were killed in a strike in Logar province. The grisly list of “accidental” killings stretches back a decade.
A ‘president’ in name only
These atrocities and the daily abuses that inevitably accompany imperialist occupation are the source of burning anger among the Afghan people. In the eyes of the population, Karzai shares blame with the occupiers for these outrages. Thus, Karzai’s repeated “orders” forbidding Afghan army units from calling in U.S./NATO air support and for U.S. troops to withdraw from Wardak and stop the hated “night raids” on people’s homes.
But his proclamations continue to be disregarded by the occupation forces, exposing the actual power relationship in the country. In reality, the lowest level U.S. commander has greater military authority than does the “president” of the country.
Further illuminating both this relationship and the U.S. intention to maintain a dominant role in Afghanistan was a Feb. 3 joint interview with then-Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey. Panetta and Dempsey reaffirmed that the United States would sustain a “strategic partnership” with Afghanistan, citing a decision by the NATO heads of state during a 2012 summit meeting in Chicago to maintain a long-term presence in the country despite a drawdown in the number of U.S. ground troops in the country.
“We’re committing to an enduring presence,” Mr. Panetta said on Feb. 3.
“Strategic partnership” and “enduring presence” are more Washington weasel words for continuing colonial domination over Afghanistan.
On Feb. 26, it was revealed that claims of resistance attacks inside the country declining by 7 percent in 2012 were just one more Pentagon lie. The 7 percent figure was posted on the International Security Assistance Force (the official name of the U.S./NATO force in Afghanistan) website in January, to bolster the administration’s “positive track” line about the war.
When the Associated Press made inquiries about the statistics, NATO officials in Kabul immediately backtracked, stated that they had “erred,” and admitted that in fact, there was no decline at all.
Costs of war
Eleven and a half years of U.S./NATO war and occupation have been a disaster for all but a tiny sliver of the Afghan population.
Despite tens of billions of dollars in U.S.-funded “reconstruction aid,” Afghanistan remains one of the very poorest countries on the face of the Earth. The total U.S. budget for the Afghanistan war is over $640 billion and counting. (Center for Strategic and International Studies)
While U.S. and other NATO-country contractors, and elements of the Afghan elite, have become incredibly rich from this “aid,” the Afghan government presently spends a miniscule $46 per year on health care per person. (GlobalHealthFacts.org)
Afghanistan ranks as the worst country in the world for infant mortality, with a shocking 122 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. (CIA World Factbook 2013) By way of comparison, the infant mortality rate is 6 per 1,000 in the U.S. and 4.8 per 1,000 in Cuba. Life expectancy is just 49 years. Afghanistan is listed as 172nd out of 187 countries in the Human Development Index, with the average adult having 3.3 years of schooling.
In addition to the tens of thousands killed and hundreds of thousands wounded in the war, more than 2.7 million Afghans remain external refugees, most in Pakistan and Iran, and 425,000 are internally displaced. (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 2012
No amount of lying Pentagon propaganda can hide the reality that the war has been an unmitigated disaster for the Afghan people and for the thousands of dead and tens of thousands of maimed troops sent to kill and die there in the interests of empire.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen made the announcement on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.
“We have made clear from the outset that NATO has made the decision to establish a NATO missile defense system because it’s our obligation to ensure effective defense of our populations… Having said that, we have invited Russia to cooperate and… now it’s up to Russia to engage in that,” Rasmussen said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier that the missile program was reminiscent of the Cold War.
“Officially, we have abandoned the mindset of the Cold War,” Lavrov said.
On January 27, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said he saw “no flexibility” in the ongoing dispute.
“If we talk about the subject itself, it is extremely difficult. And so far we don’t see any flexibility… There is no flexibility,” Medvedev added.
- Turkish protesters, angry at NATO missiles, attack German troops (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Turkish protesters have attacked German troops stationed in the Mediterranean port of Iskenderun to operate NATO’s Patriot missiles.
Members of the Turkish Youth Union (TGB), affiliated to the Turkey Workers’ Party, attacked the soldiers in the center of the city on Tuesday and tried to put sacks on their heads.
Turkish media quoted Iskendurun Prosecutors Office as saying that 14 activists have been arrested and 28 others charged with intentionally attempting to cause harm.
Also on Tuesday, Turkish protesters staged a rally in the capital Ankara to voice opposition to the deployment of NATO’s missile system and the presence of foreign troops in the country.
Over the past days, similar protests have been held in front of the German and US embassies.
German and Dutch missile batteries, as part of NATO’s mission, arrived in Turkey on Monday. The surface-to-air missiles will be deployed near the border with Syria.
The United States, another contributor to the NATO mission, has also begun deployment of two Patriot missile batteries at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey’s southeast.
Russia has frequently expressed opposition to the deployment of the missiles in Turkey, which Ankara claims is aimed to deterring any threat emanating from its southern neighbor, Syria.
Moscow says the threats facing Ankara have been exaggerated in order to justify NATO’s deployment of the advanced missiles along the Syrian border, adding that the measure would increase the “risk that these arms will be used.”
- Turkish police arrest anti-Patriot missile protesters (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Anti-Patriot protesters gather in front of German Embassy in Ankara (presstv.ir)
Turkish people protest the arrival of NATO’s Patriot missiles in the country. (File photo)
Turkish police have arrested dozens of protesters who condemned the arrival of NATO’s Patriot surface-to-air missiles to be deployed near the border with Syria.
Police arrested 25 protesters on Monday after they tried to get through the barricades at Incirlik Air Force Base in the city of Adana, where US troops are assembling two Patriot missile batteries to be later deployed in Gaziantep near Syria’s border.
Protests were also held in Turkey’s capital city of Ankara outside the US embassy, where angry protesters condemned what they called Ankara’s interventionist policies towards Syria.
Earlier, two ships carrying two Patriot batteries each from Germany and the Netherlands anchored at the southwestern port of Iskenderun in Turkey, as part of a NATO-authorized operation to deploy the advanced armament along the border region.
The six batteries of the US-made missiles, effective against aircraft and short-range missiles, will be deployed in the southern city of Adana and the southeastern cities of Kahramanmaras and Gaziantep, along with 350 troops from each contributing country.
In December 2012, NATO approved Turkey’s request for the deployment of the Patriots in its territory. Germany’s Bundestag parliament approved the deployment – limited to one year – on December 14, 2012.
Each Patriot battery has an average of 12 missile launchers. NATO says the missile systems will be operational by early February.
Syria has censured the Turkish plan to deploy the Patriots along its border, calling it another act of provocation by the government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
An analyst says America and its allies have planned to leave a residual force of more than 10,000 troops in Afghanistan passed 2014, contrary to the agreement.
In the background of this, American pilots are currently under special training ready to be deployed to Afghanistan in coming months in what appears to be a renewed build up by certain US forces. 66,000 US troops are stationed in Afghanistan. America is expected to honor a 2014 agreed deadline to withdraw from the country.
Press TV has interviewed Mr. Mohammad Daoud Abadi, Chairman of the Afghanistan National Peace Council, Los Angeles about this issue. The following is an approximate transcription of the interview.
Press TV: We see American pilots training in conditions similar to that of Afghanistan. Are we preparing for a longer stay of US troops in Afghanistan do you think?
Abadi: Thank you for inviting me again I appreciate it. Before I answer that question I’d like to thank Press TV for it’s worldwide media presence and being honest on the matters, we do appreciate that very, very much.
In response to your question I must say that what we hear from the US government is that they’re planning to leave a 6,000 to 9,000 fighting force in Afghanistan after 2014. That plus another 5,000 from NATO allies.
What I’m hearing – I hope it’s not correct, but what I’m hearing from the media and from different sources is that the US has planned to leave these 6,000 soldiers in Baghram airport, Kandahar in the south and Jalalabad in the East.
They are planning to have the Spaniards in Hira and Shindand airport, which is close to the Iranian border, to the Italians and on the North the Mazar e Sharif, the Germans still be staying.
To be honest and to look at it from a technical point of view this residual force will not be a force to really do the terrorist war or against terrorist activities because let’s say that if they are in Baghram airport and they fly from Baghram airport to Kandahar to do an operation, it is a 2 hour flight of 350 kilometers distance – it takes two hours for a helicopter to get there.
So in general this residual force is there for some other purpose other than what is claimed. Therefore this policy as I have said, this time the Pentagon will fail on this again and I don’t think this is something that they can count on.
Press TV: Just how much has President Hamid Karzai been a president to the Afghan people and tried to help efforts to oust the US occupiers from Afghanistan?
Abadi: Based on yesterday’s report Mr. Karzai is coming to Washington in early January and they will hopefully be talking about future issues in Afghanistan as well as the matter of residual forces.
President Karzai is going to make the biggest mistake of his life if he agrees to residual forces because that will mean the continuation of war in Afghanistan.
As I have said before the Mujaheddin of Afghanistan have put this condition even at the 19th of December meeting in Paris – this was the first condition that both sides the Taliban and Jamiat e Islami of Afghanistan put on the table.
Therefore what Mr. Karzai is going to sign with them based on their immunity issues, that is not going to work. As for US forces they are defeated now they were defeated then.
NATO has reportedly agreed to increase Israel’s participation in its activities in 2013 after Ankara eased its opposition to the move following the alliance’s approval of the deployment of Patriot missiles to Turkey.
Citing Israeli officials, the Jerusalem Post reported on Sunday that “the approval had come as Turkey’s request that NATO station Patriot missile batteries along its border with Syria was granted, leading them to assess that NATO was using the deployment as leverage to induce Ankara to thaw its relations with Israel.”
Israel, a NATO partner participating in seminars, exercises and training courses, has been requesting to increase its role in the military alliance but it was met with an objection from Turkey, a full NATO member.
“At the last minute – and I think it was dependent on the Patriots – it was approved,” said one Israeli official on condition of anonymity.
The Israeli official also said that Israel’s approval for participation in the 2013 work plan and other traditional NATO activities “is not a total solution” to tensions between Israel and Turkey.
The report added that Israel is seeking to improve its status in NATO, but Tel Aviv’s fears about the opposition of Turkey which enjoys veto power over decision-making in the alliance which is conducted by consensus.
NATO officials have been pushing to improve the Israel-Turkey ties that were soured after the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident in 2010, according to Post.
“We would like the issue to be resolved sooner rather than later,” a NATO official said on condition of anonymity. “For the time being we’re trying to find ways to keep the conversation going with Israel.”
NATO has approved of Turkey’s request for the deployment of Patriot surface-to-air missiles in its territory.
The agreement emerged from a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels on December 4th despite strong opposition from Russia, Syria and Iran.
On December 14th, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta signed orders to authorize the plan to deploy Patriot missile batteries and about 400 troops to Turkey following the announcement of a similar move by Germany.
- this is just a confused way of saying that turkey’s anti-zionism is all fake (niqnaq.wordpress.com)
- Turkish students say no to NATO Patriot missiles on Syria border (realisticbird.wordpress.com)