Deputy Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Eric Rubin has expressed support for Georgia’s territorial integrity and its integration into NATO.
The parliamentary elections in Georgia were one of the main issues in Rubin’s speech at the U.S. Centre for National Interests on Friday.
Rubin spoke about the reforms carried out in Georgia, and stressed the importance of cooperation between the old and the new government.
“I would like to make note of what I saw in Tbilisi last week. After a heated election campaign both sides began to work for a peaceful transfer of power. This has started well and the parties are working constructively,” the Deputy Secretary of State stated.
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- US Probes South Caucasus’ Attitude to Iran (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Meeting between U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and Bidzina Ivanishvili (en.trend.az)
- An attack on Iran and the role of Georgia? (pennyforyourthoughts2.blogspot.com)
- Georgia Passed Test, Now NATO Should Take Practical Steps, Says Ivanishvili (eurasiareview.com)
NATO’s missile defense system presents a threat to Russia’s national security and may trigger the militarization of Europe, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told a NATO Parliamentary Assembly delegation on Thursday.
“This missile defense concept is global and mobile, and it creates unpredictability,” Rogozin said at a meeting with NATO officials at the Federation Council. “That is the real Figaro; Figaro here and Figaro there.”
Rogozin said Moscow is “awaiting explanations from NATO and Washington concerning the real purpose [of the system],” he stressed.
The Deputy Prime Minister remarked on the military defense components “that are being deployed around Norway, the bases in Romania,” which are aimed at intercepting “strategic rockets according to speed, range and altitude characteristics.”
Rogozin then mentioned the US naval group – the core of European missile defense – which “may be deployed in European ports rather far from the Russian territory (such as a base in Spain).”
However, “the same fleet will invariably appear in our northern seas under particular circumstances.”
“The radius of use of these weapons makes them a real threat to us,” Rogozin noted. “The strategic potential of Russia is a guarantee of its sovereignty and independence.”
The US missile defense system, first shelved then repackaged under the Obama administration, has been a thorn in the side of the Russia-US reset. Indeed, Russia has warned that the issue has all the potential to escalate into another arms race.
If new threats to Russia’s strategic potential appear, Russia will simply have to consider the threatening prospect of a militarized Europe.
Rogozin implored the NATO delegation not to push Russia into a position where it will be forced to respond.
“We request you don’t do that,” he stressed. “The Russian response has a…political and diplomatic nature at the moment, but you will not like the technical response we may have to pursue under certain circumstances.”
Although the Vice Premier said Russia has no reason to fear for the security of its western borders, he acknowledged there are threats that both Russia and the European Union share alike.
“We see new threats arising in Russia and European countries and… these threats are practically identical to both you and us,” Rogozin told the NATO delegation. “Russia is not an exporter of such threats to NATO states, and we can hardly reproach NATO for the presence of such threats.”
Russia regards the European Union as its unconditional strategic partner and Moscow is not interested in any conflicts or controversies disrupting the bilateral partnership, he stressed.
“The 21st century should…represent the revival of Russia’s full-scale presence in Europe’s common political affairs, which would be of much benefit both for Russia and Europe,” he declared.
foto: Tim Dirven/Vredesactie
As of 7:30 AM peace activists are using non-violent means to try and stop the departure of F16 airplanes from the base in Kleine Brogel. Starting today, Belgian pilots are training for the deployment of nuclear weapons together with their NATO-partners. Small groups of activists are going onto the runway to stop the taking off of the F-16s. Meanwhile, the main gate of the base is being blocked. In this way, Vredesactie and Action pour la Paix hope to prevent the preparation for war crimes.
From 15 to 26 October, Belgian F-16s from the military base of Kleine Brogel are participating in the NATO-exercise “Steadfast Noon” in the German air base of Büchel. This exercise is a way of training for the deployment of nuclear weapons. All NATO-countries that have American nuclear weapons on their territory are participating: Belgium, Germany, Italy, Holland and Turkey. Some other countries are taking on a supportive role.
“The American nuclear weapons stored in Kleine Brogel are not merely relics from the Cold War”, says Roel Stynen from Vredesactie. “This NATO-exercise makes it clear that the deployment of these weapons is being actively prepared. If these nuclear weapons no longer have any military purpose – as we are told – then which scenarios are being practiced?”
Benoit Calvi from Action pour la Paix: “The majority of the population wants these nuclear weapons removed from our country. But our minister dodges any attempt to a debate. Apparently being a member of NATO is more important than having a functioning democracy.”
Preventing the preparation of war crimes
Small groups of activists have entered the base. They head towards the hangars for aeroplanes to stop the departure of combat planes, risking life and limb. Meanwhile a colourful blockade at the main gate stops entry of personnel to the base.
With this action the activists are trying to prevent the preparation of war crimes in a non-violent way. The use of nuclear weapons and the preparation for said use is in violation of international humanitarian law. The International Court has pointed out the fundamental rules of the law of war as applicable to nuclear weapons in its verdict of 8 July 1996.
First of all a distinction must be made between enemy combatants and civilians. It follows that weapons that are incapable of making such a distinction can never be used. Second, it is forbidden to inflict unnecessary suffering to enemy combatants. Therefore, weapons that inflict such suffering can not be used. The consequences of using nuclear weapons cannot be limited in time and space. The nuclear weapons stationed in Kleine Brogel can never be deployed without violating these fundamental rules of the law of war and without committing war crimes.
Belgian criminal law also penalizes these acts of preparation, e.g. in art. 136sexies of the penal code: “the keeping of an object destined for such a crime or which facilitates the perpetration of such a crime”. Participation in this exercise amounts to an active preparation for the use of nuclear weapons and therefore for crimes of war. It also makes it clear that the storage of nuclear weapons in Kleine Brogel is a part of this active preparation.
Belgian peace organizations file a complaint
On October 9 several Belgian peace organizations – Vredesactie, Pax Christi Vlaanderen, Vrede vzw, CNAPD, Action pour la Paix en MIR-IRG – already filed a complaint with the police against this exercise. Tom Sauer (professor of International Politics at the University of Antwerp) participated in filing a complaint: “These weapons are useless and dangerous. It is unacceptable that Belgian pilots are practicing for the deployment of weapons of mass destruction.”
So far neither the department of defence, nor the judicial authorities have indicated that the participation in the nuclear exercise will be suspended.
- Independent Scotland would ban nuclear weapons but join Nato (telegraph.co.uk)
- NAM calls for total nuclear disarmament (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Nuclear weapons should be banned from independent Scotland, says Alex Salmond (scotsman.com)
NATO in 2013!
The Norwegian parliamentarians have just awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union. Now, Norway is one of the few Western European countries that does not belong to the EU. So we suspect that the Norwegians’ modesty held them back from nominating the organization which deep down they believe truly merits the prize, NATO, because they belong to it. The self-effacing Norwegians may have feared that such a choice would seem to be awarding the Prize to themselves. So they gave the prize to the EU as a sort of substitute.
That is laudable, and shows how much the Norwegians adhere to our common Western values.
However, we maintain that false modesty should not stand in the way of rewarding genuine merit. Therefore, we propose that all those who cherish our common values should unite behind this immodest proposal: award the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize to NATO!
The wise Norwegians justify their choice by pointing out that the European Union has promoted European integration. But if one looks at the facts, it is clear that NATO has integrated even more countries than the EU, and continues to do so, well beyond the provincial limits of Western Europe. The EU has integrated Europe by economic means, which even the Nobel committee admits are collapsing. NATO, on the other hand, has used bombs and missiles, to win former Yugoslavia over to our values, whereas the EU lags behind. NATO has used its naval and air forces to democratize Libya, whereas the European Union leaders only justified the operation with mere words. And today, thanks to Turkey, NATO is actively involved in combating the Syrian dictator who murders his own people, while the EU still merely talks and sends money which it doesn’t have.
The Norwegians praise the EU for combating the evil of nationalism, which they fear is on the rise. However, in all honesty, the EU contribution to this noble cause is paltry, involving only a few declining nations on the tip of the Eurasian continent. How much more inspiring is NATO’s mission of combating nationalism by bringing its benevolent rule of democracy and human rights to the whole world! It is only when all nations and nationalisms have been brought under the governance of Western values that true peace will finally reign over our planet.
On the eve of the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, what could be more fitting than to award this prestigious Peace Prize to the organization that is truly ready and willing to END ALL WARS!
NATO in 2013!!!
Diana Johnstone can be reached at email@example.com
Jean Bricmont can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ankara endangered Russians by diverting a flight from Moscow to Damascus, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said. Moscow expressed anger at not being informed that Russians were involved in the incident, and that their diplomats were denied access to them.
“We are troubled that the lives of the passengers aboard the plane, including 17 Russian citizens were put at risk by this inappropriate act. Turkey did not inform Russia that Russian citizens were among those detained on the plane. We found this out through the press,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Aleksandr Lukashevich said.
The Russian embassy in Turkey demanded access to the Russian citizens and dispatched consular officers and doctors to the Ankara airport. Turkish authorities, however, denied the Russian diplomats access to the passengers, in violation of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. The Russian nationals were detained in the airport for eight hours.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has demanded an explanation from Turkish authorities, and that Ankara take steps to prevent future such incidents.
Turkey defended the move by claiming that the plane could have carried “non-civilian cargo.”
“There were no arms and military equipment aboard the civilian aircraft – and could not be,” a source in Russia’s military industry told Interfax news agency.
Russia has maintained its military-technical cooperation with Syria, and that any arms or military equipment sales to Damascus are conducted according to established practice. The current law expressly forbids arms sales facilitated by civilian aircraft.
Syrian transport minister Mahoumd Said said that Turkey’s detention of the passenger aircraft is tantamount to “air piracy,” and violates civil aviation treaties, Lebanon’s al-Manar TV channel reported.
Tensions between Turkey and Syria rose after a Syrian shell killed five civilians in the border town of Akcakale last week. Turkey returned fire and said it would retaliate against any future provocation originating in Syria. NATO supported Turkey’s move and pledged to defend the country should the Syrian conflict spill across the border.
- NATO mortar ‘gift’ from Turkey to Syrian rebels – Turkish newspaper (alethonews.wordpress.com)
For several months, impressive demonstrations against the war with Syria have taken place in Turkey, but only in the Arabic or Kurdish regions. On Thursday, October 4th 2012, for the first time, a massive demonstration streamed through Istanbul shouting “This war is not ours!”
The choice made by the Erdogan government to join NATO’s operations against Libya, and to support the covert war against Syria has brutally stunted Turkey’s economic growth.
Quite apart from the economic difficulties flogging the whole of society, certain sectors of the population feel particularly sympathetic towards the Syrian people and the regime in Damascus. This applies especially to one million Arabs, 15 million Kurds and an equal number of Alevis.
- Turkish parliament authorizes cross-border military operations in Syria (alethonews.wordpress.com)
US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has confirmed that US troops have been dispatched to the Jordan-Syrian border to help bolster the former’s military capabilities in case violence escalates in the volatile region.
”We have a group of our forces there working to help build a headquarters there and to insure that we make the relationship between the United States and Jordan a strong one so that we can deal with all the possible consequences of what’s happening in Syria,” Panetta said.
Panetta’s comments came during a NATO conference of defense ministers in Brussels, where he said the US had been working with Jordan to monitor chemical and biological weapons sites in Syria and help the country deal with Syrian refugees crossing over the border.
The US has previously used Jordan as a base for other Syria-related military activities. In May of this year, Washington held military drills in Jordan dubbed ‘Operation Eager Lion,’ which saw around 12,000 troops from several nations participate in undisclosed training exercises.
The Obama administration denied accusations in the Syrian media that the exercises were a threat against President Assad, and maintained that the action focused on the treatment of refugees, anti-terrorism tactics and naval interception of smuggling vessels.
Following the operation, a small US contingent stayed behind to establish the center in Amman, paving the way for the arrival of more personnel.
“We have been working closely with our Jordanian partners on a variety of issues related to Syria for some time now,” Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said. Citing Washington’s concern over Syria’s stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, he said that the US has been planning “various contingencies, both unilaterally and with our regional partners.”
The Syrian conflict took an unexpected turn last week when mortar fire struck across the border at neighboring Turkey, sparking outcry from the Turkish government which subsequently returned fire. Turkey deployed 25 new F-16 fighter jets to reinforce its borders this week as NATO pledged support if the conflict spills into the country again.
Since uprisings against the embattled President Assad began last year, the UN estimated that more than 20,000 people were killed in the conflict and some 700,000 fled Syria to seek refuge in neighboring countries.
The mortar used to attack the Turkish town of Akcakale is a design specific to NATO and was given to Syrian rebels by Ankara, according to Turkey’s Yurt newspaper. The mortar killed one adult and four children from the same family on Wednesday.
An article by the paper’s Editor-in-Chief, Merdan Yanardag, states that the newspaper received information from a reliable source, which claimed that Turkey itself sent the mortars to rebels in the so-called “free army.”
“Turkey is a longtime member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and they’re going to act in conjunction with other NATO powers, so it’s unsurprising that this has happened,” editor of the Pan-African news wire, Abayomi Azikiwe, told RT.
NATO has so far shunned any military involvement in the conflict, but Azikiwe says the alliance is deeply involved in every decision that Turkey makes.
“Ankara isn’t taking any military actions or contemplating any type of military strategy without being in full cooperation with NATO forces,” he said.
Turkey retaliated at Syria for a sixth consecutive day on Monday, after a mortar from Syria landed in Turkey’s Hatay province.
And as Turkey fights to defend its border towns, the country’s president says the country’s military will take any action necessary.
“The worst-case scenarios are taking place right now in Syria … Our government is in constant consultation with the Turkish military. Whatever is needed is being done immediately as you see, and it will continue to be done,” President Abdullah Gul said in a statement on Monday.
But it’s not only leaders within Turkey that are stating their opinions on the conflict.
Earlier on Monday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned of the consequences that the conflict could bring to the region.
“The escalation of the conflict along the Syrian-Turkish border and the impact of the crisis on Lebanon are extremely dangerous,” Ban said at the opening of the World Forum for Democracy in Strasbourg, France.
The exchange of fire began last Wednesday, when Syrian mortar shells killed a woman and four children from the same family in Akcakale.
Many fear the situation will lead to regional conflict, with political analyst Dan Glazebrook, saying that Ankara aims to drag NATO into a war with Syria.
“On the one hand the [Turks] are trying to give cover to the rebels to continue their fight, as they know that the rebels are getting defeated on the ground so they are bombarding Syria as a way to help the rebels not lose too many of their positions,” Glazebrook told RT. “But I think also they may be hoping that they can somehow nudge, provoke NATO into taking action as well, into prompting a kind of blitzkrieg that is actually the only thing really that would enable the rebels to win now at this state.”
- usually the FSA mortars are described as russian-made and stolen from the syrian army (niqnaq.wordpress.com)
- Nato has ‘plans in place’ to back Turkey in Syrian war (morningstaronline.co.uk)
Bidzina Ivanishvili and Commander of the U.S. Marine Corps in Europe, Lt Gen John M. Paxton, outside Ivanishvili’s compound in Tbilisi.
Photo: Ivanishvili’s press office
Tbilisi – Bidzina Ivanishvili, whose Georgian Dream coalition won the parliamentary elections, said Georgia, which has two battalions stationed in the Helmand province of Afghanistan, would “definitely continue” cooperation with the U.S. over Afghanistan.
He made the remarks on October 5 after meeting with commander of the U.S. Marine Corps in Europe, Lt Gen John M. Paxton, who is visiting Georgia.
“Georgia has been a very valuable and trusted ally for many years; we work very closely together in Afghanistan, particularly in Helmand province and we have enjoyed a great relationship trying to develop NCO leadership, officer skills and work on enhanced security cooperation,” Lt Gen Paxton said after the meeting.
“We are here to congratulate Mr. Ivanishvili and to wish him a smooth transition of power. We are here to just reaffirm that the United States stands by Georgia,” he said and added he was looking forward not only to working relationship in Afghanistan but also to continued good relations in years ahead.
“This was my first meeting with the U.S. military, who have provided a huge assistance to establishing of the Georgian army and to its reforms in line with the NATO standards,” Ivanishvili said. “I knew it, but I was very glad to hear that Georgian [troops] have special importance in the NATO forces [in Afghanistan] and that together with the U.S. [troops] are [performing combat duties] in difficult areas”
“Of course we should do everything possible in order to [continue] our partnership with the United States in Afghanistan and in such hotspots,” Ivanishvili said and added that Georgia was playing “a role of a real junior friend” to the United States and “we will definitely continue cooperation in the future too.”
The Commander of U.S. Marine Corps in Europe met on October 5 with Chief of Joint Staff of the Georgian armed force Lt Gen Devi Chankotadze.
“The sides focused on an enhanced military cooperation between the countries. Chief of JS underlined that Georgia will continue cooperation with the United States in the same format and stressed the role the U.S. plays in modernization of the Georgian army and in developing interoperability with NATO,” the Georgian Ministry of Defense said. “Lt Gen Devi Chankotadze affirmed that Georgia stands ready to continue cooperation with NATO and the United States in the post-ISAF period too.”
Also on October 5, the Commander of U.S. Marine Corps in Europe visited National Training Centre, Krtsanisi, outside Tbilisi where he attended training of the Georgian servicemen, who are gearing up for the Afghan deployment.
- New Georgian Leader A Man With a Past – On K Street (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- U.S. and Georgia armed forces commanders discuss the prospects of deepening cooperation (en.trend.az)
Turkish forces continue shelling targets in Syria following a deadly cross-border attack on a town in southeast Turkey amid escalating tensions between the two neighbors.
Ankara said the attacks were in retaliation for a Syrian mortar strike that killed five people in Turkey’s southeastern town of Akcakale in Sanliurfa province earlier on Wednesday.
In a letter to the UN Security Council, Ankara condemned the shelling as “a flagrant violation of international law,” and asked the world body to take action to stop such “acts of aggression.”
The Turkish parliament is due on Thursday to discuss a motion for cross-border military operations inside Syria “when deemed necessary.”
NATO ambassadors also held an emergency late-night meeting in Brussels to discuss the Syrian shelling and the Turkish backfire.
The alliance blamed Syria for the incident and demanded Damascus end what it called aggressive acts against member-nation Turkey.
Meanwhile in a phone conversation, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton assured Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu of Washington’s full backing for Ankara at NATO and the UN, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Separately, White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said, “We stand with our Turkish ally and are continuing to consult closely on the path forward.”
The remarks came despite the Syrian government’s gesture to offer condolences to Turkish people over the deadly mortar attack and to launch an investigation into the source of the shelling.
Damascus also called for an end to the transfer of terrorists into Syria, which has been plagued by more than a year of deadly unrest.
Syria accuses certain Western and regional countries, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey, of arming and funding insurgents fighting against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
There’s got to be some symbolism—if not irony–in the fact that just as the last of the 33,000 troops surged by Obama two years ago supposedly to pacify Afghanistan pulled out, the highest ranking Chinese official to visit Afghanistan in almost half a century pulled in—arriving in Kabul for a secret round of meetings with top Afghan officials.
Question: How will China deal with the country that proved such an expensive and bloody disaster for both the U.S., its NATO allies–and the U.S.S.R before them?
In a brief visit, unreported until he had left Kabul, Zhou Younkang, China’s chief of domestic security, met with Afghani leaders, including President Hamid Karzai. They talked about drugs, international crime, terrorism, and developing Afghanistan’s huge natural resources—just as visiting Americans have done for years.
The result, a cluster of agreements, among them an announcement that 300 Afghan police officers will be sent to China for training over the next four years.
Which is another irony of sorts—coming at the same time as news that the U.S. and its allies have been obliged to scale back joint operations with the Afghan military and police, because they can no longer trust the men they’ve trained. American troops in the field with their Afghan allies now keep weapons ready and wear body armor even when they’re eating goat meat and yoghurt.
So far this year 51 American and NATO troops have been gunned down by Afghan military or police: a startling 20% of all NATO casualties this year.
The off-the-wall video from California ridiculing the prophet Mohammed has only further fueled anti-American hatred.
As the New York Times quoted one 20 year old Afghan soldier, NATO casualties could even be higher.
“We would have killed many of them already,” he said, “but our commanders are cowards and don’t let us.”
There are still some 68,000 American troops based in Afghanistan, but the plans are for them all to be out by the end of 2014. Which means that China will be confronting serious security problems of its own in Afghanistan. They already have direct investments of more than $200 million in copper mining and oil exploration, and have promised to build a major railroad east to Pakistan or north to Turkestan.
But they could pour in billions more if Afghanistan were a secure, well-ordered country, free from the Taliban, free from kleptocratic war lords and venal government bureaucrats, patrolled by well-trained Afghan soldiers and police: in other words, exactly the kind of country the U.S. would like to have left behind—and didn’t.
Instead, of course, despite America’s huge sacrifice in men and treasure –more than half a trillion dollars since 2001–things haven’t worked out that way. [For a dramatic, running count of the enormous hemorrhage that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan still represent to the U.S. economy check out costofwar.com.]
Meanwhile, corruption is rampant, and it’s by no means certain that Afghanistan has—or ever will have–a national army and police force worthy of the name.
The U.S. Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, peered into the Pentagon’ s 1.1 billion dollars fuel program to supply the Afghan Army, and concluded that there was no way to be ascertain how much if any of that fuel is really being used by Afghan security forces for their missions. There was also no way to know how much was stolen, lost or diverted to the Taliban and other insurgent groups. Almost half a billion dollars worth of receipts detailing with fuel payments over the past four years have been shredded.
With the Americans heading for the exits, the challenge facing the Chinese—and anyone else, like India–interested in investing in the country–is how to navigate this imbroglio.
Indeed, the Chinese have apparently already run into problems in Afghanistan. Work at the Mes Aynak copper mine in Logar Province is already behind schedule, and no work has begun on the promised Chinese-built railroad yet. Various impediments have turned up, like recalcitrant bureaucrats, tensions provoked by the need to displace local populations, the discovery of Buddhist ruins, as well as ramshackle Soviet-era mines that first had to be cleared.
And then there’s the rival, rapacious warlords, who see the country’s resources as a way of fueling their own ambitions—like General Abdul Rashid Dotsum, who the government has accused of attempting to extort illegal payoffs from the Chinese oil company.
However, in their dealings throughout the developing world, from despots to democracies, the Chinese have shown themselves adept at navigating such quagmires. There’s no talk from Beijing of Chinese “exceptionalism”. They’ve been taking on the world as it is—not as someone in a Chinese think tank would want to remake it.
They’ve generally turned a blind eye to considerations of human rights, opted to pay off or work with the powers that be, and used offers of huge new infrastructure projects as bait, steadily increasing their share of the globe’s resources.
Many potential investors still shy away from Afghanistan. They have no idea what lies on the other side of the political abyss after 2014 when the U.S. completes its withdrawal.
China is also wary, but they’re also seriously planning their Afghan strategy for the post-American future.
As Wang Lian, a professor with the School of International Studies at the Paking University in Beijing, put it, ”Almost every great power in history, when they were rising, was deeply involved in Afghanistan, and China will not be an exception.”
Unmentioned, of course, was what an unmitigated disaster that involvement turned out to be for the USSR, the US–and Afghanistan.
We’ll see how China fares.
- Did Afghanistan’s Surge Fail? (andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com)
- Is the Afghan Surge Really Over? (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Afghanistan surge achieved its mission, Dempsey says (nation.com.pk)