Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Checkup on our friends in the Middle East and Asia


May 28, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- A new annual report on China's arms development, issued by the U.S. Defense Department, says China is progressing with the development of long-range weapons that include guided missiles and new nuclear submarines.
The Pentagon's report suggests the nature of China's armed forces is changing rapidly away from local self-defense toward strategic capabilities.

Beijing rejects criticism that the modernization is aimed at increasing China's weight across the region, and says the impressive array of weaponry is purely for defensive purposes.


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, June 19 Hundreds of police from Pakistan's Punjab province went on a rampage against their Islamabad counterparts Tuesday to protest the death of a fellow officer.

About 1,000 Punjabis had been brought to the capital last week as reinforcements for a crackdown on radical militant clerics demanding the imposition of Islamic Sharia law and their madrassa school students, the Press Trust of India reported.

During the operations, a Punjabi officer was injured and later died, and his fellow officers claim the Islamabad police force did nothing to help him, the report said.

Several hundred of the 1,000 visiting officers went on a rampage, throwing stones and burning tires, and some chanted slogans from the madrassas they had come to raid, PTI said. Several Islamabad police officers were also beaten in the protest.

I'm sure Pervez Musharaf is on it:

Pakistan might be in the midst of its first televised revolution. For nearly three months, a handful of fledgling independent stations have been broadcasting minute-by-minute coverage of what at first seemed a relatively obscure issue: the suspension of Pakistan's chief judge by the president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

Since then, Pakistanis nationwide have been transfixed by live coverage of police beating lawyers, pro-Musharraf groups firing assault rifles at demonstrators and the chief justice speaking to ever-larger and more boisterous audiences about the dangers of autocratic rule.

As the cameras have rolled, opposition to Musharraf has surged, and he is considered more vulnerable now than at any time in his eight years in office. Even in rural areas where poverty is high, residents have gathered in hotels and barbershops around the few television sets available and watched the brewing crisis play out live.

Well... Musharraf has his hands full, how about Turkey?:

In Turkey, the military and the government are engaged in an all-out struggle for power. The country is deeply divided, and decidedly unstable. Turkish writer Ahmet Altan describes his country's paradoxes and warns of the potentially dire consequences.

This writer ends up warning us:
If there is a coup in Turkey, the world would encounter a phenomenon it has never seen before. Subsequent to a coup, Turkey would seek a partnership with Russia and Iran and would obtain its weapons, energy and funding from these two countries. The natural gas, oil and nuclear power from Russia and Iran would suffice to keep Turkey on its feet, if only for a while.

But a block made up of Russia, Turkey and Iran could change the global balance. It would take complete control of the Middle East. It would imprison Europe within the borders of its small continent. It would draw the Caucasus, Afghanistan, and Pakistan under its sway. It would form close relations with the Muslim world. It would dominate the sources of oil. It would also likely form a partnership with China.

This is the divide between the secular and the religious factions of the country. We can still count on them to help us with Iraq, right?
WASHINGTON, June 19 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told her Iraqi counterpart his government needed to clamp down on Kurdish rebels who are attacking Turkey.

In the meeting Monday between Rice and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari in Washington, Rice said she discussed the escalating situation in northern Iraq that has led Turkey to mass troops along the border.

"We discussed the importance of the trilateral security mechanism that Iraq, the United States and Turkey instituted some time ago, and the importance of accelerating the work of the mechanism, because the Iraqis do not want -- and we do not want -- their territory to be used for terrorist acts against their neighbor," Rice said.

A militant Kurdish group known as the PKK wants autonomy for Kurds in northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey. The group has been mounting increased attacks on Turkish military targets and engaged troops in firefights, Voice of America said.

Well.... that won't happen, right? On to Afhanistan:

KABUL (Reuters) - A Taliban bomber blew up a police bus in the heart of Kabul on Sunday, killing 24 people in one of the deadliest suicide strikes to hit Afghanistan since the Taliban were ousted in 2001.

The blast tore apart the bus, wounding dozens of bystanders, wrecking several other vehicles and scattering body parts. It was the fifth suicide attack in three days in the country, suggesting an escalation in use of the tactic.


"It was a very, very successful suicide attack," a Taliban commander, Mullah Hayatullah Khan, told Reuters by satellite phone. "We have plans for more successful attacks in future."

The Taliban and their al Qaeda allies have adopted the tactics of Iraq's insurgency to try to dispel the notion that government and foreign forces are in control of the country.

Er...quick! Uzbekistan:
...the overall stability of the country is at a high level. Despite the latent discontent with the economic situation, the country is set to remain on a stable course. The Uzbek government will most probably continue its tough stance on human rights activists, notwithstanding western pressure. On the international scene, the diversification of relations, especially towards Asia and countries of the Middle East, can be expected to continue. It remains to be seen how far the mentioned disagreements with Russia will harm bilateral relations.
So the farmers are unhappy and they're pissed at the Russians. They don't like us much either. Oh well, next! How about Kyrgyzstan? I mean Kazakhstan:

ALMATY (Reuters) - President Nursultan Nazarbayev has styled himself a firm but modern Khan in his 17 years in power in Kazakhstan, but critics say his authoritarian rule brooks no opposition and borders on a personality cult.

Showing a firm resolve to stay in control, the 66-year-old former steelworker signed constitutional amendments on May 22 that allow him to stay in office for life.

His opponents, some at home, some in exile, accuse him of usurping power, backtracking on democracy and appointing allies and family members to key positions.

But the leader of this major oil-producing nation on the Caspian Sea has insisted that Kazakhstan has its own vision of development, which differs from that of the West.

"We should not ... run after every foreign recommendation," Nazarbayev said at the end of last year. "We should not blindly copy foreign schemes."

Foreign schemes? I think they're on to us. It seems there may be some trouble with the oil workers there too:
...while the tension between Kazakh workers and foreign sub-contractors in the region has yet to be exploited by the nascent political class in Kazakhstan, it is a populist issue that could benefit various political forces in the country, especially in the context of the country’s quiet intra-elite competition for the right to take over the reigns once President Nazarbayev steps down. If such political forces begin to look to workers in western Kazakhstan for support, that could spell even more troubles for the various foreign oil companies active in the west of the country.
How weird. A country thinking they might get to keep their own oil resources... and there does seem to be some current trouble with the rulers going on...

How are we with Kyrgyzstan?:

With Kyrgyzstan’s most powerful political actors speaking in favor of Russia, public anger against the U.S. presence in Kyrgyzstan is likely to resume soon. Today, only a few Kyrgyz public figures dare to look at the U.S. military base as a positive development in the country. Most consider Russia to be Bishkek’s key economic and political partner. However, few Kyrgyz realize that the economic influence of China and Kazakhstan is soaring and at time exceeds that of Russia’s.

They like Russia, may like China even more, and everybody way more than the U.S.? Hmmm. So, what about Tadzhikistan ... I mean Tajikistan? Looks like really good bridges are being built there. That should make them happy:

Several years ago Aga Khan Development Network initiated construction of three bridges across Panj River. One was built in Tem district in Khorog - replacing the old ferry, the other was built in Darwaz and the last was built in Ishkashim - replacing the old one built during the Soviet-Afghan war. All three bridges were constructed with the same purpose as the one constructed in Nizhni Pyanj – at smaller scale promotion of trade and commerce between Tajikistan and Afghanistan and at larger scale promotion of regional integration.

No matter how good these bridges are in economic terms, it seems that the government of Tajikistan is not passionate to use them at full capacity. There is a serious concern that bridges will increase not only trade but also the inflow of narcotics. Yesterday, president Emomali Rahmon blamed NATO and US in not struggling against the production of narcotics in Afghanistan. According to Rahmon every time he tried to tell the representatives of NATO and US about his concerns, they always said in response that struggle against narcotics is not part of their mission in Afghanistan.

They seem to be having a bit of a problem, too:
On Saturday all the world information agencies reported on explosions in Dushanbe outside Tajikistan’s Supreme Court, which is located in the protected area. The explosions did not injure anyone but smashed the windows of the nearby buildings. It was probably the third fact in the series of explosions near the administrative buildings which took place in Dushanbe in last three years.

Were Turkmenistan not home to one of the world's largest reserves of oil and gas and one of modern history's most peculiar former dictators, a presidential election (ElectionGuide.org) would probably pass unnoticed (NYT), like the proverbial tree falling in the wood. But energy analysts say political change in this oil-rich country along the Caspian Sea has important foreign policy ramifications for the United States, Russia, and others in the region. Saparmurat Niyazov, Turkmenistan's previous president, ruled with a Stalin-like iron fist to sustain his personality cult: He erected ornate ice palaces in his honor and renamed the month of January (Atlantic) after himself. But his successor, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, is no democrat either. A former dentist and deputy prime minister, he has called democracy a “tender substance” that cannot be imported (RFE/RL) from outside and has promised to keep Turkmenistan on the path set out by his predecessor. In fifteen years of independence, he boasts, Turkmenistan, unlike most of its post-Soviet neighbors, has experienced “no economic or political shocks."

The tradeoff of such relative stability, however, has been a repressive police state with little regard for human rights or religious freedoms (AP). Political opponents and independent journalists are routinely harassed or jailed. Turkmenistan annually ranks near the bottom of Transparency International's corruption index. And Freedom House has slammed the country for restricting social freedoms, such as banning long hair or beards for men.

Why should we care whether these countries rise or fall? They are far away and don't involve us, right?

Wrong. Get to know these names. These are the countries in the center of the world power struggle and oil grab between China, Russia, and the United States.

These lands are where the next wars will be.

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mapaghimagsik said...

As shaggy used to say.


Anonymous said...

Heckuva job Bushie!

Steve Bates said...

Reprise the Merry Minuet...

Anonymous said...

And some of those wars will no doubt be over water.

ellroon said...

As Laurelstan used to say: Here's another fine mess you've gotten me into...

Anonymous said...

mullah cimoc say ameriki stupid for tv news and cable tv. this disgrace.

so much the lies from usa media and government. now not believing so many people think just more lie.

one question: how illiterate afghan mujahid fighter
speaking pashtu buy greyhound bus ticket for get to chicago? not selling this ticket in peshwar.

-- afghan mujahid fighter travel on greyhound bus to chicago for big bomb and
nobody get the suspicious?
this story so stupid, just big propaganda lies.

and sourcing story brian ross, suspicious maybe him brian ross working for mighty wurlitzer. google: mighty wurlitzer +cia

ellroon said...

You just say that to all the girls...

Steve Bates said...

... and the guys, apparently; the mullah visited my site a few months ago, and I banned him before I realized he is almost completely self-satirical ("cimoc" <-> "comic"). My bad. Not that I've missed him...

ellroon said...

I went back to what he googled to get to my site and found he had cut and pasted his statement at other blogs.

I feel so ... used... *sniff*

Steve Bates said...

If he had only stopped after the "cut" part...

The late great Kurt Vonnegut (I think) wrote something on the subject of feeling used, but I can't find it at the moment. The idea was that the worst thing that could happen to anybody was never in their life to be used, at any time, for any purpose. Of course, Vonnegut said it much better than I can manage.

ellroon said...

Kurt said a whole hell of a lot of things better than anybody else. That said, share when/if you find it...