Saturday, July 07, 2012

Nato supply resumption a boon for Afghan Taliban – The Express Tribune

Nato supply resumption a boon for Afghan Taliban – The Express Tribune

.... 
A prominent militant leader, known for his close ties with Mullah Omar, told The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity, that the Afghan Taliban and local militants who are active on the Pak-Afghan borders were “seriously annoyed” over the ban.

The leader, who is also one of the key leaders of the Difa-e-Pakistan Council, said that the Afghan Taliban had even protested when his council was holding nationwide demonstrations pressing Pakistan against the lifting of the ban.

“The Taliban had frankly told me that the ban had caused them huge financial losses during the last eight months,” the militant leader said.

“We are offended over the resumption of the Isaf/Nato supply lines from Pakistan to Afghanistan but at the same time we are glad that at least our Taliban brothers in Afghanistan would be happy over this decision,” he said, adding: “Believe me it is good news for Taliban and militants.”

Meanwhile, Dr Ghirat Baheer, the chairman of the foreign relations council of Hizb-i-Islami, refused to comment on the resumption of Nato supplies in Pakistan.

He also refused to comment on reports that his party’s fighters and the Afghan Taliban were involved in extortion of money to ensure the safety and security of the Afghanistan-bound supplies for the foreign forces in Afghanistan.

According to international media reports, it is an admitted fact that US and Nato pay a handsome amount of money to the militants in return for safety and security of their supplies to Afghanistan via two land routes in Pakistan....

-bth: it is interesting to see the economic landscape of our southern supply route and how the Taliban uses it to finance its operations.  Has a country ever won a war where the enemy controls its supply route?

In Dwindling Afghan War, Air Power Has Become a Way of Life - NYTimes.com

In Dwindling Afghan War, Air Power Has Become a Way of Life - NYTimes.com

...  In all, Navy pilots released missiles or bombs, or fired their aircrafts’ 20-millimeter cannon, on 41 of the 892 F/A-18 sorties from the Stennis to Afghanistan in late 2011 and early 2012, the carrier air group’s data shows.

This roughly aligns with the use of air power in the recent war. In 2011, for example, the data shows that NATO fixed-wing aircraft dropped ordnance or strafed on 5.8 percent of 34,286 combat sorties flown.
None of the air-to-ground attacks from the carrier stirred up allegations of causing civilian or friendly casualties, which, statistically, have been rare over all....

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Iran says can destroy U.S. bases minutes after attack | Reuters

Iran says can destroy U.S. bases minutes after attack | Reuters


(Reuters) - Iran has threatened to destroy U.S. military bases across the Middle East and target Israel within minutes of being attacked, Iranian media reported on Wednesday, as Revolutionary Guards extended test-firing of ballistic missiles into a third day.
Israel has hinted it may attack Iran if diplomacy fails to secure a halt to its disputed nuclear energy program. The United States also has mooted military action as a last-resort option but has frequently nudged the Israelis to give time for intensified econombic sanctions to work against Iran.
"These bases are all in range of our missiles, and the occupied lands (Israel) are also good targets for us," Amir Ali Haji Zadeh, commander of the Revolutionary Guards aerospace division, was quoted by Fars news agency as saying.
Haji Zadeh said 35 U.S. bases were within reach of Iran's ballistic missiles, the most advanced of which commanders have said could hit targets 2,000 km (1,300 miles) away....

-bth: so here is what bothers me about this scenario, if a shooting war starts between Iran and Israel, regardless of who starts it, both countries are going to get hurt and both of them will want, for their own reasons, to drag the US into the fight.  Israel will want the US to help them finish the job against Iran.  Iran will want it because they don't want to appear to be beaten by the Israelis  alone; better to drag the US in because Russia and China will all have to take due notice and its not as embarrassing to be pounded by the US and Israel in contrast to Israel alone.  It isn't going to be hard to get the US involved unfortunately as the bases are set as trip wires and all belligerents - friend and foe alike - want to drag us in.

Tanzania says investigating Iran tankers accusation | Reuters

Tanzania says investigating Iran tankers accusation | Reuters


Howard Berman, the ranking member of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, has accused Tanzania of reflagging at least six and possibly as many at 10 tankers, saying it was helping Iran evade U.S. and European Union sanctions aimed at pressuring Tehran to curb its nuclear programme.
He said Tanzania could face U.S. sanctions for the practice.
"If it is confirmed that the ships flying Tanzania's flag are indeed from Iran, we will take steps to deliberately obliterate the registration," Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard Membe told reporters....

-bth: outside of flagging the problem, does Rep. Berman have any authority to prevent this practice? I don't see it.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Watch Pakistan Reopens Supply Route After U.S. Apology on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

Pakistani Taliban threaten attacks after NATO supply routes deal

Pakistani Taliban threaten attacks after NATO supply routes deal

 Pakistani Taliban threatened to attack trucks carrying supplies to U.S.-led NATO troops in Afghanistan after Islamabad and Washington reached a deal to re-open the lines.

“We will attack NATO supplies all over Pakistan. We will not allow anyone to use Pakistani soil to transport supplies that will be used against the Afghan people,” the group’s spokesman told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.

Earlier on Tuesday, Pakistan and the United States reached a deal to reopen land routes that NATO uses to supply troops in Afghanistan, ending a seven-month closure imposed after 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed by NATO aircraft last November.

The United States has said it will release about $1.1 billion to Pakistan's military as part of the deal.

Prior to the closure, Pakistani Taliban carried out dozens of attacks, disrupting supplies for 130,000 U.S.-led NATO troops fighting in Afghanistan, and have repeatedly warned of more if Pakistan reopened supply routes.

Following the official announcement NATO truckers said they feared more attacks and demanded security guarantees before the resumption of the supply routes....

2012-07-04 Mass Gold Star Families at Castle Island for the turning of the USS Constitution July 4, 2012

Click on image to start slide show

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Will Civil War Hit Afghanistan When The U.S. Leaves? : The New Yorker

Will Civil War Hit Afghanistan When The U.S. Leaves? : The New Yorker

... 
These days, Nasir said, the nineties are very much on his mind. The announced departure of American and NATO combat troops has convinced him and his friends that the civil war, suspended but never settled, is on the verge of resuming. “Everyone is preparing,” he said. “It will be bloodier and longer than before, street to street. This time, everyone has more guns, more to lose. It will be the same groups, the same commanders.” Hezb-e-Wahdat and Jamiat-e-Islami and Hezb-e-Islami and Junbish—all now political parties—are rearming. The Afghan Army is unlikely to be able to restore order as it did in the time of Najibullah. “It’s a joke,” Nasir said. “I’ve worked with the Afghan Army. They get tired making TV commercials!”
A few weeks ago, Nasir returned to Deh Afghanan. The Taliban were back, practically ignored by U.S. forces in the area. “The Americans have a big base there, and they never go out,” he said. “And, only four kilometres from the front gate, the Taliban control everything. You can see them carrying their weapons.” On a drive to Jalrez, a town a little farther west, Nasir was stopped at ten Taliban checkpoints. “How can you expect me to be optimistic?” he said. “Everyone is getting ready for 2014.”
II
The ethnic battle lines in Afghanistan have not changed. Pashtuns, who dominate both the government and the Taliban, are from the south; the ethnic minorities—Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks, and many others—live mainly in the north. The capital, Kabul, is multiethnic and the focal point of all political and military ambition....

-bth: this article is worth reading in full.

NightWatch 20120702 - KGS On Egypt and the US

NightWatch 20120702 - KGS


...Egypt: President Mohammed Mursi took the oath of office before the General Assembly of the Supreme Constitutional Court on 30 June. Mursi is the first freely elected head of state in Egyptian history.

Among his first acts of state he asked the US to release a notorious jihadist, known as the blind sheikh. Sheikh Omar, who is blind, is serving a sentence in a North Carolina jail for having masterminded the 1993 bombing attack on the World Trade Center. That attack failed.
 
Comment: It is difficult to imagine why the fate of the blind sheikh would top the agenda of Egypt's new president, unless he is a true believer of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Egyptian economy is in collapse. The political system is unsettled. The roles of the Army and of Sharia in national life are begging for resolution. Nevertheless, Mursi focused on the fate of the blind sheikh as a first order of business, deliberately provoking the US.

This man does not seem to be in touch with the depth of the wound Egypt has suffered because of the apocryphal Arab spring. Alternatively he deliberately is pursuing an Islamist agenda which he did not disclose and which considers the present travails of Egyptians to be the path to redemption. In either case, the regional security situation is being altered fundamentally.

Mursi appears to have been deceptive about his true beliefs, suborning the democratic process. He is pursuing an Islamist revolution, not a democratic revolution....

-bth: his first act is to ask that the WTC 1993 mastermind be released.  Unfucking believable.

Nuclear war | Homeland Security News Wire

Nuclear war | Homeland Security News Wire

 Worries about nuclear winter have faded since the end of the cold war, but existing stockpiles of nuclear weapons still hold the potential for devastating global impacts; researchers have found that the climate effects of a hypothetical nuclear war between India and Pakistan would greatly reduce yields of staple crops, even in distant countries


Worries about nuclear winter have faded since the end of the cold war, but existing stockpiles of nuclear weapons still hold the potential for devastating global impacts.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Rutgers University have found that the climate effects of a hypothetical nuclear war between India and Pakistan would greatly reduce yields of staple crops, even in distant countries....

Robock used global climate models to calculate the climate impacts of a conflict between India and Pakistan, each using fifty nuclear weapons. “This is essentially a climate change experiment, but instead of running a climate change model under a global CO2 scenario, you run it under a soot scenario, where the soot comes from fires from cities and industrial areas burning as a result of the war,” explains Ozdogan, a UW–Madison professor of forest and wildlife ecology.

The soot and smoke can travel around the world in the atmosphere and block some of the sunlight that would normally reach the Earth. That leads to cooler temperatures, altered weather and precipitation patterns, and shorter growing seasons.

“We were surprised that there was such a large climate change — climate change unprecedented in recorded human history — even from a war with fifty small nuclear weapons per side, much, much less than one percent of the current nuclear arsenal,” says Robock. He adds that the changes also lasted a full decade, much longer than he expected. “The question is, what impact does that have on things that matter to humans, and the most important is our food supply.”

The researchers used the climate changes predicted for the Midwest to calculate potential effects on corn and soy production in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Missouri. Using climate-based agricultural output models, they compared yields under modern weather patterns and under the war scenario.

The release reports that they found that the climate effects of nuclear war led to decreases in corn yields of 10 to 40 percent and soy yields of 2 to 20 percent, with the reductions gradually declining over the course of the decade following the war.

“Those changes — in any year — are much larger than the natural variation we might see” due to weather fluctuations alone, Ozdogan says. Unlike gradual environmental changes associated with greenhouse gas accumulation, the rapid onset of a war would not permit farmers or the global economy any time to adapt.
A companion study by Robock and Lili Xia of Rutgers University, also published in Climatic Change, calculated that the same scenario would dramatically reduce rice production in China: an average decrease of 21 percent during each of the first four years after the war and 10 percent less for the next six years....

-bth: so besides the initial nuclear damage, the post event food shortage would have global implications.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Talon final - YouTube

Talon final - YouTube

HDT Protector - YouTube

HDT Protector - YouTube

PakBot with HDT end effector

Afghan policeman kills three British soldiers | Reuters

Afghan policeman kills three British soldiers | Reuters


(Reuters) - An Afghan policeman shot dead three British soldiers at a checkpoint in southern Helmand province on Sunday, Afghan officials said, the latest in a chain of increasingly frequent rogue killings.
A fourth British soldier was also injured, provincial governor spokesman Daoud Ahmadi said of the attack, which could further erode trust between NATO and the Afghan forces they train before most foreign combat troops leave in 2014.
The soldiers were serving with an Afghan police advisory team and were killed after a meeting at the checkpoint at Nahr-e-Saraj in Helmand, Britain's Defence Ministry said on Monday...

-bth: Nato press has been deliberately understating the number these incidents.  For example they do not report wounded.  In this case an Afghan source (not NATO) was cited.  Also they fail to report the tribe or ethnicity of the shooter which is most likely Pashtun. Finally, this form of warfare, which destroys the confidence between Afghan troops and NATO troops is very hard, if not impossible, to counter.

Juan Cole: Egypt flow chart

egypt flow chart


egypt flow chart

Russian specialists involved in Syria intercepting Turkish jet, sources say - Israel News | Haaretz Daily Newspaper

Russian specialists involved in Syria intercepting Turkish jet, sources say - Israel News | Haaretz Daily Newspaper


Russian technicians were involved in the taking down of the Turkish fighter jet by the Syrian military last week, the Sunday Times reported on Sunday.
Sourcing Middle Eastern diplomatic sources the Times reported that the decision to down the Turkish jet was intended to signal a warning to NATO to stay out of the conflict raging in Syria for over a year....