UN SG: US drone strikes must comply with international law
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Aug. 13 insisted that US drone strikes must operate within international law. The secretary-general hailed the country's lead role in UN peacekeeping operations and addressed the controversial weapons in a speech at the National University of Science and Technology in Islamabad, stating, "[a]s I have often and consistently said, the use of armed drones, like any other weapon, should be subject to long-standing rules of international law, including international humanitarian law. This is the very clear position of the United Nations. Every effort should be made to avoid mistakes and civilian casualties."
ISI behind Taliban attack on Indian consulate?
Persistent claims that Afghanistan's Taliban are backed by ISI, the Pakistani intelligence service, will certainly be enflamed by the Aug. 3 attack on the Indian consulate in Jalalabad. Nine were killed and some 25 wounded in the coordinated suicide blast and armed assault. No Indian officials were killed, though the blast badly damaged a mosque and dozens of homes and small shops nearby. (Reuters, Aug. 3) A story in India Today on the same day as the attacks claimed that Delhi had warned its ambassador in Kabul, Amar Sinha, of a Pakistan-based plot to assassinate him in a suicide attack, and recommended he beef up security measures. Sepcial commandos from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), already guarding the embassy in Kabul, were to be deployed to the consulates in Kandahar, Heart, Mazar and Jalalabad. Apparently, just too late...
Will 'peace' mean betrayal of Afghan women?
So, it's come to this. After more than 12 years of the United States being at war in Afghanistan, the Taliban have opened a "political office" in Qatar preparatory to negotiations with the Kabul government's High Peace Council and the US—the culimination of a series of preliminary meetings in various countries leading toward direct peace talks. The principal prerequisite that the US set for the talks is that the Taliban commit to not using Afghanistan as a staging ground for terror attacks abroad. (Khaama Press, BBC News, June 18) Through their website Voice of Jiihad, the Taliban oblige: "The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has both military as well as political objectives which are confined to Afghanistan. The Islamic Emirate does not wish to harm other countries from its soil and neither will it allow others use Afghan soil to pose a threat to the security of other nations!"
Asia's secret nuclear arms race
For all the hoopla about North Korea, a far more significant threat on the Asian continent is getting virtually no coverage: the nuclear arms race between China and Pakistan on one side and India on the other. Quartz magazine reported June 3 that China is the only "internationally sanctioned" nuclear weapon power currently increasing its stockpile. Beijing added about 10 warheads to its arsenal over the past year, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). But the key phrase here is "internationally sanctioned," as China is one of the five nuclear nations "grandfathered in" by the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), along with the US, Russia, UK and France (although these are obliged by the NPT to seek disarmament, as is frequently forgotten). A June 16 interview with SIPRI researcher Phillip Schell in the Times of India reveals that the problem isn't just China—India and Pakistan similarly boosted their arsenals by about 10 warheads each over the past year...
Obama addresses drone strikes, steps to close Gitmo
US President Barack Obama delivered a speech May 23 on US counterterrorism policy and efforts, outlining plans to restrict the use of unmanned drone strikes and to renew efforts to close the detention center at Guantánamo Bay. In Obama's first major speech on counterterrorism since his re-election, he said: "Our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue, but this war, like all wars, must end. That's what history advises. That's what our democracy demands." But rather than introduce new sweeping policies, Obama's speech reaffirmed his national security priorities.
Chief prosecutor in Musharraf case killed
Chaudhry Zulfikar, chief prosecutor in the criminal case against Pakistan's former president Pervez Musharraf, was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting on May 3. Zulfikar had been due to appear at the High Court in Rawalpindi for a hearing in Musharraf's case on charges of involvement in the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007. Zulfikar was leading the investigation into the allegations that Musharraf failed to provide adequate security to Bhutto when she returned to Pakistan after eight years of self-imposed exile in December of 2007. She was killed at a campaign rally in Rawalpindi later that month.
Barbara Lee: repeal AUMF to stop 'perpetual war'
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) on April 24 called for the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) to be repealed. "I'm convinced that if we do not repeal this authorization to use force that I voted against in 2001, we are going to see this state of perpetual war forever," she told Current TV. Congress approved the AUMF just days after the 9-11 attacks, giving the president authority to wage war "against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks." Lee was the only member of Congress to vote against it, calling it a "blank check" for war. The Obama administration has used the AUMF as a legal justification for its targeted drone strike program in Pakistan and Yemen. "The use of drones in many instances creates more hatred, more anger, more hostility toward our country," Lee added, citing the recent congressional testimony of a young Yemeni activist. (Raw Story, April 24)
Iranian Qaeda connection rears its dubious head —in Canada
Following last month's murky claims about al-Qaeda biggie Sulaiman Abu Ghaith having been sheltered by Iran, Canadian authorities now want us to believe that two guys busted by the RCMP—Chiheb Esseghaier in Montreal and Raed Jaser in Toronto—were plotting to blow up a Via Rail passenger train under the "direction and guidance" of al-Qaeda agents in ...Iran. At their hearings April 23, the men denied the charges. Iran's foreign ministry said groups such as al-Qaeda have "no compatibility with Iran in both political and ideological fields." (National Post, Canadian Press, April 23) This is rather obvious given the bitter sectarian war on Iran's borders with Iraq and Pakistan. Yet the RCMP portrays a "state-sponsored" terror plot.
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