Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics
Leaders of more than 40 countries are gathering in Washington for a summit beginning on Monday to control the spread of nuclear weapons. Iran for obvious reasons is not invited, but it has announced a conference of its own soon after the Washington meeting. It’s called ‘Nuclear Energy for All, Nuclear Weapons for None, and among those who have agreed to attend are India, Pakistan and China.
While the level of representation to the Teheran meeting is not at the same level as Washington for all three countries, the fact that they have chosen to attend seems to be a signal to the Obama administration just as it is trying to isolate Iran for its suspected nuclear weapons programme. India’s presence in particular has raised the question if it is starting to re-assess ties with Tehran that have in recent years been allowed to slip in the pursuit of a strategic relationship with America.
As The Hindu newspaper noted the Tehran conference is a “red rag” to Washington and it has been quietly discouraging countries to attend. For New Delhi to agree to send its ambassador to the meeting can only be a signal that it is looking to expand its diplomatic space in the region as differences emerge with Washington over its Afghan strategy weighted towards Pakistan, Indian experts say.New Delhi really should be re-energising links with Tehran if it wants to maintain its reach in Afghanistan, they say. Without a geographically contiguous border and a hostile Pakistan in the middle, Iran remains the only corridor to Afghanistan.
India must join a natural gas pipeline that the Iranians have been pushing for that will run through Pakistan., argues journalist Atul Arneja in widely flagged piece also in The Hindu. For years India has resisted Iranian overtures in large part because of reservations over the pipeline passing through Pakistan, but also because of upsetting Washington. Arneja argues that India can involve China and Russia too in the project to increase its sense of comfort over the pipeline traversing through Pakistan.
from Global News Journal:
Germans have spent the last six decades trying to be as un-militaristic as possible.
Their struggle to make a complete U-turn from their belligerent past has caused many an awkward moment for the country and its NATO allies. In avoiding the mere mention of the word “war” that seemed to be all but banished from their vocabulary, German leaders raised in a post-war era and the motto "Nie Wieder Krieg!" (No more war ever) have gone through tortuous tongue-twisting excursions about what the increasingly deadly mission in Afghanistan isn’t – a war.
The British Ministry of Defence has apologised after Muslims complained that it was using replicas of mosques at a firing range in northern England to train soldiers ahead of deployment in Afghanistan.
Some 50,000 U.S., multinational and coalition troops moved through a U.S. air base in Kyrgyzstan last month on their way to Afghanistan as part of the surge, along with millions of gallons of fuel for the war effort, according to the U.S. department of defence.
from Photographers' Blog:
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
Kyrgyzstan-based photographer Vladimir Pirogov's images of Wednesday's violent clashes in Bishkek are examples of the power of photography in telling stories. Here are a selection of the best. Click here to view the slideshow of images.
Men lay dead during clashes between riot police and anti-government protesters near the presidential administration in Bishkek.
NATO has admitted that its forces were responsible for the deaths of five Afghan civilians including three women during a botched night-time raid in eastern Afghanistan in February. Two of the women were pregnant, one a mother of 10, the other had six children.
The alliance initially said troops had found the women already killed, bound and gagged, when they entered the compound in Gardez in Paktia province, but later acknowledged that was untrue. NATO is now looking at allegations by Afghan investigators that U.S. Special Forces involved in the raid tampered with evidence at the scene to cover the blunder.
Germany has slipped up again in Afghanistan, mistakenly killing five Afghan soldiers after losing three of its own soldiers in a gunfight with insurgents in the northern province of Kunduz. For a nation with little appetite for a war 3,000 miles away, the losses couldn’t come at a worse time. Germany is still feeling the repercussions of an incident in September in which its forces called in a U.S. air strike that killed scores of people, at least 30 civilians, the deadliest incident involving German forces since World War 11.
It could be early days yet, and the sampling may be small, but there are signs of a drop in Taliban attacks following the Pakistani crackdown on the Quetta Shura, an intelligence website says. If the assessment put out by NightWatch intelligence turns out to be true over the next few weeks, it will reinforce U.S. military officials’ long-standing position you cannot win the war in Afghanistan unless you take out the Taliban leadership in Pakistan
It was a strange or at least unusual event. Reuters, other news wires and mostly Afghan journalists were summoned to the presidential palace early in the morning. A frequent and very familiar routine of standing around, waiting and multiple security checks then started .
On this occasion, we were packed onto mini buses with blacked-out windows and told only that we would be leaving the palace and going “some place outside”. The guessing game ended when the buses, flanked by armored Land Cruisers and charging down a busy city highway, honking other vehicles out of the way, turned into another building very familiar to reporters in Kabul: the Independent Election Commission (IEC).
Last month, a senior EU parliamentarian, Pino Arlacchi, said a staggering 70-80 percent of the $34 billion in aid earmarked for Afghanistan since 2002 never reached the Afghan people due to corruption, waste and donors witholding funds.
Although Arlacchi’s figures were only an estimate based on a visit to Afghanistan in March and while few would dispute the fact billions of dollars in aid have been wasted over the last eight years, the numbers can also be somewhat misleading.