1. "TARGETED KILLING" KILLS HAMAS BIG--AND 16 OTHERS
Shortly after midnight on July 23, A US-made Israeli Air Force F-16 dropped a US-made JDAM 1-ton "smart" bomb on an apartment building in a crowded residential neighborhood of Gaza City, killing 16, and injuring 140. The bomb's target was Sheik Salah Shehadeh, 48, a co-founder of Hamas, chief of Hamas' military wing, the Izzadine el-Qassam, and number one on Israel's most-wanted list. Shehadeh, asleep at the time, was killed along with his wife, 14-year-old daughter, bodyguard--and 13 others in surrounding buildings. (AP, July 23) Despite IDF claims the adjoining buildings were shacks, they were in fact 2-3 story apartment buildings. Shehadeh's building was obliterated by the blast, and the nearby buildings were damaged. (Haaretz, July 29) Eleven of those killed were children. (Haaretz, July 25) Neighborhood residents said they had never seen Shehadeh, and did not know he was using a local apartment as a hideout. His family usually resided in the Shati refugee camp. The Matar family, who lived next door, lost six family members, including daughter Iman, who was not found till two days later in the rubble. Her grandfather, Muhammed Matar, worked for 30 years at the Yakhin canning factory in the Israeli city of Ashkelon. He carries a certification of appreciation from the factory in his pocket. "Look what they did to us, after all the years we worked for them," he told Haaretz. (Haaretz, July 29)
One hundred thousand took to the streets for the funerals of those killed in the bombing. The mourners included a wide representation of Palestinian factions, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Fatah. "Anyone who dreams of so-called peace is mistaken. There is nothing called 'peace with Israel,'" a Hamas statement said. (Haaretz, July 23) Palestinian President Yasser Arafat condemned the bombing as a "massacre and an awful crime carried out against our innocent children." (Haaretz, July 23) White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer described the Israeli action as "heavy handed." The attack came amid talk of a Palestinian cease-fire being negotiated by an EU official with the Fatah's Tanzim militia and Hamas. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, referring to peace efforts, said "Apparently the Israeli prime minister...said to himself 'I will launch this air strike on Gaza to sabotage these efforts'." (BBC, July 25)
Those killed in the "targeted killing" of Shehadeh included:
1. Iman Hassan Matar, 27, killed together with her 3 children:
2. Ra'd Matar, 1 1/2 ;
3. Mohammed Ra'd Matar, 4;
4. Diana Ra'd Matar, 5;
5. Muna Fahmi al-Hweiti, 30, killed together with her 2 children:
6. Subhi Mahmoud al-Hweiti, 4 1/2 ;
7. Mohammed Mahmoud al-Hweiti, 6;
8. Diana Rami Matar, 2 months;
9. Alaa' Mohammed Matar, 11;
10. Mohammed Mahmoud al-Shawa, 40, killed together with his child:
11. Ahmed Mohammed al-Shawa, 4; and
12. Sheikh Salah Mustafa Shehada, 49;
13. Leila Safira, 45, his wife;
14. Iman Salah Shehada, 15, his daughter; and
15. Zaher Nassar, 37, his bodyguard.
2. SHARON: "ONE OF OUR BIGGEST SUCCESSES"
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon initially pronounced the assassination of Shehadeh--with its grisly "collateral damage"--to be "one of our greatest successes." Sharon and his Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer ordered the assassination of Hamas military chief Shehedah after reportedly passing up eight previous opportunities because of concerns that civilians could be harmed. (Haaretz, July 24) Ben-Eliezer said that Shehadeh was planning a "mega-attack"--including blowing up a truck filled with one ton of explosives inside Israel. (Jerusalem Post, July 25) An spokesman for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said: "The IDF is sorry for any harm that befalls innocent people. Regretfully, this is what happens when a terrorist uses civilians as a human shield and their homes as a place of refuge." (IDF Announcement, July 23) According to Haaretz, the Shin Bet security service believed that Shehadeh was going to meet with an associate in the building, but didn't realize his family was there too. While the IDF thought the neighboring buildings were empty, Shin Bet knew they were inhabited. Sharon and Ben-Eliezer reportedly believed the IDF assessment that injuries to those in surrounding buildings would be slight, based on "scientific studies" of the impact of one-ton bombs. (Haaretz, July 25)
Sharon reportedly told a meeting of senior aides, "Israel did not know that there were civilians in Shehadeh's house. Had it known this, it would have found another way to hit him." Israel's President, Moshe Katsav, said "It truly pains our heart to see children that were killed and seriously injured... Mistakes happen and this was a mistake." (Sydney Morning Herald, July 25) Dovish Labor Party member and former Justice Minister Yossi Beilin said "The very fact of carrying out 'liquidations' in a democratic country in which there is no death penalty, is very, very questionable, and must be limited to cases in which we are really intervening in a 'ticking bomb'. This, regrettably, was not the case here." (Haaretz, July 25) The Labor Party's Haim Ramon told Israel Radio "The central error was that we used weaponry that anyone involved in the decision-making process should have known could harm innocent people living in the area."
Leaders of the left Meretz Party had harsher criticism. "A nation cannot behave like a terrorist organization... there must be certain standards informing our actions," said MK Zehava Gal-On. Meretz MK Yossi Sarid concluded "╔the government is not interested in reaching calm." (Jerusalem Post, July 23) The London-based Arab newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awssat reported that former Israeli Air Force Chief Ro'obin Abtsor described the raid as "immoral," and called upon pilots to refuse to carry out missions against civilian targets in the occupied territories. "There is no doubt that they [Israeli government] had known that the shelling of Salah Shihada's home, with a one ton bomb, would result in the killing of civilians," he said. Abtsor is facing criticism from Israel's political right, who accuse him of inciting mutiny in the Israeli Air Force. (Palestine Chronicle, July 28)(David Bloom)
3. U.S. MUNITIONS USED IN GAZA BOMBING
A US-made Israeli Air Force F-16 and a 1-ton Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM)"smart bomb" were used in the attack on Shehadeh. US State Dept Richard Boucher said July 24 the administration is monitoring the use of US-made arms in Israel for violation. Under the Arms Export Control Act, the weapons can only be used for "internal security and legitimate self defense." Boucher added, "We've made quite clear that we're seriously concerned about some of the Israeli tactics, some of the Israeli actions, including targeted killings and actions like this that endanger civilians." Boucher said the arms control act required the State Department to inform Congress if a "substantial violation" of the law occurred. He added that no such notification had been issued "since the current violence began." The law requires the US to suspend military aid to countries that violate it. In 1982, the Reagan administration suspended cluster bomb deliveries after deciding the Israeli government had used them improperly in Lebanon. Boucher declined to say what kind of actions would impel the US to enact the law, saying, "It's an object of ongoing review." (NYT, July 25)
Israel acquired its first 700 JDAMs from the US in 1999. On July 18 the Pentagon announced in was selling 1,000 Boeing JDAM satellite guidance kits--at a cost of $27 million--to Israel to upgrade "dumb" bombs currently in its arsenal. The order comes despite the fact the US is hurriedly trying to fill back orders of JDAM's for its own arsenal. (UPI, July 18)
Ambassadors to the 22-member Arab League, meeting July 25 in Cairo, agreed to "urge all states to stop the export of weapons, particularly the F-16, to Israel, which uses it to strike Palestinian cities, villages and refugee camps." (AFP, July 25)
5. HEBRON SETTLERS KILL TEEN, INJURE POLICE
Violence erupted July 28 between Jewish settlers and Palestinians in Hebron, with settlers killing a 14-year old Palestinian girl, injuring another seven Palestinians. Fifteen Israeli police officers were wounded in fights with settlers or by Palestinian stone throwing. Settlers claim that Palestinians, confined in their homes during a funeral procession for a settler killed July 27, started the violence by throwing stones from their homes at the settlers. Ha'aretz reports photographers at the scene confirm this version. But Palestinian resident Dr. Tayser Zahadeh said "Before the funeral, the soldiers told us to stay in our homes and stay away from the windows, because they knew there was going to be trouble." One of the wounded Palestinians said from his hospital bed, "The [settlers] attacked the area and started shooting at the house and then we threw stones at them so they would leave. They shot the girl in the head and me in my leg." Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer called what happened next a "Jewish riot." The settlers attacked Palestinian homes with metal bars and stones, smashing windows. IDF troops watched the settlers rampage for an hour. "The soldiers weren't doing anything to stop them," said Dr. Zahadeh. "After one hour of vandalism, the police intervened." Gunfire from settlers killed 14-year-old Neveen Jamjoum in her home. She did not die immediately, but Palestinian sources say the IDF and settlers prevented ambulances from evacuating her. Palestinians also say the settlers burned down a three-story building and stabbed a nine-year old boy. Hebron settlers claim they only fired in the air, and that the police were injured by people who came from outside Hebron's Jewish quarter. Police detained four Israelis for their participation in the incident. Every time a Hebron settler has been killed by Palestinians in the past two years, settlers have responded by attacking Palestinians and their property. (Haaretz, AP, July 28; CSMonitor, July 29) Israeli Justice Minister Meir Sheetrit pledged to take "a heavy hand" with those who attacked the police. Hebron police have asked Palestinian authorities to assist them in investigating the violence. (Jerusalem Post, July 29)(David Bloom)
6. PALESTINIAN ATTACKS ON SETTLERS, IDF
A 43-year old Rabbi from the Jewish settlement of Petah Tikva in the West Bank was killed in a shooting attack near the settlement of Alei Zahav July 25. Al-Aksa Martyrs brigade took responsibility for the attack, saying it was vengeance for the July 23 air-strike in the Gaza Strip that killed 15 Palestinians. (Jerusalem Post, July 25) Also on July 25, two Israelis were injured by Palestinian gunfire at Ma'ale Levonah north of Ramallah when gunmen opened fired on their car. That same day, mortars were fired at a settlement in the southern Gaza Strip. There was a grenade attack at an IDF position on the border with Egypt at Rafah. (Haaretz, July 25) Four Jewish settlers were killed in shooting attacks south of Hebron July 27. The four were killed in two attacks in succession south of the Jewish settlement in Hebron. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades again took responsibility. (Haaretz, July 28)(David Bloom)
7. IDF JUSTICE BY BULLDOZER
The IDF shot and killed three Palestinians in the West Bank July 23, reportedly including the Hamas commander that led the recent attack on a bus in the Jewish settlement of Immanuel. Military sources say the other two were in the same cell. (Jerusalem Post, July 23) The next day 13 Palestinians wanted by Israel were arrested in Tul Karm, Bethlehem, Hebron, and Qalqilyah. (Haaretz, July 25) The IDF entered Gaza City July 26 with tanks and bulldozers, destroying three buildings. An army statement said the buildings housed workshops where rockets were being made. The IDF withdrew after the buildings were demolished. (BBC, July 26) On the 27th, IDF troops shot and killed 18-year-old Manum al Zaban, who was watching as Israeli soldiers entered Madra a-Sharqieh, east of Ramallah, according to Palestinian sources. Isrealis claim their troops fired at two Palestinians who were throwing concrete blocks at them. (Haaretz, July 28)
8. THOUSANDS DEFY NABLUS CURFEW
For two days now, thousands of Nablus residents have ignored an Israel-imposed curfew, taking to the streets en masse. Banks and shops were open for business. Israeli soldiers remained ringing the city, but did not attempt to enforce the curfew. Since June 20, seven of eight West Bank cities have been under curfew, with residents confined to their homes, able to emerge to shop for supplies only when the curfews are temporarily lifted by the Israeli occupying troops. In Nablus, the curfew has been especially tight, only having been lifted five times, for just a few hours each time. "I've been confined to my home for more than a month. I have eight children, we've eaten all we have," said Tamer Adnan, who runs a falafel stand. "We need food and we must break any order to get our food." The mass civil disobedience began when Nablus Gov. Mahmoud Aloul and the Fatah movement told the people to defy the curfew order. "So many of our people are suffering from hunger and others couldn't get medicine, so we have to get our rights by ourselves." The IDF has not commented on the situation. (AP, July 29)
9. "INTIFADA LAW" LIMITS PALESTINIAN ACCESS TO JUSTICE
The Israeli Knesset passed law greatly restricting the ability of Palestinian victims to sue for damages incurred during the first Intifada (1987-1993). According to the new "Intifada law," what is referred to as "wartime activity" now includes actions undertaken for "counter-terrorism" purposes, or to deal with other "hostile activity" that fall short of full-scale war. This includes "mass uprising." The burden of proof is now placed on the plaintiff, rather than the Israeli state, and any Palestinian who chooses to sue for damages has 60 days in which to inform the state of his intentions. The statute of limitations for such claims is now limited to two years for adults, three for minors, with exemptions made in "exceptional cases."
Some 6,500 claims from the first Intifada have been filed by Palestinians up to this point, according to the Israeli Defense Ministry. Approximately 3,600 are personal injury claims, the rest for physical damage. About 4,800 claims have been settled; 850 are currently being adjudicated, and 650 are awaiting court hearings. The cases still pending will be subject to the new law. So far, $67.5 million has been paid out.
An even more restrictive bill concerning claims relating to the current Intifada has been submitted by the government. The bill would make it almost impossible for Palestinians to pursue damages against the Israeli state. To date, approximately 730 damage suits have been filed. (Ha'aretz, July 22, 25)(David Bloom)
10. US AID: PALESTINIAN SUFFERING ON THE INCREASE
Preliminary results of a Johns Hopkins University survey of 1,000 Palestinian households, under contract to the US Agency for International Development (AID), show a substantial increase in malnutrition, poverty, and poor health among Palestinians. The survey also shows an increase in home demolitions. A New York Times report says Western diplomats who have seen the final results (not yet made public) say the preliminary results are overstated. Nevertheless, Israeli officials are concerned about international criticism they fear will be generated when the final results are released August 5. (NYT, July 26) US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer called the situation in the territories "a humanitarian disaster." (Ha'aretz, July 26) Under US pressure, Israel is releasing $15 million in funds it has refused to transfer to the Palestinian Authority, on grounds the money could be spent on terrorism. Israel owes the PA $600 million in taxes and revenues collected from Palestinians. Israel stopped transferring such funds at the outbreak of the Intifada in September 2000. (CSMonitor, July 29)
Some key findings of the preliminary study:
* 30% of Palestinian children are chronically malnourished, and 21% acutely so. In 2000, 7.5% suffered from chronic malnutrition, and only 2.5% acute malnutrition. More than 30% of the 3.5 million Palestinians in the occupied territories are dependent on food aid from NGO's. 50% of all Palestinians, refugee and non-refugee alike, require food aid to meet their minimum daily caloric intake. 50% surveyed cited a need to borrow money to buy food, 16% sell their assets to buy food.
* 45% of Palestinian children under 5 and 48% of women of childbearing age are affected by mild to moderate anemia. The number of births attended by skilled heath workers has decreased from 97.4% pre-Intifada, to 67% currently. Home deliveries were 3% pre-Intifada; presently 30% of babies are delivered at home. Immunization has decreased. A survey of 320 households in Nablus showed none had drinking water able to pass international standards, and 30% of those residents had some level of diarrhea. 28% of those surveyed said they had at least one family member denied access to emergency medical treatment. In rural communities, access to medical treatment is even more limited.
* The Palestinian Ministry of Health reports that under occupation, its facilities can only operate at about 30% capacity. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society says 25 of its 121 ambulances were immobilized by damage sustained from the IDF. Because of closures and curfews, ambulances can take 6 to 8 hours to take patients to hospitals, if they can get access to them at all.
* 70% of Palestinians live below the poverty line (less than 2$ a day).
* 720 homes were destroyed by the IDF and another 11,553 damaged from Sept. 2000 to Feb. 2002, affecting 73,600 people, according to the Palestinian Housing Ministry. During Israel's March-April's Operation Defensive Shield, 881 homes were destroyed and 2,883 damaged, affecting 22,500 residents.
See the full results of the survey (David Bloom)
11. RABIN'S DAUGHTER QUITS ISRAELI GOVERNMENT
The daughter of assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Dalia Rabin-Pelossof, has resigned her post of Deputy Defense Minister in Israel's coalition government. In her resignation letter to Labor Party leader Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Rabin-Pelossof wrote: "Recent developments have convinced me that I cannot remain a partner to what is being done on the security front without violating my principles. I especially cannot take responsibility for the peace process and its collapse." Her departure is expected to increase pressure on Labor to leave the governing coalition. (Jerusalem Post, July 24; UK Telegraph, July 24) Rabin-Pelossof's departure marks the fracturing of Labor between those who wish to remain in the government and those who want to pursue a pro-peace platform. Former Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami is expected to leave the party. Former Justice Minister and Oslo architect Yossi Beilin has joined forces with Yossi Sarid, leader of the dovish Meretz Party, to form a new pro-peace party, to be called the Social Democratic Party (SDP). Other SDP founders include MK Roman Bronfman, leader of the moderate Russian immigrant party Democratic Choice, former agriculture minister Hamin Oron from Meretz, and Israeli Druze poet Salem Jubrian. (AFX, July 19; Jerusalem Post, July 24)(David Bloom)
12. POLL: MAJORITY OF SETTLERS WOULD LEAVE
A poll conducted for Peace Now by Tel Aviv University revealed that 68% of settlers
said if they were ordered to leave the settlements by the government and move back into Israel, they would do so. Twenty-six percent said they would challenge the legality of the order, while 4% said they would fight the order illegally, even if it meant endangering their families. Only two per cent said they would take up arms against the Israeli government in the event of an evacuation order. "It's clear that the solution is to get out," said Dan Jacobson of Peace Now. Seventy-seven percent cited quality of life as their reason for living in the occupied territories--with only 20% saying they were there for religious reasons. Just 3% claimed they believed settlements provide national security. (Jerusalem Post, July 25) A Peace Now poll conducted a month earlier found that 59% of Israelis favor immediate evacuation of most settlements, followed by a unilateral withdrawal of the IDF from the West Bank and Gaza Strip. (Israel Insider, July 15)
THE AFGHANISTAN FRONT
1. U.N. TO ACCUSE U.S. OF COVERING UP ATTACK ON WEDDING
A preliminary UN investigation has found that US forces may have abused human rights and removed evidence from the scene of the July 1 strike on a wedding that killed more than 50 civilians in Afghanistan's Uruzagan province. The report, leaked to the London Times, found "no corroboration" that US planes were shot at from the ground, and notes discrepancies in the US account of events. The US has not released nose-cone film from the AC-130 that shot up the wedding, but claims the footage shows the plane was fired on. UN investigators claim US forces arriving at the scene quickly "cleaned the area" of "shrapnel, bullets and traces of blood," and tied the hands of women behind their backs. A more comprehensive investigation by the UN is to follow. Speaking of the investigation currently being carried out by a joint US-Afghan team, one UN official told the Times, "The more it drags on, the harder it is to prove and probably the people investigating want it to go slowly and die away." (London Times, July 29)
Air Force Brig. Gen. John W. Rosa Jr., deputy director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters July 15, "I can't say unequivocally that the AC-130 was fired on. That will come out, hopefully, in the investigation." (AP, July 15) According to a report in Stars and Stripes, when US investigators first toured the scene of the carnage on July 3, they were heard to say repeatedly, "There should be more blood." (Reuters, July 3)
The New York Times also reported claims that the US troops humiliated villagers at Kakarak. Pir Jan, a villager who was helping to gather up the dead, said "They [US Special Forces] were very serious, and they were searching the houses and tying the hands even of the women." (NYT, 3) According the AP, during a May 24 raid on the village of Bandi Temur, US troops also bound the hands of women. "The killing of men is not important," said villager Nazar Gul, 30. "The problem is that they insulted our women, they grabbed and tied their hands. We are very ashamed." Lt. Cmdr. Bruce Erickson of the Pentagon's Central Command headquarters for Afghanistan operations said that while he was unfamiliar with details of the raid, he found it "difficult to believe." Erickson added, "It's not the policy of our military to bind women's hands." (AP, May 26)
2. NYT: HUNDREDS OF AFGHAN CIVILIANS DEAD IN U.S. AIR WAR
A report in the New York Times says that flaws in the US air campaign have led to the deaths of hundreds of civilians in Afghanistan. The reporters visited 11 sites where 396 civilians were mistakenly killed, to verify the claims. It is not the inaccuracy of US bombing that led to the civilian casualties, but an over-reliance on Afghan allies for intelligence information--some with questionable motives and loyalties. Also blamed was a tendency to use overwhelming air strikes, instead of risking US ground forces.
Global Exchange, a US organization that has sent survey teams into Afghan villages, has compiled a list of 812 Afghan civilians who were killed by US air-strikes. They expect the number to grow as their field workers reach more remote villages. Global Exchange field worker Marla Ruzicka, says blames US reliance on incomplete information in deciding which targets to hit. "Smart bombs are only as smart as people on the ground," Ms. Ruzicka said. "Before you bomb, you should be 100% certain of who you are bombing."
Padsha Khan Zadran, a warlord with a US-provided satellite phone, has twice misled the US to attack those who oppose his power by giving faulty information, in order to strike at those who oppose him. Despite evidence to the contrary, the US will not admit fault in either raid. Likewise, the US still insists there were "bad guys" in the vicinity of Kakarak, where 54 were killed and 117 wounded in a strike on a wedding party, according to Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who says the US had information Taliban leader Mullah Omar was in the area. US forces failed to inform Afghan allies on the ground before the raid. "Every time they say that they will coordinate more," said Uruzgan Gov. Jan Muhammaed. "They killed my people in Uruzgan, and they said they would not make a mistake again and that they would contact us first. Then they did it again."
The Afghan Foreign Minister, Dr. Abdullah, said after the raid, "We have to be given a larger role. If things do not improve, well, I will certainly pray for the Americans and wish them success, but I will no longer be able to take part in this." (NY Times, July 21) But a spokesman for Karzai was more circumspect, saying less than 500 had been killed in US air strikes, and that number was not so great considering the size of the military campaign. "Of course even one life is too many for us... but the fact is that the Afghans and the Americans are fighting the same war against terrorism, said the spokesman, Tayeb Jawad. "This is a combat that we share. It is very critical for the Americans and the Afghans to keep Afghans civilians on our side and so the aim and the objective is to reduce the number of casualties as much as possible." (BBC, July 21)
3. FIVE U.S. TROOPS WOUNDED IN PAKTIA
Five US soldiers were wounded and two of their Afghan allies killed in a four-hour gun-battle July 27. The skirmish took place about seven miles east of Khost, in Paktia province. At least three of the attackers were killed, and one was wounded and taken into US custody. The injuries to four of the men are not considered life-threatening; the condition of the fifth is unknown. The Khost area is considered unstable, and US forces have conducted repeated operations there to flush out remnants of Taliban/al-Qaeda forces. "Our forces took fire from a walled compound," said Sgt. Matthew Davio, an army spokesman .(NBC, July 28)(David Bloom)
4. PENTAGON: REPORT OF SEVEN DEAD U.S. TROOPS FALSE
The US is dismissing reports from Abu Dhabi Television saying that seven US troops were killed and 14 injured in an ambush in the east of Afghanistan. The report, which cited "Afghan special sources," also claimed four US soldiers had been kidnapped in Bagram, site of an airbase near Kabul used by coalition forces. Abu Dhabi TV also said two US helicopters were destroyed during the attack. "It is not true," said Navy Petty Officer Anthony Dallas, a spokesman for US Central Command in Tampa, FL. "We have had no such ambush or incident." The Pentagon says no US servicemen have been killed in Afghanistan since May 19. (NBC, July 28)
5. KARZAI USING U.S. BODYGUARDS
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has dismissed his security detail and replaced them with 46 US soldiers. The decision comes amid fears for Karzai's safety in the wake of the July 6 assassination of Afghan Vice-President Abdul Qadir. Karzai originally was guarded by his own Pashtun soldiers from his home base of Khandahar when he arrived in Kabul last fall, but they were replaced with security forces belonging to Northern Alliance strongman and Defense Minister Mohammed Qasim Fahim. With assassination fears paramount after Qadir's death, Karzai felt more secure with US troops. "It's an insult to the defense minister," says a commander loyal to Fahim. (Time, July 21) Afghanistan has a 30,000-man security service run by Mohammed Aref--like Fahim a Tajik from the Panjshir valley--and subordinate to the Defense Minister. The 23 directorates of the security service all run by Fahim-loyalist Panjshiris. In late 1993 or 1994, Karzai, who was deputy foreign minister at the time, was detained and interrogated by forces loyal to Fahim, who was then head of the security service. Karzai escaped when a rocket slammed into the building where he was being interrogated. (Washington Post, July 24)
6. THOUSANDS PROTEST QADIR'S DEATH
3,000 Pashtuns held a demonstration July 26 in Jalalabad to demand the government arrest the assassins of slain Afghan Vice President Abdul Qadir. The protesters warned that failure to arrest the killers would result in unrest amongst the country's dominant Pashtun ethnic group. Jalalalbad is the capital of Nangarhar province, of which Qadir was the governor, and the protest was called by the Nangarhar government council. Speakers called the killing a "conspiracy against Pashtuns." No one has been charged with the assassination . (Washington Post, July 26)
7. KARZAI: AL-QAEDA NOT A THREAT
Afghan President Hamid Karzai says that he is no longer so concerned about the al-Qaeda network. "No, they are not a major threat," Kazai told reporters July 26. "They are not a military threat. They may be assassins, they may be terrorists but they are not a military threat," he said. (AFP, July 26)
8. TALIBAN PRISONER ALLEGES TORTURE IN US-RUN PRISON
Torture, sexual abuse and stark conditions prevail at a US-run military jail in southern Afghanistan, according to an ex-prisoner. The jail, near a US airbase outside Khandahar, employs Afghan guards. The prisoner, former Taliban commander Mullah Fazal Mohammad, did not say whether or not US military officers based near the jail knew about the torture or poor conditions. "The Taliban prisoners are facing extreme torture," Mohammed said. "Ferocious dogs are often let loose in the prison cells by Afghan agents who use third degree methods... In a bid to humiliate them, the local secret service agents subject them to sexual abuse and inflict injuries to their private parts." Mohammed was released due to ill health, and was being treated by a doctor in the Pakistani border town of Chaman. Mohammed, now part blind, further alleges that most prisoners are afflicted with eye diseases, and are hungry, served only one "meal" a day--consisting only of stale bread. Mohammed claims prisoners at the jail include ex-Taliban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Mutawakil, his spokesman Abdul Hai Mutmaen, former governor of western Heart province Maulawi Khairullah Khairkhawa, as well as other former Afghan officials. (Hindustan Times, July 28)
9. IRREFUTABLE PROOF: LIFE IS CHEAP IN AFGHANISTAN
Professor Marc Herold of the University of New Hampshire, who released a report last December counting over 3,7000 civilian victims of the US aerial bombardment in Afghanistan, has now calculated the "relative value of a dead Afghan." Writes Prof. Herold on the anti-war website Cursor.org:
"On May 7, 1999, a US B-52 bomber dropped three JDAM bombs upon the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. Three young Chinese journalists were killed and 27 other persons in the embassy were wounded. Four months later, the United States agreed to pay $4.5 million in damages to the families of the deceased and to the injured. This amounts to about $150,000 per victim. When a US marine jet hit aerial tramway cables in Italy not too long ago, the US gave close to $2 million to each Italian victim.
"On July 1, 2002, a US AC-130 gunship attacked and strafed four villages in the Deh Rawud district of Uruzagan, killing more than 60 innocent Afghans and wounding about 120 others. [See WW3 REPORT #41] The American troops which occupied the villages offered tents and blankets as compensation. A week later, the US-installed and backed Karzai regime offered the Afghan wedding victims $18,500 in compensation, or about $100 per victim--the payments were $200 on behalf of each individual killed and $75 for each wounded person, using Afghan regime figures of 48 killed and 118 wounded...
"By Karzai's accounting standards, the life of a dead Afghan is 'worth' only one-seven hundredth of that of a dead Chinese, one-ten thousandth of a dead Italian and one-thirty thousandth of a dead American--if her/his life is 'worth' $6,000,000 on average, as the US Environmental Protection Agency has calculated."
Even adjusting for "purchasing power parity" (PPP) or future earning terms, Prof. Herold determines through a comparison of purchasing power and wage earnings in Afghanistan, Italy, China and the US, that the compensation offered to survivors of the Uruzgan victims is proportionally low.
"The relatively low value put by Karzai upon the lives of his fellow Pashtuns is further demonstrated by the regime's acquisition of $60,000-a-piece fully-loaded Toyota Land Cruisers for regime luminaries--like vice president Abdul Qadir who died in a dark green model. [See WW3 REPORT #41] Ultimately, a Toyota Land Cruiser is revealed to be worth 300 times more to Mr. Karzai than the life a fellow Pashtun!"
10. UNESCO SEEKS PROTECTION OF THREATENED BUDDHIST RELICS
United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is seeking protection of the ancient ruined city at Kharwar in eastern Afghanistan's Lowgar province, which has just come to the world's attention (see WW3 REPORT #43). Known to locals as Kafir Koot (fort of the infidel), the city--boasting a water system, temples, houses and shops--is believed to have flourished between the third and fifth centuries CE. Buddhism was then the predominant faith in Afghanistan by virtue of its location on the Silk Road--an international trade route that stretched from China to Europe. Afghan Information & Culture Minister Raheen Makhdoom is scheduled to meet with UNESCO representatives in Japan soon to discuss preservation of the ancient city. But local looters and smugglers seem to have known about the city before the UN and international archeologists. The city's walls are dotted with holes and tunnels dug by looters seeking relics for sale to collectors in Europe and Japan via intermediaries across the border in Pakistan. Locals say there have been deadly fights between rival relic hunters competing for coins, pottery, statues and gems. Looting reached its peak in the lawlessness following the downfall of the Taliban regime in December. Scavenging has slowed since the government stationed four Afghan soldiers to guard the site, but the troops complain they have not been paid regularly--and during one journalist's visit there were signs of recent digging. Colorful frescoes remain on many of the walls, but the upper parts of many statues have been hacked off by looters. "The city is called the 'Treasure of Kharwar,'" said one local villager. "Every body wants something, although we think most objects have been taken." (Gulf News.com July 23)
11. DID SECRET BAMIYAN BUDDHA SURVIVE?
When the Taliban blew up the two giant Buddhas of Bamiyan last year, people around the globe were shocked by the willful destruction of a priceless archeological site. But the Taliban may have overlooked one giant Buddha. Archeologists have long suspected that a third statue, a reclining Sleeping Buddha, is buried somewhere between the two destroyed ones. Now, with the Taliban overthrown and a measure of peace restored, the quest to find it is being revived. This Buddha is believed to be far bigger than either of the two destroyed, but its precise location is unknown.
"For sure we know there is a third Buddha," said Zafar Paiman, an Afghan archeologist working for France's Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. "Everyone knows it exists." The people of Bamiyan, mostly Shiite Hazaras, strongly support the claim. "It's a fact among the people," said Hussein Mirza, who was raised in one of the caves carved into the cliff alongside the Buddhas--and who was among those conscripted at gunpoint by the Taliban to pack explosives around the site. "This was something told to us by our fathers and grandfathers, that there is a Sleeping Buddha." He says he kept the story of Sleeping Buddha secret from the Taliban in order to protect it.
The claims are also supported by the journal of a 7th century Chinese pilgrim, Hsuan-tsang, who describes a Sleeping Buddha between the two upright Buddhas. He puts its length at five times the size of the larger of the two destroyed Buddhas, which measured 180 feet.
The first effort to find the Buddha was launched by the Afghan Institute of Archeology just a year before the Soviet invasion. With the country was sliding into war, the institute abandoned the project and kept its plans secret, fearing that if word got out, looters would take advantage of the chaos to ravage the site.
A team of French archeologists now plan a new exploration of the site. But many experts fear the project is premature, with peace still tentative at best. As long as it remains buried, at least the Buddha is safe, said Abdul Wasey Ferozi, new director of the country's Institute of Archeology. "When we are sure about the future, when this government is a powerful government, when there is no opportunity for another fundamentalist regime to destroy it, and when there is no more Kalashnikov culture in Afghanistan, only then will we allow excavation to take place," he said.
The entire area is of profound archeological significance--but also in urgent need of renovation. The cliff into which the two giant Buddhas had been carved is honeycombed with ancient caves, passageways and staircases, and many relics may remain. But these caves have provided shelter for war refugees in recent years, who ruined the ornate Buddhist paintings with the smoke from their fires and damaged many carvings and relics. Worse still, the explosions which destroyed the Buddhas seriously weakened the cliff, which is now in danger of collapse. "If you excavate the Buddha and then the cliff falls down on top of it, there's not much use in having done it at all," said Jim Williams, an archeologist with the UN's Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in Kabul. "The time isn't right. Let's repair the site first, then think about excavation." (Chicago Tribune, July 28, 2002)
WHERE IS OSAMA BIN LADEN?
1. STRATFOR: U.S. & AL-QAEDA EXPLOIT OSAMA'S MYSTERY STATUS
Recent conflicting reports about whether Osama bin Laden is alive demonstrate that the question itself may be less important than how Washington and al-Qaeda use the current ambiguity for psychological warfare, according to the private intelligence analysts Stratfor. FBI counter-terrorism chief Dale Watson said July 17 he believes Osama bin Laden is dead--although he admitted he has no evidence to support the assertion. This opinion--the first to that effect by a US official--came just days after Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper, announced that sources close to bin Laden said the accused terrorist mastermind is alive and well, and recovered from a shrapnel wound he received during the US bombing campaign in Afghanistan. (See WW3 REPORT #42) Atwan also explained why no videos featuring bin Laden have been released to the media in many months, saying that he would not appear in public until al-Qaeda carries out another attack on the US. Stratfor states that while al-Qaeda gets to exploit the myth of Osama still alive and powerful, Watson's denial "puts the onus of proof back on al-Qaeda, because if they refuse to show bin Laden, it could lend credence to Watson's story and begin to spread doubt among al-Qaeda supporters." Stratfor also sees a US strategy to provoke faction fights within al-Qaeda over the post-Osama succession, exploiting a rivalry between the Saudis who have provided the organization with funds and the Egyptians who have provided planning and logistics . (WorldNetDaily, July 19)
2. SAUDI DAILY: OSAMA DEAD, POLITICALLY AND LITERALLY
Amir Taheri writes in the Arab News, Saudi Arabia's English-language daily, July 6: "Remember you first read it here: Osama Bin Laden is dead." Taheri believes that Osama's brand of ultra-fundamentalism is being marginalized by an intellectual resurgence in the Muslim world:
"Bin Laden is the known face of a particular brand of politics that committed suicide in New York and Washington on Sept.11, 2001, killing thousands of innocent people in the process. What were the key elements in that system? The first was a cynical misinterpretation of Islam that began decades ago by such romantic-idealists as the Pakistani Abul-Ala Maudoodi and the Egyptian Sayyid Qutb. Although Maudoodi and Qutb were not serious thinkers, they could, at least offer a coherent ideology based on a narrow reading of the Islamic texts. Their ideas, distilled down to Bin Laden, became mere slogans designed to incite zealots to murder. People like Maudoodi and Qutb could catch the ball and run largely because most Muslim intellectuals did not deem it necessary to continue the work of Muslim philosophers. Modern Muslim intellectuals, seduced by fashionable Western ideologies, left the new urban masses of Islam's teeming cities exposed to the half-baked ideas that Maudoodi and Qutb peddled. In time, Maudoodo-Qutbism provided the ideological topos in which Bin Ladenism could grow. Now, however, many Muslim intellectuals are returning home, so to speak. They are rediscovering Islam's philosophical heritage and beginning to continue the work started by pioneers of Islamic political thought over 1,000 years ago. Paradoxically, it is Maudoodo-Qutbism that is now being exposed as a pseudo-Islamic version of Western totalitarian ideologies."
The remaining elements were money from Saudi underwriters--now drying up as they have finally been forced to choose between the West and Islamic extremism--and the cooperation of governments such as Pakistan and Sudan--which have likewise been pressured to sever ties. "His ghost may continue to linger on, partly because Washington and Islamabad, among others, find it useful to keep it in the headlines for a while. Bush still has an election to win...and [Pakistani President Pervez] Musharraf is keen to keep his country in the limelight as long as possible. But the truth is that Osama Bin Laden is dead."
Dismissing claims that the US is in Afghanistan to secure access to the Caspian Basin's oil reserves as "conspiracy theories," Silverstein decries that they "aren't just circulating in fringe circles; they've found their way into mainstream outlets, too. In England, John Pilger of the New Statesman wrote that President George W. Bush's 'concealed agenda is to exploit the oil and gas reserves in the Caspian basin... [which could] meet America's voracious energy needs for a generation. Only if the pipeline runs through Afghanistan can the Americans hope to control it.'... On this side of the Atlantic, a March 18 op-ed in the Chicago Tribune by Salim Muwakkil ('Pipeline Politics Taint US War') treated such theories with measured respect and said it was no wonder that so many foreigners were skeptical about the Bush administration's expressed war aims. Even The New York Times dipped its toes in the conspiracy waters, in a story last December that discussed the Caspian's potential role as an energy supplier and the possibility that the Unocal pipeline would now be revived. What's common to all these theories, from the most delusional to the more sophisticated, is that their authors display little understanding of the Caspian or of energy markets. Many of the heavy-breathing conspiracy theorists don't even realize that the major Unocal pipeline would have moved natural gas, not oil. Like Pilger, some also seem to believe that the Caspian's energy reserves are going to be shipped to America, presumably to warm our homes and fuel our SUVs, when in fact most of the oil and gas from the Caspian is destined for markets in Russia, Europe and Central Asia itself."
Silverstein's argument is ridden with faulty assumptions and downright inaccuracies. For starters, Unocal planned parallel pipelines carrying both natural gas and oil. (See WW3 REPORT #1) The oil and gas was to be piped to Pakistan's Arabian Sea port of Gwadan for transfer to tankers--which hardly implies that it was intended only for consumption within Eurasia. In any case, natural gas is nearly as profitable and just as strategic to the world and US economy as oil--the California energy crisis was about gas, not oil. And it is generally the same corporations which exploit both. But Silverstein is having too much fun bashing the "conspiracy theorists" to let facts get in the way. Calling the idea that oil interests have anything to do with the Afghan intervention "stupid" and those who believe it "dumb," he writes:
"The Caspian region is home to huge energy resources--by some estimates, it may produce 5% of the world's oil within a decade--but Afghanistan is almost entirely irrelevant to their exploitation. In fact, the country is today less likely to be a player in the Caspian sweepstakes than it was before the fall of the Taliban. 'The idea of Afghanistan re-emerging as a transit corridor for Caspian oil and gas is not remotely realistic in today's circumstances--even in a best-case scenario in which Afghanistan were to emerge from the present conflict with a vigorous, broadly based and stable government with strong international support,' says Laurent Ruseckas, a Caspian expert at Cambridge Energy Research Associates."
Apparently somebody forgot to tell World Bank boss James Wolfensohn, who on an official visit to Afghanistan in May spoke in support of funding for an Afghan pipeline route. (See WW3 REPORT #40) Also out of the loop was the Japanese Foreign Ministry, whose representative Seiken Sugiura pledged his country's support for a trans-Afghan pipeline route on a recent visit to Turkmenistan . (See WW3 REPORT #43) Even US Ambassador to Turkmenistan Laura E. Kennedy said earlier this month her government "is ready to back the commercially viable Trans-Afghan gas pipeline." (See WW3 REPORT #42)
2. JIM HIGHTOWER: YES IT IS
In the January issue of his newsletter The Hightower Lowdown, Texas populist Jim Hightower writes "The War on Terrorism is Also Another War for Oil." Hightower understands the difference between irresponsible conspiracy-mongering and plain ol' common sense: "Catching 'evil doers' is a good thing, and some of them have surely been nailed in Afghanistan. But is this war only being fought for the noble cause of freedom--or might our crusading president and his handlers have more down-to-earth motoves? Like, say...oil? Poor Afghanistan has barely enough oil and gas for its own needs, but just to its north in the 'stans' lies a Texas-sized energy bonanza. None other than Dick Cheney effused in 1998, 'I cannot think of a time when we had a region emerge as suddenly to become as strategically significant as the Caspian.'... Did George W. Bush and his oil clique use the September 11 terrorist attacks to gain access to the biggest non-Arab oil reserves on the planet? There are precedents for rallying the American people to the cause of fighting for oil under the guise of fighting for freedom. Just ask Saddam Hussein... These days thew Internet is abuzz with conspiracists arguing that the nightmare of Sept. 11 was the work of rogue CIA or military elements, or Israel, or, at least, that it was allowed to happen with the foreknowledge of some of the Powers that Be. Let's be clear: We're not going there, folks. But, war is politics by other means, and politics is business, and oil is very big business."
In the same issue, Hightower urges "Let's declare energy independence--now!" Rather than fight for oil in Central Asia or the Persian Gulf, Hightower calls for "Enlisting our very best scientists in a crash program of collaboration, as was done in the Manhattan Project in the 1940s. But instead of making a horrific bomb, as those folks were asked to do, this collaboration would ask scientists to resolve any remaining technological impediments to the mass use of fuel cells, biomass, solar, wind, geothermal, and other abundant, clean, and cheap energy sources. This would be a heroic team effort to re-tool our energy economy and regain our energy sovereignty." Characteristically appealing to the grassroots, Hightower also calls for "Issuing an open challenge to our entire nation of tinkerers, back-yard inventors, mechanics, web-heads, and puzzle solvers to bring their downhome ingenuity to the task of energy freedom, offering rewards and incentives for breakthroughs that advance our national goal." Hightower's "10-year plan to convert to new technologies" also envisions "a high-speed, energy-efficient, 21st-century train system to crisscross the nation," a "door-to-door 'America Works' project to retrofit every home and building across our land" to maximize energy efficiency, and getting gas-guzzlers off the roads in favor of "sleek, fast, comfortable, cool, products that already are on the market, work better than today's inefficient models, cost less to operate, and are more affordable." Writes Hightower: "Our vehicles burn nearly two-thirds of the oil consumed in the US, averaging no better than 20 miles per gallon. Goosing that average up to merely 33 miles per gallon would completely eliminate the need to import any oil from the Persian Gulf. That's all--a simple increase in fuel efficiency of 13 miles per gallon." Hightower concludes: "When future generations look back on this moment in history, the focus won't be on whether the most powerful nation on Earth was able to kill a terrorist thug, but whether we had the vision and courage to free ourselves from oil gouging, oil pollution and oil wars."
3. KEN SILVERSTEIN'S EVIL DOPPELGANGER?
Ironically, the Dick Cheney quote about the sudden emergence of the Caspian region as "strategically significant" was reported in a UK Guardian story reprinted by the trade journal Alexander's Oil & Gas Connections on Nov.
21--written by none other than Ken Silverstein, presumably the same who now
debunks the notion of a "war for oil" in the American Prospect! Silverstein
opened his November article by quoting US President Woodrow Wilson, who
asked an audience in the aftermath of World War I: "Is there any man, is
there any woman, let me say any child here, that does not know that the
seed of war in the modern world is industrial and commercial rivalry?"
Silverstein himself concluded: "The
invasion of Afghanistan is certainly a campaign against terrorism, but it
may also be a late colonial adventure. British ministers have warned MPs
that opposing the war is the moral equivalent of appeasing Hitler, but in
some respects our moral choices are closer to those of 1956 [when Britain
and France intervened in Egypt to secure access to the Suez Canal] than
those of 1938. Afghanistan is as indispensable to the regional control and
transport of oil in Central Asia as Egypt was in the Middle East."
What do you suppose has gotten into Silverstein since November? Or is it a
different Ken Silverstein?
4. FEAR IN CHINA REDUX
China's state TV network reports that scores of Uighur separatists from northwestern Xinjiang province were sponsored and trained by Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network. The official China Central Television reported that Uighur activists who are campaigning for an independent "East Turkestan" state in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region were trained at al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. According to the report, from 1992 to 2001, some 100 Uighur militants were trained in Afghanistan and then returned to Xinjiang to carry out attacks on Chinese authorities, claiming 162 lives. Awuti Mamuti, a militant said to have trained in Afghanistan, told the TV network the training was sponsored by bin Laden, who he reported seeing at one camp. The broadcast included a video allegedly shot at a clandestine meeting of separatists in the Xinjiang city of Hetan in 1996. Those present wore face masks and discussed carrying out attacks in the province.
Many Uighurs, the Turkic-speaking, Muslim indigenous people of the region, want to break away from predominantly Han China. Beijing has traditionally kept quiet about the ongoing separatist struggle, and many observers interpret the recent display of attention as an effort to entice US support for repression of Uighur separatists . (See WW3 REPORT #43)
"Some individual Uighurs have made their way to Afghanistan, but that hardly justifies the broad crackdown now under way," Sidney Jones of New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a recent statement. Geological surveys suggest Xinjiang province, once the site of China's nuclear-testing facilities, contains extensive oil and natural gas deposits. China's energy demands are expected to increase dramatically in coming decades. (UPI, July 26)
5. PIPELINE INTRIGUES BEHIND XINJIANG CRACKDOWN?
In an article picked up by the Uyghur American Association web site , Richard R. Dion, author of The Future of the Caspian: Prospects for the Region's Oil and Gas Industry (Petroleum Economist, London, 2001) argues in favor of a trans-China route for the Caspian Basin oil as an alternative to either the original trans-Afghan route or the currently favored route which would span the Caspian Sea itself, delivering the oil to Turkish ports via the Caucasus. Citing ongoing wars in both Afghanistan and the Caucasus, Dion plugs the "relative peace" of Xinjiang and western China--while conceding that Uighur separatism does pose a threat. Using the alternative spelling of "Uygur," Dion writes:
"One possible regional problem is the native Uygur population's potential attacks. The Uygur population constitutes a majority in Xinjiang, and even the Chinese government has admitted ethnic trouble exists there... To curtail the terrorist threat, a pipeline consortium could be established that constructs and operates the line only up to the Kazakh-Chinese border. Further payments concerning security and other issues could be dealt with directly by the Chinese government. Given the iron grip that the Chinese government has on the Uygur community, there is a significantly lesser threat with this line than with Baku-Ceyhan [the trans-Caspian route]."
In Dion's vision, a Western-backed consortium would build the pipeline from the Caspian to the Chinese border--where the state-owned China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) would take over. Dismissing the possibility of China catching the post-Communist world's separatist contagion, Dion enthuses that Beijing is keeping a tight lid on separatists and dissidents:
"Comparisons with the Soviet Union are misplaced. The Soviet Union encouraged political and civil liberties before economic transformation The population was frustrated at the economic situation and rebelled, breaking up the Soviet monolith. Moscow's responses to the economy were too little and too late. China has taken the opposite path. Deng Xiaoping opened China to foreign development investment 20 years ago. Through enormous foreign development investment, China has been transformed. Because of these reforms, China can 'afford' to lift its grip on power and proceed on a slow path to a more democratic society, substantially decreasing the threat of implosion."
6. KAZAKHSTAN WOOS RIVAL PIPELINE BIDDERS
In the July/August issue of The Middle East magazine, Pamela Ann Smith reports "Caspian Oil Race Heats Up," with Kazakhstan offering new exploration leases and considering rival pipeline plans. Having clarified its Caspian Sea border with Russia, Kazakhstan is readying new offshore and land leases to the highest multinational bidders. Kazakh deputy prime minister Karim Masimov says his government "is planning to hold a number of auctions to give rights to develop 202 blocks in late July." Terms for the leases--covering gold, silver, zinc, coal, bauxite, barium and sulphates as well as oil and gas--were announced at two conferences this month: "Kazakhstan: The Premier Market for Investment and Trade," held in Kansas, and "Kazakhstan: Oil and Gas," in London. In a December visit to the US, President Nursultan Nazarbayev proposed a "Houston Initiative" to integrate the US and Kazakh private sectors and encourage investment. But--perhaps hedging its bets or trying to secure better terms from US investors--the Kazakh regime is also wooing investment from the United States' regional rivals, Russia, China and Iran. Kazakhstan is currently exporting crude via an old pipeline across the Caspian to Russia via Dagestan, as well as through the newly-opened connection to Russia's Black Sea port of Novorosiisk--built by the Russia-led Caspian Pipeline Consortium to replace the Dagestan route threatened by local unrest. Studies for a 2,900-kilometer Kazakhstan-China pipeline are underway, as are bilateral talks on financing and tariffs. In April, during a visit by Iran's President Muhammad Khatami, Nazarbayev expressed support for a pipeline route through Iran the Persian Gulf. "Everyone recognizes the economic benefit of the project," Nazarbayev said. "I think its a good prospect."
Two years ago, in a law protested by human rights groups, Nazarbayev's parliament set him up as virtual president-for-life and granted him sweeping power. (See
WW3 REPORT #13)
1. NEW YORK DESIS PROTEST HINDU NATIONALIST
Some 70 Indian immigrants from throughout the New York metro area--both Hindus and Muslims--gathered outside the Ganesh Temple on Holly Ave. in Flushing, Queens, July 26 to protest the reception being held there for Sadhvi Ritambara, religious spokesperson of the Hindu nationalist Sangh Parivar political coalition, which includes India's ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). Protesters chanted "Killers of Gandhi! Shame, shame!" and "Saffron Nazis! Shame, shame!"
Groups at the protest included the International South Asia Forum (INSAF), Forum of Indian Leftists (FOIL) and Indian Muslim Action Network (IMAN). Protesters say Ritambara's visit to New York was aimed at collecting funds for right-wing Hindu organizations back home, which they charge are directly responsible for the murder, rape and destruction unleashed against minority Muslims in Gujarat since February 27. The wave of attacks, leaving hundreds dead and over 100,000 displaced, has been funded and abetted by the BJP state government in Gujarat and the central government in New Delhi. The protesters accused Ritambara of spreading anti-Muslim hate speech, and complicity with mass violence. On December 6, 1992, Ritambara incited armed Hindu militants to demolish the Babri mosque in Ayodhya, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, sparking riots across the nation. Continuing conflicts over the Ayodhya site sparked the new wave of violence in February, when Hindu militants returning from the site by train were attacked by Muslims. (See
WW3 REPORT #23)
Protesters were skeptical of claims that all funds raised at the event are going to Hindu cultural organizations and social services. Among the protestors was sociologist and former UN consultant Aditi Desai, who said, "The bottom line of this event is to fundraise for the violent activities of the Hindu right in India." Some attendees paid $1,000 for tickets to the reception. IMAN's Shaik Ubaid handed out flyers at the protest comparing "Hindutva-Facism" with Nazism.
One Hindu rightist, or Hindutvadi, attending the event came out to speak to the protestors. When the protestors reminded him of the massacres in Gujarat, he reiterated the Newtonian discourses propagated by the now-resigned chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, who stated shortly after the first wave of attacks that every action had an equal and opposite reaction, the train burning at Godhra spontaneously causing the Hindu backlash. Chandana Mathur of INSAF countered by pointing to the mass scale of the massacre, something that India has not witnessed since partition, and beyond what could not have been executed without government assistance.
Indian classical musician Pandit Jasraj also performed at the reception. Protester Satish Kolluri, formerly an avid fan, shouted to the singer, "Pandit Jasraj, what are you doing here? How can you sing for the Sadhvi?" The musician's true colors had been revealed, he said, on his way home to dispose of Jasraj's CDs. (Special Correspondent Subuhi Jiwani on the scene)
2. U.S. PLAYING BOTH SIDES IN INDO-PAK CONFLICT
Colin Powell is back in the Indian subcontinent on the first leg of an Asian tour, trying to further de-escalate tensions between the nuclear-armed regional powers India and Pakistan. Over 1 million troops face off along the line dividing disputed Kashmir province. While shelling across the border has stopped, conditions for de-escalation have worsened. Nearly a dozen guerrilla groups are fighting over the predominantly Muslim Kashmir region, divided between India and Pakistan since 1949 along what is known as the Line of Control. Some guerrillas are fighting for independence, others seek union with Pakistan--which is accused of supporting the rebel groups. After Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, called on militant groups to end their incursions into Indian territory, India stopped shelling across the Line of Control and pulled back its warships. But as Powell returns to the region, positions are hardening following new attacks by suspected militants. (See WW3 REPORT #43) An Indian government official said at least 224 were killed in Indian-controlled Kashmir in June in attacks by suspected insurgents, about half of them on government forces.
In New Delhi, a political reshuffle in early July put hard-line Hindu nationalists firmly in control of the government. Hawkish Home Minister Lal Krishna Advani is elevated to deputy prime minister--and heir-apparent to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. Within weeks of being named deputy prime minister, Advani demanded that Washington put Pakistan on its list of terrorist nations. In the exchange that followed, the US State Department stated it considers Pakistan a "stalwart ally" in the War on Terrorism. In another ominous sign, the pro-West foreign minister Jaswant Singh was moved to head the Finance Ministry. US-India relations are much closer than they were and include joint military exercises, but New Delhi is less willing than ever to be pushed on Kashmir. Says Stephen Cohen of the Brookings Institute: "The Indian government wants the US to push Pakistan without making concessions of its own."
Meanwhile, the US strategy appears to be one of leaning toward one side or the other depending on behavior and interests. As Powell arrives, a US military delegation is in Pakistan, discussing the possibility of key weapons sales to Islamabad. After 9-11, the US lifted sanctions on military sales to India and Pakistan--imposed after both countries conducted nuclear weapons tests in 1998--but still reviews sales on a case-by-case basis. Earlier this year, the US approved the sale of a $140 million Thales Raytheon Weapon Locater Radar system to India--which disarmament activists protested. On this trip, Powell is expected to tell New Delhi the US opposes India's proposed purchase of an Israeli Arrow missile defense system . (MSNBC, July 25)
1. UNOCAL IN BURMA
While conspiracy theorists salivate over Unocal's decade-old plan to build an oil pipeline across war-torn Afghanistan, the company has been quietly moving ahead with a pipeline across Burma--in defiance of international efforts to isolate Burma's military dictatorship, and taking a devastating toll on the country's land and tribal peoples. Writing for the on-line Environmental News Network, Edith T. Mirante, author of Burmese Looking Glass (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1993), reports on Unocal's complicity with ecological rape, slave labor and genocide in the Southeast Asian nation:
"Unocal of Los Angeles and Total of France hatched a scheme to build a pipeline across southern Burma, homeland of rebellious ethnic groups including the Mons and Karens. The intent was to pipe the gas to Thailand for electricity generation, even though Thailand already had a gas glut and didn't really need it. Halliburton (with Dick Cheney as CEO) provided construction expertise and helped Unocal to lobby against sanctions on Burma's regime. Premier Oil from England followed suit with a parallel pipeline. The collateral damage--indigenous people killed, raped, tortured, and enslaved by Burma army pipeline security forces--is ongoing. Currently there is talk of building a new pipeline across western Burma to India as well. The majority of the Unocal/Total pipeline route lies undersea, but on land it cuts across the Tenasserim region of southern Burma, which contained a treasury of the last primary tropical rainforest on mainland Asia. The area has been recognized as a globally significant eco-region and a biodiversity hot spot. Ethnic rebellion had kept resource exploitation limited, and the Karens had maintained their own wildlife sanctuary on their sacred mountain, Kaser Doh... The pipeline, 700 kilometers (435 miles) long, was completed in 1999 despite protests from international human rights and environmental groups. The companies buried the on-land segment, paved an access road along it, and built a security corridor around it. The pipeline is guarded by several battalions of troops. Surrounding woodland was logged and cleared by forced labor... Forest dwellers were compelled to resettle in security zones, where Unocal and Total set up development projects such as shrimp farming and pig husbandry, which have their own negative impacts on the environment."
Mirante reports that the Unocal/Total pipeline has secured the Tenasserim region for commercial exploitation by firms linked to the Burmese regime. "Logging is now unchecked in the region, and a massive road-building project is underway. Plantations were established, where Karen and Mon people are forced at gunpoint to produce food for the regime's army that occupies their land."
Entering Thailand, the pipeline slices across a national park and forest reserve, a high rainforest region which is the only habitat of the world's smallest mammal, Kitti's hog-nosed bat, and one of Thailand's last remaining wild elephant habitats. Thai environmentalist Bhinand Jotiroseranee said the corporations involved "are accountable for this environmental destruction and are showing disrespect to local people who have cherished elephants for centuries."
But activists are fighting back, in the US as well as in Southeast Asia. Investigations by 1999 Goldman Environmental Award winner Ka Hsaw Wa, a Karen exile who founded EarthRights International, helped bring the situation to the attention of the outside world. Since then, Unocal has sold off its Union 76 gas stations to undercut a boycott. An attempt was made to revoke Unocal's corporate charter in California. Lawsuits on behalf of civilians harmed by the Burma pipeline are underway in US courts. Shareholder actions, such as resolutions and demonstrations at Unocal's annual meetings, have won the support of trade unions and religious groups. Robert Wages, president of the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine, and General Workers Union, called the Unocal/Total pipeline "ecologically, socially, and financially unsound." (ENN.com, April 26)
2. EXXON IN ACEH
Exxon, the world's largest oil company, is battling a lawsuit in the US courts, accused of complicity with "genocide, murder, torture, crimes against humanity [and] sexual violence" in the Indonesian military's brutal counter-insurgency campaign in Aceh. The case, filed in the District of Columbia last June on behalf of 11 plaintiffs, "makes grave charges against Exxon for its close collaboration with the Indonesian armed forces," according to a report by he Indonesia Human Rights Campaign (TAPOL). The suit, filed by the DC-based International Labor Rights Fund, is based on two US laws, the Alien Tort Claims Act and the Torture Victim Protection Act, which allow foreign victims to sue corporations or individuals in the US. The 11 plaintiffs are not actually named in the suit, special dispensation having been granted allowing them to remain anonymous to protect them from "certain retribution and punishment."
ExxonMobil (as the company is known since its 1999 merger) is owner of Mobil Oil Indonesia (MOI). Mobil Oil obtained exclusive rights to a large natural gas field at Arun, in Indonesia's violence-torn Aceh province, in the 1970s. The suit states that Mobil received these rights "from the brutal military regime headed by General Suharto...in exchange for providing the Suharto family with 'blank shares' in MOI as well as other forms of direct and indirect payment." Since then, the Arun Project--incorporating the gas field and a liquefaction plant co-owned with the state company, Pertamina (55%) and a Japanese company (10%)--"has been one of the largest and most profitable natural gas projects in the world and has helped catapult Indonesia as one of the world's largest natural gas producers and exporters." Because of unrest in Aceh, the project depended on "a heavy military presence," with MOI paying a regular fee for Indonesian troops in the region. The suit says MOI actually directs these security forces, "making decisions about where to place bases, strategic mission planning and making decisions about specific deployment areas."
All the plaintiffs were subjected to abuses at the hands of troops paid by MOI. One was shot in the arm, had a grenade thrown at him and was left for dead, losing a hand and his left eye. Another was abducted to a military base at Rancong and tortured for months. A third was shot three times in the leg then dragged to a post where he was tortured and beaten, leaving him with a cracked skull. The fourth was beaten by soldiers, and had the letters "GAM" carved on his back with a knife--a reference to the Free Aceh Movement, the local separatist group (http://acehnet.tripod.com/asnlf.htm). A fifth plaintiff was held in a building at the MOI company complex, and tortured with cigarettes and electric shock. The sixth was taken to his village after being tortured and ordered to identify residents who were members of GAM. When he denied knowing any GAM members, he was beaten and shot in the leg.
The remaining plaintiffs are all women. Troops forcibly entered the house of the first woman plaintiff, who was pregnant at the time, threatened to kill her and sexually assaulted her. Other woman plaintiffs had their husbands killed or "disappeared" by the military. All plaintiffs are seeking punitive and compensatory damages, and a ruling enjoining ExxonMobil from engaging in further rights abuses.
Three months before the suit was filed, Exxon halted operations in Arun, citing security reasons. Four days later, the Indonesian cabinet announced an all-out offensive in Aceh. The suit charges that the primary aim of the offensive was to persuade Exxon to resume operations, as the shutdown cost the Indonesian state $100 million a month in revenue and possible loss of its overseas market for liquefied natural gas. Elite counter-insurgency troops were sent to Aceh with a mission "to crush GAM," with an additional 2,000 troops sent to increase "security" at the Arun field. (See WW3 REPORT #18)
Since the shutdown, there have been several explosions and attacks on MOI property, which the regime has blamed on GAM. The group denies responsibility for the attacks. During recent talks in Geneva between the Indonesian government and GAM, a key demand from Jakarta was for GAM to give a written assurance that it would not attack the Arun installations. TAPOL cites "strong pressure" for this demand from the United States government.
3. "TERRORIST" THREAT IN ACEH?
Indonesia warns it may declare a state of emergency to fight separatists in the northern province of Aceh. Pointing to a series of high-profile murders and kidnappings, President Megawati Sukarnoputri's top security minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has declared the separatists as "terrorists," and is asking parliament to pass a declaration of civil emergency in Aceh, which is one step down from martial law and allows security forces to search houses and detain suspects at will. Over 10,000 have been killed in the 26-year conflict, with fresh killings nearly daily. Numerous cease-fires have been agreed on but never held, and peace talks in Geneva have failed to secure a deal. "We have told the world that it is difficult for us to hold dialogue with terrorists," Yudhoyono said July 4. "Do the United States and other Western countries talk to terrorists?"
At the most recent round of talks in February, Indonesia agreed to grant Aceh a degree of regional autonomy and a greater share in oil and gas revenues. But the separatists demand a totally independent state. Security forces say the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) was behind the June 30 kidnapping of nine crewmen from a vessel heading for an oil exploration field off north Aceh. The rebels deny involvement. (BBC, July 4)
4. AL-QAEDA IN ACEH?
Indonesia's Jakarta Post reports that Maj. Gen. Djali Jusuf, top military commander in the country's conflicted Aceh province, acknowledged that an aide to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden visited the region last year. Jusuf did not name the aide or say who he met with, and denied that there is a permanent al-Qaeda presence in Aceh. The GAM rebels promptly issued a statement denying categorically any links with al-Qaeda. GAM's spokesperson in Jakarta, Agan, said, "Al-Qaeda has no business with us, not before and not in the future." Unconfirmed reports of an al-Qaeda visit to Aceh first surfaced last summer. Reports at the time said two Middle Eastern men spent several days in Aceh, but left after failing to establish ties with local Muslims. More recently, CNN reported that Osama bin Laden deputy Ayman Al-Zawahri visited Aceh two years ago. Agan said GAM has no knowledge of any such visits. "I hope the international community will not be swayed by this cheap propaganda by the Indonesian government," Agan said. (VOA, July 11)
5. U.S. TO RESUME MILITARY AID TO INDONESIA?
Efforts by the Bush White House effort to re-establish military ties with Indonesia--curtailed for nearly a decade because of widespread human right abuses--"has some unexpected support among Indonesians," according to the New York Times' Raymond Bonner. Washington wants to finance a new Indonesian military unit to deal with civil conflict, and lift the ban on Indonesian soldiers attending US military schools under the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program. "If 10,000 soldiers were on IMET training every year, we would have a much better democracy," said Bambang Harymurti, editor of Tempo newsweekly, which was shut down by the dictator Suharto in 1994 and did not reopen until after he was overthrown in 1998. In Washington, the conservative Heritage Foundation strongly opposes resuming military aid to Indonesia--along Vermont's liberal Sen. Patrick Leahy. Heritage Foundation analyst Dana R. Dillon said the US gave military aid to Indonesia for more than 20 years "and it didn't work"--with human rights and corruption only escalating. Goenawan Mohamad, a founder of Tempo and persistent critic of the military, argues that US aid would be perceived by many Indonesians "as an American ploy to get the military to take part in America's war on terrorism"--widely seen in Indonesia as a war against Islam. But Mohamad added: "I am only opposed to the timing. Now is not the moment." (NYT, July 4)
THE PHILIPPINE FRONT
1. CIVILIAN REPORTED SHOT BY U.S. TROOP IN MINDANAO
A US soldier is accused of shooting a Muslim civilian in the southern Philippine province of Mindanao, days before joint Philippine-US war games are to end. The wounded civilian, Buyong-Buyong Isnijal, was reportedly shot in the thigh after three troops--two Filipinos and a US solider identified as Reggie Lane--entered his home in Tuburan village, on Basilan Island at around midnight July 25. The victim's wife and mother have reportedly written a sworn statement against the US troop. Philippine Armed Forces spokesman Col. Danilo Servando said that "no American soldier was involved" in the incident and that the testimonies are "definitely false." Servando said that the victim's wife and mother "are being used" by militant groups, as part of "an orchestrated propaganda effort." Philippine legislator Liza Masa called the incident "a violation of the terms of reference" governing the US-Philippine war games which started in February. These terms allow US troops to fire only in self-defense. Philippine officials also said the victim was under a warrant of arrest for murder.
The incident raises questions over a new US-Philippine military pact. The Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA), yet to be approved by the Philippine parliament, sets guidelines for more joint exercises, which may resume in October. Secretary of State Colin Powell, scheduled to arrive in the Philippines this week, may meet with protests against the US military presence. The visit is part of an official tour also including a stop in Brunei to address the summit of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN). The summit--bringing together the Philippines, Indonesia, Burma, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Brunei--will discuss regional strategies against terrorism. (CNN, July 28)
A July 26 statement by the International Solidarity Mission Against US Armed Intervention in the Philippines provides an account by Buyong Buyong's wife, Jurida Isnijal. According to this account, Buyong Buyong, a 27-year old Muslim of the Lakan tribe, was at home asleep with his wife, mother and children "when the troops suddenly broke the door down and began shooting. Jurida had her flashlight out and she distinctly saw the face of the African American soldier who carried a long fire-arm, perhaps an M-16 or M-15 rifle... He also wore a jungle-fatigue bandana wrapped around his head. The man took aim at Buyong-Buyong and shot him in the left leg." When Jurida tried to rush out for help, the US solider reportedly told her to "shut up and sit down." The soldiers interrogated the wounded Buyong about a rifle found in a nearby house. When he denied knowing anything, the soldiers began cleaning his wound, and then took him away. Jurida was barred from following, told she could see her husband at the hospital in the morning. At the hospital a few hours later, she was told that the troops had already taken Buyong Buyong to the SouthCom barracks-offices.
2. POLITICAL PRISONERS IN MINDANAO
A 40-member delegation of the International Solidarity Mission (ISM), the Bayan Muna political party and the anti-military group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) visited Basilan jail where 25 civilians are being held on charges of belonging to the Abu Sayyaf rebel group. The 25 prisoners were taken out of their cell handcuffed, and taken to the prison yard to be interviewed by the delegates. It was the first time the 25 were allowed to talk freely to rights workers and leave the overcrowded jail cell in months. All of the 25 have been incarcerated for over four months. Most of them, men whose ages ranged from 15 to 45, were arrested by the military after being identified by informants. The detainees--farmers, fishermen, laborers and tricycle drivers in Lamitan and Zambonga--said that they were beaten and tortured by the military and forced to admit to being Abu Sayyaf. Most insisted they were falsely identified, and many said they had been arrested without warrant and denied access to legal counsel. Six women and two young boys are also being held on charges of Aby Sayyaf collaboration. ( Karapatan--Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights, press release, July 26)
THE ANDEAN FRONT
1. ENRON IN BOLIVIA
"Ever since the Houston-based energy giant imploded in the midst of scandal last year, the name Enron has become synonymous with corporate corruption, accounting tricks, influence peddling, and environmental negligence," writes Jimmy Langman in a May report for CorpWatch, an on-line watchdog group. "The company's record in Bolivia is no exception. Now, Enron faces government investigations and lawsuits as Bolivia tries to deal with the social, environmental, and economic damage inflicted by the company."
The 390-mile long Cuiaba natural gas pipeline, owned by a consortium including Royal Dutch/Shell, stretches from near Santa Cruz in eastern Bolivia's rainforest across 500 miles of the Amazon to Cuiaba in Matto Grosso, Brazil, where it fuels Enron's new 480-megawatt power plant. The pipeline cuts through the 15 million-acre Chiquitano tropical forest, "one of the world's richest, rarest and most biologically outstanding habitats on Earth" and one of the planet's 200 most sensitive eco-regions, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Some 90 species of mammals, birds and reptiles in the Chiquitano are listed as endangered. The adjacent Pantanal the world's largest wetlands region, spans 89,000 square miles, straddling the borders of Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay. The access roads Enron cleared in the Chiquitano are already attracting timber poachers and illegal cattle ranchers to the threatened region, and ocal villagers are also concerned about spills.
There are 270 indigenous communities in the Chiquitano region, numbering some 57,000 people. With little access to schools, electricity or medical facilities, locals depend on the forest to survive. In September 2000, protesters shut down Enron's pipeline work camp near San Miguelito, with over a hundred Chiquitano men, women and children peacefully blocking the entrance. Simultaneously, indigenous communities nearby occupied two other Enron work camps. The protest, which lasted 16 days, ended after negotiations between Enron and indigenous leaders. At issue was a May 1999 agreement between Enron and 36 indigenous communities requiring the company to pay $1.9 million for an "Indigenous Development Plan" and to fund efforts to secure land titles for local residents. But as the pipeline neared completion, indigenous groups said they had received only about a third of the promised funds, and were no closer to owning their land. Said Carlos Cuasace Surubi, president of the Chiquitano Indigenous Organization: "We told them that as indigenous people we still believe in a person's word. You have put the pipeline in the ground, but you have lied to us. We demand you comply with the agreement or we will not go."
Following negotiations, Enron did release the rest of the funds, but the dispute over land titles persists. Indigenous advocacy groups say no titles have yet been issued, while Enron and the Bolivian government assure that the wheels of bureaucracy are turning. "The land titling has been done, what we are waiting on right now for the majority of it is the signature of the president of the republic and we can't make him sign this stuff," said Laine Powell, manager of Enron's Cuiaba project.
Jorge Landivar, national park service director for the Chiquitano region says the villagers were duped. "When the company came in with their negotiators prior to the pipeline, the communities did not know what they doing. They signed an agreement but were not prepared or trained to know what were the real benefits and disadvantages of the project. They don't even have land for all those cows the company gave them as compensation."
The Cuiaba Energy Integrated Project cost an estimated $600 million to build, $200 million of which was originally to be financed by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), a US government agency that assists US companies with business projects in developing nations. Since 1992, Enron has been OPIC's premier client, receiving over $1.7 billion for its foreign projects, and had been promised $590 million more at the time of Enron's financial crash last year. After fires swept parts of the Chiquitano forest in the summer of 1999, OPIC even produced a video highlighting the burned areas in an effort to convince other US agencies that the forest was already degraded. "At every step OPIC sided with Enron, finding every way possible to circumvent its primary forest policy," said Atossa Soltani, executive director of Amazon Watch. "OPIC management put on an all-out effort to defend its largest business client."
The environmental groups who produced a study critical of the project were persuaded to drop their opposition in exchange for $20 million from Enron for a "Chiquitano Forest Conservation Fund." The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) later pulled out of the program citing concerns over lack of indigenous participation on the fund's board of directors. A June 2001 WWF report concluded that due to such flaws the program had "increased social and environmental conflicts" and presents "a risk to the sustainability of the forest and indigenous populations."
In Bolivia's capital La Paz, the national congress has formed a special committee to investigate Enron's deals, focusing on charges that the company illegally obtained its ownership interest in the pipeline and a privatized unit of the state energy company YPFB. Armando de la Parra, a congressmen and president of the committee investigating Enron, says that five months prior to the public bid Enron began lobbying then-Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada. Meanwhile, competing companies were only given 13 days advance notice of the bid, according to Parra. The final contract was signed in December 1994 under New York state law, allowing Enron to set up the joint venture as an international offshore company free of Bolivian taxation. Parra says this original contract has mysteriously disappeared, and evidence points to "probable corruption... The public bid was obviously a sham to mask a secret deal between Sanchez and Enron."
When Enron failed to line up financing for the pipeline, Brazil's state energy giant Petrobras said it would step in--nearly forcing Enron out of the deal. But in October 1996, Bolivia put YPFB's transport unit up for sale. The unit, Transredes, is responsible for all the pipelines in the country. Enron, in partnership with Shell, gained controlling ownership of Transredes--thereby maintaining a majority stake in the Bolivia-Brazil pipeline.
Enron's Transredes has since demonstrated serious environmental negligence. In January 2000, the Sica Sica Arica oil pipeline in the Andean highlands burst, spilling nearly 30,000 barrels of oil along 160 miles of the Desaguadero River, contaminating local farmland, Lake Uru Uru and Lake Poopo. The livelihoods of many communities, including the Uru Morato indigenous people, were destroyed.
According to US congressional investigators, Enron's Bolivian investments were part of the company's elaborate accounting shell game. Investors in the Cuiaba pipeline included LJM1, one of Enron's notorious fictional partnerships. According to a Feb. 16 article in the Washington Post, in order to present a rosy image to investors, Enron sought to record profits from its Cuiaba project by using "mark-to-market calculations," an accounting trick allowing projected revenue to be put on the books in a current year. "But Enron was not allowed to use such a calculation because its pipeline ultimately connected to an Enron power plant," the Post reported. "To get around that, Enron sold a 13% stake in the plant for $11.3 million to LJM1, that allowed Enron to book the revenue, and it did so in the last two quarters of 1999. The deal was all the more stunning because the pipeline had yet to deliver any gas and, therefore, had produced no revenue." In August 2001, Enron bought back LJM1's interest in the power plant for $14.4 million. Enron's Bolivian operations were not included in the company's December Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, and Enron officials say the Cuiaba project is key to their recovery plan. But Bienvenido Zacu, secretary for land of Bolivia's Confederation of Indigenous Peoples, warns that Enron could be in for more trouble: "If Enron wants to stay in the Chiquitano, they must respect their permanent obligations to the people who were there before them."
A second US-backed Bolivian pipeline project, leading west from Santa Cruz across the Andes to the Pacific, is also mired in controversy. See WW3 REPORT #43.
2. RADICAL INDIAN LEADER SQUEEZED OUT IN BOLIVIA RUN-OFF
A deal has been struck between two former presidents to edge out popular coca growers leader Evo Morales from the August 4 runoff vote in Bolivia's Congress that will determine the country's next president. Former president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada July 25 secured the backing of former president Jaime Paz Zamora, giving him enough votes to win the presidential runoff. The deal, which assures Sanchez the majority votes he needs in Congress, raises eyebrows since he and Zamora had been fierce political rivals up to the last minute. Morales, a socialist and Aymara Indian, slammed the agreement as an "opportunistic" ploy to keep him from winning the presidency. He also accused his two rivals of shilling for corporate interests with investments in Bolivia. "This is a deal to save...the multinationals of Bolivia's two most
corrupt political parties," he told reporters. "Two former presidents are fighting against poverty-stricken Indians to prevent them from becoming the government," he said. (AFP, July 26)
3. U.S.-CREATED BOLIVIAN FORCE ACCUSED OF ABUSES
With almost no publicity, a US-trained-and-paid Bolivian armed unit set up camp 18 months ago in the Chapare jungle region near the city of Santa Cruz. The 1,500-member Expeditionary Task Force, made up of former Bolivian soldiers and known to locals as "America's mercenaries", are supposed to be assisting in eradicating the area's coca crops, but have come under fire for abusing local residents. Critics of the force say its very existence violates Bolivian law, and that the unit is responsible for torture and murder. US and Bolivian officials say the unit is "a group of reservists" within a regular Bolivian army brigade commanded by Bolivian officers.
A Bolivian civil court judge seemed to side with the critics in late June when he issued an arrest warrant for the unit's commander, Col. Aurelio Burgos Blacutt, pending an investigation into charges that Burgos shot and killed an unarmed man during a campesino protest on January 29. But the order has yet to be carried out--due to US pressure, locals charge. The unit has been accused of at least four killings and over four dozen incidents of beatings and torture, according to the Bolivian human rights ombudsman's office. Those reports are dismissed by the US Embassy in La Paz and the US State Department in Washington. But even critics within Bolivia's government are afraid that the unit will give rise to paramilitary groups similar to those in Colombia. "These are soldiers with no clearly defined loyalties, and a foreign power is funding them to run around our country with guns," said Juan R. Quintana, director of the Defense Policy Analysis Unit at the Defense Ministry. (Washington Post, June 23) (Peter Gorman)
4. FARC TAKES TIP FROM 9-11?
Colombia's secret police announced July 24 they had foiled a plot by the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) to crash a plane into either the Congress building or the presidential palace. The plan was aborted with the arrest of Jorge Enrique Carvajalino, who secret police director Colonel Gustavo Jaramillo called ''the brains of the attack.'' Jaramillo said Carvajalino had recruited a pilot to fly a into the Congress building during Independence Day ceremonies on July 20 or into the presidential palace on Aug. 7, during the inauguration of the next president. He said Carvajalino was arrested in Bogota on July 18. Carvajalino is said to be the brother of a top FARC commander known by his nom de guerre Andres Paris. Jaramillo said the unnamed suicide pilot agreed to the mission in exchange for $2 million from the FARC. Jaramillo did not explain why the pilot would accept payment for a mission in which he would be killed. During the drug wars of the 1980s, the cartels did recruit impoverished teenagers for missions they knew would get them killed, promising to take care of their families . (AP, July 25)
5. FARC: GUERILLAS OR TERRORISTS?
The European Union is considering following the lead of the US in officially declaring Colombia's FARC a "terrorist organization." The FARC is Latin America's oldest guerilla group, and FARC commander Manuel "Sureshot" Marulanda has been waging war against the state for more than 50 of his 71 years. He founded the FARC in 1964 and since then has built up his rebel army from a handful of cousins and friends into a force of some 18,000 fighters that today controls nearly 40% of the country. But US and Colombian authorities say the group is switching to more terrorist tactics. In a radio exchange intercepted by the military, Comandante 'Romana' (alias of Henry Castellanos, commander of the FARC 53rd Front) was heard to say: "Bring them all down--bridges, pylons and the dam. Make urban attacks so that the oligarchy feels the war." The FARC have blown up some 200 electricity pylons across the country so far this year, attacked water reservoirs that feed Bogota's seven million inhabitants, and set off bombs in cities. (BBC, May 21)
WATCHING THE SHADOWS
1. PENTAGON COMMAND STRUCTURE RE-ORGANIZED
On April 17, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Richard B. Myers announced changes to the Unified Command Plan (UCP) establishing missions and responsibilities for the US Armed Forces. North American Aerospace Defense (NORAD), previously under US Space Command (SpaceCom) in Colorado Springs, is to be merged with the new US Northern Command (NorthCom), responsible for "homeland defense." NORAD has primary responsibility for monitoring the skies over North America and providing early warning of nuclear attack. The change is to take effect Oct. 1. US Northern Command will likely be based at Peterson Air Force Base, CO. (DoD press release, April 17)
NORAD has had a "Homelands Defense" role since the Pentagon launched Operation Noble Eagle to assist civilian agencies in domestic counter-terrorism in the wake of 9-11. The military was officially assigned a domestic role by President Bush's Executive Order of Sept. 14, finding that ""A national emergency exists by reason of the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, New York, New York, and the Pentagon, and the continuing and immediate threat of further attacks on the United States." (DoD press release, Sept. 16, 2001)
US Strategic Command, located at Offutt Air Force Base, NE, with control over nuclear weapons systems, is to be merged with Space Command. The merger is also to take effect Oct. 1, and the new unified command will likely be based at Offutt. (DoD press release, June 26)
US Air Force Gen. Ed Eberhart, now commander of NORAD and Space Command, has been chosen as the first commander of US Northern Command. In a prepared statement, he said: "It is an honor to be nominated as the first commander of U.S. Northern Command. If confirmed, I look forward to serving the nation in this role. Our job will be to preserve the nation's security by defending the American people where they live and work, and support civilian authorities as needed. We will also prepare for the inevitability of uncertainty and surprise. This will be a team effort from start to finish--our servicemen and women are ready for the challenge." (DoD press release, May 8)
2. GOOD-BYE, POSSE COMITATUS?
Sen. Joseph Biden, a Delaware Democrat and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee said July 21 he supported expanding military police powers at home on a limited basis to protect the country from terrorism. The question was discussed on talk shows following the White House's request for a review of the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, barring the military from domestic law enforcement. "I think it is time to revisit it," he told Fox News Sunday program. "We have to take a look at it, and I think it has to be amended. But we're not talking about general police power... We shouldn't go overboard." Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge told CNN's Late Edition that there has been no discussion of giving military authorities additional arrest powers "as a part of the homeland security future." Ridge said, "What has been discussed is the civilian support by the military in the event of rather unusual circumstances," like the authority he exercised as Pennsylvania governor to call up the National Guard. Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said "it's never a problem to study something... We should not assume that we are going to need to change it." (Reuters, July 21)
3. ALABAMA ACTIVATES TANK UNIT FOR "HOMELAND DEFENSE"
A day after President Bush's release of a homeland defense bill calling for potential domestic use of US armed forces, Alabama activated a 300-troop Army National Guard tank battalion as part of a "homeland defense" force. In a July 17 statement, Gov. Don Siegelman said the Ozark-based 1st Battalion, 131st Armor "is equipped with modern battle tanks, the M1A1 Abrams," and "will serve in the homeland defense role within the United States." In addition to the tank battalion, 200 guardsmen from Special Forces units based in Auburn and Huntsville were activated to "conduct post-mobilization training and then deploy to undisclosed locations in support of the war on terrorism," Siegelman said, forwarding further questions to the Guard. Asked what role the tank battalion would serve in homeland defense, Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Robert Horton said: "That can't be discussed. It all will depend on the mission." The deployment will last one to two years, Horton said. (Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, July 18)
4. WAVE OF MURDER SHAKES FT. BRAGG
The wives of four Army troops at Fort Bragg, NC, have been slain in the past six weeks--apparently by their husbands--in an outbreak of violence that has shaken Special Operations Command. Three of the servicemen belonged to Special Operations units and had recently returned from Afghanistan. Two of those soldiers killed themselves, police said. Additionally, an officer assigned to Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg was shot and killed as he slept in his Fayetteville home. No arrests have been made in that case. Fort Bragg, one of the Army's biggest bases, is home to about 40,000 troops, including two elite units that played key roles in the Afghan campaign--the 82nd Airborne Division and Army Special Forces Command.
This summer's killings began on June 10, when Sgt. Rigoberto Nieves of the Third Special Forces Group, just two days back from Afghanistan, shot his wife and then himself, according to Fayetteville police. He had requested leave from duty in Afghanistan to resolve personal problems, police said. On June 29, the wife of Master Sgt. William Wright of the Special Forces 96th Civil Affairs Battalion was strangled. Wright, back from Afghanistan about a month, was charged with murder. On July 9, Sgt. Cedric Ramon of the 37th Engineer Battalion (not involved in the Afghan campaign) allegedly stabbed his estranged wife at least 50 times and then set fire to her house. On July 19, Sgt. Brandon Floyd shot and killed his wife and then himself, investigators say. Floyd was identified by the Fayetteville Observer as a member of the Delta Force, a crack anti-terrorism unit whose existence is not officially acknowledged. The Special Operations Command officer, Maj. David Shannon. He was shot in the head and chest as he slept, police said.
The wave of killings echos the most notorious slaying ever at Fort Bragg, the 1970 murder of the wife and two daughters of Capt. Jeffrey MacDonald, a Special Forces doctor. MacDonald was convicted in a 1979 trial later the subject of a book by Joe McGinniss and TV miniseries, "Fatal Vision." There have been other outbreaks of murderous violence at Bragg. In October 1995, Sgt. William Kreutzer Jr. opened fire on fellow members of the 82nd Airborne on a morning run, killing an officer and wounding 18 other soldiers. In December of that year, three white Fort Bragg soldiers shot and killed a black couple in Fayetteville. Prosecutors called the attack a racist skinhead initiation rite. (Washington Post, July 27)
*Floating Navy bases which can be deployed around the world as offshore staging grounds for air campaigns and Special Forces operations, building on the success of the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk as a temporary launching pad for special operations helicopters into Afghanistan. The base could be a modified carrier, or a cargo ship with a flight deck added. (USA Today, July 22) (Pop culture reference: the "floating fortresses" of George Orwell's 1984)
*A super-accurate 100-kilowatt infrared laser weapon, developed for the F35 Joint Strike Fighter by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon to take out communication lines, power grids, vehicles and other ground targets. A problem is that the weapon will blind anyone for hundreds of yards around, potentially violating the Geneva Convention. But Pentagon planners point out that while Article 1 of the Geneva Convention Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons prohibits weapons designed to cause blindness, Article 3 exempts weapons that cause blindness as a "collateral effect." (New Scientist, July 24) (Pop culture reference: "phaser" weapons on the USS Enterprise, Star Trek)
*Flying micro-bots, based on insect aerodynamics, to eavesdrop on enemy positions and terrorist suspects. Scientists at UC Berkeley have spent the past four years developing a Micromechanical Flying Insect, that they say will one day fly like a fly . (AP, July 28) (Pop culture reference: self-animated AI bugs in The Matrix)
In a sign that the Pentagon may already have strange devices in the air, Andrews Air Force base scrambled two F-16 jets after radar detected an unknown aircraft which didn't respond to radio communication--with many DC residents saying they saw the planes chasing a blue UFO. "We had a track of interest, so we sent up some aircraft," said Maj. Douglas Martin, a spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado, which has responsibility for defending US airspace. "Everything was fine in the sky, so they returned home." But witness Reny Rogers said, ""It looked like a shooting star with no trailing mist. I've never seen anything like it." (WP, July 26) (Pop culture references: Close Encounters, Independence Day)
6. "FUTURE WAR" GAMES UNDERWAY
In the largest military experiment ever conducted, the Pentagon launched a massive series of war games July 24, designed to simulate a worldwide crisis five years from now. Staged with 13,500 troops from all branches of the Armed Forces in 26 locations in the US, the three-week experiment costs some $250 million. Dubbed Millennium Challenge 2002, the war game combines field forces in live ammunition exercises with computer simulations in a variety of conflict scenarios, ranging from domestic terrorist attacks with weapons of mass destruction to full-scale war in the Middle East.
US officials say much of the simulated crisis remains classified, but the scenario begins with a military coup in a country stricken by a massive earthquake. Simultaneously, a World Court decision over disputed territory outrages the coup leaders, prompting a dramatic military buildup and shipping blockade. In response, the UN imposes sanctions on the coup leaders. "The setting is five years from now, 2007," said Gen. William "Buck" Kernan, commander of US Joint Forces Command, who is co-ordinating the exercise. "We have used technology to superimpose a computer-modified version of the threat region on the southwestern portion of the United States, where we will use an array of military training areas and ranges to test our live forces. In this experiment, the adversary has the potential to escalate a high-end, small-scale regional conflict into a major-theatre war."
Robert Oakley, a retired US ambassador and former director of the US State Department's Office of Counter-terrorism, has been hired to play the role of "president" of the enemy state during the war games. As the simulations proceed, Marines and Special Forces troops will stage a 96-hour urban combat exercise. Teams of computer hackers are expected to try to invade Pentagon computer networks during the exercise. "An experiment of this size and complexity has never been attempted before," Gen. Kernan said. (National Post, Canada, July 25)
7. WOOLSEY DECLARES WORLD WAR IV
Former CIA Director R. James Woolsey told a meeting of the Institute on World Politics in Washington July 24, "We are in a world war, we are in World War IV." Woolsey said that the US won the Cold War, which he described as World War III, and he expects the US to meet the challenges of the new war. "For the fourth time...we are on the march, and we are on the side of those they most fear--their own people!" Woolsey exclaimed, pointing to Iraq as the primary opponent in the new war. "Iraq can only be dealt with effectively by military action," Woolsey said. "I like to draw analogies. Iraq is like Hitler's Germany in the mid-1930s. There's no sense waiting, as the situation will only get worse." Woolsey argued it makes sense to wage war against Saddam Hussein even without the "smoking gun" of a clear link to 9-11. "His general support of terrorism is enough," he said. (NewsMax.com, July 25)
8. U.S. MOVES TO BLOCK U.N. VOTE ON TORTURE
The US failed to block a UN vote approving a plan to enforce the Convention Against Torture, and its attempts to do so were strongly condemned by European and Latin American nations. Among US concerns was language that could allow for international and independent visits to US prisons and the detainment camp at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. The protocol to the treaty passed July 24 by a vote of 35-8 in the UN Economic & Social Council. The US abstained. Denmark read a statement on behalf of the European Union accusing the US of intentionally stalling in order to kill the proposal. Costa Rica, which sponsored the plan, "urged all delegations to vote against" the US request to reopen negotiations. The protocol now moves to the General Assembly where it must be approved by a majority of the 190 member states. Then, it will require 20 ratifications to go into force. (AP, July 25)
Said Rory Mungoven of Human Rights Watch, "Yet again the Bush Administration is on a collision course with its allies over an important new mechanism to protect human rights. Last week, it was the International Criminal Court, this week, it's the prevention of torture." (HRW press release, July 20)
9. PACIFISTS: "ENDURING TERRORS" DON'T MAKE HEADLINES
The Catholic pacifists of the Sisters of St Joseph of Carondelet in Albany, NY, point out in their on-line news service that the casualties from terrorist attacks against the US do not begin to approach those of the "enduring terrors" which breed hatred--and are largely ignored by the media.
US Deaths from Terrorist Attacks:
*April 1983, US Embassy, Beirut: 63
*October 1988, US Marines barracks, Beirut: 299
*December 1988, Pan Am jetliner explosion over Lockerbie: 270
*February 1993, WTC bombing: 6
*April 1995, Oklahoma City federal building: 168
*June 1996, US military complex, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia: 19
*August 1998, US embassies, Kenya and Tanzania: 224
*October 2000, USS Cole, Yemen: 17
*September 2002, WTC and Pentagon: 3,000
Enduring Terrors (based on yearly averages):
*Number of people who died of hunger, Sept. 11, 2001: 24,000
*Number of children who died from diarrhea, Sept. 11, 2001: 6,020
*Number of children who died from measles, Sept. 11, 2001: 2,700
*Number of children malnourished in developing countries: 149 million
*Number without access to safe drinking water: 1.1. billion
*Number living on less than $1 a day: 1.2 billion
EXIT POLL: Is Thomas Friedman correct, and this is World War III (see WW3 REPORT #11), or is James Woolsey correct and this is World War IV? And if Woolsey is correct, should we change the name of this newsletter?
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