Report: US paying salaries for jailed Palestinian terrorists

The Palestinian Authority spends more than $5 million a month paying salaries to terrorists sitting in Israeli prisons, according to a Palestinian Media Watch report presented to congressmen in Washington on Tuesday.

According to the report, written by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, such payments contravene US law, which prohibits funding of any person who “engages in, or has engaged in terrorist activity.

via \’US paying salaries for jailed Pa… JPost – Diplomacy.

Erdogan Calls Israel 'Principal Threat' to Middle East Peace

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister of Turkey...

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Relations between Turkey and Israel, already at a low point, took a further battering Wednesday when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan described Israel as “the principal threat to peace” in the Middle East.

…Mr. Erdogan’s clashes with Israel and rapprochement with Iran and Syria have led some analysts to believe Turkey is making a fundamental foreign-policy shift away from its Cold War partners in the West, in particular the U.S., and toward Middle Eastern powers such as Iran. At a recent meeting of foreign-policy analysts in Istanbul held by the Turkish Policy Quarterly, Israeli and Turkish analysts agreed on one point—the alliance those two countries built on shared security concerns in the 1990s is probably unsalvageable.

But a 38-page report by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group think tank on Turkey’s new role in the Middle East, released Wednesday, said the belief Turkey is turning away from the West is “incorrect.” The report noted that Turkey’s trade with Europe continues to outweigh its trade with the Middle East by a wide margin, and European Union membership remains its core goal. But the report also warned that Mr. Erdogan risks losing the trust of Western allies.

via Erdogan Calls Israel ‘Principal Threat’ to Middle East Peace – WSJ.com.

And… Turkey is going to raise the subject of the (alleged) Israeli nuclear arsenal on the next Washington meeting. We’ll see what happens…

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Kyrgyzstan riots: opposition protesters seize power

National emblem of Kyrgyzstan

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Activists seized the parliament building and laid siege to the government headquarters. The deputy prime minister was taken hostage and there were reports from police that the interior minister had been killed. The main state television station was overrun and by early afternoon the president had declared a state of emergency.

Reports suggested about 100 people were killed and hundreds more wounded, although the death toll was expected to rise with witnesses describing piles of dead bodies in the streets.

Last night a Kyrgyz opposition leader announced on state radio that Daniyar Usenov, the prime minister, had signed a letter of resignation. It was also announced that a provisional government had been formed with a former foreign minister, Roza Otunbayeva, at its head.

…The US State Department later said it had no information that the government had fallen and for the moment they believed Mr Bakiyev was still in power. Last night a US military official said flights had been suspended from the airbase amid the riots.

…“Russia and the United States have been competing for influence for a long time and have airbases just a few miles apart, so it is an active centre of the Great Game right now between the powers of Russia, China and the US,” said Chris Weafer, the chief strategist at Uralsib bank in Moscow.

He said living standards in Kyrgyzstan, where many families depended on money sent back from relatives working in Russia, had fallen sharply because of the economic crisis and that had probably triggered the unrest.

via Kyrgyzstan riots: opposition protesters seize power – Telegraph.

Russia has had to deny that they have triggered the unrest. Speaking about meddling in foreign affairs… More about this in TIME:

The struggle (between US and Russia) came to a head in February of last year, when the Kyrgyz handed the U.S. military base an eviction notice just weeks after Russia provided the impoverished country with a $2 billion loan and $150 million in aid. Russia denied any link between the two events, but U.S. officials saw it differently. Washington soon reached a deal with Kyrgyz leaders to keep the base open — in exchange for a tripling of the yearly rental to $60 million, among other conditions.

… Putin vehemently denied the allegation at a press conference in the Russian city of Smolensk on Wednesday, saying the events in Kyrgyzstan had caught him by surprise. He added, however, that Kyrgyz President Bakiev had made many mistakes since coming to power in what is known as the Tulip Revolution five years ago. “When President Bakiev came to power, he very harshly criticized the deposed President, [Askar] Akayev, for his family values, for the fact that his relatives had positions throughout the Kyrgyz economy. I have the impression that Mr. Bakiev has been stepping on the same rakes,” he said, alluding to the fact that Bakiev appointed his family members, including his son, to top government posts. A Kremlin source told Russia’s Interfax news agency on Wednesday that Bakiev “would not be welcome in Moscow.”

The U.S. State Department was quick to issue a statement saying its air base in Kyrgyzstan was “functioning normally.” “We are continuing to monitor the circumstances. We continue to think the government remains in power,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in a statement on Wednesday. But that view is beginning to seem untenable: Bakiev has already fled the country, and the opposition says it is forming a new government. How amenable that government would be to the U.S. presence in Kyrgyzstan remains to be seen. What is certain is that the struggle for influence between Russia and the U.S. may again heat up in Central Asia.

NYT worries about the fate that awaits to the US military base.

Also this can have some effects on the drug trafficking route thoughout Central Asia.

EUReferendum says that the protests were “largely spontaneous” and were caused by the high prices of energy:

“The violent rolling protests appeared to be largely spontaneous rather than a premeditated coup,” it says, eventually telling us that a “leading expert” has said the government had triggered the protests by imposing punitive increases on tariffs for water and gas. “In the last few months there has been growing anger over this non-political issue,” said Paul Quinn-Judge, central Asia project director of the International Crisis Group.

So has Russia meddle here or not? It’s difficult to tell by now, we’ll see the future developments in this country.

The death toll has risen to 74.

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US-Israel: Obama mistreats Netanyahu

Israeli leader Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu.

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Benjamin Netanyahu was left to stew in a White House meeting room for over an hour after President Barack Obama abruptly walked out of tense talks to have supper with his family, it emerged on Thursday. The snub marked a fresh low in US-Israeli relations and appeared designed to show Mr Netanyahu how low his stock had fallen in Washington after he refused to back down in a row over Jewish construction in east Jerusalem.

via Gateway Pundit.

While Obama nearly kneels in front of Saudi Arabian King (theocracy), handshakes Chávez (more and more an autocrat) and wanted to have dialogue without preconditions with Iran (theocracy) or Cuba (communist dictatorship), he can’t even get to have a meal with Netanyahu (president of a democracy). Well, how does that sound?

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Bin Laden warns US not to kill alleged 9/11 chief Khalid Sheik Mohammed

Aftermath of the September 11 attacks

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Or else:

Osama bin Laden threatened al-Qa’ida would kill any Americans it takes prisoner if accused September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is executed, according to an audiotape aired on al Jazeera today.

Senior US officials may recommend that Mohammed, who was being held at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, be prosecuted in a military trial, officials said in March.

…”This message is about our prisoners who you are holding,” bin Laden said in the tape, complaining that US President Barack Obama was still following “his predecessor’s steps” on many issues including on al-Qa’ida detainees such as Mohammed.

“The White House has expressed its desire to execute him. When America makes this decision, it will have made a decision to execute whoever of you is held prisoner by us,” bin Laden said in the recording.

There was no immediate comment from Washington.

via Bin Laden warns US not to kill alleged 9/11 chief Khalid Sheik Mohammed – Asia, World – The Independent.

Oh, well, is anyone surprised by this tape? Smiley

Me neither. I think Bin Laden is no longer alive (why no longer he records videos?), but AQ needs his presence to instill “terror on unbelievers”. Anyway, this proves (again) that AQ is no more than a Mob style organization: don’t do that or else. Dont do this or else.

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Afghanistan-Pakistan: the undeclared wars within the war

Map showing Pakistan and Waziristan

So, now we begin to consider that Pakistan is not a very good ally? How quick:

The US president’s redefinition (from Afghanistan war to Af-Pak war) is recognition that the Taliban‘s nerve center, as well as al Qaeda‘s safe haven are across Afghanistan’s border in neighboring Pakistan. In the forbidding tribal territories, Waziristan especially, another dimension of the same fierce conflict is underway with more Pakistani troops thrown into the fray than the whole of NATO deploys on its side of the Northwest Frontier.

But unlike Afghanistan where NATO allows journalists free access to combat operations, the Pakistani military remains media-averse and highly secretive of its own internal counter-insurgency efforts. On the surface of things, however Pakistan is NATO’s and particularly Washington’s staunch ally in the regional and global campaign against terror. It’s a role for which Islamabad in dire economic straits is rewarded handsomely with a massive combined US economic and military aid package it could not do without.

But as British author Moni Mohsin, a lifelong student of Pakistan points out “Pakistan is also the only US ally, America frequently bombs with drone missile strikes, which sometimes kill terrorists and just as often kill civilians.”

And While Islamabad is at pains to denounce the Predator missile attacks and adamantly insists it does not authorize them, Mohsin told Deutsche Welle that there is tacit Pakistani government approval for the strikes. Yet when the attacks are publicized it only helps to feed the ever present anti-American propaganda in Pakistan’s right wing media “which in turn becomes a pro-Talibanization as far as the public is concerned.”

The Pakistani duplicity is expained by some because of Indian-Pakistani conflict:

British journalist Rishaad Salamat, a long time Pakistani analyst and a senior economic anchor with Bloomberg Europe, argues that from a national security perspective “there are elements in the ISI who don’t want a democratic and stable Afghanistan. A state that they perceive as being in the pocket of India and one which has irredentist claims on Pakistani territory.”

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