Global Events and Commentary: April 30, 2012

• It would seem to most that it is easy to move an accused terrorists from one “civilized” nation to another for trial, but a perfect example of democracy in action is that on April 17, British authorities rearrested Palestinian-Jordanian Muslim cleric Abu Qatada, who had been released from prison in February when the European Court of Human Rights ruled that he could not be deported to Jordan on terrorism charges. The Home Secretary informed British legislators the same day that the United Kingdom has received pledges from Jordan that should address the European court’s concerns, and clear the way for Abu Qatada’s deportation.
• As reported in LWOT there is trial that is underway that is attracting particular scrutiny in New York City: a home-grown alleged terrorist is in the dock. “Seven prominent journalists and civil rights activists have filed suit against Attorney General Eric Holder, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and other top U.S. officials over the recently approved National Defense Authorization Act, which the plaintiffs claim puts them at higher risk of arrest, and allows the indefinite detention of American citizens on U.S. soil.” Saajid Badat, who has been convicted in Britain in for plotting to blow up a passenger plane in the December 2001, the famous “shoe-bomb attempt”, testified for the prosecution via video deposition about the leadership and training methods of al-Qaeda.
• Once again we hear the argument made by defense attorneys for Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who is on trial at Guantánamo Bay for allegedly masterminding the 2000 USS Cole bombing. Defense attorney argued that a military tribunal is unconstitutional because it applies only to non-U.S. citizens, discriminating against people “simply by the accident of where they were born”. Editor’s Note: That distinction plays an enormous role in numerous federal acts, and in particular, when dealing with interdiction of electronic communications. There is a clear distinction when dealing with US citizens and noncitizens.
• A branch of al-Qaeda in Iraq known as the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) has once again claimed responsibility for a series of attacks that killed 38 in Baghdad and across that war torn nation. The ISI claims it has targeted security forces and government officials in “response” they claim,” to the campaign of detaining, torture, embargo and confiscation of lands of Sunni people, especially in Baghdad and its outskirts.” They claimed that their wave of violence was a “new wave” a “new invasion” and that the violence would “not stop until God judges between us” and the Shiites. Their violence has produced dozens of bombings and shootings in seven different provinces killing 38 people and wounded more than 170. Each day seems to have produced the deadliest day in Iraq since “some previous day”, when scores of people have been killed and wounded in attacks also claimed by al-Qaeda’s ISI. Editor’s Note: As a child, I learned of different tribes of Indians who attacked each other and the “white man”, today it seems inconceivable that tribes, within the same nation, continue to attack each other. These tribal feuds continue as man reaches beyond the moon and computers talk to each other at imaginable speeds.
• Finally, China, who has long been Pyongyang’s most important backer, recently joined with other countries in condemning North Korea for a failed missile launch earlier this month. For Beijing it was one of those very rare public censure of it’s internationally and isolated ally. Beijing once again has denied allegation that it provides North Korea help in violation of international mandates. “We’ve made very clear to China that China has a responsibility,” claims an American Official, “to make sure that North Korea — if they want to improve the situation with their people, if they want to become a part of the international family, if they, in fact, want to deal with the terrible issues that are confronting North Korea, there’s a way to do that.” Beijing has in the past not only provided enormous economic aid to that financially strapped nation but acted as its protector and advocate when North Korea behaved in its usual belligerent manner which only resulted in escalated tension in the international community.
-Water War Tomorrow
In the early 90’s, on a sunny spring day sitting on a bench in Budapest with the late Ian Cuthbertson, who was the smartest person I had ever known, I remember being shocked when seeing the Blue Danube for the first time. Somehow I expected something more ….blue and probably more majestic, and it was neither. He was amazed at my lack of knowledge and said in passing: In a couple of decades, people will be fighting over water. I realized, as he made that offhand comment, that a few years earlier, as the guest of an advisor to the then Prime Minister of Israel, I was shown the Jordan River and was amazed that it looked more like a neglected stream than the mighty river I had been lead, as a child, to envision. Then too, this top ranking security official had indicated that future wars would be fought over water. At the time, I was led to believe that Israel, a country that is two-thirds arid and surrounded by hostile voices, was experimenting in developing a desalination system.
I have not thought of those two incidents until I stumbled across two articles. The first was about the regions of the world that were so extremely water poor. The second stated that Israel has developed a new and cheaper –no chemical process– for desalination. The claim by the Israeli’s is that once their project is complete over 50 percent of their household water use will come from a desalination process. The 50 percent that will not have this advantage is a huge percentage of that nation’s total need—not merely for household use but for their extensive agriculture ventures. It only takes a moment, when you stop to think that without water a people/nation/civilization dies.
In an article by Alan Bierga, U.S. Intelligence Says Water Shortages Threaten Stability, Mr. Bierga reports “An all-out water war is unlikely in the next 10 years, as nations will be more likely to use water as a bargaining chip with each other, according to the report from the Director of National Intelligence….” I respectfully disagree. Water will not be, as claimed, a “bargaining chip”. Not in a world where at present almost one in eight people on the entire planet aren’t able to secure a glass of safe water to drink. Water will be held hostage, and the immediate response will be violence between those that depend upon the water flow to their nation and the nation that dams the rivers to dry beds. The reason is understandable: clearly, one neither has the time nor inclination to “negotiate” with a hostile neighbor for an item held captive as dear as water, when it means the difference between eating and not eating and life and death.
The key areas to focus upon are the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa. Much of the real facts regarding the need for water and national security are buried in a classified document released by the National Intelligence Estimate that was narrowly distributed to policymakers. From the unclassified edition one can unmistakably draw unambiguous conclusions. They are very disturbing and certainly not reassuring. In addition, the assessment from the NIE is that 70 percent of all fresh-water supplies are now used for agriculture. “The downside, the NIE claims, is that many regions are “pulling water out of aquifers faster than it is being renewed.” You can then read that “when it’s gone it’s gone.” The conclusions from that statement are ominous: when water is gone crops die and life ceases.
The strategic water basins that feed the rivers in several geographic areas include:
1. The Nile. This river runs through 10 countries before ending up in Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea. (Note that this river runs south to north.)
2. The famous Jordan River. The Palestinians and Jordan have long been at odds with Israel.
3. Tigris-Euphrates in Turkey, Syria and Iraq.
4. And, last, for most of us, the least known is the Indus, whose rainwater collection area includes Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Tibet.
Subsequent reviews of these geographic areas provide us with a special prospective beyond merely the absence of water and beyond their strategic location for human use and agriculture. They are potential targets for terrorism of a greater proportion than the twin towers in New York City. When the Twin Towers were attacked and destroyed, the loss of human life resulted in 2,996 –immediate at time of attack—deaths. Now envision a terrorist attack at a major water collection center that feeds into streams and rivers, and irrigates thousands of acres of fertile land and provides drinking water to untold numbers of people. What of the lives that are connected to that source of water supply—water that is not merely contaminated but undrinkable and dangerous? And although Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced that the United States would employ both its knowledge and political will to seek “solutions to global water accessibility challenges, especially in the developing world”, we have been allowed to see only the tip of the world problem. Major water supplies intentionally polluted beyond redemption are beyond the scope and magnitude of the Twin Towers.
Where there is an insufficient or poorly husbanded water supply that is but one concern for the world. And not to minimize that concern, nevertheless this problem is easily conquered. It has been done in the past, and surely, it can be accomplished on a grand scale in the future. All it takes it the will and the financial support.
It is the second and third water issue: Where those who control the supply of water will intentionally withhold or deny it from others for political or religious reasons, and, last, where as a weapon of terrorism and violence, a water supply is destroyed. The importance of such an act—if successful– can only be envisioned as being immediate with sickening consequences. At times the obvious must be said: terrorism is beyond a car bomb in a city square or commuter train.
Richard Allan
The Editor

Global Incidents and Commentary: February 28, 2012

Global Events
● LWOT reports that “twelve of 13 suspected members of a banned Northern Irish militant group, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), were acquitted of terrorism charges in Northern Ireland’s largest so-called “super grass” trial (Reuters, CNN, Guardian, BBC). The judge described the prosecution’s “super grass” witnesses Ian and Robert Stewart as “ruthless criminals and unflinching terrorists,” and suspected that their testimony was “infected with lies, ” leaving authorities questioning the legitimacy of allowing “rehabilitated” militia members testify against their former comrades (Guardian). “
● Representatives from more than 60 Western and Arab countries have met in Tunis, Tunisia to call for the Syrian government to implement an immediate ceasefire and to allow humanitarian assistance for civilians and people wounded in violence. The group was not expected to discuss military options but will threaten increased sanctions if the Syrian regime doesn’t comply within days. Editor’s Note: Shamefully, neither Russia nor China, who vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution based on an Arab League plan aimed to end the Syrian violence planned to attend the conference and have protect the Syrian government from the UN sanctions. The problem also is acerbated by the fact of the lack of coordination within the groups opposing the Government: “The “Friends of Syria” seem to be favoring the opposition Syrian National Council, but are not giving the group exclusive recognition. The other main opposition group, the National Coordination Committee, is boycotting the conference.” On top of all this the activists have reported that over 7,000 people have been killed since the beginning of the 11-month uprising.
● Palestinian militants in Gaza fired a rocket into southern Israel’s Eshkol district on Friday evening, the Israeli military said, but there were no reports of casualties. Early on Friday Israeli warplanes staged two air strikes on the Gaza Strip, in response to rocket fire on Thursday night. A Palestinian militant group, the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), said it had launched one of Thursday’s rockets “in defense of Al-Quds,” the Arabic name for Jerusalem, where there has been a rise in tensions in the Old City compound that houses the Al-Aqsa mosque.
● And the saga continues, where talks on forming a unity government between Fatah and Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, have once again been postponed.
● Foreign Policy reports that “next month, U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will hold a key meeting over the Iranian nuclear challenge that will test their sometimes rocky relationship. After a weekend visit by National Security Advisor Tom Donilon to Israel, the White House announced this week that Obama will host Netanyahu in Washington on March 5. This will be an opportunity for the two leaders to synchronize their positions on Iran. Whether they can reach some common ground — now or in the near future — could be a decisive factor in Israel’s decision-making on whether to strike Iran sometime this year.” It is no secret that Netanyahu and Obama have never been close, but now is the time for the two leaders to find common ground over the Iranian nuclear issue.
● International pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran has never been higher. In addition to the new, crippling U.S. sanctions enacted on Dec. 31 and Feb. 6, the European Union recently pledged to halt the importation of Iranian oil by July 1. The top local news there is that Iran’s economy is reeling. The counter part is that the Iranian leaders have struck an increasingly aggressive note. The latest bellicose announcement was they have threatened a preemptive strike against their “foes”, and warned that they could close the Strait of Hormuz. In another recent act of defiance, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced on Feb. 15 that a “new generation” of Iranian centrifuges had just been activated at the Natanz nuclear site. And this week, IAEA inspectors charged with monitoring Iran’s nuclear program were denied access to a military facility, returning to Vienna after what they termed “disappointing” talks with their Iranian interlocutors. And the latest news is that Ahmadinejad may be seeing his last days as the head of the civil government.
Foreign Aid and Reciprocal Objectives
The percentage of Americans living below the poverty standard is staggering. There are at last count almost 300 million Americans presently residing in these united states. A little fewer than 15% of them, or about 42 million, exist on a standard of living that is unconscionable even in these difficult economic times.
With these facts in mind and ever mindful of our absolute need for the support and growth of our national security infrastructure, I find it beyond merely embarrassing that we provide financial aid in the form of economic and military aid to two countries, and we do not, in return, demand some form of reciprocal cooperation or public acknowledgment of “thank you”. I refer to Egypt and Turkey.
Billions (not millions) of dollars have and are being provided these countries– some in loans, some in grants, some for economic purposes and some to bolster their military prowess. I do not and have never advocated pulling back from our international commitment or involvement in global affairs. We are, after all, a nation among many others, totally dependent upon the goodwill of each of us. Yet it is unfathomable that our aid has no fair and equitable strings attached. I am not refereeing to the political or military control of another nation nor involvement in their domestic or foreign governance and decision making process. I am referring to a memorialized commitment to mutual goals –not imposed one upon another.
The security of this national in these unprecedented violent times, with vocal histrionics spewed across foreign airwaves and press, it behooves our nation to support causes that inure to our benefit and not those that contradict our frame work of democratic process, our philosophy or that attack our allies.
The power of the newly formed Egyptian government beyond that of the military, rests with a newly elected Parliament whose leadership is in the hands of the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. No historical friend of America, whose credo was and is, “God is our objective; the Quran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of God is the highest of our aspirations”. Within the last weeks, this newly formed, deeply rooted Islamic government has not only demanded the abdication of the military but has put on trial non-Egyptians who have over the years, funneled money to NGOs to support democratic reform. One of those charged is an American. And yet the billions of dollars (over 1.5 billion dollars in 2011) the United States pours into that nation is being utilized for anti-west sentiment and action.
Although Turkey has, over the past few weeks, become the spearhead of a joint Western-Arab-Turkish policy aimed at forcing President Bashar Assad to cede power in Syria this turnabout has clear questionable motives, considering Turkey’s overall international and regional conduct. At one time it had cordial relations with Israel, but in its scurry to be the principal representative of a Mideast Arab community, in its present state of disarray, it has repositioned itself to confront Israel both politically and militarily. To muddle this new approach, the apologists for Turkey (some of whom reside in the United States) have attempted to confuse Turkey’s policy toward the West with its ever changing hostile attitude toward Israel. These strains will only continue because of the core of Turkey’s political and religious internal changes. Turkey’s newly evolving Islamist international posture reflects its internal evolution. Turkey wishes to become the lynchpin in the Mideast struggle between and among those Mideast nations who are attempting to cope with revolutions and ineptness in creating functional governments, and to fill the vacuum created by the toppling of the regions’ dictators. Could the reason be: at a time it wishes to take its place at the head of the Mideast table, its fear that a show of any good will toward Israel would be considered an anathema in any attempt to take a leading role in its relations with its historical kin?
When Turkey does appear to side with the West and, in particular, with the United States, I think one has the right to question the motives of Turkish government and what is truly included in its calculations. Could it be that as the US has supplied billions of dollars in multiple forms of aid to Turkey and the region (yes, including Israel), and being very frank, all that Israel has supplied to the international community is its creation of a Jewish democratic state and is thus, considered by many, a “problem” in a region where nations have had not only historical difficulty to coalesce but to bring any semblance of democracy to their people?

Richard Allan,
The Editor

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