Wednesday, January 25, 2012

USA is Behind Shia Killings in Pakistan & Elsewhere.

WASHINGTON: United States has confirmed that it has stepped up efforts to lobby Pakistan to abandon gas purchases from its western neighbour Iran. During a daily press briefing, the state department’s spokesperson Nuland Victoria said that US was talking to countries around the world to cut global dependence on Iran, adding that Pakistan was one of the countries that the US was working with. Replying to a question, the spokesperson that she didn’t have anything specific that where those conversations with Pakistan were leading. She said that US was talking about all kinds of diversification. According to the British website, the officials from USAID have taken part in a meeting at Pakistan’s petroleum ministry to indicate that LNG could be made available by the US at $4.5 per mmbtu. REFERENCE: US talking with Pak to abandon gas purchases from Iran

KARACHI: Three lawyers were shot dead and a fourth was wounded here on Wednesday in what appeared to be a targeted sectarian attack. Gunmen sprayed the lawyers’ car with bullets on Maulana Din Mohammad Wafai Road near Pakistan Chowk when they were going home from City Courts. One of the deceased was a senior lawyer and the others his son and nephew. Four men on two motorcycles carried out the attack at around 3:06 pm, according to SDPO Preedy Subdivision ASP Ali Asif. They intercepted the car and two pillion-riders got down and opened fire. Although the lawyer who was driving the car suffered bullet wounds, he drove the vehicle to Civil Hospital, SSP South Naeem Ahmed Shaikh said. “They fired five to six shots, we have found four spent bullet casings of a 9mm pistol and one casing of a 30-bore pistol,” he said. The windscreen of the car was smashed. The assailants managed to flee despite the presence of a police van outside the nearby office of a daily newspaper. Three policemen, who were in the van but did not act to arrest or kill the assailants, were detained by police on the orders of the SSP South pending a departmental inquiry. The policemen were part of the security escort of the editor of the newspaper. Badar Munir Jafri, 65, his son Gohar Shakil Jafri, 34, and nephew Kafil Ahmed Jafri were pronounced dead at the hospital, while the injured, Babar Ali Jafri, was taken to the operation theatre and after surgery shifted to the Surgical ICU. Kafil Ahmed Jafri was to get married on 17 Rabiul Awwal. According to police and some lawyers, the four advocates were members of the legal aid committee of the Shia Lawyers Forum, but at present they were not handling any high-profile case. The bodies were shifted to Husaini Jamia Masjid in Malir, Saudabad. The incident sparked protests in the localities of Malir, Saudabad and Jafar Tayyar Society. Protesters started firing in the air and forced businesses to close. Reports of tension were also received from other areas, including Rizvia Society, Abbas Town and Ancholi in Federal B. Area. A portion of the National Highway was closed to traffic after enraged people erected barricades and burned tyres. An Edhi ambulance was set on fire in Malir. The Shia Ulema Council has announced three days of mourning. The funeral prayers will be offered at Sharea Faisal (National Highway) after Zohr prayers on Thursday. On the call of the Karachi Bar Association, legal fraternity will observe a complete boycott of courts on Thursday. KBA President Mahmoodul Hasan condemned the murders and said the lawyers would stay away from courts and hold a condolence reference. He called upon the government to take immediate steps to stop the killing of lawyers. Sindh Bar Council’s Vice Chairman Iftikhar Javed Qazi also condemned the killings and said the SBC had endorsed the call given by the Pakistan Bar Council and Supreme Court Bar Association for a countrywide strike.On Jan 11, Advocate Maqboolur Rehman was killed on New M.A. Jinnah Road in the Jamshed Quarters area. Last year, 20 lawyers were killed in Sindh, 15 of them in Karachi, according to the Karachi Bar Council. REFERENCE: Three lawyers killed in Karachi sectarian attack S. Raza Hassan

QUETTA: Gunmen shot dead three Shia Muslims on Wednesday in the southwestern city of Quetta , police and local intelligence officials said. “Two gunmen riding a motorbike opened fire on a car in Quetta city, killing three Shia Muslims including two government officials and a local television artist,” senior local police official, Muhammad Tariq told AFP. He said it seemed like a sectarian attack, but the police had launched an investigation into the incident. A local intelligence official also confirmed the incident. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Hundreds of civilians have been killed since Baluch rebels rose up in 2004 against the federal Pakistani government, demanding political autonomy and a greater share of profits from the region’s oil, gas and mineral resources. REFERENCE: Three people shot dead in Quetta: police

WASHINGTON: The United States said on Tuesday that a gas pipeline project Pakistan was negotiating with Iran could violate US restrictions on major financial deals with Tehran and Washington was already discussing this issue with Islamabad. At a briefing at the State Department, spokesperson Victoria Nuland also said that a bill President Barack Obama signed into law on Saturday would not lead to an automatic suspension of US aid to Pakistan. At a Dec 27 public rally in Larkana, President Asif Ali Zardari had said that Pakistan would go ahead with the gas pipeline agreement with Iran despite US reservations. But the law President Obama signed on Saturday forbids dealing with central Iranian banks. Experts say that this restriction could make it difficult for Pakistan to implement the project. When the question was raised at the State Department briefing, Ms Nuland said it was a cause of concern for the US as well. “We’ve made absolutely clear over many months now our concern about this deal and we will continue to talk to Pakistan about it. Were it to go forward, how it might be impacted — again, this is the kind of conversation that we have to have with Pakistan and that we’re starting to have now,” she said. Also, Ms Nuland indirectly confirmed a recent statement by a Pakistani official that Pakistan had not received anything from the coalition support fund since June 2010 and only $400 million from the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill were received during 2011. “You do know that some of the money on the military-to-military side, it was difficult to spend because some of those programmes had been suspended and because of the state of the relationship in counter-terrorism cooperation,” she said. When a reporter reminded her that new congressional restrictions — included in the law President Obama signed during the weekend — could also adversely affect the US-Pakistan relationship, Ms Nuland said: “These are certification requirements in the bill. So obviously, we’re going to have to certify that cooperation is going well in order to release money. So it’s essentially a continuation of some of the issues that we’ve had before.” REFERENCE: Pak-Iran gas pipeline to violate sanctions: US January 4, 2012

USA is Funding Al-Qaeda: Seymour Hersh on CNN (2007)

In the past few months, as the situation in Iraq has deteriorated, the Bush Administration, in both its public diplomacy and its covert operations, has significantly shifted its Middle East strategy. The “redirection,” as some inside the White House have called the new strategy, has brought the United States closer to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region, propelled it into a widening sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda. One contradictory aspect of the new strategy is that, in Iraq, most of the insurgent violence directed at the American military has come from Sunni forces, and not from Shiites. But, from the Administration’s perspective, the most profound—and unintended—strategic consequence of the Iraq war is the empowerment of Iran. Its President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has made defiant pronouncements about the destruction of Israel and his country’s right to pursue its nuclear program, and last week its supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on state television that “realities in the region show that the arrogant front, headed by the U.S. and its allies, will be the principal loser in the region.” After the revolution of 1979 brought a religious government to power, the United States broke with Iran and cultivated closer relations with the leaders of Sunni Arab states such as Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. That calculation became more complex after the September 11th attacks, especially with regard to the Saudis. Al Qaeda is Sunni, and many of its operatives came from extremist religious circles inside Saudi Arabia. Before the invasion of Iraq, in 2003, Administration officials, influenced by neoconservative ideologues, assumed that a Shiite government there could provide a pro-American balance to Sunni extremists, since Iraq’s Shiite majority had been oppressed under Saddam Hussein. They ignored warnings from the intelligence community about the ties between Iraqi Shiite leaders and Iran, where some had lived in exile for years. Now, to the distress of the White House, Iran has forged a close relationship with the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. The new American policy, in its broad outlines, has been discussed publicly. In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that there is “a new strategic alignment in the Middle East,” separating “reformers” and “extremists”; she pointed to the Sunni states as centers of moderation, and said that Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah were “on the other side of that divide.” (Syria’s Sunni majority is dominated by the Alawi sect.) Iran and Syria, she said, “have made their choice and their choice is to destabilize.” Some of the core tactics of the redirection are not public, however. The clandestine operations have been kept secret, in some cases, by leaving the execution or the funding to the Saudis, or by finding other ways to work around the normal congressional appropriations process, current and former officials close to the Administration said. A senior member of the House Appropriations Committee told me that he had heard about the new strategy, but felt that he and his colleagues had not been adequately briefed. “We haven’t got any of this,” he said. “We ask for anything going on, and they say there’s nothing. And when we ask specific questions they say, ‘We’re going to get back to you.’ It’s so frustrating.” The key players behind the redirection are Vice-President Dick Cheney, the deputy national-security adviser Elliott Abrams, the departing Ambassador to Iraq (and nominee for United Nations Ambassador), Zalmay Khalilzad, and Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi national-security adviser. While Rice has been deeply involved in shaping the public policy, former and current officials said that the clandestine side has been guided by Cheney. (Cheney’s office and the White House declined to comment for this story; the Pentagon did not respond to specific queries but said, “The United States is not planning to go to war with Iran.”) The policy shift has brought Saudi Arabia and Israel into a new strategic embrace, largely because both countries see Iran as an existential threat. They have been involved in direct talks, and the Saudis, who believe that greater stability in Israel and Palestine will give Iran less leverage in the region, have become more involved in Arab-Israeli negotiations. The new strategy “is a major shift in American policy—it’s a sea change,” a U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel said. The Sunni states “were petrified of a Shiite resurgence, and there was growing resentment with our gambling on the moderate Shiites in Iraq,” he said. “We cannot reverse the Shiite gain in Iraq, but we can contain it.” “It seems there has been a debate inside the government over what’s the biggest danger—Iran or Sunni radicals,” Vali Nasr, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, who has written widely on Shiites, Iran, and Iraq, told me. “The Saudis and some in the Administration have been arguing that the biggest threat is Iran and the Sunni radicals are the lesser enemies. This is a victory for the Saudi line.” REFERENCE: ANNALS OF NATIONAL SECURITY THE REDIRECTION Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism? by Seymour M. Hersh MARCH 5, 2007 Efforts to curb Iran’s influence have involved the United States in worsening Sunni-Shiite tensions. A STRATEGIC SHIFT

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