Dog Brothers Public Forum


Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
February 19, 2018, 08:20:34 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Search:     Advanced search
Welcome to the Dog Brothers Public Forum.
107396 Posts in 2403 Topics by 1095 Members
Latest Member: dannysamuel
* Home Help Search Login Register
  Show Posts
Pages: 1 ... 522 523 [524] 525 526 ... 848
26151  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Interesting discussion of the etymology of "Kali" on: May 11, 2011, 12:22:19 PM
26152  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Backgrounder on Syria on: May 11, 2011, 11:51:50 AM


By Reva Bhalla

Syria is clearly in a state of internal crisis. Protests organized on Facebook were quickly stamped out in early February, but by mid-March, a faceless opposition had emerged from the flashpoint city of Daraa in Syria’s largely conservative Sunni southwest. From Daraa, demonstrations spread to the Kurdish northeast, the coastal Latakia area, urban Sunni strongholds in Hama and Homs, and to Aleppo and the suburbs of Damascus. Feeling overwhelmed, the regime experimented with rhetoric on reforms while relying on much more familiar iron-fist methods in cracking down, arresting hundreds of men, cutting off water and electricity to the most rebellious areas, and making clear to the population that, with or without emergency rule in place, the price for dissent does not exclude death. (Activists claim more than 500 civilians have been killed in Syria since the demonstrations began, but that figure has not been independently verified.)

A survey of the headlines would lead many to believe that Syrian President Bashar al Assad will soon be joining Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak in a line of deposed Arab despots. The situation in Syria is serious, but in our view, the crisis has not yet risen to a level that would warrant a forecast that the al Assad regime will fall.

Four key pillars sustain Syria’s minority Alawite-Baathist regime:

Power in the hands of the al Assad clan
Alawite unity
Alawite control over the military-intelligence apparatus
The Baath party’s monopoly on the political system
Though the regime is coming under significant stress, all four of these pillars are still standing. If any one falls, the al Assad regime will have a real existential crisis on its hands. To understand why this is the case, we need to begin with the story of how the Alawites came to dominate modern Syria.

The Rise of the Alawites

Syria’s complex demographics make it a difficult country to rule. It is believed that three-fourths of the country’s roughly 22 million people are Sunnis, including most of the Kurdish minority in the northeast. Given the volatility that generally accompanies sectarianism, Syria deliberately avoids conducting censuses on religious demographics, making it difficult to determine, for example, exactly how big the country’s Alawite minority has grown. Most estimates put the number of Alawites in Syria at around 1.5 million, or close to 7 percent of the population. When combined with Shia and Ismailis, non-Sunni Muslims average around 13 percent. Christians of several variations, including Orthodox and Maronite, make up around 10 percent of the population. The mostly mountain-dwelling Druze make up around 3 percent.

(click here to enlarge image)
Alawite power in Syria is only about five decades old. The Alawites are frequently (and erroneously) categorized as Shia, have many things in common with Christians and are often shunned by Sunnis and Shia alike. Consequently, Alawites attract a great deal of controversy in the Islamic world. The Alawites diverged from the mainstream Twelver of the Imami branch of Shiite Islam in the ninth century under the leadership of Ibn Nusayr (this is why, prior to 1920, Alawites were known more commonly as Nusayris). Their main link to Shiite Islam and the origin of the Alawite name stems from their reverence for the Prophet Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, Ali. The sect is often described as highly secretive and heretical for its rejection of Shariah and of common Islamic practices, including call to prayer, going to mosque for worship, making pilgrimages to Mecca and intolerance for alcohol. At the same time, Alawites celebrate many Christian holidays and revere Christian saints.

Alawites are a fractious bunch, historically divided among rival tribes and clans and split geographically between mountain refuges and plains in rural Syria. The province of Latakia, which provides critical access to the Mediterranean coast, is also the Alawite homeland, ensuring that any Alawite bid for autonomy would be met with stiff Sunni resistance. Historically, for much of the territory that is modern-day Syria, the Alawites represented the impoverished lot in the countryside while the urban-dwelling Sunnis dominated the country’s businesses and political posts. Unable to claim a firm standing among Muslims, Alawites would often embrace the Shiite concept of taqqiya (concealing or assimilating one’s faith to avoid persecution) in dealing with their Sunni counterparts.

Between 1920 and 1946, the French mandate provided the first critical boost to Syria’s Alawite community. In 1920, the French, who had spent years trying to legitimize and support the Alawites against an Ottoman-backed Sunni majority, had the Nusayris change their name to Alawites to emphasize the sect’s connection to the Prophet’s cousin and son-in-law Ali and to Shiite Islam. Along with the Druze and Christians, the Alawites would enable Paris to build a more effective counterweight to the Sunnis in managing the French colonial asset. The lesson here is important. Syria is not simply a mirror reflection of a country like Bahrain, a Shiite majority country run by a minority Sunni government. Rather than exhibiting a clear Sunni-Shiite religious-ideological divide, Syria’s history can be more accurately described as a struggle between the Sunnis on one hand and a group of minorities on the other.

Under the French, the Alawites, along with other minorities, for the first time enjoyed subsidies, legal rights and lower taxes than their Sunni counterparts. Most critically, the French reversed Ottoman designs of the Syrian security apparatus to allow for the influx of Alawites into military, police and intelligence posts to suppress Sunni challenges to French rule. Consequently, the end of the French mandate in 1946 was a defining moment for the Alawites, who by then had gotten their first real taste of the privileged life and were also the prime targets of purges led by the urban Sunni elite presiding over a newly independent Syria.

A Crucial Military Opening

The Sunnis quickly reasserted their political prowess in post-colonial Syria and worked to sideline Alawites from the government, businesses and courts. However, the Sunnis also made a fateful error in overlooking the heavy Alawite presence in the armed forces. While the Sunnis occupied the top posts within the military, the lower ranks were filled by rural Alawites who either could not afford the military exemption fees paid by most of the Sunni elite or simply saw military service as a decent means of employment given limited options. The seed was thus planted for an Alawite-led military coup while the Sunni elite were preoccupied with their own internal struggles.

The second major pillar supporting the Alawite rise came with the birth of the Baath party in Syria in 1947. For economically disadvantaged religious outcasts like Alawites, the Baathist campaign of secularism, socialism and Arab nationalism provided the ideal platform and political vehicle to organize and unify around. At the same time, the Baathist ideology caused huge fissures within the Sunni camp, as many — particularly the Islamists — opposed its secular, social program. In 1963, Baathist power was cemented through a military coup led by President Amin al-Hafiz, a Sunni general, who discharged many ranking Sunni officers, thereby providing openings for hundreds of Alawites to fill top-tier military positions during the 1963-1965 period on the grounds of being opposed to Arab unity. This measure tipped the balance in favor of Alawite officers who staged a coup in 1966 and for the first time placed Damascus in the hands of the Alawites. The 1960s also saw the beginning of a reversal of Syria’s sectarian rural-urban divide, as the Baath party encouraged Alawite migration into the cities to displace the Sunnis.

The Alawites had made their claim to the Syrian state, but internal differences threatened to stop their rise. It was not until 1970 that Alawite rivalries and Syria’s string of coups and counter-coups were put to rest with a bloodless military coup led by then-air force commander and Defense Minister Gen. Hafez al Assad (now deceased) against his Alawite rival, Salah Jadid. Al Assad was the first Alawite leader capable of dominating the fractious Alawite sect. The al Assads, who hail from the Numailatiyyah faction of the al Matawirah tribe (one of four main Alawite tribes), stacked the security apparatus with loyal clansmen while taking care to build patronage networks with Druze and Christian minorities that facilitated the al Assad rise. Just as important, the al Assad leadership co-opted key Sunni military and business elites, relying on notables like former Syrian Defense Minister Mustafa Tlass to contain dissent within the military and Alawite big-business families like the Makhloufs to buy loyalty, or at least tolerance, among a Sunni merchant class that had seen most of its assets seized and redistributed by the state. Meanwhile, the al Assad regime showed little tolerance for religiously conservative Sunnis who refused to remain quiescent. The state took over the administration of religious funding, cracked down on groups deemed as extremist and empowered itself to dismiss the leaders of Friday prayers at will, fueling resentment among the Sunni Islamist class.

In a remarkably short period, the 40-year reign of the al Assad regime has since seen the complete consolidation of power by Syrian Alawites who, just a few decades earlier, were written off by the Sunni majority as powerless, heretical peasants.

A Resilient Regime

For the past four decades, the al Assad regime has carefully maintained these four pillars. The minority-ruled regime has proved remarkably resilient, despite several obstacles.

The regime witnessed its first meaningful backlash by Syria’s Sunni religious class in 1976, when the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood led an insurgency against the state with the aim of toppling the al Assad government. At that time, the Sunni Islamists had the support of many of the Sunni urban elite, but their turn toward jihadism also facilitated their downfall. The regime’s response was the leveling of the Sunni stronghold city of Hama in 1982. The Hama crackdown, which killed tens of thousands of Sunnis and drove the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood underground, remains fresh in the memories of Syrian Brotherhood members today, who have only recently built up the courage to publicly call on supporters to join in demonstrations against the regime. Still, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood lacks the organizational capabilities to resist the regime.

The al Assad regime has also experienced serious threats from within the family. After Hafez al Assad suffered from heart problems in 1983, his younger brother Rifaat, who drew a significant amount of support from the military, attempted a coup against the Syrian leader. None other than the al Assad matriarch, Naissa, mediated between her rival sons and reached a solution by which Rifaat was sent abroad to Paris, where he remains in exile, and Hafez was able to re-secure the loyalty of his troops. The 1994 death of Basil al Assad, brother of current president Bashar and then-heir apparent to a dying Hafez, also posed a significant threat to the unity of the al Assad clan. However, the regime was able to rely on key Sunni stalwarts such as Tlass to rally support within the military for Bashar, who was studying to become an ophthalmologist and had little experience with, or desire to enter, politics.

Even when faced with threats from abroad, the regime has endured. The 1973 Yom Kippur War, the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the 2005 forced Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon may have knocked the regime off balance, but it never sent it over the edge. Syria’s military intervention in the 1975-1990 Lebanese civil war allowed the regime to emerge stronger and more influential than ever through its management of Lebanon’s fractured political landscape, satisfying to a large extent Syria’s strategic need to dominate its western neighbor. Though the regime underwent serious internal strain when the Syrian military was forced out of Lebanon, it did not take long for Syria’s pervasive security-intelligence apparatus to rebuild its clout in the country.

The Current Crisis

The past seven weeks of protests in nearly all corners of Syria have led many to believe that the Syrian regime is on its last legs. However, such assumptions ignore the critical factors that have sustained this regime for decades, the most critical of which is the fact that the regime is still presiding over a military that remains largely unified and committed to putting down the protests with force. Syria cannot be compared to Tunisia, where the army was able quickly to depose an unpopular leader; Libya, where the military rapidly reverted to the country’s east-west historical divide; or Egypt, where the military used the protests to resolve a succession crisis, all while preserving the regime. The Syrian military, as it stands today, is a direct reflection of hard-fought Alawite hegemony over the state.

Syrian Alawites are stacked in the military from both the top and the bottom, keeping the army’s mostly Sunni 2nd Division commanders in check. Of the 200,000 career soldiers in the Syrian army, roughly 70 percent are Alawites. Some 80 percent of officers in the army are also believed to be Alawites. The military’s most elite division, the Republican Guard, led by the president’s younger brother Maher al Assad, is an all-Alawite force. Syria’s ground forces are organized in three corps (consisting of combined artillery, armor and mechanized infantry units). Two corps are led by Alawites (Damascus headquarters, which commands southeastern Syria, and Zabadani headquarters near the Lebanese border). The third is led by a Circassian Sunni from Aleppo headquarters.

Most of Syria’s 300,000 conscripts are Sunnis who complete their two- to three-year compulsory military service and leave the military, though the decline of Syrian agriculture has been forcing more rural Sunnis to remain beyond the compulsory period (a process the regime is tightly monitoring). Even though most of Syria’s air force pilots are Sunnis, most ground support crews are Alawites who control logistics, telecommunications and maintenance, thereby preventing potential Sunni air force dissenters from acting unilaterally. Syria’s air force intelligence, dominated by Alawites, is one of the strongest intelligence agencies within the security apparatus and has a core function of ensuring that Sunni pilots do not rebel against the regime.

The triumvirate managing the crackdowns on protesters consists of Bashar’s brother Maher; their brother-in-law, Asef Shawkat; and Ali Mamluk, the director of Syria’s Intelligence Directorate. Their strategy has been to use Christian and Druze troops and security personnel against Sunni protesters to create a wedge between the Sunnis and the country’s minority groups (Alawites, Druze, Christians), but this strategy also runs the risk of backfiring if sectarianism escalates to the point that the regime can no longer assimilate the broader Syrian community. President al Assad has also quietly called on retired Alawite generals to return to work with him as advisers to help ensure that they do not link up with the opposition.

Given Syria’s sectarian military dynamics, it is not surprising that significant military defections have not occurred during the current crisis. Smaller-scale defections of lower-ranking soldiers and some officers have been reported by activists in the southwest, where the unrest is most intense. These reports have not been verified, but even Syrian activist sources have admitted to STRATFOR that the defectors from the Syrian army’s 5th and 9th divisions are being put down.

A fledgling opposition movement calling itself the “National Initiative for Change” published a statement from Nicosia, Cyprus, appealing to Syrian Minister of Defense Ali Habib (an Alawite) and Army Chief of Staff Daoud Rajha (a Greek Orthodox Christian) to lead the process of political change in Syria, in an apparent attempt to spread the perception that the opposition is making headway in co-opting senior military members of the regime. Rajha replaced Habib as army chief of staff when the latter was relegated to the largely powerless political position of defense minister two years ago. In name, the president’s brother-in-law, Asef Shawkat, is deputy army chief of staff, but in practice, he is the true chief of army staff.

The defections of Rajha and Habib, which remain unlikely at this point, would not necessarily represent a real break within the regime, but if large-scale defections within the military occur, it will be an extremely significant sign that the Alawites are fracturing and thus losing their grip over the armed forces. Without that control, the regime cannot survive. So far, this has not happened.

In many ways, the Alawites are the biggest threat to themselves. Remember, it was not until Hafez al Assad’s 1970 coup that the Alawites were able to put aside their differences and consolidate under one regime. The current crisis could provide an opportunity for rivals within the regime to undermine the president and make a bid for power. All eyes would naturally turn to Bashar’s exiled uncle Rifaat, who attempted a coup against his brother nearly three decades ago. But even Rifaat has been calling on Alawite supporters in Tripoli, in northern Lebanon and in Latakia, Syria, to refrain from joining the demonstrations, stressing that the present period is one in which regimes are being overthrown and that if Bashar falls, the entire Alawite sect will suffer as a result.

While the military and the al Assad clan are holding together, the insulation to the regime provided by the Baath party is starting to come into question. The Baath party is the main political vehicle through which the regime manages its patronage networks, though over the years the al Assad clan and the Alawite community have grown far more in stature than the wider concentric circle of the ruling party. In late April, some 230 Baath party members reportedly resigned from the party in protest. However, the development must also be viewed in context: These were a couple of hundred Baath party members out of a total membership of some 2 million in the country. Moreover, the defectors were concentrated in southern Syria around Daraa, the site of the most severe crackdowns. Though the defections within the Baath party have not risen to a significant level, it is easy to understand the pressure the al Assad regime is under to follow through with a promised reform to expand the political system, since political competition would undermine the Baath party monopoly and thus weaken one of the four legs of the regime.

The Foreign Tolerance Factor

Internally, Alawite unity and control over the military and Baath party loyalty are crucial to the al Assad regime’s staying power. Externally, the Syrian regime is greatly aided by the fact that the regional stakeholders — including Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United States and Iran — by and large prefer to see the al Assads remain in power than deal with the likely destabilizing consequences of regime change.

It is not a coincidence that Israel, with which Syria shares a strong and mutual antipathy, has been largely silent over the Syrian unrest. Already unnerved by what may be in store for Egypt’s political future, Israel has a deep fear of the unknown regarding the Syrians. How, for example, would a conservative Sunni government in Damascus conduct its foreign policy? The real virtue of the Syrian regime lies in its predictability: The al Assad government, highly conscious of its military inferiority to Israel, is far more interested in maintaining its hegemony in Lebanon than in picking fights with Israel. While the al Assad government is a significant patron to Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, among other groups it manages within its Islamist militant supply chain, its support for such groups is also to some extent negotiable, as illustrated most recently by the fruits of Turkey’s negotiations with Damascus in containing Palestinian militant activity and in Syria’s ongoing, albeit strained, negotiations with Saudi Arabia over keeping Hezbollah in check. Israel’s view of Syria is a classic example of the benefits of dealing with the devil you do know rather than the devil you don’t.

The biggest sticking point for each of these regional stakeholders is Syria’s alliance with Iran. The Iranian government has a core interest in maintaining a strong lever in the Levant with which to threaten Israel, and it needs a Syria that stands apart from the Sunni Arab consensus to do so. Though Syria derives a great deal of leverage from its relationship with Iran, Syrian-Iranian interests are not always aligned. In fact, the more confident Syria is at home and in Lebanon, the more likely its interests are to clash with Iran. Shiite politics aside, secular-Baathist Syria and Islamist Iran are not ideological allies nor are they true Shiite brethren — they came together and remain allied for mostly tactical purposes, to counter Sunni forces. In the near term at least, Syria will not be persuaded by Riyadh, Ankara or anyone else to sever ties with Iran in return for a boost in regional support, but it will keep itself open to negotiations. Meanwhile, holding the al Assads in place provides Syria’s neighbors with some assurance that ethno-sectarian tensions already on the rise in the wider region will not lead to the eruption of such fault lines in Turkey (concerned with Kurdish spillover) and Lebanon (a traditional proxy Sunni-Shiite battleground between Iran and Saudi Arabia).

Regional disinterest in pushing for regime change in Syria could be seen even in the April 29 U.N. Human Rights Council meeting to condemn Syria. Bahrain and Jordan did not show up to vote, and Saudi Arabia and Egypt insisted on a watered-down resolution. Saudi Arabia has even quietly instructed the Arab League to avoid discussion of the situation in Syria in the next Arab League meeting, scheduled for mid-May.

Turkey’s Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) has given indications that it is seeking out Sunni alternatives to the al Assad regime for the longer term and is quietly developing a relationship with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. AKP does not have the influence currently to effect meaningful change within Syria, nor does it particularly want to at this time. The Turks remain far more concerned about Kurdish unrest and refugees spilling over into Turkey with just a few weeks remaining before national elections.

Meanwhile, the United States and its NATO allies are struggling to reconcile the humanitarian argument that led to the military intervention with Libya with the situation in Syria. The United States especially does not want to paint itself into a corner with rhetoric that could commit forces to yet another military intervention in the Islamic world — and in a much more complex and volatile part of the region than Libya — and is relying instead on policy actions like sanctions that it hopes exhibit sufficient anger at the crackdowns.

In short, the Syrian regime may be an irritant to many but not a large enough one to compel the regional stakeholders to devote their efforts toward regime change in Damascus.

Hanging on by More Than a Thread

Troubles are no doubt rising in Syria, and the al Assad regime will face unprecedented difficulty in trying to manage affairs at home in the months ahead. That said, it so far has maintained the four pillars supporting its power. The al Assad clan remains unified, the broader Alawite community and its minority allies are largely sticking together, Alawite control over the military is holding and the Baath party’s monopoly remains intact. Alawites appear to be highly conscious of the fact that the first signs of Alawite fracturing in the military and the state overall could lead to the near-identical conditions that led to its own rise — only this time, power would tilt back in favor of the rural Sunni masses and away from the urbanized Alawite elite. So far, this deep-seated fear of a reversal of Alawite power is precisely what is keeping the regime standing. Considering that Alawites were second-class citizens of Syria less than century ago, that memory may be recent enough to remind Syrian Alawites of the consequences of internal dissent. The factors of regime stability outlined here are by no means static, and the stress on the regime is certainly rising. Until those legs show real signs of weakening, however, the al Assad regime has the tools it needs to fight the effects of the Arab Spring.

Read more: Making Sense of the Syrian Crisis | STRATFOR
26153  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Strat: Gas for Israel on: May 11, 2011, 11:44:06 AM

During a meeting between the Israeli and Qatari prime ministers May 8 in London, Doha reportedly offered to sell liquefied natural gas to Israel. The rumored offer comes as Egypt, which supplies Israel with about 40 percent of its natural gas needs, is showing an intention to renegotiate the controversial natural gas deal with Israel that has provided energy to the country at below-market rates. A partnership with Qatar may offer some longer term potential for Israel to reduce its dependence on Egyptian energy, but due to infrastructure limitations, Israel likely will not have any choice but to pay a higher price to Cairo in the interim.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a secret meeting with Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor al-Thani in London on May 8, Ahram Online reported, citing Israel Radio. During the meeting, the Qatari prime minister reportedly expressed Qatar’s willingness to supply Israel with liquefied natural gas (LNG). Israel is becoming increasingly concerned about its energy security amid Egyptian calls to renegotiate the terms of a natural gas deal between the two countries, as well as sporadic attacks on the Egyptian-Israeli natural gas pipeline that have caused two temporary disruptions in delivery since February.

Though Qatar’s offer does have long-term potential to make Israel less dependent on Egyptian energy supplies, in the near term Israel will have little choice but to accede to Cairo’s demands on changes to the natural gas deal.

Egypt currently supplies 40 percent of Israel’s natural gas as part of an agreement signed in 2005. The delivery of natural gas started in May 2008 through an underwater pipeline from the Egyptian city of El Arish on the northern Mediterranean coast to the Israeli port of Ashkelon. The specifics of the deal have long remained unknown, though an addendum was signed to it in 2009 increasing the amount of natural gas exported from 1.7 billion cubic meters (bcm) to 2.1 bcm.

The deal has long been unpopular with the Egyptian public due to the preferential terms under which it sold natural gas to Israel at below-market prices. Following the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, however, the interim government and Supreme Council of the Armed Forces are pushing for a renegotiation of the agreement. Former Oil Minister Sameh Fahmy and five other former officials were detained April 21 for an investigation into the contract. Unconfirmed leaks from the Egyptian Interior Ministry in March indicated that Mubarak’s sons Gamal and Alaa, as well as the former president himself, personally benefited from the deal, which would not be unusual given the nature of the Mubarak regime and Gamal’s extensive ties to businessmen controlling all sectors of the Egyptian economy. By pushing for a revision of the natural gas deal, the Egyptian military aims to both increase its revenue to help pay Egypt’s budget deficit and debt, which could make the Egyptian economy even more vulnerable while it is trying to recover from the ongoing political turmoil, and to legitimize itself in the eyes of the Egyptian public by distancing itself from the former regime. To this end, unnamed Egyptian officials told Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm on May 5 that negotiations with Israel would start by the end of May with the aim of doubling the current price level.

Besides Egyptian demands to revise the current deal, Israeli dependence on Egyptian natural gas is also increasingly questioned due to a series of attacks on the pipeline that twice led to temporary disruptions in supply. The first attack occurred Feb. 5 during the unrest that resulted in Mubarak’s overthrow Feb. 11. Another attempt at sabotage was reportedly thwarted March 27. A second attack succeeded April 27, prompting Israeli officials, such as Israeli National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau, to speak out about Israel’s need to find alternative resources to lessen its dependence on Egypt, including accelerating the development of the recently discovered Tamar and Leviathan offshore natural gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. However, Israel is years away from developing those fields. Therefore, the leak about Netanyahu’s meeting with his Qatari counterpart was likely intended to show Egypt that Israel has other options when it comes to natural gas supply. Qatar is the world’s largest LNG exporter. Even though Israel does not have an LNG import station at present, it announced in February that it would build a floating platform off the northern city of Hadera by the end of 2012.

If the project can be completed as planned, Israel could reduce its dependence on Egyptian natural gas by buying LNG from Qatar, which could be found at lower prices on the spot market. Egypt, for its part, would have a number of options for its reserves: It could still supply Jordan and Syria, two destinations of the Arab Gas Pipeline, with natural gas; it could export natural gas to other clients via LNG facilities; and under a deal signed in March 2006, the pipeline will eventually be extended through Syria to Turkey and Iraq, adding more potential markets. Jordan depends on Egyptian natural gas for 80 percent of its electricity production, so Egypt would likely have a destination for any excess production that had previously been purchased by Israel.

This, however, does not mean that both Egypt and Israel intend to cancel the deal altogether. Egypt and Israel are likely to reach a renewed accommodation that could satisfy Egypt’s demands, at least until Israel develops viable natural gas alternatives. But until that point, Israel has no option but to negotiate a new price with Egypt, and Cairo’s newfound inclination to push for such a renegotiation is a sign of the cooler relations between the two states.

Read more: Israel's Growing Energy Security Concerns | STRATFOR
26154  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: May 11, 2011, 11:41:43 AM
Thank you for keeping this on our radar screen GM
26155  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Security Report on: May 11, 2011, 11:40:53 AM
Gunbattles in Matamoros

A series of gunbattles flared up May 5 in Matamoros, Tamaulipas state, resulting in the emplacement of several cartel roadblocks in and around the city. This is a tactic not typically employed by the Gulf cartel, which controls that territory. One of the battles started in the street in front of the Tamaulipas state police building just before 7:30 a.m. and continued for almost an hour.

According to the state attorney general’s office, the firefights involved federal troops and unidentified cartel gunmen, but there is conflicting information and evidence of a third significant element: Los Zetas. Posts on Internet forums and Twitter describe gunfire and explosions that morning in several areas of Matamoros and along the 50 kilometers (30 miles) of highway between Matamoros and Valle Hermoso. The series of roadblocks included one blockade very near the Matamoros side of the Veterans International Bridge point of entry, which caused a temporary closure of the southbound lanes of the point of entry by U.S. authorities.

What is significant about these events is the use of trailers and vehicles to block roads after the gunbattles, which is a tactic regularly employed by Los Zetas. Matamoros is home turf for the Gulf cartel, and the presence of roadblocks indicates the possibility that the fighting was a significant probe by Los Zetas. Information posted on the Internet by possible witnesses indicated that the battles involved two cartel groups — gunmen connected to Gulf cartel leader Osiel Cardenas Guillen (incarcerated in a U.S. federal penitentiary but known to still be running many Gulf operations via proxies) and a contingent of Zetas gunmen. The placement of the roadblocks after the main battle and the running gunbattle from southern Matamoros to Valle Hermoso make it likely that Zetas gunmen were involved.

Judging from the reported events, and what is known of Zetas tactics, it appears they successfully penetrated the Gulf’s outlying surveillance posts surrounding the city and pushed into central Matamoros, nearly to the U.S. border. Last February, in the last major round of Zetas incursions into Matamoros, the violence remained at a sustained level for a couple of weeks. It is likely that this latest probing action will be followed by a series of battles in the next week or two, and extreme caution should be exercised by anyone conducting business in the region.

Arrests in Mexico City

Federal authorities arrested Jose Efrain Zarco Cardenas and another suspect May 7 in Mexico City. Zarco Cardenas was the latest leader of the Independent Cartel of Acapulco (CIDA), and according to Mexican media reports he was restructuring CIDA and working to forge alliances with the Gulf cartel and the hybrid group La Familia Michoacana/Knights Templar. Media reports also suggest that Zarco Cardenas may have been headed to Reynosa, Tamaulipas, to acquire weapons, drugs and/or money from the Gulf cartel.

Despite its name, CIDA’s area of influence stretches beyond the local Acapulco area. STRATFOR sources recently indicated that CIDA has as many as 180 gunmen in Morelos state distributed in three groups and covering a triangular region about 65 kilometers south of Mexico City, with the triangle’s corners centered on the cities of Cuernavaca, Cuautla and Amacuzac.

The arrest and possible incarceration of CIDA’s leader could further destabilize the cartel, but not enough is known about its membership to rule out the possibility that it can withstand the loss. Given the group’s shaky footing in the Pacific coast areas of Guerrero and southern Michoacan states, where it has been marginalized, CIDA’s apparently strong presence in the triangular area south of Mexico City may be the result of an effort to rebuild its membership and strength. This could mean a CIDA resurgence over the next three to six months, and if that occurs we will expect to see the group try to re-establish itself in strength in the Acapulco seaport area.

Firefight on Falcon Lake

A firefight reportedly occurred the afternoon of May 9 on Falcon Lake, which straddles the U.S.-Mexico border between Laredo and McAllen, Texas. Although few details have emerged about the incident, a Mexican navy patrol on the lake apparently encountered a group of Zetas gunmen on an island about 3.5 kilometers from Nueva Ciudad Guerrero. A gunbattle began, and marines reportedly were called in to reinforce the navy patrol. It is unclear whether any gunmen were captured, though 12 gunmen and one marine reportedly were killed. Mexican forces seized 19 firearms, including a Barrett .50-caliber sniper rifle and a 5.56 mm light machine gun.

STRATFOR’s initial take on the significance of this event is that Los Zetas appear once again to have ramped up their marijuana-smuggling operations across Falcon Lake. Following the shooting of David Hartley in September 2010, there was an increase in law enforcement and military patrolling of the lake on both sides of the border, and it was apparent that Zetas operations had withdrawn while the organization lay low. Now Los Zetas appear to be using the islands again, in the same area of the lake where they were last summer when they encountered the Hartleys (who reportedly were sightseeing at the Old Guerrero church ruins). The area is remote, with few residents, and Los Zetas need more smuggling routes to increase revenue in order to buy more weapons and train more gunmen. With hot weather setting in, the increasing number of U.S. citizens plying the lake in watercraft should heed the warnings and stay well away from border buoys and not venture anywhere near the Mexican side.

(click here to view interactive map)

May 2

Soldiers in the La Hacienda neighborhood of Apodaca, Nuevo Leon state, chased and killed two suspected cartel gunmen in a car. A third gunman reportedly escaped, leaving behind a suitcase full of ammunition.
Security forces arrested nine suspected members of the Cartel Nueva Generacion in the municipality of Tequila, Jalisco state. The men were arrested with 17 firearms, four bulletproof vests, 14 radios and approximately 4,140 rounds of ammunition.
Local residents found the body of a man wrapped in a blanket in the Jardines de la Silla neighborhood of Juarez, Nuevo Leon state. The victim had been shot in the head.
A group of unidentified gunmen shot and killed a police officer, injured two others and stole seven firearms from municipal police officers during three separate incidents in the municipality of Acapulco, Guerrero state.

May 3

Police found four decapitated bodies in an abandoned car in the San Antonio neighborhood of Cuautitlan Izcalli, Mexico state. A message was left near the victims’ severed heads saying they were murdered for “working with the H and the CC.” In the place of a signature on the message were three question marks. Reports indicated that the message came from Cartel del Centro.
Police found the bodies of four men who had been shot to death in the town of Tablillas San Dimas, Durango state.

May 4

Unidentified gunmen kidnapped three highway patrol officers in Linares, Nuevo Leon state. Three gunmen were reportedly killed in the incident.
Workers at a department store in Chilpancingo, Guerrero state, discovered a dismembered body in the store parking lot. A message attributing the crime to “El Sapo Guapo,” an alleged local leader of La Familia Michoacana, was found near plastic bags containing the body parts.
The Public Security Secretariat announced that federal police officers freed 16 migrants being held hostage in Reynosa, Tamaulipas state.
Unidentified gunmen in Nezahualcoyotl, Mexico state, shot and killed two police officers in a drive-by shooting. The content of a message found near the officers’ bodies was not reported.

May 5

Unidentified gunmen in Matamoros, Tamaulipas state, used stolen vehicles to block several roads, including Pedro Cardenas, Sendero Nacional, Canales, Sexta, Portes Gil and the Ignacio Zaragoza International Bridge.
The decapitated body of a man wrapped in plastic bags was found in the Ciudad Cuauhtemoc neighborhood of Ecatepec, Mexico state. The victim’s head was found a short distance from the body.
Unidentified gunmen wearing uniforms similar to those worn by federal police officers shot and killed two men and two women travelling in a car in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state. The victims were shot after a brief chase.
Police in Pachuca, Hidalgo state, arrested 20 people, including five police officers, for alleged links to Los Zetas.
Soldiers arrested 23 police officers in Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon state, for alleged links to organized crime.

May 6

Unidentified gunmen travelling in two vehicles shot and killed six people outside a taco stand in the municipality of Ebano, San Luis Potosi state.
Soldiers in the Nuevo Leon Estado de Progreso and Agropecuario neighborhoods of Escobedo, Nuevo Leon state, freed nine people held hostage and killed one suspected cartel gunman. Two other suspects were arrested during the raid. The soldiers had been searching for gunmen believed to be responsible for a firefight in Escobedo earlier in the day.
Authorities found the decapitated body of a man wrapped in a blanket in the El Refugio neighborhood of Durango, Durango state. The victim’s head was found in a different location.
Federal police arrested Jose Efrain Zarco Cardenas, the leader of the Independent Cartel of Acapulco, in Mexico City along with another suspect.

May 7

Soldiers in the municipality of Poncitlan, Jalisco state, seized approximately 720 kilograms (1,600 pounds) of methamphetamine and more than 3,000 liters (800 gallons) of chemicals at a drug lab.
Unidentified gunmen opened fire in a seafood restaurant in Mazatlan, Sinaloa state, killing a man and injuring a woman.
Federal police officers in Reynosa, Tamaulipas state, stopped a pickup truck for speeding and discovered that two Guatemalans traveling in the vehicle had no identity documents. The people in the vehicle led police to a house from which 16 migrants were seized.

May 8

Unidentified gunmen shot and killed the former deputy director of prevention and social re-adaptation in Acapulco, Guerrero state.
Unidentified gunmen traveling in two vehicles shot and killed a prison guard in the San Ignacio neighborhood of Durango, Durango state.
26156  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ox thanks to Al Gore on: May 11, 2011, 11:35:33 AM
26157  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DBMA Training Camp August 12-14 on: May 11, 2011, 11:34:24 AM
In the Hermosa Beach area with Guro Crafty.  Details soon.
26158  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Stealth Helicopter that crashed in Afpakia on: May 11, 2011, 10:14:42 AM
Hi, I’m Fred Burton with STRATFOR, and in this week’s Above the Tearline we are going to take a look at the stealth helicopter that crashed at the safe house hiding Osama bin Laden.

Numerous media sources have reported that the stealth helicopter was a modified Blackhawk. Having said that, we have no independent confirmation as to whether or not it was a Blackhawk. Our sources are indicating that the stealth helicopter has been operational for a good four years, predominantly flying special operations missions only at night.

In looking at the design of the helicopter wreckage from the bin Laden safe house, it carries many of the characteristics that you would typically see on the stealth bomber and aircraft that is flying today. The design of the helicopter is one that is masked to reduce its radar signature as well as dampen the noise from the rotors. And it’s our understanding that the aircraft was designed for that specific purpose, meaning special operations missions to be handled at night behind enemy lines for the sole purpose of masking its approach to an attack site. From a person I talked to who has flown in one of these stealth helicopters, the helicopter has been described as amazingly quiet in the air, and the noise is much like an outdoor air conditioner next to your house in the dead of the summer.

The helicopter was flown out of the 160th at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and certainly explains why President Obama made the visit to personally recognize the flight crews.

Our aviation sources close to the operation advise that the stealth helicopter crashed due to a brown out. In essence, as the helicopter approached, with the pilot utilizing night vision goggles, the dust and the dirt of the compound created an atmosphere which caused the pilot to set down the helicopter on the wall. After the helicopter crashed, a front portion, the cockpit area, was blown up by special operations SEALS while they were departing with bin Laden’s body.

Having done a lot of aircraft investigations in my past, one of the things you will notice is, the Pakistanis lost control of the crash site. At this point it’s unclear how much of the wreckage has already been lost that potentially could show up on the black market or in the hands of a nation-state that would be fascinated to learn the technology used in order to enter and exit Pakistani airspace without getting caught.

The “Above the Tearline” aspect of this video is the fact that we have been flying this stealth helicopter for four years is a remarkable achievement, and the fact that there had been no leaks until the pictures of the helicopter next to safe house surfaced.

26159  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Feds getting out of big mortgages on: May 11, 2011, 08:24:35 AM
MONTEREY, Calif. — By summer’s end, buyers and sellers in some of the country’s most upscale housing markets are slated to lose one their biggest benefactors: the deep pockets of the federal government. In this seaside community of pricey homes, the dread of yet another housing shock is already spreading.

“We’re looking at more price drops, more foreclosures,” said Rick Del Pozzo, a loan broker. “This snowball that’s been rolling downhill is going to pick up some speed.”
For the last three years, federal agencies have backed new mortgages as large as $729,750 in desirable neighborhoods in high-cost states like California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Without the government covering the risk of default, many lenders would have refused to make the loans. With the economy in free fall, Congress broadened its traditionally generous support of housing to a substantial degree.

But now Democrats and Republicans agree that the taxpayer should no longer be responsible for homes valued well above the national average, and are about to turn a top slice of the housing market into a testing ground for whether the private mortgage market can once again go it alone. The result, analysts say, will be higher-cost loans and fewer potential buyers for more expensive homes.

Michael S. Barr, a former assistant Treasury secretary, said the federal government’s retrenchment would be painful for many communities. “There’s always going to be a line, and for the person just over it it’s always going to be an arbitrary line,” said Mr. Barr, who teaches at the University of Michigan Law School. “But there is no entitlement to living in a home that costs $750,000.”

As the housing market braces for more trouble, homeowners everywhere have been reduced to hoping things will someday stop getting worse. In some areas, foreclosures are the only thing selling. New home construction is nearly nonexistent. And CoreLogic, a data company, said Tuesday that house prices fell 7.5 percent over the last year.

The federal government last year backed nine out of 10 new mortgages nationwide, and losses from soured loans are still mounting. Fannie Mae, which buys mortgages from lenders and packages them for investors, said last week it needed an additional $6.2 billion in aid, bringing the cost of its rescue to nearly $100 billion.

Getting the government out of the mortgage business, however, is proving much more difficult than doling out new benefits. As regulators prepare to drop the level at which they will guarantee loans — here in Monterey County, the level will drop by a third to $483,000 — buyers and sellers are wondering why they should be punished simply for living in an expensive region.

Sellers worry that the pool of potential buyers will shrink. “I’m glad to see they’re trying to rein in Fannie Mae, but I think I’m being disproportionately penalized,” said Rayn Random, who is trying to sell her house in the hills for $849,000 so she can move to Florida.

Buyers might face less competition in the fall but are likely to see more demands from lenders, including higher credit scores and larger down payments. Steve McNally, a hotel manager from Vancouver, said he had only about 20 percent to put down on a new home in Monterey County.

If a bigger deposit were required, Mr. McNally said, “I’d wait and rent.”

Even those who bought ahead of the changes, scheduled to take effect Sept. 30, worry about the effect on values. Greg Peterson recently purchased a house in Monterey for $700,000. “That doesn’t get you a palace,” said Mr. Peterson, a flight attendant.

He qualified for government insurance, which meant he needed only a small down payment. If that option is not available in the future, he said, “home prices all around me will plummet.”

The National Association of Realtors, 8,000 of whom have gathered in Washington this week for their midyear legislative meeting, is making an extension of the loan guarantees a top lobbying priority.


Page 2 of 2)

“Reducing the limits will put more downward pressure on prices,” said the N.A.R. president, Ron Phipps. “I just don’t think it makes a lot of sense.” But he said that in contrast to last year, when a one-year extension of the higher limits sailed through Congress, “there’s more resistance.”

Federal regulators acknowledge that mortgages will get more expensive in upscale neighborhoods but say the effect of the smaller guarantees on the overall housing market will be muted.
A Federal Housing Administration spokeswoman declined to comment but pointed to the Obama administration’s position paper on reforming the housing market. “Larger loans for more expensive homes will once again be funded only through the private market,” it declares.

Brokers and agents here in Monterey said terms were much tougher for nonguaranteed loans since lenders were so wary. Borrowers are required to come up with down payments of 30 percent or more while showing greater assets, higher credit ratings and lower debt-to-income ratios.

In the Federal Reserve’s quarterly survey of lenders, released last week, only two of the 53 banks said their credit standards for prime residential mortgages had eased. Another two said they had tightened. The other 49 said their standards were the same — tough.

The Mortgage Bankers Association has opposed letting the limits drop, although a spokesman said its members were studying the issue.

“I don’t want to sugarcoat this,” said Mr. Barr, the former Treasury official. “The housing finance system of the future will be one in which borrowers pay more.”

The loan limits were $417,000 everywhere in the country before the economy swooned in 2008. The new limits will be determined by various formulas, including the median price in the county, but will not fall back to their precrisis levels. In many affected counties, the loan limit will fall about 15 percent, to $625,500.

Monterey County, however, will see a much greater drop. The county is really two housing markets: the farming city of Salinas and the more affluent Monterey and Carmel.

Real estate records show that 462 loans were made in Monterey County between the current limit and the new ceiling since the beginning of 2009, according to the research firm DataQuick. That was only about 1 percent of the loans made in the county. But it was a much higher percentage for Monterey and Carmel — about a quarter of their sales.

Heidi Daunt, with Treehouse Mortgage, said loans too large for a government guarantee currently carried interest rates of at least 6 percent, more than a point higher than government-backed loans.

“That can definitely blow a lot of people out of the water,” Ms. Daunt said.
26160  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Tench Coxe, 1787 on: May 11, 2011, 08:02:56 AM
"As our president bears no resemblance to a king so we shall see the Senate has no similitude to nobles. First, not being hereditary, their collective knowledge, wisdom, and virtue are not precarious. For by these qualities alone are they to obtain their offices, and they will have none of the peculiar qualities and vices of those men who possess power merely because their father held it before them." --Tench Coxe, An American Citizen, No. 2, 1787

26161  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Doubts cloud future on: May 11, 2011, 07:47:35 AM
Doubts Cloud Future of U.S.-China Relations

The third round of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue between the United States and China started May 9. Cabinet-level officials on both sides emphasized that cooperation in all categories is strong and growing. They credited the January meeting between Presidents Barack Obama and Hu Jintao with establishing a new period of warm relations. Both sides expressed confidence that disagreements on everything from economic policy to human rights can be overcome.

Yet the optimistic tone seems to rise in proportion with the deepening of doubts in the relationship. Most recently, events in South Asia have complicated matters. While the United States achieved a victory in killing Osama bin Laden, the event has clouded its relations with Pakistan. China and Pakistan are historical and contemporary allies with mutual antagonism toward India. While China has no trouble formally applauding the death of bin Laden — and using it to highlight its concerns about the East Turkestan Islamic Movement — it is shocked at the Americans’ open criticism of Pakistan in the aftermath. U.S. actions have stirred up public anger in Pakistan in a way that would seem to pose unnecessary risks to U.S.-Pakistani relations and regional stability. China senses that U.S. foreign policy is shifting in important ways.

When the terrorist attacks of 9/11 occurred, the United States and China were in the midst of rocky relations symbolized by the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade and the EP-3 incident in Hainan. China supported America’s new war on terrorism, sensing an opportunity to crack down on militants in its far west and to enjoy Washington’s refocusing on a different region. China also lent Pakistan assistance as the latter withdrew support for the Taliban to assist the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, and Beijing pledged to support U.S. counterterrorism efforts as long as the United States reciprocated. This arrangement served as a basis for new cooperation.

“The very topics to be included in the strategic security talks read like a list of the new threats the two countries pose to each other: nuclear proliferation, missile defense, cyber-security, and the militarization of space.”
As the United States waded deeper into Afghanistan and Iraq, China faced a period of extraordinary opportunity. Beijing had just joined the World Trade Organization and benefited from having the doors to export markets flung open during a global credit boom. Although Washington complained about China’s delays on economic liberalization, Beijing found that a little currency appreciation, along with other adjustments here and there, was enough to fend off American pressure so long as Washington was embroiled in crises in the Middle East.

The arrangement began to weaken toward the end of the decade. Fast-growing China, emboldened by the global economic crisis in 2008, began to test the waters in its region to see where its rising clout would give it greater bargaining power. Meanwhile, the United States began to see that its relative neglect of the Asia-Pacific region had opened up a space that China was seeking to fill. Washington declared its return to the region in 2009, but it has not yet been able to put much effort behind the initiative. China enjoyed a bout of assertiveness in its periphery, provoking a U.S. backlash. By 2010 the situation had grown bleaker than it had been for a long time.

This is the context in which Obama and Hu relaxed tensions in January 2011, an arrangement that appears to be holding for now. China’s yuan is rising and Beijing is cooperating on North Korea. Washington remains preoccupied with foreign wars and domestic troubles and is not willing to confront Beijing. Meanwhile, the two are making economic trade-offs. Both sides recognize underlying pressures but point to the strategic and economic talks as a means of containing their disagreements. They are specifically talking up the new “strategic security” dialogue as a way to bring top military leaders into the civilian dialogue. Washington hopes the dialogue will provide a forum that will eliminate the problems arising from the intermittent military communication and mixed signals sent from China’s military and civilian leaders.

Despite efforts to manage tensions and delay confrontation, the relationship looks set to deteriorate. The very topics to be included in the strategic security talks read like a list of the new threats the two countries pose to each other: nuclear proliferation, missile defense, cyber-security and the militarization of space.

On a deeper level, bin Laden’s death is a harbinger of the coming U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. This move will leave China with the burden of suppressing militancy and helping Pakistan do the same. While the United States prods Beijing over the implications of Arab popular unrest for the future of China’s political system, Beijing points to the threat of instability in the Persian Gulf, hoping to prolong China’s strategic opportunity — and mitigate threats to its oil supplies — by keeping Washington preoccupied there. China sees American commitment waning in the Middle East and South Asia and worries that its priorities will next shift to containing China’s rise.

China is an emerging power attempting to expand its influence into a large space where it has not felt challenged for more than a decade. But ultimately the United States views the Asia-Pacific theater as one critical to its global strategy and to the naval supremacy it forged in the fires of World War II. The two countries have yet to settle their spheres of influence in this region, and dialogue alone will not accomplish such delineation. When U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S.-China dialogue should “demystify long-term plans and aspirations,” she meant the United States wants to make sure that China does not seek regional hegemony. Washington is bound to try to undercut any such claimant. In other words, since U.S. hegemony is not vanishing, the “demystifying” is up to Beijing.

None of this is to say the United States and China cannot cooperate further. Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo struck a sincere tone May 9 when he recalled that 2011 is the 40th anniversary of the United States and China’s “ping-pong diplomacy” — the ice-breaker that allowed for detente during the Cold War. Dai said the only reason for a 70-year-old like himself to engage in diplomacy is to make sure this detente continues into the future. However, Dai’s comments also called attention to the generational change sweeping China’s leadership and the doubts about the durability of the Sino-American Cold War arrangement. In this context, Clinton’s talk of “forward-deployed diplomacy” — in this case, re-engagement in the Asia-Pacific — made for a stark contrast that underlined the doubts.

26162  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: May 14-15: "Dog Brothers Tribal Gathering of the Pack" on: May 10, 2011, 08:37:57 PM
Hum , , , who will be our EMT?  Frankfurter?

Location:  Will be about ten minutes from the usual location.  I think everyone will be very pleased.  Tomorrow (remember "tomorrow" means "not today") I will get the URL of the location so I can send it to all concerned.  Also, we are looking at caravaning from the park. 
26163  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Bin Laden dead on: May 10, 2011, 08:35:00 PM
A Hollywood movie that often about a rogue CIA being challenged by a rogue (e.g. the Bourne trillogy) or evil white racists (e.g. the Clancy movie that changed the bad guys from Islamo Fascists in the book to , , , somebody white, I forget who)  but never about the evils of Stalin, Marxism, the oppressions of the Soviet Empire blah blah
26164  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Beyond OBL on: May 10, 2011, 03:23:35 PM

There are assertions in here which are not self-apparent to me; regardless it is a thought provoking piece:

U.S.-Pakistani Relations Beyond Bin Laden
May 10, 2011

By George Friedman

The past week has been filled with announcements and speculations on how Osama bin Laden was killed and on Washington’s source of intelligence. After any operation of this sort, the world is filled with speculation on sources and methods by people who don’t know, and silence or dissembling by those who do.

Obfuscating on how intelligence was developed and on the specifics of how an operation was carried out is an essential part of covert operations. The precise process must be distorted to confuse opponents regarding how things actually played out; otherwise, the enemy learns lessons and adjusts. Ideally, the enemy learns the wrong lessons, and its adjustments wind up further weakening it. Operational disinformation is the final, critical phase of covert operations. So as interesting as it is to speculate on just how the United States located bin Laden and on exactly how the attack took place, it is ultimately not a fruitful discussion. Moreover, it does not focus on the truly important question, namely, the future of U.S.-Pakistani relations.

Posturing Versus a Genuine Breach
It is not inconceivable that Pakistan aided the United States in identifying and capturing Osama bin Laden, but it is unlikely. This is because the operation saw the already-tremendous tensions between the two countries worsen rather than improve. The Obama administration let it be known that it saw Pakistan as either incompetent or duplicitous and that it deliberately withheld plans for the operation from the Pakistanis. For their part, the Pakistanis made it clear that further operations of this sort on Pakistani territory could see an irreconcilable breach between the two countries. The attitudes of the governments profoundly affected the views of politicians and the public, attitudes that will be difficult to erase.

Posturing designed to hide Pakistani cooperation would be designed to cover operational details, not to lead to significant breaches between countries. The relationship between the United States and Pakistan ultimately is far more important than the details of how Osama bin Laden was captured, but both sides have created a tense atmosphere that they will find difficult to contain. One would not sacrifice strategic relationships for the sake of operational security. Therefore, we have to assume that the tension is real and revolves around the different goals of Pakistan and the United States.

A break between the United States and Pakistan holds significance for both sides. For Pakistan, it means the loss of an ally that could help Pakistan fend off its much larger neighbor to the east, India. For the United States, it means the loss of an ally in the war in Afghanistan. Whether the rupture ultimately occurs, of course, depends on how deep the tension goes. And that depends on what the tension is over, i.e., whether the tension ultimately merits the strategic rift. It also is a question of which side is sacrificing the most. It is therefore important to understand the geopolitics of U.S.-Pakistani relations beyond the question of who knew what about bin Laden.

From Cold to Jihadist War
U.S. strategy in the Cold War included a religious component, namely, using religion to generate tension within the Communist bloc. This could be seen in the Jewish resistance in the Soviet Union, in Roman Catholic resistance in Poland and, of course, in Muslim resistance to the Soviets in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, it took the form of using religious Islamist militias to wage a guerrilla war against Soviet occupation. A three-part alliance involving the Saudis, the Americans and the Pakistanis fought the Soviets. The Pakistanis had the closest relationships with the Afghan resistance due to ethnic and historical bonds, and the Pakistani intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), had built close ties with the Afghans.

As frequently happens, the lines of influence ran both ways. The ISI did not simply control Islamist militants, but instead many within the ISI came under the influence of radical Islamist ideology. This reached the extent that the ISI became a center of radical Islamism, not so much on an institutional level as on a personal level: The case officers, as the phrase goes, went native. As long as the U.S. strategy remained to align with radical Islamism against the Soviets, this did not pose a major problem. However, when the Soviet Union collapsed and the United States lost interest in the future of Afghanistan, managing the conclusion of the war fell to the Afghans and to the Pakistanis through the ISI. In the civil war that followed the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, the United States played a trivial role. It was the ISI in alliance with the Taliban — a coalition of Afghan and international Islamist fighters who had been supported by the United States, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan — that shaped the future of Afghanistan.

The U.S.- Islamist relationship was an alliance of convenience for both sides. It was temporary, and when the Soviets collapsed, Islamist ideology focused on new enemies, the United States chief among them. Anti-Soviet sentiment among radical Islamists soon morphed into anti-American sentiment. This was particularly true after the Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait and Desert Storm. The Islamists perceived the U.S. occupation and violation of Saudi territorial integrity as a religious breach. Therefore, at least some elements of international Islamism focused on the United States; al Qaeda was central among these elements. Al Qaeda needed a base of operations after being expelled from Sudan, and Afghanistan provided the most congenial home. In moving to Afghanistan and allying with the Taliban, al Qaeda inevitably was able to greatly expand its links with Pakistan’s ISI, which was itself deeply involved with the Taliban.

After 9/11, Washington demanded that the Pakistanis aid the United States in its war against al Qaeda and the Taliban. For Pakistan, this represented a profound crisis. On the one hand, Pakistan badly needed the United States to support it against what it saw as its existential enemy, India. On the other hand, Islamabad found it difficult to rupture or control the intimate relationships, ideological and personal, that had developed between the ISI and the Taliban, and by extension with al Qaeda to some extent. In Pakistani thinking, breaking with the United States could lead to strategic disaster with India. However, accommodating the United States could lead to unrest, potential civil war and even collapse by energizing elements of the ISI and supporters of Taliban and radical Islamism in Pakistan.

The Pakistani Solution
The Pakistani solution was to appear to be doing everything possible to support the United States in Afghanistan, with a quiet limit on what that support would entail. That limit on support set by Islamabad was largely defined as avoiding actions that would trigger a major uprising in Pakistan that could threaten the regime. Pakistanis were prepared to accept a degree of unrest in supporting the war but not to push things to the point of endangering the regime.

The Pakistanis thus walked a tightrope between demands they provide intelligence on al Qaeda and Taliban activities and permit U.S. operations in Pakistan on one side and the internal consequences of doing so on the other. The Pakistanis’ policy was to accept a degree of unrest to keep the Americans supporting Pakistan against India, but only to a point. So, for example, the government purged the ISI of its overt supporters of radial Islamism, but it did not purge the ISI wholesale nor did it end informal relations between purged intelligence officers and the ISI. Pakistan thus pursued a policy that did everything to appear to be cooperative while not really meeting American demands.

The Americans were, of course, completely aware of the Pakistani limits and did not ultimately object to this arrangement. The United States did not want a coup in Islamabad, nor did it want massive civil unrest. The United States needed Pakistan on whatever terms the Pakistanis could provide help. It needed the supply line through Pakistan from Karachi to the Khyber Pass. And while it might not get complete intelligence from Pakistan, the intelligence it did get was invaluable. Moreover, while the Pakistanis could not close the Afghan Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan, they could limit them and control their operation to some extent. The Americans were as aware as the Pakistanis that the choice was between full and limited cooperation, but could well be between limited and no cooperation, because the government might well not survive full cooperation. The Americans thus took what they could get.

Obviously, this relationship created friction. The Pakistani position was that the United States had helped create this reality in the 1980s and 1990s. The American position was that after 9/11, the price of U.S. support involved the Pakistanis changing their policies. The Pakistanis said there were limits. The Americans agreed, so the fight was about defining the limits.

The Americans felt that the limit was support for al Qaeda. They felt that whatever Pakistan’s relationship with the Afghan Taliban was, support in suppressing al Qaeda, a separate organization, had to be absolute. The Pakistanis agreed in principle but understood that the intelligence on al Qaeda flowed most heavily from those most deeply involved with radical Islamism. In others words, the very people who posed the most substantial danger to Pakistani stability were also the ones with the best intelligence on al Qaeda — and therefore, fulfilling the U.S. demand in principle was desirable. In practice, it proved difficult for Pakistan to carry out.

The Breakpoint and the U.S. Exit From Afghanistan
This proved the breakpoint between the two sides. The Americans accepted the principle of Pakistani duplicity, but drew a line at al Qaeda. The Pakistanis understood American sensibilities but didn’t want to incur the domestic risks of going too far. This psychological breakpoint cracked open on Osama bin Laden, the Holy Grail of American strategy and the third rail of Pakistani policy.

Under normal circumstances, this level of tension of institutionalized duplicity should have blown the U.S.-Pakistani relationship apart, with the United States simply breaking with Pakistan. It did not, and likely will not for a simple geopolitical reason, one that goes back to the 1990s. In the 1990s, when the United States no longer needed to support an intensive covert campaign in Afghanistan, it depended on Pakistan to manage Afghanistan. Pakistan would have done this anyway because it had no choice: Afghanistan was Pakistan’s backdoor, and given tensions with India, Pakistan could not risk instability in its rear. The United States thus did not have to ask Pakistan to take responsibility for Afghanistan.

The United States is now looking for an exit from Afghanistan. Its goal, the creation of a democratic, pro-American Afghanistan able to suppress radical Islamism in its own territory, is unattainable with current forces — and probably unattainable with far larger forces. Gen. David Petraeus, the architect of the Afghan strategy, has been nominated to become the head of the CIA. With Petraeus departing from the Afghan theater, the door is open to a redefinition of Afghan strategy. Despite Pentagon doctrines of long wars, the United States is not going to be in a position to engage in endless combat in Afghanistan. There are other issues in the world that must be addressed. With bin Laden’s death, a plausible (if not wholly convincing) argument can be made that the mission in AfPak, as the Pentagon refers to the theater, has been accomplished, and therefore the United States can withdraw.

No withdrawal strategy is conceivable without a viable Pakistan. Ideally, Pakistan would be willing to send forces into Afghanistan to carry out U.S. strategy. This is unlikely, as the Pakistanis don’t share the American concern for Afghan democracy, nor are they prepared to try directly to impose solutions in Afghanistan. At the same time, Pakistan can’t simply ignore Afghanistan because of its own national security issues, and therefore it will move to stabilize it.

The United States could break with Pakistan and try to handle things on its own in Afghanistan, but the supply line fueling Afghan fighting runs through Pakistan. The alternatives either would see the United States become dependent on Russia — an equally uncertain line of supply — or on the Caspian route, which is insufficient to supply forces. Afghanistan is war at the end of the Earth for the United States, and to fight it, Washington must have Pakistani supply routes.

The United States also needs Pakistan to contain, at least to some extent, Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan. The United States is stretched to the limit doing what it is doing in Afghanistan. Opening a new front in Pakistan, a country of 180 million people, is well beyond the capabilities of either forces in Afghanistan or forces in the U.S. reserves. Therefore, a U.S. break with Pakistan threatens the logistical foundation of the war in Afghanistan and poses strategic challenges U.S. forces cannot cope with.

The American option might be to support a major crisis between Pakistan and India to compel Pakistan to cooperate with the United States. However, it is not clear that India is prepared to play another round in the U.S. game with Pakistan. Moreover, creating a genuine crisis between India and Pakistan could have two outcomes. The first involves the collapse of Pakistan, which would create an India more powerful than the United States might want. The second and more likely outcome would see the creation of a unity government in Pakistan in which distinctions between secularists, moderate Islamists and radical Islamists would be buried under anti-Indian feeling. Doing all of this to deal with Afghan withdrawal would be excessive, even if India played along, and could well prove disastrous for Washington.

Ultimately, the United States cannot change its policy of the last 10 years. During that time, it has come to accept what support the Pakistanis could give and tolerated what was withheld. U.S. dependence on Pakistan so long as Washington is fighting in Afghanistan is significant; the United States has lived with Pakistan’s multitiered policy for a decade because it had to. Nothing in the capture of bin Laden changes the geopolitical realities. So long as the United States wants to wage — or end — a war in Afghanistan, it must have the support of Pakistan to the extent that Pakistan is prepared to provide support. The option of breaking with Pakistan because on some level it is acting in opposition to American interests does not exist.

This is the ultimate contradiction in U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and even the so-called war on terror as a whole. The United States has an absolute opposition to terrorism and has waged a war in Afghanistan on the questionable premise that the tactic of terrorism can be defeated, regardless of source or ideology. Broadly fighting terrorism requires the cooperation of the Muslim world, as U.S. intelligence and power is inherently limited. The Muslim world has an interest in containing terrorism, but not the absolute concern the United States has. Muslim countries are not prepared to destabilize their countries in service to the American imperative. This creates deeper tensions between the United States and the Muslim world and increases the American difficulty in dealing with terrorism — or with Afghanistan.

The United States must either develop the force and intelligence to wage war without any assistance — which is difficult to imagine given the size of the Muslim world and the size of the U.S. military — or it will have to accept half-hearted support and duplicity. Alternatively, it could accept that it will not win in Afghanistan and will not be able simply to eliminate terrorism. These are difficult choices, but the reality of Pakistan drives home that these, in fact, are the choices.

26165  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: US-China Strategic Dialogue on: May 10, 2011, 02:28:03 PM
The United States and China began the third Strategic and Economic Dialogue since the Obama administration took office. The range of topics is expanding, and both sides are maintaining the warm relations that they began in the beginning of the year. But the underlying strains on the relationship are very much present and can burst forward at any point.

What’s new to this round of dialogue is that the two sides will initiate a strategic security track of dialogue, which China has just agreed to. This was an American proposal to discuss defense and military matters alongside the normal foreign affairs and economic and financial matters that are discussed at the Strategic and Economic Dialogue. Now the reason this is important is because the U.S. and China have a really irregular past when it comes to sharing information and communicating on their military. Now they’ll be able to broach topics like nuclear disarmament or missile defense or general naval issues and questions about how China intends to use its growing military power in the region. And these topics will be discussed in a format that perhaps could become more regular, although it’s really hard to say; typically, China cuts off military-to-military communications when the U.S. sells a new arms package to Taiwan. Perhaps the hope is that by initiating a new track of strategic security dialogue, that irregularity can be put to an end and they’ll have a consistent means of communicating on the really tricky defense matters that these two countries face, especially going forward.

Now the next point is the economic and financial issues. Looking at the Chinese yuan, this as always is a major topic of discussion. The United States is going to be pressing for China to appreciate its currency faster against the dollar. The yuan has risen by about 5 percent over the past year and the U.S. is glad to see movement there. But at the same time it’s clear that this movement isn’t really very comparable to what’s happened with other currencies, such as the Japanese yen, the euro, the Swiss franc or the British pound, all of which have risen much more dramatically against the dollar in the past year. But the U.S. isn’t really going to limit its focus to the yuan. But now, Washington wants to expand the range of topics including interest rate ceiling, the idea being that if China can raise the interest rates for its vast pool of depositors at home, they will make more money on their savings and eventually they’ll be able to build up savings and feel more comfortable, perhaps even consume more. And at the same time that would force China’s banks to be much more particular about what rates they lend to their state-owned companies. In other words, it would force a total rebalancing of the Chinese economic system in which consumers would have more money and corporations and industry would have to pay more for the capital that they borrow.

On the strategic track, the truth is that China has a lot to be anxious about going forward. On the one hand, the U.S. has introduced the topic of Middle East unrest and how that applies to Chinese society, implying that China has this large problem of growing social frustration. How is China going to deal with that? Is it going to use force to quell protests or is it going to be proactive and improve living standards for people? China is afraid that the U.S. is simply going to be fanning the flames of domestic unrest in order to weaken China and take advantage of it. So obviously there’s a lot of distrust there, especially with the U.S. taking this very proactive stance on Internet movements, social networking and projecting democratic values across the world. On the other hand, in South Asia, with the U.S. having killed Osama bin Laden, we’re getting closer to a time that China realizes the U.S. will withdraw from Afghanistan and take less of a role in the region. That will put more of a burden on China and its ally Pakistan to stabilize the region, and China will be concerned that militancy running wild in the area will impact its western borders. So China’s looking at having to take a much bigger role in stabilizing the area and in making sure that Pakistan does its part to prevent militancy from spreading.

And finally, China fears that if the U.S. does withdraw successfully from South Asia, that the increased freedom of maneuver that the U.S. gains will in fact later be brought to bear on China itself, as the two are seeing much greater strategic competition, and a number of U.S. allies in the region are demanding that the U.S. take a greater role in the Asia-Pacific to counterbalance China’s rising power.

26166  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: May 10, 2011, 02:19:38 PM
Amen to that; that said I hold our side to higher standards.
26167  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Bin Laden dead on: May 10, 2011, 02:17:13 PM
I eagerly await Andraz Bole's return  grin
26168  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: May 10, 2011, 02:06:43 PM

"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Charles Jarvis, 1820

"It is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth -- and listen to the song of that syren, till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those, who having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it might cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it." --Patrick Henry, speech in the Virginia Convention, 1775

"Freedom had been hunted round the globe; reason was considered as rebellion; and the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think. But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing." --Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, 1791

"t is a common observation here that our cause is the cause of all mankind, and that we are fighting for their liberty in defending our own." --Benjamin Franklin

"The only foundation of a free Constitution, is pure virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our people, in a greater measure than they have it now, they may change their rulers, and the forms of government, but they will not obtain a lasting liberty." --John Adams, letter to Zabdiel Adams, 1776

"I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death." --Thomas Paine, The Crisis, no 1, 1776

"It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself." --Thomas Jefferson

"If individuals be not influenced by moral principles; it is in vain to look for public virtue; it is, therefore, the duty of legislators to enforce, both by precept and example, the utility, as well as the necessity of a strict adherence to the rules of distributive justice." --James Madison, in response to Washington's first Inaugural address, 1789

26169  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: May 10, 2011, 01:58:47 PM
That is a man bites dog story , , , and very funny.
26170  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: May 10, 2011, 01:45:19 PM
No doubt!  But my Israeli host booked me on Iberia  cry   There is already discussion about my next trip and I have requested no more Iberia.

26171  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: May 10, 2011, 01:44:01 PM
If someone were to search, I believe on this thread, not so many months ago I offered some ideas  wink

Anyway, a momentary interruption from the important subjects which YA's excellent posts and the exellent responses thereto are discussing-- here's the latest on the Greg Mortenson saga:

While Montana's Attorney General looks into Greg Mortenson's dealings with his charity CAI, two state lawmakers--Rep. Michele Reinhart of Missoula to buy the book and Rep. Jean Price of Great Falls--filed suit in a Missoula Federal Court against Mortenson, alleging fraud. They claim they "purchased the book because of his heart-wrenching story which he said was true," says their attorney Alexander Blewett. "If people had known all of this was fabricated, they would not have given the money."

The plaintiffs are seeking class-action status and have asked the judge to creative a "constructive trust" to be "administered by a court-appointed charity that would direct it to schoolchildren in Afghanistan and Pakistan." The suit includes a RICO racketeering claim because some of the donations were made by mail. They are using that claim to seek triple damages.

Blewett says the suit is designed to elicit the truth from Mortenson: "We welcome the opportunity to let Mr. Mortenson testify under oath to all these things. To us, it seems overwhelmingly false and we will give him ample opportunity to explain away all of the falsehoods."

The Central Asia Institute did not comment on the filing. They posted a note last Monday saying that Mortenson's planned heart surgery had been postponed. His physician wrote, "Mortenson is convalescing at home with CPAP,  oxygen and bed rest, allowed no electronics, and will undergo additional tests this week that will determine when his condition will allow for a safe procedure to repair the hole in his heart." The latest "update" on the CAI site is actually a new color brochure. There, they address Mortenson's extensive use of private aircraft at the charity's expense with an omnibus three-part excuse (without addressing why Mortenson charged travel expenses as part of his speakers' fees that he kept rather than reimbursing the CAI):

"Number one, Greg's schedule often presents difficult logistical scenarios that are nearly impossible to accomplish with commercial airlines. Generally he has to fly late at night to accommodate his hectic schedule, which in the past four years put him in an average 126 cities per year, plus international travel and overseas project visits. Number two is his health, which has been in decline for the past 18 months. And number three is security. Greg has received threats against his life, and commercial travel sometimes presents over-exposure to threatening elements."
26172  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: May 10, 2011, 12:07:13 PM
e.g. their clitorises and/or their heads.  Nonetheless, doctoring history is quite Orwellian and quite unacceptable.

Anyway, being there for the moment of silence was one of my most moving moments, as was praying at the Wailing Wall.
26173  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / More than a little outside the box on: May 10, 2011, 11:58:33 AM
26174  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Mini Gathering in New Braunfels, TX - May 7th on: May 10, 2011, 11:37:38 AM
 cool cool cool
26175  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / More on Seagal on: May 10, 2011, 11:32:19 AM
From the TPI forum:

Interesting,. Aikido forums have been blowing up since his appearance, and it appears this was all cooked up:

Steven Seagal did not, in fact, teach Anderson Silva anything and certainly not the kick which knocked out Vitor Belfort at UFC 126.

This should really have been obvious to everyone but it has taken a reporter from Brazilan outfit Portal De Vale Tudo to definitively debunk it.

"The declaration of the champion Anderson Silva (Seagal helping him with the amazing kick) was contemplated with humor by the fans, who knows that the actor was at most twice with the Brazilian," a report in the online magazine says.

"The approach between the two was actually a marketing maneuver planned by the agent of Anderson, Jorge Joinha, to give more visibility to it's champion in the American media. The plan worked very well in the first stage, the problem was in the wrong dose and reached the absurdity of assigning a brilliant victory by the biggest name in the MMA of all time to a "Master of Hollywood" who never climbed in the ring.

"The worst of all is that Segal, perhaps influenced by some of his films, believed and even stated in several interviews after the fight that "He (Anderson) did everything the way i taught him and made me very proud". For God's sake..."

So, that's cleared that up. Segal didn't teach Anderson his fight-finishing kick (which, incidentally, Anderson used on Dan Henderson and Lee Murray and also featured in an instructional he produced TWO YEARS AGO).

This seems to have escaped the notice of Mr Segal himself who has given numerous interviews detailing his "pride" in Anderson's winning technique. He is either deluded or putting in the performance of his acting career.


Original article:

Diante de uma vitória histórica Anderson surpreendeu a todos ao dividir os louros de sua genialidade com o ator Steven Seagall. "Foi ele que me ensinou aquele golpe", disse o brasileiro para surpresa de todos, que já o haviam visto usar este golpe em diversas outras lutas, inclusive contra Dan Henderson. A declaração do campeão foi encarada com humor pelos fãs, que sabem que o ator esteve no máximo duas vezes com o brasileiro.

A aproximação dos dois foi na realidade uma manobra de marketing engendrada pelo agente de Anderson, Jorge Joinha, para dar maior visibilidade a seu campeão na mídia americana. O plano funcionou muito bem na primeira etapa, o problema foi errar na dose e chegar ao absurdo de atribuir uma vitória genial do maior nome de MMA de todos os tempos a um "Mestre de Hollywood" que nunca subiu num ringue. O pior de tudo isso é que Seagall, talvez influenciado por alguns de seus filmes, acreditou e chegou a declarar em diversas entrevistas após a luta. "Ele fez tudo da maneira que eu ensinei e me deixou muito orgulhoso". Pelo amor de Deus...

Source: Portal do Vale Tudo Magazine #15, pp 25-26.
Apparently Machida and Silva have the same agent, this Joinha guy?

I tried not posting the link to the incredibly frustrating aikido thread, but there is more revealing stuff from the Brazilian press from Page 2 of the thread:

From Guro C:

Seagal with Machida
 with Silva
26176  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: May 10, 2011, 11:21:42 AM
Grateful for a wonderful trip to and seminar in Israel.
26177  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Infidel Dogs of War on: May 10, 2011, 10:57:10 AM
26178  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: May 10, 2011, 08:44:43 AM
I'm back!  Great trip.

PS: Never fly Iberia Airlines!
26179  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Israel May 6-7 on: May 10, 2011, 08:43:45 AM
Got in last night after 30 hour trip from hell.  NEVER fly Iberia Airlines!!!

OTOH, a great trip.  45 at seminar, including from Germany and Borut Kincl from Slovenia.  My hosts were awesome.
26180  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Israel May 6-7 on: May 08, 2011, 07:00:18 PM
45 at the seminar; from Germany, Slovenia as well as Israel.  Great times.  Leaving on the 06:10 flight in three hours- then 20 hours to home!

The Adventure continues!
26181  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Bin Laden dead on: May 05, 2011, 11:27:38 AM
Tangent concerning Harold Koh, who was mentioned in BBG's post.

a) He appears to have gotten it right concerning the question presented here;
b) The man's writings while prof at Harvard show him to be a serious advocate of undermining US sovereigty via treaties, the UN, and such.  His position now at the State Dept puts him in the perfect position to do great harm.  Watch out for this guy.
26182  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: May 04, 2011, 12:43:24 AM
Props indeed to YA.

Incredible foto YA-- is that for real?

I am in the land of the Little Satan at the moment on a not-very-good hotel connection, so I will be brief.

Welcome to the conversation Bandolero.

Where do we go from here?

Go after ISI? Pakistani govt?  In alliance with India or not?  Declare victory and leave (its not as if it won't be handy having bandwidth available for elsewhere?) If not, WTF is the mission in Afg now?  We didn't really know before and I suspect we know even less now what the point is , , , The respect in which Petraeus is held made it hard for BO to bugout of Afg, but with him at CIA will this still apply?  

For the record, my thoughts at the moment are not dissimilar from GM's-- I entertain going after ISI, seizing nukes, and the like-- but these are deep waters and my emotions of the moment are simply that.
26183  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: May 14-15: "Dog Brothers Tribal Gathering of the Pack" on: May 04, 2011, 12:33:25 AM
I'm on an Israeli hotel connection at the moment, so I will be brief:

Keep Saturday night open for good times!
26184  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Israel May 6-7 on: May 04, 2011, 12:31:58 AM
After a trip from hell (apart from a pleasant 9 hours in Madrid, thank you Roberto) I have arrived in Israel  grin
26185  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: May 03, 2011, 03:23:20 PM
Posting quickly from a terminal in the Madrid airport:

So, to the question presented of "What now?" the answer is , , , "Take down Pakistan"? 

The question is sincere and serious.
26186  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Post Kelo CA decision on: May 02, 2011, 04:19:50 PM
Ever since the Supreme Court's misguided 2005 decision in Kelo v. City of New London, states have been passing their own laws to protect property owners from abuses of eminent domain. One of those laws was enforced this month in California, and the decision is a major victory for property rights.

In Community Youth Athletic Center v. National City, San Diego Superior Court Judge Steven R. Denton ruled that National City, California's designated blight zone is "invalid and unenforceable." The decision means the city will not be allowed to seize property belonging to CYAC, a local boxing gym that sponsors programs for at-risk kids.

The tale began in 2005 when National City gave private developer Jim Beauchamp the right to build a condo project on the gym's land. The Community Development Commission threatened that if the CYAC were "unable to come to terms with the developer on the sale of your property," then "the developer may request that the CDC proceed directly with the acquisition of your property."

In 2007, the city extended an ordinance designating some 692 properties, including the gym, as "blighted" and therefore subject to eminent domain for 10 years. Facing a slew of bad publicity, National City Mayor Ron Morrison downplayed any threat to the gym itself, but the eminent domain threat hovered around developers' plans for surrounding neighborhood properties, including churches, schools and small businesses.

This was exactly the scenario California legislators had in mind when they passed a post-Kelo law in 2006 requiring the government to show "specific and quantifiable" evidence of blight and that the blight couldn't be improved without eminent domain. The court's ruling chastised the city for failing to document exactly why the targeted properties should qualify as "blighted." "Lack of parking" doesn't qualify, Judge Denton noted dryly.

California has been a leading abuser of eminent domain and the case should resonate with California Republican lawmakers, who have been in the odd position of rejecting an effort by Governor Jerry Brown to jettison the state's some 400 redevelopment agencies because they opposed his overall budget. Getting rid of the redevelopment agencies would save the state roughly $1.7 billion a year amid a roughly $25 billion budget deficit.

According to the Institute for Justice, which represented CYAC, nearly 200 California development projects have used or threatened to use eminent domain laws for private developments, often on the grounds of economic improvement. The victims of the law are often minorities and economically disadvantaged residents, who are unable to protect their businesses and neighborhoods from politically connected developers.

Property takings rarely produce the economic growth their developers promise, and any gentrification of a neighborhood is little consolation to those whose homes and businesses are seized. We're glad average citizens are fighting for their property rights, and we hope GOP lawmakers take Governor Brown up on the offer to send redevelopment agencies to the knackery.

26187  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Bin Laden dead on: May 02, 2011, 04:17:21 PM
The death of Osama bin Laden at the hand of U.S. special forces doesn't end the war against Islamic terror, but it is a crucial and just victory that is rightfully cause for celebration.

Especially so in a war fought against combatants who hide in the world's dark corners, who rarely fight in the open and who attack innocents far from any conventional battlefield. Even if it took nearly 10 years, the skillful tracking and daring attack on al Qaeda's founder shows that democracies can prevail in such a struggle and is as notable as landmark victories of other wars that involved the taking of cities or island-hopping. The battle of Abbottabad is a triumph of intelligence, interrogation and special operations that are by necessity three of the main weapons in what the U.S. military has called this "long war."

Credit goes to the intelligence gatherers, at the Pentagon, CIA or National Security Agency, who developed the leads and pursued them. President Obama also singled out the "extraordinary courage and capability" of the "small team" of special forces who carried out the risky mission deep inside Pakistan. U.S. special forces too rarely get attention for their perilous work because they must operate in secret, but this is a moment of triumph to savor amid all of their sacrifices.

Mr. Obama also deserves credit for ordering a special forces mission rather than settling for another attack with drones or stand-off weapons from afar. Drones have their uses, but a target as valuable as bin Laden was worth the gamble of a U.S. military raid both to reduce the chances of his escape and to end once and for all the myth that he couldn't be taken. The skill and success of the raid is also a boost to American prestige and pride at a moment of too much national self-doubt.

Yet if the mission had failed, the second-guessers would have asked why Mr. Obama hadn't merely ordered a drone strike. Pakistan's anti-American voices would have exploited the failure, and U.S. soldiers might have been captured or killed. These are nonetheless risks that Presidents must take to achieve larger purposes, and Mr. Obama deserves the praise he is receiving for taking them.

When Bin Laden Struck
In the days following Sept. 11, 2001, Journal staffers returned to the paper's offices at 200 Liberty Street in Manhattan to recover what they could. They took these photos during their visit.
.This is also a moment to salute George W. Bush. After 9/11, Mr. Bush began the counterattack that became the war on terror, developed and expanded the military and intelligence means to fight it, and never flagged in its pursuit even as his political opposition derided him for his determination. The attack even looks to be a vindication of Mr. Bush's interrogation policies, as U.S. sources say the initial break that led to the operation, concerning a bin Laden courier, came several years ago from Guantanamo detainees.

The most striking fact of Mr. Obama's prosecution of the war on terror is how much it resembles Mr. Bush's, to the consternation of America's anti-antiterror left. This includes the strategy to pursue terrorists in their sanctuaries, keeping them on defense and less able to plot against U.S. targets.

No doubt bin Laden's demise will cause some to declare victory in the war on terror, and to urge that we now negotiate a truce with the Taliban in Afghanistan. This sentiment will be heard loudly in Pakistan, which seems to want America out of its region, as well as among Americans tired of the costs of fighting in faraway places.

But the very fact that the U.S. felt obliged to issue a world travel warning at the moment of bin Laden's death shows that the terror threat remains without him. Al Qaeda has evolved in this decade, with smaller cells, new leaders and other sanctuaries. The branch in Yemen is especially dangerous, having played a role in at least two terror attempts on the U.S. mainland. Now is the time to press the advantage, not assume the threat is past.

Continuous Updates
News updates and reactions from around the world.

U.S. Forces Kill Osama bin Laden
How bin Laden Was Found
Video: Obama's Speech
Read Obama's Speech
.In this context, we should add that the U.S. decision to dispose of bin Laden's body at sea strikes us as a potential mistake. We understand the instinct to respect Islamic rituals and dispose of the body within 24 hours, but al Qaeda and others may now try to dismiss the entire episode as U.S. propaganda. Notwithstanding White House assertions today of positively identifying bin Laden's DNA, we hope the U.S. took photos of the dead bin Laden and that those will be released in a formal, public briefing on the evidence with dispatch. The U.S. should not feed the myth that bin Laden was a model of Islamic piety when in fact he perverted Islam's tenets for his own political uses.

We should also add a word about Pakistan and its habit of fighting on both sides of the antiterror war. Abbottabad is not some distant outpost in that country, and it is hard to believe that some in Pakistan did not know of bin Laden's hideout. U.S. officials clearly believed they couldn't trust Pakistani intelligence with what we were learning about bin Laden, a mistrust born of hard experience.

Many Pakistanis will be outraged at the violation of their sovereign territory, but if Pakistan won't behave like a genuine ally then the U.S. must see to its own self-defense. The Pakistan government, and especially its military, would be wise to see the bin Laden operation as proof that the U.S. will act if Pakistan will not. The best security for Pakistan is to defeat the Taliban, not to keep using it as a weapon to bleed America in Afghanistan.

Much as during the decades of the Cold War, the "long war" on terror has made many Americans tire of the fight, especially in the absence of cheering crowds waving U.S. flags in Paris or Palermo. But we cannot forget that this is a war for national survival against enemies who would annihilate our cities if they could. The death of bin Laden is a measure of justice for the thousands he killed. As important, it is a warning to others who would kill Americans that they will meet the same fate, no matter how long it takes or where they try to hide.

26188  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: What the US Navy is doing in the Desert on: May 02, 2011, 03:04:23 PM
That is very funny and very true cool cool cool
26189  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB Tribal Gathering Fighter List on: May 02, 2011, 02:59:45 PM

Acknowledged  cool

26190  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / That's odd , , , on: May 02, 2011, 12:22:19 PM
Within a mile of a Pakistani officer training school.
12-18 foot walls
No trash pickup, phone hookup or internet connection
Few windows facing to the outside.  Third floor balcony had a 7' privacy wall
Roughly 8 times the size of any residence nearby
26191  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: May 02, 2011, 12:15:24 PM
Bush 41 broke his "Read my lips, no new taxes!" pledge.
26192  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: So what? on: May 02, 2011, 12:11:42 PM
The Tactical Irrelevance of Osama bin Laden's Death
May 2, 2011 | 1450 GMT

A man in Manila watches news coverage of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s deathSummary
The killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden represents possibly the biggest clandestine operations success for the United States since the capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in 2003. The confirmation of his death is an emotional victory for the United States and could have wider effects on the geopolitics of the region, but bin Laden’s death is irrelevant for al Qaeda and the wider jihadist movement from an operational perspective.

Americans  continued to celebrate the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden well into May 2 outside the White House, near the World Trade Center site in New York and elsewhere. The operation that led to bin Laden’s death at a  compound deep in Pakistan is among the most significant operational successes for U.S. intelligence in the past decade. While it is surely an emotional victory for the United States and one that could have consequences both for the U.S. role in Afghanistan and for relations with Pakistan, bin Laden’s elimination will have very little effect on al Qaeda as a whole and the wider jihadist movement.

Due to bin Laden’s status as the most-wanted individual in the world, any communications he carried out with other known al Qaeda operatives risked interception, and thus risked revealing his location. This forced him to be extremely careful with communications for operational security and essentially required him to give up an active role in command-and-control in order to remain alive and at large. He reportedly used a handful of highly trusted personal couriers to maintain communication and had no telephone or Internet connection at his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Limited as his communications network was, if news reports are accurate, one of these couriers was compromised and tracked to the compound, enabling the operation against bin Laden.

Because of bin Laden’s aforementioned communications limitations, since October 2001 when he  fled Tora Bora after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, he has been relegated to a largely symbolic and ideological role in al Qaeda. Accordingly, he has issued audiotapes on a little more than a yearly basis, whereas before 2007 he was able to issue videotapes. The growing infrequency and decreasing quality of his recorded messages was most notable when al Qaeda did not release a message marking the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in September 2010 but later followed up with a tape on Jan. 21, 2011.

The reality of the situation is that the al Qaeda core — the central group including leaders like bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri — has been eclipsed by other jihadist actors on the physical battlefield, and over the past two years it has even been losing its role as an ideological leader of the jihadist struggle. The primary threat is now posed by al Qaeda franchise groups like al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the latter of which may have carried out the recent attack in Marrakech, Morocco. But even these groups are under intense pressure by local government and U.S. operations, and much of the current threat comes from grassroots and lone wolf attackers. These actors could attempt to stage an attack in the United States or elsewhere in retribution for bin Laden’s death, but they do not have the training or capabilities for high-casualty transnational attacks.

STRATFOR long considered the possibility that bin Laden was already dead, and in terms of his impact on terrorist operations, he effectively was. That does not mean, however, that he was not an important ideological leader or that he was not someone the United States sought to capture or kill for his role in carrying out the most devastating terrorist attack in U.S. history.

Aggressive U.S. intelligence collection efforts have come to fruition, as killing bin Laden was perhaps the top symbolic goal for the CIA and all those involved in U.S. covert operations. Indeed, Obama said during his speech May 1 that upon entering office, he had personally instructed CIA Director Leon Panetta that killing the al Qaeda leader was his top priority. The logistical challenges of catching a single wanted individual with bin Laden’s level of resources were substantial, and while 10 years later, the United States was able to accomplish the objective it set out to do in October 2001. The bottom line is that from an operational point of view, the threat posed by al Qaeda — and the wider jihadist movement — is no different operationally after his death.

26193  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: May 02, 2011, 10:42:57 AM
No doubt there will be props to Bush too , , , 

"Detainees at the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, had given the courier’s pseudonym to American interrogators and said that the man was a protégé of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the confessed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks. American intelligence officials said Sunday night that they finally learned the courier’s real name four years ago, but that it took another two years for them to learn the general region where he operated."

Returning to the point in question:  We need to remember the roll of Perot in derailing Bush 1. 

And yes, the kill of OBL will help BO.
26194  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar, & Gold/Silver on: May 02, 2011, 10:39:50 AM
I heard that the margin requirement on silver has been raised.  Anyone have any word on this?  (Also note implications for margin requirements on oil futures)
26195  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Egypt's changing attitudes on: May 02, 2011, 10:34:42 AM
Friday, April 29, 2011   STRATFOR.COM  Diary Archives 

Egypt's Changing Foreign Policy Attitudes

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil al-Arabi said in an interview with Al Jazeera on Thursday that Cairo was working to permanently open the Rafah border crossing with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Al-Arabi told the Qatari-owned channel that within seven to 10 days, measures would be adopted to assuage the “blockade and suffering of the Palestinian nation.” The Egyptian foreign minister added, “It is the responsibility of each country in the world not to take part in what is called the humiliating siege. In my view, this (siege) was a disgraceful thing to happen.”

These statements reflect a shift in Egyptian policy toward the Palestinian territory ruled by the Islamist movement since mid-2007. Although occasional openings were allowed, Egypt, under the ousted Mubarak regime and in conjunction with Israel, maintained the blockade of Gaza in an effort to weaken Hamas’ standing among Gazans through economic hardships. So, the question is why is Egypt making such a radical change in policy?

“The only difference now is that the military is directly ruling the country and is in the process of changing the Egyptian political landscape to a multiparty system.”
This is the latest of radical foreign policy moves on the part of the new provisional military authority: There is a push toward reviving diplomatic ties with Iran, and the brokering of a rapprochement between Hamas and its arch secular rival, Fatah, toward the creation of a new Palestinian coalition government. There is also talk of allowing Hamas to open up an office in Cairo.

The common element in these developments is that they are against what Israel has to come to expect of Egypt. It is true that the collapse of the Mubarak government had created fears that it could elevate the Islamists (Muslim Brotherhood) to power, which could in turn lead to the undoing of the 1978 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. Despite the fall of former President Hosni Mubarak’s family and friends, regime change has not happened in Egypt.

The only difference now is that the military is directly ruling the country and is in the process of changing the Egyptian political landscape to a multiparty system. For the foreseeable future, however, Egypt is to be ruled by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). Yet, we see shifts in the attitudes toward Israel that one does not expect from the Egyptian military, which has long done business with Israel.

These changes have to do with both domestic and foreign policy concerns of Egypt’s military rulers. On the domestic front, SCAF is well aware of the popular sentiment toward the Palestinians and Israel and is therefore adjusting its behavior accordingly. In an effort to manage a new era of multiparty politics, the military is appropriating the agenda of groups like the Muslim Brotherhood to contain their influence and placate popular sentiment.

Domestic politics, however, is not the only factor informing the shift in Egypt’s foreign policy attitude. The new military rulers also wish to see their country regain its status as the pre-eminent player in the Arab world. From their perspective, this can be achieved by engaging in radical moves vis-a-vis the Palestinians, Israel and Iran. It is unlikely, however, that Egypt is about to truly reverse its position toward Israel. The Egyptians do not wish to create problems with the Israelis.

Opening up Rafah is one thing, but breaking the peace treaty with Israel is another. Were Cairo to abandon this aspect of the relationship with Israel, it would dramatically alter Israel’s national security considerations and create massive tension between the two countries. It is hard to envision a military government in Egypt openly opting for such a scenario. Easier to imagine is for the SCAF-controlled Egypt to behave like Turkey — maintaining relations with Israel yet retaining the ability to criticize it.

26196  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Confirmed! on: May 02, 2011, 10:24:47 AM
Pat Gagnon
Chris Goard
Heiko Zauske

Pappy Dog-- we have not received yours yet.

26197  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Bin Laden dead? on: May 02, 2011, 09:07:33 AM
Wonderful news for America! cool cool cool cool cool cool cool cool cool

Many interesting implications to absorb here , , ,
26198  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / OBL dead!?! on: May 02, 2011, 02:26:10 AM
Red Alert: Osama bin Laden Killed
May 2, 2011 | 0249 GMT

The United States has killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and recovered his body, according to numerous media reports May 1 citing U.S. officials. U.S. President Barack Obama is scheduled to make an announcement on the subject. It is not clear precisely how bin Laden was killed or how his body was recovered, but the assertion that he is dead is significant.

Bin Laden had become the symbol of al Qaeda, even though the degree to which he commanded the organization was questionable. The symbolic value of his death is obvious. The United States can claim a great victory. Al Qaeda can proclaim his martyrdom.

It is difficult to understand what this means at this moment, but it permits the Obama administration to claim victory, at least partially, over al Qaeda. It also opens the door for the beginning of a withdrawal from Afghanistan, regardless of the practical impact of bin Laden’s death. The mission in Afghanistan was to defeat al Qaeda, and with his death, a plausible claim can be made that the mission is complete. Again speculatively, it will be interesting to see how this affects U.S. strategy there.

Equally possible is that this will trigger action by al Qaeda in bin Laden’s name. We do not know how viable al Qaeda is or how deeply compromised it was. It is clear that bin Laden’s cover had been sufficiently penetrated to kill him. If bin Laden’s cover was penetrated, then the question becomes how much of the rest of the organization’s cover was penetrated. It is unlikely, however, that al Qaeda is so compromised that it cannot take further action.

At this early hour, the only thing possible is speculation on the consequences of bin Laden’s death, and that speculation is inherently flawed. Still, the importance of his death has its consequences. Certainly one consequence will be a sense of triumph in the United States. To others, this will be another false claim by the United States. For others it will be a call to war. We know little beyond what we have been told, but we know it matters.


Question of Pakistani Cooperation in bin Laden Strike
May 2, 2011 | 0421 GMT
U.S. President Barack Obama announced late May 1 that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is dead and that the body of the jihadist leader is in U.S. custody. Obama said bin Laden was killed in a firefight with U.S. special operations forces in Abbottabad, about 56 kilometers (35 miles) north of Islamabad. Prior to Obama’s announcement, Pakistani intelligence officials were leaking to U.S. media that their assets were involved in the killing of bin Laden. Obama said, “Over the years, I’ve repeatedly made clear that we would take action within Pakistan if we knew where bin Laden was. That is what we’ve done. But it’s important to note that our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding.” Obama said he had called Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and that his team had also spoken to their counterparts. He said Islamabad agreed it is “a good and historic day for both of our nations and going forward its essential for Pakistan to join us in the fight against al Qaeda and its affiliates.”

The detailed version of what led to the hit and the extent of U.S.-Pakistani cooperation in the strike is not yet publicly known, but reports so far claim that bin laden and his son were hiding in a massive compound with heavy security and no communications access when they were attacked. Two key questions thus emerge. How long was the Pakistani government and military-security apparatus aware of bin Laden’s refuge deep in Pakistani territory? Did the United States withhold information from Pakistan until the hit was executed, fearing the operation would be compromised?

Major strains in the U.S.-Pakistani relationship have rested on the fact that the United States is extraordinarily dependent on Pakistan for intelligence on al Qaeda and Taliban targets and that Pakistan in turn relies on that dependency to manage its relationship with the United States. Following the Raymond Davis affair, U.S.-Pakistani relations have been at a particularly low point as the United States has faced increasing urgency in trying to shape an exit strategy from the war in Afghanistan and has encountered significant hurdles in eliciting Pakistani cooperation against high-value targets.

Now that the United States has a critical political victory with which to move forward with an exit from the war in Afghanistan, Pakistan now faces the strategic dilemma of how to maintain the long-term support of its major external power patron in Washington.
26199  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: May 01, 2011, 10:32:37 AM
Amazing foto YA! shocked shocked shocked
26200  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: May 01, 2011, 10:31:19 AM
Looking forward to it.  smiley BTW, I leave tomorrow evening for a seminar in Israel. (First time for this American Jew).  I am very excited!
Pages: 1 ... 522 523 [524] 525 526 ... 848
Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!