(NSI News Source Info) March 15, 2009: Suspected militants attacked a Pakistani transport terminal from which supplies are sent to NATO troops in Afghanistan, burning dozens of vehicles and shipping containers, police said. Rising Taliban attacks have raised doubts about the reliability of critical supply routes through Pakistan, prompting the U.S. and NATO to seek alternatives. Vehicles use to transport NATO supplies to neighboring Afghanistan are set on fire in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Sunday, March 15, 2009. Police said suspected militants have attacked a transport terminal used to supply NATO troops in Afghanistan and burned dozens of military vehicles and shipping containers. About 40 assailants struck the Pak-Afghan Container Terminal near the northwestern city of Peshawar before dawn Sunday, police and witnesses said. Mohammad Asif Khan, an assistant to a driver whose truck was parked at the terminal, said armed men scaled the back wall of the compound and tied up the guards. "I was hiding in a corner, and I saw them throw petrol bombs and fire rockets and shots" at the parked vehicles, he said. Police official Ejaz Khan said the attackers burned dozens of vehicles and shipping containers. An Associated Press Television News cameraman who visited the depot said the charred wrecks included several Humvees. It was unclear if the torched supplies were destined for foreign troops in Afghanistan or for the Western-backed Afghan army, which uses similar imported equipment. Afghan-based U.S. and NATO forces get up to 75 percent of their supplies via routes through Pakistan. Suspected Taliban militants have repeatedly struck transport depots near Peshawar in recent months, destroying scores of military vehicles, while attacks on the road through the Khyber Pass to the Afghan border have repeatedly forced its temporary closure. U.S. and NATO officials insist the attacks have little impact on their operations, but are looking at ways to bring more supplies into Afghanistan through Central Asia.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Afghan NATO Supply Terminal Attacked In Pakistan
Pakistan Ex-PM Nawaz Sharif Ignores 'Arrest' / Anti-Government Protests Turn Violent In Pakistan
(NSI News Source Info) March 15, 2009: Pakistan opposition leader Nawaz Sharif has defied an apparent bid to put him under house arrest in Lahore ahead of a "march" on the capital Islamabad. Thousands of supporters joined him after he broke through a police barricade of his home to reach a rally. Police fired tear gas as protesters hurled stones. LAHORE, PAKISTAN - MARCH 15: PML (N) leader Nawaz Sharif addresses journalists at his residence whilst under house arrest on March 15, 2009 in Lahore, Pakistan. Violence erupted today after PML (N) leader Nawaz Sharif, under house arrest, called for the people of Pakistan to stand for their rights and continue the long march to Islamabad. Protesters and lawyers clashed with police in the streets, as they congregated near to the High Court of Lahore. Sharif activists later managed to overcome barriers blocking access to the main highway to Islamabad and Mr Sharif left Lahore in a convoy. The Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) supporters plan a "long march" to the capital to demand judges sacked by the former government be reinstated. "It's now a matter of the future of Pakistani nation and coming generations," Mr Sharif said earlier by telephone from his bullet-proof car. "How can we abandon our mission halfway?" Mr Sharif is expected to arrive in Rawalpindi - near Islamabad -in the early hours of Monday. He is due to be joined there by his brother, Shahbaz Sharif, former chief minister of the Punjab, and leaders of the lawyers' movement. Police are said to be surrounding the property in Rawalpindi where his brother is believed to be staying. 'Fascist tactics' Sharif activists used mobile hydraulic lifts, apparently brought along for the purpose, to remove massive containers placed as obstacles on the highway. The house arrest is illegal and immoral, all these decisions are unconstitutional Nawaz Sharif The BBC's Barbara Plett says it is not clear if Mr Sharif will be able to reach Islamabad, given the authorities have blocked routes leading to the capital. Ahead of the protest, the government has also arrested hundreds of opposition activists and banned rallies, saying they could trigger violence. Our Islamabad correspondent says the campaign over the judges has become a power struggle between Mr Sharif and current President Asif Ali Zardari. She says the unrest has alarmed the West, which wants Pakistan to focus on the battle against the Taleban on the Afghan border. President Zardari - the widower of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto - promised to bring back the judges when he took office last year following his wife's assassination. Early on Sunday, riot police blocked access roads to Mr Sharif's home and reportedly baton-charging his supporters. March 15: An activist from Jamaat-e-Islami holds a bamboo stick as he scuffles with a policeman during an anti-government protest march in Lahore. Leaving his home later in the morning, Mr Sharif told a crowd: "The house arrest is illegal and immoral. All these decisions are unconstitutional," reported AFP news agency. Party spokesman Ahsan Iqbal told the BBC: "A government which claims to be a democratic government is coming with such heavy-handed fascist tactics." But interior ministry chief Rehman Malik told the BBC the police were outside Mr Sharif's home for his own protection because of the threat from terrorists. Long-running tensions Mr Sharif was ousted as prime minister in 1999 during a coup by General Pervez Musharraf, who ruled until August 2008. Tensions between Mr Zardari and Mr Sharif date back to the 1990s, but the two formed a brief partnership in government after parliamentary elections in February 2008. Mr Sharif's party later left the alliance, complaining of reluctance by Mr Zardari's Pakistan People's Party to reinstate the judges sacked by the last government. Relations have been further strained in recent weeks by a Supreme Court decision to ban Mr Sharif and his brother Shahbaz from elected office, and President Zardari's decision to put their stronghold in Punjab province under direct rule from Islamabad. But on Saturday, in a move seen as a conciliatory gesture, the government agreed to seek a review of the Supreme Court ruling. The political instability comes as Pakistan faces an economic crisis and a growing militant insurgency based in the north-west.
Russia May Base Bombers In Cuba: Report
Venezuela also temporarily offers island site as Moscow eyes Caribbean
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Open To Russian Strategic Bombers Using Venezuelan Island....Defense-Technology News March 15, 2009
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - March 15, 2009: A Russian Air Force chief said Saturday that the country could base some strategic bombers in Cuba or on an island offered by Venezuela, the Interfax news agency reported, but a Kremlin official quickly said the military had been speaking only hypothetically. The U.S. and Russia have been trying to reset their relationship, severely strained over U.S. plans to position missile defense elements in Poland and the Czech Republic and by Russia's invasion of U.S. ally Georgia last year. Russia resumed long-range bomber patrols after a 15-year hiatus in 2007 — using aircraft such as this Tupolev 95 Bear. Russia has nothing to gain strategically from basing long-range craft within relatively short range of U.S. shores, independent military analyst Alexander Golts said, calling the military statement a retaliatory gesture aimed at hitting back after U.S. ships patrolled Black Sea waters near Georgia.
The chief of staff of Russia's long range aviation, Maj. Gen. Anatoly Zhikharev, was quoted by Interfax as saying Saturday that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had offered "a whole island with an airdrome, which we can use as a temporary base for strategic bombers." "If there is a corresponding political decision, then the use of the island ... by the Russian Air Force is possible," Zhikharev was quoted as saying. Interfax reported he said earlier that Cuba has air bases with four or five runways long enough for the huge bombers and could be used to host the long-range planes. 'Technical possibilities'Officials at both Venezuela's presidential administration and Defense Ministry refused immediate comment on Zhikharev's reported remarks. Cuban government officials could not be reached. But Alexei Pavlov, a Kremlin official, told The Associated Press that "the military is speaking about technical possibilities, that's all. If there will be a development of the situation, then we can comment," he said. Mike Hammer, spokesman for President Barack Obama's National Security Council, said, "We do not comment on hypotheticals." Venezuela and Cuba, traditionally fierce U.S. foes, have close political and energy relations with Russia, which has been working to reassert itself as a military force. Russia resumed long-range bomber patrols in 2007 after a 15-year hiatus. Venezuela hosted two Russian Tu-160 bombers in September for training flights and later joined Russian warships for exercises in the Caribbean. Cuba has never permanently hosted Russian or Soviet aircraft, though Soviet short-range bombers often made stopovers there during the Cold War. In the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, Soviet nuclear missiles stationed in Cuba pushed the world to the brink of nuclear conflict after U.S. President John F. Kennedy announced their presence to the world. After a tense week of diplomacy, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev removed the missiles. 'Retaliatory gesture'Golts, the military analyst, said basing Russian bombers in Venezuela or Cuba "has no military sense. The bombers don't need any base." He said the bombers are considered strategic because they are capable of reaching an attacking range of the United States from Russia without the need for stopovers. "This is just a retaliatory gesture," he said, adding that Russia wanted to hit back after U.S. ships patrolled Black Sea waters. U.S. plans initiated under former President George W. Bush to put elements of a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic had particularly irked Russia, although the United States insists they are intended to counter potential future threats from Iran. Russia has welcomed Obama's apparently more cautious approach to the divisive issue. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva earlier this month to push a symbolic red "reset" button, another sign of the desire for a clean slate. Cuban authorities made no comment last summer when a Moscow newspaper reported that Russia could send nuclear bombers to the island. While neither confirming nor denying the report, ailing former President Fidel Castro at the time praised his brother President Raul Castro for maintaining a "dignified silence" on the report and said that Cuba was not obligated to offer the U.S. an explanation.
Bin Laden Accuses Arab Leaders Of Plotting Against Muslims / Osama Bin Laden Accuses Moderate Arab Leaders Of Plotting With The West Against Muslims
Bin Laden Accuses Arab Leaders Of Plotting Against Muslims / Osama Bin Laden Accuses Moderate Arab Leaders Of Plotting With The West Against Muslims
(NSI News Source Info) March 15, 2009: Osama bin Laden last night accused moderate Arab leaders of plotting with the West against Muslims. The al-Qaeda terror boss also renewed his attacks on Israel, claiming his network of fighters will "liberate" Palestine. The audio message claiming to be from the world's most wanted terrorist, was broadcast on a Middle East TV channel. He urged his followers to prepare for "jihad" - holy war - and called Israel's recent offensive in Gaza "a Holocaust". And he added: "It has become clear that some Arab leaders were complicit with the Crusader-Zionist alliance against our people. These are the leaders the Americans called moderate." Meanwhile, it emerged last night that members of the Taliban have been joining the Afghan Army - so the Americans can teach them how to fight. A senior military source said: "The evidence of infiltration is overwhelming. The US have trained more than 90,000 Afghan soldiers. "But a huge number desert or simply just leave after a year and never return. A significant number are Taliban."
French In Show Of Force In Deadly Afghan Valley
(NSI News Source Info) Sarobi, Afghanistan - March 15, 2009: It is still night when the convoy moves off, winding through hills like a huge snake: around 100 French armored vehicles descend into a valley east of Kabul, their lights lacing through the darkness. More than 500 French soldiers and 300 Afghan police and soldiers, as well a handful of men from the Norwegian Special Forces on all-terrain quad bikes are on the ground for ‘Operation Three Valleys’ in the district of Sarobi. French soldiers with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Above, reconnaissance drones and helicopters watch over the only route, a difficult and dusty road that is vulnerable to ambushes. It was just a few kilometres (miles) from here that the French military last August suffered its heaviest loss in 25 years when 10 soldiers were killed in an insurgent attack. ‘We want to show the people and the insurgents that the French army is not here for revenge but that we will go where we want to and when we want to,’ says Colonel Franck Chatelus, who commands the French battalion in Kabul. The Afghan forces lead this push into a sometimes hostile area.‘This is also the time to show that the Afghan army today is not the same one of a few years ago, when it looted the country and maltreated the population,’ Chatelus adds.The area, about 60 kilometres (37 miles) from the capital, is austere, stoney and mountainous; in the valley, small villages of mud-brick houses suddenly appear alongside a few fields. French soldiers take position on the ridges while Afghan troops cover the police as they enter a village called Washa Kalay with a hostile reputation. A quick search of some houses reveals nothing of interest but there is a field of opium poppies a lucrative crop that officials say finances some of the insurgents. Police unenthusiastically uproot some of the shoots with a wooden spade, stamping on others.‘The insurgents who were in the village have gone to the other side of the mountain in Laghman province,’ says Mohibullah Babakar Khel, from the Afghan intelligence service. Later the French colonel addresses elders in the village ‘We offer our hand to the insurgents who agree to give up and cooperate with us.’ ‘Give us your mines and bombs so that we can destroy them otherwise they risk killing or wounding your children.’ The impoverished residents demand a well, electricity, a school. ‘If a school is built, this area has to be secure. And a school would have to be for boys and for girls,’ says a French officer, referring to a tendency to prevent girls getting an education.The French put on an impressive security cover for a visit the next day to the village of Siri Kalay but wait an hour for the police to arrive enough time for any insurgents to hide arms or ammunition.This time only Afghan police enter the village, making for an unoccupied house that is said to belong to a ‘Commander Rostam,’ a member of the radical Hezb-e-Islami faction who has fled to Pakistan. The raid nets police and military uniforms as well some electrical components, perhaps used for detonators. ‘Here the people are all against us,’ says 20-year-old policeman Nasratullah, who earns just 120 dollars a month. ‘Policemen have been killed close by. Without the planes of the international forces, they would have ambushed us.’ The rebels may have been silent but the area is still dangerous on the first day of the operation, mine clearers destroyed three rockets already in their launchers.But the foreign troops part of a steadily expanding NATO-led International Security Assistance Force that now numbers about 62,000 across Afghanistan believe they have made an impression. ‘The outcome of the operation is not material but psychological and moral. Little by little we are gaining the confidence of the population,’ says Chatelus, the French colonel. ‘The insurgents were unable to do anything, they have been discredited in the eyes of the people,’ he says
Kuwait National And Liberation Day, Displaying Military Might
(NSI News Source Info) March 15, 2009: US-made M1A1 heavy battle tanks from Kuwait's Armored Brigade, parade in Subhan, 40 kilometers east of Kuwait City, during a Kuwait Defense Ministry air show, Wednesday, March 11, 2009. Kuwait International Airport suspended all commercial air traffic for two hours during the parade, in which different kinds of military aircraft and helicopters took part on the occasion of celebrating National and Liberation Day.*CORRECTION: The aforementioned photo/image of Kuwaiti Army MBT are Yugoslavia M-84AB and not US-made M1A1 as stated. Thanks to the observation and correction of "SECOND".
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Declares His Country A Space And Nuclear Power
(NSI News Source Info) TEHRAN - March 15, 2009: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Friday that pressure from Western powers trying to keep Iran in economic isolation have in fact spurred the country to become a space and nuclear power. "Had you not been bad-tempered and blocked the way, the Iranian nation would not have been present in space, and would not have become a nuclear power," Fars news agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying at the inauguration ceremony of a natural gas deposit in the Bushehr province. Iran put its first communications satellite, Omid (Hope), into a near-Earth orbit on February 2. The research satellite was carried into orbit by a home-made launch vehicle, Safir (Messenger). Iranian Communications Minister Mohammad Soleimani earlier said that the country's scientists were working on the creation of four new satellites to be placed into near-Earth orbit. The Iranian president said Western powers are unable to stop Iran's technological and scientific progress with their "spiteful actions." He also called the international economic sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program a "grave blunder." "Of course, we believe that the Iranian nation can tread the path to progress under God's mercy," he said. Western powers led by the United States, along with Israel, have accused Tehran of attempting to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technology for their delivery. Iran says it needs its nuclear program for electric power generation, and its missile program for space exploration.