Saturday, June 18, 2011

DTN News - AFGHAN WAR NEWS: Afghan Leader Says U.S. In Contact With Taliban

Defense News: DTN News - AFGHAN WAR NEWS: Afghan Leader Says U.S. In Contact With Taliban
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - June 18, 2011: The United States is in contact with the Taliban about a possible settlement to the war in Afghanistan, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Saturday, the first official confirmation of U.S. involvement in negotiations.

Karzai said that an Afghan push toward peace talks, after nearly a decade of war, had not yet reached a stage where the government and insurgents were meeting, but their representatives had been in touch.

"Peace talks are going on with the Taliban. The foreign military and especially the United States itself is going ahead with these negotiations," Karzai said in a speech in Kabul.

"The peace negotiations between (the) Afghan government and the Taliban movement are not yet based on a certain agenda or physical (meetings), there are contacts established."

The U.S. Embassy declined to comment directly on Karzai's assertion but said the United States supports Afghan reconciliation and has assisted Afghan government-led reintegration initiatives aimed at the Taliban.
"We must help create conditions necessary to enable a political settlement among the Afghan people. This includes reconciling those insurgents who are willing to renounce al Qaeda, forsake violence and adhere to the Afghan constitution," an official at the U.S. embassy in Kabul said.

The United States invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, weeks after the September 11 attacks, to help oust the Taliban which had hosted al Qaeda and its leader Osama bin Laden.

The Taliban regrouped and has been waging a fierce insurgency for years against the government, U.S. troops and other Western allies in Afghanistan.

Karzai was speaking the day after the United Nations Security Council split the U.N. sanctions list for Taliban and al Qaeda figures into two, which envoys said could help induce the Taliban into talks on a peace deal in Afghanistan.

But despite hopes that talks with the Taliban could provide the political underpinning for a staged U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the discussions are still not at the stage where they can be a deciding factor.
Diplomats say there have been months of preliminary talks, but the United States has never confirmed any contacts. And so little is known about the exchanges that they have been open to widely different interpretations.

There are also many Afghans, among them women's and civil society activists, who fear talks with the insurgents could undo much of the progress they have made in the decade since the Taliban were swept from power.

"We should not give up 10 years of achievements in Afghan women's rights. If that happens, these peace talks will be incomplete and unjust," said Suraya Parlika, head of the All Afghan Women's Union and a senator in the Afghan parliament.

The closest anyone in the U.S. establishment has come to publicly acknowledging efforts to kick-start talks was when Defense Secretary Robert Gates said this month there could be political talks with the Taliban by the end of this year, if the NATO alliance kept making military advances on the ground.


Karzai said neighboring countries were nervous about plans for a strategic partnership between Afghanistan and the United States, which may include long-term bases on Afghan soil.

"The issue of a strategic partnership deal with the U.S. has caused tensions with our neighbors," Karzai said. "When we sign this strategic partnership, at the same time we must have peace in Afghanistan."

That is unlikely however, as the deal is expected to be concluded in months, and even the most optimistic supporters of talks expect the peace process to take years.

If successful, the deal might ease worries among those Afghans who fear the United States will pull out too quickly, leaving a weak, impoverished government to fend off militants, and those who worry the foreign forces they see as occupiers will never leave.

President Barack Obama is expected to announce next month how many troops he plans to withdraw from Afghanistan as part of a commitment to begin reducing the U.S. military presence from July and hand over to Afghan security forces by 2014.

The United States is on the verge of announcing a "substantial" drawdown of American troops from Afghanistan, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Friday.

"There's going to be a drawdown. I am confident that it will be one that's substantial. I certainly hope so," the leading Senate Democrat said during an interview with PBS Newshour.

There are currently about 100,000 U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan, up from about 34,000 when Obama took office in 2009.

(Additional reporting by Sayed Hassib, Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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DTN News - SYRIA UNREST: 'Turkey To Demand Assad Oust Brother From Military'

Defense News: DTN News - SYRIA UNREST: 'Turkey To Demand Assad Oust Brother From Military'
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - June 18, 2011 Al-Arabiya reports Turkish envoy will bring 'warning letter' to Damascus calling for reform and the removal of Maher Assad from position of power.

A Turkish envoy will travel to Damascus in the coming days to bring a "warning letter" to Syrian President Bashar Assad, telling him to enact reforms and to remove his brother Maher Assad from the command of Syria's Republican Guard and the Fourth Armored Division, Al-Arabiya reported on Saturday. Maher Assad is largely believed to be behind the three-month old violent crackdown on anti-regime protesters.

The Turkish envoy will ask for Assad to grant Syrians freedom to demonstrate, freedom of expression and to lift the ban on political parties, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, according to the report.

Turkey is willing to give refuge to Maher Assad or organize refuge for him in a European country and will promise that he will not face criminal prosecution, Al-Arabiya reported.

The report came as Syrian troops and gunmen loyal to Assad stormed a town near the Turkish border, burning houses and arresting 70 people, witnesses said, in a wide-ranging military assault to crush a three month uprising.

"They came at 7 a.m. to Bdama. I counted nine tanks, 10 armoured carriers, 20 jeeps and 10 buses. I saw shabbiha (gunmen) setting fire to two houses," said Saria Hammouda, a lawyer from the small town of Bdama.

The town lies 2 km from the Turkish border, in Jisr al-Shughour region, from where thousands of people have fled to Turkey following military assaults to quell dissent against 41 years of Assad family rule

19 Syrians died on Friday when Syrian government forces fired at demonstrators demanding the removal of President Bashar Assad in the biggest protest since unrest against Baathist rule erupted in March, activists said.


UN split over Syria sanctions

Click for full Jpost coverage of turmoil in the Middle East

Angelina Jolie meets Syrian refugees in Turkey

Actress and UNHCR goodwill ambassador Angelina Jolie has visited camps along Turkey's border with Syria, where she met refugees who have fled the country since the beginning of the unrest.

More than 9,000 civilians are currently living in the Altinozu camp, which is being managed by the Turkish Red Crescent.

Speaking during her trip, Ms Jolie praised the work of the Turkish authorities for welcoming the refugees, but said she was "disturbed" by the children's understanding of their situation.

The UN says that at least 1,100 people have died in Syria as the government has cracked down on demonstrations that began in March

*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources
Jerusalem Post & Reuters
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DTN News - EADS DEFENSE NEWS: First Airbus Military C295 With AEW&C Rotodome Completes Maiden Flight

Defense News: DTN News - EADS DEFENSE NEWS: First Airbus Military C295 With AEW&C Rotodome Completes Maiden Flight
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - June 18, 2011: The first Airbus Military C295 development aircraft fitted with an Airbone Early Warning sand Command (AEW&C) rotodome has successfully completed its first flight on 7th June 2011 at Airbus Military’s site in Seville (Spain).

The flight follows extensive research and development work, including wind tunnel testing, leading to the conversion of a C295 to be fitted with the in-house developed rotodome The aircraft took off at 17h16 local time (15h16 UTC) and landed at 20h04 local time (18h04 UTC), after a flight lasting 2h48 (wheels off – wheels down). The experimental test pilot Alejandro Madurga captained the flight together with co-pilot Alfonso de Castro, the Flight Test Engineer Juan José Baeza, and the Test Flight Engineer Antonio Ojeda.

The objective of the trials is to verify the aerodynamic and structural impact of the rotodome on the aircraft’s overall structure, handling qualities and performance. The six metre diameter rotodome fitted for the initial trials is a fixed dummy structure. On production aircraft the rotodome would be a fast-rotating device housing a state-of-the-art radar providing full 360 degree and continuous coverage of a selected area. “This first flight confirmed to us that the C295 is an excellent platform to support such a rotodome”, said Alejandro Maurga after the flight.

The behavior of the aircraft and its flying characteristics were very satisfactory and as expected”. Flight testing will continue during the next three months to complete the feasibility study and fully validate the concept.

Airbus Military’s C295 is an ideal platform for Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) missions. The C295 is currently used for other Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance applications such as maritime patrol, anti-submarine warfare or environmental protection missions, to list just a few.

The C295 is a simple but robust platform with proven reliability, used in conflict operations for defence and homeland security missions. It is adaptable to the AEW&C role thanks to its versatility and the largest cabin in its class. The in-house developed Fully Integrated Tactical System (FITS) enables the integration of on-board sensors, including operation and monitoring of the future radar system and display of the aerial picture. The current AEW&C trials are to demonstrate the C295’s capability in this sector and thereby expand its range of applications. With the C295, Airbus Military has the tool to open up a new market segment for affordable high-performance AEW&C systems

About the C295

The new generation C295 is the ideal aircraft for military transport and civic missions such as humanitarian aid, homeland security, maritime patrol, and environmental surveillance. Thanks to its robustness and reliability, and with simple systems, this medium sized tactical airlifter provides the wide versatility and flexibility required for personnel, troop and bulky/palletized cargo transportation, casualty evacuation, communication and logistic duties, or certified air-dropping capabilities. It is fitted with both civil and military technology equipment which ensures success on demanding tactical missions, as well as growth potential for future equipment installation, and compatibility with the latest civil airspace environment. The 295 is part of Airbus Military’s family of light and medium airlifters which also includes the smaller C212 and CN235 platforms.

Contacts for the media:
Head of Communications Airbus Military
Airbus Military
Tel.:+34 91 5 85 59 00
Fax:+34 91 5 85 72 64


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