Saturday, September 24, 2011

Defense News: DTN News - UNITED NATIONS NEWS: Palestinians Seek Statehood At U.N.

Defense News: DTN News - UNITED NATIONS NEWS: Palestinians Seek Statehood At U.N.
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada / UNITED NATIONS - September 24, 2011: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas formally applied to the U.N. Security Council for Palestinian statehood, defying U.S. pressure to return to direct negotiations with Israel.

Despite the move, American and European diplomats frantically worked throughout Friday to try and lay out clearer terms for peace negotiations as a means to ultimately lure the Palestinian side away from the U.N. track.

European Pressphoto Agency

Palestinians in Ramallah listened Friday to their leader, Mahmoud Abbas, argue for statehood at the U.N.

The so-called Quartet of powers brokering Middle East peace, which comprises the U.S., European Union, U.N. and Russia, outlined a one-year timeline by which to conclude negotiations on a creating an independent Palestinian state. This would include a requirement for the Israelis and Palestinians to provide comprehensive proposals on borders and security within three months and economic incentives from the international community to the Palestinian Authority.

"This is a concrete proposal to be negotiated without delay or preconditions," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

The Palestinians didn't formally respond to the Quartet's offer, but said privately that it didn't address their two most pressing requirements for returning to negotiations. These include a complete freeze on Jewish construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and Israel's willingness to use its borders prior to the 1967 Six Day war as the baseline for talks, while recognizing the need for some territorial swaps.

"I don't think this is going to fly," said a senior Palestinian official in response to the Quartet's statement. "They ignored our most important requirements."

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas hands over a formal letter for Palestine to be admitted as a state to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

Tens of thousands of jubilant Palestinians gathered in the West Bank in anticipation of Mr. Abbas's speech to the U.N., while in New York, the prospect of the first serious peace talks in nearly three years seemed to suggest the possibility—even if faint—of a way forward.

Mr. Abbas drew standing ovations earlier on Friday when he addressed the U.N. General Assembly, calling for a "Palestinian spring." He spoke only moments after submitting a formal request for Palestinian statehood to U.N. Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon.

Mr. Abbas said the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the principal issue standing in the way of stability in the Mideast and charged the international community with denying his people a homeland for over six decades.

"It is a moment of truth and my people are waiting to hear the answer of the world. Will it allow Israel to continue its occupation, the only occupation in the world?" Mr. Abbas said in his 45-minute address.

Young men throw stones at an Israeli checkpoint as President Mahmoud Abbas's application for U.N. recognition provokes mixed reactions. (Video and image : Reuters)

He proudly raised the letter he had presented Mr. Ban, smiled, and waved it to the room.

The 76-year-old Arab leader said he had been forced to go to the U.N. Security Council because the negotiating process under Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had broken down. He charged that continued Jewish construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem was rapidly making a two-state solution to end the Arab-Israeli conflict unviable.

"The occupation is racing against time to redraws the borders on our land according to what it wants and to impose a fait accompli on the ground," Mr. Abbas said.

Mr. Netanyahu followed Mr. Abbas in addressing the General Assembly and directly challenged his narrative on the nature of the Mideast conflict. He said that the Palestinians' refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, rather than any settlement activity, was the primary motivator for the conflict.

The U.N. General Assembly

Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

Members of the Israeli delegation, left, left the General Assembly as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arrived to speak Friday.

"The core of the conflict is not the settlements. The settlements are a result of the conflict," Mr. Netanyahu said.

Mr. Netanyahu stressed that any efforts to forge a two-state solution without extensive negotiations on Israel's security could be disastrous for the Jewish state's security.

He reminded the General Assembly that Israel pulled out all of its security forces and settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005, but that the militant group Hamas filled the power vacuum in the Palestinian territory.

Responding to Mr. Abbas's statement that the Palestinians were armed "only with their hopes and dreams," Mr. Netanyahu said, "Hopes, dreams—and 10,000 missiles and Grad rockets supplied by Iran."

Still, Mr. Netanyahu challenged Mr. Abbas in front of the U.N. to immediately engage in direct negotiations with his government. He said that an independent Palestinian state could never be created through the offices of the U.N., which he said worked at times like the "theater of the absurd."

"I continue to hope that President Abbas will be my partner for peace…Why don't you join me? Mr. Netanyahu said to the General Assembly. "We've both flown thousands of miles to New York. So let's meet here today in the United Nations…What is there to stop us?"

The Palestinian Authority is pressing hard for the votes it needs to pass an application recognizing its statehood in the U.N. Security Council, despite the likelihood of a U.S. veto, Foreign Minister Riad Malki says in an interview. If the effort fails, he says, both the Palestinians and the U.S. will be worse off.

Mr. Abbas's submission to the U.N. Security Council was a direct rebuke of the Obama administration's foreign policy. And it called into question Washington's future role as the ultimate arbiter on diplomacy in the Mideast, a position it has held for the past 25 years.

U.S. officials have lobbied Mr. Abbas for months to return to direct negotiations with the Israelis, arguing it was the only path to peace. The U.S. Congress, meanwhile, has threatened to cut off hundreds of millions of dollars in annual financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority if Mr. Abbas goes forward.

U.S. and European officials said their primary focus in the coming days will be to convince Messrs. Abbas and Netanyahu to return to the negotiating table under the Quartet's plan. But they also said a push was already beginning inside the 15-nation U.N. Security Council to convince the majority of its members not to back the Palestinian bid.

Lebanon, the current president of the Security Council, said it would introduce the Palestinian application for statehood for discussion at the 15-nation council on Monday.

The U.S., as one of five permanent members of the Security Council, has a veto. But U.S. officials privately acknowledge that they worry about the impact of Washington's standing in the Middle East if it is forced to utilize it.

Mr. Abbas needs nine of 15 Security Council members to gain a recommendation for membership to the General Assembly, where a two-thirds majority would then be required. But U.S. officials believe France and the U.K. are likely to abstain, while developing countries like Colombia and Bosnia-Herzegovina are undecided.

Palestinian officials acknowledge that a Security Council vote against their measure could have disastrous political consequences for Mr. Abbas.

Alternately, the Palestinians are also considering presenting a resolution to the U.N. General Assembly that would give the Palestinian Authority advanced standing at the U.N. and allow it to join such bodies as the International Criminal Court and the U.N. Human Rights Committee. Israeli officials worry the Palestinians could use these forms to charge Israeli military officials with war crimes.

Getting Out the Vote

Where members of the U.N. Security Council are believed to stand on the U.N. recognizing a Palestine state; nine votes are needed with no veto


• Russia*, China*, Brazil*, India*, South Africa*, Lebanon*


• Colombia*, Portugal, Gabon*, Bosnia-Herzegovina


• Germany, Nigeria*, France, Britain


• U.S.

*Formally recognized a Palestinian state.

U.N. diplomats said such a resolution at the 193-nation General Assembly would pass by a large margin.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered in cities across the West Bank to celebrate the move and watch Mr. Abbas's speech on large television screens set up in central squares for the occasion. They were the largest public gatherings since the funeral of Mr. Abbas's predecessor, Yasser Arafat, in 2004. There were no rallies in Gaza, where the militant group Hamas is in control and opposed Mr. Abbas's UN initiative.

In the West Bank, the mood was jubilant as crowds made up of whole families gathered hours before the speech to sing, dance, chant slogans and wave Palestinian flags. Among the many posters and banners, a few criticized U.S. President Barack Obama, whose opposition to the statehood bid deeply disappointed Palestinians and Arabs across the Middle East.

Defying U.S. and Israeli opposition, Palestinian President Abbas asked the United Nations Friday to accept the Palestinians as a member state. Eduardo Kaplan has details and Eurasia Group's Ian Bremmer provides analysis on The News Hub.

In the West Bank city of Ramallah, seat of Mr. Abbas's Palestinian Authority, the crowd filled Arafat square and lined the rooftops surrounding it. It erupted in cheers and flag-waving when Mr. Abbas asked the U.N. to accept his application for statehood.

"It was an emotional moment for me," said Ghadir Aydieh, a 23-year old said, a Palestinian flag wrapped around her head. "He carried the message of the Palestinian people. It has given us some hope."

The gatherings were overwhelming peaceful, but the Palestinian security and police forces mobilized all 29,000 of its officers to prevent violence and clashes with the Israeli military.

Israel itself mobilized more than 20,000 riot police and security officials. Major checkpoints were manned with thousands of soldiers in riot gear, and there were between youths throwing rocks and Israeli soldiers at some checkpoints.

—Joe Lauria contributed to this article.

Write to Jay Solomon at

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*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News



DTN News - PAKISTAN NEWS: US Turns Up The Heat On Pakistan’s Spy Agency

Defense News: DTN News - PAKISTAN NEWS: US Turns Up The Heat On Pakistan’s Spy Agency
**DTN News - JIHAD & TERRORISM REPORTS: Pakistani Military Officers' Links With Jihadist Organizations
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - September 23, 2011: Washington’s stunning charge that Pakistan’s spy service is backing violence against US targets in Afghanistan has pushed Islamabad into a tight corner: either it cleans up the powerful agency or it faces the wrath of an angry superpower.

There has never been much doubt in Washington that the shadowy Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) plays a “double game”, supporting some militants to extend its influence in Afghanistan and counter India, while targeting others.

But the gloves came off on Thursday when US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen bluntly described the Haqqani militant network as a “veritable arm” of the ISI and accused Pakistan of providing support for the group’s Sept. 13 brazen attack on the US embassy in Kabul.

It was the most serious allegation levelled by Washington against the nuclear-armed South Asian nation since they allied in the war on terror in 2001, and the first time it has held Islamabad responsible for an attack against the United States.

“Mullen has finally put Pakistan on the spot and I don’t think he has left any ambiguity about the feelings of the US about the ISI,” said Rasul Bakhsh Rais, an Islamabad-based academic and political columnist. “Mullen has thrown the ball into Pakistan’s court.”

A State within a State

Pakistan’s equivalent of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) — with which it has a paradoxical relationship of cooperation and deep distrust — the ISI has tentacles so far-reaching that it is often seen as a state within a state.

Widely feared by Pakistanis, it is widely believed to employ tens of thousands of agents, with informers in many spheres of life.

Created in 1948, the ISI gained importance and power during the 1979-1989 Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. With the United States and Saudi Arabia, it nurtured the Afghan mujahideen, or Muslim holy warrior guerrillas, helping them win the war and paving the way for the creation of the Taliban.

Although Pakistan officially abandoned support for the Taliban after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States in 2001, analysts say elements of the ISI refused to make the strategic doctrinal shift.

US officials say the ISI seemed to turn a blind eye — or perhaps even helped — as Taliban and al Qaeda members fled into Pakistan during the US invasion of Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks, and “rogue” elements of the agency have since maintained ties with, and support for, the Afghan Taliban.

The main preoccupation of the ISI, and the Pakistani military, is the threat from nuclear-armed rival, India.

It was heavily involved in the 1990s in creating and supporting Islamist factions that battled Indian forces in the disputed region of Kashmir, and now it sees the Taliban as tools to influence events and limit India’s role in Afghanistan.

Washington also believes the agency protected Abdul Qadeer Khan, lionized as the “father” of Pakistan’s bomb, who was arrested in 2004 for selling nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

When militants attacked the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008, killing 166 people, New Delhi accused the ISI of controlling and coordinating the strikes. Pakistan denies any active ISI connection to the Mumbai attacks.

Islamabad often points to the thousands of troops killed in action against militants on Pakistani soil as proof of its commitment to fighting terrorism.

However, Washington has grown increasingly suspicious and ready to criticise its ally, especially after it emerged that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden — who was killed in a raid by US Navy SEALs in May — had lived in a garrison town a two-hour drive from Islamabad, by some accounts for up to five years.

ISI under pressure?

Admiral Mullen’s tirade against the ISI over its alleged links with the Haqqanis, which has inflicted heavy casualties on US forces in Afghanistan, took that criticism to a new level.

Retired brigadier Asad Munir, who headed up the military intelligence agency in the insurgency-plagued tribal areas of northwestern Pakistan from 1999 to 2003, said relations between the United States and the ISI had sunk to their lowest ebb.

“It has never been so bad over the last 20 years. They have never accused the ISI so baldly … This time they have come out openly (to say) that they have evidence.”

The question, though, is whether the intelligence agency will feel under any real pressure to change.

The United States has few options beyond the feisty rhetoric displayed by the outgoing Joint Chiefs of Staff.

It could halt its security and economic aid for Pakistan. It could also step up drone strikes in Pakistan’s North Waziristan, where elements of the Haqqani network enjoy sanctuary, but a more robust military operation would be highly risky.

However, the ISI by itself is unlikely to feel any significant pressure at home.

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*Speaking Image - Creation of DTN News ~ Defense Technology News
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News