JFP 1/21: US prioritizing "security" over aid to Haiti
Just Foreign Policy News
January 21, 2010
Let Aid Go Through to Haiti
Aid groups have charged that the US military has blocked them from bringing desperately needed assistance into Haiti. Urge your representatives in Congress to speak out to try to increase the flow of aid into Haiti.
WHO: Gaza Health Fact Sheet
The WHO summarizes statistics on the shortages of medicines, and those who have died waiting for permission to cross the border for treatment, among other issues.
UN: Haiti Earthquake - Humanitarian Operational Challenges
The UN publishes a map that illustrates the challenges of trying to get aid into Haiti.
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1) The US seems to be prioritizing "security" over much more urgent, life-and-death needs in Haiti, writes Mark Weisbrot in the Guardian. On Sunday, Jarry Emmanuel, air logistics officer for the UN's World Food Programme, said: "There are 200 flights going in and out every day, which is an incredible amount for a country like Haiti ... But most flights are for the US military." Yet Lieutenant General PK Keen, deputy commander of the US Southern Command, reports that there is less violence in Haiti now than there was before the earthquake hit. The US decision to priortize "security" over other needs may be rooted in Washington's longstanding opposition to democracy in Haiti, Weisbrot suggests.
2) Doctors without Borders (MSF) accused the US of mishandling aid operations in Haiti and causing severe delays to doctors trying to bring vital help to victims of the earthquake, Reuters reports. The head of the legal department of MSF said days had been lost because the main airport in Port-au-Prince, now under U.S. control, had been blocked by military traffic. "We lost three days," she told Reuters. "And these three days have created a massive problem with infection, with gangrene, with amputations that are needed now, while we could have really spared this to those people."
3) Authorities said the biggest dangers now facing survivors of last week's major earthquake in Haiti were untreated wounds and rising disease, the New York Times reports. "There are still thousands of patients with major fractures, major wounds, that have not been treated yet," said a University of Miami cardiologist. "There are people, many people, who are going to die unless they're treated."
4) The IMF now says its new $100 million loan to Haiti will be interest-free and will not carry any policy conditionality, and that the IMF will work immediately to cancel all of Haiti's debt to the IMF, including the new loan, the Nation reports.
5) Stephen Kinzer says Iran is America's ideal ally in the Muslim world, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Kinzer argues that the pro-democracy movement in Iran inevitably will lead the country to adopt a new, more open regime, as long as "the U.S. can resist the temptation to intervene and can allow events to take their own course." Kinzer's new book, Reset: Iran, Turkey, and America's Future, due June 8 from Times Books, negates the popular belief that it's in our best interest to cultivate a weak, if not destabilized, Iran.
6) Israel and Europe must accept, as the US has, that Turkey has changed and that Turkey's reentry into the Middle East is permanent, argues Turkish parliamentarian Suat Kinkiloğlu in the Christian Science Monitor. Unless there is visible change addressing the humanitarian situation in Gaza and a more constructive position is adopted in relation to making peace with Syria, it is highly unlikely that the quality of Turkey's relationship with Israel will improve.
7) The Taliban have embarked on a campaign to soften their image and win favor with local Afghans, the New York Times reports. As the Taliban deepen their presence in more of Afghanistan, they are in greater need of popular support and are recasting themselves increasingly as a local liberation movement, independent of Al Qaeda, capitalizing on the mounting frustration of Afghans with their own government and the presence of foreign troops. The effect has been to make them a more potent insurgency, some NATO officials said.
8) Pakistan's army has said it will launch no new offensives on militants in 2010, in what the BBC called a "snub" to the US, the BBC reports. The BBC says the announcement threatens to render ineffective an expanded coalition troop deployment in Afghanistan, as the Taliban over the border would be relieved of any pressure from the Pakistan army.
9) Experts and intelligence officials told the Senate that Al Qaida is growing stronger in Yemen, fueled by anger toward the Yemeni government, anti-American sentiment and the return of Yemenis who fought the US in Iraq and Afghanistan, McClatchy reports. The experts warned that the Yemeni government sees domestic opponents as a bigger problem than al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
1) U.S. "Security Concerns" Could Cost Many Lives in Haiti
Haiti needs water, not occupation
The US has never wanted Haitian self-rule, and its focus on 'security concerns' has hampered the earthquake aid response
Mark Weisbrot, Guardian, Wednesday 20 January 2010 23.00 GMT http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/jan/20/haiti-water-us-occupation
On Monday, six days after the earthquake in Haiti, the US Southern Command finally began to drop bottled water and food from an air force C-17. US defence secretary Robert Gates had previously rejected such a method because of "security concerns".
If people do not get clean water, there could be epidemics of water-borne diseases that could greatly increase the death toll. But the US is now sending 10,000 troops and seems to be prioritising "security" over much more urgent, life-and-death needs. This in addition to the increase of 3,500 UN troops scheduled to arrive.
On Sunday morning the world-renowned humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders complained that a plane carrying its portable hospital unit was re-routed by the US military through the Dominican Republic. This would cost a crucial 48 hours and an unknown number of lives.
On Sunday, Jarry Emmanuel, air logistics officer for the UN's World Food Programme, said: "There are 200 flights going in and out every day, which is an incredible amount for a country like Haiti ... But most flights are for the US military."
Yet Lieutenant General PK Keen, deputy commander of the US Southern Command, reports that there is less violence in Haiti now than there was before the earthquake hit. Dr Evan Lyon, of Partners in Health, a medical aid group famous for its heroic efforts in Haiti, referred to "misinformation and rumours … and racism" concerning security issues. "We've been circulating throughout the city until 2:00 and 3:00 in the morning every night, evacuating patients, moving materials. There's no UN guards. There's no US military presence. There's no Haitian police presence. And there's also no violence. There is no insecurity."
To understand the US government's obsession with "security concerns," we must look at the recent history of Washington's involvement there.
Long before the earthquake, Haiti's plight has been comparable to that of many homeless people on city streets in the US: too poor and too black to have the same effective constitutional and legal rights as other citizens. In 2002, when a US-backed military coup temporarily toppled the elected government of Venezuela, most governments in the hemisphere responded quickly and helped force the return of democratic rule. But two years later, when Haiti's democratically elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was kidnapped by the US and flown to exile in Africa, the response was muted.
Unlike the two centuries of looting and pillage of Haiti since its founding by a slave revolt in 1804, the brutal occupation by US marines from 1915 to 1934, the countless atrocities under dictatorships aided and abetted by Washington, the 2004 coup cannot be dismissed as "ancient history." It was just six years ago, and it is directly relevant to what is happening there now.
The US, together with Canada and France, conspired openly for four years to topple Haiti's elected government, cutting off almost all international aid in order to destroy the economy and make the country ungovernable. They succeeded. For those who wonder why there are no Haitian government institutions to help with the earthquake relief efforts, this is a big reason. Or why there are 3 million people crowded into the area where the earthquake hit. US policy over the years also helped destroy Haitian agriculture, for example, by forcing the import of subsidised US rice and wiping out thousands of Haitian rice farmers.
Aristide, the country's first democratically elected president, was overthrown after just seven months in 1991, by military officers and death squads later discovered to be in the pay of the CIA. Now Aristide wants to return to his country, something that the majority of Haitians have demanded since his overthrow. But the US does not want him there. And the René Préval government, which is completely beholden to Washington, has decided that Aristide's party - the largest in Haiti - will not be allowed to compete in the next elections (originally scheduled for next month).
Washington's fear of democracy in Haiti may explain why the US is now sending 10,000 troops and prioritising "security" over other needs.
Reconstruction needs will be in the billions of dollars: will Washington encourage the establishment of a functioning government? Or will it prevent that, channelling aid through NGOs and taking over various functions itself, because it of its long-standing opposition to Haitian self-rule?
But most urgently, there is a need for rapid delivery of water. The US air force has the capability to deliver enough water for everyone who needs it in Haiti, until ground supply chains can be established. The more water is available, the less likely there is to be fighting or rioting over this scarce resource. Food and medical supplies could also be supplied through air drops. These operations should be ramped up, immediately. There is no time to lose.
2) French aid group MSF accuses US over Haiti delays
- Aid organisation says mismanagement causing delays
- Group says three vital days lost
Morade Azzouz, Reuters, 20 Jan 2010 18:21:38 GMT
Paris - One of France's main humanitarian organisations accused the United States on Wednesday of mishandling aid operations in Haiti and causing severe delays to doctors trying to bring vital help to victims of the earthquake.
Francoise Saulnier, head of the legal department of aid group Medicins sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders) said days had been lost because the main airport in Port-au-Prince, now under U.S. control, had been blocked by military traffic. "We lost three days," she told Reuters Television in an interview. "And these three days have created a massive problem with infection, with gangrene, with amputations that are needed now, while we could have really spared this to those people."
The aid group, set up in 1971 by a group of journalists and doctors including France's current foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, has complained that 5 aeroplanes carrying 85 tonnes of drugs and surgical supplies have been turned away from Port-au-Prince since Sunday night.
France's junior overseas cooperation minister, Alain Joyandet, protested to U.S. authorities at the weekend when a French plane carrying humanitarian aid was prevented from landing at the U.S.-controlled airport in the Haitian capital.
Saulnier said the situation for surgeons working on the ground was extremely difficult and relief teams had been forced to buy equipment on the local market to cut bones. "So it's just apocalyptic at the moment with people in a very, very bad and deteriorating condition," she said, adding that there had been "real mismanagement of vital issues".
"You have the three first days to get people out of the buildings, then three others to give them medical and surgical attention and then all the rest, emergencies, food, shelter, water - all this comes after," she said, speaking in English.
"And now everything has been mixed together and the urgent and vital attention to the people has been delayed (for) military logistics, which is useful but not on day three, not on day four, but maybe on day eight. This military logistic has really jammed the airport and led to this mismanagment.
3) Nightmare In Haiti: Untreated Illness And Injury
Marc Lacey, New York Times, January 21, 2010
Port-Au-Prince, Haiti - A strong aftershock rattled Haiti once again on Wednesday, causing even more physical damage and further traumatizing the jittery population. But the authorities said the biggest dangers now facing survivors of last week's major earthquake were untreated wounds and rising disease, not falling debris.
Because of untreated injuries, infectious diseases and dismal sanitary conditions, health workers said that the natural disaster that struck Haiti more than a week ago remained a major medical crisis and that, unless quickly controlled, it would continue to take large numbers of lives in the days and weeks ahead.
"There are still thousands of patients with major fractures, major wounds, that have not been treated yet," said Dr. Eduardo de Marchena, a University of Miami cardiologist who oversaw a tent hospital near the airport where hundreds of severely injured people were being tended. "There are people, many people, who are going to die unless they're treated."
For the seriously ill, the chances of surviving may depend on leaving Haiti entirely. On Wednesday morning, a paramedic rushed up to Dr. de Marchena with news of a newborn who had arrived at another clinic in dire condition. After hearing that the baby could barely breathe, Dr. de Marchena said, "Should I get him airlifted to the United States?" The paramedic hesitated for a moment, and the doctor said, "Do it." The baby was soon boarded for medical care in Miami.
In the squatter camps now scattered across this capital, there are still people writhing in pain, their injuries bound up by relatives but not yet seen by a doctor eight days after the quake struck. On top of that, the many bodies still in the wreckage increase the risk of diseases spreading, especially, experts say, if there is rain.
Getting food and water to displaced people is also crucial to staving off more deaths, relief workers said. As of Wednesday, the World Food Program reported that it had distributed food to more than 200,000 people, but it acknowledged that it could take as long as a month for relief food to get to the two million or more people in need.
At some of the hospitals and clinics now treating survivors, the conditions are as basic as can be, with vodka to sterilize instruments and health workers going to the market to buy hacksaws for amputations.
At General Hospital in here Port-au-Prince, the water and power are both out, medical supplies are running low and fuel for generators is hard to come by, doctors reported. Other hospitals are even worse off, though, with patients moved outside into the open air.
Another grievance among some health professionals was that the American military was not giving enough of a priority to humanitarian aid. Doctors Without Borders has complained that more than one of its planes carrying vital medical equipment has been kept from landing at the airport here, costing lives.
Despite all the incoming help, Partners in Health, an organization that has been providing health care in Haiti for two decades, estimated that 20,000 Haitians were dying daily from lack of surgery. But that figure was not backed up by other aid organizations in Haiti and appeared to be much higher than other estimates of the continuing death toll from injuries. The W.H.O. said it was just beginning to gather epidemiological data to assess how much the quake's toll, which is still uncertain, might rise.
There were some early efforts to address the psychological toll of the earthquake.
At the University of Haiti, which hardly showed any damage, Jean Robert Cheri, a professor of psychology, sent a team of student trauma counselors into the streets. "We are sending them out with basic instructions," he said. "First, listen to people, let them verbalize their feelings. Second, don't promise them any material aid, because you can't deliver."
Mr. Cheri said that the students' studies had been interrupted for the foreseeable future and that putting their lessons to work would help both them and the country. "Look, it's not going to be easy because they're traumatized themselves," he said of his students. "I myself am a psychologist who needs therapy. When I go to sleep, I dream of houses falling down."
4) IMF Clarifies Terms of Haiti's Loan
Richard Kim, The Nation, 01/20/2010 @ 4:43pm
Last Friday I wrote about the IMF's new $100 million loan to Haiti. I cited debt relief activists who told me that the new loan would be an extension of the IMF's existing loan of $165 million. This information was confirmed by the IMF's press release, which stated that "emergency financing would be provided as an augmentation to the existing IMF-supported arrangement with Haiti under the Extended Credit Facility [ECF]." The IMF's announcement provided no further information about conditions that may or may not be attached to the loan and made no mention of future debt relief for Haiti.
My post was based largely on an analysis by Soren Ambrose, the development finance coordinator of ActionAid International, who concluded that augmenting the existing ECF loan to Haiti would impose the same conditions as the original loan. Those conditions include raising prices for electricity, refusing pay raises for any public sector employees except those making minimum wage and keeping inflation as low as possible. Ambrose says that he doesn't know of any established procedure that would exempt an augmentation of an existing program from the program's conditions. (His analysis also noted that Haiti's existing program with the IMF was due to expire at the end of this month and that negotiations on the loan's terms were likely underway already.)
As the IMF announced its $100 million loan under vague and presumably onerous terms, debt relief activists like the folks at Jubilee USA were already calling for a different kind of global response. They were demanding that aid to Haiti come in the form of grants, not loans. But given the magnitude of the crisis and the fact that the IMF does not issue grants, they welcomed the IMF loan in the hopes that its terms could be altered in the future and that Haiti's entire debt could be canceled. At the same time, Naomi Klein and others warned about the possibility that the earthquake would be used as a pretext to amp up Haiti's exposure to the shock doctrine. Activists started a Facebook group, No Shock Doctrine for Haiti, and in less than a week, it has attracted almost 18,000 members. Appeals for debt relief and for the recognition of Haiti's economic sovereignty were written to the Obama administration, the IMF, the World Bank and anyone else who might play a role in Haiti's reconstruction.
Today, the IMF put out an announcement clarifying the terms of its new loan to Haiti-it's "an interest-free loan of $100 million in emergency funds." A spokesman for the IMF emailed me to confirm that "the US$100 million loan does not carry any conditionality. It is an emergency loan aimed at getting the Haitian economy back to function again..." The IMF's managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said in a statement that the IMF would immediately work to cancel the entirety of Haiti's debt ($265 million) to the fund:
"The most important thing is that the IMF is now working with all donors to try to delete all the Haitian debt, including our new loan. If we succeed-and I'm sure we will succeed-even this loan will turn out to be finally a grant, because all the debt will have been deleted."
In other words, as the IMF is processing a loan, it is also making a public promise to try to cancel it.
Klein says that this is "unprecedented in my experience and shows that public pressure in moments of disaster can seriously subvert shock doctrine tactics." Neil Watkins, Executive Director of Jubilee USA, likewise hails the IMF's response. "Since the IMF's announcement last week of its intention to provide Haiti with a $100 million loan, Jubilee USA and our partners have been calling for grants and debt cancellation-not new loans-for Haiti. We are pleased that Managing Director Strauss-Kahn has responded to that call."
5) Writer calls Iran our best hope for an ally
Stephen Kinzer argues that it shares strategic and democratic interests with the U.S.
Tirdad Derakhshani, Philadelphia Inquirer, Thu, Jan. 21, 2010
America's ideal ally in the Muslim world is not Jordan or (the new and improved) Iraq - and certainly not Saudi Arabia - but Iran. So argues journalist and historian Stephen Kinzer, author of the acclaimed 2003 political study, All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror.
Would that be the same Iran that reveled as militants took 66 Americans hostage in 1979?
Yes, says Kinzer, who argues that the pro-democracy movement in Iran inevitably will lead the country to adopt a new, more open regime. He argues that America will profit greatly from this change.
Kinzer's point, elaborated in his new book, Reset: Iran, Turkey, and America's Future, due June 8 from Times Books, negates the popular belief that it's in our best interest to cultivate a weak, if not destabilized, Iran.
Kinzer says an Iranian democracy would make for a natural U.S. ally.
Like its neighbor Turkey, Iran "has two things in common with the U.S. that make it a potentially good ally," he says by cell phone. "We have long-term strategic interests in common. Second, our societies have a strong democratic flavor."
Both assertions are bold, even counterintuitive. But Kinzer backs them up with strong argumentation. "Look at it from the cool, logical point of view of our national interest," he suggests. Like America, he says, Iran is eager to curb Russian power. And like America, Iran, a Shiite nation, "has a deep-seated enmity toward radical Sunni movements like the Taliban."
Kinzer believes that because of Iran's great influence on the Shia majority in Iraq, it can help end Iraq's internal conflicts. He approvingly cites Iran's support of a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
And he goes a step further, suggesting that without Iran's help, it would be nearly impossible to bring about long-lasting peace in the Middle East.
Democracy will flower again in Iran, Kinzer adds, as long as "the U.S. can resist the temptation to intervene and can allow events to take their own course."
6) Israel must get used to the new Turkey
Unless Israel improves the humanitarian situation in Gaza, tension between Turkey and Israel will remain.
Suat Kinkiloğlu, Christian Science Monitor, January 20, 2010
[Kiniklioğlu is deputy chairman of external affairs for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey and a member of the National Assembly.]
Ankara, Turkey - Turkey and Israel are at loggerheads again, and this should come as no surprise.
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon recently staged a rebuke of the Turkish ambassador in Tel Aviv over the contents of a Turkish television show. Israel subsequently apologized, but this will go down as yet another milestone in the ongoing tension between Turkey and Israel.
Despite some Israeli and American efforts to paint Turkey's objections to Israeli policies as "anti-Semitic," people in the business of statecraft understand very well where Turkey is coming from.
They recognize that disagreements between Turkey and Israel are likely to continue provided there is no recognizable change in issues such as improving the humanitarian situation in Gaza. They also recognize the complete and immediate freezing of settlements and the overall posture of Israel toward the peace process - if one can still talk about such a process.
The Americans began to revise their position in 2007 and recognized that Turkey is a regional power and no longer the satellite state of the cold-war years. They understood that Turkey needed to be treated accordingly. It took quite a bit of time and effort to facilitate that mental shift, but President Obama's early visit to Turkey was a confirmation of that perception vis-à-vis Turkey.
The Europeans still have a hard time making the mental shift concerning Turkey, which is why our relations remain fragile. Israel appears to be in the same position. They also do not seem to have fully accepted that Turkey has changed and that Turkey's reentry into the Middle East is permanent.
Israel appears to be yearning for the golden 1990s, which were the product of a very specific situation in the region. Those days are over and are unlikely to come back even if the Justice and Development Party (AKP) ends up no longer being in government.
The natural uniting and bonding in Turkey over the Ayalon affair should be an eye-opener for those who believe that all would be dandy if only the AK Party would fall from power. Friends and foes better treat our ambassadors accordingly. Clumsy efforts to humiliate a Turkish ambassador should never be part of Israeli domestic political calculations.
As is confirmed consistently by public-opinion polls, our people and government have great sensitivity to the plight of the Palestinians.
Unless there is visible change addressing the humanitarian situation in Gaza and a more constructive position is adopted in relation to making peace with Syria, it is highly unlikely that the quality of the bilateral relationship with Israel will improve.
7) Taliban Overhaul Their Image In Bid To Win Allies
Alissa J. Rubin, New York Times, January 21, 2010
Kabul, Afghanistan - The Taliban have embarked on a sophisticated information war, using modern media tools as well as some old-fashioned ones, to soften their image and win favor with local Afghans as they try to counter the Americans' new campaign to win Afghan hearts and minds.
The Taliban's spiritual leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, issued a lengthy directive late last spring outlining a new code of conduct for the Taliban. The dictates include bans on suicide bombings against civilians, burning down schools, or cutting off ears, lips and tongues.
The code, which has been spottily enforced, does not necessarily mean a gentler insurgency. Although the Taliban warned some civilians away before the assault on the heart of Kabul on Monday, they were still responsible for three-quarters of civilian casualties last year, according to the United Nations.
Now, as the Taliban deepen their presence in more of Afghanistan, they are in greater need of popular support and are recasting themselves increasingly as a local liberation movement, independent of Al Qaeda, capitalizing on the mounting frustration of Afghans with their own government and the presence of foreign troops. The effect has been to make them a more potent insurgency, some NATO officials said.
Afghan villagers and some NATO officials added that the code had begun to change the way some midlevel Taliban commanders and their followers behaved on the ground. A couple of the most brutal commanders have even been removed by Mullah Omar.
American and Afghan analysts see the Taliban's effort as part of a broad initiative that employs every tool they can muster, including the Internet technology they once denounced as un-Islamic. Now they use word of mouth, messages to cellphones and Internet videos to get their message out.
"The Taliban are trying to win the favor of the people," said Wahid Mujda, a former Taliban official who now tracks the insurgency on the Internet and frequently comments on Afghan television. "The reason they changed their tactics is that they want to prepare for a long-term fight, and for that they need support from the people; they need local sources of income," he said. "So, they learned not to repeat their previous mistakes."
The new public relations campaign combined with relatively less cruel behavior may have stemmed some of the anger at the insurgency, which tribal leaders in the south said had begun to rally people against the Taliban.
But the most important factor in their growing reach is the ineffectiveness of the central government and Afghans' resentment of foreign troops. Military intelligence analysts now estimate that there are 25,000 to 30,000 committed Taliban fighters and perhaps as many as 500,000 others who would fight either for pay or if they felt attacked by the Western coalition.
The effort to change the Taliban's image began in earnest last May when Mullah Omar disseminated his new code of conduct. The New York Times obtained a copy of the document through a Taliban spokesman. A version of the new code was authenticated last summer by NATO intelligence after a copy was seized during a raid and its contents corroborated using human intelligence, according to a senior NATO intelligence official.
The version sent to The Times is a 69-point document ranging from how to treat local people, how to treat prisoners, what to do with captured enemy equipment and when to execute captives. Much of the document deals with the Taliban chain of command and limits the decisions that field commanders can make on their own. The document exhorts insurgents to live and work in harmony with local people.
In an eerie echo of the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit the photographing of prisoners, one edict states: "If someone is sentenced to death, he must be killed with a gun, and photographing the execution is forbidden."
Creating a code of behavior is one thing, enforcing it another. The Taliban have survived in part because they are an atomized movement and it is difficult to persuade local commanders, who operate in mountain or desert redoubts, to follow directives from leaders living hundreds of miles away in Pakistan.
"If you compare the document to actual behavior, Mullah Omar only has marginal control over his forces," said Rear Adm. Gregory J. Smith, the director of communications for NATO.
"A portion of it may stick in some parts of the country, but not in other places," he said. Despite an edict that says in suicide attacks "to try your best to avoid killing local people," a suicide bombing in Oruzgan Province last Thursday killed 16 civilians. But in most places, the civilian casualties from suicide bombers have been in the single digits. The Kabul attack on Monday killed five people, two of them civilians, and wounded 32.
That contrasts sharply with Pakistan, where the insurgency routinely fields suicide bombers who kill scores of civilians.
The latest refrain of Taliban commanders, their Internet magazine and from surrogates is that the insurgency represents Afghanistan's Pashtuns, who are portrayed as persecuted by the Afghan government. "Pashtuns are suffering everywhere; if you go and check the prisons, you won't find any prisoners except Pashtuns; when you hear about bombings, it is Pashtuns' homes that have been bombed," said a Taliban commander from Kandahar Province who goes by the name Sangar Yar.
8) Pakistan snubs US over new Taliban offensive
BBC, Thursday, 21 January 2010
Pakistan's army has said it will launch no new offensives on militants in 2010, as the US defence secretary arrived for talks on combating Taliban fighters. Army spokesman Athar Abbas told the BBC the "overstretched" military had no plans for any fresh anti-militant operations over the next 12 months.
Our correspondent says the comments are a clear snub to Washington. The US would like Pakistan to expand an offensive against militants launching cross-border attacks in Afghanistan. Defence Secretary Robert Gates arrived in Pakistan on Thursday for his first visit since US President Barack Obama took office last year.
In the capital, Islamabad, on Thursday, Maj Gen Abbas, head of public relations for the Pakistan army, told the BBC: "We are not going to conduct any major new operations against the militants over the next 12 months.
"The Pakistan army is overstretched and it is not in a position to open any new fronts. Obviously, we will continue our present operations in Waziristan and Swat."
The BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan in Islamabad says the comments are a clear brush-off to top US officials. Our correspondent adds they are embarrassing for Pakistan's shaky coalition government, and likely to further destabilise already-low ties with its US ally.
He says it also threatens to render ineffective an expanded coalition troop deployment in Afghanistan, as the Taliban over the border would be relieved of any pressure from the Pakistan army.
Talks were also expected to focus on US drone strikes against militants near the Afghan border. Hundreds of people - many of them militants, but many more civilians - have died in the attacks, which have stoked deep resentment of the US among many Pakistanis.
9) Al Qaida Threat Growing In Yemen, Congress Hears
Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers, Thu, Jan. 21, 2010
Washington - Al Qaida is growing stronger in Yemen, fueled by anger toward the Yemeni government, anti-American sentiment and the return of Yemenis who fought the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. experts and intelligence officials told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday.
The experts also warned that while the U.S. is seeking assistance from the Yemeni government to defeat al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, that government sees domestic opponents as a bigger problem and may offer only limited help.
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