Τετάρτη, 30 Σεπτεμβρίου 2009

European report blames start of S.Ossetia conflict on Georgia

European report blames start of S.Ossetia conflict on Georgia

The August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia was started by Tbilisi's unjustified military attack on South Ossetia, concludes an independent report commissioned by the EU and published on Wednesday.

"There is the question of whether the use of force by Georgia in South Ossetia, beginning with the shelling of Tskhinvali during the night of 7/8 August 2008, was justifiable under international law. It was not," the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Conflict in Georgia said. The report said Russia's response to the Georgian aggression was "legal," as the initial military operations were of a defensive nature, but subsequent Russian actions "went far beyond the reasonable limits of defense" and were "in violation of international law."The report concluded that "even though both sides stress their commitment to a peaceful future, the risk of a new confrontation remains serious."The fact-finding mission was established by the European Union on December 2, 2008, with Heidi Tagliavini, a Swiss diplomat and former head of the United Nations Observer Mission inGeorgia, as its head.

Russian troops moved into South Ossetia after the Georgian assault and expelled Georgian forces in five days of fighting that were ended by an EU-negotiated ceasefire.Many residents of South Ossetia, which had been de facto independent since the early 1990s, held Russian citizenship, and several hundred Russian peacekeepers were deployed in the republic.

The report said Russia's actions to defend its peacekeepers were justified under international law, but condemned the Russian push far beyond the boundaries of South Ossetia. It also condemned South Ossetian attacks on ethnic Georgians within the republic, and on Georgian troops after the August 12 ceasefire.The armed action of Abkhazia, another former Georgian republic, to reclaim the disputed Kodori Gorge from Tbilisi's control, and Russia's support of that action, was also considered illegal under international law by the commission, which stressed that it was not a tribunal.Russian prosecutors confirmed that 162 residents of South Ossetia were killed in the conflict, and 255 injured. Sixty-four Russian servicemen were killed, including 15 peacekeepers.Russia recognized both South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent two weeks after the conflict and has several thousand troops stationed in the republics to ensure security in the region.Mikhail Alexandrov, chief expert on the Caucasus at the Institute for CIS Studies, said the report's conclusion that Georgia started the conflict meant the international community, and particularly the European Union, should reconsider its position on recognizing the two regions.

"It certainly opens opportunities for recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia," he said.

Πέμπτη, 24 Σεπτεμβρίου 2009

A surprising amount of water has been found to exist in the Moon's soil.

A surprising amount of water has been found to exist in the Moon's soil.
Data from three spacecraft, including India's Chandrayaan probe, shows that very fine films of H20 coat the particles that make up the lunar dirt.The quantity is tiny but could become a useful resource for astronauts wishing to live on the Moon, scientists say."If you had a cubic metre of lunar soil, you could squeeze it and get out a litre of water," explained US researcher Larry Taylor.
The rock and soil samples returned by the Apollo missions were found to be ever so slightly damp when examined in the laboratory, but scientists could never rule out the possibility that the moisture got into the samples on Earth.Now a remote sensing instrument on Chandrayaan-1, India's first mission to lunar orbit, has confirmed that the signal was real.Two other spacecraft to look at the Moon - Nasa's Deep Impact probe and the US-European Cassini satellite - back up Chandrayaan.

Παρασκευή, 18 Σεπτεμβρίου 2009

OXI στην ψήφο επιδοκιμασίας - ΝΑΙ στην ψήφο σκοπιμότητας

Δεν θα πάω σα το σφαχτάρι σε αυτές τις εκλογές

Δεν θα κάνω αποχή, ώστε προσμετρηθεί αυτή η αποχή κατά το δοκούν

Δεν θα ψηφίσω κόμμα που δεν θα μπει στην βουλή μόνο και μόνο για να μετρήσουν κάποιοι τα κουκιά τους και να ωφεληθεί το ΠΑΣΟΚ να γίνει αυτοδύναμη κυβέρνηση.

Θα ψηφίσω με σκοπιμότητα, η ψήφος μου δεν θα είναι ψήφος επιδοκιμασίας αλλά ψήφος σκοπιμότητας.

Και όλα αυτά γιατί:

Προσδοκώ κατ ελάχιστον, να μην υπάρξει αυτοδύναμο κόμμα και να χρειάζεται 2-3 βουλευτές για να κάνει πλειοψηφία. Γιατί με αυτό τον τρόπο ακόμα και στα πλαίσια του σημερινού συστήματος θα ελαττωθεί, έστω και λίγο, η αυθαιρεσία , η αναίδεια , η έπαρση, το κλέψιμο, το βόλεμα των ημετέρων.

Γιατί η ΝΔ απέτυχε ακόμα και σε αυτά που η ίδια έβαλε στόχο

Γιατί το ΠΑΣΟΚ είναι πιο επικίνδυνο, εφόσον έρχεται για να «κλείσει» κάποια εκκρεμή θέματα που η ΝΔ δεν ήθελε να κλείσει.

Γιατί ελπίζω ότι μέσα από ένα κοινοβουλευτικό μπάχαλο και δυστοκία μπορεί να βγει κάτι καλύτερο ακόμα και στα πλαίσια αυτού του συστήματος.


Τρίτη, 15 Σεπτεμβρίου 2009

A Somber Warning on Afghanistan

A Somber Warning on Afghanistan
GENEVA — Western powers now in Afghanistan run the risk of suffering the fate of the Soviet Union there if they cannot halt the growing insurgency and an Afghan perception that they are foreign invaders, according to Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former U.S. national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter.In a speech opening a weekend gathering of military and foreign policy experts, Mr. Brzezinski, who was national security adviser when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in late 1979, endorsed a British and German call, backed by France, for a new international conference on the country. He also set the tone for a weekend of somber assessments of the situation.He noted that it took about 300 U.S. Special Forces — fighting with Northern Alliance troops — to overthrow Taliban rule after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.Now, however, with about 100,000 U.S. and allied troops in Afghanistan, those forces are increasingly perceived as foreign invaders, much as the Soviet troops were from the start, Mr. Brzezinski said.For President Barack Obama, Afghanistan is the foreign policy issue that has “perhaps the greatest need for strategic review,” said Mr. Brzezinski, who met with Mr. Obama during the presidential campaign last year, and endorsed his candidacy but was not a formal adviser.“We are running the risk of replicating — obviously unintentionally — the fate of the Soviets,” Mr. Brzezinski said in his speech Friday night.The presence of so many foreign troops underpins an Afghan perception that the Americans and their allies are hostile invaders and “suggests transformation of the conflict is taking place,” he added.A new international conference would help devise a more refined strategy, Mr. Brzezinski said in a brief interview Sunday. Using the military to support a development strategy would help prolong the European presence, he suggested — “our European friends are less likely to leave us in the lurch.” If the United States is left alone in Afghanistan, Mr. Brzezinski said Friday night, “that would probably spell the end of the Alliance.”A discussion on Afghanistan on Saturday featured, among others, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, the British foreign secretary’s special representative for Afghanistan and a former British ambassador to Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Israel.“All is not doom and gloom in Afghanistan,” Sir Sherard told the conference, the Global Strategic Review of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, a nongovernment organization. But “walking away would destroy everything that has been achieved.”“The pullout option is not one that any government could responsibly follow,” he added, emphasizing, that America’s role was crucial. “While Obama remains committed, we remain committed.”In calling last weekend for a conference on Afghanistan, Britain and Germany seemed anxious both to dispel the tension that has arisen surrounding the election there last month, in which foreign observers say there were clear incidents of fraud, and to shift emphasis away from the rising numbers of foreign troops.Sir Sherard suggested the solution lay in devolving political power back to tribal elders who have traditionally held sway in Afghanistan, and funneling money for development through them. With 68,000 troops from the United States expected by the end of the year and some 40,000 from other countries, numbers — and the rising number of deaths and casualties — are going to influence not only hostile Afghans but Western public support for the Afghan mission. Speakers at the conference said that Americans are unlikely for long to support maintaining many times the number of troops from Britain, Germany and France, the three European allies who have sent the most soldiers to Afghanistan. What is needed now is “the intelligent application of military force” alongside long-promised development strategies, Sir Sherard said, evoking what he called a dream that, by 2011, a truckload of pomegranates would be able to pass unhindered from Afghanistan through Pakistan and into India, that Western students could study Afghan archaeological ruins, and that posters in the Pashto language inviting Pashtuns to “come on over” from the Taliban would be tattered remnants — unneeded rather than unheeded — on the roadsides of southern Afghanistan.


What Price Afghanistan?
Is Karzai's massive election fraud the final nail in the COIN strategy's coffin?
Justin Raimondo, September 14, 2009
Has the U.S. lost the Afghan war, even before President Obama’s "surge" is plugged in and the "COIN" strategy is put in place? "Clear, hold, and build": – that’s the "new" counterinsurgency doctrine [.pdf] beingtouted by the Center for a New American Strategy (CNAS), Obama’s favorite national security think-tank, as the salvation of our faltering Afghan campaign. The idea is to build "democratic" institutions and give the Afghans a stake in defending their government and society from the Taliban onslaught that is supposedly threatening them at every turn. Yet what if their democracy turns out to be not worth defending? What if their president, a preening fashion plate with ties to organized crime figures(including his brother), decided to steal an election, proclaim himself chief of state in spite of massive evidence of election fraud, and refused to even speak to his American sponsors, let alone go along with a U.S.-brokered compromise with his chief election rival?Well, we don’t have to what-if, because all of the above – and worse – is exactly what’s happening. As predicted in this space, the Afghan election was a monumental fraud: about 15 percent of the polling stations supposed to be in operation never opened for business. All these – just coincidentally, you understand – registered an overwhelming margin of victory for President Hamid Karzai. As fast as the "Independent" Election Commission (IEC), consisting of Karzai’s sock-puppets, counts the ballots, the UN-backed Election Complaints Commission (ECC) throws them out as obviously fraudulent – a process that seems fated to end in a self-canceling conundrum for the administration, and a perfect vacuum the Taliban are ready to fill.With the rug pulled out from under their precious COIN strategy, the Americans are faced with a problem: what to do with Karzai? They can’t just dump him. They havetoo much invested in him already. Yet they can’t let him get away with this outrageous fraud, either – not because the Afghan people wouldn’t put up with it (turnout was poor, apathy the real victor), but because it wouldn’t play in Washington, D.C., where the real decisions about Afghanistan’s future are being made.The new election is out of the question: winter looms, and the logistics won’t allow for it. A coalition government might patch things up, except that neither Karzai – who expects to be vindicated – nor Abdullah, his chief rival, are about to agree to that. This leaves, as the Washington Post averred, a "nominal Karzai presidency with a strong team of foreign-backed aides," i.e., an Afghan government put on emergency life-support, with extra-generous infusions of bribes-cum-aid keeping the corpse just fresh enough to appear presentable.For whose benefit would this zombie government be kept in operation? Surely not that of the Afghan people, who, after all, didn’t vote for it, don’t support it, and would just as soon see it wind up in the ash-heap of history, along with the Soviet-backed regime of Babrak Karmal and the British Raj. Yet this isn’t at all about Afghanistan, or the interests of its people. As is the general rule in foreign policy matters, it’s all about domestic American politics – which is why Obama is determined to wage war on the "Af-Pak" front to begin with.With Democratic lawmakers such as Sen. Carl Levin and Sen. Russ Feingold already calling for an Afghan timetable for withdrawal and polls showing a significantslackening of support among the general public, the collapse of Afghanistan’s "democratic" experiment couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Obama administration.The Taliban now control some 80 percent of the country, but Defense Secretary Robert Gates assures us, "I think some of the gloom and doom is somewhat overdrawn." This statement seems inexplicable, unless he was referring to the situation in Congress, where the majority Democrats (and most Republicans) support Obama’s war aims. The dissent of Levin, Nancy Pelosi, and others is over how to achieve those aims, not whether they are achievable or even worth achieving.The "antiwar" faction wants to Afghanize the war effort and begin expanding the Afghan army by several degrees of magnitude, as was done in Iraq. This means more, not less, infusions of military and economic aid from the U.S., including tens of thousands of U.S. military "trainers" plunked down in the midst of the fighting, where they would be sitting ducks for the Taliban and the shifting allegiances of various Afghan warlords.This is posed as an alternative to an Afghan "surge," in which even more troops would be added at the request of field commanders, but the reality is that this administration – cautious to a fault – will probably do both: that is, send more troops and try to Afghanize the war effort by pouring resources into the Afghan military and police. Of course, the Soviets tried this and succeeded only in exhausting themselves and creating a regime with a very narrow base of support, limited almost exclusively to its bought-and-paid-for military apparatus. The Afghan communist regime collapsed less than two years after the Soviet withdrawal. Karzai wouldn’t even last that long.The Soviets, too, had problems with their satraps: they had to purge the hard-line Communist Khalq faction – and, according to Vasili Mitrokhin, they tried to poisonHafizullah Amin, the radical commie leader – before installing someone more amenable to the Kremlin’s diktats. And, in the end, even that didn’t work. They were forced out, and the forerunners of today’s Taliban fighters – our allies at the time, feted as "freedom fighters" in Reagan’s White House – took Kabul.When you look at it, our war aims in Afghanistan are virtually identical to the Soviets’ – and one would think we’d learn some lessons from their utter failure (and subsequent rapid decline). Like the Kremlin, circa 1980, we are pledged to build a strong central Afghan government, one that has gained the allegiance –or, at least, the passive compliance – of the people. Our intent, like theirs, is to "reform," i.e., modernize Afghan society, at least to some extent, a goal that seems to elude us as much as it did the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan and their Red Army allies. The Afghan people, it seems, want no part of modernity, either the Marxist version or its Euro-American doppelganger, and all attempts to impose it by force are doomed to fail spectacularly.Recall Gen. Eric Shinseki’s much-cited dissent from the Bush administration’s Iraq war strategy. While the Rumsfeldians were insisting the country could be occupied with a relatively light force of under 100,000, Shinseki said it would take hundreds of thousands to keep order. The Democrats made a big deal out of Shinseki’s dissent as a prime example of the Bushies’ unrealism – and yet one wonders what Shinseki makes of Afghanistan. According to their own counterinsurgency doctrine, as promulgated by the Naglites over at Obama’s favorite national security think-tank, the total number of troops required for a successful operation is around 670,000 at a minimum. With projections of the new and supposedly improved Afghan army and police accounting for some 350,000, it would be up the Americans and their rapidly bailing allies to supply the rest. This means a hefty increase over and above the 20,000-plus reinforcements currently scheduled – by 250,000-plus troops!There is no political support in Europe or the United States for such a commitment. One can only imagine how President Obama thinks he is going to be able to defy reality – and for how long.It wasn’t long ago that the situation in Iraq was considered so dire that more than a few commentators contemplated the prospect of a helicopters-taking-off-from-the-rooftop-of-the-American-embassy retreat, as in Vietnam. This prospect was practically eliminated when the Iraqis themselves asked us to set a definite timetable for rapid withdrawal. However, the helicopter scenario seems a lot more likely in the context of the Afghan war, where our hold on the countryside is far more precarious and the enemy more confident and dug in at the grassroots.The Obamaites no doubt know all this. While they aren’t as smart as they’d like us to believe, they aren’t exactly dullards, either. They know the best they can do is hold on by their fingernails. Above all, they must somehow prevent the complete collapse of the Karzai government and, with it, any semblance of a rationale for staying. As it is, the U.S. commander says he sees no sign of al-Qaeda anywhere in the country, so that excuse is gone, as well. All that remains is bureaucratic and mental inertia: so much of our rulers’ personal and political prestige – along with our money – has been invested in our Glorious Afghan Adventure that to pull out now would prove fatal to many careers. Aside from the institutional bias in favor of war and preparations for war that permeates the policymaking process, there is the Democrats’ ancient fear of being attacked as "soft" on security issues.It is a fear based on myth, one faithfully promulgated by the neoconservatives over the years and extant to this day, when it is almost universally acknowledged by partisans on the Right as well as the Left that the war was a strategic disaster. The neocons, who left the Democrats in a huff when the party turned against the Vietnam War, have ever since then accused the party of "losing its nerve." For decades relentless chorus of shrikes has been singing the same old song, smearing anyone who resists their world-conquering schemes as being an America-hating, terrorist-sympathizing, commie "isolationist." Or worse. Why the Democrats are supposed to fear them and their tired mantra must remain a mystery, I’m afraid. The American people, for their part, oppose the Afghan war, as recent polls show. Why appease the carping chorus of conservative warmongers and their collaborators over at CNAS?That’s a question for another day. Suffice to say here that the Afghan elections inaugurate the beginning of what promises to be a remarkably rapid and steep slide in our fortunes over there. How the Obamaites will handle this remains to be seen, but however they choose to react, of one thing we can be sure: it won’t be a reaction that has much to do with the military and political situation on the ground. The real battlefield is in Washington, D.C., the Imperial City, where the fate of nations – and of our own fighting men and women –


Deadly Afghan ambush shows perils of ill-supplied deployment
GANJGAL, Afghanistan — Manning a machine gun on a ridge overlooking this remote Afghan village, U.S. Marine Cpl. Steven Norman tried desperately to lay down covering fire for some 90 Afghan security forces and U.S. military trainers who were trapped in an ambush in the valley below.Each time he'd raise his head to let loose a burst, however, the insurgents in the encircling mountains and the fortress-like hamlet itself would drive Norman down, drenching his position with cascades of machine gun and rocket-propelled grenade fire."I was pinned down hard core," recalled the slight 21-year-old from Moultrie, Ga., part of a team from the Okinawa-based 3rd Marine Division based in the nearby town of Sarkani. "I'd look where they were shooting, and I would shoot back. But I was pinned down."Norman and other combat veterans who were caught in the Sept. 8 ambush that killed three U.S. Marines, a Navy corpsman and nine Afghans said it was the deadliest, most intense combat they'd faced in Afghanistan or Iraq. The insurgents never ran out of ammunition, they recalled, and some even wore helmets, flak jackets and military-style magazine pouches."They were firing from every direction. They were well placed. We could hardly see them," Norman said. "They were very coordinated in their fire. When we'd suppress that fire, they'd hit us from somewhere else."The ambush and the nearly nine-hour battle in the rugged mountains of eastern Kunar province illustrated many of the toughest challenges inherited by the Obama administration and U.S. commanders and their soldiers, who're scrambling to regain the upper hand in an eight-year-old guerrilla war that's growing bloodier and more unpopular in both countries by the day.Intelligence is inadequate. The Afghans and their U.S. trainers expected to face no more than a dozen insurgents in Ganjgal on their mission to sweep the village for arms and meet with the elders to discuss implementing an agreement to accept the local government's authority.Instead, the contingent of 80 Afghan troops and border police and about a dozen U.S. military trainers walked into a three-sided storm of fire from automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and at least one recoilless rifle.The lack of timely air support — it took about 80 minutes by a reporter's watch for helicopters to arrive, despite assurances that they'd be five minutes away — was a consequence of the manpower and equipment shortages bequeathed by the Bush administration's failure to secure Afghanistan against a resurgence of the Taliban, al Qaida and allied groups before turning to invade Iraq.There are a limited number of U.S. helicopters in Kunar, a stretch of craggy mountains and serpentine valleys bordering Pakistan where airpower gives a vital edge to overstretched U.S. troops fighting guerrillas who know every nook and trail of the area. Unbeknownst to those trapped in the Ganjgal kill zone, however, the available aircraft were tied up in the Shiryak Valley to the north in a battle in which two pilots were wounded, U.S. commanders said.The denial of heavy artillery fire to those trapped in Ganjgal also has roots in the Bush administration's decision to divert resources to Iraq and the resulting stress on the U.S. military.New rules limiting the use of artillery imposed by U.S. Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal after he took command of the U.S.-led international force in Afghanistan this summer are intended to curb civilian casualties caused in part by his contingent's reliance on artillery barrages and air strikes to compensate for their shortage of ground troops.The rising toll has enraged ordinary Afghans, whose support is key to the U.S. goal of marginalizing the hardest core insurgents. It's also provided the Taliban with recruits and a propaganda bonanza and allowed Afghan President Hamid Karzai to score domestic political points by deflecting blame for the deepening crisis onto his American and European patrons.The worst single loss of U.S. military trainers of the war brought out the deep bitterness with which many soldiers view the new rules. They feel unfairly handcuffed, especially in the case of Ganjgal, where women and children were seen running ammunition and weapons to gunmen firing from inside the hilltop hamlet.There are circumstances — and Ganjgal was one — when the rulebook should be tossed out, they said."We basically screwed our guys over," said Marine Cpl. Dakota Meyer, 21, of Greensburg, Ky., who braved enemy fire to retrieve the bodies of his fallen comrades from outside the village. "They expect us to bring stuff to the fight, and (U.S. commanders) didn't give it to us."That anger was magnified by a realization that the insurgents in Ganjgal had somehow learned of the operation in advance and were waiting for the contingent to enter the valley as the sun rose."We walked right into it," Marine Maj. Kevin Williams, of Louisville, Ky., the trainers' commander, said ruefully as he nursed a wounded forearm.Their Afghan counterparts, who arrested two of nearly 30 suspects rounded up in the village after the insurgents withdrew, shared the Americans' frustration.Col. Mohammad Avzal, the commander of the Afghan army unit the Marines are training, said the insurgents were waiting in dense groves and villages nearby to return to Ganjgal after Afghan and U.S. forces departed again. That means another battle and more casualties are in the offing."We are angry that we pulled out," said Avzal, who walked the same trails and hid in the same caves when he fought as a guerrilla against the 1979-89 Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, a day after the ambush. "But we would have had to continue the mission in that valley for at least three days."As they waited to infiltrate back into the village, the guerrillas were heard discussing on their radios "everything that happened, about their guys who got killed and how their (duffel) bags are still left inside Ganjgal," said Marine Lt. Ademola Fabayo, 28, of New York City, who helped lead the operation.The failed operation drove home other problems and complexities that U.S.-led forces are grappling with as they pursue President Barack Obama's counterinsurgency policy of redoubling underfunded civilian aid programs and transferring greater responsibility to the Afghans for running their own affairs.Ganjgal and villages farther into the mountains are way stations on a traditional smuggling route that insurgents use to move men and weapons into Afghanistan from Pakistan, unhindered by Pakistani security forces, according to U.S. and Afghan officers.Insurgents also use the area around the hamlet to fire rockets and mortars into U.S. Forward Operating Base Joyce with such frequency that the stronghold where the U.S. trainers and the Afghan troops live has been christened "Rocket City."So when Afghan Border Police commanders developed an idea to extend the government's writ to the area, U.S. officers jumped at it, despite the contingent's reputation as the most corrupt of Afghanistan's security organizations. Not only might such an operation smother the rocket fire on the U.S. base, but it also could kick-start reconstruction projects and help build cooperation between the two Afghan forces, which the U.S. trainers said is essential to weaning them from their dependency on the U.S. military.The border police proposed that the Afghans and their U.S. trainers mount a patrol into Damdara, an insurgent-controlled village near Ganjgal, to convince the area's elders that they'd receive protection against the insurgents and U.S.-funded aid projects if they accepted the authority of the local government.Avzal's officers agreed to participate, but in return they demanded the border police's commitment to stage a similar operation into Ganjgal, U.S. and Afghan officials said.
The plan initially succeeded. The operation earlier this month into Damdara — which ended with the insurgents turning loose some desultory Kalashnikov rifle fire and a rocket-propelled grenade that caused no casualties as the Afghans and Americans exited the area — appeared to convince the elders in Ganjgal to renounce the Taliban.They broadcast a renunciation and their willingness to accept the local government's writ over the local radio after negotiations with Afghan and U.S. officials.Afghan army officers drew up a plan for a weapons search and a meeting with the Ganjgal elders to discuss the establishment of Afghan police patrols. U.S. officers refined the plan.
Then things began to go wrong.
The operation was first set for Sept. 7. A day earlier, Marine Lt. Fabayo; Army Capt. William Swenson, of Seattle, a border police trainer; and Capt. Talib, the Afghan army officer who developed the plan, met with Lt. Mohammad Nader, the border police operations officer, to finalize his unit's participation. A reporter sat in on the meeting."I'm not ready for this mission," Nader said. "The group that you are trying to get for this mission is (committed to) escorting a supply convoy."The others were stunned. They worried that a delay would give the insurgents time to take revenge on the elders or force them to renege. Swenson asked to speak to Nader's superior. He was resting and refused to leave his room."Let's do the mission concept at least," Swenson told Nader. "We can do the timeline and the concept, but just not what day we will do this. We can let this slip to another day.""All's I'm saying is that I have to get ready for the escort mission," Nader replied. "We will be talking about a plan without the approval of the commanders."The effort to hammer out a compromise was further hampered by the need to translate between English and Nader's Pashtu, one of Afghanistan's two main languages, and also by translations between Nader and Talib, who speaks only Dari, the country's other major tongue.Meeting later with staff officers from the 10th Mountain Division's "Task Force Chosin," Fabayo and Swenson discussed alternatives to delaying the operation, including using ordinary Afghan police to replace the border unit. They rejected the idea, reasoning that ordinary cops were no substitute for border officers, who're trained and equipped as light infantry.Moreover, the pair worried that they'd compromise their goal of building trust and cooperation between the border police and the army.The meeting ended with a decision to delay the operation by a day while the border police commander, who was on leave in Kabul, was contacted and persuaded to order his unit to participate, even though that meant losing the helicopter cover that had been reserved for the operation on Sept. 7.It was then that the "Task Force Chosin" delegation assured Fabayo and Swenson that if they were needed, helicopters would "be five minutes away."At the same meeting, a warning that Nader sounded to mission planners became the epitaph of the mission."The Ganjgal people have an expression," he said: "It's up to you to come into the valley, but it's up to us to let you out."
'We're pinned down:' 4 U.S. Marines die in Afghan ambush
U.S. names dead from Tuesday's Afghan ambush
Military leery of Afghanistan escalation with no clear goals
Anti-Americanism rises in Pakistan over U.S. motives
Poll: Most Americans oppose more troops for Afghanistan

Δευτέρα, 7 Σεπτεμβρίου 2009

NATO air strike a "major error"

NATO air strike a "major error"
KABUL (Reuters) - A NATO air strike believed to have killed scores of Afghan civilians was a major "error of judgment" by German forces, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in an interview published on Monday.Karzai, who is closing in on a first-round victory in a presidential election held last month, also revealed in the interview strained relations with the United States, saying criticism of his friends and family was intended to undermine his own position and make him more malleable.Germany again defended the decision of its commander in the area to call in the raid last week and brushed off suggestions restrictions it places on its soldiers had prevented them from approaching the scene and from fighting ground battles."General (Stanley) McChrystal telephoned me to apologize and to say that he himself hadn't given the order to attack," Karzai told French newspaper Le Figaro, referring to the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Berlin has warned against hasty judgments of the deadliest operation involving German forces since World War Two.The strike, in which a U.S. F-15 fighter jet summoned by German troops bombed fuel trucks hijacked by the
Taliban, has become a big domestic issue in Germany weeks before elections."Why didn't they send in ground troops to recover the fuel tank?" Karzai said in the interview with Le Figaro.German Defense Ministry spokesman Thomas Raabe on Monday said the decision to order the strike was based on information that indicated the presence of armed Taliban near the tankers.
He rejected suggestions that a German reluctance to shoot first in combat was behind a decision not to send ground troops to secure the fuel trucks, which were parked in a riverbed."Based on the information we have, we believe this strike was right and the suggestion that we are not capable of fighting (ground) battles is ridiculous," said Raabe at a news conference where he was grilled for more than an hour."You must realize we are talking about the middle of the night, with special visibility conditions, where we don't know what the enemy is planning. Therefore I think the decision that was made at the time was absolutely correct," he said.In a first independent estimate of the death toll, a prominent Afghan rights group said up to 70 civilians had been killed in the strike in Char Dara district of Kunduz province.Afghanistan Rights Monitor (ARM), a non-governmental group funded by domestic rights campaigners, said it had reached the figure based on interviews with residents in the area."Even if all the victims were supporters of the
Taliban the fact that most of them were unarmed and were not engaged in any combat activity does not warrant their mass killing."Friday's incident was the first in which Western forces were accused of killing large numbers of civilians since McChrystal took command of foreign forces in June announcing that protecting Afghans was a priority. NATO has yet to finish its probe but acknowledges civilians may have been killed.
ARM said in a statement that more than a dozen armed men also died in the air strike.Afghan officials say scores of people were killed, including civilians, but have given conflicting tolls. The International Committee of the Red Cross has said the exact toll may never be known because bodies were incinerated.The
Taliban have become increasingly active in Kunduz, a region bordering Tajikistan which had been previously calm -- a worrying sign for U.S.-led troops.The Taliban said they had set up their own commission to investigate the incident and released a list of 79 people they said were all civilians killed in the air raid.The list shows names of victims, fathers' names and ages and includes 24 children under 18. The militants say those killed were from Char Dara and neighboring Aliabad districts.German Chancellor Angela Merkel will go before parliament on Tuesday to explain government strategy in Afghanistan.The NATO strike was condemned by several European officials at a meeting of European foreign ministers in Stockholm.Merkel, who has been slammed for failing to convince Germans of the need for the Afghan mission, on Sunday urged a "quick, comprehensive and transparent" probe into the strike.Polls show about two-thirds of Germans would like the 4,200 German troops in Afghanistan to return home.Karzai also said in the interview that he supported a proposed shift in U.S. military tactics in Afghanistan.The Afghan president said McChrystal had showed him the proposals which emphasized protecting the Afghan population rather than killingTaliban.He said U.S. criticism of his running mate, Mohammad Qasim Fahim, was actually aimed at him."The Americans attack Karzai in an underhand fashion because they want him to be more tractable. They are wrong. It is in their interest ... that Afghanistan's people respect their president," he said, referring to himself in the third person. ed by ... ARM indicated 60-70 non-combatants died," said the Kabul-based group.

Παρασκευή, 4 Σεπτεμβρίου 2009

Ο ΕΧΠΑ Παγανής- Lesvos , Greece !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ο ΕΧΠΑ Παγανής

Ο ΕΧΠΑ Παγανής αποτελείται από έξη θαλάμους: δύο για ανήλικες, τρείς για άντρες (οι δύο για ασυνόδευτους ανήλικες), ένας για γυναικόπαιδα, και έξι κοντέινερ: για κρατουμένους με λοιμώδη νοσήματα και εγκύους.

Εκτιμάται πως οι χωρητικές δυνατότητες του ΕΧΠΑ Παγανής είναι διακοσίων πενήντα ατόμων. Στην πραγματικότητα όμως ουδέποτε εκπονήθηκε κάποια μελέτη ώστε οι αποθήκες αυτές να διαμορφωθούν σε κατάλληλους χώρους παραμονής ανθρώπων. Στις αποθήκες αυτές θα μπορούσαν να στοιβάζονται 250 γουρούνια, αν και τα χοιροστάσια χρήζουν επίσης υποδομής. Σήμερα κρατούνται στη Παγανή 900 με 1000 άτομα, κάθε ηλικίας και φύλου- 150 με 200 άτομα ανά θάλαμο. Εντός των θαλάμων η ζέστη είναι αφόρητη και η δυσοσμία αποπνιχτική. Στους τοίχους υψώνονται τα κρεβάτια, 30-40 σε κάθε τοίχο. Οι λιγότερο τυχεροί κοιμούνται στα βρώμικα και ξεσκισμένα στρώματα που καλύπτουν από άκρη σε άκρη το τσιμεντένιο δάπεδο, υγρό από τα νερά που τρέχουν από τις δύο τουαλέτες που βρίσκονται σε κάθε θάλαμο - ποτισμένα από τα λύματα της τουαλέτας και τα στρώματα. Σε κάθε θάλαμο υπάρχει ένα μικρό παράθυρο εσωτερικό και μια μεγάλη πόρτα εισόδου (και όχι εξόδου) με μπλε κάγκελα, σχεδόν πάντα κλειδωμένη. Οι κρατούμενοι προαυλίζονται μόλις λίγα λεπτά της ώρας κάθε δύο ή τρείς ημέρες. Τις υπόλοιπες ώρες της ημέρας και τις υπόλοιπες ημέρες του μήνα, και τους μήνες του χρόνου, οι αλλοδαποί κρατούμενοι μένουν κλειδωμένοι εντός των θαλάμων. Οι πιο ευέλικτοι καταφέρνουν να σκαρφαλώσουν στα κάγκελα ώστε να αφήσουν τουλάχιστον το βλέμμα τους να πλανηθεί ελεύθερο.

Στο θάλαμο γυναικών κρατούνται μαζί με τις μητέρες τους τα βρέφη και τα παιδιά ηλικίας από δύο έως και δέκα χρόνων. Κατά την είσοδό μας στο θάλαμο, θυμάμαι ένα κορίτσι 7-8 χρονών να μου λέει «welcome» κι έπειτα οι γυναίκες να με τραβάνε από το χέρι και να μου δείχνουν την κατάσταση για να φωτογραφίζω και συνεχώς να μου λένε «thank you Madame» - και είναι αυτή η χαρά τους για την παρουσία μας το πιο οδυνηρό από όλα. Όχι πως δεν ξέρουν, όχι πως δεν έχουν δει δεκάδες ανθρώπους να τους επισκέπτονται, να τους φωτογραφίζουν κι έπειτα να εξαφανίζονται. Μα είναι τόση η απελπισία τους που δεν έχουν άλλη επιλογή παρά να πιστέψουν πως ίσως αυτή τη φορά, κάποιος θα ενδιαφερθεί. Τα ξαπλωμένα στα βρώμικα στρώματα βρέφη απλώς δεν αντιδρούν. Κοιμούνται συνεχώς. Εάν οι μανάδες τους τα ταΐσουν θα φάνε, ειδάλλως θα συνεχίσουν τον ύπνο τους μέχρι να γίνει αιώνιος.
Τα κέντρα κράτησης και ο λόγος ύπαρξης αυτών
Σύμφωνα με την τροπολογία του νόμου 3772/2009 οι αλλοδαποί που εισέρχονται μη νόμιμα στην Ελλάδα οφείλουν να κρατούνται στα κέντρα κράτησης (ΕΧΠΑ) μέχρι έξι μήνες.
Το πρόβλημα είναι υπαρκτό και διόλου εύκολα επιλύσιμο.
Μόνο στη Μυτιλήνη, τους μήνες του καλοκαιριού, καταφτάνουν από τα απέναντι τουρκικά παράλια περί τα 100 άτομα εβδομάδα. Το αυτό συμβαίνει και στα λοιπά νησιά που συνορεύουν με την Τουρκία - Χίο, Σάμο, Λέρο. Οι χώρες προέλευσης των αλλοδαπών είναι επί το πλείστον Αφγανιστάν και Σομαλία. Προφανώς η Ελλάδα ακόμη και να ήθελε δεν θα μπορούσε να έχει τις υποδομές για να φιλοξενεί αξιοπρεπώς τους χιλιάδες αυτούς ανθρώπους. Αυτό όμως που δεν είναι διόλου προφανές είναι η ανάγκη ύπαρξης των Κέντρων Παραμονής ή Κράτησης. Οι άνθρωποι αυτοί στοιβάζονται στα Κέντρα Παραμονής για ένα ή δύο μήνες και στη συνέχεια αποφυλακίζονται. Καμία διαδικασία δεν λαμβάνει χώρα κατά τη διάρκεια κράτησής τους. Το δε κόστος κράτησης ακόμα και υπό αυτές τις συνθήκες είναι εξαιρετικά υψηλό. Με την αποφυλάκισή τους δεν μπορούν να απελαθούν διότι προέρχονται από χώρες υψηλού κινδύνου και άρα, σύμφωνα με την αστυνομία, η απέλασή τους δεν είναι εφικτή. Συνεπώς, όταν «εκτίσουν την ποινή» τους, τους παρέχεται ένα έγγραφο διοικητικής απέλασης μη εκτελεστέο, και ενθαρρύνονται στο να μεταβούν στο κέντρο της Αθήνας, στην Ομόνοια. Συχνά οι τοπικές αρχές τους καλύπτουν το εισιτήριο. Ωθούνται, δηλαδή, στην καλύτερη περίπτωση στη μαύρη αγορά της Αθήνας και στη χειρότερη στην παραβατικότητα.

Εάν αυτός είναι ο εθνικός μας στόχος, θα μπορούσε να επιτευχθεί από την πρώτη στιγμή και επομένως να αποφευχθεί τόσο το υψηλό κόστος κράτησης αυτών των ανθρώπων όσο και η διαπόμπευση της Ελλάδας. Το Video που τράβηξαν οι ίδιοι οι κρατούμενοι της Παγανής έχει κάνει το γύρω του κόσμου και οι φωτογραφίες με τα τρίχρονα μωρά με την πιπίλα πίσω από τα κάγκελα, ομοίως. Είναι αυτή η πατρίδα μας; Όχι. Οι ίδιες οι τοπικές κοινωνίες αντιδρούν. Δεν είναι λίγοι οι κάτοικοι που προσπαθούν να βοηθήσουν με τις ελάχιστες δυνάμεις τους τόσο τους νεοεισερχόμενους όσο και τους έγκλειστους της Παγανής, κι ας έχουν ακούσει πως η φιλάνθρωπη αυτή πράξη τους θα μπορούσε να τους οδηγήσει σε νομικές περιπέτειες, σύμφωνα με το νέο νόμο. Οι εργαζόμενοι στη Παγανή δεν βλέπουν την ώρα να φύγουν και η ίδια η αστυνομία δηλώνει αδύναμη να εφαρμόσει το νόμο, «μόλις βγω στη σύνταξη, θα πάω κι εγώ να φωνάζω στους δρόμους για να κλείσει η Παγανή», μας εμπιστεύτηκε κάποιος από τους αστυνομικούς του νησιού.
Το ερώτημα παραμένει σταθερά το ίδιο: για ποιο λόγο διατηρούμε τα Κέντρα Κράτησης και μάλιστα ετοιμαζόμαστε να ανοίξουμε νέα; Απάντηση καμία.

Σκέψεις- Προτάσεις
Κατά πρώτον, το ΕΧΠΑ Παγανής αλλά και όποιο άλλο παρόμοιο Κέντρο πρέπει να κλείσει άμεσα. Δεν προσφέρει καμία υπηρεσία, το κόστος είναι υψηλό και δυσφημεί τη χώρα μας διεθνώς. Κατά δεύτερον, το αδιαμφισβήτητο ζήτημα με την Τουρκία πρέπει να αντιμετωπιστεί στις πραγματικές του διαστάσεις. Προφανώς η Τουρκία χρησιμοποιεί τις ανθρώπινες ροές ως μέσο πίεσης για την ένταξή της στην Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση. Επιπροσθέτως, το εμπόριο ανθρώπινων ψυχών είναι εξαιρετικά προσοδοφόρο. Όπως μας είπαν: «στα απέναντι παράλια έχει στηθεί εμπόριο λάθρας αποστολής μεταναστών με έσοδα που αγγίζουν τα 8 δις το χρόνο. Μέχρι και μαγαζιά υπάρχουν που πουλάνε είδη λάθρας μετανάστευσης». Είναι ουτοπικό να πιστεύουμε πως η Τουρκία θα εφαρμόσει το πρωτόκολλο επανεισδοχής. Το ζήτημα με την Τουρκία δεν είναι ζήτημα ελληνο-τουρκικών σχέσεων και συνόρων, αλλά ευρω-τουρκικών σχέσεων και συνόρων. Ας το διαπραγματευτεί η ΕΕ.

Βέβαια, η Ελλάδα χάνει κάθε διαπραγματευτικό επιχείρημα από τη στιγμή που τα ποσοστά της απόδοσης ασύλου είναι τόσο χαμηλά (0.04%). Δεν υπάρχει καμία λογική εξήγηση σε αυτό, όταν μάλιστα είναι γνωστό ότι η πλειονότητα των ανθρώπων αυτών θέλει να μεταβεί σε άλλη ευρωπαϊκή χώρα όπου διαμένουν συγγενείς και φίλοι. Για να είμαστε πάντως ακριβείς, το πολιτικό άσυλο παρέχεται όπως ορίζει η Συνθήκη της Γενεύης του 1951. Στην πραγματικότητα ελάχιστοι πληρούν τις προϋποθέσεις της Συνθήκης. Οι χώρες που εκχωρούν πολιτικό άσυλο συνήθως ερμηνεύουν διασταλτικά τη Συνθήκη. Η Ελλάδα θα μπορούσε να ζητήσει την διαμεσολάβηση του ΟΗΕ για το ζήτημα των Αφγανών και των Σομαλών. Εάν ο ΟΗΕ αποφασίσει ότι όλοι οι προερχόμενοι από το Αφγανιστάν και τη Σομαλία είναι πρόσφυγες (prima facie αναγνώριση) τότε η Ελλάδα θα είναι υποχρεωμένη να τους αναγνωρίσει ως πρόσφυγες επιμερίζοντας τις ευθύνες και τα κόστη με τα λοιπά δυτικά κράτη. Και φυσικά, θα πρέπει με κάθε τρόπο να εμμείνει στην επαναδιαπραγμάτευση του Κανονισμού Δουβλίνο ΙΙ. Οι περισσότεροι διστάζουν να προβούν σε αίτημα ασύλου για το λόγο ότι γνωρίζουν για τον Κανονισμό και επομένως δεν θέλουν να παγιδευτούν στην Ελλάδα για τα επόμενα χρόνια. Αυτό όμως που δεν γνωρίζουν είναι την ευρεία ερμηνεία του Δουβλίνου ΙΙ. Μολονότι το Δουβλίνο ΙΙ θεωρητικά προβλέπει ότι όποιος προβεί σε αίτημα ασύλου στην πρώτη ασφαλή χώρα οφείλει να παραμείνει σε αυτήν έως την έκδοση τελεσίδικης απόφασης στο αίτημά του, στην πραγματικότητα οι αλλοδαποί εγκλωβίζονται στην Ελλάδα μόλις οι αρχές πάρουν τα δακτυλικά αποτυπώματά τους. Δεν είναι διόλου αυτονόητος ο λόγος που οι Αρχές επέλεξαν να δείξουν στον Επίτροπο για θέματα δικαιοσύνης και μετανάστευσης, Ζακ Μπαρό, το κέντρο κράτησης της Σάμου, το οποίο συγκριτικά είναι σε καλή κατάσταση, αποκρύπτοντάς του τη Παγανή. Η Παγανή είναι επακολούθημα του Δουβλίνου ΙΙ.

Η Ελλάδα εκτελεί ειλημμένες αποφάσεις και επομένως οφείλει να σταματήσει να εμφανίζεται απολογούμενη και κατηγορούμενη στο διεθνή διάλογο. Η Παγανή δεν είναι μόνο αποτέλεσμα ελληνικών πολιτικών αλλά κυρίως πολιτικών της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης. Οι μεταναστευτικές ροές δεν είναι επιφαινόμενο, έχουν συγκεκριμένα πολιτικά και οικονομικά αίτια. Σε ένα παγκόσμιο παιχνίδι κυριαρχίας και πίεσης μέσω ανθρώπινων ροών η Ελλάδα οφείλει να χαράξει στρατηγική, να πάρει θέση και να πράξει αναλόγως με τα συμφέροντά της. Μέχρι τότε όμως κάποιος θα πρέπει να δώσει μια απάντηση στα παιδιά με την πιπίλα πίσω από τα μπλε κάγκελα, αλλά και στα δικά μας παιδιά όταν θα μας ρωτούν γιατί επιτρέψαμε την ύπαρξη στρατοπέδων συγκέντρωσης (και πάλι).