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Thursday, 17 September 2009

Obama: Iran not capable of long-range strike

President Obama has approved the recommendation of Secretary of Defense Gates and the Joint Chiefs of Staff for a phased, adaptive approach for missile defense in Europe. This approach is based on an assessment of the Iranian missile threat, and a commitment to deploy technology that is proven, cost-effective, and adaptable to an evolving security environment.

Starting around 2011, this missile defense architecture will feature deployments of increasingly-capable sea- and land-based missile interceptors, primarily upgraded versions of the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3), and a range of sensors in Europe to defend against the growing ballistic missile threat from Iran. This phased approach develops the capability to augment our current protection of the U.S. homeland against long-range ballistic missile threats, and to offer more effective defenses against more near-term ballistic missile threats. The plan provides for the defense of U.S. deployed forces, their families, and our Allies in Europe sooner and more comprehensively than the previous program, and involves more flexible and survivable systems.

The Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended to the President that he revise the previous Administration's 2007 plan for missile defense in Europe as part of an ongoing comprehensive review of our missile defenses mandated by Congress. Two major developments led to this unanimous recommended change:

• New Threat Assessment: The intelligence community now assesses that the threat from Iran's short- and medium-range ballistic missiles is developing more rapidly than previously projected, while the threat of potential Iranian intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capabilities has been slower to develop than previously estimated. In the near-term, the greatest missile threats from Iran will be to U.S. Allies and partners, as well as to U.S. deployed personnel – military and civilian –and their accompanying families in the Middle East and in Europe.

• Advances in Capabilities and Technologies: Over the past several years, U.S. missile defense capabilities and technologies have advanced significantly. We expect this trend to continue. Improved interceptor capabilities, such as advanced versions of the SM-3, offer a more flexible, capable, and cost-effective architecture. Improved sensor technologies offer a variety of options to detect and track enemy missiles.

These changes in the threat as well as our capabilities and technologies underscore the need for an adaptable architecture. This architecture is responsive to the current threat, but could also incorporate relevant technologies quickly and cost-effectively to respond to evolving threats. Accordingly, the Department of Defense has developed a four-phased, adaptive approach for missile defense in Europe. While further advances of technology or future changes in the threat could modify the details or timing of later phases, current plans call for the following:

• Phase One (in the 2011 timeframe) – Deploy current and proven missile defense systems available in the next two years, including the sea-based Aegis Weapon System, the SM-3 interceptor (Block IA), and sensors such as the forward-based Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance system (AN/TPY-2), to address regional ballistic missile threats to Europe and our deployed personnel and their families;

• Phase Two (in the 2015 timeframe) – After appropriate testing, deploy a more capable version of the SM-3 interceptor (Block IB) in both sea- and land-based configurations, and more advanced sensors, to expand the defended area against short- and medium-range missile threats;

• Phase Three (in the 2018 timeframe) – After development and testing are complete, deploy the more advanced SM-3 Block IIA variant currently under development, to counter short-, medium-, and intermediate-range missile threats; and

• Phase Four (in the 2020 timeframe) – After development and testing are complete, deploy the SM-3 Block IIB to help better cope with medium- and intermediate-range missiles and the potential future ICBM threat to the United States.

Throughout all four phases, the United States also will be testing and updating a range of approaches for improving our sensors for missile defense. The new distributed interceptor and sensor architecture also does not require a single, large, fixed European radar that was to be located in the Czech Republic; this approach also uses different interceptor technology than the previous program, removing the need for a single field of 10 ground-based interceptors in Poland. Therefore, the Secretary of Defense recommended that the United States no longer plan to move forward with that architecture.

The Czech Republic and Poland, as close, strategic and steadfast Allies of the United States, will be central to our continued consultations with NATO Allies on our defense against the growing ballistic missile threat.

The phased, adaptive approach for missile defense in Europe:

• Sustains U.S. homeland defense against long-range ballistic missile threats. The deployment of an advanced version of the SM-3 interceptor in Phase Four of the approach would augment existing ground-based interceptors located in Alaska and California, which provide for the defense of the homeland against a potential ICBM threat.

• Speeds protection of U.S. deployed forces, civilian personnel, and their accompanying families against the near-term missile threat from Iran. We would deploy current and proven technology by roughly 2011 – about six or seven years earlier than the previous plan – to help defend the regions in Europe most vulnerable to the Iranian short- and medium-range ballistic missile threat.

• Ensures and enhances the protection of the territory and populations of all NATO Allies, in concert with their missile defense capabilities, against the current and growing ballistic missile threat. Starting in 2011, the phased, adaptive approach would systematically increase the defended area as the threat is expected to grow. In the 2018 timeframe, all of Europe could be protected by our collective missile defense architecture.

• Deploys proven capabilities and technologies to meet current threats. SM-3 (Block 1A) interceptors are deployed on Aegis ships today, and more advanced versions are in various stages of development. Over the past four years, we have conducted a number of tests of the SM-3 IA, and it was the interceptor used in the successful engagement of a decaying satellite in February 2008. Testing in 2008 showed that sensors we plan to field bring significant capabilities to the architecture, and additional, planned research and development over the next few years offers the potential for more diverse and more capable sensors.

• Provides flexibility to upgrade and adjust the architecture, and to do so in a cost-effective manner, as the threat evolves. Because of the lower per-interceptor costs and mobility of key elements of the architecture, we will be better postured to adapt this set of defenses to any changes in threat.

We will work with our Allies to integrate this architecture with NATO members' missile defense capabilities, as well as with the emerging NATO command and control network that is under development. One benefit of the phased, adaptive approach is that there is a high degree of flexibility – in addition to sea-based assets, there are many potential locations for the architecture's land-based elements, some of which will be re-locatable. We plan to deploy elements in northern and southern Europe and will be consulting closely at NATO with Allies on the specific deployment options.

We also welcome Russian cooperation to bring its missile defense capabilities into a broader defense of our common strategic interests. We have repeatedly made clear to Russia that missile defense in Europe poses no threat to its strategic deterrent. Rather, the purpose is to strengthen defenses against the growing Iranian missile threat. There is no substitute for Iran complying with its international obligations regarding its nuclear program. But ballistic missile defenses will address the threat from Iran's ballistic missile programs, and diminish the coercive influence that Iran hopes to gain by continuing to develop these destabilizing capabilities.

Through the ongoing Department of Defense ballistic missile defense review, the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff will continue to provide recommendations to the President that address other aspects of our ballistic missile defense capabilities and posture around the world.

Blackwater is in Pakistan.

Over the past few weeks, the Pakistani media — both electronic and print — has been fuelled with reports about the presence of “overbearing” American officials including diplomats in Islamabad and the mysterious invasion of Blackwater personnel.
Founded in 1997 in North Carolina, Blackwater — rechristened Xe (pronounced Zee) Worldwide — is perhaps, the largest network in the world that trains 40,000 mercenaries a year, mostly from US or foreign military and police personnel.
Primed for military offensive as well as defensive operation, it works under the aegis of a private security agency, which helps camouflage its specified mission.
Admittedly, in a country, where conspiracy theories are a staple diet it would be easy to dismiss these as such but increasingly, it appears there is enough smoke to have triggered the fire.
News reports of US diplomats being repeatedly found carrying unlicenced weapons and manhandling Pakistani citizens and misbehaving with law enforcement agencies have caused Pakistanis deep anxiety with the intelligentsia questioning their motives and Islamabad’s own state of denial on the matter.
The Nation, a leading English daily, reported last week that senior US diplomats have been found with unlicenced arms on at least five different occasions in Islamabad and when netted let alone surrender these, the diplomats were said to have abused the police force.
A Pakistani citizen was beaten up by two American diplomats at Islamabad’s up-end Super Market for parking his car near their vehicle!
This was followed by the brief arrest of four Americans on August 25 at Federal Investigation Agency headquarters in Islamabad on charges of keeping illegal automatic weapons (seven MI-6).
The arresting officials revealed the Americans to be Blackwater personnel. The powerful embassy used its clout with Islamabad to set them free within hours.
“Their attitude was so derogatory and they were behaving with such contempt as if we were their slaves,” the police officials told the paper.
An account in The News, Pakistan’s leading English daily, last week reported how another citizen had been thrashed in Islamabad’s Aabpara market by three Americans, who eventually apologised under fear of registration of a case but their fears proved unfounded when the police did not register a case against the offenders, after all.
The authorities felt it was a futile exercise given that a previous case registered by a police official, who endured violence and abuse at the hands of a US diplomat in the Diplomatic Enclave had come to naught.
A US embassy spokesman showed ignorance on the matter and referred the concerned reporter to “your Pakistani authorities, who have a better understanding of this matter”. The embassy customarily uses such modus operandi to tide over issues in the public domain, which many critics suggest, allow the Americans to play the field without having to offer an explanation.
However, with the massive expansion - a billion-dollar plan according to McClatchy - of what is already the largest embassy in the world and heavy reinforcement of personnel including Marines (whose figure has been reported in the range of 350 to a thousand but which Ambassador Anne Patterson limits to 20), Pakistanis are concerned at what’s cooking.
A Miami Herald report recently quoted the US embassy officials as saying it had 250 American officials on long-term contracts and another 200 on short-term assignments and felt the compound was cramped for space.
However, what has brought the cocktail to the brim is the reported sightings of Blackwater personnel in Pakistan — from Islamabad to Peshawar.
At least two popular TV hosts, Hamid Mir and Kamran Khan, have attempted to expose the likely shape of things to come but not without the consequences many in Pakistan feared it would entail.
In a departure from the standard “all is quiet on the embassy front”, recently the US ambassador wrote to the Jang Group, Pakistan’s largest media enterprise, objecting to the television content as well as taking a particularly strong line against its newspaper columnist, Dr Shireen Mazari, a very well-informed defence analyst known for her chutzpah.
The US envoy argued that the TV footage endangered the lives of her compatriots after pictures of homes in Islamabad allegedly occupied by CIA, FBI or Xe Worldwide personnel was aired by Jang Group’s flagship channel, Geo.
Since then, two other private TV channels, Dunya (The World) and Aaj (Today) have also aired footage to augment the Blackwater claim.
Privately, a source revealed anchor Hamid Mir was even warned of dire consequences should anything happen to an American national as a result of the depiction. It followed damning reports in the media and on the Internet about the activities of USAID contractor Craig Davis based in Peshawar, who is alleged to be an undercover agent.
Ambassador Patterson’s intervention appeared to create a sudden but deep cleavage between Dr Shireen Mazari and the Jang Group, for whose paper The News, she wrote for years on foreign policy and defence issues.
A fortnight ago, the paper held back her widely read column for a day — for purposes of clarification on certain points, according to the paper’s management — but it prompted Mazari to go public with the pressure tactics employed by the American envoy.
The paper however, did carry the Op-ed piece the next day, explaining the delay. In what turned out to be her last piece for the paper, Mazari appeared to know her fate in reference to the US pressure regime.
“This scribe as well as some electronic media hosts — all of whom have been exposing the increasing muscle flexing of non-diplomatic Americans now in Pakistan are being targeted. I knew it was simply a matter of time when I would be liberated from all official strangleholds.”
These developments are unlikely to endear Washington’s policies to the Pakistani public — a majority of which has, in opinion polls conducted by Al Jazeera and Pew Research Centre last month, cited the US as their biggest enemy.
They are also incensed by the leadership in Islamabad for being in a perpetual state of denial. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani made a passing mention during an interaction with the media in Peshawar last week, simply saying there were no Blackwater personnel in Pakistan.
It still leaves the question about what to make of TV footage of specified houses, which drew the ire of the US envoy, and mysterious emergence of huge concrete blocks in front of some posh residences in Islamabad.  

Why Is Obama Still Using Blackwater?

Two years ago on September 16, 2007, on a steamy hot Baghdad day with temperatures reaching 100 degrees, a heavily armed Blackwater convoy entered a congested intersection at Nisour Square in the Mansour district of the Iraqi capital. The once-upscale section of Baghdad was still lined with boutiques, cafes and art galleries dating back to better days. The ominous caravan consisted of four large armored vehicles with machine guns mounted on top.

As the Blackwater convoy was entering the square that day, a young Iraqi medical student named Ahmed Hathem Al-Rubaie was driving his mother, Mahasin, in the family's white sedan. As fate would have it, they found themselves stuck near Nisour Square. The family were devout Muslims and were fasting in observance of the holy month of Ramadan.
Ali Khalaf Salman, an Iraqi traffic cop on duty in Nisour Square that day, remembers vividly when the Blackwater convoy entered the intersection, spurring him and his colleagues to scramble to stop traffic. But as the Mambas entered the square, the convoy suddenly made a surprise U-turn and proceeded to drive the wrong way on a one-way street. As Khalaf watched, the convoy came to an abrupt halt. He says a large white man with a mustache, positioned atop the third vehicle in the Blackwater convoy, began to fire his weapon "randomly."
Khalaf looked in the direction of the shots, on Yarmouk Road, and heard a woman screaming, "My son! My son!" The police officer sprinted toward the voice and found a middle-aged woman inside of a vehicle holding a 20-year-old man covered in blood, who had been shot in the forehead. "I tried to help the young man, but his mother was holding him so tight," Khalaf recalled. Another Iraqi policeman, Sarhan Thiab, also ran to the car. "We tried to help him,'' Thiab said. "I saw the left side of his head was destroyed and his mother was crying out: 'My son, my son. Help me, help me.'''
Officer Khalaf recalled looking toward the Blackwater shooters. "I raised my left arm high in the air to try to signal to the convoy to stop the shooting." He says he thought the men would cease fire, given that he was a clearly identified police officer. The young man's body was still in the driver's seat of the automatic vehicle and, as Khalaf and Thiab stood there, it began to roll forward, perhaps as a result of the dead man's foot remaining on the accelerator. Blackwater guards later said they initially opened fire on the vehicle because it was speeding and would not stop, a claim hotly disputed by scores of witnesses. Aerial photos of the scene later showed that the car had not even entered the traffic circle when it was fired upon by Blackwater, while the New York Times reported, "The car in which the first people were killed did not begin to closely approach the Blackwater convoy until the Iraqi driver had been shot in the head and lost control of his vehicle," meaning Blackwater had already shot the man. "I tried to use hand signals to make the Blackwater people understand that the car was moving on its own and we were trying to stop it. We were trying to get the woman out but had to run for cover," Thiab said.
"Don't shoot, please," Khalaf recalled yelling. But as he stood with his hand raised, Khalaf says a gunman from the fourth Blackwater vehicle opened fire on the mother gripping her son and shot her dead before Khalaf's and Thiabs' eyes. "I saw parts of the woman's head flying in front of me, blow up," Thiab said. "They immediately opened heavy fire at us." Within moments, so many shots had been fired at the car from "big machine guns" that Khalaf says it exploded, engulfing the bodies inside in flames, melting their flesh into one. "Each of their four vehicles opened heavy fire in all directions, they shot and killed everyone in cars facing them and people standing on the street," Thiab recalled. "When it was over we were looking around and about fifteen cars had been destroyed, the bodies of the killed were strewn on the pavements and road." When later asked by US investigators why he never fired at the Blackwater men, Khalaf told them, "I am not authorized to shoot, and my job is to look after the traffic."
The victims were later identified as Ahmed Hathem Al-Rubaie and his mother, Mahasin. That attack on Ahmed and Mahasin's vehicle would be the beginning of a fifteen-minute shooting spree that would leave seventeen Iraqis dead and more than twenty wounded.
One of the Blackwater "shooters" that day, Jeremy Ridgeway, later admitted in sworn testimony, that he had killed Mahasin by firing "multiple rounds" into her vehicle and that "there was no attempt to provide reasonable warning."
After Ahmed and Mahasin's vehicle exploded, sustained gunfire rang out in Nisour Square as people fled for their lives. In addition to the Blackwater shooters in the four Mambas, witnesses say gunfire came from Blackwater's Little Bird helicopters. "The helicopters began shooting on the cars," officer Khalaf said. "The helicopters shot and killed the driver of a Volkswagen and wounded a passenger" who escaped by "rolling out of the car into the street," he said. Witnesses described a horrifying scene of indiscriminate shooting by the Blackwater guards. "It was a horror movie," said officer Khalaf. "It was catastrophic," said Zina Fadhil, a 21-year-old pharmacist who survived the attack. "So many innocent people were killed."
Another Iraqi officer on the scene, Hussam Abdul Rahman, said that people who attempted to flee their vehicles were targeted. "Whoever stepped out of his car was shot at immediately," he said.
"I saw women and children jump out of their cars and start to crawl on the road to escape being shot," said Iraqi lawyer Hassan Jabar Salman, who was shot four times in the back during the incident. "But still the firing kept coming and many of them were killed. I saw a boy of about 10 leaping in fear from a minibus--he was shot in the head. His mother was crying out for him. She jumped out after him, and she was killed."
Salman says he was driving behind the Blackwater convoy when it stopped. Witnesses say some sort of explosion had gone off in the distance, too far away to have been perceived as a threat. He said Blackwater guards ordered him to turn his vehicle around and leave the scene. Shortly after, the shooting began. "Why had they opened fire?" he asked. "I do not know. No one--I repeat no one--had fired at them. The foreigners had asked us to go back, and I was going back in my car, so there was no reason for them to shoot." In all, he says, his car was hit twelve times, including the four bullets that pierced his back.
Ridgeway, the Blackwater operative, admitted that he and the other Blackwater operatives "opened fire with automatic weapons and grenade launchers on unarmed civilians." None of the victims that day "was an insurgent," he said, adding that "many were shot while inside of civilian vehicles that were attempting to flee." Ridgeway said one Iraqi was shot "while standing in the street with his hands up."
Mohammed Abdul Razzaq and his 9-year-old-son, Ali, were in a vehicle immediately behind Ahmed and Mahasin, the first victims that day. "We were six persons in the car--me, my son, my sister and her three sons. The four children were in the back seat." He recalled that the Blackwater forces had "gestured stop, so we all stopped.... It's a secure area so we thought it will be the usual, we would stop for a bit as convoys pass. Shortly after that they opened heavy fire randomly at the cars with no exception." He said his vehicle "was hit by about thirty bullets, everything was damaged, the engine, the windshield the back windshield and the tires.
"When the shooting started, I told everybody to get their heads down. I could hear the children screaming in fear. When the shooting stopped, I raised my head and heard my nephew shouting at me 'Ali is dead, Ali is dead.' "
"My son was sitting behind me," he said. "He was shot in the head and his brains were all over the back of the car." Razzaq remembered, "When I held him, his head was badly wounded, but his heart was still beating. I thought there was a chance and I rushed him to the hospital. The doctor told me that he was clinically dead and the chance of his survival was very slim. One hour later, Ali died." Razzaq, who survived the shooting, later returned to the scene and gathered the pieces of his son's skull and brains with his hands, wrapped them in cloth and took them to be buried in the Shiite holy city of Najaf. "I can still smell the blood, my son's blood, on my fingers," Razzaq said two weeks after his son died.
In all, the melee reportedly lasted about fifteen minutes. In an indication of how out of control the situation quickly became, US officials report that "one or more" Blackwater guards called on their colleagues to stop shooting. The word cease-fire ''was supposedly called out several times,'' a senior official told the New York Times. "They had an on-site difference of opinion." At one point a Blackwater guard allegedly drew his gun on another. "It was a Mexican standoff," said one contractor. According to an Iraqi lawyer who was in the square that day, the Blackwater guard screamed at his colleague, "No! No! No!" The Iraqi lawyer himself was shot in the back as he tried to flee.
As the heavy gunfire died down, witnesses say some sort of smoke bomb was set off in the square, perhaps to give cover for the Blackwater Mambas to leave, a common practice of security convoys. Iraqis also said the Blackwater forces fired shots as they withdrew from the square. "Even as they were withdrawing, they were shooting randomly to clear the traffic," said an Iraqi officer who witnessed the shootings in Nisour Square.
Within hours, Blackwater would become a household name the world over, as word of the massacre spread. Blackwater claimed its forces had been "violently attacked" and "acted lawfully and appropriately" and "heroically defended American lives in a war zone." "The 'civilians' reportedly fired upon by Blackwater professionals were in fact armed enemies." In less than twenty-four hours, the killings at Nisour Square would cause the worst diplomatic crisis to date between Washington and its own puppet regime in Baghdad. Though its forces had been at the center of some of the bloodiest moments of the war, Blackwater had largely existed in the shadows. Four years after Blackwater's first boots hit the ground in Iraq, it was yanked out of the darkness. Nisour Square would send Erik Prince down the fateful path to international infamy.
Jeremy Ridgeway later pled guilty to one count of manslaughter. Five other Blackwater guards have been indicted on manslaughter and other charges for their role at Nisour Square that day. Blackwater forces "fired at innocent Iraqis not because they actually believed that they were in imminent danger of serious bodily injury and actually believed that they had no alternative to the use of deadly force, but rather...because of their hostility toward Iraqis and their grave indifference to the harm that their actions would cause," US prosecutors allege. "The defendants specifically intended to kill or seriously injure the Iraqi civilians that they fired upon at [Nisour] Square." Prosecutors also allege that "defendant Nicholas Slatten made statements that he wanted to kill as many Iraqis as he could as 'payback for 9/11,' and he repeatedly boasted about the number of Iraqis he had shot." Blackwater's owner, Erik Prince, has faced no consequences for the actions of his forces.
Two years to the day after the Nisour Square massacre, Blackwater remains in Iraq, armed and dangerous. As The Nation has reported, the Obama administration recently extended the company's contract there indefinitely. Blackwater has big-money contracts in Afghanistan as well, working for the State Department, the Defense Department and the CIA. As in Iraq, Blackwater forces are alleged to have shot and killed innocent civilians there. We now know that Blackwater was hired as part of the secret CIA assassination program that former Vice President Dick Cheney ordered concealed from Congress and that the company continues to work for the CIA as part of its drone bombing campaign in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
A former Blackwater employee, known as John Doe #2, recently alleged in a sworn statementoriginally obtained by The Nation that Erik Prince, "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe," and that Prince's companies "encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life." Prince, the former employee charged, "intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar, the warriors who fought the Crusades.... Prince's executives would openly speak about going over to Iraq to 'lay Hajiis out on cardboard.' Going to Iraq to shoot and kill Iraqis was viewed as a sport or game. Mr. Prince's employees openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms for Iraqis and other Arabs, such as 'ragheads' or 'hajiis.' "
Another former Blackwater employee, an ex-US Marine, charged in a sworn statement that "Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq." He states that he personally witnessed weapons being "pulled out" from dog food bags. Doe #2 alleges that "Prince and his employees arranged for the weapons to be polywrapped and smuggled into Iraq on Mr. Prince's private planes, which operated under the name Presidential Airlines," adding that Prince "generated substantial revenues from participating in the illegal arms trade."
Meanwhile, a new lawsuit has been filed against Prince by four Iraqis who claim they were shot by Blackwater operatives a week before Nisour Square on September 9, 2007. According to Susan Burke, the lawyer for the Iraqis who works with the Center for Constitutional Rights, Prince runs the operations of his "heavily armed private army" in Iraq and elsewhere from a twenty-four-hour command center known as the "war room." Burke also alleges that in Iraq "Prince's private army of men went 'night hunting' on more than one occasion. This 'night hunting' entailed Mr. Prince's men, armed with night goggles and riding in Mr. Prince's wholly-owned helicopters after 10 pm over the streets of Baghdad, killing at random."
On the second anniversary of the single worst massacre of Iraqi civilians committed by a private force since the US invasion, President Obama should be forced to explain to the American people and the people of Iraq and Afghanistan why he continues to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to this company and why he permits them to remain on the ground, representing the United States in these countries. At a recent hearing of the bipartisan Wartime Contracting Commission, commissioner Linda Gustitus asserted that in not canceling Blackwater's contracts after Nisour Square, the State Department "helped to send a message to other contractors that you can do a lot and not have your contract terminated."

Barack Obama to scrap European missile shield

President Barack Obama has decided to scrap plans for a U.S. missile defense shield in the Czech Republic and Poland that had deeply angered Russia, the Czech prime minister confirmed Thursday.
NATO's new chief hailed the move as "a positive step" and a Russian analyst said the move will increase the chances that Russia will cooperate more closely with the United States in the dispute over Iran's nuclear program.
Premier Jan Fischer told reporters that Obama phoned him overnight to say that "his government is pulling out of plans to build a missile defense radar on Czech territory."
"The same happened with Poland. Poland was informed in the same way about this intention," Fischer said.
Under the plan, which had been proposed by the Bush administration to defend the United States and its European allies against a possible missile attack from Iran or elsewhere in the Middle East, 10 interceptor rockets were to have been stationed in Poland and a radar system based in the Czech Republic.
But Russia was livid over the prospect of having U.S. interceptor rockets in countries so close to its territory, and the Obama administration has sought to improve strained ties with the Kremlin.
A top Russian lawmaker praised the move.
"The U.S. president's decision is a well-thought and systematic one," said Konstantin Kosachev, head of the foreign affairs committee in the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament. "It reflects understanding that any security measure can't be built entirely on the basis of one nation."

Fischer said Obama assured him that the "strategic cooperation" between the Czech Republic and the U.S. would continue, and that Washington considers the Czechs among its closes allies.
Fischer said after a review of the missile defense system, the U.S. now considers the threat of an attack using short- and mid-range missiles greater than one using long-range rockets.
"That's what the Americans assessed as the most serious threat," and Obama's decision was based on that, he said.
In Poland, officials declined to confirm Fischer's remarks, saying they were waiting for a formal announcement from Washington.

Obama took office undecided about whether to continue to press for the European system and said he would study it. His administration never sounded enthusiastic about it, and European allies have been preparing for an announcement that the White House would not complete the shield as designed.
Alexei Arbatov, head of the Russian Academy of Science's Center for International Security, told a Moscow radio station Thursday that the U.S. was giving in on missile defense to get more cooperation from Russia on Iran.
"The United States is reckoning that by rejecting the missile-defense system or putting it off to the far future, Russia will be inclined together with the United States to take a harder line on sanctions against Iran," he said.
The Czech government had stood behind the planned radar system despite fierce opposition from the public, which has staged numerous protests.
Critics fear the Czech Republic would be targeted by terrorists if it agreed to host the radar system, which was planned for the Brdy military installation 90 kilometers (55 miles) southwest of Prague, the capital.
In Washington, Defense Secretary Robert Gates scheduled a news conference Thursday with a top military leader, Marine Gen. James Cartwright, who has been a point man on the technical challenge of arraying missiles and interceptors to defend against long-range missiles.
The decision to scrap the plan will have future consequences for U.S. relations with eastern Europe.

Pakistan Aik Ishq Aik Junoon

Pakistan, China friendship vital for security

President Asif Ali Zardari has said that during the last one year Pakistan and China have identified more than 50 new initiatives for joint collaboration and signed more than three dozen MoUs. This he said during an interview with Guangming Daily, one of the largest newspapers of China at Aiwan-e-Sadr on Monday. He said that the world admires the all round development China has achieved. Being a longstanding friend, Pakistan is naturally keen to learn from the Chinese experience.
However, the extent and depth of our political and diplomatic relations have not been fully reflected in our economic ties.
The President while appreciating Chinese growth and development said that China has made stupendous economic progress and achieved spectacular growth during the last 10-15 years. There is a lot to learn from the Chinese model of economic development particularly the model adopted in its provinces of Zhejiang and Guangdong. The progress made by China in agriculture particularly in hybrid seed and optimal utilization of water is something that can be emulated in other countries as well wherever possible. While responding to a question about his visits to China, the President said that during all his visits, he focused on familiarizing himself with the Chinese experience of growth and development.
I have been impressed by all round development your great country has achieved. One is inspired by the remarkable achievements of the Chinese people and wise stewardship of its leaders. I think there is a great deal Pakistan can learn from the Chinese experience and its development model.” He said. “The goodwill must act as a precursor for adding greater commercial and cultural content to the economic and public diplomacy between the two countries”, the President added. The President said that Pak-China friendship spans over half a century and is based on a very high degree of trust and commonality of interests. The foundations of a strong friendship with China were laid by the visionary policies of Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and he played a pioneering role in building the edifice of this relationship. Prime Minister Bhutto’s vision as a statesman is best illustrated in his role as the architect of Pakistan’s strategic cooperative relations with China, he noted. “As a matter of fact it has matured into a comprehensive strategic partnership, is of great mutual benefit and of special significance for Pakistan’s security and economic development.”
The real challenge is how to actualize the great potential of economic cooperation between the two countries. The trajectory of future relationship is clear. The two countries will continue to cooperate for promotion of global and regional peace, advancement in the science and technology, improvement in the living standards of our respective people and fight against environmental degradation. This relationship will grow stronger and stronger with each passing year.
We have resolved to take this partnership to greater heights”, the President observed. When asked about Pakistan’s stance over situation in Xinjiang province, the President said that the Government of Pakistan fully supports the Chinese Government’s efforts to maintain social stability, peace and ethnic harmony in Xinjiang and indeed throughout China. “We fully support the Chinese Government efforts to promote the development of Xinjiang Autonomous Region as part of China’s Western Development Strategy”. Pakistan fully supports China’s policy of social harmony and development which is producing great results for all Chinese people.

Is Bin Laden’s tape a new Drama?

Four days ago the top commander of US and international forces Gen. Stanley McChrystal spoke on the eighth anniversary of the “Sept. 11, 2001” in Afghanistan that “no signs of major Al-Qaida seen in Afghanistan”, after the briefing , a strapping aspiration seen among the people of America and hoped to return troops home.
Even every buddy was expecting the success of US forces that they have completed the mission against terrorism. According to AP’s report;
“Last month, McChrystal sent a “strategic assessment” of the war to U.S. and NATO leaders. He has not revealed its contents publicly, but said at the time that success in Afghanistan “is achievable and demands a revised implementation strategy, commitment and resolve, and increased unity of effort. Earlier this year, President Barack Obama ordered 21,000 more troops to Afghanistan, which will bring the total number of U.S. forces there to 68,000 by the end of the year.McChrystal is expected to ask for more troops soon, but would not elaborate on numbers Friday”.
but the statement of McChrystal were doubted that if no major signs of Al-Qaida is there, what for troops are being increased? Even top commander also urged that “My position here is a little bit like a mechanic. He said We’ve got a situation with a vehicle and I’ve been asked to look at it and tell the owner what the situation is and what it will cost to make the vehicle run correctly and I will provide that,” he said. “Now I understand that the vehicle owner then has to make a decision on what the car is worth, how much longer he intends to drive it,” he added. “Whether he wants it to look good or just run.” Many of the journalists flayed at McChrystal, that, eight years of Afghanistan has been spent, no triumph has still been found without loosing troops, even the owner of the vehicle has tired barking out to obstruct Air Strikes as local people are dying daily, The world didn’t understand why did McChrystal presumed Afghanistan as a vehicle and himself as a mechanic while the death toll of both US-NATO troops including citizen are on the rise. After all a rift initiated among the columnists after the report given by McChrystal for increasing the troops just for an unsteady vehicle. According to latest reports, “The recommendations, and the additional U.S. and NATO troops will require, are among the few aspects of President Obama’s Afghan strategy likely to have broad bipartisan support in Congress. Democrats, in particular, have expressed anxiety over reports that McChrystal may request more combat troops for the increasingly unpopular war”. At the one side democrats don’t want to send their troops to Afghanistan on the other side McChrystal needs to fix the vehicle, in such case it was difficult for McChrystal to continue repairing vehicle, although he doesn’t see any sign of Al-qaida in Afghanistan but yet he is demanding more troops in Afghanistan.
After all another drama of Bin Laden Tape has been mounted by CIA, that “The tape appeared on As-Sahab, the Arabic-language Web site used by Al Qaeda to deliver its messages. The recording was reported and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group and IntelCenter, two groups in the United States that monitor jihadist Web sites.
SITE said the message, which was released on Sept. 13 and lasted 11 minutes, 20 seconds, offered reasons for Al Qaeda’s attacks in New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001, and advised how the conflict between Al Qaeda and the United States might come to a close.
The group said the recording spoke of injustices against the Muslim world, mentioning American support for Israel.
IntelCenter said the message consisted of a still image of Bin Laden with a voice track underneath, news agencies reported. An employee of IntelCenter could not immediately be reached for comment about its translation of the tape, and it was not possible to verify that the recording was actually made by Mr. Bin Laden.”
Actually the tap drama is to keep soldiers enthusiastic into the war and make them further exist in Afghanistan. Because soldiers were also willing to leave Afghanistan after feeble retort by democrats for increasing of the troops into Afghanistan. And the fact is bin laden no longer subsist in fact Benazir Bhutto who was assassinated by Baitullah Mehsud, told years ago that Bin Laden was killed by umar Shekh and no longer exist. Now every buddy is dead sure that Bin Laden doesn’t exist as well Gen. Stanley McChrystal is also right that ““no signs of major Al-Qaida seen in Afghanistan” that proves Bin Laden tape is a new drama. By Asad Khan Betini