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Showing posts from February 7, 2014

Moscow accuses U.S. of fomenting Ukraine coup; recordings leaked

By Alastair Macdonald




Anti-government protesters march on the street in Kiev February 6, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/David Mdzinarishvili


KIEV (Reuters) - An east-west struggle over Ukraine turned nastier as Moscow accused the United States of fomenting a coup and Washington pointed a finger at Russia for leaking a recording of U.S. diplomats discussing how to shape a new government in Kiev.

As Russian President Vladimir Putin prepared to open the Winter Olympics at Sochi, the first Games in Russia since the Soviet Union hosted the 1980 summer edition, the showdown over Ukraine produced chilly Cold War rhetoric, with a Kremlin aide warning Moscow might act to block U.S. "interference" in Kiev.

U.S.-Russian relations have long been far from warm and there seems little chance yet of conflict going much beyond verbal sparring, but the ferocity of the exchanges was a mark of the importance of Ukraine, a sprawling former Soviet state of 46 million people that Putin wants to keep in Moscow&…

Taliban Talks: What is Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai Really Up To?

By Pepe Escobar

- Whatever one’s judgment of sartorially immaculate crypto-American puppet Afghan President Hamid Karzai, he’s not a fool.

So now the word is out, via his spokesman Aimal Fazi, that Karzai envoys have been negotiating in Dubai with the Afghan Taliban. And Karzai, on top of it, is boldly encouraging Washington to join the party. Otherwise, he won’t sign a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) – the key plot line in the Hindu Kush’s favorite geopolitical soap opera for over a year now.

Let’s try to break this mess down succinctly.

On one side we have the Obama administration dying to exit Afghanistan, but with the Pentagon adamant on keeping boots on the ground and at least some well-located pearls in its vast Empire of Bases.

On the other we have a US puppet who needs to think about his future after whatever form the American exit takes; otherwise the Taliban may grill him like a live kebab.

And in the middle, just merrily watching the proceedings, we have the Afghan Taliban,…

Archeology Shows Bible Written Late, Full of Errors

By Juan Cole

- A new paper by Israeli archeologies Lidar Sapir-Hen and Erez Ben-Yosef, [pdf] posted at the University of Tel Aviv web site , is bad news for biblical literalists and far right wing Israeli nationalists who use the Bible for support.

The Hebrew Bible’s oldest chapters– Genesis, Exodus, and even Judges purport to discuss events thousands of years ago. The custom in Western biblical scholarship is to date Abraham to e.g. 2000 B.C. This dating is based on nothing more than counting generations (“begats”) backward and assigning an arbitrary number of years to each generation. In fact, Genesis is replete with myths and assertions of people living hundreds of years, and was only historicized in this way by 19th century positivists.

But here is proof that the Bible was written late and projects later developments into the distant past: it alleges that people had domesticated camels four millennia ago in what is now Israel. And that assertion, folks, is simply not true. That is t…

U.S. Naval Update Map: Feb. 6, 2014

The Naval Update Map shows the approximate current locations of U.S. Carrier Strike Groups and Amphibious Ready Groups, based on available open-source information. No classified or operationally sensitive information is included in this weekly update. CSGs and ARGs are the keys to U.S. dominance of the world's oceans. A CSG is centered on an aircraft carrier, which projects U.S. naval and air power and supports a Carrier Air Wing, or CVW. The CSG includes significant offensive strike capability. An ARG is centered on three amphibious warfare ships, with a Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked. An MEU is built around a heavily reinforced and mobile battalion of Marines.

Carrier Strike Groups
The USS Harry S. Truman CSG with CVW 3 embarked is underway in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility supporting maritime security operations and conducting theater security cooperation efforts.
The USS Carl Vinson with CVW 17 embarked is underway in the Pacific Ocean for a Tailored Ship's

Belarus' Absence from the EU-Russian Competition

Belarusian Communist Party supporters carry red flags during a rally in Minsk on Nov. 7, 2011. VICTOR DRACHEV/AFP/Getty Images

Summary


Ukraine is in the midst of a political crisis over its future relationship with the European Union and Russia, and tensions over the same issue have risen in Moldova and Georgia. However, one country in the region has been very quiet on this matter: Belarus. Belarus is unique in the European periphery for its lack of any strong pro-Western movements and its substantial ties with Russia, which have only strengthened in recent years. As long as the Belarusian regime is not seriously threatened, Minsk will continue to eschew ties with the West and remain closely aligned with Moscow while serving as a platform for potential Russian retaliation against the West.

Analysis


Like Ukraine, Belarus is a country in the borderlands of Europe and Russia and historically has been subject to competing influence from both sides. Belarus was, along with Ukraine, part of …

Pakistan: The Coming Conflict in North Waziristan

Members of a Pakistani Taliban committee set up to hold talks with the government in Islamabad on Feb. 4. (AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


The Obama administration will greatly reduce the number of drone strikes the United States carries out in Pakistan since Islamabad has begun peace talks with Taliban rebels, The Washington Post reported Feb. 5. The move came at Pakistan's request as a way to help facilitate the talks between Islamabad and the Taliban rebel alliance. Despite these negotiations, both Islamabad and the Taliban know that military confrontation is unavoidable because they have very little room for compromise. The jihadists and the government are using the time bought by talks to prepare for renewed fighting, a conflict in which the jihadists have the advantage of NATO's looming departure from neighboring Afghanistan.

Analysis


Islamabad has negotiated with the rebels at least five times since war in Pakistan's tribal areas began a decade ago. Peace agr…