Article first published as Is Germany’s Security Protected in Afghanistan? on Blogcritics.
Imperial countries can rewrite war rules according to their wishes. Whatever they do to protect their imperial interests is justified, no matter how irrational they may be. Germany’s Foreign Minister says his country’s security is defended at Kunduz, Afghanistan, thousands of kilometres away from the German land.
A nation’s defence forces are generally stationed at strategic places of that country. Airports, Seaports, Capital cities, Commercial centres, naval bases, air bases, army bases and borders are some of such strategic places where troops will be stationed for defence purposes. Remaining troops will be stationed at barracks to be used at war times or for internal security purposes. They may be used to rescue civilians when natural calamities occur.
Strangely, Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle outlined a different strategy for the defence of Germany. Speaking to German troops at the Kunduz base in Afghanistan when he arrived there along with Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel, he said that Germany was in Afghanistan to protect its own security. He said, “That is why this mission is right” BBC News reported quoting Associated Press.
Mr Westerwelle might have chosen some other context if he wants to boost the morale of his troops. Saying that Germany’s security is protected at Kunduz base located in another country is quite misleading, irrational and simply meaningless.
Japan revealed its intentions to make substantial changes to its defence policies on the pretext of China’s increasing military might and North Korea’s nuclear weapons. Japan has maritime border with China. Japan’s new national defence policy has acquired importance in the wake of recent rise of tensions between China and Japan when a Chinese trawler hit a Japanese petrol boars near disputed chain coral islands on which both countries have ownership claims.
China has been strengthening its military utilising its trade surplus and foreign currency reserves due to which its neighbours such as India with which it has border disputes, Japan with which it has disputes on ownership over coral islands in South China Sea, and Taiwan on which it has ownership claim have rising concerns. The US is also worried with China’s military build-up as it feels China is threatening the US’ interests in South Asia and East Asia regions. The secretary of state for the US Ms Hillary Clinton expressed openly her concerns that China was ascertaining its domination in the region.
Recently, the US conducted military drill with South Korea in Yellow Sea after North Korea fired artillery shells on a disputed South Korea’s island near maritime border. Though, the US said the military drills were part of regular exercises, its main aim was to issue veiled warning to Chinese military, which has been ascertaining its position in the region. The US accused China for not reigning in North Korea’s behaviour during recent tensions in Korean peninsula. It has 50,000 troops stationed in a Japanese island Okinawa and 28,500 troops in South Korea.
Article first published as French President Woos India Against the United States on Blogcritics.
France President Nikolas Sarkozy is now on India tour along with his wife Carla Bruni for four days from November 4 to November 7. The US president Barack Obama began his India visit with India’s business hub Mumbai. Sarkozy chose India’s technology hub to start his India tour. He brought 50 member business community and top cabinet officials including Economy minister Christine Lagarde along with him. Sarkozy seems to have come on a top mission along with signing some business contracts.
Strategic and Business Goals
During his speeches on November 4 and his interview to Times of India newspaper, Sarkozy outlined his top political and trade related priorities on global arena of his India tour. Very important offers extended to and requirements sought from India are as follows:
Supporting France’s G20 agenda to reform global monetary system during its G20 presidency in 2011
Improvements in global governance
Help maintain greater stability in commodity prices
In return, to the help in achieving the above-mentioned France’s goals, Sarkozy offered following package.
Helping Rupee to become one of the major currencies in the world
Support India’s long standing demand of securing permanent seat in UN Security Council
Some business contracts will be concluded during Sarkozy’s visit. Major one is a memorandum of understanding signed between a French nuclear group Areva and India’s Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) to supply at least two water-pressurised reactors worth 7 billion euros ($9.4 billion or Rs 43,240 Cr). France is competing with the US company Boeing to supply 126 fighter jets. France’s defence electronics group Thales is hoping to gain a contract to modernise 51 mirage 2000 planes.
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has criticized the joint raids conducted by US and Russia forces. Drug laboratories have been raided in the joint operation. Hamid has said he had no prior information on the raids, which he called a violation of Afghan sovereignty.
Russian has been critical of coalition forces for doing nothing to tackle drug trade in Afghanistan. BBC reported on October 31 that 2.5 million Russians are addicted to drugs, mainly coming from Afghanistan. Russian involvement in raids is a sensitive issue in Afghanistan, since the end of Russian occupation 21 years back.
A Russian government official expressed surprise with AFP news agency, saying the interior ministry of the Afghan government has participated in the operation. On October 29, the head of Russia’s drug control agency said its agents had taken part in an operation on October 28 to destroy a major hub of drug production near Jalalabad about 5km from the Pakistani border. He said 932kg of heroin and 156kg of opium was destroyed along with a large amount of technical equipment.
BBC | 18 October 2010 | 17:19 GMT
Iran has for the first time taken part in high-level discussions on Afghanistan after the US said it had "no problem" with its participation. An Iranian representative joined the international "contact group" – which brings together the Afghan government, dozens of countries, NATO, the EU and UN – for the talks in Rome. It comes amid a renewed push to end the bloody nine-year Afghan conflict.
One senior US diplomat said Iran had "a role to play" in tackling the problems. "We recognise that Iran, with its long, almost completely open border with Afghanistan and with a huge drug problem… has a role to play in the peaceful settlement of this situation in Afghanistan," Richard Holbrooke – the US special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan – told a news conference. "So for the United States there is no problem with their presence."
He said discussions would not be affected by the "bilateral issues" of Iran’s nuclear programme, which Iran says is for purely civilian purposes but the US insists is a cover for creating atomic weapons. Iran sent its special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Mohammed Ali Ghanazadeh, reported Associated Press.
NBC | 10/11/2010 | 11:10:37 AM ET
NATO is to investigate whether a grenade thrown by American military forces — rather than a Taliban bomb — killed a British aid worker during a rescue attempt in Afghanistan last week, an alliance spokesman said Monday. Linda Norgrove, 36, died Friday in Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province during the raid and NATO initially said her captors had detonated a bomb as the soldiers tried to free her.
However, British Prime Minister David Cameron said General David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, had contacted his office to say a review of events had revealed evidence indicating that Norgrove may not have died at the hands of her captors.
"That evidence, and subsequent interviews with the personnel involved, suggests that Linda could have died as a result of a grenade detonated by the task force during the assault," Cameron told a news conference at his Downing Street office. However, this is not certain, and a full U.S.-UK investigation will now be launched," he said.
‘Deeply distressing development’
Cameron said he had informed Norgrove’s family of the "deeply distressing development" and defended the decision to attempt the risky rescue mission. "I want to assure Mr and Mrs Norgrove that I will do everything I possibly can to establish the full facts and give them certainty about how their daughter died." Cameron said he took full responsibility for authorizing the operation. He said intelligence at the time suggested Norgrove was about to be passed "up the terrorist chain of command", placing her in an even more dangerous situation, meaning it had been urgent to act. "Ultimately the responsibility for Linda’s death lies with those who took her hostage."
BBC News | 6 October 2010 | 09:13 GMT
Gunmen in Pakistan have torched at least 10 oil tankers carrying fuel for NATO vehicles in Afghanistan in the latest such attack in recent days. A driver died in the ambush near the southwestern city of Quetta. The number of attacks on tankers has soared in the last week since one of the main routes into Afghanistan was shut by the Pakistani authorities.
The Torkham crossing was closed after three Pakistani soldiers died in a NATO air strike near the Afghan border. Islamabad has not yet said when the Khyber Pass crossing will reopen. In Wednesday morning’s attack, up to 14 gunmen in two pick-up trucks opened fire on the tankers as they were parked by the roadside on the outskirts of Quetta, said police.
BBC Urdu’s Ayub Tareen rushed to the scene after the ambush and was lucky to escape with scratches when one of the blazing fuel tankers exploded. The Lorries were thought to have been en route to a smaller border crossing into Afghanistan that still remains open.
The Pakistani Taliban reportedly said they carried out the ambush – the fourth attack on a NATO supply convoy in six days. Spokesperson Azam Tariq told the news agency AFP: "We will further intensify attacks with the intensification of US drone strikes on us." Unmanned aircraft have recently been targeting militants near the Afghan border on an almost daily basis.
Quetta’s chief of police operations, Hamid Shakeel said, "Gunmen came in two vehicles at daybreak and started firing. This created a stampede and people started running. "Then one of the vehicles went [inside the compound] and they sprinkled petrol on trucks and set them on fire." Mr Shakeel said that security for the trucks was the responsibility of local police while the vehicles were moving. But when they are parked at terminals, protection is the job of private contractors, he added.