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PostPosted: 26 Feb 2012 06:14 
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ldev wrote:
This is huge. But it only makes sense if it defuses the Shia population bomb in Bahrain. And for that to happen after such a union takes place KSA forcibly relocates the Bahraini Shia population to other parts of KSA to remove that local Shia majority which Iran uses to its advantage. I wonder if that will happen? The other issue is the relatively easy entry/exit for non GCC nationals into Bahrain and its liquor laws. Will those change?. If not, will the union really prove a bigger deterent to Iran than the current Saudi umbrella over Bahrain?

If however, there is a full political union with certain special rights given to Bahrain, then Kind Hamad will become just another provincial Saudi Governor!!

Non GCC nationals can already go into other GCC countries relatvely easily. Just need to apply for visa and you can get it cheaply and quickly.

Will be interesting to see what happens to the liquor laws etc, doubt it will change though. But each of them have to give up on some power.

But the focus of this is economic more than anything else apparently. Defence is already integrated across the GCC. You see, problem with Oman and Bahrain is the economy - so by forming a union, Bahrain gets access to money to fund budgets and can "deter any predators (includes US) in the region".


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PostPosted: 26 Feb 2012 06:29 
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Interview: Ambassador of Egypt to India

Video: Daniel Yergin on his book “The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World”


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PostPosted: 26 Feb 2012 06:44 
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What Happens After Israel Attacks Iran


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PostPosted: 26 Feb 2012 13:51 
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So these are some of the real reasons Iraq was attacked.

Iraq's basmati import torments US

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We liberated their country for one thing," said Texas Congressman Ted Poe. "We would think they would consider the US in trade since we spent billions of dollars not only to liberate their country, but to rebuild their infrastructure ."


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Twelve Congressmen have fired off a letter to Iraq's trade minister Khair Alla Babaker earlier this week pressing him to get Iraqis back on the American long-grain variety.

The letter said that there was a 77% drop in rice sales to Iraq between 2010 and 2011, even though "not long ago, Iraq represented the largest market for US rice" .


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PostPosted: 26 Feb 2012 23:58 
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Aditya_V wrote:
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We liberated their country for one thing," said Texas Congressman Ted Poe. "We would think they would consider the US in trade since we spent billions of dollars not only to liberate their country, but to rebuild their infrastructure ."


Oh they liberated iraq so that the 2nd largest oil reserves are shared with their allies and for their own long time energy security , something they couldnt do under Saddam and UN saction.

What they left since that liberation is 4 thousand US soldiers dead and more than 1 lakhs Iraqi civilians dead and a nation that tormented by terrorism since then and as fluid as it was before liberation.

If US farmers cant compete in price/quality with India then its their problem its a free market after all or tell their administration to subsidies their rice export


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PostPosted: 27 Feb 2012 06:59 
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Israel sign $1.6 billion arms deal with Azerbaijan bringing sophisticated technology at Iran's doorstep

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Israeli defence officials on Sunday confirmed $1.6 billion in deals to sell drones as well as anti-aircraft and missile defence systems to Azerbaijan, bringing sophisticated Israeli technology to the doorstep of archenemy Iran.

The sales by state-run Israel Aerospace Industries come at a delicate time. Israel has been labouring hard to form diplomatic alliances in a region that seems to be growing increasingly hostile to the Jewish state.

Its most pressing concern is Iran's nuclear program, and Israeli leaders have hinted broadly that they would be prepared to attack Iranian nuclear facilities if they see no other way to keep Tehran from building bombs.

Iran denies Israeli and Western claims it seeks to develop atomic weapons, and says its disputed nuclear program is designed to produce energy and medical isotopes.

In Jerusalem, Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said Iran's nuclear program will take centre stage in his upcoming talks with US and Canadian leaders. Netanyahu is to meet with Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper in Ottawa on Friday and with President Barack Obama in Washington on Monday.

Speaking to the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday, Netanyahu said a UN nuclear agency report last week buttressed Israel's warnings that Iran is trying to produce a nuclear bomb. The agency said Iran has rapidly ramped up production of higher-grade enriched uranium over the last few months.

Netanyahu said the report provided "another piece of incontrovertible evidence" that Iran is advancing rapidly with its nuclear program.

It was not clear whether the arms deal with Azerbaijan was connected to any potential Israeli plans to strike Iran. The Israeli defense officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not at liberty to discuss defense deals.

Danny Yatom, a former head of Israel's Mossad spy agency, said the timing of the deal was likely coincidental. "Such a deal ... takes a long period of time to become ripe," he told The Associated Press.

He said Israel would continue to sell arms to its friends. "If it will help us in challenging Iran, it is for the better," he said.

Israel's ties with Azerbaijan, a Muslim country that became independent with the disintegration of the Soviet Union, have grown as its once-strong strategic relationship with another Iranian neighbor, Turkey, has deteriorated, most sharply over Israel's killing of nine Turks aboard a ship that sought to breach Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip in 2010.

For Israeli intelligence, there is also a possible added benefit from Azerbaijan: Its significant cross-border contacts and trade with Iran's large ethnic Azeri community.

For that same reason, as Iran's nuclear showdown with the West deepens, the Islamic Republic sees the Azeri frontier as a weak point, even though both countries are mostly Shiite Muslim.

Earlier this month, Iran's foreign ministry accused Azerbaijan of allowing the Israeli spy agency Mossad to operate on its territory and providing a corridor for "terrorists" to kill members of Iranian nuclear scientists.

Azerbaijan dismissed the Iranian claims as "slanderous lies." Israeli leaders have hinted at covert campaigns against Iran without directly admitting involvement.

Israel, meanwhile, recently claimed authorities foiled Iranian-sponsored attacks against Israeli targets in Azerbaijan. Such claims have precedents: In 2008, Azeri officials said they thwarted a plot to explode car bombs near the Israeli Embassy; two Lebanese men were later convicted in the bombing attempt. A year earlier, Azerbaijan convicted 15 people in connection with an alleged Iranian-linked spy network accused of passing intelligence on Western and Israeli activities.

Iran has denied Azerbaijan's latest charges of plotting to kill Israelis, but a diplomatic rupture is unlikely. Azerbaijan is an important pathway for Iranian goods in the Caucasus region and both nations have signed accords among Caspian nations on energy, environmental and shipping policies.


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PostPosted: 27 Feb 2012 22:45 
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China calls US critique on Syria "super arrogant"

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China has hit out at comments by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on its stance on Syria.

A foreign ministry spokesman called the comments unacceptable, and the official Communist Party newspaper described the criticism as "super arrogant".

Mrs Clinton on Friday called China and Russia's veto of a UN resolution on Syria "despicable".

The Chinese criticism came a day after Syria held a national referendum on a new constitution, amid violent unrest.

The referendum calls for a multi-party parliamentary election within three months. The opposition has dismissed Sunday's vote as a farce, as at least 30 more deaths were reported around the country.
'Patronising'

Ms Clinton made her remarks at the Friends of Syria conference in Tunisia, a meeting of diplomats boycotted by China and Russia that sought an end to the crisis.

The US Secretary of State said it was "quite distressing" to see two Security Council members using their vetoes "while people are being murdered".

"It is just despicable and I ask whose side are they on? They are clearly not on the side of the Syrian people."
China's veto has left Beijing open to criticism that it sides with dictators and repressive regimes and is encouraging
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, when asked for Beijing's response, said China "cannot accept that at all", AFP news agency reported.

Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily was more outspoken.

"The United States' motive in parading as a 'protector' of the Arab peoples is not difficult to imagine," it said in a commentary. "The problem is, what moral basis does it have for this patronising and egotistical super-arrogance and self-confidence?"

"Even now, violence continues unabated in Iraq and ordinary people enjoy no security. This alone is enough for us to draw a huge question mark over the sincerity and efficacy of US policy," it added.

While China is traditionally resistant to interference in other countries' affairs, it has come under intense pressure on Syria.

Beijing believes that Syrian leader Bashar Al-Assad should be allowed to carry out reforms to try and end the bloodshed, says the BBC's Martin Patience in Beijing.


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PostPosted: 28 Feb 2012 01:43 
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Mecca high priest to meet Mirwaiz Farooq
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All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) chairman and Kashmiri separatist leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq is slated to meet the visiting Sheikh Saud Ash Shuraim, high priest of Masjid al-Haram in Mecca in Saudi Arabia, this Saturday.

Dr Shuraim will be arriving in the Capital on Thursday for a five-day visit that includes addressing the two day Ahle Hadees Convention at Ram Lila ground on March 2-3.

One of the six Imam of the grand mosque, Dr Shuraim is expected to lead two prayers at the national convention and is expected to offer prayers at Jama Masjid and meet Imam Ahmed Bukhari on Friday. After paying a visit to Jamait-e-Ulema Hind’s office in Okhla, he will be escorted by Maulana Arshad Madani to Dar-ul-Uloom at Deoband on March 4 and is flying back to Saudi Arabia the next day.
Official sources said Awami Action Committee Chairman Farooq will be arriving in Delhi on March 3 after distributing the invites from Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to APHC at the executive meeting slated for Feb 29, 2012. According to sources, Khar sent a clutch of invitations to Hurriyat leaders through Pakistan High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik this week. Already invitations to visit Pakistan have been given to Tehreek-e-Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Shabbir Shah besides Farooq, who left for Srinagar with remaining invitation letters for fellow APHC leaders.

It is learnt that Geelani and Shah may not be going to Pakistan as the former has been addressed as purely Tehreek-e-Hurriyat leader and not Chairman of APHC-G and Shah is not interested in travelling on an Indian passport.


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PostPosted: 28 Feb 2012 04:18 
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India to step up engagement with the Arab League

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Having cast its lot with the Arab League on the Syria question, India will step up its multilateral engagement with the Arab world in the coming months with a series of events that will include a visit to Cairo by External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna to confabulate with the Arab League and to re-engage Egypt, which is stepping out of the rigid policy confines of the Mubarak era.

During his three-day visit, starting on March 2, Mr. Krishna will hold talks with the Foreign Ministers of the Arab League. But before that, Secretary (East) Sanjay Singh will lead an official delegation that will meet the first Joint Committee meeting of the Arab Troika (Qatar, Libya and Iraq), as well as representatives of the Arab League Secretary-General. During Mr. Krishna's visit, India and Egypt will also hold their first Joint Commission meeting after the exit of the former Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak.

India will be stepping up its engagements at a time when the unfolding situation in Syria might tally with the current strategy of casting its lot with the Arab League by calling for early elections in the violence-wracked country. India changed tack, apparently after persistent violence in Syria made it difficult for New Delhi to continue its strong all-weather ties with the Assad family, which lasted three-decades. India had backed the Arab League proposals in the vetoed U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria and later a U.N. General Assembly resolution on the same issue. Its vote of explanation statements on both occasions had put the League's proposals in the forefront in justifying its stand.

The face-to-face meetings with Arab Foreign Ministers and other senior officials of the Arab League will also help South Block assess which way the wind is blowing on a host of issues critical to India such as Western sanctions on Iran, the direction and level of unrest in some Arab countries and its prospects of getting involved in reconstruction in Libya.

Iran has become the touchstone defining the foreign policies of several Arab countries, especially of Saudi Arabia which is engaged in fighting a cold war with Tehran in various regional theatres including Syria, Bahrain, Yemen and Lebanon, where the pro-Iran Hezbollah is also a top Syrian ally. Along with China, the solid support of Russia, India's key ally, to extend the life of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has added new complexity to India's attempt to redefine its West Asia policy, which has been recently marked with a pronounced deeper engagement with the pro-West Gulf petro-monarchies. Diplomatic sources said India attached considerable importance to the Arab-India Investment Partnership Conference in the United Arab Emirates in May as a follow up to the two previous conferences, the last of which was held two years back.

Trade between the Arab countries and India in the last few years has exceeded $120 billion and over 60 lakh Indians live and work in the Arab world.

In order to maintain its pro-Palestinian credentials after two high-level interactions with Israel in Tel Aviv and New Delhi, Ministry of External Affairs officials will also ascertain the possibility of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian leadership. On the Afghan question, too, the Arab countries are trying to facilitate talks between Kabul and the Taliban.

But the bottom-line during the visit would be an exploration of new venues of interest and cooperation.



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PostPosted: 28 Feb 2012 04:35 
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I think India has decided that Syria is not an interest. So essentially its returning Syria to Arab Sunni hands/rule.


My reading of history is that greater India stretches to the Syrian desert on the west and upto Plain of jars on the East.


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PostPosted: 28 Feb 2012 09:01 
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Bait-and-switch in Syria?

Egypt's cobra and mongoose


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PostPosted: 28 Feb 2012 20:08 
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Though maybe slightly OT for this thread.
The on now/ off again strike on Syria/Iran, it is surprising that syria has a better inventory (atleast air force) compared to iran. F-14 maybe the "latest" maal in iran if we discount those alleged J-10, Su-30 sales. How was syria allowed to be supplied with weaponry while sales to iran was blocked. Since Syria borders Israel, even nominal improvements are enough to strike/deter israel (atleast theoretically).

Anyways strike on syria maybe by fellow believers(??), (however strongly the fellow believers may want it to happen) the strike on iran would be by non-believers.


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PostPosted: 28 Feb 2012 21:12 
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ramana wrote:
My reading of history is that greater India stretches to the Syrian desert on the west and upto Plain of jars on the East.


Sir, in some ways, its further East than that - my Korean pals take this stuff pretty seriously, and claiming decent from her is a bit of a sign of prestige!

http://www.kimhaekims.net/queen_huh_eng7.htm

OT here, sorry.


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PostPosted: 28 Feb 2012 22:55 
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ramana wrote:
I think India has decided that Syria is not an interest. So essentially its returning Syria to Arab Sunni hands/rule.

My reading of history is that greater India stretches to the Syrian desert on the west and upto Plain of jars on the East.


At least India is not supporting Syria overtly like Russia and China are doing.I think we wait for things to crystallize before jumping in to support any party,which is always the wisest thing to do.This is basically a problem to be solved by its own creators, the Syrian Opposition and their western supporters.It will go down in history as another massacre, which Iran will continue to deny being a part of.
Shamelessly they staged a referendum,voted 90% in favour to appease the west, and continue to kill more civillians. Maybe france is waiting for all its press reporters to escape safely first of all, and then do something concrete, meanwhile Homs is burning.


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PostPosted: 29 Feb 2012 01:27 
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The fate of Syria was sealed when Turkey proposed the Pipeline to India from Baku to Turkey to Israel in 2008. if the CAR energy resources can flow via Med and Red Sea , Iranian looses huge leverage and so do Russia and other players. This way Maasa get to control the energy supply , israeli gets their Hafta etc and gain security from this side . India needs to get in there and throw some mud all over like big elephant. Iran might end up making itself irelevant in long run.


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PostPosted: 29 Feb 2012 02:32 
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Syrian problem of today was created by the French who empowered the Alawites, essentially a despised race of "lowly serfs" belonging to a nominally shia, but more close to "apostate" group of minority people, who seized power once they infiltrated the Bath party and Armed forces ranks. Assad IMHO is continuing to dig a large big grave for Alawites. I think he is a dead man walking (or may be he will escape to Russia with his family and entourage at the last moment), although it will be quite a job to defeat his formidable army, but it will be done, although it takes years and cost the lives of hundreds of thousands or millions in a Lebanese style civil war. Essentially the mess the Anglo French created in Ottoman provinces with Sykes Picot is slowly healing and going back to the previous status quo. But in this innings the weapon of choice is "Democracy" and majority rule. A bit of history from our familiar partisan Daniel Pipes (who some may consider a guru) as well as other sources:

http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/publisher ... d7c,0.html
http://www.danielpipes.org/191/the-alaw ... r-in-syria
http://www.danielpipes.org/177/syria-after-asad

http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/2011/03 ... after-asad
Quote:
Conclusion

The manner of the 'Alawi ascent reveals much about Syria's political culture, pointing to complex connections between the army, the political parties, and the ethnic community. The Ba'th Party, the army, and the 'Alawis rose in tandem; but which of these three had the most importance? Were the new rulers Ba'thists who just happened to be 'Alawi soldiers, or were they soldiers who happened to be 'Alawi Ba'thists? Actually, a third formulation is most accurate: these were 'Alawis who happened to be Ba'thists and soldiers.

True, the party and the military were critical, but in the end it was the transfer of authority from Sunnis to 'Alawis that counted most. Without deprecating the critical roles of Party and army, the 'Alawi affiliation ultimately defined the rulers of Syria. Party and career mattered, but, as is so often the case in Syria, ethnic and religious affiliation ultimately define identity. To see the Asad regime primarily in terms of its Ba'thist or military nature is to ignore the key to Syrian politics. Confessional affiliation remains vitally important; as through the centuries, a person's sect matters more than any other attribute.

The Sunni response to the new rulers, which has taken a predominantly communal form, bears out this view. The widespread opposition of Sunnis - who make up about 69 percent of the Syrian population - to an 'Alawi ruler has inspired the Muslim Brethren organization to challenge the government in violent, even terroristic ways. Although unsuccessful until now, the Brethren have on several occasions come near to toppling the regime.

It appears inevitable that the 'Alawis - still a small and despised minority, for all their present power - will eventually lose their control over Syria. When this happens, it is likely that conflicts along communal lines will bring them down, with the critical battle taking place between the 'Alawi rulers and the Sunni majority. In this sense, the 'Alawis' fall - be it through assassinations of top figures, a palace coup, or a regional revolt - is likely to resemble their rise.

...........................................
June 15, 2000 update: Pace the last paragraph above: The fall of the 'Alawis is indeed inevitable, but the succession of his Bashshar al-Asad on the death of hs father Hafiz al-Asad on June 10, 'Alawi rule in Syria continues.

March 1, 2010 update: "Today, the Alawis of Syria are the only ruling religious minority in the Muslim world." With that striking statement, Yvette Talhamy, formerly of Haifa University, opens her important article, "The Fatwas and the Nusayri/Alawis of Syria" in Middle Eastern Studies.. She reviews fatwas hostile to the 'Alawis from before the twentieth century and three friendly ones from the twentieth century, arguing that "these fatwas shaped the history of the Nusayris." It's one of the few pieces of research to build on the subject of the article above.


http://www.angelfire.com/az/rescon/SDSYRIA.html
Quote:
1.2 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

The rich Sunni elite of Damascus and Aleppo composed the ruling class since Umayyad times. Under the Ottomans, who for centuries competed against Shi'a Iran, this position was strengthened (3). The Ottomans saw the Shi'a offshoots - 'Alawis, Isma'ilis and Druze - as heretics to be persecuted for apostasy from Islam (4).

The 'Alawis were impoverished peasants in Latakia province, mainly serfs on lands owned by wealthy city-based Sunni landowners.

The disintegration of the Ottoman Empire after WWI and the establishment of the French Mandate over Syria gave exploited minorities a chance to improve their situation. The French encouraged minority enlistment into "auxiliary troops" used for suppressing nationalist unrest in the cities. They also encouraged 'Alawi and Druze separatism by granting them regional autonomy (5).

The first years of independence saw a drive for national integration. Proportional representation of minorities in parliament was abolished (6). This led to Sunni dominance until the union with Egypt in the UAR in 1958.

---------------------------

4. ANALYSIS OF SECTARIAN IMPACT ON BA'ATH REGIME AND ITS CHANGES IN POLICIES

The 'Alawis now dominate all Syrian power centres. This was achieved by using their kinship network to infiltrate the army and the Ba'ath party, then utilising both institutions as levers to dominate the state. They allied themselves with other disadvantaged groups (Druze, Isma'ilis, impoverished rural and urban Sunnis) to achieve their goals (41). It is difficult to decide whether this was a premeditated long term plan of 'Alawi community leaders as some observers think (42) or if they simply snatched at opportunities that changing times offered them. There certainly was a conjunction of sectarian and economic class interests which enabled the 'Alawis to take over party and state institutions. 'Alawi cohesion has been strengthened as they unite to secure their position, but Syrian politics are still polarised on a sectarian basis (43).

In contrast to the turbulent first years of independence the Ba'ath party has given Syria a stable and highly centralised government. Its social policies have benefited most citizens at the expense of the former small Sunni ruling elite. The greatest beneficiaries of this development have been the 'Alawis and the rural regions.

In foreign policy, friendship with the Soviet bloc manifested 'Alawi preference for radical secular socialism which guarantees sectarian equality, and Ba'athist anti-imperialist ideology. The alliance with Iran can partly be explained by 'Alawi feelings of affinity as persecuted Shi'as with the only dominantly Shi'a state in the Middle East. This also clarifies their policies in Lebanon: their willingness to save the Maronites from Sunni groups and their support of the Shi'as.


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PostPosted: 29 Feb 2012 02:45 
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So the Alawis built a coalition of like minded people to capture and retain power?

Now the KSA is demaning its pound of Shia flesh?


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PostPosted: 29 Feb 2012 03:31 
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ramana wrote:
So the Alawis built a coalition of like minded people to capture and retain power?

Now the KSA is demaning its pound of Shia flesh?


Yes ramana ji, that is correct about Alawis IMHO. KSA/GCC is leading the charge because they have the oil money (which they also use to promote their ideology of Wahabism, unfortunately), but if I am not mistaken, the fact is that it is a desire for all Sunni's of the world. When Ottoman empire was broken up, due to planning or just sheer luck, no big Sunni state like Iran ended up with oil. The biggest chunk of the Arab provinces was Egypt which has no oil and a little gas. So this allowed Shia Iran, using their oil and their old civilizational strength, to make mischief in the Arab world. That window of opportunity is fast getting closed, as the Sunni gets more consolidated under GCC and Arab League, where Sunni's are by far the majority. It will take some time, but Shia's must accept their subservient position in relation to Sunni's, if they want anything good from the Sunni Muslim world, who are around 90% of global Muslim population.


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PostPosted: 29 Feb 2012 03:43 
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If one sees Syria as a Shia-Sunni fight instead of the Arab/Turk vs Iran fight then it makes sense how India reacted. Basically there is no bone in that fight as India has both sects living in India.
Also AKA's KSA visit is another milestone for India.

However PRC/Russia don't want Syria handed over to Arabs who are under US control.

Taking look at big picture ME needs balance and Arabs lost the strength with depostion of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Now we see a rearranging of the forces in a struggel for balance.

If this is correct then Iran is a 'must not fail' for India. And that would explain India's relcutance to go with the US moves there.

Wonder how will post Alawite modern Syria fit in with the feudal elites of Arab ME?


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PostPosted: 29 Feb 2012 06:02 
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US doesn't want war with Iran now due to elections. Effect will be felt and Obama will be criticised if things go wrong. Israel wants to do it NOW! That's the big problem.

Iran doesn't want war now either and is all talk.

High oil prices - Obama wants low oil prices and has been begging KSA. The GCC have enough cash to bail out the US even with low oil prices. They are pumping in the dollar by purchasing stakes in tech companies and others to help the US out.

They are helping india out with this ONGC divestment plan. Possibility of more such investments.
India will pick up the fall out of euro pull out.

India's decision on Syria is simple. Assad is finished and our interests there aren't really that big and even if regime changed out contracts will stay.

India is playing both sides on Iran. Current regime is better for us and afpak projects and investments.
We don't want regime change. But a denuclearized Iran might still be beneficial but a Shia regime in power


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PostPosted: 29 Feb 2012 16:37 
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Breaking news, Saif Al Adel - AQ chief arrested at Cairo airport

Initial comment: Iran extradited him most likely - signalling cooperation with the US.
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Indian scholarships for Omani students hiked
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Yesterday’s event was attended by around 200 ITEC alumni and Omani officials from various ministries and departments.
During the function, ITEC alumni shared their experience of their training time in India saying they enjoyed their India stay as it is a country rich in cultural heritage with modern development.

They hailed the benefits they derived from their participation in ITEC training courses. “A cosmopolitan environment and easy acceptance of all cultures and customs, makes India a friendly nation. The experience was quite helpful for me. The programme I attended was under direct guidance of India’s Parliament. It helped me to learn how to draft legal documents. It helped me to develop my skills and the practical knowledge in my job,” Riyadh Al Balushi, a senior legal researcher at General Directorate of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Legal Affairs, told Times of Oman.
While admiring the hospitality of Indians, Riyadh also praised the quality of democracy prevalent in the country, which truly empowers the people.

Yahya Al Shansi, lecturer at Higher College of Technology, said that the ITEC programme has helped him a lot in his career and he is currently working on a project with the skills he acquired in India.


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PostPosted: 01 Mar 2012 05:11 
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The New Middle Eastern Alignment

A rapprochement between Syria and Iraq signals a new balance of power in the region By Marwan Kabalan

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For more than fifty years, Syrian-Iraqi relations have been fraught with fear and suspicion. The case has never been as clear as it appeared under the US occupation, when the new Iraqi regime persistently accused Syria of trying to undermine its power and legitimacy.
Syria struggled to accommodate itself with the strategic shift which made the US a Middle Eastern power. Syria's position was not based on pan-Arabism or sympathy with Saddam Hussein's regime. Rather, it was determined by pragmatic provisions directly linked to its security dilemma.

In a region that is still very much dominated by a realpolitik approach and a delicate balance of power, Syria feared that a US-backed government in Baghdad would almost certainly place it between two hostile powers: Israel and a pro-US Iraq. Syria was also concerned about the possible disintegration of Iraq and the likelihood of this affecting its own Kurdish minority. The war was seen in Damascus as an attempt to reshape the political map of the region in a way that does not suit its interests.

After a 24-year break, the resumption of diplomatic relations between Damascus and Baghdad in 2006 did not much improve bilateral relations. Relations between the countries only strengthened in March 2010, when Syria, under Iranian pressure, supported Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to a second term, and several trade deals increased Syrian investment in Iraq.

When the protest movement broke out in Syria a year later, Maliki, also under Iranian pressure, supported the Syrian regime, illustrating how much Iraq's position has shifted recently. Over the past few months, Baghdad has hosted several delegations of Syrian government officials and businessmen to discuss closer economic ties, including the construction of a gas pipeline that would run from Iran through Iraq to Syria.

The improved relationship has both domestic and regional aspects. Domestically, Maliki is fearful that a regime change in Damascus would embolden his Sunni opponents, who have openly expressed their support for the protest movement in Syria. Following the withdrawal of US troops last December, sectarian tension ran high in Iraq. Maliki is already having troubles with his coalition partners who want to replace him or go for early general elections. Syria, on the other hand, was looking for an economic partner that could cancel the disastrous effects of Arab and EU sanctions.

An implicit quid pro quo agreement may hence have been reached between Maliki and the Syrian regime, according to which Iraq would extend an economic lifeline to Damascus in return for continued Syrian support for his rule. There are reports that Syria has turned in some officials from the former Iraqi regime who had taken refuge in its territories after the collapse of Hussein's regime. Maliki had been asking for their extradition for years but to no avail. In addition, the anti-Maliki TV station Al-Raai, which had been airing from Syria, was shut down in December 2011.

Last summer, Syria denied western reports that it had received aid from the Maliki government to support its waning economy. Regardless of the authenticity of this information, Syrian daily Al-Watan reported that daily Syrian exports to Iraq exceeded USD 20m in December 2011, meaning that Iraq is taking the lion's share of Syria's overall industrial production.

Regionally, in this new alignment, Damascus and Baghdad have naturally, and maybe unintentionally, found themselves in one camp. Both are considered strong allies of Tehran. And both suspect that the Arab Gulf states, in co-ordination with Turkey, are attempting to bring them down. In fact, the emerging alliance between these two Arab neighbours today constitutes the cornerstone of the Iran-led axis. The other axis in this new Middle Eastern alignment is led by Turkey and includes the Arab Gulf states and Jordan.

The future of the region will be defined by the outcome of this titanic conflict.


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PostPosted: 02 Mar 2012 02:16 
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Keep cool

Quote:
Keep cool
But India has to remain in step with the rest of the world against Iran's nuke ambitions, says N.V.Subramanian.

29 February 2012: Hackles would be raised here by Hillary Clinton's testimony to a Congressional committee that the United States is having "very intense and very blunt" conversations with India (and China and Turkey) to reduce dependence on Iranian oil. America-baiters will see this as new evidence of its hauteur. Iran aficionados will jump into the fray.

Keep cool.

Privately, most world powers believe Iran has the bomb. Some of them also like to think Iran is using Israel as a blind to get nuke technologies and assistance from Muslim scientists but that the real targets are the Sunni kingdoms led by Saudi Arabia. As a nuclear power, Iran will gain leadership of the Muslim world.

{From flailing TSP to mad cap ayatollahs! :lol: }

There is a second related narrative. This is that Iran is convinced it can never become an Islamic overlord because a Shia power will always have limitations. But if it can reinvent itself as a Persian great state, returning to its pre-Islamic civilization that gave hard competition to the Greeks, then it may have a chance. A Persian power with nuclear weapons would bring splendid advantages. Or so the thinking goes.

But the great powers opposing Iran's nuke ambitions like to believe it has not crossed the nuclear threshold. At any rate, they think sanctions backed by the threat of war would push Iran on the backfoot. Whether Iran will abandon its weapons' programme under pressure is hard to tell, but the sanctions have begun to hurt. The attack on the wife of an Israeli diplomat in Delhi shows Iranian desperation. The Indian government may not wish to implicate Iran just now. But its hand in the attack is evident.

The point is that India can no longer bury its head in the sand and expect the Iranian crisis to blow over. In principle, India is opposed to Iran's weapons' programme. It has clearly stated that it does not want another nuclear power in the region, and especially not in the unstable Middle East. It has gone along with international action in the IAEA against Iran, getting Iran very cross. India cannot resile from this position.

What to do now? India has to follow its objections to Iranian nukes to its logical end. While it may not wish actively to participate in the sanctions regime imposed against Iran, it would have to support it passively. India has begun reducing its Iranian oil dependence, but it has to be terminated at some point. This has nothing to do with American pressure but constitutes a pragmatic pursuit of national interest.

See it this way. If Iran is forced to terminate its nuke programme (easier said than done), there is one less potential nuclear power in the region to deter. Don't be deluded that nuclear Iran won't pose a threat to India. On the other hand, if Iran does become a nuclear power, it won't thank India for not preventing it from becoming one. Gratitude does not exist in the lexicon of strategic competitors. So if the risk is equal in supporting or opposing Iran's nuke quest, opposing it makes sense.

There is some commentating to the effect that India must scorn the US stand on Iran because it did not prevent Pakistan's weaponization. That is silly. That is cutting off the nose to spite the face. Because the US has been wrong on Pakistan, it doesn't mean it is wrong on Iran, or that Iran is right. There is certainly no call on India to blindly follow the US. It never has and it never will. But equally, there is no place for bloody-mindedness in strategic affairs or emotionalism.

A stark analysis of the situation tells you this. Time is running out for Iran. It is no longer prudent to support its oil economy. Iran would be saved from war and annihilation if it steps back from the brink. Sanctions are an aid to that process. While India is more than clear that it opposes hostile action against Iran without UN approval, it must also realize that peace has a chance if the sanctions succeed. It must more willingly and swiftly take steps towards that end. It is the best of a bad bargain.



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PostPosted: 02 Mar 2012 02:23 
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Its not India that is keeping up Iran.
- At 12% of imports its role is miniscule.
So to put India at center of Iran problem is wrong.
Next its the US not going after TSP nuke proliefration of purloined European centrifuge technology is the root of this crisis.
Recall bin Powell speech "Past is past" after AQK being found out?

Why the eagerness to accept blame for India this crisis?


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PostPosted: 02 Mar 2012 07:56 
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With the Syrian govt. forces all set to root out the rebels from their chief rathole in Homs,the rebel leaders accuse Britain of being "too cautious" in providing them with arms,etc. The Brit. For.Sec. Mr.Hague has ordered all Brit.diplomats out of the country. If there is much hesitation on the part of Britain it is because in this crisis,Russia and China are not aboard the insidious UN resolutions pushed forward by the US and west. They were earlier tricked into regime change by default in Libya,by agreeing to a UN resolution that merely approved protection of civilians-actually abused ,leading to a full-scale NATO assault on Gadhaffi,with naval and air forces attacking Syrian forces and bases daily,and SAS troops and hordes of mercenaries (contractors) on the ground advising and fighting the Libyans,doing most of the battle.Carefully engineered media shots showed rebels behaving like monkeys in their pick-ups pretending to be the ones doing the fighting.One US sub alone launched over 100 Tomahawk missiles at key Libyan defence installations.

With Russia and China firmly behind the Syrian govt.,in preventing "regime change" as was perpetrated in Libya-to steal its oil,here to rearrange the boundaries of the nations surrounding Israel,the pretenders to imperial dreams are having second thoughts about openly defying international protocol and supporting the rebels with arms,etc.While the Turks may have latter-day delusions of grandeur of the past Ottomans,the Qataris representing the "nouveau-rage" nations of the "oily" Arab world,Britain and its experienced For.Sec. know when a cause is very difficult to attain and are cutting their losses diplomatically.Who will now openly come to the rescue of the rebel forces with supplies of arms,and boots on the ground when the regime is being protected diplomatically by the Russians and Chinese is the big Q.India would do well to weigh the odds in the balance,keep neutral and resis regime change through devious means at the UN,and not get swayed by the shrill voices from the west to join their "international brigade",which has as much chances of unseating Assad as did the internationals unseating Generalissimo Franco in the Spanish Civil War!

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldne ... eader.html

Britain is too cautious on arming Syrian rebels, says exiled opposition leader

Xcpt:
Quote:
By Alex Spillius, Paris

02 Mar 2012

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Burhan Ghalioun, the president of the Syrian National Council, called on foreign countries to start arming and supplying rebels fighting Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Britain and other Western powers were, unlike Arab states such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, too guarded in their approach, he claimed.

“The international community is very slow and still its volume on Syria is low,” he said. “They are just whispering against a regime that is brutally killing their own people every day. We welcomed Britain’s stand and positions earlier but we think it has a quieter voice now and we don’t know why. You have to ask Mr Hague why, but I can see that they are very, very cautious.”

The Foreign Secretary, along with his counterparts in France and the United States, has not supported establishing “humanitarian corridors” to opposition areas, which the SNC wants to see protected by an Arab-led peacekeeping force. With diplomatic action at the United Nations blocked by Russia and China, Western powers have so far also ruled out military aid, believing it could spark a civil war. They also have doubts about the effectiveness of the SNC itself, and about the Free Syria Army, a loose coalition of army deserters which, it is feared, may include Islamist radicals and other, free-ranging militias.

Attempting to address those concerns, Prof Ghalioun, 67, who in normal life is a political scientist at the Sorbonne, announced the formation of a new SNC “military bureau” to organise deliveries of weapons from foreign countries to the rebels. The military bureau would be located in southern Turkey and would aim to bring together the FSA and other groups.

“The key task is to unify the military struggle inside the country so we don’t have the chaotic situation where there is no proper chain of command or lack of order in the country now and after the collapse of the Syrian regime,” he said.Related Articles

Syria uprising: latest
01 Mar 2012

Civilians abandoned to fate as troops take Baba Amr
01 Mar 2012

Is Syria fated to be a second Bosnia?
01 Mar 2012

Syria: regime prepares for Baba Amr attack
29 Feb 2012

Small amounts of arms are being smuggled to rebels courtesy of Qatar and Saudi Arabia and Western countries are reportedly providing help with communications and some non-lethal military equipment, but according to Prof Ghalioun, the quantities are small. Britain has denied being involved in providing any such supplies.


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PostPosted: 02 Mar 2012 16:21 
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Good news, Homs is liberated - http://ibnlive.in.com/news/syrian-rebel ... 490-2.html


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PostPosted: 02 Mar 2012 20:25 
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Saudi oil pipeline attacked in the eastern provinces?
Saudi Oil Pipelines Destroyed In Explosion
Quote:
Among the many factors responsible for the jump in WTI to just shy of $109 over the past hour, and Brent to new records in various currencies, is the following news reported so far only by Iranian PressTV: "An explosion has hit oil pipelines in the flashpoint Saudi Arabian city of Awamiyah in the kingdom’s oil-rich Eastern Province."

And some more from Arabian Digest:

Saudi Arabia's Eastern Revolution hits the oil sector: pipeline under fire. For the first time in decades, the Eastern Saudi Arabian volatile situation has reached the vital oil sector. A pipeline between Awamiya and Safwa has been reportedly targeted, and is under fire. Saudi Arabia's Shiite minority, mostly residing in the oil rich east, has been protesting for years against State sponsored discrimination.


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PostPosted: 02 Mar 2012 23:29 
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Pranav wrote:

Pranav ji, its significant news, but how do you consider it good news?


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PostPosted: 03 Mar 2012 00:00 
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Carl wrote:
Pranav wrote:

Pranav ji, its significant news, but how do you consider it good news?


This is the same gang of thugs that lynched Gaddhafi.

Syria could be an inflection point for western elite influence in the Asian land mass, and Homs could be an inflection point for Syria. Let's see.


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PostPosted: 03 Mar 2012 01:19 
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You think west wants Assad to go? Don't be fooled.


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PostPosted: 03 Mar 2012 07:37 
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The war no one wants: Arundhati Ghose (former Ambassador to UN)

Netanyahu Won't Attack Iran (Probably.)

Will Israel Attack Iran? (old article)

Obama to Iran and Israel: 'As President of the United States, I Don't Bluff'


Last edited by abhishek_sharma on 03 Mar 2012 07:53, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: 03 Mar 2012 07:45 
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shyamd wrote:
You think west wants Assad to go? Don't be fooled.


You are welcome to give your interpretation (with justification).


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PostPosted: 03 Mar 2012 15:27 
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They like Assad... That's the view from DC and London. The US could do a lot more if it wanted to. As long as Assad has the support of PRC and Russia. Assad is fine. But his downfall is not far away. At the minimum he will step down

The Syrians helped the US and UK a lot in security and he believes in secular order


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PostPosted: 03 Mar 2012 18:19 
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> believes in secular order

that didnt save saddam or hosni mubarak or qadhafi who were all relatively secular. NATO is in bed with the wahabbis for a long time and doesnt mind, so long as the new munna does what they say.

I am a bit puzzled what strategic value syria has in the region though - is it purely to roll back PRC/Rus influence from out of the Mediterranean rim?


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PostPosted: 03 Mar 2012 18:54 
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Good point. Which is why the GCC thinks that the role played by the western media in bahrain and US coup in Egypt is a conspiracy against the GCC. Iran gained during Iraq and Iran gained after Mubarak fell in Egypt. More niceties are being given by Iran to Egypt. GCC gained only when gaddafi fell

This goes back to Iran contra affair. The top hierarchy of KSA gave Rumsfeld a shouting in 2006 about Iraq taking Iran. Rumsfeld proposed GCC troops to back western region of Iraq etc.

Even Israel doesn't know why the US gave up Mubarak. It was a loss to Israel and the GCC. No one understands what the US thinks and they aren't really trusted.

I don't think even Israel deep down wants Assad to go.


Last edited by shyamd on 03 Mar 2012 19:03, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: 03 Mar 2012 19:03 
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Singha wrote:
I am a bit puzzled what strategic value syria has in the region though - is it purely to roll back PRC/Rus influence from out of the Mediterranean rim?


Syria is an ally of both Iran and the Hezbollah, so the interest in seeing a more pliant regime is clear.

Meanwhile it seems French troops have been captured in Homs -



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PostPosted: 03 Mar 2012 19:04 
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shyamd wrote:
Even Israel doesn't know why the US gave up Mubarak. It was a loss to Israel and the GCC. No one understands what the US thinks and they aren't really trusted.

I don't think even Israel deep down wants Assad to go.


The US & Israel consensus was that Mubarak had outlived his utility. See viewtopic.php?p=1022514#p1022514


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PostPosted: 03 Mar 2012 19:33 
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I disagree with those points made. Egypt is an integral part of the security structure that the US created in the region.


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PostPosted: 05 Mar 2012 00:51 
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"Ing-rats" indeed!

After spending billions in supporting the Libyan rebels,bombing from the air,fighting with them on the ground ,even with the SAS ,the Libyan rebels who used the west/west used them, to oust Gadhaffi returned the compliment to their British compatriots by promptly desecrating the graves of Monty's famous "Desert Rats". Surely,the Brits were better off with Gadhaffi,who embraced one Tony B.Liar?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldne ... eroes.html

Libyan rebels desecrate graves of British war heroes
Libyan rebels, freed from the regime of Colonel Gaddafi, have been captured on film smashing the graves of more than 150 British soldiers killed in North Africa during the Second World War.

Watch the clip in the link:

Quote:
The men in the footage, seen by the Mail on Sunday, are heard saying: "They are dogs, they are dogs."

Among the graves defiled by the extremists was the gravestone commemorating the Reverend Geoffrey Bond, who was the chaplain to the forces until his death in 1941 at the age of 30.


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PostPosted: 05 Mar 2012 02:40 
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In Egypt, Krishna makes first contact with Brotherhood

And Farooq Abdullah meets Ahmadinejad in Tehran.


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