British commander says war in Afghanistan cannot be won


Britain’s commander in Afghanistan has said the war against the Taliban cannot be won, the Sunday Times reported.

It quoted Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith as saying in an interview that if the Taliban were willing to talk, then that might be “precisely the sort of progress” needed to end the insurgency.

“We’re not going to win this war. It’s about reducing it to a manageable level of insurgency that’s not a strategic threat and can be managed by the Afghan army,” he said.

He said his forces had “taken the sting out of the Taliban for 2008” but that troops may well leave Afghanistan with there still being a low level of insurgency.

But Afghanistan’s Defense Minister expressed his disappointment on Sunday at the commander’s statements, maintaining the insurgency had to be defeated.

“I think this is the personal opinion of that commander,” Abdul Rahim Wardak told reporters.

“The main objective of the Afghan government and the whole international community is that we have to defeat this war of terror and be successful,” he said.

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Nepalese sue US company over Iraq

A Nepalese man and relatives of 12 others who were killed in Iraq four years ago are suing American firm KBR on charges of human trafficking.

The men were recruited in Nepal to work in a hotel in Jordan, but were later told they would have to work at a US air base in Iraq, their lawyers said.

Twelve of the men were kidnapped and killed by Islamic militants while being transported inside Iraq.

The 13th man was made to work against his will at the air base, lawyers said.

The execution-style killing of the hostages was recorded by the extremists and posted on a website.

The incident sparked riots in Nepal with angry demonstrators targeting a mosque, some government buildings and offices of employment agencies.

At least two people were killed in the protests.

‘Passports seized’

The lawsuit filed in the US District Court in Los Angeles on Wednesday alleged “that the illicit trafficking scheme… was engineering by KBR and its subcontractor”, identified as Daoud & Partners.

The men, between the ages of 18 and 27, were recruited “to work as kitchen staff in hotels and restaurants in Amman, Jordan”, said a statement from Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, one of the law firms handling the case.

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‘2 US aircraft carriers headed for Gulf’

Two additional United States naval aircraft carriers are heading to the Gulf and the Red Sea, according to the Kuwaiti newspaper Kuwait Times.

Kuwait began finalizing its “emergency war plan” on being told the vessels were bound for the region.

The US Navy would neither confirm nor deny that carriers were en route. US Fifth Fleet Combined Maritime Command located in Bahrain said it could not comment due to what a spokesman termed “force-protection policy.”

While the Kuwaiti daily did not name the ships it believed were heading for the Middle East, The Media Line’s defense analyst said they could be the USS Theodore Roosevelt and the USS Ronald Reagan.

Within the last month, the Roosevelt completed an exercise along the US east coast focusing on communication among navies of different countries. It has since been declared ready for operational duties. The Reagan, currently with the Seventh Fleet, had just set sail from Japan.

The Seventh Fleet area of operation stretches from the East Coast of Africa to the International Date Line.

Meanwhile, the Arabic news agency Moheet reported at the end of July that an unnamed American destroyer, accompanied by two Israeli naval vessels traveled through the Suez Canal from the Mediterranean. A week earlier, a US nuclear submarine accompanied by a destroyer and a supply ship moved into the Mediterranean, according to Moheet.

Currently there are two US naval battle groups operating in the Gulf: one is an aircraft carrier group, led by the USS Abraham Lincoln, which carries some 65 fighter aircraft. The other group is headed by the USS Peleliu which maintains a variety of planes and strike helicopters.

The ship movements coincide with the latest downturn in relations between Washington and Teheran. The US and Iran are at odds over Iran’s nuclear program, which the Bush administration claims is aimed at producing material for nuclear weapons; however, Teheran argues it is only for power generation.

Kuwait, like other Arab countries in the Gulf, fears it will be caught in the middle should the US decide to launch an air strike against Iran if negotiations fail. The Kuwaitis are finalizing details of their security, humanitarian and vital services, the newspaper reported.

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How Terrorist Groups End

Implications for Countering al Qa’ida

The United States cannot conduct an effective counterterrorism campaign against al Qa’ida or other terrorist groups without understanding how such groups end. While it is clear that U.S. policymakers will need to turn to a range of policy instruments to conduct such campaigns — including careful police and intelligence work, military force, political negotiations, and economic sanctions — what is less clear is how they should prioritize U.S. efforts.

A recent RAND research effort sheds light on this issue by investigating how terrorist groups have ended in the past. By analyzing a comprehensive roster of terrorist groups that existed worldwide between 1968 and 2006, the authors found that most groups ended because of operations carried out by local police or intelligence agencies or because they negotiated a settlement with their governments. Military force was rarely the primary reason a terrorist group ended, and few groups within this time frame achieved victory.

These findings suggest that the U.S. approach to countering al Qa’ida has focused far too much on the use of military force. Instead, policing and intelligence should be the backbone of U.S. efforts.
First Systematic Examination of the End of Terrorist Groups

This was the first systematic look at how terrorist groups end. The authors compiled and analyzed a data set of all terrorist groups between 1968 and 2006, drawn from a terrorism-incident database that RAND and the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism jointly oversee. The authors used that data to identify the primary reason for the end of groups and to statistically analyze how economic conditions, regime type, size, ideology, and group goals affected their survival. They then conducted comparative case studies of specific terrorist groups to understand how they ended.

Of the 648 groups that were active at some point between 1968 and 2006, a total of 268 ended during that period. Another 136 groups splintered, and 244 remained active. As depicted in the figure, the authors found that most ended for one of two reasons: They were penetrated and eliminated by local police and intelligence agencies (40 percent), or they reached a peaceful political accommodation with their government (43 percent). Most terrorist groups that ended because of politics sought narrow policy goals. The narrower the goals, the more likely the group was to achieve them through political accommodation — and thus the more likely the government and terrorists were to reach a negotiated settlement.

In 10 percent of cases, terrorist groups ended because they achieved victory. Military force led to the end of terrorist groups in 7 percent of cases. The authors found that militaries tended to be most effective when used against terrorist groups engaged in insurgencies in which the groups were large, well armed, and well organized. But against most terrorist groups, military force was usually too blunt an instrument.

The analysis also found that

* religiously motivated terrorist groups took longer to eliminate than other groups but rarely achieved their objectives; no religiously motivated group achieved victory during the period studied.
* size significantly determined a group’s fate. Groups exceeding 10,000 members were victorious more than 25 percent of the time, while victory was rare for groups below 1,000 members.
* terrorist groups from upper-income countries are much more likely to be left-wing or nationalist and much less likely to be motivated by religion.

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IRAQ: Years of war, current insecurity take toll on environment


BAGHDAD, 5 June 2007 (IRIN) – Neglected factories, military scrapyards and battle sites containing hazardous material across the country pose a serious threat to Iraq’s environment and to public health, experts warn. The current security situation is also hampering rubbish collections and clean-up operations.

“Chemical and other forms of hazardous material can easily be found in many areas of Iraq. Military scrapyards aren’t destroyed, but rather left wherever they are. Urgent clean-up measures are needed, but few financial resources are available, while ongoing insecurity is preventing specialists from even reaching the sites in question,” Iraqi enivronmental specialist, Professor Rand Abdel-Jaffar of Iraq’s Baghdad University, said.

“Many chemical sites have been destroyed during the past wars and weapons production sites looted by insurgents and militias, leaving people exposed to hazardous material, and the environment polluted,” she said.

In addition to damage to fauna and flora, according to Abdel-Jaffer, without clean-up measures, heavy metals left near rivers or even in the ground will result in the poisoning of ground water, leading to serious health concerns for the local population. Military conflicts over the past quarter of a century in Iraq have resulted in large quantities of military debris, including unexploded ordnance, spent cartridge shells, abandoned military vehicles, toxic and radioactive material, contaminated soil and demolition waste, along with human and animal remains and packaging from military and humanitarian supplies, the academic said.

Industrial waste

According to Amatullah Ibrahim, a senior official in Iraq’s Ministry of Environment, significant sources of hazardous waste are oil and petrochemical complexes, fertilizer plants, refineries and chemical plants, as well as a number of small and medium-sized industries such as electroplating facilities, tanneries, workshops and garages.

“Sludge from oil storage tanks, oil well drilling, from the drilling of wells, oil spills, lubricants from pumps and other machinery used in petrochemical industries, are some of the main causes of soil contamination in Iraq. There aren’t any projects preventing such materials from being dumped in rivers or on the soil and soon the
results will be evident,” Ibrahim said, adding that fish stocks in many Iraqi rives had already dropped significantly.

Most refineries in Iraq operate with outdated machinery which produces large amounts of waste, which is incorrectly disposed of, he added.

“Urgent environmental laws need to be imposed in Iraq.

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