Friday, August 14, 2009

Views on the News - 12 August 2009

20% of the European Union will be Muslim by 2050

Twenty percent of the European Union will be Muslim by 2050, according to forecasts cited in a Telegraph report this week. The current figure, according to the article, sits at five percent, and will be pushed up due to immigration, and low birth rates among native Europeans. The article noted that the UK , Spain and Holland would hit the 20% mark faster. According to the London-based newspaper, experts have criticized lawmakers' failure to address this "demographic time-bomb." They called for a discussion on how these demographic changes would affect "areas of life from education and housing to foreign policy and pensions."

British army wants to enlist Muslims to fight the Taleban

The new head of the Army wants to recruit British Muslims to help fight the Taliban. General Sir David Richards said the UK may be in Afghanistan for 40 years and it needs more ethnic troops to boost numbers.
He told an MoD journal: "There are some hugely capable people I would love to see in the Army. The Army would be better getting more Muslims in to our ranks. ”An MoD source added: "He is sending Muslim soldiers on a recruiting drive to Bradford, Leeds, Birmingham and London . This is a sensitive but bold attempt to increase boots on the ground in Afghanistan and increase ethnic numbers.”

Chavez tells his military to prepare for war

President Hugo Chavez told his military on Sunday to be prepared for a possible confrontation with Colombia , warning that Bogota 's plans to increase the U.S. military presence at its bases poses a threat to Venezuela . Chavez has issued near daily warnings that Washington could use bases in Colombia to destabilize the region since learning of negotiations to lease seven Colombian military bases to the United States . “The threat against us is growing," Chavez said. "I call on the people and the armed forces, let's go, ready for combat!” Chavez warned Colombia that " Venezuela 's military will respond if there's an attack against Venezuela .” Chavez said he would attend this week's summit of the Union of South American Nations in Quito , Ecuador , to urge his Latin American allies to pressure Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to reconsider a pending agreement to lease military bases to U.S. forces.

Russia attacks Ukraine ’s leadership

This week Dmitry Medvedev, Russia 's president, has said that Moscow will delay sending a new ambassador to Ukraine because of its leadership's "anti-Russian" stance. In a letter released on Tuesday, Medvedev said that he hoped Viktor Yushchenko, his Ukrainian counterpart, would lose presidential elections in January because he is ignoring "the principles of friendship and partnership with Russia ".
"I want to inform you that under the current anti-Russian course of the Ukrainian leadership, I have taken a decision to postpone sending a new ambassador to Kiev ," he said in the letter. "Russia hopes a new political leadership in Ukraine will be ready to create relations between our people that respond to the real hopes of our people." Ties between Russia and Ukraine have soured in recent months following a pricing dispute over gas supplies, which caused large parts of Europe to be left without heating for two weeks in January.Russia has also been angered by Ukraine hopes to join Nato, fearing the military alliance is encroaching on its sphere of influence.

Karzai’s re-election as President is uncertain

This week a US-funded poll has indicated that Hamid Karzai, the incumbent Afghan president, might not gain enough votes in the elections on August 20 to avoid a second run-off. Although the survey of 3,566 Afghans showed Karzai was likely to get 36 per cent of the vote, with his rival Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister, second with 20 per cent, he would not pass the 50 per cent threshold needed to be re-elected. A United Nations report recently has said that security fears in many parts of Afghanistan were hindering preparations for the presidential election to be held on August 20.The report, compiled by the UN mission in Afghanistan and Afghanistan's independent human rights commission (AIHRC), said insecurity had "severely limited freedom of movement and constrained freedom of expression for candidates.” The elections are crucial for Western efforts to legitimize their rule in Afghanistan , where more than 90,000 foreign troops are fighting the Taliban.

US targets Pakistan ’s nuclear arsenal

Pakistan's nuclear facilities have come under attack from the Taliban and other groups and there is a ‘genuine’ risk militants could seize weapons or bomb-making material, an article published in a West Point think tank newsletter said. The Combating Terrorism Center , which is housed at the US Military Academy at West Point , published the article in the July edition of its ‘Sentinel’ newsletter, copies of which were distributed widely on Tuesday. Written by Shaun Gregory, director of the Pakistan Security Research Unit at the University of Bradford in Britain, the article detailed three attacks against Pakistan's nuclear facilities, and warned that sites in the country may be vulnerable to infiltration .‘The risk of the transfer of nuclear weapons, weapons components or nuclear expertise to terrorists in Pakistan is genuine,’ the article said.
Gregory wrote that Pakistani forces guarding the facilities underwent a selection process to keep militant sympathizers out. For added protection, warhead cores are separated from their detonators, and these components are kept in underground sites. Some 8,000 to 10,000 members of the Pakistani army's Strategic Plans Division and other intelligence agencies are involved in providing security and monitoring, he said, citing interviews with Pakistani and French officials. ‘Despite these elaborate safeguards, empirical evidence points to a clear set of weaknesses and vulnerabilities in Pakistan's nuclear safety and security arrangements,’ Gregory wrote. Pakistan is believed to have stockpiled approximately 580-800 kg of highly enriched uranium, sufficient amounts to build 30-50 fission bombs. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists estimated in 2007 that the Pakistani arsenal comprised about 60 warheads.

12/8/09