Monday, August 24, 2009

Views on the News - 12 August 2009

Swedish paper tells of Palestinians killed to harvest organs

Leading Swedish daily Aftonbladet claimed in one of its articles that Israeli soldiers killed Palestinians in order to trade in their organs. The report mentioned Brooklyn resident Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, who is accused of involvement in the recent human organ-trafficking case that caused a storm in the US and Israel . The report said Palestinians claim youngsters were forced to give up theirs before being executed. This suspicion, the report said, may lead to an international war crimes investigation against Jewish state. Aftonbladet also said Palestinian youths who were snatched from their villages in the middle of the night were buried after being dismembered. The reporter, Donald Boström, said he was informed of the alleged atrocities by UN employees while he was working on a book in the West Bank . According to Bostrom, a Palestinian from Nablus who for a number of years headed stone-throwing attacks against IDF soldiers was shot to death in May because he interfered with the activity of the "Israeli conquering forces." ftonbladet published a photo of the body, which had a scar running from the face down to the stomach. In his article Bostrom quoted a number of Palestinians as saying that their children were killed by IDF soldiers for their organs.

China begins to move away from the US dollar

This week the BBC reported that China reduced its holdings of US government debt by the largest margin in nearly nine years in June, according to data from the US Treasury. China holds more US government debt than any other country and cut its holdings of US securities by more that 3% in June, said the BBC's Chris Hogg. Japan and the UK - second and third largest holders of US debt - increased their holdings over the same period. China 's holding of US debt is about 7% higher than at the turn of the year. In recent months the US government's budget deficit has widened thanks in part to the Obama administration's costly stimulus plan. China is worried about this, and fears the stimulus efforts will fuel inflation in the US , reducing the value of the dollar. This would then erode the value of the debt China holds in the US currency. In June, China cut its holdings of US securities by about $25bn, a fall of 3.1%. The sales were made as the US treasury secretary was visiting Beijing to try to reassure the Chinese that their investment in his country's government debt is safe. In 2008, the Chinese increased their holdings in US debt by 52% over 12 months.

America to rewrite Iraq security pact

This week the U.S. military commander said that he had proposed setting up security teams formed of Iraqi, Kurdish and U.S. forces to protect volatile areas disputed by Kurds and Arabs from insurgent attacks. The idea, which might require a modification of a U.S.-Iraqi security pact to allow U.S. troops to return to towns and villages, had met with a positive response from the Baghdad government and the semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government in the north, Gen. Ray Odierno said. The tripartite arrangement, if approved, would be "a little bit" like a U.S. peacekeeping mission between the rival forces as they face off in a potentially explosive dispute over land, power and oil, Odierno said. "It won't be for long. If we do it it'll be just to build confidence in the (Iraqi and Kurdish) forces, till they are comfortable working together."
The Iraqi government may have to grant U.S. troops an exemption from the bilateral security agreement under which U.S. troops retreated to rural bases at the end of June and which sets an end-2011 deadline for a full U.S. withdrawal, he said. Odierno said he had discussed his proposal with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and Kurdish regional president Masoud Barzani and both had asked him to have a look at the idea. A committee would start discussing the proposal next month. "I have been encouraged. I didn't sense any initial resistance to having joint trilateral checkpoints, Iraqi army, KRG and U.S. soldiers in oversight," he said.

Obama paints a bleak picture about America ’s crusade in Afghanistan

Obama told the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Monday that the United States didn't choose to fight in Afghanistan , but was forced to invade that country to stop future Sept. 11-type attacks at home. Obama says his new strategy recognizes that al-Qaida has moved its bases into remote areas of Pakistan and that military power alone will not win that war.
Obama says it's important to note that the insurgency in Afghanistan didn't happen overnight and would not be defeated overnight. Obama warned Americans that the battle there will be neither quick nor easy.

Pakistan: America begins to co-opt naïve Islamists

This week Reuters reported that U.S. President Barack Obama has started reaching out to some of Pakistan 's most fervent Islamist and anti-American parties, including one that helped give rise to the Taliban, trying to improve Washington 's image in the nuclear-armed state. Obama's special envoy, Richard Holbrooke, is initiating dialogue between the United States and religious parties previous administrations had largely shunned, both sides said. "The purpose is to broaden the base of American relations in Pakistan beyond the relatively narrow circle of leaders Washington has previously dealt with," explained Vali Nasr, senior adviser to Holbrooke. At one of this week's sessions, Holbrooke invited Jamaat-e-Islami, whom some U.S. officials compare to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt . Holbrooke rejected the party's complaints about a Western "assault" on Islam, saying "that could not be further from the truth" with Obama, who has roots in the religion, now in the White House. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari praised Holbrooke's meetings with Islamist parties as "a new era" aimed at promoting reconciliation and dialogue instead of "the violent mindset"."We need to help Obama. He's a breath of fresh air to the world," Zardari told reporters travelling with Holbrooke.

Russia buttresses its presence in Abkhazia

Russia 's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visited the separatist Georgian region of Abkhazia on Wednesday, promising to provide nearly millions of dollars in military aid and shrugging off Georgian protests. Putin's visit came on the anniversary of the cease-fire in last year's war with Georgia , during which Russian troops and separatist forces ousted Georgian forces from the territory of Abkhazia and another breakaway Georgian province, South Ossetia . The Georgian Foreign Ministry strongly protested Putin's trip as "yet another attempt to destabilize the situation and escalate the tension in the Caucasus region.” However Putin accused Washington of forcing its allies to toe its line against Russia after the war. "There are many who support us in the West," Putin said. "They all feel a certain pressure from the most powerful NATO member _ the United States . After the end of the Cold War, some people in the United States got an illusion they don't have to follow any rules and do what they want." He added on a less defiant note that now "all have come to realize that ... no country in the world can play the role of a global policeman." "Russia is providing and will provide economic, political and, if necessary, military assistance to Abkhazia," he said, adding that Russia will spend 15 billion to 16 billion rubles ($465 million to $495 million) next year for Abkhazian military bases and border-control projects.


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