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Posts Tagged ‘war’

Two Koreas take tough stance as think-tank warns of war

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 at 5:57 am

The two Koreas are still talking tough one month after the North’s artillery bombardment sent tensions soaring, with Pyongyang threatening nuclear war and Seoul vowing strong retaliation for any new attack.


One day after deploying tanks, artillery and jet fighters in a military show of force, Seoul’s defence ministry said Friday that a giant Christmas tree near the North Korean border would stay lit up till January 8.


The move is likely to anger Pyongyang since the date marks the birthday of its heir apparent Kim Jong-Un. The communist North sees the tree topped with a glowing cross as a provocative propaganda symbol.


The ministry said it hoped to send “a message of peace to the North” and the timing was just a coincidence.

South Korean Army K-9 155mm self-propelled Howitzers fire live rounds during joint air and ground military exercises on the Seungjin Fire Training Field, in mountainous Pocheon.

An international think-tank urged the two Koreas to accept international arbitration to redraw the flashpoint disputed Yellow Sea border.


“Measures must urgently be adopted to reduce the possibility of all-out war”, the International Crisis Group said in a report.


The North said Thursday it was ready for a “sacred war” using its nuclear weapons, as the South held its second live-fire drill in a week.


Pyongyang’s armed forces minister Kim Yong-Chun said the South’s firing drill Monday, on Yeonpyeong island near the Yellow Sea border, was a preparation for a new Korean war.


“The revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK (North Korea) are getting fully prepared to launch a sacred war of justice of Korean style based on the nuclear deterrent at any time necessary to cope with the enemies’ actions deliberately pushing the situation to the brink of a war,” Kim said.


The North on November 23 bombarded Yeonpyeong, killing four people including civilians. Pyongyang said it was retaliating for a South Korean firing drill that dropped shells into waters that it claims are North Korean territory.


The South’s military, accused of a perceived feeble response to last month’s bombardment, has been stressing it will hit back harder next time, using air power.


President Lee Myung-Bak, visiting a frontline army unit Thursday, warned of severe retaliation for any new attack.


“We’ve endured for long enough. We thought we could maintain peace on this land if we endured, but that was not the case,” Lee said. “Now we need to strongly retaliate to maintain peace, deter provocations and prevent war.”


People in the North, the president said, “are almost starving to death, and with the money spent to make atomic bombs, people could live”.


The United States has firmly backed its ally the South and urged China to do more to restrain its own ally, the North.


The North’s latest comments prompted the US State Department to chide it for its “belligerent tricks”.


“We need constructive actions, not heated rhetoric,” spokesman Philip Crowley said.


Despite earlier strong threats, the North did not retaliate for Monday’s firing drill on Yeonpyeong. It also offered nuclear concessions, according to US politician Bill Richardson, who ended a visit to Pyongyang this week.

Richardson said the North agreed to readmit UN atomic inspectors and negotiate the sale of nuclear fuel rods to a third party.

The New Mexico governor, who has longstanding contacts with North Korea, said Thursday the United States should consider resuming talks with the North.

Richardson said a resumption of six-nation talks — under which the North earlier agreed to give up its nuclear weapons in return for aid — could help prevent a new escalation of tensions.

If “they don’t react militarily again to this recent drill, then maybe the time has come for the six-party talks,” he told CNN, referring to the South Korean exercise staged Thursday.

Source: SGGP

US on track in ‘difficult’ Afghan war: Obama

In Uncategorized on December 17, 2010 at 5:26 am

WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Barack Obama said the US war plan in Afghanistan was “on track” but somberly warned that gains won by his surge strategy at a heavy human cost were fragile and reversible.


Unveiling a long-awaited policy assessment, Obama said progress was sufficient to permit a “responsible reduction” of US forces to begin in July, though the scope and size of the likely drawdown appear limited.

US President Barack Obama said Thursday that surging troops into Afghanistan had made “significant progress” in curbing the Taliban and stifling Al-Qaeda (AFP)

Despite warning the Afghan war remained a “very difficult endeavor,” Obama said a relentless US operation had placed Al-Qaeda under more pressure than ever and argued that surge troops had made “considerable gains” in Afghanistan.


He said Al-Qaeda was finding it harder to recruit and plot attacks and had seen key leaders killed, although he warned the group was “ruthless and resilient” and was still planning follow-ups to the September 11, 2001 attacks.


“In short, Al-Qaeda is hunkered down,” Obama said as he unveiled an unclassified version of the review at the White House, flanked by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.


The president also said his new strategy, announced a year ago, had forged ahead with Pakistan, saying there was a new recognition in Islamabad of the threat posed by extremist networks in rugged Afghan border regions.


“Nevertheless, progress has not come fast enough, so we will continue to insist to Pakistani leaders that terrorist safe havens within their borders must be dealt with,” Obama said.


The overview, the result of a two-month National Security Council assessment, said progress in Afghanistan was evident in gains by Afghan and coalition forces against Taliban bastions in Kandahar and Helmand provinces.


But the study was short on details and supporting evidence, and did not include pointed criticisms of the Pakistani and Afghan governments that have featured in US government documents leaked in recent months.


Though it pledged to work with Afghanistan to improve governance and reduce corruption, it did not go into details on countrywide graft, including in President Hamid Karzai’s government, that many analysts see as endemic to Afghanistan and a severe threat to US goals.


Clinton insisted however the administration was not trying to sugar coat the war effort, after the bloodiest year yet for foreign troops in the nine-year conflict and public US spats with Afghanistan and Pakistan.


“I don’t think you will find any rosy scenario people in the leadership of this administration, starting with the president,” she said. “This has been a very, very hard-nosed review.”


Obama, under pressure from his liberal base, said when he announced his surge of 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan last year that American troops would begin a conditions-based drawdown in July 2011.


He argued Thursday that his target had galvanized US NATO allies into a more urgent effort to ensure Afghans begin to assume control of their own security.


However, senior military figures have appeared uneasy with the July 2011 date, and it appears unlikely that large-scale troop withdrawals will ensue. Gates also said the pace of US redeployments was unclear after next year.


“In terms of what that line looks like beyond July 2011, I think the answer is, we don’t know at this point. But the hope is that as we progress, that those drawdowns will be able to accelerate.”


The report trod carefully on uneasy US anti-terror ally Pakistan, following pointed criticisms of Islamabad’s nuclear safety and other areas of policy revealed in the US cables published by WikiLeaks and other reports.


Progress in the Washington-Islamabad alliance had been “substantial” but “uneven” in the last year, and some adjustments were necessary, the report said.


“For instance, the denial of extremist safe havens will require greater cooperation with Pakistan along the border with Afghanistan,” the report said.


Critics of US strategy are likely to argue the review leaves key questions unanswered, including whether Afghan military and governing structures will ever be sufficiently robust to secure US gains.


Administration officials have also played down intelligence reports cited by newspapers, which paint a less optimistic picture of the war than the administration report.


Progress in Afghanistan has come at a high cost: more foreign troops — nearly 700 — have died in 2010 than in any year of the war and Washington has waged public spats with Kabul and Islamabad.


The war also faces waning public support: 60 percent of Americans surveyed in an ABC News/Washington Post poll out Thursday believe that the war is not worth fighting, up seven points since July.

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Source: SGGP

Poetry night in Hanoi for American War veteran

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2010 at 9:52 am

American War veteran and poet, Professor Bruce Weigl is in Vietnam for the launch of his Memoir ‘After the Rain Stopped Pounding’ and for literary exchanges during his visit from December 10 to 20.

The memoir “After the Rain Stopped Pounding”

His memoir ‘After the Rain Stopped Pounding’ includes 36 of his poems and 6 articles which have been translated into Vietnamese by Nguyen Phan Que Mai.


As a translator, Nguyen Phan Que Mai was moved to tears as he visualized images of a now 60 year old man who only felt regret and sorrow at the horrible atrocities that his government and the armed forces committed during the Vietnam War.


Literary experts see the poetical world of Bruce Weigl as brimming with love, remorse and sensitivity.

Vietnamese poet Tran Dang Khoa thinks his poems help to relive the heroic and dolorous moments during the war with America and deeply sympathizes with American soldiers who were thrown in the cruel war in the line of duty.

 

American War veteran and poet, Professor Bruce Weigl

Bruce Weigl was born in 1949 in Lorain, Ohio. He served in the Vietnam War from 1967 to 1968. His first full-length collection of poems A Romance, was published in 1979.


Weigl once served as the president of the Associated Writing Programs. He was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for Song of Napalm and in 2006 he won the Lannan Literary Award in Poetry. He was awarded the 2003 Poetry Panel Chair for the National Book Award.


The poetry night ‘Returning to my Vietnamese home’ and the launch of his memoir will take place in Hanoi on December 16.

Source: SGGP

Mexican border city hits 3,000 dead in drug war

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2010 at 9:45 am

This year’s death toll in drug-related violence in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, the hardest hit by Mexico’s drug war, rose to 3,000 Tuesday after two men were shot dead on a street, authorities said.


Ciudad Juarez has seen its homicide rate rise to one of the highest in the world after vicious turf battles broke out between gangs representing the Juarez and Sinaloa drug cartels in 2008.


That year, 1,623 people were killed in drug-related violence, and the toll increased to 2,763 deaths in 2009.


With prosecutors’ spokesman Arturo Sandoval announcing the latest grim milestone, a total of 7,386 people have died in the city of 1.3 million people across the border from El Paso, Texas, in three years. Most were members of rival drug gangs, but civilians, police and recovering drug addicts have also been targeted.

A federal police officer stands on a vehicle as he guards the area near a car where two people lie dead in the heavily guarded ‘safe’ zone, the PRONAF, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Monday Dec. 13, 2010.

More than 28,000 people have died throughout Mexico in the four years since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against drug cartels when he took office in December 2006.


The U.S. Embassy touted Mexico’s increased cooperation in anti-drug efforts, noting in a statement that on Tuesday Mexico extradited 14 suspects wanted in the United States on drug, organized crime, money laundering, weapons and homicide charges.


The extraditions “represent another victory in our joint fight against organized crime,” the embassy said.


And touting Mexico’s own successes in the offensive, Calderon said Tuesday that a big party led to the demise of a drug cartel chief, who was killed in a shootout with federal police.


The La Familia gang invited hundreds of people to a party last week in the western city of Apatzingan and didn’t bother to keep it a secret, Calderon said in an interview with W Radio.


Federal police learned about it and the shootout broke out when they arrived to investigate, he said. The government says that La Familia leader Nazario Moreno, nicknamed “The Craziest One,” was killed in battles that lasted two days and spread to key parts of Michoacan state, with gunmen blockading roads with burning vehicles.


“What happened those days is that we gave La Familia cartel the biggest blow in its history,” Calderon said. “With a certain amount of insolence, they organized a party, a gathering of hundreds of their people. … Everyone found out about the party.”


The government says cartel gunmen fled with their dead during the shootouts, and Moreno’s body has not been recovered.


After Calderon spoke, the lower house of Mexico’s Congress voted 384-2, with 21 abstentions, to rescind the congressional immunity from prosecution of a fellow legislator accused of links to La Familia.


Congressman Cesar Godoy Toscano has denied the accusations, although tapes have surfaced in which he allegedly chats with a man identified as a leader of the cartel.


Godoy Toscano already faces federal charges for allegedly protecting La Familia, but congressmen in Mexico are given immunity from arrest while in office. Tuesday’s vote suspended him from Congress, but provided that he can return to office if he is acquitted or the charges are dropped.


While Godoy Toscano had filed an appeal against his arrest on the first set of charges, which is still working its way through the courts, the Attorney General’s Office said Tuesday it will file a second set of charges against him alleging money laundering.


A statement by the office did not give specifics of the new charges, or any indication of whether allegedly laundered money may have been used in Godoy Toscano’s election campaign.


The congressman was not present at the vote, and his whereabouts were unclear.

La Familia has been the most flamboyant of Mexico’s drug cartels. The gang claims it is trying to protect Michoacan — Calderon’s home state — from other cartels and common criminals, a message it touts in banners and even in occasional interviews with the news media.

The gang has not bothered to lower its profile since Moreno’s reported death. Sympathizers — some with small children — have marched repeatedly in Apatzingan and the state capital of Morelia, carrying signs supporting the capo and demanding the withdrawal of federal forces.

On Tuesday, the Interior Department issued a statement saying such demonstrations show only the cartels’ “incipient penetration of some local sectors, but not any social support for crime and its tactics.”

Later, in a rare joint statement, federal police, prosecutors, the army and navy urged all three levels of government — local, state and federal — and all three branches of government to work together against drug cartels.

The statement said La Familia members “are nothing more than criminals whose only intention is to terrorize and attack society.”

“Far from protecting Michoacan residents from crime, they deeply hurt them. They commit murders, extortion and kidnappings,” the statement added.

Moreno, 40, the dead drug lord, was considered the ideological leader of La Familia, setting a code of conduct for members that prohibits using hard drugs or dealing them within Mexican territory.

He reputedly handed out Bibles and money to the poor, and wrote a religiously tinged book of values for the cartel, sometimes known as “The Sayings of the Craziest One.”

The gang, specializing in methamphetamine, is also known as one of Mexico’s most vicious. La Familia emerged as an independent organization in 2006, announcing its split from the Gulf cartel when it rolled five severed heads into a nightclub in the city of Uruapan.

Soon afterward, Calderon deployed thousands of federal troops and soldiers into Michoacan, a crackdown he quickly extended to other cartel strongholds in northern and western Mexico. Several top drug lords have been brought down but gang violence has soared to unprecedented levels, claiming more than 28,000 lives in four years.

“I’m a Michoacano and the situation of the state hurts,” Calderon said. “We cannot allow the law of a cartel to rule a state.”

Also Tuesday, the Mexican navy reported it seized nine go-fast boats and a total of 15 metric tons (16.5 tons) of marijuana during two days of searches in the Gulf of California.

The navy said in a statement that patrol aircraft detected three suspicious boats near an island just off the coast of Baja California state on Dec. 11. The three boats were later found abandoned, with 512 packages of marijuana on board.

Two days later, a search by land, air and sea detected six other boats and six suspects in a nearby town. Those boats were carrying 1,058 packages of marijuana.

Source: SGGP

US, S.Korea plan war games after N.Korean attack

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2010 at 6:20 am

The United States and South Korea stand “shoulder to shoulder” in their response to a deadly North Korean artillery bombardment and will soon stage combined war games, the White House said.


In their first joint response to Tuesday’s attack on a South Korean border island, presidents Barack Obama and Lee Myung-Bak agreed on the military exercises, as pressure built on China to rein in its wayward ally.


South Korea, after decrying an “inhumane atrocity” against defenseless civilians, said it was suspending promised flood aid to North Korea, and has already called off talks on reuniting families split by the Korean War.


The attack on the Yellow Sea island of Yeonpyeong, which sent panicked civilians fleeing and depressed financial markets worldwide, has fueled anxiety about North Korea’s intentions after a new nuclear program came to light.

Destroyed houses on Yeonpyeong island after North Korea fired dozens of artillery shells on November 23.

Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan called on China to use its “significant influence over North Korea” to tamp down the latest spasm of tensions on the divided peninsula.


A White House statement said Obama telephoned Lee to declare that the United States “stands shoulder to shoulder” with its ally South Korea, which is home to 28,500 US troops.


The two leaders agreed to hold “combined military exercises and enhanced training in the days ahead,” the statement said. South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said the two nations would start a naval exercise on Sunday.


The intention of the drills is to “continue the close security cooperation between our two countries, and to underscore the strength of our alliance and commitment to peace and security in the region,” the White House said.


The artillery fire killed two South Korean marines and wounded 15 more plus three civilians in one of the worst incidents since the 1950-53 war, sparking outrage in many newspapers in Seoul as the government was urged to hit back.


“A club is the only medicine for a mad dog,” the Dong-A Ilbo newspaper said, calling the shelling a “war crime” that demanded a military riposte.


South Korea readied to deploy more artillery on Yeonpyeong, including extra K-9 self-propelled guns to replace shorter-range 105-mm howitzers, after officials said North Korea fired up to 170 artillery shells into its territory.


“We’re going to work with China, we’re going to work with all our six-party partners on a response,” US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said, referring to an international group tackling North Korea’s nuclear drive.


The firing came after North Korea’s disclosure of an apparently operational uranium enrichment plant — a second potential way of building a nuclear bomb — which is causing serious alarm for the United States and its allies.


It also comes as North Korea prepares for an eventual dynastic succession from Kim Jong-Il to his youngest son, Kim Jong-Un. The expected transfer is fueling speculation about the opaque regime’s military and nuclear ambitions.


China — North Korea’s main ally and economic prop — has expressed “concern” over the shelling but not publicly criticized North Korea. Its media have given generally sympathetic coverage to Pyongyang’s version of events.


North Korea’s supreme command has accused South Korea of firing first, and vowed “merciless military attacks with no hesitation if the South Korean enemy dares to invade our sea territory by 0.001 mm”.


But the rest of the world has united in blaming North Korea, and China is under mounting pressure to intervene, despite its historic reluctance to do anything to destabilise the Stalinist regime in Pyongyang.


“We should ask China, which has significant influence over North Korea, to make efforts to jointly restrain North Korean actions,” Kan said at a Japanese cabinet task force meeting set up in response to the attack.

Australia called the “outrageously provocative” shelling a threat to the entire region’s stability and Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said: “I believe it’s important now for China to bring all of its influence to bear on North Korea.”

Yeonpyeong lies just south of the border declared by UN forces after the war, but north of the sea border declared by Pyongyang. The Yellow Sea border was the scene of deadly naval clashes in 1999, 2002 and last November.

Tensions have been acute since the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship in March, which Seoul says was the result of a North Korean torpedo attack. Pyongyang has rejected the charge.

Source: SGGP

NATO targets ceding control of Afghan war to Kabul

In Uncategorized on November 19, 2010 at 3:27 am

Bin Laden warns France over Afghan war, veil ban

In Uncategorized on October 28, 2010 at 7:41 am

Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden threatens in a new audio tape to kill French citizens to avenge their country’s support for the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan and a new law that will ban face-covering Muslim veils.


In the tape obtained by satellite television station Al-Jazeera and then posted on its website on Wednesday, bin Laden said France was aiding the Americans in the killing of Muslim women and children in an apparent reference to the war in Afghanistan. He said the kidnapping of five French citizens in the African nation of Niger last month was a reaction to what he called France’s oppression of Muslims.


“How can it be right that you participate in the occupation of our lands, support the Americans in the killing of our women and children and yet want to live in peace and security?” said bin Laden, addressing the French.

This image made from video broadcast on Sunday, Oct. 7, 2001 shows Osama bin Laden at an undisclosed location.

“It is a simple and clear equation: As you kill, you will be killed. As you capture, you will be captured. And as you threaten our security, your security will be threatened. The way to safeguard your security is to cease your oppression and its impact on our nation, most importantly your withdrawal from the ill-fated Bush war in Afghanistan.”


The authenticity of the tape could not be immediately verified but the voice resembled that of the terror group leader on previous tapes determined to be genuine.


French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux told the parliament hours after the message was posted that the risk of a terror attack against the country was real and authorities’ vigilance is “total,” according to a report on newspaper El Figaro’s website.


But he added that the threats “would merely fit into the pattern of different threats that have already been made against our country and our citizens, at home and abroad. It currently appears that these comments don’t do more than justify our keeping up our response in the face of the terrorist threat.”


Tapes by bin Laden and his top lieutenant, Egyptian-born Ayman al-Zawahri, have recently been posted on Al-Jazeera website rather than on sites run by militant Muslims as has been done for years. The shift appears to reflect the unexplained technical difficulties or closures experienced by the militant sites in recent months.


France has about 4,000 troops deployed in and near Afghanistan.


“You need to think of what happened to America as a result of that unjust war,” bin Laden said, again addressing the French and referring to the war in Afghanistan. “It’s on the verge of bankruptcy … and tomorrow it will retreat to beyond the Atlantic.”


France passed a law this month that will ban the wearing of face-covering burqa-style Muslim veils in public starting in April. Many Muslims have expressed fears the law would stigmatize them.


“If you deemed it your right to ban (Muslim) women from wearing the hijab, then should not it be our right to expel your invading men by striking their necks?” bin Laden said.


Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, an offshoot of bin Laden’s group, has claimed responsibility for the abductions of five French citizens in Niger and is believed to have taken them to neighboring Mali. The French hostages, as well as a Togolese and a Madagascar national were kidnapped on Sept. 16 while they were sleeping in their villas in the uranium mining town of Arlit.


“The kidnapping of your experts in the Niger is a reaction to your oppression of Muslims,” said bin Laden.


Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb grew out of an Islamist insurgency movement in Algeria, merging with al-Qaida in 2006 and spreading through the Sahara and the arid Sahel region. It has increasingly been targeting French interests.


In July, the group said it executed a 78-year-old French aid worker it had taken hostage three months before. It said the killing was retaliation for the deaths of six al-Qaida members in a French-backed military operation against the group.


Also in July, the French military said it provided technical and logistical assistance to help Mauritanian forces thwart an attack by suspected al-Qaida members in northwest Africa. It said the operation left six extremists dead.


French President Nicolas Sarkozy later described that operation as a “turning point” and said France would provide training, equipment and intelligence to local troops working to fight militants in the Sahel.

A series of warnings has put France and other European countries on high alert in recent weeks, prompting the U.S. State Department to advise American citizens living or traveling in Europe to take more precautions. Speculation on the source of a potential terror threat in France has focused on al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.

Source: SGGP

Relic evokes civil war ‘memories’

In Uncategorized on October 24, 2010 at 4:05 pm




Relic evokes civil war ‘memories’


QĐND – Sunday, October 24, 2010, 20:11 (GMT+7)

The Luy Thay (Master rampart) system must have been an imposing structure 400 years ago.


It is still a must-see destination in the northern central province of Quang Binh, not least for its history, its place in what historians have called a 50-year civil war between the Trinh and Nguyen families. They ruled the north and south of the country respectively between 1558 and 1777.


Built in 1630 by Dao Duy Tu (1572-1634), a famous high-ranking mandarin of the Nguyen lords, the 34-kilometer system had three ramparts: Truong Duc, Tran Ninh (or Dau Mau), and Truong


Sa. It was called Thay rampart because Lord Nguyen Phuc Nguyen, who ordered Tu to build the system, considered Tu as his master.


After four years of construction, the ramparts, made of clay and stones, were six meters high and at some points, the bottom had a width of six meters as well.


Wars and time have taken their toll, and the impressive defense system that once protected the Nguyen lords’ reign from the attacks of the Trinh lords can now only be seen along the Nhat Le River. The 12-kilometer long Tran Ninh rampart is one of the few vestiges of the Luy Thay.


Another section can be found in the center of Dong Hoi Town, marked by Quang Binh Quan – one of the three gates built along the Truong Sa rampart.


Now on Tran Phu Street, the gate was first strengthened with stones in 1825 by King Minh Mang, the second emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945). It was repaired again in 1961 but was almost destroyed by US bombs during the Vietnam War.


In 1994, the Quang Binh Quan section, which is 8.4 meters long and two meters high, was restored and recognized as a national relic.


Source: Thanhniennews


 


Source: QDND

WikiLeaks defends release of Iraq war documents

In Uncategorized on October 24, 2010 at 7:53 am

LONDON (AFP) – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has defended the unauthorised release of 400,000 classified US military documents on the war in Iraq, saying they revealed the “truth” about the conflict.


The mass of documents from 2004 to 2009 offer a grim snapshot of the conflict, especially of the abuse of Iraqi civilians by Iraqi security forces.

A news ticker flashes a headline on the release of 400,000 secret US documents about the war in Iraq on the WikiLeaks website in New York’s Times Square. AFP

“This disclosure is about the truth,” Assange told a news conference in London after the whistleblowing website published the logs on the Internet.


“The attack on the truth by war begins long before war starts, and continues long after a war ends,” he said, adding that WikiLeaks hoped “to correct some of that attack on the truth”.


He claimed they revealed around 15,000 more civilian deaths than were previously known about.


The heavily redacted logs appear to show that the US military turned a blind eye to evidence of torture and abuse of Iraqis by the Iraqi authorities.


Assange said the documents showed the war had been “a bloodbath on every corner”.


Washington and London warned that releasing the documents could endanger the lives of coalition troops and Iraqi civilians, although the rights ministry in Baghdad said the logs “did not contain any surprises”.


In an announcement which could further concern the United States, WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson said the website would soon release a further 15,000 secret files on the war in Afghanistan which had been held back for line-by-line reviewing and redacting.


WikiLeaks enraged Washington by releasing 92,000 documents on the Afghan war in July, and drew criticism from rights groups who said the inclusion of Afghan informants’ names put lives at risk.


The files published Friday contain graphic accounts of torture, civilian killings and Iran’s hand in the Iraq war, documenting years of bloodshed and suffering following the 2003 US-led invasion to oust dictator Saddam Hussein.


In one document, US military personnel describe abuse by Iraqis at a Baghdad facility that was holding 95 detainees in a single room.


It says “many of them bear marks of abuse to include cigarette burns, bruising consistent with beatings and open sores… according to one of the detainees questioned on site, 12 detainees have died of disease in recent weeks.”


Other reports describe Iraqis beating prisoners and women being killed at US military checkpoints.


WikiLeaks made the files available several weeks ago to selected newspapers and television channels, including Al-Jazeera, Le Monde, The New York Times, Der Spiegel and The Guardian.


British newspaper The Guardian said the leaks showed “US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.”


It said “US and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities.”


The Guardian said WikiLeaks is thought to have obtained the material from the “same dissident US army intelligence analyst” who is suspected of leaking the material on Afghanistan. WikiLeaks has not revealed its source.


US soldier Bradley Manning, 22, is in US custody facing charges he gave WikiLeaks classified video showing a July 2007 US Apache helicopter strike in Baghdad that killed several people.


He is also suspected of possible involvement in the leak of classified documents related to the war in Afghanistan.


On Iran’s role in the Iraq conflict, the latest files show Tehran waging a shadow war with US troops in Iraq and Tehran allegedly using militias to kill and kidnap US soldiers.


The documents describe Iran arming and training Iraqi hit squads to carry out attacks on coalition troops and Iraqi government officials, with the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps suspected of playing a crucial role, The New York Times and The Guardian reported.


Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers told the London news conference that some of the deaths documented in the reports could have involved British forces and could now be the subject of legal action in British courts.


“Some of these deaths will be in circumstances where the UK have a very clear legal responsibility,” he said.


The US-based Human Rights Watch called for Iraq to probe mistreatment by its own forces, and said the US should investigate if it committed wrongdoing by transferring prisoners to Iraqi hands.


A Pentagon spokesman said the documents were “essentially snapshots of events, both tragic and mundane, and do not tell the whole story.”


Britain’s Ministry of Defence also condemned the unauthorised release, saying it made the job of British and allied troops “more difficult and more dangerous”.

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Source: SGGP

Currency war threat looms over G20 ministers’ meeting

In Uncategorized on October 20, 2010 at 4:07 am

SEOUL, Oct 20, 2010 (AFP) – G20 finance ministers will meet in South Korea this week to try to chart a new direction for the world’s economy after a devastating downturn, but fears of a “currency war” could blow them off course.


The host nation dislikes the phrase — Finance Minister Yoon Jeung-Hyun has said the exchange rate issue is not “like a duel in a Western film”.


But South Korea admits the disputes will loom large over the October 22-23 meeting of ministers and central bank chiefs in the southeastern city of Gyeongju.


Ministers will set the agenda for the November 11-12 Group of 20 summit in Seoul, South Korea’s biggest international event for two decades.

AFP – This file photo taken on May 26, 2010 shows an Australian 100 dollar note (C) amidst a raft of foreign currencies.

Seoul wants to leave its mark on history with a “Korea Initiative” to set up a global financial safety net aimed at protecting emerging markets from disruptions caused by sudden changes in capital flows.


The nation, which built its economic “Miracle on the Han River” on the ashes of the Korean War, also intends to put development prominently on the G20 summit agenda for the first time.


And it wants to push ahead with reforms to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to give emerging countries greater voting power, while encouraging the adoption of post-crisis rules to bolster the world’s banks.


“South Korea… will stress that a currency war is tantamount to mutual economic destruction and push for a compromise,” an organiser told Yonhap news agency on condition of anonymity.


The United States and European Union, trying to export their way to economic health amid lacklustre domestic demand, accuse China of significantly undervaluing the yuan to boost its own exports.


China says it is being made a scapegoat for US domestic problems.


And it points out that expectations of US “quantitative easing”, a move to pump more dollars into the market, are swamping emerging markets with destabilising capital inflows as investors chase higher yields.


The United States last Friday signalled a temporary truce, delaying publication until after the Seoul summit of a report that could have labelled China a currency “manipulator”.


There is a chance that “some sort of understanding” may be reached in Gyeongju, the Seoul official said, after weekend talks overseen by the United Nations raised the need for deeper global governance to tackle common problems.


Yoon Deok-Ryong, of the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy, said it would be hard to reach a firm agreement on forex issues at the South Korea meetings.


“However, an understanding may be reached by countries to abstain from measures that can worsen the situation until the next G20 summit planned for 2011 in France,” Yoon said.


The stakes are high, according to IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn.


“The spirit of cooperation must be maintained. Without that, the recovery is in peril,” he told a meeting in Shanghai Monday.


South Korea says the G20 pulled the world back from a 1930s-style Great Depression but must now show it can cooperate in a post-crisis era.


Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in comments to Wednesday’s Financial Times, expressed fears about the group’s fraying cohesion — a concern echoed by Bank of England governor Mervyn King.


King called Tuesday for a “grand bargain” among the world’s major economies, saying forex tensions could spark trade protectionism.


“That could, as it did in the 1930s, lead to a disastrous collapse in activity around the world,” he said in a speech.


Ministers will discuss the state of the world economy, IMF reform and establishment of a financial safety net, the G20 framework for “strong, sustainable and balanced growth”, and regulatory reform among other issues.


The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision met Tuesday in Seoul to finalise reforms requiring global banks to bolster their reserves.


“The capital requirement, combined with a global liquidity framework, will substantially reduce the possibility of a banking crisis in the future,” said its chairman Nout Willink.


The Financial Stability Board created by the G20 was meeting in Seoul Wednesday. It was expected to agree a broad plan to strengthen regulation and supervision of banks and other financial companies seen as “too big to fail”.

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Source: SGGP