Kosovo – the negotiations


Kosovo – the negotiations, the north and the police | TransConflict | Transform, Transcend, Translate – TransConflict Serbia.

By Gerard Gallucci

Whilst Belgrade shows a willingness to compromise onspecific issues, Pristina remains wedded to a maximalist stance – particularly towards the north – that inhibits its scope for making concessions and has led to suggestions that regional stability could be threatened if the spectre of partition is raised.

The northern Serbs’ peaceful resistance to being incorporated into independent Kosovo has kept the issue of the north alive. Tadic was never eager to assist the northern Serbs but politically he had no choice but to appear supportive. Now, however, Belgrade clearly sees the north as both leverage and possibly a key part of what it might come away with from its “historic” compromise. Will the EU be able to make this work? Or will the Kosovo leadership be allowed to stonewall and threaten peace?

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A Darwinian world-AFJ


I think he is incorrect in giving future global influence credit to IGOs…if his argument is the economy, then it would be corporations and/or illicit corporations. IGOs will only give credibility to actions so that one nations actions are not perceived as one sovereign infringing on another sovereign.

At least we have conflict to look forward too.

Libya points to a new era of aggression and turmoil
BY BOB KILLEBREW

As these words are written, U.S., British and French warplanes are striking Libyan ground forces along the Mediterranean littoral; American and other NATO troops are pounding out “fragile and reversible” gains in Afghanistan; and unrest continues to roil governments in Bahrain, Yemen and Syria. To our south, criminal cartels and violent gangs murder government officials, civilians and one another in Mexico and points south. Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, whose state policy protects cocaine production and smuggling, invites into his country the Iranian Republican Guard and Hezbollah, while, over the horizon, China continues its naval buildup.

Whatever happened to the “peace dividend” and the long rest the world was supposed to get after the end of the Cold War? Those days are long gone, obviously, in the tectonic forces moving the world forward into a century more unstable than many had predicted.

Three years from now will be the centennial of the 1914 disaster that set the 20th century careering down the road to two world wars and the mass murders of Hitler, Stalin and Mao. We can hope that the 21st century is more peaceful, but it’s not looking good. For all the hope that globalization and the communications revolution would bring people together — and they have — at least part of the result has been to make aggression and murder more practical.

via Armed Forces Journal

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Paying the piper-AFJ


I think his argument is that an aerospace centric strategy will allows us to bridge this period of fiscal constraint; however he continues to argue that airpower will not resolve our national security challenges and that airpower is expensive.

 

Paying the piper

An aerospace-centric defense strategy makes fiscal sense

BY GENE MYERS Defense in an uncertain world is vital, but ensuring national security involves far more than military prowess. We now find ourselves asking how we satisfy two conflicting requirements: frugality and security. And I find myself having concerns and making recommendations I would not have even a year ago.

 

I will start this discussion with the suggestion that we avoid putting ground forces in harm’s way if at all possible, as I think President Obama is trying hard to do in Libya, and that, when we must act, we maximize the use of our air power — Air Force, Navy, Army and Marine Corps. We are the world’s pre-eminent aerospace power. It’s our asymmetric advantage. Let’s use it.

via Armed Forces Journal

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A Victory for Veterans


The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ordered an overhaul of mental health care for veterans, who are killing themselves by the thousands each year because of what the court called the “unchecked incompetence” of the Department of Veterans Affairs. In a scathing 2-to-1 ruling on May 10, the judges said delays in treating post-traumatic stress disorder and other combat-related mental injuries violated veterans’ constitutional rights. The delays are getting worse as more troops return from Afghanistan and Iraq, the judges said. About 18 veterans commit suicide on an average day. The government’s obligations are clear. Veterans are entitled by law to be treated for injuries and illnesses. Benefits claims are supposed to be dealt with in days or weeks, but it takes an average of more than four years to fully adjudicate a mental health claim. When a veteran appeals a disability rating, the process bogs down drastically. The problem is an overwhelmed bureaucracy and a chronic inadequacy of resources and planning. The judges said the system for screening suicidal patients was ineffective, and cited a 2007 inspector general’s conclusion that suicide-prevention measures were mostly absent. The same report found that the veterans department’s regional medical centers have suicide-prevention experts, but its 800 community-based outpatient clinics — which veterans most often use — do not. This crisis plagues active-duty soldiers, too, and the Pentagon has lagged in responding effectively. The government has long known what it was up against with P.T.S.D. and brain injuries — the signature afflictions of current wars. This new ruling came two years after the appeal was filed, during which lawyers for the government and the nonprofit advocacy organizations that sued, Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans United for Truth, were trying to negotiate a plan for fixing the system. Those negotiations did not succeed, so the judges have remanded the case to the district court to order one. The government can keep appealing, but it should work with the advocates and enact a plan to fulfill the promise of the veterans affairs secretary, Eric Shinseki, to do better. For 25 million veterans, including 1.6 million who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, the choice is clear.

via The New York Times

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UNDP Kosovo – News – Public Pulse Report: First Edition


The latest Public Pulse Poll results show a general decline in people’s satisfaction with the work of Kosovo’s key executive, legislative, and judicial institutions.About 72% of respondents of all ethnicities seem to be either dissatisfied with the economic direction in which Kosovo is headed. About 72% of Kosovans seem ready and willing to join public protests organized due to economic reasons as opposed 59% of them who would do the same for political reasons.  According to the survey data, Kosovans identify unemployment 30% and poverty 29% as the two top paramount problems that Kosovo faces. The third paramount problem that Kosovo faces is corruption 11%.

via UNDP Kosovo – News – Public Pulse Report: First Edition.

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In Greece, austerity kindles deep discontent – The Washington Post


Just how far north will economic and social discontent travel?

Athens — Already struggling to avoid a debt default that could seal Greece’s fate as a financial pariah, this Mediterranean nation is also scrambling to contain another threat — a breakdown in the rule of law.

Thousands have joined an “I Won’t Pay” movement, refusing to cover highway tolls, bus fares, even fees at public hospitals. To block a landfill project, an entire town south of Athens has risen up against the government, burning earth-moving equipment and destroying part of a main access road.

The protests are an emblem of social discontent spreading across Europe in response to a new age of austerity. At a time when the United States is just beginning to consider deep spending cuts, countries such as Greece are coping with a fallout that has extended well beyond ordinary civil disobedience.

Perhaps most alarming, analysts here say, has been the resurgence of an anarchist movement, one with a long history in Europe. While militants have been disrupting life in Greece for years, authorities say that anger against the government has now given rise to dozens of new “amateur anarchist” groups, whose tactics include planting of gas canisters in mailboxes and destroying bank ATMs.

Some attacks have gone further, heightening concerns about a return to the kind of left-wing violence that plagued parts of Europe during the 1970s and 1980s. After urban guerrillas mailed explosive parcels to European leaders and detonated a powerful bomb last year in front of an Athens courthouse, authorities here have staged a series of raids, arresting dozens and yielding caches of machine guns, grenades and bomb-making materials.

The anarchist movement in Europe has a long, storied past, embracing an anti-establishment universe influenced by a broad range of thinkers from French politician and philosopher Pierre-Joseph Proudhon to Karl Marx to Oscar Wilde. Defined narrowly, the movement includes groups of urban guerillas, radical youths and militant unionists. More broadly, it encompasses everything from punk rock to WikiLeaks.

“Many of these are just a few frustrated high school students with a Web site,” said Mary Bossi, one of Greece’s leading terrorism experts. “But as we continue to see, others have the potential to be dangerous.”

via In Greece, austerity kindles deep discontent – The Washington Post.

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The Leaderless Jihad’s Leader | Foreign Affairs


The headlines splashed across papers worldwide this past week said it all. The New York Times shouted that “Data From Raid Shows Bin Laden Plotted Attacks;” on Reuters, the news read “Bin Laden remained active in targeting U.S;” and El Pais asked “¿Quién dijo jihad sin líder?” Who Said Leaderless Jihad?. Information confirming bin Laden’s active role in al Qaeda continues to emerge, painting the portrait of a “micro-manager,” as an unidentified U.S. official quoted in ProPublica, called him. “He was down in the weeds [determining] best operatives, best targets, best timing.” And U.S. intelligence analysts pouring over bin Laden’s personal diary have concluded that he was involved in “every recent major al Qaeda threat.” He also remained involved in planning future attacks and urged his followers to recruit non-Muslims and minorities — especially African Americans and Latinos — for attacks on New York City, Los Angeles, and smaller cities on significant dates such as July 4 and September 11. As the world’s foremost expert on bin Laden, Peter Bergen, summed up, “OBL was the leader of the leaderless jihad!”

via The Leaderless Jihad’s Leader | Foreign Affairs.

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Bin Ladin Killed: Snap Threat Assessment


From the OSAC Global Security Unit

Overview Usama Bin Ladin (UBL) was killed yesterday in a raid by U.S. special operations forces on a fortified mansion approximately 30 miles north of Islamabad, Pakistan. Forensic testing of the remains confirmed his identity. The body was buried at sea within 24 hours of death, in accordance with Islamic traditions. In the immediate aftermath, many OSAC constituents have expressed relief in the knowledge of the death of the world’s foremost terrorist. At the same time, there has been a significant call for continued vigilance and recognition that this event does not diminish the overall worldwide terrorist threat. Outlook As President Obama stated in his address last night: The death of Bin Ladin marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al-Qa’ida. But his death does not mark the end of our effort. There’s no doubt that al-Qa’ida will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must and we will remain vigilant at home and abroad. The historical significance of UBL’s death is certain, but it does not mean the end to al-Qa’ida (AQ) nor an end to the group’s affiliated networks. Most terrorism experts agree that for many years UBL has acted mostly as a symbolic and inspirational figurehead for global Islamic extremists, and has not been centrally involved in operational planning for AQ. Accordingly, his death does not represent a significant tactical blow to the organization; however, it is unclear how AQ Central will be able to replace his iconic charisma and leadership. Near-term Threat of Reprisal Attacks In response to the news of UBL’s death, leaders in Europe have quickly issued statements calling for increased vigilance for what they characterized as a heightened terrorist risk from AQ and its affiliated groups. However, one must note that European leaders have issued much more dire warnings of terrorist threats across the continent in the past year, thus this does not currently mark an exceptionally acute threat. The U.S. private sector’s greatest risk at this time is likely to be potential wrong place-wrong time exposure of staff to attacks aimed at soft targets in countries already associated with elevated terrorist threats. Pakistan is likely to face the most significant near-term threat of reprisal attacks by AQ. Following media reports of Pakistan’s possible complicity or participation with the U.S. in locating, monitoring, and killing UBL, that country’s political and security leadership are likely facing the most immediate and tangible threat of near-term attack by AQ elements. Cooperation with the U.S. may enrage militants and promote anti-American sentiments, especially following President Zardari statement that “this is a good and historic day for both of our nations.” Further Erosion of Ideological Support for AQ UBL’s death creates an important leadership vacuum at a time when the AQ ideology, or “brand,” is already suffering according to some analysts as a result of the popular uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa. Protests and activists in these uprisings have called for radical change in their countries

 

not in the name of AQ or radical Islam, but in the name of freedom, opportunity, and democracy. Demonstrators have almost without exception ignored AQ’s ideological call to use violence in opposition to secular or “apostate” regimes in Muslim lands.

 

While AQ has been calling for violent overthrow of regimes for more than two decades without success, largely peaceful demonstrators have already toppled regimes in Tunisia and Egypt in a matter of weeks and are currently threatening the rule of unpopular leaders in Libya, Syria, and Yemen. As a result of these successes, observers have noted an apparent decline in popular support for AQ in Arab and Muslim countries as the organization has been largely sidelined by local activism in the Arab revolutions and protest movements. Even regional media such as

 

al-Jazeera have noted that the “Arab Spring” has also gone far in invalidating the AQ ideology of violence in rebellion.

 

Possible Rise of AQ Affiliates

 

The jihadist community has vowed to exact revenge, describing UBL as “the number one martyr for AQ because he is stronger dead than alive.” However, attention should be paid to the activities of franchise groups, primarily al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), as they have been the most successful AQ offshoot of late. One of AQAP’s most notable leaders,

 

Anwar al-Aulaqi, has been the most public face of any AQ-affiliated group in recent years and stands to possibly rise to greater prominence in assuming a more notable leadership mantle for the global terrorist movement following the death of UBL.

 

Al-Aulaqi, in conjunction with AQAP’s media campaign through its Inspire magazine, has been a strong advocate in favor of small-cell and lone wolf “do-it-yourself” terrorism. This tactical ideology may rise in prominence along with al-Aulaqi’s greater stature

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How Osama bin Laden died


So, in the end it was not a cold, dank Afghan cave that sheltered the world’s most wanted man, Osama bin Laden. It was a huge million-dollar enclave in Abbottabad, Pakistan, with far too much security and 18-foot high walls, way taller than necessary to protect the two couriers who allegedly lived there alone.  That in the end is what brought the sudden end to Bin Laden’s life with a U.S. bullet into his head, among other places, after a circuitous 10-year hunt for the spiritual leader of the global Al Qaeda terrorist franchise and the master plotter of the 9/11 attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people.  From the LA Times

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Risk Management


 

Fareed Zakaria describes the planning Petraeus and Panetta should demand in the Washington Post.

The goal should instead be preparedness. Government agencies should be readying policymakers and bureaucrats for sharp changes in international, regional and national patterns. They should be imaginative about the possibilities of sudden shifts and new circumstances and force policymakers to confront the scenarios in advance.

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