North Korea

North Korea
The always bombastic and unpredictable North Koreans go hysterical again. This time the country is prepared to "go to war" with South Korea because that country is playing loudspeakers directed at North Korean territory. A headline from a UK paper reads, "More than 50 North Korea submarines 'leave their bases' as war talks with South continue "

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Sounds and the Fury

Last week, UN speeches elated, shook, and infuriated the world's peoples. And the US made serious charges against Pakistan, stating the country's intelligence service, the ISI, aided a tribal network affiliated with al-qaeda to attack the US embassy in Afghanistan.

Unprecedented, the Palestinian movement, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, presented papers to the UN Secretary General, requesting that a Palestinian State be formally recognized. Palestinians were elated, Israel rebutted, and the US promised to veto the move if it ever came to a critical vote. Both the US and Israel called for a return to direct peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel, but the complications are many. Israel is not about to give up critical sections of the West Bank where boundary changes would provide improved security to the nation, and of course, there are now substantial Israeli settlements in the region.

Abbas delivers papers requesting Palestinian statehood to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

The Palestinian position, while wildly applauded by its population (as well as up to 140 likely votes of support among the 190 + nations in the UN), leaves fundamental questions unanswered. Hamas, which controls a portion of the Palestinian areas has made the destruction of Israel a cornerstone of its political platform, and the Palestinians retain language that says the occupation must end. What occupation? Of the land once the homeland of Palestinians - ie, the whole land of Israel.

Teatree isn't sure how any of this is resolved by a declaration of nationhood, nor how the UN vote creates change on the ground. But, what it has done is strengthen Abbas' hand in the eyes of the Palestinians, perhaps giving him a much stronger platform on which to negotiate with the Israeli's - who have asked to restart direct negotiations. At the same time, his UN action may also have given him a stronger position viz a viz hardline Hamas at least with many Western nations.

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and Palestinian President Abbas confer ...

Another speech at the UN, this time by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad caused a protest walkout of diplomats from up to 30 countries. In his speech, which has become somewhat of a theatrical performance each year, the Iranian leaders said he believes - as an engineer - the World Trade Center towers could not have been brought down by aircraft, that it had to be some sort of planned explosion.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad once again pounding the UN pulpit

Click on image for full picture
Two U.S. diplomats who specialize in the Middle East - White House adviser on Middle Eastern affairs Dennis Ross and Special Envoy for Middle East Peace David Hale walked out on Ahmadinejad, and were followed by diplomats from more than 30 countries. They included the 27 European Union members, Australia, New Zealand, Somalia, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino and Macedonia.

Another eruption of much rarer strong words were aimed at a nation 8 thousand miles away from the UN dramas. The speaker was Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen who accused Pakistan's Intelligence service (ISI) of aiding an attack by the Haqqani tribe of attacking the US embassy in Kabul. In this strong public accusation, Admiral Mullen gave details that US intelligence had intercepted cell phone calls during the 8 hour attack in Kabul, from Haqqani fighters to the ISI, asking for advice and tactics. Earlier before Congress, Mullen had called the Haqqani network of militants a "veritable arm" of Pakistan's intelligence agency. US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, at the same Congressional hearing, also decried Pakistani support for the Haqqani network. Panetta said the message was delivered recently by new CIA Director David Petraeus in a meeting with the head of the Pakistani intelligence agency. While Mullen is soon to retire, Panetta and Petreaus are current Obama administration picks. All are heavyweight leaders who have calculated the value of making these statements in such a public way.

US Defense Secretary Leon Panneta left and Admiral Mullen right

These are dicey, undiplomatic statements directed at a country with 100's of nuclear weapons, directly fighting internal Islamic uprisings which in turn are intertwined with the NATO fighting next door in Afghanistan. They are also not off-the-cuff remarks, which means that though the White House itself can still distance the US from Mullen's words, it is likely that the verbal attack was meant to send a clear message, especially when Panetta and Petreaus are associated with them. It has also placed high pressure on Pakistan's 33 year old foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar, as well as the byzantine Pakistani governing factions.

Pakistan's foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar denied ISI support for Haqqani and warned the US about accusing Pakistan of colluding with a common enemy.

The US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan under attack last week

Sirajuddin Haqqani is head of the Haqqani network and believed to be the main bridge between Al Qaeda, Afghan Taliban, and militant outfits in North Waziristan. Known among jihadis as “Khalifa” and the “soul of Jihad.”

So a week of sound and fury ...


Sarah said...

As usual, thanks for the update. It pulls the small snippets that I managed to listen to on my own all together.

Teatree said...

Just a couple extra points on Ahmadinejad's speech. First, even Al-qaeda is criticizing him for subscribing to the conspiracy theory that the US instigated the attack, "In a curious case of enemies uniting against a common foe, the Yemen-based compiler of the terrorist organisation's Inspire magazine wrote that President Ahmadinejad had appeared "ridiculous" when he questioned the origins of the attack that killed almost 3,000 people.

"The Iranian government has professed on the tongue of its president Ahmadinejad that it does not believe that al Qaeda was behind 9/11 but rather, the US government," it said. "So we may ask the question: why would Iran ascribe to such a ridiculous belief that stands in the face of all logic and evidence?"

Second, Ahmadinejad's denial of the holocaust, his mistreatment of his own people and his conspiracist remarks regarding 9/11 undermine his tangentially legitimate observations about the West ... massive military spending, deficit spending, etc.