Ever Onward… 28 July 2007Posted by marisacat in Afghanistan War, DC Politics, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, Pakistan, WAR!.
Hundreds of angry protesters clashed with the police on Friday when the Pakistani government tried to reopen the Red Mosque for prayers. [Tomas Munita for The New York Times]
[A] presidential spokesman, Maj. Gen. Rashi Qureshi, denied the reports on Pakistani television, calling them “completely baseless,” according to Agence France-Presse. But a former official close to Ms. Bhutto, who did not want to be identified, confirmed the meeting, saying it took place in Abu Dhabi.
The former official described the encounter as “cordial” and said both leaders had agreed on the need to work together as moderates to counter rising attacks by hard-line Islamists in Pakistan.
General Musharraf offered to allow Ms. Bhutto, who lives in self-imposed exile in London and Dubai, to return to Pakistan and contest elections for prime minister, the former official said. But General Musharraf said he would continue to serve as both Pakistan’s president and chief of the army.
Ms. Bhutto objected to his holding both positions, according to the former official, but more meetings between their aides are expected. “The uniform is the problem,” the former official said, adding: “From his point of view, staying in uniform is the key to him staying in control of the levers of power. The civilians know that and are not going to accept that.”
The meeting added to speculation that Ms. Bhutto could return to politics in Pakistan as early as September. It was also an indicator of the relief General Musharraf is seeking from the pressures increasingly besieging him, from prodemocracy demonstrators to radical Islamists, who have carried out a rising number of attacks and were further antagonized by the Red Mosque siege. [snip]
Truer words… I snagged this from Angry Arab:
“Former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev criticized the United States, and President Bush in particular, on Friday for sowing disorder across the world by seeking to build an empire. Gorbachev, who presided over the break-up of the Soviet Union, said Washington had sought to build an empire after the Cold War ended but had failed to understand the changing world. “The Americans then gave birth to the idea of a new empire, world leadership by a single power, and what followed?” Gorbachev asked reporters at a news conference in Moscow.”
“What has followed are unilateral actions, what has followed are wars, what has followed is ignoring the U.N. Security Council, ignoring international law and ignoring the will of the people, even the American people,” he said.
No argument here…
Rival and enemy?
Many Russians view the United States as a rival and enemy.
Gorbachev, 76, who left politics after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, is deeply unpopular in Russia. Though feted abroad, he is blamed in Russia for sinking the Soviet empire and plunging millions into poverty.
“When I look at today’s world I have a worrying feeling about the growth of world disorder,” he said.
“I don’t think the current president of the United States and his administration will be able to change the situation as it is developing now — it is very dangerous,” he said.
But before the Democrats puff out their chicken breasts in pride that they are not Bush:
Gorbachev said Russia’s hopes of building stronger ties with Washington had waned in the face of a series of U.S. administrations interested in building an empire.
Members of the banned National Bolshevik Party throw leaflets from the roof of a union building in central Moscow. [AP via BBC, July 26 2007]
UPDATE, 3:14 am…
Dancing as fast as we can, to keep all our little friends happy. And stocked for war…
Worried about the impression that the United States was starting an arms race in the region, State and Defense Department officials stressed that the arms deal was being proposed largely in response to improvements in Iran’s military capabilities and to counter the threat posed by its nuclear program, which the Bush administration contends is aimed at building nuclear weapons.
Oh that sneaky Iran. So handy!
Along with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are likely to receive equipment and weaponry from the arms sales under consideration, officials said. In general, the United States is interested in upgrading the countries’ air and missile defense systems, improving their navies and making modest improvements in their air forces, administration officials said, though not all the packages would be the same.
Ms. Rice is expected to announce Monday that the administration will open formal discussions with each country about the proposed packages, in hopes of reaching agreements by the fall.
Oh! It is high season for arms deals!
Along with the announcement of formal talks with Persian Gulf allies on the arms package, Ms. Rice is planning to outline the new agreement to provide military aid to Israel, as well as a similar accord with Egypt.
The $30.4 billion being promised to Israel is $9.1 billion more than Israel has received over the past decade, an increase of nearly 43 percent.
In defending the proposed sale to Saudi Arabia and other gulf states, the officials noted that the Saudis and several of the other countries were in talks with suppliers other than the United States. If the packages offered to them by the United States are blocked or come with too many conditions, the officials said, the Persian Gulf countries could turn elsewhere for similar equipment, reducing American influence in the region.
The United States has made few, if any, sales of satellite-guided munitions to Arab countries in the past, though Israel has received them since the mid-1990s as part of a United States policy of ensuring that Israel has a military edge over its regional rivals.
Israeli officials have made specific requests aimed at eliminating concerns that satellite-guided bombs sold to the Saudis could be used against its territory, administration officials said.
Their major concern is not a full-scale Saudi attack, but the possibility that a rogue pilot armed with one of the bombs could attack on his own or that the Saudi government could one day be overthrown and the weapons could fall into the hands of a more radical regime, officials said.
Talk about Goodie Bags! Whatever! Air kiss, air kiss (can’t you just see Condi and Tzipi Livni?)… have a glass of champagne to seal the deal…