Thursday, December 31

VIVA CRAXI. VIVA QUATTROCCHI.

Premessa: la toponomastica eletta a strumento di promozione culturale e storiografica è quanto di meno appassionante in circolazione nella già noiosa veduta politica nazionale.

Viva Toldo, per esempio, e la sua impersonalità asiatica che condanna piazze e viali al più severo anonimato. 

Detto questo, valicata a forza la barriera del particolare e del già visto, ci sono oggi due figure ingombranti in attesa di collocazione adeguata nel giardino ideale della Repubblica italiana: Bettino Craxi e Fabrizio Quattrocchi. 

A modo loro due giganti controversi sui quali la piccola e grande nomenclatura pubblica sta almanaccando, con coda invariabile di polemiche e divisioni, per stabilire se e dove e come intestare loro una targa a perpetua memoria. 

Tecnicamente sia l'uno sia l'altro corrispondono alla descrizione ricamata col filo del disprezzo dai loro detrattori o sicari. Craxi, come ci ricorda l'ex procuratore capo di Milano Saverio Borrelli, è morto da latitante fuggendo gli effetti di due condanne definitive.

Quattrocchi era un panettiere siciliano emigrato a Genova e finito a guadagnarsi la mesata da guardia del corpo in un posto pericoloso, l'Iraq, e forse accanto a gente sbagliata che non ha saputo proteggerlo o evitare che fosse venduto ai suoi assassini. 


E' tutto vero, ma è l'ombra della verità. 

Craxi è stato anche uno statista coi fiocchi, come non ce ne sono più, a giudicare dalla persistente nostalgia della sua statura, del suo amore garibaldino per l'Italia, della sua visione storica e del realismo pratico con il quale, tra l'altro, ha reso obsoleto l'arco costituzionale con parecchi anni di anticipo sulla caduta del Muro di Berlino. 

Quattrocchi non era un mercenario, secondo l'accezione deteriore e penalmente rilevante ora negata da un buon magistrato con il timbro ufficiale della giustizia. Quattrocchi è sopra tutto un eroe che, di fronte ai tagliagole intenti a comminargli una morte vigliacca da infedele occidentale, ha invece mostrato a loro e a noi "come muore un italiano". 

Dunque non soltanto si è guadagnato la medaglia al valore civile offerta post mortem dal Quirinale, ma merita l'intitolazione di scuole e concerti tricolori. Tricolori come il socialismo di Craxi, cui la signorilità del tempo ha già conferito l'intitolazione'di un'epoca. 

Al momento buono arriveranno anche degni omaggi dalla nazione.

Tuesday, December 29

Somali Pirates Seize a Tanker and a Cargo Ship

By MARK McDONALD

HONG KONG — A Greek-owned cargo ship and a British-flagged chemical tanker have been seized by Somali pirates, adding to a record number of attacks and hijackings in 2009.

The Piracy Reporting Center of the International Maritime Bureau said Tuesday that pirates operating across the Gulf of Aden and along the coast of Somalia have attacked 214 vessels so far this year, resulting in 47 hijackings. Twelve of those ships, with a total of 263 crew members, are currently being held for ransom by the pirates.

In 2008, according to the maritime bureau, 111 ships were attacked in the region, a figure that itself represented a 200 percent increase from 2007.

The St James Park, a slow-moving chemical tanker bound from Spain to Thailand, issued a distress signal on Monday that it was being attacked in the Gulf of Aden. The owners confirmed Tuesday that the ship had been seized.

The tanker was being monitored by the European Union Naval Force Somalia, which said Tuesday that the ship was being taken toward Somalia. Its crew of 26 was said to include Filipinos, Russians, Georgians, Romanians, Bulgarians, Ukrainians, Poles, Indians and Turks.

The other hijacking on Monday, of a Greek-owned bulk carrier under the Panamanian flag, came off the coast of Somalia. An officer with the European Union force declined to provide details about the incident, which was confirmed by Noel Choong, an official with the piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The presence of warships from the European Union, the United States, China, Japan, Russia, India and other nations has reduced the number of attacks on merchant and leisure ships in the Gulf of Aden. As many as 30 ships are patrolling the gulf at any given time, naval officials said, and patrol missions were not being reduced over the holidays.

“The success rate in taking ships has dropped dramatically in the gulf because of the large naval presence now,” said Mr. Choong.

But the pirates have moved their focus to the southern and eastern coasts of Somalia where patrols are virtually nonexistent. Using sophisticated electronics, heavy weapons, large oceangoing boats and speedier attack craft, the pirates are now able to operate far from land for weeks at a time.

“Most ships are now being taken off the coast of Somalia and the success rate is high,” said Mr. Choong. “The pirates have a free hand there. We’re very concerned. It’s our main worry. We’ve asked for protection there, but the coalition is busy in the gulf.”

Pirates seized a Yemeni fishing boat in the Gulf of Aden on Dec. 18, after a lull in the gulf since a large merchant vessel was taken the first week of July.

Mr. Choong said ship owners were taking more anti-piracy precautions, but he had not heard reports of armed guards being used aboard vessels.

“We are not encouraging armed guards,” he said. “The pirates have not been firing at the crews. They fire at the bridge to intimidate the captains into stopping their ships.

“We’ve seen photographs of crew members taking pictures of pirates while they’re attacking. From a distance the pirates might not be able to tell if they have a camera and not a gun.”


Rules Are Topsy-Turvy After Terror Attempt

By JENNIFER STEINHAUER


LOS ANGELES — By now, everyone knows the airport drill, its inconveniences offset by its clarity: take off your shoes, pop your laptop in a tray, have your driver’s license at the ready. But in the three days since the attempted terrorist attack on a Detroit-bound airliner, the beleaguered traveler has once again been beset by a confusing and inconsistent set of rules.

Could you keep your blanket, as on Continental, or would it be snatched at the end of the flight, as it was on Lufthansa? Would security measures be visibly unchanged, as they were at the Houston airport, or would passengers be surprised by a careful swabbing of their hands and purses, like those in South Carolina? Would this week resemble Sunday, when JetBlue’s entertainment system was shut down on international flights, or Monday, when the movies began flowing on that airline once more?

“I just wish they’d have something, a list of rules, and stick to it,” said Sherri Hemmer, who made a point of using the bathroom early on her Monday flight from Phoenix to Pittsburgh and was then annoyed to learn that a prohibition against moving around the cabin in the last hour of flight did not seem to apply to her flight.

The Transportation Security Administration has been deliberately vague — and even a little random — about the security measures it has imposed in the last few days, in part to make certain that potential attackers do not know what to expect. Many passengers welcome this.

“It’s no problem,” said Eleonora Gomarasca, who traveled to New York from Milan on Monday. “It’s more control.”

But that careful unpredictability has made life far more confusing and inconvenient for thousands of travelers. After Sept. 11, 2001, stark fears were met with complicity and acceptance, but now many people seem to feel that the government measures are more about reaction than protection.

“I think the security checks on the ground are the ones that make the most difference for safety,” said Daniel Kim, 36, who arrived at Los Angeles International Airport three hours early for his flight to Frankfurt with his wife, Catherine, and their 20-month-old. “The whole one hour before thing, no getting up, what is that going to help, really? Will it get to a point when we can’t get up at all during the flight, or have to raise our hands to go to the bathroom? Where does it end?”

While the new T.S.A. restrictions seem largely confined to international travelers bound for the United States, confusion, delays and the ensuing angst seemed to spread across the nation in the wake of the thwarted attack on a Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day.

The slowdown appeared to be particularly intense on flights coming from Canada. Dianne Duncan’s trip to Los Angeles from Toronto, for one, involved a 10-hour security wait, four lost bags, a missed flight and rerouting, a thorough search of her belongings, and a full-body pat-down of her and her 5-year-old daughter.

“It was extremely strict,” said Ms. Duncan, who arrived at the Toronto airport at 9:30 a.m. Sunday morning and did not reach the screening area until nearly seven hours later.

“Take note: there was no toilet, no water and no food for purchase,” she said. “There was one man to screen the men, and one woman to screen the women. There was a full pat-down. It was as if they were specifically searching for something.”

Once on board, the passengers were not allowed to have anything under the seat in front of them, nor could they get up for the last hour and a half of the flight. After missing a flight to Newark, Ms. Duncan was rerouted through Houston, where she was offered a hotel; she said she was afraid to leave the secure area.

“My family lives in Toronto, so I can’t stop going there,” she said. “But I guess from now on if I travel, I can’t expect to be at work the next day.”

While certain restrictions, like the prohibition against using the bathroom during the last hour of flight, seemed limited to international flights, the security checks were far from uniform within American borders.

In Springfield, Mo., Father Moses Berry, 59, an Eastern Orthodox priest, was carefully patted down between his legs, across his chest and under his black flowing robes. But in Philadelphia, Current D’Ignazil, 20, a college sophomore bound for Pittsburgh, was barely acknowledged by security personnel.

On flights from Milan to New York, people could move freely about the cabin. But on a plane from Acapulco to Chicago, passengers had to stay seated the last hour, even though they were outnumbered by crew members.

“The steward said that they didn’t think it would be necessary because there were only three of us,” said Donald Martin, 72, who was traveling with his wife, Judy. “But the captain insisted because it was a T.S.A. rule.”

At times, security on the ground was easy, but more stringent in the air. Amanda Cain, 41, flew on China Eastern from Beijing to Los Angeles with her 5-year-old daughter, Emily. The security line was a relative breeze. “They let me through easily, I think because they saw I had a small child with me,” Ms. Cain said. “I appreciated that.”

But on the plane, restricted movement and confiscated comforts took a toll.

“The last hour and a half, they said we can’t move at all,” Ms. Cain said. “That was very hard for her. The flight attendant came by and took the pillow from her head. I didn’t like that. Why did they have to wake her up? It would be better for her to sleep.”

Then Emily threw up, never any parent’s dream, but all the more unpleasant when the bathroom cannot be visited.

Irán arresta a hermana de Nobel de la Paz

BBC Mundo

Agentes de inteligencia iraníes arrestaron a la hermana de la premio Nobel de la Paz Shirin Ebadi, según denunció la propia activista.
El hecho ocurrió horas después de que varias figuras de la oposición fueran detenidas.
En un comunicado publicado en un sitio de internet de la oposición, Ebadi dijo que su hermana Nooshin fue arrestada en su casa la noche del lunes y llevada a una prisión en un intento de las autoridades por frenar su labor como promotora de los derechos humanos.
"Shirin Ebadi es una de las voces reformistas más respetadas y conocidas en Irán", señaló Sebastian Usher, de la BBC.
Según el corresponsal, el arresto muestra cómo el gobierno de Teherán ha intensificado sus esfuerzos para silenciar a las voces disidentes.
Ebadi afirmó que, en los últimos meses, su hermana había sido citada varias veces por el Ministerio de Inteligencia para pedirle que la convenciera de dejar a un lado sus actividades de defensa de derechos humanos.

Oposición en pie de guerra

Disturbios recientes

Protesta en Teherán
19 de diciembre: el influyente clérigo disidente, el Gran Ayatolá Ali Montazeri Hoseyn, muere a los 87 años
21 de diciembre: decenas de miles asisten a su funeral en Qom. Se registran enfrentamientos entre partidarios de la oposición y las fuerzas de seguridad
22 de diciembre: se informa de nuevos enfrentamientos en Qom
23 de diciembre: más choques en la ciudad de Isfahan, en el momento en que se celebra el funeral
24 de diciembre: Irán prohíbe que se realicen más servicios fúnebres para Montazeri, excepto en su lugar de nacimiento y Qom
26 de diciembre: se registran enfrentamientos en el centro y el norte de Teherán
27 de diciembre: al menos ocho muertos tras las protestas antigubernamentales en Teherán. Se informa de 300 detenidos
Según los observadores, el número de arrestos en las últimas horas y el perfil de los detenidos indica que las autoridades el país buscan impedir que el movimiento de oposición tome un nuevo impulso, luego de que las protestas masivas del domingo fueran reprimidas violentamente por las fuerzas de seguridad.
El gobierno de Irán afirma que las protestas del fin de semana, en la que murieron al menos ocho personas, estuvieron inspiradas y apoyadas por Occidente.
El Parlamento iraní demandó la imposición de la pena máxima para quienes estuvieron involucrados en las protestas más recientes.
El órgano legislativo también condenó al presidente de Estados Unidos, Barack Obama, por haber expresado su solidaridad con los manifestantes.
Las protestas comenzaron en junio para rechazar la reelección del presidente Mahmoud Ajmadinejad y con el paso de los meses se tranformaron en un abierto desafío al régimen en su conjunto.
Ya no es sólo Ahmadinejad el blanco del rechazo, sino también el propio líder supremo de Irán, el ayatolá Ali Jamenei. Éste ha sido foco de fuertes, algo impensable hace sólo unos meses.
Las fuerzas de seguridad iraníes se encuentran en máxima alerta desde el fallecimiento del influyente ayatolá Hoseyn Ali Montazeri, hace diez días.
Su funeral atrajo a decenas de miles de seguidores de la oposición, muchos de los cuales corearon proclamas antigubernamentales.

Yemen da detalles del presunto atacante

BBC Mundo

Según las autoridades de Yemen, Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, el joven nigeriano que presuntamente intentó hacer explotar un avión con destino a Detroit el día de Navidad, residió en ese país hasta principios de diciembre.
El Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores yemení aseguró que Abdulmutallab, de 23 años, vivió allí desde agosto hasta los primeros días del corriente mes.
Según la agencia de noticias estatal Saba, el joven tenía una visa de estudiante para asistir a un instituto de árabe en la capital, Sanaa.
clic Lea: ¿quién es el presunto atacante?
"El permiso de entrada se le otorgó al nigeriano después de comprobar que tenía visas de otros países amigos y de ver que su visado estadounidense todavía tenía validez", aseguró el canciller yemení, Abu Baker al Qirby.
"Yemen condena estos actos terroristas contra personas inocentes y reitera su apoyo incondicional en la lucha contra el terrorismo global", agregó.
En este momento, Abdulmutallab se encuentra preso en una cárcel del estado de Michigan, en Estados Unidos, acusado de intentar atentar contra un avión de la compañía Northwest Airlines con 300 pasajeros a bordo.

Reivindicación de al-Qaeda

Este lunes, un sitio de internet vinculado a al-Qaeda con base en la Península Arábiga afirmó que el nigeriano actuó en nombre de la red islámica radical.
Según la cadena de televisión estadounidense ABC News, entre los organizadores del ataque podrían encontrarse dos hombres que fueron liberados del centro de detención de Guantánamo en noviembre de 2007.
Mohammed Attik al-Harbi y Said Ali Shari fueron enviados a Arabia Saudita. En enero de este año, ambos aparecieron en un video junto al presunto líder de al-Qaeda en la Península Arábiga, Nasser Abdul Karim al-Wahishi.

Preocupación

Tras este acontecimiento, los funcionarios estadounidenses se mostraron preocupados por la posibilidad de que Yemen albergue a más jóvenes dispuestos a atacar aviones.
El presidente de Estados Unidos, Barack Obama, suspendió sus vacaciones navideñas en Hawaii para seguir de cerca la revisión de las medidas de seguridad aérea y la investigación sobre el intento de atentado.
clic Opine: ¿se justifican las nuevas medidas?
"El pueblo estadounidense debe mantenerse en vigilancia, pero también debe tener confianza", afirmó Obama.
El mandatario aseguró que su gobierno no descansará hasta detener y juzgar a los responsables del incidente.

Monday, December 28

LA FRITTATA E' FATTA

Il blitz era già pronto prima di Natale: cambio al vertice dell’Aisi (ex Sisde), dell’Aise (ex Sismi), qualche ipoteca anche per il Dis, il superservizio coordinato da Gianni De Gennaro. E poi il ritorno di Niccolò Pollari, l’ex capo del Sismi travolto dall’inchiesta Abu Omar, nei ranghi della Presidenza del Consiglio con l’incarico di consigliere per la sicurezza, una sorta di cinghia di trasmissione tra il livello politico, il sottosegretario Gianni Letta che ha la delega all’intelligence, e quello più squisitamente tecnico, il Dis. Pollari- De Gennaro, per anni nemici storici, adesso tornerebbero in qualche modo a lavorare insieme, miracoli del tempo che passa e delle ragioni di stato.

Blitz pronto e poi rinviato. A gennaio, quando andrà in pensione l’attuale capo di stato maggiore della Marina militare ammiraglio Paolo La Rosa. Al suo posto è previsto l’ammiraglio Bruno Branciforte che lascerebbe scoperta, quindi, la casella dell’Aise. Un cambio che automaticamente dovrebbe mettere in moto anche tutti gli altri, o almeno parte degli altri. E che farebbe sembrare le sostituzioni meno legate alla contingenza della cronaca. Ad esempio alle falle nel sistema di sicurezza del premier.

Al di là delle scadenze naturali, la verità vera è che da tempo i falchi del Pdl, in prima fila Fabrizio Cicchitto e Gaetano Quagliariello, puntano a sostituire il generale Giorgio Piccirillo, capo degli 007 dell’interno, e anche De Gennaro il cui Dis, che ha tolto competenze al ministero dell’Interno e della Difesa, crea gelosie e fastidi. La scadenza naturale di Branciforte e i ripetuti errori della security di Berlusconi, dalle foto a villa Certosa alle feste con le escort a palazzo Grazioli per finire con i denti rotti causa lancio in faccia del modellino del Duomodi Milano, erano sembrati un’ottimascusa per fareunrepulisti. All’ultimo tuffo il Pd si è messo per traverso trovando un’ottima sponda nelle colombe del Pdl e un valido alleato in Gianni Letta. «E’ una funzione del tutto impropria quella per cui gli uomini della scorta del premier ricadano sotto la competenza della nostra intelligence » taglia corto Ettore Rosato, membro del Copasir, che aggiunge: «In realtà quegli uomini godono nei fatti di una totale autonomia che li fa dipendere dal governo e quindi dallo stesso Presidente del Consiglio».

Un pezzo del Pdl vorrebbe rimettere mano non solo ai vertici ma anche alle competenze delle nostre agenzie di intelligence, appena riformate nel 2007 dopo anni di tentativi. Il ministro della Difesa Ignazio La Russa l’ha detto chiaro: «Il nostro progetto nel 2010 prevede la nascita di un Servizio segreto militare autonomo che una volta c’era e adesso non c’è più e che però è necessario per le missioni militari all’estero».

Il pensierino di Natale di La Russa è datato 18 dicembre, il giorno dopo lo sventato blitz sui vertici degli 007 in Consiglio dei ministri. E ha creato non poco scompiglio. La tensione tra il RIS, il Servizio informativo militare, e l’Aise (l’ex Sismi che con la riforma non dipende più dalla Difesa) risale a quest’estate quando dall’Afghanistan arrivavano ogni giorno notizie di attentati, morti e feriti. Il governo non ha ancora approvato il regolamento che deve attribuire le competenze e questo aggiunge confusione a tensione.

Oltre alla sicurezza nazionale sono in ballo anche milioni di euro, quelli destinati alla SIGINT, la Signal Intelligence, il grande capitolo delle intercettazioni, degli ascolti e dei satelliti. Di fronte al pensierino di La Russa il Pd - ma anche qualche settore delle gerarchie militari - fa muro. «La riforma dei servizi va attuata e non cambiata» avverte Rosato, «chi pensa il contrario è antistorico e controtendenza». Le prossime saranno settimane di grandi e sottili manovre nel settore dell’intelligence. Il Copasir, il Comitato parlamentare di controllo sui servizi segreti, deve nominare in fretta un nuovo presidente. La candidatura di D’Alema convince anche la maggioranza.

TERORISM: Novi incident na liniji Amsterdam - Detroit


Jedan putnik na letu Amsterdam-Detroit aviokompanije "Nortvest erlajnz" uhapšen je danas na aerodromu u Detroitu, dva dana pošto je na istom letu uhapšen jedan nigerijski državljanin zbog pokušaja da u letilici aktivira eksplozivnu napravu, saopštila je američka Uprava za bezbednost saobraćaja (TSA).

SRBIJA: Koordinator Akcionog tima za saradnju Srbije sa Haškim sudom

Koordinator Akcionog tima za saradnju Srbije sa Haškim sudom Rasim Ljajić najavio je danas da će u utorak, 29. decembra, premijeru Srbije Mirku Cvetkoviću podneti ostavku na tu dužnost.
"U godini najvećeg uspeha u saradnji sa Tribunalom, podnosim ostavku iz prostog razloga jer sam na početku godine rekao da će se Ratko Mladić naći u Hagu do kraja ove godine, i to je lični čin odgovornosti", rekao je Ljajić novinarima.

Prema njegovim rečima, ostavka je čin lične odgovornosti, a ne reakcija na ono što je radjeno da se Mladić locira i ispruči, jer je, kako je ukazao, učinjeno sve i nikada nije uložen veći napor.
Istakavši da tim putem treba nastaviti, Ljajić je rekao da je siguran da će trud nadležnih državnih organa doneti rezultate.
Zaista smo učinili sve, rekao je Ljajić, i nikada veći napor i rad nije uložen na lociranju Ratka Mladića. Samo treba nastaviti sa ovakvim aktivnostima i ja sam siguran da ovakav trud mora dati rezultat, naglasio je on.
Lajić je najavio da će ostati predsednik Nacionalnog saveta za saradnju sa Tribunalom i raditi ono što je radio od 2004. godine.
To, kako je objasnio, podrazumeva saradnju po pitanju dokumentacije, oslobađanja svedoka čuvanja tajne i saradnju sa odbranama optuženih.
Neću biti uključen u operativne delove aktivnosti, to je moja lična odluka, zaključio je Ljajić.

IRAN: Police Are Said to Have Killed 10 in Iran Protests

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Police officers in Iran opened fire into crowds of protesters on Sunday, killing at least 10 people, witnesses and opposition Web sites said, in a day of chaotic street battles that threatened to deepen the country’s civil unrest.

The protests, during the holiday commemorating the death of Imam Hussein, Shiite Islam’s holiest martyr, were the bloodiest and among the largest since the uprisings that followed the disputed presidential election last June, witnesses said. Hundreds of people were reported wounded in cities across the country, and the Tehran police said they had made 300 arrests.

News agencies, citing an opposition Web site, said that Ibrahim Yazdi, a former foreign minister and pro-democracy leader, and Emad Baghi, a prominent human rights activist, were arrested early Monday. Mr. Yazdi was an adviser to the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who led the Iranian revolution in 1979.

Mehdi Karroubi, an opposition leader who was among the losing candidates in the June election, was quoted Monday as saying on a Web site that the government’s actions in suppressing the protests on Sunday were even more brutal than the regime that was overthrown in the revolution, news agencies reported.

One of the dead on Sunday was Ali Moussavi, a 43-year-old nephew of the opposition leader Mir Hussein Moussavi.

The decision by the authorities to use deadly force on the Ashura holiday infuriated many Iranians, and some said the violence appeared to galvanize more traditional religious people who have not been part of the protests so far. Historically, Iranian rulers have honored Ashura’s prohibition of violence, even during wartime.

In Tehran, thick crowds marched down a central avenue in midmorning, defying official warnings of a harsh crackdown on protests as they chanted “death to Khamenei,” referring to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has expressed growing intolerance for political dissent in the country.

They refused to retreat even as the police fired tear gas, charged them with batons and fired warning shots. The police then opened fire directly into the crowd, opposition Web sites said, citing witnesses. At least five people were killed in Tehran, four in the northwestern city of Tabriz, and one in Shiraz in the south, the Web sites reported. Photographs of several victims were circulated widely.

Unlike the other protesters reported killed on Sunday, Ali Moussavi appears to have been assassinated in a political gesture aimed at his uncle, according to Mohsen Makhmalbaf, an opposition figure based in Paris with close ties to the Moussavi family.

Mr. Moussavi was first run over by a sport utility vehicle outside his home, Mr. Makhmalbaf wrote on his Web site. Five men then emerged from the car, and one of them shot Mr. Moussavi. Government officials took the body late Sunday and warned the family not to hold a funeral, Mr. Makhmalbaf wrote.

In some parts of Tehran, protesters pushed the police back, hurling rocks and capturing several police cars and motorcycles, which they set on fire. Videos posted to the Internet showed scenes of mayhem, with trash bins burning and groups of protesters attacking Basij militia volunteers amid a din of screams.

One video showed a group of protesters setting an entire police station aflame in Tehran. Another showed people carrying off the body of a dead protester, chanting, “I’ll kill, I’ll kill the one who killed my brother.”

By late afternoon, coils of black smoke rose over central Tehran from dozens of street fires, and smaller groups of protesters continued to skirmish with police and Basij militia members. In the evening, loudspeakers in Imam Hussein Square, where most of the clashes took place, announced that gatherings of more than three people were banned, witnesses said.

There were scattered reports of police officers surrendering, or refusing to fight. Several videos posted on the Internet show officers holding up their helmets and walking away from the melee, as protesters pat them on the back in appreciation. In one photograph, a police officer can be seen holding his arms up and wearing a bright green headband, the signature color of the opposition movement.

The Tehran police denied firing on protesters and in an official statement late Sunday said five people had been killed “in suspicious ways.”

Ahmadreza Radan, deputy commander of state security forces in Tehran, said dozens of police officers had been injured and “some were killed,” the semiofficial news agency ISNA reported.

Protests and clashes also broke out in the cities of Isfahan, Mashhad, Shiraz, Arak, Tabriz, Najafabad, Babol, Ardebil and Orumieh, opposition Web sites said.

Foreign journalists have been banned from covering the protests, and the reports could not be independently verified.

If the 10 deaths are confirmed, it would be the highest toll since the summer, when huge crowds took to the streets to protest what they said was rampant fraud in the presidential election won by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The White House condemned what it called the “unjust suppression” of civilians by the Iranian government on Sunday.

“Hope and history are on the side of those who peacefully seek their universal rights, and so is the United States,” said Mike Hammer, a spokesman for the National Security Council.

The turmoil revealed an opposition movement that is becoming bolder and more direct in its challenge to Iran’s governing authorities. Protesters deliberately blended their political message with the day’s religious one on Sunday, alternating antigovernment slogans with ancient cries of mourning for Imam Hussein.

“This is the month of blood, Yazid will fall,” the protesters shouted, equating Ayatollah Khamenei with Yazid, the ruler who ordered Imam Hussein’s killing.

The protests may have received a boost from the death last week of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, a patriarch of Iran’s Islamic Revolution who became a fierce critic of the country’s leaders, especially in recent months. His memorials have brought out not only the young activists and students who have dominated the protests in recent months, but also older and more conservative people, who revered him for reasons of faith as well as politics.

Sunday was the seventh day since his death, an important marker in Shiite mourning rituals. Late Sunday, the authorities declared martial law in the city of Najafabad, Ayatollah Montazeri’s hometown, the Jaras Web site reported.

The government crackdowns on mourning ceremonies in the past week provoked many people in the more traditional neighborhoods of south Tehran as earlier clashes did not, some residents said.

“People in my neighborhood have been going to the Ashura rituals every night with green fabric for the first time,” said Hamid, 33, a laborer who lives in the southern Tehran neighborhood of Shahreh-Ray and declined to give his last name. “They have been politicized recently, because of the suppression this month.”

Yet few protesters expected the scale of the bloodshed that broke out on Sunday. The memory of Imam Hussein is so potent among Shiites that killing for any reason is strictly forbidden on Ashura, and Iranian leaders have always tried to avoid violence or even state executions during a two-month period surrounding the holiday.

“Ashura is a very symbolic day in our culture, and it revives the notion that the innocents were killed by a villain,” said Fatemeh Haghighatjoo, a former member of the Iranian Parliament who is a visiting scholar at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. “Killing people on Ashura shows how far Khamenei is willing to go to suppress the protests.”

In another sign of the breadth of the crackdown, security forces on Sunday raided the offices of a clerical association in the holy city of Qum that has supported the opposition since the June election, the Jaras Web site reported. Guards surrounded the house, and members of the association and their families — who had gathered inside the association’s headquarters for an Ashura mourning ceremony — were not allowed to leave, the site reported.

Mr. Radan, the police deputy commander, said that only one of the protesters killed in Tehran had been shot. Two were run over by cars and one was thrown from a bridge, he said.

But a doctor working at Najmieh Hospital in Tehran said Sunday night that the hospital had performed 17 operations on people with gunshot wounds. They were treating 60 people with serious head injuries, including three who were in critical condition, said the doctor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions.

Robert F. Worth reported from Beirut, and Nazila Fathi from Toronto.

IRAN. Arrested In Violent Protests

Listen to the Story

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Iran on Sunday in what eyewitnesses called the biggest and bloodiest demonstrations since Iran's contested presidential election this summer. Host Guy Raz reviews the day's events — including the arrest of hundreds of protesters.

GUY RAZ, host:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.
Thousands of anti-government protesters took to the streets of cities across Iran today. Eyewitnesses say they're the largest and bloodiest demonstrations since last June, after the disputed presidential election. And as in June, photographs and homemade videos of wounded demonstrators have flooded pro-reformist Web sites.
(Soundbite of protest)
Unidentified Group: (Foreign language spoken)
RAZ: In this video, demonstrators chant down with Khamenei, a reference to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Others can be heard shouting, ya Hossein, Mir Hossein, equating opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi with the seventh century Islamic martyr Imam Hussein.
Shiite Muslims are marking Imam Hussein's martyrdom today. It's known as the festival of Ashura. There are reports of deaths, including possibly the nephew of Mir Hossein Mousavi. Hundreds have also been arrested.
Now, foreign journalists have been banned from covering anti-government protests in Iran since June, when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defeated Mir Hossein Mousavi in that disputed presidential election.
Last night in Tehran, a group of men armed with chains and pepper spray disrupted a speech by former Iranian president, the reform-minded Mohammad Khatami.
Unidentified Man: (Foreign language spoken)

Les Croates se choisissent un nouveau président

Les derniers sondages publiés avant le week-end donnaient au social-démocrate Ivo Josipovic un net avantage sur les onze autres candidats en lice, mais ce professeur de droit et compositeur de 52 ans a peu de chances de réunir les 50% de suffrages nécessaires pour l'emporter d'emblée.

Josipovic est un nouveau venu à la réputation sans tache mais qui passe pour manquer de charisme.

Il pourrait affronter lors d'un second tour le 10 janvier prochain soit Milan Bandic, puissant maire de Zagreb qui a été exclu du Parti social-démocrate (PSD), soit Nadan Vidosevic, riche homme d'affaires et ancien membre du HDZ au pouvoir.

Les opérations de vote, auxquelles participent notamment des Croates installés en Bosnie, prennent fin à 19h00, heure française. Des sondages de sortie des urnes sont attendus aussitôt après, les résultats officiels devant être connus cinq heures plus tard.

Andrija Hebrang, candidat du HDZ, ne devrait pas atteindre le second tour si l'on en croit les sondages d'opinion. Ceux-ci témoignent, selon des analystes, d'un profond mécontentement de l'électorat face à la montée du chômage et de la baisse du niveau de vie.

Le vainqueur remplacera Stjepan Mesic, réformateur dont le second quinquennat expire en février. Les principaux candidats soutiennent les efforts du pays pour adhérer à l'Union européenne, objectif que Zagreb espère atteindre en 2012, soit pendant le mandat du futur chef de l'Etat.

À nouvelle époque, nouveau président

Le scrutin coïncide avec une accentuation des efforts du gouvernement du Premier ministre Jadranka Kosor pour combattre la corruption, plusieurs entreprises d'Etat faisant à cet égard l'objet d'enquêtes à haut niveau.

En Croatie, le chef de l'Etat exerce une fonction avant tout honorifique. Il a son mot à dire en matière de politique étrangère, de sécurité et de défense mais n'a pas le pouvoir d'opposer son veto aux textes de loi.

Les diplomates comptent sur le vainqueur pour continuer la politique de réformes engagée par le gouvernement pour achever en 2010 les pourparlers d'adhésion avec l'UE.

"La Croatie a besoin d'un président civil, incarnant l'après-guerre et l'après-transition (...) qui doit tourner le dos à l'héritage des années 1990", écrivait ce mois-ci le journal à grand tirage Jutarnji.

Sous la conduite de son premier président, le défunt Franjo Tudjman, la Croatie avait proclamé son indépendance en 1991 et livré une guerre de quatre ans à des rebelles serbes soutenus par Belgrade. L'Occident avait reproché à Tudjman une politique ultranationaliste et une privatisation précipitée d'entreprises d'Etat.

Le PSD et le HDZ présentent à eux deux cinq candidats - deux officiels et trois "rebelles". Les conservateurs du HDZ sont au pouvoir pratiquement sans interruption depuis l'indépendance de ce pays très catholique.

Les sociaux-démocrates n'ont gouverné qu'entre 2000 et 2003 pour lancer le processus de réformes et mettre sur les rails la candidature de Zagreb à l'Otan et à l'UE. (L'EXPRESS)

Olanda Ucciso ingegnere italiano.

Trovato dal figlio con le mani legate e in una pozza di sangue.
RIJSWIJK (OLA) - La comunità italiana in Olanda è stata colpita da un grave lutto: Antonio Ferrigno, 54 anni, è stato vittima di un delitto dai contorni ancora oscuri. Il pomeriggio di Natale, il figlio teenager allarmato perché non lo sentiva, si è recato a casa sua, nella Burgermeester Elsenlaan a Rijswijk. Il ragazzo ha trovato il padre morto, pare, con le mani legate e in una pozza di sangue, «in condizioni disumane» come ha riferito poi la figlia più grande. Nell’elegante appartamento, nei sobborghi residenziali, subito fuori L’Aja, non c’era traccia di scasso.

L'AUTOPSIA - L’uomo era deceduto da qualche giorno, dopo i primi rilievi autoptici, la sera del 25 dicembre, la salma è stata trasportata all’ufficio di medicina legale per l’autopsia, che non si sa esattamene quando verrà effettuata. Ferrigno oltre a essere un esaminatore dell’Ufficio Europeo dei Brevetti (EPO) in Olanda, un funzionario del dipartimento che si occupava dei nuovi ritrovati su scala mondiale in materia di pacemaker, era anche il tesoriere tanto apprezzato sia della comunità italiana di Delft che del Comitato degli italiani residenti all’estero (Com.It.Es). Una persona stimata e apprezzata da tutti.

LE INDAGINI - La Polizia sta indagando sulle circostanze del delitto, ma è chiusa nel più stretto riserbo e non si sbilancia a fare alcuna ipotesi. Di sicuro si sa che come fisico nucleare, esaminatore di richieste di brevetto all’EPO, Ferrigno non si occupava di patenti «scottanti» e quindi non sarebbe stato ricattabile. Forse il delitto si potrebbe ricondurre alla sfera personale. Un amico della vittima riferisce anche che ultimamente la Ferrigno aveva ricevuto minacce e aggressioni telefoniche. Un membro della comunità italiana di L’Aja racconta incredulo: «Non era solo molto attivo nel sociale, ma era anche un uomo veramente generoso, ha sempre aiutato gli italiani, in particolare gli anziani in difficoltà, però sempre dietro le quinte, facendo beneficenza anonima. Se c’era qualche problema era il primo a mettere mano al portafoglio. Era una persona così gentile, riservata e anche un po’ timida e con un cuore d’oro». Il presidente del Com.It.Es in Olanda riferisce emozionato: «Da quando Antonio è entrato a far parte del Com.It.Es ho avuto un vero collaboratore totalmente disponibile, instancabile ed efficace. Era tecnicamente preparato, ma era anche molto vicino alla comunità. Nelle riunioni più accese era lui che arrivava a mitigare gli animi, dicendo in modo rassicurante ‘Ma cosa possiamo fare per la nostra gente?’ Per questo era stato proprio Ferrigno il motore propulsore per organizzare la Giornata Italiana nel Limburgo, per avvicinare i membri della nostra comunità e capire i loro problemi». Antonio Ferrigno sarà tumulato in Italia nella sua città natale a Cava dei Tirreni, dove avranno luogo i funerali, secondo un desiderio che aveva espresso precedentemente. Il suo sguardo un po’ malinconico e allo stesso tempo sorridente sta mancando già.
Marika Viano

Al Qaeda rivendica il sequestro della coppia italiana

Azione compiuta «contro i crimini compiuti dal governo italiano in Afghanistan e nell’Iraq»

 

MILANO - Al Qaeda ha rivendicato il rapimento della coppia italiana scomparsa dieci giorni fa nel sud-est della Mauritania. In un messaggio audio che porta la data del 27 dicembre Salah Abu Mohammed, che si è presentato come il responsabile media dell’organizzazione di Al Qaeda nella terra del Maghreb islamico, ha spiegato che il sequestro degli italiani è stata fatto «contro i crimini compiuti dal governo italiano in Afghanistan e nell’Iraq».
LA FOTO - Sul sito di è pubblicata una fotografia nella quale si vede la coppia seduta per terra in una zona desertica con il volto della donna oscurato, e alla spalle cinque uomini armati di mitragliatrice col volto coperto. Sergio Cicala appare con la barba bianca incolta, indossa una tuta e sembra stringere nelle mani un documento di identità, forse il passaporto. La moglie Philomen Kaboure ha il volto oscurato come richiede la sharia che vieta di mostrare immagini femminili. I due sono seduti a terra in una zona desertica.
L'AUDIO - Nel messaggio audio che porta la data del 27 dicembre, Slah Abu Mohammed, che si definisce responsabile media del gruppo Al Qaeda per il Maghreb, spiega che il rapimento è da considerarsi una risposta ai «crimini compiuti dal governo italiano in Afghanistan e in Iraq». La Farnesina mantiene il suo «tradizionale riserbo» anche dopo la rivendicazione. Lo hanno ribadito fonti del ministero degli Esteri, sottolineando la continuità di una linea adottata anche in analoghe vicende precedenti.
LA VICENDA - Sergio Cicala, 65 anni, rapito il 18 dicembre, si trovava in Mauritania per accompagnare la moglie Filomen Kabouree, 39 anni, in Burkina Faso, suo paese natale, a trovare il figlio di dodici anni. Il sequestro è avvenuto per mano di uomini armati sulla strada che unisce la cittá di Kobeny, 1.000 chilometri da Nuakchot, con il vicino Mali. Il veicolo sul quale viaggiavano è stato trovato abbandonato, la carrozzeria e le gomme crivellate di proiettili, a pochi chilometri di distanza dal confine con il Mali occidentale. La coppia abita a Carini, in provincia di Palermo. La figlia di Cicala, Alexia, parlando al Tg2, aveva lanciato un appello al ministro degli Esteri Frattini affinchè «avviasse urgentemente i contatti con i sequestratori». Alcuni giorni fa le autorità della Mauritania avevano arrestato un uomo in qualche modo implicato nel sequestro. L’uomo arrestato, secondo la versione accreditata dalla France Press, è un cittadino del «Mali» fermato a Teidatt, alla frontiera tra Mali e Mauritania. Il ministro degli Esteri, Franco Frattini, sarà in Mauritania l’11 e 12 gennaio nell’ambito di un viaggio in Africa già programmato ma che gli permetterà di seguire personalmente la vicenda dei due connazionali rapiti.
LA TRATTATIVA - Domenica, la stampa locale aveva diffuso la notizia di un imminente accordo tra le autorità maliane e i terroristi di Al Qaeda nel Maghreb islamico per giungere al rilascio dei tre cooperanti spagnoli rapiti a fine novembre in Mauritania e del cittadino francese rapito lo scorso mese in Mali. Secondo una fonte vicina ai mediatori maliani, citata dall'agenzia di stampa mauritana «al-Akhbar», ci sarebbero stati di recente progressi significativi nelle trattative condotte tra i funzionari maliani e i terroristi di al Qaeda. Secondo la fonte, molto vicina ai ribelli Tuareg del Sahara impegnati nella trattativa, non è però al momento possibile definire con certezza quando termineranno le trattative e saranno rilasciati gli ostaggi. La fonte non ha fatto alcuna menzione sui due italiani rapiti, che potrebbero essere in mano allo stesso gruppo di sequestratori. Non è dunque chiaro se anche loro rientrano in questa trattativa. (CORSERA)

Nigeria ¿un nuevo vivero para Bin Laden?

Pocos países africanos puede haber más suculentos para Al Qaeda que Nigeria. Es el más poblado y el mayor productor de petróleo del continente. Casi la mitad de sus 155 millones de habitantes son musulmanes; la otra mitad en su mayoría, cristianos y animistas. Varias sectas radicales promueven la implantación de la ley islámica o sharia. Y más de la mitad de la población permanece en la pobreza.

Pero, a diferencia de Somalia, en Nigeria el Estado ejerce sus funciones. La ministra de Información, Dora Akunyili, y los responsables nigerianos de Aviación Civil, así como los del aeropuerto de Lagos, se apresuraron en asegurar que cooperarían estrechamente con las agencias estadounidenses en la investigación del caso.

Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab, de 23 años, llegó a Amsterdam procedente del aeropuerto de Lagos y desde allí partió hacia Detroit, sin que fuese detenido en ningún control de seguridad. La Agencia de Seguridad en el Transporte (TSA) de Estados Unidos ratificó el mes pasado que el aeropuerto de Lagos cumplía todos los estándares internacionales de seguridad. ¿Cómo pudo Abdulmutallab sortear todos los controles? Los investigadores tratan de averiguar ahora quién está detrás de este hombre, quién le facilitó el material y lo instruyó en el manejo de la supuesta bomba.

El pasado verano, los islamistas de la secta Boko Haram, que se hacían llamar a sí mismos talibanes o estudiantes del Corán, provocaron una revuelta en la que murieron 700 personas. El líder de la secta, Mohamed Yusuf, murió mientras se encontraba detenido por la policía.

Tras aquellos disturbios, Adam Higazi, un investigador de la Universidad de Oxford, declaró a la cadena británica BBC que aunque la retórica de Osama bin Laden pueda encontrar resonancias entre los jóvenes radicales islamistas de Nigeria, eso no entrañaba que hubiese una relación financiera.

Aunque la secta de Boko Haram emprendió en julio varios ataques sincronizados contra puestos de policía, los expertos en seguridad indicaron entonces que los métodos de Al Qaeda solían ser más avanzados que los de los talibanes nigerianos.

EDICIONES EL PAÍS S.L.

Croacia elige el presidente que conducirá al país hasta la UE

AGENCIAS - Zagreb - 28/12/2009

Croacia elige el presidente que conducirá al país hasta la UE
Los croatas, incluidos los de Bosnia-Herzegovina, acudieron ayer a las urnas para elegir un nuevo presidente. El candidato de la oposición, que ha hecho de la lucha contra la corrupción -la principal exigencia de la Unión Europea para la adhesión- el centro de su campaña, es el más votado. Con el 99% de los votos escrutados, el socialdemócrata Ivo Josipovic, de 52 años, logró el 32,4% de los votos según la comisión electoral estatal, aunque este profesor de Derecho y compositor de música no obtuvo la mayoría absoluta necesaria para vencer en primera vuelta.
Josipovic es un recién llegado a la política, sin mácula alguna pero con escaso carisma. Se enfrentará en segunda vuelta, el 10 de enero, al alcalde de Zagreb, el populista Milan Bandic, recién expulsado del Partido Socialdemócrata, que logra el 14,8% de las papeletas según la comisión. En tercer lugar aparecen Andrija Hebrang, de la gobernante Unión Democrática Croata (HDZ, nacionalista) y el hombre de negocios Nadan Vidosevic, antiguo miembro del HDZ.
El presidente tiene competencias sobre política exterior, seguridad y defensa, pero ningún poder para vetar una ley aprobada por el Parlamento. En la UE se espera que apoye al Gobierno en la lucha contra la corrupción -un mal endémico herencia de la guerra-, y en la aplicación de las reformas necesarias para completar en 2010 la adhesión.
"Espero que Croacia elija a un presidente que quiera, como en el resto de democracias, que funcionen las instituciones del Estado", dice Juraj Kolaric, un profesor universitario de unos 50 años que desafió ayer a la lluvia para depositar su voto en Zagreb. El candidato del HDZ es el antiguo ministro de Sanidad, Andrija Hebrang, que no alcanzará la segunda vuelta, de acuerdo con los sondeos. Es la víctima del profundo descontento de la población con el paro y la caída del nivel de vida. El ganador de las elecciones sustituirá en el cargo al veterano reformista Stjepan Mesic, cuyo segundo mandato de cinco años finaliza en febrero. Los principales candidatos apoyan el objetivo nacional de entrar en la UE en 2012.
Croacia logró su independencia en 1991, tras cuatro años de guerra con los serbios de Krajina. Su primer presidente, Franjo Tudjman, padre del HDZ, nunca reconoció crímenes de guerra de sus tropas en Croacia y en la vecina Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Come si fa a fare buon uso del 2010?

Non è facile, ma possiamo provarci. Ricorrendo ai soliti buoni propositi, appena adeguati ai tempi e allo spazio in cui viviamo. Politica. Ridume l'ingombro e la pomposità. Un numero sempre maggiore di ore senza parlare di politica, leggere di politica, fare politica in pubblico e in privato. Non per negare la dimensione caritativa e sociale, culturale, ludica, allegorica, essenziale dell'arte politica sempre necessaria. Ma per recuperare pudore, combattere le esagerazioni, le demenze linguistiche, la tremenda slavina di parole morte, di formule da anni agonizzanti, per liberarsi di dialoghi, inciuci, parodistiche guerre civili contro il diavolo in persona, e tornare alla nudità dello scambio utile, della buona amministrazione, dell'organizzazione seria degli interessi in campo, del compromesso ben congegnato e della lotta anche simbolica condotta in modo scabro, senza turgori fondamentalisti. Economia. Considerare quanto poco sia durata la famosa crisi generale del capitalismo. Per "crisi generale" intendo la reviviscenza dello schema interpretativo apocalittico, quello profetico di Karl Marx, che associava all'anatomia della società civile e alla analisi della mercé e del denaro l'idea di uno stato che si dissolve, di un uomo che si rinnova e si libera realizzando il paradiso in terra, conquistando contro mercato e profìtto una vera, compiuta, meravigliosa e differenziata umanità libera. Balle. Non c'è sviluppo, ricchezza sociale, se non ci siano contemporaneamente libertà individuale e responsabilità, se non si realizzino quel movimento degli interessi, quella ricerca del profitto che sono il combustibile, mercatismo o no, di una società economicamente funzionante. Non era il 1929, non era il collasso quel che abbiamo visto l'anno scorso: era una crisi finanziaria, un fallimento di strategie bancarie globali, un picco di turbolenze, tutte cose che potevano essere curate, e lo sono state, anche con un forte intervento di ultima istanza dei poteri bancari centrali e dei governi nazionali, in coordinamento tra loro; ma alla fine ripresa e crescita dipendono dalla salute di banche e imprese nel perseguimento di scopi di mercato, regolati dal mercato e dunque sempre un po' sregolati ed esposti alla speculazione e agli eccessi. Volere un capitalismo senza eccessi, un mercato senza un principio di anarchia, è proporsi una missione impossibile. Informazione. Che il 2010 sia l'anno delle grandi pulizie. Anche nella "barra dei nreferiti" Anche nelle scelte che si fanno all'accensione del computer o dello smart phone (You got mail!). La mente individuale e collettiva deve tenersi sgombra. La rete imbriglia le facoltà. E' un grande strumento di liberazione dai limiti della conoscenza, ma non le è estraneo un elemento di impostura, di vizio, di abbrutimento informativo, educativo, direi perfino di demenza (e niente è più pericoloso della demenza giovanile, che quella senile è nel conto da secoli, più o meno sappiamo come regolarci). Fare pulizia vuoi dire esercitare un dominio pieno e fermo su qualcosa che per definizione tende a espropriare il tuo tempo, a segmentare la tua intelligenza delle cose, a farti perdere la sfericità umanistica di un vero processo di conoscenza, con il suo ordine di priorità, la sua gerarchla piramidale e non reticolare, la sua essenza orale e conversativa. Stato del mondo. Il fatto dell'undici settembre 2001 è stato il cuore regolativo della lettura del mondo nel primo decennio del secolo XXI, ne poteva essere altrimenti. Questo fatto non svanisce, purtroppo, e non si compone nella memoria che consola. Fra un anno e mezzo commemoreremo il decennale del bombardamento islamista delle capitali dell'occidente, ma ho l'impressione che ci trascineremo dietro le icone formidabili della sfida di civiltà ben oltre le commemorazioni. Sono icone mobili, sono facce inquiete che si agitano dietro le quinte: niente sarebbe più bello e consolante di poter dire: l'allarme è rientrato e la guerra è finita. Ma non è così, almeno per noi realisti. Dannazione, benedizione. Il mondo moderno può fare a meno del diavolo in senso teologico, forse, ma non del concetto laico di dannazione, di lotta tra bene e male, di ingaggio del destino in una scommessa sull'esistenza: senza di questo, tutto si banalizza. Possiamo perfino fare a meno di Dio, di cui l'alto clero e i dotti discutono in convegni a un tiro di schioppo dagli appartamenti apostolici, ma non di una ragione libera da ogni idolo, perfino quello di Darwin. Il 2010 dovrebbe essere l'anno della libertà di religione intrecciata con la libertà di ragione.

COPASIR: Il PD ha scelto: D'Alema

D'Alema ha il curriculum migliore, mi sembra la proposta giusta». Via libera di Pier Luigi Bersani, segretario del Pd, nel corso di una intervista a SkyTg24, alla candidatura di Massimo D'Alema alla presidenza del Copasir. «Uno guarda i 'curriculum' e D'Alema certamente ha il curriculum migliore, non ci piove», afferma Bersani a proposito della presidenza del Copasir, ricordando che «questa responsabilità tocca al maggiore partito dell'opposizione». Si spengono così le polemiche che erano sorte nei giorni scorsi, subito dopo l'annuncio di Francesco Rutelli (uscito dal Pd per fondare Api, Alleanza per l'Italia) di abbandonare la guida del comitato di controllo sui servizi segreti. Nel Pd si era fatta avanti la candidatura di Walter Veltroni e anche il capogruppo Dario Franceschini aveva frenato pur riconoscendo al segretario la parola finale. Europa, il giornale dell'area ex Margherita, si era espresso a favore di Arturo Parisi. D'Alema invece aveva riscosso pareri favorevoli nel centrodestra, a cominciare dal ministro degli Esteri Franco Frattini che in passato ha ricoperto lo stesso incarico. Ieri Bersani ha chiuso la discussione. (FONTE: IL TEMPO)

PAOLO NACCARATO. COMPLIMENTI!!!

Fa piacere che i calabresi, e in particolare i professionisti del Tirreno cosentino, continuano a migliorare le rispettive posizioni professionali e culturali. È il caso dell'avvocato Paolo Naccarato di Fiumefreddo Bruzio, che da anni segue, in qualità di segretario particolare, l'ex presidente della Repubblica Francesco Cossiga.

Da qualche giorno Naccarato è stato nominato segretario generale della Fondazione "Intelligence Culture and Strategic Analysis" (Icsa) che è stata tenuta a battesimo dal sottosegretario Gianni Letta. I fondatori dell'iniziativa sono stati lo stessi Cossiga, Marco Minniti e il generale Tricarico, già capo di Stato Maggiore dell'aeronautica militare. Cos'è questa fondazione, abbiamo chiesto a Naccarato in transito da Paola per Roma? «Si tratta – ha risposto – di un ente di diritto privato che si propone di diventare un centro di analisi su temi di sicurezza, difesa e intelligence. Nell'era della globalizzazione economica, finanziaria e giuridica ogni Paese deve attrezzarsi su questi temi in modo sempre più efficace e moderno con tecnologie adeguate.


Gli aspetti connessi alla sicurezza nazionale interna e esterna, all'evoluzione dei modelli di difesa militare delle minacce esterne, alla sicurezza informatica e tecnologica dello Stato e dei cittadini, alla crescita dei principali fenomeni criminali e illegali in Italia e all'estero, impongono agli Stati un impegno straordinario per accrescere sempre più la loro sicurezza e dunque di ciascun cittadino». La Fondazione, oltre al profilo nazionale, ha «un'assoluta proiezione internazionale della propria "mission" e delle proprie attività». «Stiamo sviluppando – ha osservato Naccarato – rapporti con le più significative istituzioni culturali e centri di ricerca di Paesi in varie parti del mondo, per favorire lo scambio di metodologie di analisi e esperienze, e abbiamo già in cantiere una serie di iniziative in questo senso».

I fondatori dell'Icsa hanno sentito la necessità di assumere questa decisione «per offrire un luogo di confronto bipartisan su temi delicati, sottraendoli all'asprezza della polemica politica». Naccarato ha poi parlato dell'esigenza di diffondere «una cultura dell'intelligence in Italia in modo efficace» per fare conoscere ai cittadini che «le forze dell'ordine e gli stessi servizi segreti svolgono quotidianamente un'azione preventiva assolutamente preziosa e indispensabile per uno Stato».
(FONTE: GAZZETTA DEL SUD ONLINE)

Sunday, December 27

ТРОЈЕ МРТВИХ У СУКОБУ ПОЛИЦИЈЕ И ДЕМОНСТРАНАТА У ТЕХЕРАНУ

ТЕХЕРАН – Троје демонстраната погинуло је, а двоје рањено кад је полиција у центру Техерана отворила ватру на демонстранте, објавила је иранска опозиција на веб сајту.
Према наводима из тог саопштења, пуцњава се чује и у другим деловима Техерана, јавио је Ројтерс.
Запаљен је један полицијски мотоцикл, а демонстранти узвикују: „Смрт диктатору”.
Претходно је саопштено да су јаке полицијске снаге распоређене у централном делу иранске метрополе, да је велики број људи изашао на улице и да непрестано пристижу нови демонстранти.
У Техерану се други дан заредом одржавају протести опозиције. До сукоба са полицијом која је употребила сузавац и пендреке да би растерала демонстранте, дошло је и јуче, али није било података о повређенима.
Присталице опозиције искористили су дане жалости због смрти дисидентског великог ајатолаха Хосеина Алија Монтазерија (87), пре недељу дана, за антивладин протест.
Полиција је енергично реаговала и сукобила се с демонстрантима на више места у главном граду.
Тензије после смрти имама Монтазерија додатно су појачане обележавањем годишњице смрти имама Хосеина, унука пророка Мохамеда преминулог у седмом веку у бици која је запечатила разлаз шиитских и сунитских муслимана, указала је британска агенција.

TERORISM: Putnici u avionu savladali napadača

| 27. 12. 2009. - 00:02h | Foto: CNN | Komentara: 0

Putnici aviona na kome je na Božić pokušan teroristički napad, kažu da je sve počelo kad su čuli da je „nešto puklo i videli dim“ zbog čega su neki među njima jurnuli da savladaju čoveka, koji je kasnije tvrdio da deluje po nalogu Al Kaide.

Incident se dogodio na letu 253 aviokompanije Nortvest erlajns, iz Amsterdama za Detroit, sa 278 putnika i 11 članova posade, a metež je počeo pred sletanje. „Zvučalo je kao da je ispaljena petarda u jastučnicu. Prvo se čulo ‘pop’ i onda se video dim“, rekao je Piter Smit, putnik iz Holandije. Osumnjičeni čovek je posle toga odveden na jedno od prednjih sedišta aviona a videlo se da ima pocepane pantalone i opekotine na nogama.
Eksploziv u kome je jedan od sastojaka bila neka puderasta substanca izgleda da je bio pomešan u toku leta, rekli su oni.
Bela kuća je saopštila da veruje da se radi o pokušaju terorističkog napada i da su odmah uvedene strožije mere bezbednosti u vazdušnom saobraćaju. Predstavnici policije identifikovali su napadača kao Umara Faruka Abdula Mutalaba iz Nigerije.

HRVATSKA: Danas predsednički izbori u Hrvatskoj

U Hrvatskoj će danas biti održani predsednički izbori, na kojima će oko četiri i po miliona birača glasati za nekog od 12 kandidata.Predizborna tišina počela je u petak u ponoć i trajaće do zatvaranja biračkih mesta večeras u 19 časova.


Zagreb
Pravo glasa na petim po redu izborima za predsednika Hrvatske ima 4.495.006 birača, koji će glasati na 6.866 biračkih mesta u zemlji i inostranstvu. Od ukupnog broja birača, njih 406.208 nalazi se na popisu u inostranstvu, gde će biti otvoreno 250 biračkih mesta u ukupno 55 zemalja. Najviše ih je u Bosni i Hercegovini – 124, a pravo glasa u toj državi ima nešto manje od 285.000 glasača. Tri biračka mesta biće otvorena i za hrvatske vojnike u misijama na Golanu, u Avganistanu i na Kosovu. Predsednik se bira većinskim izbornim sistemom, pa će pobednik biti onaj ko dobije većinu glasova svih birača koji su glasali – 50 odsto plus jedan glas. Ukoliko nijedan od kandidata ne osvoji više od 50 odsto glasova izašlih na birališta, drugi krug izbora biće dve nedelje kasnije, 10. januara 2010. godine.
Prve zvanične privremene rezultate izbora, Državna izborna komisija objaviće u ponoć. Na izborima učestvuje 12 kandidata, meðu kojima su kandidat Socijaldemokratske partije Ivo Josipović, Hrvatske demokratske zajednice Andrija Hebrang, Hrvatske narodne stranke Vesna Pusić, kao i nezavisni kandidati Milan Bandić, Nadan Vidošević i Dragan Primorac. Tu su i kandidat Istarskog demokratskog sabora Damir Kajin, kandidati Josip Jurčević, Boris Mikšić, Vesna Škare-Ožbolt, Miroslav Tuðman i Slavko Vukšić. Gotovo sve ankete prognoziraju siguran ulazak Ive Josipovića u drugi izborni drug i neizvesnu borbu četiri kandidata za drugo mesto. Na dosadašnjim izborima po dva puta su za predsednika bili izabrani preminuli Franjo Tuðman (1992. i 1997) i aktuelni šef države Stjepan Mesić (2000. i 2005). Mandat predsednika traje pet godina.

SRBIJA: Karavan "Evropa za sve" se vratio iz EU

Učesnici projekta „Evropa za sve” nakon osmodnevnog putovanja po Evropskoj uniji, vratili su se u Srbiju . Tokom putovanja posetili su Brisel, Rim, Berlin i Pariz. Ispraćajući ih iz Pariza, potpredsednik Vlade Srbije za evropske integracije Božidar Đelić, koji je bio svojevrsni vođa putovanja po evropskim prestonicama, izjavio je da Evropa ne sme biti projekat za elitu već za sve građane.
Jednonedeljno putovanje prvih državljana Srbije koji su nakon dve decenije put EU krenuli bez viza, simbolično je okončano poklanjanjem ikone svetog Nikole, zaštitnika putnika, potpredsedniku Evropske komisije Žaku Barou, jednom od ljudi koji su u najvećoj meri pomogli Srbiji u procesu vizne liberalizacije.

„Posle ovog putovanja samo se nadam da će ih biti još mnogo, i da ste svi vi stekli realniji uvid o tome šta je EU i kako se u njoj živi”, rekao je Đelić.
Iscrpljeni zbog bogatog turističkog programa i čestih prijema u institucijama zemalja domaćina i srpskim diplomatskim predstavništvima, 50 građana Srbije se u domovinu vraća s olakšanjem ali i zajedničkom svešću da su proživeli neponovljivo iskustvo.
Milinko Bujišić, privatnik iz Zemuna i jedan od najstarijih članova grupe, kaže da je pre svega za mlade značajno da putujući po Evropi „nešto vide i nauče, pobegnu nakratko od čamotinje i osete se kao slobodni ljudi”.

„Ja sam se toliko radovao ukidanju viza da sam više simbolično želeo da učestvujem u svemu ovome nego što su me interesovali turistički obilasci”, rekao je Bujišić, koji je, kao i ostali stariji članovi grupe, kroz četiri evropske prestonice prošetao sa dostojanstvenom uzdržanošću i nevericom.
Mlađi članovi grupe, među kojima je bilo najviše studenata, doživeli su osmodnevno putovanje po Evropi sa više neprikrivene strasti i otvorenom znatiželjom, kradući vreme od sna kako bi izvan programa mogli da ostvare intiman kontakt sa gradovima koji su ih dočekali u blještavom božićnom ruhu.
Ivana Glišić iz Kragujevca, najbolja studentkinja Pravnog fakulteta u tom gradu, kaže da je ukidanje viza ispunjava osećajem da je Srbija najzad u neku ruku deo Evrope, što joj uliva samopouzdanje i sigurnost. Kao jedna od retkih u grupi koja dobro govori engleski, Ivana je imala priliku da komunicira sa žiteljima evropskih prestonica, i sa radošću saopštava svoj utisak: „Stranci su otvoreni i prijateljski nastrojeni ljudi, i daleko su predusretljiviji, prijatniji i kulturniji u svakodnevnoj komunikaciji nego što se u Srbiji misli”.
Većina putnika karavana „Evropa za sve” se, posle prvih susreta sa avionom i metroom, u Srbiju vraća sa verom u napredak ali i svesna da u Srbiji još mnogo toga mora da bude urađeno u ekonomskom i kulturnom smislu.
Iako je prvi glasni komentar po dolasku u Belgiju, prvu od zemalja EU na maršruti grupe, bio negodovanje zbog suviše strogih restrikcija za pušače, većina članova grupe je na povratku ka Srbiji prokomentarisala da im se u zemljama šengenskog prostora upravo najviše dopadaju red i organizovanost.
Ipak, i srećnih 50 putnika iz Srbije je u Evropu ponelo nešto autentično, svojstvo koje je u protekle dve decenije bilo pomalo zaboravljeno - iskrenu prijateljsku otvorenost prema Evropljanima. Zvaničnici EU i država domaćina su nakon susreta sa putnicima iz Srbije bili začuđeni njihovom neposrednošću i familijarnim tonom kojim su im se obraćali.
Da čak ni pomalo staromodni, patrijarhalni običaji nisu nespojivi sa Evropom, posvedočio je „čiča Velja”, seljak iz okoline Obrenovca, koji je evropskim zvaničnicima poklanjao svoju domaću rakiju, a komesara EU za proširenje Olija Rena, sa prisnošću koja ni trenutka nije izlazila iz okvira lepog ponašanja, oslovljavao sa „Oli”.
Građani su zahvaljujući Đeliću, koji je osam dana sa njima proveo u istom autobusu i deleći sa njima u avionu sedišta u ekonomskoj klasi, rekli da sa sobom nose utiske koji će ih pratiti celog života.
Takve utiske će naredne godine, ako se ostvare očekivanja organizatora projekta, u nastavku karavana „Evropa za sve” poneti još desetine građana Srbije.
Projekat su organizovali kabinet vicepremijera Đelića i Evropski pokret u Srbiji, uz podršku Delegacije Evropske komisije u Beogradu, ambasada Francuske, Italije i Nemačke, kao i „Jat ervejza”, aerodroma „Nikola Tesla”, „Banke Inteza” i „Erste banke”, što znači da upravo završeno putovanje srpske porezne obveznike nije koštalo ni evra.
U žiriju koji je odlučivao ko će dobiti priliku da prvi put poseti zemlje EU bili su Ružica Đinđić, Vlade Divac, Vigor Majić i Maja Bobić.

Kosovo argues case for statehood against strong Serbian opposition

The Hague today begins hearings into the legality of Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence, which Serbia maintains is a violation of international law.

The court hearings, to run until December 11, will address the question of Kosovo’s decision to announce a “unilateral declaration of independence.”
The Kosovo Albanians’ snap decision to break away from Serbia on February 17, 2008 triggered an avalanche of condemnation from Belgrade, which successfully petitioned the UN General Assembly for a legal review of Kosovo’s announcement.
Serbia maintains that the ethnic Albanian territory is an inseparable part of its history and culture.
During Tuesday’s opening statements at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Dusan Batakovic, Serbia’s ambassador to France, called Kosovo the “historical cradle of Serbia.”
Since 1999, when NATO forces bombarded Serbia for 78 relentless days in an effort to end hostilities between the forces of then-President Slobodan Milosevic and the separatist Kosovo Albanians, the international community has been looking for some closure on the issue.
But there is a high probability that the ruling from the ICJ, whatever it may be, will create more questions than answers.
Hisashi Owada, President of the ICJ, said the advisory ruling will provide no definite answers.
“The advisory ruling will be on 30 pages, and there will be no clear-cut answer there, yes or no, for or against – it will simply have to be read,” Owada commented during a video-link between Moscow and The Hague that was organized by RIA Novosti in November.
After the court presents its findings, which is expected to take several months, it will be subject to legal interpretation from Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, and Belgrade. In other words, both sides will interpret the ruling in a way that favorably supports their stance, which will only serve to exasperate the issue.
“The judges may have different opinions, which sometimes do not tally,” Owada admitted.

The ICJ, headquartered at The Hague, Netherlands, is the only international court with universal jurisdiction, but its decisions are not legally binding. It has been reported that 36 states have passed their opinions to the international court on the issue of Kosovo’s statement of independence, including Russia and China, which side with Belgrade, and the United States, Britain and France, taking the side of the Albanian authorities.
“This is certainly an interesting case, and one that has attracted a lot of attention from all around the world,” Bojan Brkic, foreign policy editor with Public TV in Serbia, told RT. “Almost an unprecedented number of countries applied to state their opinion.”
Brkic mentioned the rare interest of China, the communist nation that has traditionally stayed on the sidelines whenever international intrigue is concerned.
“They [China] has chosen never to take sides,” Brkic said. “But this time they will.”

Serbian aims

Serbia’s main reason for bringing their case to the ICJ is to keep the question open, according to Brkic.
“What Serbia wants to achieve with this process is to keep this question open, to stress that this problem is not solved,” the Serbian foreign policy editor said. “Although other countries have recognized Kosovo (independence) that is something that still has to be decided upon. It is essential that the negotiations… continue until there is a solution where all parties feel that they have not lost everything.”
Only 63 nations – 22 representative of the European Union – recognize Kosovo's statehood. But the situation in and around Kosovo, where about 14,000 NATO troops are stationed to keep the peace, remains tense.
Analysts say Belgrade will probably argue before the ICJ that Kosovo’s fledgling institutions are not viable enough to support the mantle of sovereignty.
Indeed, UN-sponsored elections held last month in Kosovo were marred by violence and allegations of ballot-rigging by the opposition. Meanwhile, voter turnout was estimated at 45 percent amidst weak turnout from the minority native-Serbians living in Kosovo.
“Serbs in Kosovo are facing tough prospects,” added a European diplomat on the sidelines of the ICJ who spoke on condition of anonymity. “They have become an ethnic minority in a region that was once their native home. Every Serbian in Kosovo is coping to the best of their abilities. It has become something of a game of survival.”
Native Serbians in Kosovo make up an estimated 7 percent of the population of 2 million.
Serbia hopes that in a worse-case scenario, according to Brkic, the court makes “some sort of ambiguous opinion that under certain circumstances it can be legitimate, under certain circumstances it cannot… Then the struggle for the interpretation of the ruling will begin.”

Global ramifications

The International Court of Justice ruling will attempt to answer a question that carries global implications that will be felt from Palestine to South Ossetia:
What is more important, the self determination of nations, or respect for the sovereignty of racial groups of minority nationalities?
“If [an ethical group] doesn’t feel like living in one country they can simply decide to secede, to separate,” Brkic argued. “Or, alternatively, they [the ICJ] can say ‘under no circumstances can a [group of ethnic minorities] decide to leave their original country.’”
Brkic then offered his personal prediction on the much-anticipated court ruling.
“I personally think that it’s unlikely that the court will take a very definitive stance on this,” said the foreign policy editor. “They will probably take some sort of the middle [ruling] because they will want to leave future cases open for individual scrutiny.”
The ICJ has issued 25 advisory rulings since it started work in April 1946, but such opinions are not legally binding.
Robert Bridge, RT
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The International Court of Justice

Established in 1945, The International Court of Justice (or ICJ) is the main judiciary branch of the United Nations. It is based in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands. Its primary duties are to settle legal disputes submitted to it by states and to give advisory opinions on legal questions submitted by international organizations, agencies and the UN General Assembly.
The ICJ should not be confused with the International Criminal Court, which also potentially has international jurisdiction.
The ICJ is composed of fifteen judges elected to nine year terms by the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council from a list of persons nominated by the national groups in the Permanent Court of arbitration.
Presently, there are 12 cases pending in the World Court's docket.
The current president of the ICJ is Hisashi Owada, a former Japanese diplomat.
The ICJ, headquartered at The Hague, Netherlands, is the only international court with universal jurisdiction, but its decisions are.

“NATO will never attack Russia” – Rasmussen

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has visited Moscow to seek greater assistance from Moscow for the military effort in Afghanistan. His main argument was that the alliance does not consider Russia as an enemy.         
But Anders Fogh Rasmussen failed to get any guarantees from the Kremlin.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said he was willing to open up discussions and better relations though, ones which have been frozen for more than a year after the war in South Ossetia.

AFGHANISTAN: Former KGB colonel recounts Soviet assault on Afghan president

Thirty years ago thousands of Soviet troops were deployed to Afghanistan. Within a few days they launched a special operation storming the Presidential palace and toppling the then-Afghan leader.
       
On December 27, 1979, three days after five thousand Soviet troops had been airlifted into Afghanistan, three Soviet battalions started making their way towards the Darul Aman Palace where President Hafizullah Amin had recently moved his offices.
The KGB at that time had accused President Amin of ousting the opposition, pretending to be loyal to Moscow while secretly seeking partnerships with Pakistan and China. Top Soviet leaders had even suspected Amin of being a CIA spy, and claimed they had the papers to prove it. Thus, due to the fears that the Communist regime of Afghanistan could be overthrown, Soviet leaders decided to replace Amin with a man of their choice.

The KGB at that time had accused President Amin of ousting the opposition, pretending to be loyal to Moscow while secretly seeking partnerships with Pakistan and China. Top Soviet leaders had even suspected Amin of being a CIA spy, and claimed they had the papers to prove it. Thus, due to the fears that the Communist regime of Afghanistan could be overthrown, Soviet leaders decided to replace Amin with a man of their choice.
The advance of the Soviet special forces marked the beginning of Operation Storm­333 that lasted just 43 minutes and is considered by some to have been one of the most successful Soviet operations in Afghanistan.
“In each vehicle, we had four to five Alpha officers, the crew of the vehicle – the commander, the driver and the gunner. And in addition to that, we had Afghans riding with us,” recalled Alpha Commander Oleg Balashov.
In my car we had the future Afghan Defense Minister. I assigned one of my men to look after him. I told him: Guard this man with your life. No matter what happens, he must stay alive."
The Muslim Battalion that consisted of soldiers from the Soviet Central Asian republics who looked and sounded like Afghan locals provided cover for the special forces involved in the assault on the Palace.
We were told that [Hafizullah Amin] had been a bloody dictator responsible for the deaths of thousands of people,” recalled Rustam-Khadzha Tursunkulov, retired colonel of the Muslim Battalion. “We had to overthrow the bloody regime and back up the Afghan people to come to power.”
However, the costs were high for the Soviet troops and the odds were stacked against them.

To understand this massacre you had to have seen it,” explains Balashov. “We were shooting to protect our fighters because the gunfire was terrible. The enemy was shooting from the roof, from the windows, and they were protected by the walls while our fighters were on open ground and could be easily shot down. What I still remember and what impressed me was the number of soldiers defending the palace, the number of our enemies.”
There were 24 Soviet soldiers against 300 Afghan Palace guards. Balashov was one of the many wounded. Two Alpha and three Zenith commanders were killed. As many as 200 Afghan security and military personnel were killed, including Amin and his son.
We received information that tonight something would happen. Amin called all of his commanders to the Palace as he wanted to be prepared to command all his troops against the Russians,” says Mohammed Akbar, Afghan Army veteran. “But the Russians had already recruited a cook who put poison in the food. Amin was still alive when the Russian special troops got to him. Later, when we came here, we couldn’t find any of his remains.”
Amin was the third Afghan President to be toppled in just twenty months. Babrak Karmal, supported by the Soviet Union, immediately became president of Afghanistan. The success of the operation did not, however, prevent an open conflict, and the nine-year long Soviet-Afghan war had effectively begun thereafter.

AFGHANISTAN: "Top secret Soviet operation was “for the sake of Afghan people”

The storming Afghan president Hafizullah Amin’s palace in 1979 by a group of Soviet special forces was one of history’s most audacious special unit operations.Although a success, it marked the beginning of a disastrous war for the Soviet Union. RT spoke with a former Alpha commander, Oleg Balashov, who led the assault.         
Oleg Balashov:
Previously I had worked in a KGB department. After I finished KGB Higher School I was offered a personnel job. I heard that a special unit was being formed. Although that unit was top secret, the information was leaked – when we, colleagues, sit and have tea together, we share information.
Once I entered an office room and saw my friend speaking with an elderly man – well, not elderly but, shall we say, mature. My friend said, “Gennady Nikolayevich, why are you searching for a commander. We have someone working here who is strong and well-trained, just from Higher School. Take him.”
This man, Gennady Nikolayevich Zaytsev, had a word with me and said, “Do you know this job is exposed to the worst kind of danger? It is an anti-terrorist group.” I said, “Gennady Nikolayevich, I am aware it is dangerous, but everything will depend on the professionalism we build through training. That will dictate the ratio between death and victory.”
RT: So, were you the first to be told about the mission? How did you prepare?
OB: The first time we were alerted was on December 22, when we were told to tell our families that we were going for training as usual – to the Caucasus or somewhere. A group commander was appointed who was meant to arrive there, and I was appointed deputy commander. I had been there already and was aware of the situation in Kabul.
After that we were on high alert, as the decision was about to be taken at the very top. So we were sitting on our bags and waiting, the aircraft was ready to take off. When the signal came, we were taken to a military airfield near Moscow, got on board and took off, not knowing where we were going. As we approached the mountains, the pilots instructed us to stop smoking and turn out all the lights. Our aircraft was flying in pitch black, although still making noise – but the Afghans did not have any way of shooting the plane down.
We approached Bagram, near Kabul, and saw the runway lights, when we were just 300 to 400 meters away, all the lights went out. Thanks to skill of our pilots, the plane made a perfect landing. When the aircraft was still, we jumped out and circled the wagons, as we had no idea what would happen next. Eventually, our own colleagues from Alpha approached.
RT: When did you find out what your mission was going to be?
OB: We were taken to some barracks – either half destroyed or half built – just a kind of enclosed building. We had to accommodate ourselves by using mattresses we had taken along. We put our things in place and got our weapons ready.
When we actually saw the palace, the mission was set for us: “So, guys, you are going to storm the palace.” It was to be taken. We were left to wait for the signal to attack. And another unit was supposed to destroy a communications unit, or an international communications cable, rather, in central Kabul. They were going to put a bomb into a manhole, move away and communication between Kabul and the world would be disrupted. We could not envisage everything, of course – there were about 300 guards, while there were only 22 of us. According to all military estimates, it was very reckless, and that is my view also.
RT: What was your psychological state?
OB: Our emotions were under control. No one wavered at all. As commander I had to make sure everything was in order. There was no fear at all.
RT: Can you describe the beginning, when you started storming the palace?
OB: We were commanded to get into the vehicles. There was one odd thing – some members of the future government were part of the crews. When we approached the road that led directly to the palace, we came under fire, but it was only rifles, no match for the armor. As we were winding along, my first armored-personnel carrier broke through, lifting the gate. Two Shilka vehicles backed us up. Those were horrible shooting machines, producing a wall of fire. I suspect that one of our APCs came under friendly fire from the side as it turned and stood in battle position. The commander was gravely wounded.
So I commanded my guys to start the assault. We all jumped out. Covered by the APCs, we opened fire. Civilian vehicles were on fire nearby – those near the Embassy. We came under fire from all the windows, along with grenades.
It is hard when you are far from the building, I mean 20 to 30 meters. It was easy for them to fire at us. But as we got closer to the walls, we were hard targets. I won’t say who succeeded and who failed because all succeeded. Then the battle started indoors, for every floor.
RT: Once you were inside, where did you go?
OB: All of us knew what room was what. Each group had its own mission. It was not like we all rushed in together and then scattered randomly. Not in the least. Everyone knew their mission.
RT: What resistance did you meet?
OB: The guards of the palace were well-trained and devoted to Amin. In terms of professionalism, they were not up to the mark. We knew what we were doing, and we had proper protection, which they lacked. We had bullet-proof jackets and helmets, they did not. And during the fight we could see that 30 to 40% of them were just cowards, hiding in rooms. True, there were some brave guys who were trying to kill us, although without success.
RT: What happened next?
OB: The operation lasted for 30 to 35 minutes. I mean from start to end. We are not ninjas or anything like that. Of course we tried not to be hit. There were many rooms on the second floor and we worked through all of them as we had been trained. First you throw a grenade, then you fire a burst, in case anyone is still alive. You mop the room up making sure there is nothing of interest, and then proceed to another room. As we worked our way along, we approached Amin’s room. One of our guys was the first there and saw him dressed in Adidas trunks standing at the bar. He knew there was no escape. The officer fulfilled his duty – he killed Amin.
Why did the future government go with us? After the operation, in order to prove to them Amin was dead – because they were scared of entering the palace – four of our officers brought out his body to show them. Fourteen women from his harem were also brought out. Some of them wounded, they received our medical help at once. So, we showed the new government members the body. An unexpected thing happened – well, we are Slavs, they are Muslims – they began to dance around the body.
Alpha found a wine-cellar and took some champagne. However, some grey-uniformed guys showed up saying, “Don’t drink it, don’t drink it, it’s all poisoned.” But we poured ourselves a glass of champagne anyway and drank to victory.
RT: Once the operation was finished, did you compare what the unit was like afterwards and before?
OB: Unfortunately, there were losses. I was wounded, too, by a fragment. My helmet literally saved my life. One fragment hit my left shoulder. The doctor who performed surgery on me in Tashkent said to me, “You were born under a lucky star.” The fragment hit my shoulder-blade from the top, exited the body, hit the body armor and entered the body again near the seventh and eighth rib where the heart is located. The other fragment is still in me. Once I was detained at an airport when it set the alarm off. Eighty percent of our officers were wounded – some severely, some lightly.
RT: What was the reaction to the operation from your bosses, from your leadership? Were you congratulated? Were your efforts recognized?
OB: The most important thing was we were alive and had accomplished the mission. As for awards and stuff, after we had been taken to Tashkent, I usually don’t talk about this, but I’ll tell you what our then-leaders used to say. Our commander with all his heart said to us, “All of you are commended with the Order of Lenin [the supreme order in the USSR], or the Red Star Order [for great valor]. You are all valued highly. For us it was all the same. The only thing we worried about was when all of us were taken onboard the aircraft bound for Tashkent, with all those wounded.
We worried, as had happened elsewhere in the world, including the Soviet Union and Germany, and some other countries – people like us would be taken out. Anything could be the pretext – it’s nothing when a hundred personnel are lost – in order to preserve the legend that it was the Afghan people who did it all. There were none of our people there. When we were flown over the mountains we realized we would live. We arrived in Tashkent where they began medical treatment.
RT: Can you tell me how you feel about all these events now, thirty years later?
OB: Even now, as you say – thirty years after – we celebrate this day and commemorate our comrades. Let me give you a simple example. How would you as a professional, were you the only person from any TV company to film a unique story and submit it to your chief editor, be it a crash or anything, you are likely to be thanked by the editor and the company. And you’ll not be interested in the moral aspect of what you’ve done. Likewise, as to what we did in 1979, we had no regrets – I mean in terms of us having worked as professionals.
We fulfilled the mission of the state. It was not us who made the decision. We fulfilled the mission of the state, as any other special forces in any country. They never do it on their own I can’t evaluate the authorities who were in power at that time. I, too, was a member of that party, the Communist Party.
We can talk about whether the then Secretary General of the Communist Party Leonid Brezhnev ruled well or not. The reality proved different, which became apparent in 1993. We lost the Cold War we had been playing with the Americans. They won, we lost.
I have no moral right to condemn anything done there in Kabul. I listened to Putin’s interview – how he assessed Stalin’s role. He said it is not appropriate to assess it one-sidedly, saying there was only terror. Stalin won the War as leader. It was the people who won, but he won as leader. In just two years, he managed to restore the entire economy of the huge country, the Soviet Union.
Likewise, I cannot assess the word of command given then. As the Central Committee mulled over whether to start the war we were not made aware of all that. The tasks were set by two men, Brezhnev and Amin. They were leaders of states. I wouldn’t say we are pawns. We fulfilled the will of the state. We are professionals. Nobody was entrusted with this, only us. And our leaders trusted us to solve this question, and we did. So, I have no regrets.
RT: Thank you very much.

Challenge of illegal migration: how to respond?

        

Should illegal immigrants be allowed to stay in the US? If so, on what conditions? RT’s “The Resident” asked New Yorkers what they think the government's reaction should be to newcomers searching for a better life.

Many of those surveyed agree that the issue should be decided on an individual basis i.e. depending on what the immigrants bring to the country. Others, however, were categorical in their criticism, saying foreigners take jobs away from native citizens and thus should be prevented from doing so.

Israel Kills Six Palestinians

NABLUS, West Bank (Reuters) - Israeli soldiers killed six Palestinians on Saturday in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the bloodiest violent outbreak in months.

Three of those killed belonged to a militant group within the Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement Israel accused of perpetrating a roadside shooting that killed a Jewish settler two days earlier.

An official in Abbas's government accused Israel of a "grave escalation." A militant leader threatened revenge, charging Israel would now "open the gates of hell."

Israeli armored vehicles entered the West Bank city of Nablus before dawn, when soldiers surrounded homes where members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militant group of Abbas's Fatah group, were inside.

The troops shot dead three militants suspected of killing the settler who ignored orders to surrender, spokesman Major Peter Lerner said.

The militants had not shot at the troops but soldiers had acted assuming each was "armed and dangerous," Lerner said.

One of the dead was found holding a gun and the wife of another had been wounded in the leg.

In Gaza, soldiers shot and killed three Palestinians near a border fence they suspected of trying to infiltrate from the Hamas-ruled territory. A Hamas security source said the three were shot as they collected scrap metal.

The violent upsurge threatened to derail Western-backed security cooperation forged between Abbas's police force and Israel, and potentially tip a Palestinian power struggle against his Fatah movement, in Islamist Hamas's favor.

It also pointed up the risks of stalled U.S.-backed peace talks, frozen since a three-week Gaza war whose first year anniversary falls on Monday, December 27 and in which 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed.

'BLOOD AND FIRE'

Some Palestinians protested that Israel had not asked Abbas's forces to arrest the militants. Lerner said the militants had violated pledges to refrain from violence.

More than 10,000 Palestinians attended funerals for the militants in Nablus where businesses closed their doors answering calls for a general strike.

Abu Mahmoud, a spokesman for the militants, urged a response of "blood and fire" against Israel saying its "crime will not go unpunished," and would "open the gates of hell."

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayad accused Israel of having staged an "assassination" that could torpedo already stalled efforts to resume peace negotiations.

"This is a sad day for Palestinians," Fayyad added, also voicing a hope "we would not be dragged into a circle of violence, chaos and instability."

Nabil Abu Rdainah, an aide to Abbas, told Reuters: "This grave Israeli escalation shows Israel is not interested in peace and is trying to explode the situation."

The settler, a father of seven, was the first Israeli killed in a Palestinian attack in eight months.

The death toll in Saturday's incidents was the highest of any Israeli-Palestinian confrontation in West Bank land since before the Gaza offensive, and the worst fatalities along the Gaza border since March.

(Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza, Abed Qusini in Nablus, Mohammed Assadi and Ali Sawafta in Ramallah; Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan; Editing by Angus MacSwan)