Saturday, June 30

Postponing European (world) crisis?

The German parliament has voted in favor of the EU’s permanent bailout scheme and more lenient budget rules. Chancellor Merkel has been criticized with making a U turn in policy, easing borrowing costs on flagging banks without additional austerity.

"Today Germany, with the approval of the fiscal pact and the ESM [European Stability Mechanism] by all parties in both houses of parliament, will send an important signal … that we are overcoming the European debt crisis in a sustainable way," Chancellor Merkel said, addressing the Bundestag prior to the vote.

Members of Merkel’s two main opposition parties also backed the decision. Their support was needed as the fiscal pact stipulates changes to the German constitution and as such requires more than two thirds approval in parliament.

Merkel did minor opposition from euro skeptics within her own Christian Democratic party, however. Party member Klaus-Peter Willsch said the new measures would result in "Germany being liable for everyone".

The vote came hot off the back of an EU summit in Brussels that Merkel described as a “breakthrough” in terms of the future of the eurozone economy. During the summit EU leaders agreed on more tools to combat the swelling eurozone financial crisis, namely less stringent borrowing costs for Spanish and Italian banks.

Additionally, they introduced measures geared at allowing Brussels to recapitalize banks directly in the future, thus avoiding taxes that would be incurred if the loans went through nations’ governments.

Democracy under threat?

Beatrix Von Storch, spokesperson for the Civil Coalition Movement, told RT that the new measures were a “threat to democracy in Germany and Europe” and they are “not backed by the majority of the people.”

“The parliament is voting down democracy and handing over the power of the people to an unelected government, the ESM board of governors,” she stressed

She added that she did not understand why German policy makers were pushing ahead with a policy that uses German taxpayers’ money to bail out Europe.

“This cannot work; even Germany is not able to pay off all the debts in Europe,” she said, adding that the real problem was not being addressed and that Brussels was just paying off debts that will be “replaced tomorrow.”

“Bailout not enough to promote growth”!

Dr Jack Rasmus from St Mary’s college in California called Brussel’s attempt to encourage growth through cash injections into EU banks a
“temporary move.”

Citing the example of the US economy for the past three and a half years, he told RT that although the banks were stabilized, there was no economic growth in spite of “massive liquidity injections directly into banks.”

“As long as that growth does not occur it’s going to feedback and exacerbate both the banking and the sovereign debt crisis,” he concluded.

Italy’s Prime Minister Nudges German Chancellor Toward Growth

At the summit meeting of European Union leaders in Brussels early Friday morning, Germany’s leader, Angela Merkel, found herself facing a tenacious opponent, one who in the course of an exhausting night of bargaining finally forced the Iron Chancellor to blink. Even more surprising than that was the identity of her antagonist: Mario Monti, the soft-spoken technocratic prime minister of Italy whom Ms. Merkel had helped to install in office.
President François Hollande of France, Germany’s traditional diplomatic partner, came to power in May promising to redirect Europe’s priorities from Ms. Merkel’s campaign of austerity to growth. But it is Mr. Monti who has emerged as the uncontested leader of the “pro-growth” forces, and who persuaded Ms. Merkel to take perhaps one of the largest steps toward European integration since the euro crisis began.

The Italian leader came to Brussels with a simple plan based on the knowledge that Europe’s leaders could ill afford to come away from the summit meeting empty-handed. Italy and Spain, as he eventually made clear to Ms. Merkel, would block all agreements — including a growth pact that they fully supported — until European leaders agreed to allow Europe’s new bailout funds to directly recapitalize ailing banks, rather than going through the governments. 

“It became increasingly clear that the turbulent situation within the euro zone was not only disturbing in itself but was seen by public opinion and seen by the markets as perhaps the main hindrance to growth,” Mr. Monti said in a telephone interview on Friday. “I thought it was a bit unrealistic to launch a big package on growth, which we wholeheartedly supported, while not sending out to the markets a clear signal of financial stabilization.” 
A canny tactician, Mr. Monti also enjoys strong support from President Obama, who has expressed concerns that the euro crisis would lead to a recession in Europe that could drag the United States down with it. Mr. Monti did not turn on Ms. Merkel, who respects the economist-turned-politician. Indeed, they stayed in close contact throughout the night of grueling negotiations.
As Ms. Merkel’s most trusted — perhaps only — ally in southern Europe, his pushback is measured, respectful and built on a strong shared belief with her that the 17 nations that use the euro should eventually relinquish some sovereignty to Brussels in exchange for greater protections for the euro.
But with Italy’s borrowing rates back above 6 percent — near the levels that helped to force the previous prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, from power — Mr. Monti was under intense political pressure at home as the talks approached. 

Using the country’s greatest weakness — in this case, its huge debt and the threat it poses to the integrity of the euro zone — as its strength is a classic move of Italian diplomacy. Not only did it work, but Mr. Monti also helped put Italy back on the diplomatic map. 

“He has strengthened not only his own position but Italy’s place in the European concert,” said Wichard Woyke, professor of European politics at the University of Münster. “At a time when the German-French axis is no longer functioning as it was, at a time when Ms. Merkel has lost support for her policy of uncompromising saving, the moment was opportune for Italy to return to its position and he took advantage.”
While emphasizing the collaborative process, Mr. Monti hailed the summit meeting as a success. “The construction of Europe is done of many successive achievements like this one,” he said. 

Mr. Monti and Mr. Obama have spoken multiple times in recent weeks. “Since my first meeting with the White House in February, his very deep and growing interest in European and euro zone matters in a sense made the two of us rather regular interlocutors,” Mr. Monti said. 

The president and Mr. Monti have mutual aims. “His pursuit of a growth agenda as an integral part of euro zone reforms, together with fiscal rigor, is fully appreciated in Washington,” the United States ambassador to Italy, David Thorne, said of Mr. Monti. “Ultimately, a strong and economically vibrant Europe is good for the United States as well.” 

Mr. Monti said he wanted to convey “this sense of deeply cooperative dialogue with Germany, with Merkel, and not to encourage this football-like attitude.” On Friday, the Italian news media were filled with images comparing Mr. Monti to Mario Balotelli, the soccer player who scored two goals for a 2-1 victory over Germany in the semifinals of the European championship on Thursday. 

It is not surprising that Ms. Merkel should have developed a rapport with Mr. Monti. As a scientist, she respects his expertise, analysts said. During the summit meeting, “I definitely must have stepped off to the side with Mario Monti around 10 times,” Ms. Merkel said Friday. “We were constantly talking about specific formulations, and then also a little bit about football.” 

Ms. Merkel’s own economic adviser, Lars-Hendrik Röller, was once Mr. Monti’s chief economist when he was Europe’s competition commissioner, a post where he forged a reputation for steely determination. In 2001, Mr. Monti sank the ambitions of Jack Welch, then the chief executive of General Electric, by blocking a merger between G. E. and Honeywell International. Later, he slapped Microsoft with a $625 million antitrust fine. 

Analysts said that if Ms. Merkel was going to give ground to anyone in Europe, Mr. Monti was the most likely person. “When Monti asserts himself, Merkel loses less face,” said Günther Pallaver, a political scientist at the University of Innsbruck, “because as an economist his words have great weight.”
Still, the results of the summit meeting have not been well received in Germany. 

“He’s a big danger for her,” said Bert Van Roosebeke, of the Center for European Policy in Freiburg, Germany. “He’s respected in Germany, this professorial type of guy, and then this respected guy is openly criticizing Ms. Merkel’s policies in the euro crisis.” 

While Mr. Monti has grown stronger on the European stage, at home he has a tougher job. He is an agent of change beholden to a Parliament — and an entrenched culture of political patronage — heavily invested in the status quo. 

But analysts said Mr. Monti’s success in Brussels was bound to help him. “With this result behind him, it’s out of the question that the government will end before its mandate ends in April,” said Tito Boeri, an economics professor at Milan’s Bocconi University, referring to Italy’s next national elections, which are to be held in the spring. “He has helped Europe. Now let’s hope he has more time to contribute to Italy.” 

Rachel Donadio reported from Rome, and Nicholas Kulish from Berlin. James Kanter contributed reporting from Brussels.

Friday, June 29

Question Time del Ministro della Difesa

Gli scenari in Tunisia, Egitto, Libia e Siria dopo la Primavera araba di Antonio Ferrari

L'islamizzazione della Libia mette a rischio il processo di riconciliazione del Paese. Ieri il Consiglio nazionale di transizione libico (Cnt) ha varato un pacchetto di leggi che prevedono pene fino all'ergastolo per chi inneggia a Muammar Gheddafi, offende l'islam o denigra la rivoluzione del 17 febbraio. Secondo i legislatori, il Paese è ancora in uno Stato di guerra e tali restrizioni servono ad evitarne la destabilizzazione in vista delle elezioni parlamentari di giugno. Il testo afferma che chi diffonde informazioni volte a interrompere o inficiare i preparativi per il nuovo Stato offende i cittadini e merita il carcere. La serie di provvedimenti include anche la confisca delle proprietà dei familiari del defunto rais e degli ex funzionari del regime.

Gli esperti notano che dopo l'uccisione di Gheddafi e la cattura del figlio Saif al-Islam la Libia è ormai in mano agli estremisti islamici che affollano il Consiglio nazionale di transizione e vogliono fare del Paese uno Stato islamico basato sulla sharia. Fonti locali affermano che nei villaggi e nelle città circolano armi di ogni genere. La poca sicurezza spinge la gente a farsi giustizia da sola. L'assenza di leggi e di controlli ha dato spazio alla criminalità organizzata che gestisce traffici di cibo, armi, denaro e controlla anche gli acquedotti. Per mettere un freno all'estremismo e alle vendette fra gruppi tribali, la scorsa settimana i leader del Cnt avevano realizzato un decreto legge che bandiva i partiti politici con espliciti riferimenti alla religione, tribù ed etnie. Ciò ha scatenato le proteste dei movimenti vicini ai Fratelli musulmani che hanno fatto ricorso costringendo il Cnt a cancellare la legge.

Come accaduto in Marocco, Tunisia ed Egitto, anche in Libia a dettare la linea politica sono Fratelli musulmani e salafiti. Fuorilegge durante il regime essi hanno conquistato in pochi mesi posti di rilievo nella gestione delle politiche petrolifere, ponendosi come partner strategici per le società straniere attirate in Libia dalle politiche economiche di Gheddafi. Finanziati e sostenuti da Paesi come Qatar e Arabia Saudita, i Fratelli musulmani si presentano alle elezioni parlamentari di giugno con un grande apparato organizzativo. Ciò rende molto probabile una loro vittoria.


Nel Golfo dell'Asinara è stata finalmente identificata - dopo decenni di vane ricerche - una parte del relitto della Corazzata Roma, adagiata a circa 1000 metri di profondità ed a circa 16 miglia dalla costa sarda. Lo fa sapere la Marina militare. La nave era stata affondata da due bombe tedesche il 9 settembre del 1943, con 1352 vittime

Il suo affondamento il 9 settembre del 1943 è rimasto nella storia come uno dei simboli più tragici dell'Armistizio dell'8 settembre. In rotta verso Malta per consegnarsi agli ormai ex nemici britannici insieme a quanto restava della regia marina, la corazzata Roma venne colpita dalle bombe guidate "Fritz X" armi segrete lanciate dai bombardieri tedeschi Dornier Do 217 K-2 decollati dall'aeroporto di Istres, a nord-ovest di Marsiglia, per dare la caccia alla flotta italiana salpata da La Spezia.

Quasi 70 anni dopo nel Golfo dell'Asinara è stata finalmente identificata una parte del relitto della corazzata Roma, adagiata a circa mille metri di profondità e a 16 miglia dalla costa sarda . Le prime ed esclusive immagini del relitto sono state riprese dall' Ingegner Guido Gay titolare della società Gaymarine S.r.l., società specializzata nella progettazione e produzione di veicoli e apparecchiature subacquee ad alta tecnologia che da molti anni conduce in zona sperimentazioni di innovative apparecchiature di esplorazione subacquea da lui ideate e costruite.

Grazie all'ausilio di un sofisticato robot subacqueo Pluto Palla (sistemi già in dotazione ai cacciamine della Marina) e ad altri esclusivi strumenti imbarcati a bordo del catamarano Daedalus il sito dove giace il relitto della corazzata Roma è stato individuato e visitato. Il personale della Marina Militare, imbarcato per l'occasione sul Daedalus ha verificato la inequivocabile coerenza delle immagini, riprese per la prima volta il 17 giugno e ripetute il 28 giugno 2012, di pezzi di artiglieria contraerea imbarcata sulla corazzata Roma che vennero separati dalla nave dalla violenza delle esplosioni. Due giorni fa il ritrovamento era stato annunciato da un team di ricercatori guidato da Francesco Scavelli, ma - a quanto si apprende - non si trattava del punto giusto. A bodo della Roma morirono 1.352 marinai, insieme al comandante delle forze navali da battaglia della regia Marina, l'ammiraglio di squadra Carlo Bergamini. Solo 622 furono i sopravvissuti. La marina Militare ha reso noto che i dettagli della scoperta verranno presentati nel corso di una conferenza stampa che si terrà a la Maddalena all'inizio della prossima settimana.

US-Russia push Syria solution

The US secretary of state and her Russian counterpart will push to find common ground on the Syrian conflict at a summit in St Petersburg. The meeting comes as bomb blasts struck Damascus and Syrian President Assad pledged to “annihilate terrorists.”

­The two powers are expected to discuss Kofi Annan’s unity government plan ahead of a crucial meeting on Syria in Geneva on Saturday, which will bring together UN Security Council members, European and some Middle East countries.

Annan’s plan does not call for Assad’s ouster, but pushes for the creation of a transitional government that would exclude figures that jeopardize stability.

Washington is a strong advocate of a political transition plan in Syria that stipulates the removal of President Assad. However, Russia categorically opposes the idea that other countries should dictate the future of Syria, believing that the decision is up to Syrians themselves.

"We will not support and cannot support any meddling from outside or any imposition of recipes. This also concerns the fate of the president of the country, Bashar al-Assad," Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on the eve of the meeting.

A number of opposition groups, including the Free Syria Army have refused to comply with any plan that does not include the step-down of Assad.

The outcome of Clinton and Lavrov’s meeting in St Petersburg could set the precedent for the success of the negotiations in Geneva.

Meanwhile, in a rare interview with Iranian television on Thursday Syrian president Assad rejected any solution to the conflict that was imposed from outside the country.

"We will not accept any non-Syrian, non-national model, whether it comes from big countries or friendly countries. No one knows how to solve Syria's problems as well as we do," he said.

During the hour-long interview Assad pledged to “annihilate terrorists in any corner of the country,” describing it as the government’s duty.

"When you eliminate a terrorist, it's possible that you are saving the lives of tens, hundreds, or even thousands," he told Syrian state television.

The Syrian president’s words followed with twin bomb attacks that struck the Syrian capital on Thursday. The blasts went off close to Damascus’ Palace of Justice and injured three people, reported Syrian state television.

Ex-Leader of Bosnian Serbs Fails to Get War Crimes

Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb psychiatrist who became a nationalist wartime leader, has failed in his bid to get his war crimes trial in The Hague halted and have all charges thrown out for lack of sufficient evidence. But the United Nations judges hearing his case have dropped one of the two counts of genocide against him, the court announced Thursday.

Mr. Karadzic will still be tried on the remaining count of genocide, namely in connection with the massacre at Srebrenica in 1995, as well as nine other counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity from the 1992-95 war in Bosnia.

The judges’ decision has come midway through the trial, after the prosecution had ended its case. Under tribunal rules, the defense can apply at that point to have parts or all of the case thrown out before the defense begins presenting its own arguments.

The count of genocide that was dropped from Mr. Karadzic’s case refers to a violent campaign led by Serb and Bosnian Serb forces and militia gangs to drive almost half a million non-Serbs from regions of Bosnia and to turn them into lands for Serbs only. The well-planned and systematic campaign that happened mainly in 1992 included the large-scale killing of civilians and the hauling of thousands off to concentration camps; many homes and religious sites of Muslims and Catholics were razed and villages were then given Serb names.

The question of whether that campaign entailed genocide, or amounted to crimes against humanity, has been argued long and hard in other trials at the tribunal, but judges have handed down genocide convictions only for Srebrenica. The controversy has often upset the victims and survivors of the brutal campaign.

In dropping the genocide count, the judges in the Karadzic case acknowledged that the violent Bosnian campaign caused much suffering, but they said they were not provided enough evidence to conclude that the actions were intended as genocide. The crime of genocide at his tribunal specifically requires proof of the “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.”

Former President Slobodan Milosevic was also charged with genocide for helping to engineer that Bosnian “ethnic cleansing” campaign, but he died before his trial ended.

Thursday’s decision may also affect the trial of Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb general, who often worked closely with Mr. Karadzic, at the time his political superior.

Mr. Mladic, who spent more than 15 years on the run, is similarly charged with two counts of genocide — for Srebrenica and for the Bosnian campaign. His trial began in May and was quickly suspended when judges found that the prosecution had not finished sharing all of its evidence with the defense.

The hearings are scheduled to resume in July.

'The Arab Spring is Arab invention'

The Arab Spring is not the result of western help, but a reaction to decades-long western support of authoritarian and despotic regimes in the region, Tunisian Foreign Affairs Minister Rafik Abdessalem told RT.


Tunisia was the epicenter for the Arab Spring that swept through the region. But unlike Libya, regime change was carried out by the Tunisian people themselves. Considering the Syrian crisis in that light, the Tunisian FM told RT’s Sophie Shevardnadze that foreign intervention into Syria’s internal affairs would not be welcomed. He stressed that Syrian should sort things out themselves if, of course, Damascus is ready to listen to the demands of its people.

The minister further believes that as a regional power, Iran should take part in resolving the Syrian crisis. He also believes that no solution to the Syrian crisis can be found without the participation of the Russia and China.

RT: Tunisia is now facing a political crisis over the extradition of the former Libyan PM to Libya. The president condemned the move as the parliament is now considering a vote of no confidence for the government. Is your government now preparing to face the consequences?

Rafik Abdessalem: There is no crisis in Tunisia. There are differences between political positions towards extradition of (ex-Libyan Primer Minister) Al-Mahmoudi. We have already agreed as a government to extradite Al-Baghdadi Al-Mahmoudi… to be subject to trial.

It is very normal to extradite Al-Baghdadi Al-Mahmoudi after certain conditions. The main condition is he would be provided a just and independent trial in Libya. And we’re really confident that this will happen in Libya.

RT: We’ve got daily reports about deadly clashes in Libya. Do you really believe it is truly capable of giving a fair trial to Gaddafi’s associates?

RA: We’ve already sent a commission to Libya to look at things on the ground so we’re confident that he will get a fair trial.

RT: So this would exclude the option of torture?

RA: Absolutely.

RT: Tunisia is the pioneer of the Arab Spring. But right now you still don’t have a constitution. Could you say the revolution is over?

RA: No, we don’t have a constitution for a simple reason: this is one of the missions of the Constitution Assembly to draft a new constitution. We’re fixing a date and by the end of this year we will have a new constitution. I’m sure it will be a democratic constitution. To ease this movement in the right direction we’ve already had a first democratic election in the modern history of Tunisia. Then we formed a coalition government where three political parties are working together. This is positive and attractive not only for Tunisia, but for the whole region.

RT: If you look at the statistics, Tunisia’s economy shrank by two per cent this year, unemployment is still high, and your president fired the head of the Central Bank last week.

RA: It is not a crisis. To be more precise, the economic situation improves day by day… We’re not in a catastrophic situation. It is completely vice versa, the situation has improved.

RT: Do you feel like things are better off now than they were a year and a half ago? Or do you still need time to meet people’s expectations?

RA: Of course this is a revolution. And revolution by definition means to move from one situation to another. We’re in process of dismantling the foundations and pillars of the most despotic and authoritarian regime in the region and in process of setting up a new foundation of a new political system. So it is very normal that we have certain difficulties here and there but things are moving in the right direction, I’m sure.

RT: How much time does Tunisia need to become completely stable and provide steady growth?

RA: I think Tunisia is already stable, politically speaking. This is the first time in the modern history of Tunisia that we have a real political stability. What we had in the past was not a political stability but status quo and stagnation. Now we have political stability which is based on democracy. We need time to set up foundation of political stability. I think within one-two years, no more than that, Tunisia is coming back to normality.

RT: How much could have been established without the help from the west?

RA: [It’s] absolutely inverse. We knew the west was supporting the previous despotic regimes in the name of political stability. They switched it because there was a movement on the ground. The origin of this political change is not American or European. It is the will of the Tunisian and other people of the region.

RT: So you’re saying that the west had nothing to do with the Arab Spring?

RA: No, it is completely another story. We had a feeling of what precluded the process of political changes in the region during the last decades, the western support to despotic regimes.

RT: It’s not the first time that fears have arisen over the tendency of stricter Islam in Tunisia. How much chance is there for the new Tunisian government to actually balance between secularism and moderate Islam?

RA: I don’t see such a contradiction between secularism and moderate Islam since our view of Islam is an open and liberal one. Islam, like any other great religion, is an object of different interpretations and views. We have such a process of reconciliation and combination of Islam and democracy since the 19th century and the founding fathers of the Reformation within the modern Islam.

RT: We’ve definitely see the rise of Islam in Northern Africa. We saw that the Arab Spring had more economic and political slogans. Do you think that Islamists are able to deliver those demands?

RA: I think Islamists are political actors with no metaphysical features, like any other political actors: leftists, liberals, etc. They could deal with economic situations and challenges. This is what we see already either in Tunisia or in Turkey and other parts of the Arab world.

RT: The Brits were very enthusiastic about the Arab Spring. Now they worry about terrorist recruitments. Do you agree with that?

RA: Absolutely not. I think the best solution for the regime is to have more democracy… We’ve already seen violent groups even in the west, in London and Madrid. Does this mean we should put under question British or Spanish democracy?

RT: You presided at one of the Friends of Syria conferences… without Russia, China and Iran being present. Does it mean a solution to the Syrian crisis could be found with these three countries excluded?

RA: We sent invitations to Russia and China but they preferred not to attend the Friends of Syria conference. We strongly believe that there is no solution without participation of the Russians and Chinese in the Syrian crisis.

RT: What about Iran?

RA: Iran is also a regional player. And the region is keen to see Iran integrated into the region.

RT: At this point the west is denying a military intervention into the Syrian crisis. Is the anti-Assad coalition out of breath and ideas?

RA: We don’t like to see any foreign military intervention of the regime. We strongly believe that it is up to Syrian to sort out their crisis and problems. This is Arabic affairs and we don’t like to see any foreign intervention into the region and repeat the [toppling of] the Iraqi regime. But I hope the Syrian regime would listen to the demands of the Syrian people. The Syrian people deserve democracy and dignity – like any other people in then region.

RT: What should happen to end Syrian crisis without intervention?

RA: The best scenario is the Yemeni scenario, when the president hands over part of the authority to his deputy – like it happened in Yemen. But this needs cooperation from the top of the Syrian state.

Thursday, June 28

Podgorica e l’Europa

Si festeggia a Podgorica dopo l’annuncio del Consiglio Affari Generali dell’Unione Europea a Lussemburgo che dà l’avvio ai negoziati di adesione del Montenegro.

“Oggi abbiamo vinto” - ha detto il primo ministro Igor Luksic alla stampa – “anche se la strada da percorrere non sarà facile”. Una gioia unanime in parlamento, perché la politica filoeuropea del governo è approvata anche dai partiti di opposizione.

Con l’apertura dei negoziati inizia la fase più complessa dell’iter di adesione all’UE che, nel caso del Montenegro, prevede un miglioramento delle condizioni poste dai capitoli 23 e 24 dell’acquis comunitario, relativi alla criminalità organizzata e alla corruzione.

Il Consiglio ha già chiesto a Europol una relazione sullo stato della criminalità organizzata nel Montenegro e ha chiesto alla Commissione europea di vigilare attentamente sui progressi dei prossimi mesi.

Stefan Fule, commissario preposto all’allargamento dell’UE, in un’intervista al quotidiano montenegrino Pobjeda ha detto che l’UE non farà nessuno sconto al paese se non vedrà progressi significativi nella lotta alla criminalità e alla corruzione.

Da “Montenegro sotto i riflettori” a “Monitoraggio serrato”, i titoli dei giornali di ieri hanno sottolineato la pressione dell’Unione Europea.

Una speranza per tutta la regione balcanica, hanno commentato i “vicini” di casa e in particolare la Croazia, da quest’estate membro ufficiale dell’UE, e la Serbia, in attesaanch’essa dei negoziati.

Turkey strengthens air defence at Syrian border

Turkish officials have confirmed deploying anti-aircraft batteries in the area close to the border with Syria. This is the reply to Syria downing a Turkish reconnaissance aircraft in country’s territorial waters and the shooting at another plane.

­Turkish state TV reports 30 military trucks, including air-defense systems in Hatay province bordering Syria.

Turkish state-run Anatolia news agency has reported armored vehicles have also been advancing to Sanliurfa, a province that protrudes into Syrian territory. The agency insists military garrisons along the Turkish-Syrian border are been beefed up with additional personnel.

The incident that downed a Turkish aircraft has put relations between Ankara and Damascus on a knife edge. Turkey insist its fighter jet entered Syrian aerospace by mistake and only briefly, refusing to accept it was shoot down over Syrian territorial waters. Syria insists it has violated nothing and presented part of aircraft’s tail pierced with anti-aircraft shells.

Reportedly, the Turkish aircraft could have been taken down by an anti-aircraft gun system. Such systems have a range limited to a few kilometers. If this information is correct, Turkish claims about the plane been downed outside Syria’s 12 miles (22 kilometers) territorial waters are questionable.

Ankara warned Damascus to keep its troops out of the border regions to avoid confrontation. On Wednesday Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoebi said that probably Syrian air defense have mistaken the Turkish plane for an Israeli one. Both Turkey and Israel use American made fighter jets. The Minister said Damascus does "not want a crisis between Turkey and Syria."

Jeremy Salt, professor of Middle Eastern history and politics at Bilkent University in Turkey, told RT that another incident between the two countries could trigger hostilities.

“Another incident like this could trigger off a collision between the two countries,” he said. “We have Turkish troops right at the border, we have Syrian troops very close to the border on the other side, and something else like this, another downplay, another shot across the border, will set these two countries against each other.”

Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict 16 months ago Ankara has repeatedly called on Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down. Turkey claims it is looking after up to 33,000 Syrian refugees who have fled the fighting between government troops and the opposition Free Syrian Army.

It is also alleged Turkey is a haven for members of the Syrian armed opposition. The militants are reportedly using Turkish territory to regroup and be armed by CIA officers who are present at Turkish-Syrian border. It’s alleged the officers are collecting intelligence data and distributing firearms to those groups of Syrian rebels they consider “clean”, by not having links with terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda.

Panetta pleads for missile defence dollars

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta urged lawmakers not to renege on their promises to fund NATO’s new missile defense system, saying such a decision could jeopardize US relations with its European allies.

MEADS (or Medium Extended Air and Missile Defense System) was to act as NATO’s new missile defense shield, designed to replace the Patriot air and missile defenses which form the backbone of the existing system. However, the congress ruled last year that deploying MEADS is impossibly expensive given the budget restraints and economic climate in the US. The funding of the project will stop after the “Proof of Concept” test phase ending in 2013. But even that may run short of cash. Three separate committees have already voted to cut the 400 million dollars from the 2013 US budget needed for the final stage of the project. Now it’s up to the Senate Appropriations Committee to decide on the matter. Panetta urged the Chairman of the Committee Daniel Inouye not to pull the plug on funding. It is the last chance to approve the funding without risking a White House veto on the decision.

MEADS is being jointly developed by the US, Germany, and Italy, with the US footing 58% of the bill. The system has been in development since the beginning of the 1990’s with a cumulative price tag of $4 billion.

However, the US congress has been frustrated by project overruns and high costs, spending money to develop a theoretical missile defense system that they can’t even afford to deploy.

Panetta strongly argued that by funding the project in its last year of the test phase, the US could at least reap the benefits of a 360-degree long-range surveillance radar that would greatly improve missile defense in the future.

In a letter to Senator Inouye, Panetta also stated that failing to fund the final year of the MEADS project would “be viewed by our allies as reneging on our promises.”

“A decision by Congress to prohibit any additional funding for MEADS at this late date would diminish the consensus reached in Chicago,” Panetta said, referring to the agreement to split missile defense costs between Europe and America at the NATO summit in Chicago last May.

“Failure to meet our funding obligations could negatively affect allied willingness to join future cooperative endeavors” and “would likely lead to a dispute with Germany and Italy.”

US Defense undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics Frank Kendall wrote separately that pulling out of its contracts with Italian and German developers would force a heavy restructuring of their agreements, and incur termination, research, and defense costs at a later date that would equal more than the 400 million dollars Panetta is asking for.

Furthermore, he hypothesized the move might encourage Italy and Germany to look to non-US solutions for air defense, and undermine what the US calls collective responsibility for European defense.

Leon Panetta echoed that sentiment, stating "The United States relies on allies to share the burden of peacekeeping and defense in coalition activities…In this context, I believe that it is important to live up to our commitments to our allies."

Still, while the panel has recognized the necessity of reaping the technological benefits of completing the program, they still voiced their concerns about “the historical management of the program” and the fact “that it has taken the Department three years to conclude the program was simply unaffordable.”


Surveys of over 250 million passed through bank accounts in Switzerland, and raised from the financial Rothsinvest continue: but within a week from 7 arrests and searches against the managers of the company, none of the customers paid an attorney for complaint. The fact is detected with some curiosity by the public prosecutor of Florence and the italian ROS (Special Operative Department of Carabinieri commanded by General Giampaolo Ganzer).

By Robert Da Ponte and Paolo Porisiensi (Goffredo Brogli?), the first one, was an international general manager of Rothsinvest Asset Management, a Swiss investment company, the second one, Porisiensi was an Area Manager (also)for Montenegro which twice also manage the personal assets of banker Nathan Rothschild.

Spending these reports, Da Ponte, who kept the 'house' while the less noble Rothinvest, - a company not authorized to the collection of credit - it was made ​​credible by a network of hundreds and hundreds of investors.

In addition to beneficial interests, professionals Rothinvest guaranteed anonymit.


Syrian rebels desecrate Christian churches.

Shocking images have surfaced, revealing the alleged desecration of Christian churches in Syria by Western-backed rebels. The pictures, taken by local Christians outraged at the violence, were published by In one of the photos a man who is said to be a member of the Free Syrian Army poses in a stolen priest’s robe while brandishing a looted cross in one hand and a machine gun in the other.

The photos were taken by a Christian woman in Homs, one of the cities most devastated by continued violent clashes between rebels and government forces.

“Everyone knows simply removing these garments from the church is a sin. The priest is the only one who wears them. They even pray before putting them on,” the woman told
She added that after the rebels tore the church apart, they went inside to document their violence.

Images show church pews broken apart, with pieces strewn all over the nave. The floor is covered with rubble, and even the altar looks like it has been desecrated.

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of
Christian minorities are facing a growing threat and thousands are being forced to flee their homes as they face harassment and discrimination from opposition radical Islamist factions.

At least 9,000 Christians from the western Syrian city of Qusayr were forced to seek refuge after an ultimatum from a local military chief from the armed opposition, the Vatican’s Fides news agency said.

Earlier, a Christian man was shot dead by a sniper in Qusayr, which neighbors the city of Homs.
Some reports have even suggested that a number of mosques in the city have announced that "Christians must leave Qusayr within six days." 

Two Catholic priests who fled the city confirmed to the news agency that they heard the ultimatum repeated from the minarets "with their own ears."

Attempts to evacuate Christians from the city of Homs over the past two weeks have also been unsuccessful, and a priest in the city said the rebels appeared to want to keep the civilians inside to use them as bargaining chips.

Thousands of Christians have fled certain areas of Homs that fell into rebel hands in February.
Meanwhile, US intelligence operatives and diplomats continue to step up their contacts with Syrian rebels to help organize their growing military operations against President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

According to senior US officials, the CIA and the State Department are helping the Free Syrian Army develop logistical routes for moving supplies into Syria and providing training in communications.

Reportedly, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been paying salaries to the Syrian rebels for several months now. Meanwhile, Turkey, which hosts some units of the Free Syrian Army, ensures material and technical support, according to sources.

And many believe that as long as the US and its allies continue to blindly support the radical rebels, stability in Syria will remain unattainable.

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of


Russia watches changing Middle East

Vladimir Putin's Middle East trip promises no sensations, but draws a lot of attention due to the radically changed situation in the region. This shift had made an enormous impact on Russian positioning in the Middle East game.

After the Arab spring erupted Russia found itself in an unusual situation. Previously Moscow had always sided with the Arab world against Israel and the West. After the end of the Cold War this stand-off was mostly rhetorical, but still. Now everything was turned upside down. The West and the Arab world are on one side of barricades, while Russia and Iran, which is the sworn enemy of most Persian Gulf states are on the other side together with the Syrian regime. Israel is in a rather unclear position, somewhere in between…

There are two reasons why the current trip is important for Putin. First of all, it is crucial to show that Russia is eager to work with Arab states despite the Syrian controversy. The Palestinians and Jordan are the best options to do so.

Russia is the only great power, which has contacts with both sides in the Palestinian internal struggle – both Fatah and Hamas. To be frank, this hasn’t yet helped much to increase Russia’s profile in the settlement process, but it is a trump card anyway, which might be useful. The very fact that Moscow is still interested in the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians can ease Russian tension with the rest of the Arab world.

Jordan could be instrumental as well. Amman shows solidarity with Syrian opposition and is since last year a member of the GCC, the most active anti-Assad player. Jordan is Syria’s neighbor, and is very concerned about a spill-over of violence and instability in case of escalated civil war or military intervention from abroad. Amman would prefer a political solution, which is why Putin can expect more attention to Russian arguments from the Jordanian leadership, than other regional monarchies.

The most interesting part of this visit is Israel. Russia and Israel have much to discuss about Iran – openly and confidentially. Israel perceives the Iranian nuclear program as an existential threat and is considering military options. Moscow is afraid that the serious destabilization possible in Iran after a massive attack would have a major negative impact on neighboring regions, first of all the Southern Caucasus. So for both parties it is very important to listen to each other’s arguments and to understand the general mood.

On Syria Russia and Israel don’t coincide, but their positions are actually somewhat closer than those of Russia and the Arab countries. Israelis understand very well what a power shift in Syria may mean if the Assad regime is overthrown, paving the way to full-scale chaos. Bashar Assad is a predictable foe for Israel, who used to respect the status quo. Any democracy in Syria will be by default much more hostile vis-à-vis Israel. So for Israel, regime change in Damascus can only make sense if it becomes a prelude to military action against Iran.

The Russian-Israeli relationship is an interesting phenomenon today. Putting aside rhetoric and diplomatic routine, one will discover that there is only one really deep controversy – in their approach to Iran. Beyond that, much unites. Both countries share a similar philosophy in the fight against terrorism, love Realpolitik, and frequently rely on force when it comes to political problems. More than one fifth of the Israeli population is of Soviet/Russian origin. They are Russian speakers. The latter contributes to successful business and technological cooperation. The Russian military industry for example demonstrates a growing interest in interaction with producers in Israel.

The paradox is in the following. If current trends continue, and Arab states keep looking at Russia as an obstacle to social and political progress in the region, sooner or later Israel could turn into the most important Russian partner in the Middle East. The Iranian issue will be resolved one way or another, and likely pretty soon. Meanwhile, there is no guarantee that US policy towards Israel will always remain the same. In Washington DC one can hear that American interest in the Middle East should not be taken hostage by ties with Tel Aviv. Such a profound review is not in sight yet, but one should watch new trends. Today an in-depth partnership between Israel and Russia seems unlikely, Soviet inertia is still strong.

Turkey sends army forces to Syria border

Turkey deployed anti-aircraft guns and other weapons alongside its border with Syria, state television reported on Thursday, days after the downing of a Turkish military jet by Syrian forces heightened the tensions between the two countries.

A small convoy of military trucks, towing anti-aircraft guns, entered into a military outpost in the border village of Guvecci, which faces a Syrian military outpost across the border and where Syrian forces and rebels clashed in recent months, TRT television footage showed.

Several anti-aircraft guns have also been deployed elsewhere alongside the border. Some trucks were seen carrying self-propelled multiple rocket launchers, TRT footage showed.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Tuesday that any Syrian military unit approaching its border will be treated as a direct threat. Turkey's NATO allies have expressed solidarity with Ankara and condemned the Syrian attack but made no mention of any retaliatory action against Syria.

The deployment came before President Abdullah Gul chaired a National Security Council meeting on Thursday, TRT said. The meeting, attended by Cabinet members and the military's top brass, is expected to focus on tensions with Syria.

Turkey and Syria had cultivated close ties before the Syrian revolt began in March 2011, but since then Turkey has become one of the strongest critics of Syria's regime and repeatedly called on Syria's President Bashar Assad to step down as 33,000 Syrians have sought refuge in Turkey.

Turkey is also hosting civilian opposition groups as well as hundreds of army defectors who are affiliated with the Free Syrian Army and collect food and other supplies to deliver to comrades on smuggling routes.

A Syrian minister said Wednesday his country's forces may have mistaken the Turkish plane they shot down for an Israeli one.

Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoebi was quoted as telling Turkish news channel A Haber in a telephone interview Wednesday that his country did "not want a crisis between Turkey and Syria."

Al-Zoebi said Turkish and Israeli fighter jets were mostly U.S.-made, which may have led the Syrian forces to mistake it for an Israeli jet.

Syria insists the Turkish military plane violated its air space on Friday. Turkey says that although the jet had unintentionally strayed into Syria's air space, it was inside international airspace when it was brought down over the Mediterranean by Syria.

The search for two missing pilots was under way in Syrian waters but hopes dimmed for their survival, Turkish authorities said.

Siria: si gioca l'ultima carta Vertice ONU e Paesi arabi.

Siria, si gioca l'ultima carta Vertice Onu e Paesi arabi Un assalto compiuto da un commando armato alla televisione siriana via satellite al Ikhbariya che ha provocato sette morti ha aperto ieri un'altra giornata di sangue che ha visto bombardamenti e nuovi scontri tra forze governative e ribelli fino alle porte di Damasco. In questa situazione che si avvicina sempre più velocemente all'orlo dell'abisso, descritta dall'ONU come un «conflitto armato» in diverse aree del Paese, l'inviato delle Nazioni Unite Kofi Annan gioca quella che è forse l'ultima carta nella ricerca di una soluzione politica, convocando per il 30 giugno a Ginevra una riunione di grandi potenze e Paesi arabi. La lista degli orrori continua intanto ad allungarsi, con gli almeno 53 morti segnalati ieri dai Comitati locali di coordinamento dell'opposizione che si aggiungono agli oltre 15.800 uccisi dall'inizio delle violenze nel marzo del 2011, secondo l'Osservatorio nazionale per i diritti umani in Siria (Ondus). Ma con un aggravamento che si accentua giorno per giorno. Secondo la stessa organizzazione, infatti, i morti nell'ultimo mese sono stati 3.426, e di questi 916 solo nell'ultima settimana. La Commissione d'inchiesta sulla Siria istituita dall'Onu, il cui presidente, il brasiliano Paulo Pinheiro, ha potuto visitare per la prima volta il Paese la scorsa settimana, ha sottolineato che i combattimenti sono «sempre più militarizzati», con rifornimenti di armi che arrivano ad entrambe le parti. All'incontro di sabato a Ginevra sono stati invitati i ministri degli Esteri dei cinque membri permanenti del Consiglio di Sicurezza dell'Onu (Usa, Russia, Cina, Francia e Gran Bretagna), di Turchia, Iraq, Kuwait e Qatar, i segretari generali delle Nazioni Unite e della Lega araba e l'Alto rappresentante dell'Unione europea per gli affari esteri, Catherine Ashton. L'Iran, sulla cui partecipazione aveva insistito la Russia, non è stato invitato, ma Annan ha fatto sapere che Teheran verrà informata sui risultati perché deve «restare coinvolta» nella ricerca di una soluzione. Durante una visita in Libano, il ministro degli Esteri italiano Giulio Terzi ha detto che qualora «si dovesse decidere per una missione di osservatori più cospicua, l'Italia ragionerà e prenderà le sue decisioni».

Seselj sentenced to 2 years for contempt

The Yugoslav war crimes tribunal has sentenced Serb ultranationalist Vojislav Seselj to two years imprisonment for contempt. He was accused of refusing to remove information from his website that revealed the identities of witnesses who had been granted anonymity by the court, AP said. Seselj had already been convicted twice of contempt since turning himself in to the UN court in 2003. Prosecutors have demanded a 28-year sentence for Seselj in the main case against him. He is facing charges of allegedly inciting Serb atrocities in the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

Wednesday, June 27

The Leaders of the Egyptian Military Council

Egypt’s ruling military council is made of up 23 senior officers. Six of them dominate the decision making in the council.

European Pressphoto Agency

Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi

Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces

Field Marshal Tantawi is the head of the military council that took power on Feb. 11, 2011, after President Hosni Mubarak stepped down. It is Field Marshal Tantawi, perhaps more than any other single person, who is now driving events in Egypt. He was a trusted ally of Hosni Mubarak for more than 20 years. A leaked diplomatic cable from the American Embassy in Cairo to Washington in 2008 described Field Marshal Tantawi as “charming and courtly” but “aged and change-resistant.” The cable also reported that midlevel officers in the Egyptian Army referred to him as “Mubarak’s poodle” — incompetent and old-fashioned but intensely loyal.

Associated Press

Lt. Gen. Sami Hafez Enan

Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces

General Enan is a favorite of the American military, and the second in command among the group of generals ruling Egypt. He is considered a traditional military man focused on army operations and modernization, and he will play a central role in Egypt’s future government. American officials say General Enan has become a crucial link for the United States as it navigates the rocky course ahead with Cairo.


European Pressphoto Agency

Maj. Gen. Mamdouh Shahin

Assistant Defense Minister for Legal Affairs

General Shahin is the military council’s legal and constitutional adviser, and the military’s representative in the current constitutional assembly. After dissolving the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Parliament and seizing all legislative power on June 14, 2012, General Shahin sought to defend the military’s actions in a televised news conference. In May 2011, he said that the military should be given ”some kind of insurance, so that it is not under the whim of a president."

The New York Times

Maj. General Hassan al-Roueini

Commander of Central Military Zone

General Roueini is the military commander for the Cairo area who is responsible for the closed-door military tribunals that 7,000 to 10,000 people were brought before after Mr. Mubarak’s resignation. The Democratic Alliance, a coalition of political parties formed during the revolution, accused General Roueini, among others, of instigating the killings of protesters. A day before former Mr. Mubarak resigned, General Roueini famously appeared before a crowd of antigovernment protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square and said, “All your demands will be met."


Maj. General Mohamed al-Assar

Assistant Defense Minister

In a news conference aimed at defending the military’s dissolution of Parliament, General Assar said, “We will give the president of the republic his complete powers.” He also said he would transfer power to the president in a “grand ceremony” by the end of June. Appearing on a popular talk show months after the protests, General Assar called Mr. Mubarak’s overthrow “the greatest revolution in the history of Egypt.”


Maj. General Mukhtar al-Mulla

Assistant Defense Minister

In a December 2011 news conference, General Mulla appeared to believe that the old Constitution — built for one-party rule, lacking clear separation of powers or judicial independence — might not need much fixing. He also said the now-dissolved Parliament dominated by elected Islamists could not be representative of the public. “Do you think that the Egyptians elected someone to threaten his interest and economy and security and relations with international community?” General Mulla asked. “Of course not.”


Che ci fa un ammiraglio silente alla Difesa, se non libera i nostri Marò???

Nella bocca di un militare il silenzio è d'oro, ma in quella di un ministro della Difesa??? L'ammiraglio Giampaolo Di Paola assomma entrambe le funzioni in un'unica divisa, già di suo decoratissima - è Cavaliere di Gran Croce dell'Ordine di Merito della Repubblica italiana, Gran Croce con Spade dell'Ordine al Merito Melitense, Commendatore con placca dell'Ordine Equestre di San Gregorio Magno, Grand'Ufficiale dell'Ordine Equestre di Sant'Agata, Grand'Ufficiale dell'Ordine dell'Infante Dom Henrique, e molto altro....

Ora, siffatto blasone dovrebbe magnificamente incastonarsi nel servizio offerto a un governo tecnico deputato a salvare l'Italia. Ma purtroppo, dopo il giuramento, del ministro Di Paola si sono perse le tracce fin da subito. Avremmo voluto, anzi vorremmo ancora sentirlo tuonare contro la reclusione dei nostri due Marò nel carcere di uno staterello indiano devoto ai pirati, e invece nulla o quasi (ora sono in libertà su cauzione, non sarebbe così difficile un bel blitz per riportarceli a casa).

Ma il dossier giace abbandonato interamente nelle mani della nostra diplomazia. A che serve un ministro-militare, se non pure a difendere il rango (e la libertà!) dei nostri uomini d'arme? Non è tutto. Ci piacerebbe sapere che cosa pensa il ministro Di Paola delle missioni di pace e di guerra, dei nostri soldati uccisi e di quelli vivi. Ma - forse per distrazione nostra - non c'è mai arrivata l'eco di una sua conferenza stampa nitida e fragorosa, non abbiamo avvertito la grinta marziale di un ufficiale che afferra la sua materia per dominarla.

Foss'anche per dire la sua sulla dismissione delle caserme e sulla riqualificazione dei settori strategici della Difesa. Si sa che per lui l'organico attuale è smisurato, e che sono previsti tagli per circa 40-50 mila uomini e nel settore dei mezzi. E che il programma di acquisto dei 131 caccia F35 è stato rivisto. Sul piano dei conti della serva l'Esercito è ben avviato, dormiremo sereni. Ma il prestigio è un'altra cosa, chiedetelo a un qualsiasi Marò, anche se non è decorato da Cavaliere di Gran Croce.


II binomio diplomazia-verità è provocatorio! Come conciliare la verità con la diplomazia generalmente considerata come sinonimo di furberia? Conviene, per primo, definire la diplomazia. Lasciamo da parte i clichés della diplomazia dei saloni o della tazza di tè, lasciamo riposare in pace Machiavelli. Prendo la definizione proposta da Philippe Cahier la manière de confluire les affaires extérieures d'un sujet de droit international à travers des moyens pacifiques et principalement la négociation. Per assolvere a tale missione, il diplomatico, quale rappresentante accreditato di uno Stato presso un altro Stato dovrà guadagnare la fiducia dei suoi interlocutori. E lì, proprio, entra in gioco la verità: non di rado, egli dovrà promuovere una politica che non coincide con le sue convinzioni personali. Non &li si chiederà di lavorare per la "verità in sé , ma per la verità che il suo Governo considera tale. A questo punto dobbiamo ricordare che, dopo la tragedia della seconda guerra mondiale, i responsabili delle nazioni si sono convinti della necessità di mettere la diplomazia a servizio di una verità che sarebbe normativa delle verità nazionali particolari. La Società delle Nazioni e l'Onu rappresentano i primi tentativi dell'elaborazione di una carta «etica internazionale». La Carta dell'Onu invita a «prendere misure collettive efficaci per prevenire e allontanare le minacce alla pace» e promuovere «la cooperazione internazionale, risolvendo i problemi internazionali di ordine economico, sociale, intellettuale o umanitario». Così fu creato il Consiglio Economico e Sociale. Tutto ciò indica che «le verità nazionali» devono ormai essere ordinate verso la realizzazione di una «verità internazionale», quella della pace e della cooperazione. Un'etica globale si è così imposta a ognuno. Il diplomatico si trova quindi in una nuova situazione di fronte alla verità: mentre ieri era unicamente al servizio degli interessi nazionali del proprio Paese, intesi nel senso esclusivo che il suo Governo conferiva loro, oggi deve pure testimoniare una doppia fedeltà: una al proprio Governo, un'altra alla missione di giustizia e di pace in opera a livello mondiale e alla quale il suo Paese è tenuto a partecipare, dato che è membro della famiglia delle nazioni firmatarie della Carta delle Nazioni Unite. Il diplomatico può trovarsi a confronto con un doppio caso di coscienza: certo, non può cooperare a un ordine ovviamente immorale da chi governa (ricordiamo il processo di von Ribbendrop a Nuremberg), ma dall'altra parte — e lì si trova la novità — non può non formulare un giudizio sulla moralità della politica del suo Governo sia dal punto di vista dell'odierna etica mondiale, sia dal punto di vista della moralità in se stessa. Deve chiedersi se la politica del Governo che rappresenta contribuisce a iscrivere nei fatti questa nuova esigenza che subordina gli interessi nazionali immediati alla costruzione della pace, favorendo un'autentica cooperazione tra i popoli per un mondo più equo. Ieri, l'agente diplomatico cercava di far riflettere i principi per convincerli a rinunciare alla guerra. Oggi sono gli avvocati o i portavoce di una opinione consapevole del valore della democrazia e desiderosa di costruire un mondo di pace. La storia ci insegna che se l'uomo aspira al bene, può anche traviarsi e cadere nell'abisso. Ecco perché sono necessari alcuni "riferimenti universali" (forces d'idéal, Albert Thomas) che ricordino che ogni politica è al servizio dell'uomo. Il diplomatico svolge una missione che lo mette in contatto con culture e persone diverse. Sarà spesso negoziatore e osservatore. In ogni circostanza la sua opera dovrà essere caratterizzata dalla cortesia, dalla fermezza e dalla prudenza. La sincerità e la verità dovranno guidare i suoi passi. Molto presto si accorgerà che accuse selettive, manipolazione delle informazioni, discredito sistematico della parte avversa sono controproducenti. Ma sarebbe una grave colpa non rilevare che la diplomazia suppone anche una certa dose di coraggio: il coraggio di chiamare con il loro nome gli atti di violenza, le forme di oppressione e di sfruttamento; il coraggio di riconoscere all'avversario una parte di verità: continuare a dialogare anche quando le porte si chiudono; il coraggio di riaprire al momento giusto i dossier che erano stati chiusi. La diplomazia consente la propagazione delle culture e favorisce una giusta comprensione del pluralismo come ricchezza da condividere. Sempre di più, il diplomatico diventa un propagatore di cultura. Di fatti, molte Ambasciate hanno un centro culturale. Ricordo en passant, come emblematico, la registrazione del secondo atto della Tosca nello studio dell'Ambasciatore di Francia a Palazzo Farnese. Non vorrei adesso elaborare di fronte a voi un prontuario del perfetto diplomatico. Però, la mia esperienza mi fa affermare che un diplomatico che mente, raramente giunge al suo scopo. Mi sembra che la verità, invece, serva la causa della Pace, contribuisca a smussare le intransigenze delle persone, e a medicare le ferite dei popoli ingiustamente trattati, a capire le cause delle situazioni. Dovrebbe essere sempre evidente che la diplomazia è al servizio della realizzazione dell'uomo, e dell'armonia della società. Facendo la verità in sé e attorno a sé, il diplomatico sarà portato all'incontro, al dialogo, e alla fraternità. Ovviamente, per chi è cristiano, la verità assume un rilievo completamente diverso, poiché la Verità per noi si è fatta persona, e Gesù ha rivelato la completa verità sull'uomo. E ha potuto dire: «Sono la Verità e la verità vi renderà liberi». La verità libera sempre energie nuove, apre nuove possibilità a un dialogo sereno tra gli uomini, favorisce scambi di sapere e di savoir faire. In una parola, la verità, la fraternità, e la pace camminano insieme! E termino lasciando la parola a uno dei miei più illustri connazionali: Talleyrand, che scrisse: «Esiste qualcosa di più potente della delazione: la verità!». Il Cortile dei Gentili all'ambasciata d'Italia presso la Santa Scdc Nel testo qui pubblicato anticipiamo l'intervento del cardinale presidente del Pontificio Consiglio per il Dialogo Interreligioso che, nel pomeriggio di martedì 26 giugno, apre all'ambasciata d'Italia presso la Santa Sede l'incontro «Diplomazia e verità», sessione del Cortile dei Gentili promosso dal Pontificio Consiglio della Cultura. L'incontro, oltre alla presenza dell'ambasciatore d'Italia presso la Santa Sede, Francesco Maria Greco, e del presidente del Pontificio Consiglio della Cultura, il cardinale Gianfranco Ravasi, ha in programma anche gli interventi di Miguel Humberto Diaz, ambasciatore degli Stati Uniti presso la Santa Sede, di Hassan Abouyoub, ambasciatore del Marocco presso il Quirinale, dell'onorevole Gianni De Michelis, presidente dell'Istituto per le relazioni tra l'Italia e i Paesi dell'Africa, America Latina, Medio ed Estremo Oriente, e di Stefano Folli, editorialista del «Sole 24 Ore».


Il carabiniere italiano? E' morto per un incidente, un'esplosione accidentale causata dagli stessi italiani». Ne è sicuro Ahmed Qureishi, giornalista afghano, coordinatore dell'agenzia giornalistici Pajh wok per l'area occidentale del paese, fondatore dell'Afghanistan Journalism Center di Herat e da qualche mese rappresentante per l'intero Afghanistan del Center for International Media Ethics. Secondo Qureishi la morte del trentenne Manuele Braj, del l3mo reggimento Friuli Venezia Giulia, non sarebbe da attribuire a un «attacco vile», come dichiarato dal ministro degli esteri Giulio Terzi e dal ministro della difesa Giampaolo Di Paola. Subito dopo l'incidente, avvenuto due giorni fa in una base di addestramento ad Adraskan, nella provincia di Herat, entrambi i ministri avevano sposato la versione fornita dal portavoce del contingente italiano: Manuele Braj sarebbe morto in seguito all'esplosione di un razzo sparato dall'esterno della base. Non è cosl, secondo Qureishi, che conferma le tesi già circolate sui media afghani e smentite categoricamente dalle fonti italiane: «Ho parlato di persona con il governatore in pectore delle provincia di Adraskan, e con gli ufficiali di polizia afghani della base», mi spiega Qureishi nel suo ufficio di Herat, «e tutti mi hanno detto che è morto per un in-ci-den-te, causato accidentalmente proprio dagli italiani». I Taleban dunque non c'entrano, e non ci sarebbe stato nessun attacco alla base di Adraskan. «D'altronde - prosegue il giornalista - non c'è nessuna dichiarazione attendibile da parte dei Taleban; non ci hanno inviato sms né ci hanno contattato, come fanno di solito in queste occasioni. E se pure ci fosse una rivendicazione, non sarebbe la prima volta che viene fatta dopo il tamtam mediatico, per accreditarsi sul fronte interno ed esterno». Per Qureishi non ci sono dubbi: «la versione degli italiani rientra nel gioco delle parti. Qui la guerra si combatte sulle percezioni, e i media vengono usati a fini di propaganda. Non è certo una novità, ma rimane il fatto che la realtà di quanto accaduto in Adraskan è un'altra». Lui racconta una storia diversa: «Sono 51 gli italiani morti in Afghanistan. Domandatevi come sono morti. Nessuno è morto in combattimento. E' un caso? Per noi afghani, questo significa che sono morti inutilmente, per pattugliare le strade, in Gulistan, nel Farah o qui a Herat, ma non per combattere realmente gli insorti, che rimangono forti». L'unica eccezione, per Qureishi, è quella della provincia del Badghis, al confine con il Turkmenistan, dove gli italiani avrebbero combattuto davvero, in questi anni. «Ma stanno per andarsene: ho parlato con esponenti politici locali e con membri dell'esercito, e mi hanno assicurato che dopo l'estate gli italiani lasceranno la responsabilità della zona agli afghani, copme previsto». Anche sull'inizio del ritiro del nostro contingente, conclude Qureishi, «gli italiani dovrebbero esigere dal proprio governo maggiore trasparenza». Aspettiamo che il ministro Di Paola renda pubblica l'agenda del ritiro.

Arabs awakening - so is Al-Qaeda

The head of UK intelligence, Jonathan Evans, says the turmoil that followed the Arab Spring allowed extremists to gain a foothold in the Arab world. Middle East peace activist, Franklin Lamb, believes that this warning is not groundless.

­The head of the MI5 Security Service, Jonathan Evans, has highlighted Yemen, Libya and Egypt as being among the countries that most concern the agency. Up to 200 young extremists from the UK, aged between 18 and 30, are thought to have joined forces with heavily armed terror groups in these countries. Evans says Al-Qaeda militants are training radical Western youths for potential attacks on Britain.

“Today parts of the Arab world have once more become a permissive environment for Al-Qaeda,” Evans said on Monday according to Reuters. “A small number of British would-be jihadis are also making their way to Arab countries to seek training and opportunities for militant activity, as they do in Somalia and Yemen. Some will return to the UK and pose a threat here.”

RT spoke to Middle East peace activist, Dr. Franklin Lamb, to get his views on the subject.

RT: Western countries supported what they called a move towards democracy in the Arab countries. But now, according to Britain's top spy, some of these states could be turning into terrorist training grounds. Is this exactly what London and its allies were bargaining for?

Franklin Lamb: Taking the case of Libya, where there was a rush to enter and to topple the regime, I think that was a classic mistake. I spent four months there, got to know a number of different factions, and it was clear Al-Qaeda was there. In some cases they were training the same militia that the British were training and the Americans and the French were training. So, when there’s an opportunity, Al-Qaeda is going to be there and they took it, and now they are increasing their ranks. Three months ago, a CIA analyst told the Congress that there were 300 maximum Al-Qaeda in Syria. Now they estimate there are 3,100. They are coming in from Jordan, they are coming in from the Gulf Co-operation Council countries, they are coming in from Lebanon and Turkey. So because NATO got this thing going in Libya, there was this opportunity – and Al-Qaeda will respond to an opportunity – that’s what we are seeing now. But there maybe a little panic by the intelligence in the UK about them coming and attacking the Olympics – who knows what evidence they have of that – but there’s no question, even here in Libya Al-Qaeda is growing and is active, and they are well-trained.

RT: What pushes people inside Western countries to get radicalized and join militant movements? There have been a few high-profile people recently who could fit that category.

FL: I think that there’s a lot more that we don’t know about who haven’t made it public. You mentioned earlier terrorist training camps. Well, of course that’s one point of view: are they terrorists or are they liberators? They have a strong program and strong ideology. But my point is why they even exist. Either for dignity and to overthrow some dictators, but when you’ve got an operation like NATO slaughtering civilians in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, of course it’s going to activate them and give them the opportunity. As you know, Al-Qaeda’s leadership has urged people to go to Syria and get training, and to go to southern Turkey and also in Libya. Libya’s become a major training center, and I saw that as a fact. And I went meeting with some of the rebel militia against Gaddafi. They used to say “One Al-Qaeda member is worth 10 of us. We admit that. And they are worth six of Mutassim [Gaddafi’s] special forces.” They are very well disciplined. Rather than lecture people, they go out there and show them how to do something. And they are very effective. So I think that the threat is real, their numbers are growing, their competence is well known, and I do think there’s a problem.

RT: Islamists have come to power in Egypt. The country was one of those named by Britain's security service chief as at risk from turning into Al-Qaeda training grounds. But how much should the West be concerned with the direction Egypt is taking?

FL: Frankly, no, not particularly. I think what we see in Egypt is, believe it or not, a government that represents the majority of the population. I think, for the first time in Egypt’s history it was a democratic election. I respect the word of people. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Egypt and there are concerns about the Brotherhood. Do they keep their word, for example? Mohamed Morsi seems to be very sophisticated – as the Brotherhood has been – at playing the political game. So I think there’s going to be some consequences that the West doesn’t like. I think we are frankly going to see the end of the Camp David agreement. I don’t think that the Israelis, who are now complaining that they can’t even rent an office for their embassy, are going to have much luck in the future – not just because of the Brotherhood, but because those values are greater, and deeper, and broader than the Brotherhood. They represent the Egyptian people. Camp David was [Egypt’s President] El-Sadat. It was a private contract between the Americans and the Mubarak family and their associates, and the Israelis. That doesn’t reflect the view of one Muslim or one Arab that I know, or anybody of good will who wants peace in the Middle East.

So I think we are seeing a fundamental change, but I wouldn’t put it on Al-Qaeda. I think the Arabs are awakening. They are standing up. Islam is rising, and we see that here in the Middle East, we see that in Lebanon. The Americans are diminishing, the Iranians are increasing. You see that all over in every aspect – from who is buying the real estate, who is organizing the next campaign, who is doing the training, who is supplying the arms. It’s a new era. It’s the era of resistance that we are entering, and things are going to be different.

Russia supply S-300 missile system to Syria.

Russia’s main weapons producer has allegedly suspended its contract with Syria to supply S-300 long-range missile systems. Russia’s ‘Vedomosti’ daily published the report, citing unnamed sources within the military-industrial complex.
The very fact of the contract’s existence was not known until it was revealed in an annual report made only last week and published online by the makers of the S-300 systems, Almaz-Antey.

The report states that the company’s largest contracts are with Algeria (which is paying $39 million for a long-range missile defense system), and Syria, which signed a contract for the same system for $105 million.

The report also says that deliveries on the Syrian contract are expected to be made between 2012 and 2013. But ‘Vedomosti’ claims two separate sources, who chose to remain anonymous, have said deliveries have been put on the back-burner “after a direct order from above.”

It’s unclear whether these reports are true, but many are already speculating on the potential reasons for such a step. Some have suggested that Moscow has decided to placate Washington and Tel Aviv, drawing parallels between this situation and the one back in 2010, when Russia cancelled its contract for the same missile system with Iran.

However, the circumstances in 2010 were rather different. If Russia had fulfilled its contractual obligations back then, it would have been violating an international embargo. But no such embargo currently affects contracts between Russia and Syria.

Others have suggested that Damascus may be strapped for cash, and simply cannot afford the S-300 complex. This claim is also open to speculation as military cooperation between the two states is basically founded on the fact that Russia forgave Syria its $10 billion debt in return for future arms contracts.

No officials have yet commented on the matter, so it will be some time before light is shed on the situation. But President Vladimir Putin had previously said the arms that Russia delivers cannot be used in civil conflicts, and Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, stated the supplies were merely defensive weapons sold in contracts signed long ago.

“We are sending no battleships to Syria. We have been saying publicly that we have been implementing contracts under which we have to supply arms to Syria. These armaments are entirely defensive and they mostly consist of air defense systems, which cannot be used against the population and can only be used to respond to outside aggression,” Lavrov told RT.

Russia's military trade with Syria

Attention has been focused on military ties between Russia and Syria for some time, ever since international media claimed Russia was supplying helicopters to Bashar al-Assad’s regime. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at first even lashed out at Russia, but later backtracked and was forced to admit that the shipment that had got the West’s blood boiling merely consisted of some old helicopters sent back to Russia for repairs.

Although the Russian Ministry of Defense does not disclose the total value of the arms supplied to Syria, outside estimates exist. The US Congress says Russia has outstanding contracts to supply arms for $3.5 billion, while the Swedish think-tank SIPRI puts the figure at between $5 and $6 billion.

Among the widely reported shipments are two K-300 Bastion coastal defense batteries, equipped with supersonic Yakhont missiles. Two anti-aircraft systems, BUK-M2 and PANTSYR-S1, have also been purchased by Syria, though it is unclear if the orders have been fulfilled.

A $550 million contract for 36 Yak-130 planes was signed between the countries earlier this year. While nominally a sophisticated training jet, it can also serve as a light combat aircraft. Russia has also promised to deliver 24 modernized Mig-29 destroyers. It is assumed that neither of these contracts has been fulfilled.

Tuesday, June 26

Haradinaj: Hague seeks for him 20 years in prison.

His defense at the same time suggested that he was "an honorable man" who would not have stood by while crimes took place, argued his innocence, and requested his acquittal.

Haradinaj is a former leader of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), and a former prime minister of the government in Priština.

The ethnic Albanian is charged with war crimes committed against kidnapped Serbs, Romas, and other ethnic Albanians, held illegally at KLA's prison camp in the village of Jablanica, Dečani municipality.

The crimes in question were committed in 1998, the year that preceded the war over Kosovo in 1999.

At the start of closing arguments in the re-trial against Haradinaj and two other former KLA members, Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj, Prosecutor Paul Rogers said that Haradinaj had been a senior commander of the KLA and it was therefore not possible for him not to be aware of what had been happening in the camp.

Rogers said all the three had been responsible for killing, beating and torturing the prisoners - civilians, allegedly "Serbia's allies" - of the Jablanica camp in the spring and summer of 1998.

He added that there was no doubt that the remote and infamous KLA camp in Jablanica had really existed and that ethnic Albanians, Serbs and Roma had been tortured, beaten and killed there in the spring and summer of 1998, until the Serbian forces had taken control of the camp in August of that year.

The prosecution and defense are delivering their closing arguments in the trial against Haradinaj, Balaj and Brahimaj on Monday and Tuesday. Haradinaj returned to The Hague on Saturday, following the expiry of his provisional release, granted to him on May 10.

The Hague Trial Chamber should issue a final judgment within two months after the closing arguments are made.

The first-instance judgment in the case was pronounced on April 3, 2008, finding Haradinaj and Balaj not guilty on all counts of the indictment, while Brahimaj was sentenced to six years in prison.

The prosecution appealed the verdict on May 1, 2008, and the Appeals Chamber ordered that Haradinaj, Baljaj, and Brahimaj be retried on six of the total of 37 counts.

The prosecution explained that during the process, there had been considerable difficulty in obtaining the testimony of witnesses, since many of them, as stated in the judgment, cited fear as a reason for failure to appear in court.

This is the first re-trial in the history of the Hague Tribunal.

EU concerned over situation in Bosnia.

Foreign ministers of the 27 EU member states said in Luxembourg they wished to see Bosnia-Herzegovina as a future member of the EU, but before the integration process could continue, it was necessary to change the Bosnia-Herzegovina Constitution in relation to the Sejdić-Finci case.

A Jew and a Roma from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Jakob Finci and Dervo Sejdić, sued the country to the human rights court in Strasbourg because it is impossible for minorities to run for high-level government positions in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Even though the court in Strasbourg decided in their favor two years ago, the Bosnia-Herzegovina Constitution has not been changed yet, and they still cannot run in elections.

The ratification of the Stabilization and Association Agreement between Bosnia-Herzegovina and the EU was stopped after the court had decided, while reviewing the said case, that the Bosnian Constitution discriminated against citizens based on nationality.

The ministers concluded at the meeting no Monday that the Bosnian leaders, who are unable to start the procedure to change the Constitution because of internal disagreements, should implement earlier agreements and unblock the decision process.

The council of ministers also decided to increase assistance to courts and prosecutors once the international police withdraws from Bosnia-Herzegovina, so it could improve their ability to establish the rule of law.

The ministers also condemned the attempts to minimize or deny the genocide that had occurred in Srebrenica and the nationalistic rhetoric of political leaders.

Average Serbian salary in May EUR 352

The Serbian Statistical office also announced on Monday that the average wage in Serbia with taxes and contributions paid in May was RSD 56,206 (EUR 490). This figure is down 5.2 percent in real terms and 3.9 percent nominally against April. Year-on-year, the average net wage in May in Serbia was 10.1 percent higher in real terms and 14.4 percent nominally. The gross wage was 10.3 percent higher in real terms and 14.6 percent nominally than in May 2011.

NSA won't say how many Americans they've spied on.

Want to know if the US government has gone through your emails and listened in on your phone calls? The National Security Agency says they can’t consider such a request, and the reasoning is laughable — even by Washington standards.

Responding to a request made recently by two leading lawmakers in Congress, the NSA has sent a letter saying that they refuse to reveal the number of Americans that they have spied on through provisions made in 2008 to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), a legislation that allows the government to go through correspondence that they believe is being sent overseas. The reasoning, explains the NSA, is that informing Americans about any spying they may have been subjected to would be damaging to personal privacy.

Under the last batch of amendments tagged onto FISA, the US government is given the power to pry into email, phone logs and other modes of communication that cross international borders — all in the name of national security, of course. Since little is known about how they use this act, however, Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Mark Udall (D-CO) appealed to the NSA for an answer.

In a letter to the Office of the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community sent last month, Senators Wyden and Udall ask, “how many people inside the United States have had their communications collected or reviewed under the authorities granted by section 702” of the FISA Amendment Act (FAA).

In a response dated June 15 and made available to Wired, the Inspector General dismisses their request with the explanation that a “review of the sort suggested would itself violate the privacy of US persons.” Additionally, Inspector General I. Charles McCullough says that responding to the request would be “beyond the capacity” of the Office of the NSA’s Inspector General, George Ellard, and that “dedicating sufficient additional resources would likely impede the NSA’s mission.”

“All that Senator Udall and I are asking for is a ballpark estimate of how many Americans have been monitored under this law, and it is disappointing that the Inspectors General cannot provide it,” Sen. Wyden tells Wired’s Danger Room this week. “If no one will even estimate how many Americans have had their communications collected under this law then it is all the more important that Congress act to close the ‘back door searches’ loophole, to keep the government from searching for Americans’ phone calls and emails without a warrant.”

Last month the US Supreme Court decided that they will consider a case that challenges the powers for the federal government established in the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. The American Civil Liberties Union objects to the legislation, but the Obama administration has argued the ACLU’s plaintiffs in the case can’t file a complaint until they can prove that they’ve been spied on. With the NSA unwilling to even disclose the number of Americans subjected to secretive surveillance, though, the fight against the FISA Amendments is quickly heating up.

“The appeals court properly recognized that our clients have a reasonable basis to fear that the government may be monitoring their conversations, even though it has no reason to suspect them of having engaged in any unlawful activities,” Jameel Jaffer, the ACLU’s deputy legal director and lead counsel in the case, said in a press release last month. “The constitutionality of the government’s surveillance powers can and should be tested in court. We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will agree.”

In the meantime, however, it is likely that Sens. Udall and Wyden will continue to battle the NSA for more answers. On their part, Intelligence Community Inspector General McCullough writes that he “firmly believe[s] that oversight of intelligence collection is a proper function of an Inspector General. I will continue to work with you and the [Senate intelligence] Committee to identify ways we can enhance our ability to conduct effective oversight.”