|Asia News Digest
Afghanistan's New Scourge: Suicide Bombers
Almost four years since the beginning of the American occupation of Afghanistan, and its setting up of a puppet regime in Kabul, suicide bombers made their appearance with a vengeance on Nov. 14. On that day, they rammed cars filled with explosives into NATO peacekeepers in two attacks in Kabulthe only place in Afghanistan that is officially considered to be safe. The attacks killed a German solider and at least eight Afghans, and wounded dozens. On Nov. 15, a bomb went off when U.S. troops, along with Afghan soldiers, were in an armored vehicle as the troops were patrolling in Paktika province. Reports of deaths of Afghan policemen and soldiers are coming in at a steady stream. No doubt, the anti-U.S. and anti-Karzai forces have gained ground significantly.
Meanwhile, the local Afghan newspaper, Cheragh (the Lamp) reported that Osama bin Laden's network is now back in operation in Afghanistan. The leadership at the ground level in southwestern and southeastern Afghanistan is in the hands of two Arab nationals. This network has distributed videotapes widely throughout this area.
At the same time, the Taliban's chief spokesman, Abdul Hai Mutmaen, told Reuters that the Taliban has rejected overtures from Afghan President Hamid Karzai urging them to abandon their anti-U.S. and anti-Karzai insurgency.
Car Bomb Kills Three in Karachi
A car bomb exploded outside the Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) fast food restaurant in Karachi, Pakistan on the morning of Nov. 15, killing at least three and injuring dozens. It is likely the death toll will end up being much higher, officials said. The bomb disposal squad said the bomb was locally made and was detonated by a timing device.
Following the explosion, the governor of Sindh Province, where Karachi is located, put the entire security apparatus on high alert. Two days earlier, a number of bombs had gone off in Christian in churches scattered throughout Pakistan.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has condemned the bombing in Karachi as an act of terrorism, and has urged the local officials to act quickly and effectively.
India and Russia Sign New Defense Agreements
Indian Defense Ministry officials have announced that Russia has agreed to help India develop indigenous nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers.
Speaking at a joint press conference in Moscow with the Russian Defense Minister, visiting Indian Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee said India will take part in the development and financing of a fifth-generation super fighter aircraft project with Russia. He also said that the Russian Defense Ministry has agreed to provide access to Russia's GLONASS (global navigational satellite system) for military application to India. GLONASS is an alternative to the Pentagon-based Global Positioning System (GPS).
Indonesian Govt May Take Over ExxonMobil Oilfield
Indonesian Economics Minister Aburizal Bakrie on Nov. 15 told reporters that the Indonesian government will take over ExxonMobil's Cepu oilfield in Java, if the company does not resolve a dispute with the country's state oil company, Pertamina, over who will operate the field. ExxonMobil used its clout with the bankrupt Indonesian government earlier this year to steal the oil rights to the rich oilfield for 20 years beyond its original lease, under threat that they would refuse to develop the field at all, standing by until their lease ran out in 2010. Indonesia is going broke paying for imported oil, due to the lack of investment in new fields since the 1998 speculative destruction of their economy.
At that time, Lyndon LaRouche recommended that Indonesia assert its sovereignty and take over the field, cancelling the original lease, on grounds of ExxonMobil's failure to develop the field as contracted. The Indonesian government however, capitulated to the oil giant, and even agreed to fire the chief of Pertamina, Widya Purnama, who has led the fight with ExxonMobil. However, Purnama has yet to be removed, and the government now appears to be asserting its sovereignty. The current impasse comes over ExxonMobil's demand that they operate the field for the duration of the field's productive life, while Pertamina wants to rotate operatorship every five years, with Pertamina going first.
Bush, Rice Attacks on Myanmar Have Little Impact in Asia
U.S. President George Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, during the Bush trip to Asia last week, issued broadsides against the Asian nations for failing to join the U.S. destabilization of Myanmar. Rice said, "I don't think that we get the kind of international condemnation of what's going on in Burma that we really need," calling Myanmar "really one of the worst regimes in the world." Bush, in Japan, having lectured China to follow the Taiwan example, accused the Myanmar regime of "rape, torture, and execution." Meanwhile, Asians are reading daily about U.S. Marines raping a Filipina girl, and about Cheney's embrace of torture and execution.