|Asia News Digest
Islamabad Claims Senior Al-Qaeda Leader Killed
Islamabad has claimed that a senior al-Qaeda leader, Hamza Rabia, was killed in the Pakistani tribal province of North Waziristan bordering Afghanistan, a claim which the U.S. has declined to confirm, Pakistani media reported Dec. 5. Pakistani authorities claimed Rabia was killed when a pile of explosives went off in the house where he was staying. The locals claim a U.S. UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) hit the house with a missile, and they have been showing what they say is shrapnel from the missile to prove it.
Meanwhile, in Washington, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley declined to confirm Rabia's death, and said on a Fox News program Dec. 4 that the U.S. is looking into it.
The issue got murkier when "gunmen" kidnapped Pakistani reporter Hayatullah Khan on Dec. 5, in North Waziristan. Khan turns out to be the nephew of the owner of the house where Rabia was reportedly killed. The homeowner has made it public that there was no al-Qaeda operative living there and the ones killed were Pakistani civilians. It is evident that Hayatullah Khan knows quite a bit about what happened, who did and who did not die.
Hadley has reasons to worry. If innocent civilians died in a missile attack by the United States within Pakistan, the citizens of America's natural ally in the war on terror may get badly upset.
India a Full Partner in ITER Project
On Dec. 11, at a meeting in Jeju, South Korea, a decision was taken to include India as a full partner in the multinational International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) now being built in France.
The decision by the United States, the European Union, Japan, China, Russia, and South Korea to accept India "as a full partner is an acknowledgment of India as a responsible nuclear state with advanced nuclear technology in the field of fusion research," the statement said.
India has a modest tokamak program and a laser-fusion (implosion) program based in the Center for Advanced Technology (CAT) in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. The tokamak program started in 1986, and the laser-fusion program began in the early 1990s. A large number of plasma physicists involved in the tokamak (and some z-pinch work) program had cut their teeth in the United States. But, the laser program was mostly linked to Russia.
India and Russia To Share Tajik Air Base
One of the most interesting developments during the Dec. 4-6 meeting in Moscow between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, is an agreement reached whereby India and Russia will conduct joint operations at the Aini airbase in Tajikistan. Aini is an Indian airbase, and is being modernized by the Indian Air Force, as of now.
"Russia is interested in stationing its helicopter gunships and Air Force squadrons at Aini airbase. Talks are underway with the Tajikistan government," said Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, following his meeting with the Indian National Security Advisor, M.K. Narayanan.
This development indicates there is some realization that Afghanistan, under U.S.-Pakistan control, poses a serious security threat to Russia. The Indian interest is to cordon off Afghanistan, and keep it separated from Central Asia, where India, among others, is planning to invest heavily to meet some of its long-term oil and gas requirements.
Rev. Moon Given Red-Carpet Treatment in Manila
The Rev. Sun Myung Moon was in the Philippines in early December to establish a "Universal Peace Foundation" (UPF) in Manila, where he was treated like a king by the Arroyo government, the Manila Bulletin reported Dec. 1. The perverted sex-cultist, and cohort of the neo-conservatives and related fascist networks, was greeted at the airport by the Speaker of the House Jose de Venecia, who took Moon and his entourage (including Dong Moon Joo, president of the Moonies' Washington Times) to visit President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo at the palace. De Venecia is the chairman emeritus worldwide of Moon's UPF. Arroyo praised Moon for his "global peace efforts and God-centered, family-centered economic and social initiatives" around the world and in several Philippine cities.
De Venecia is leading the effort to scrap the Presidential system in the Philippines, in order to do away with any opposition to Executive branch policies from the Congress, and to eliminate the constitutional restrictions on foreign ownership of natural wealth and industries in the country.
Moon is on a 100-day tour of 100 cities in 67 nations. God help them all....
ADB Advises Philippines To Steal Overseas Remittances
The Asian Development Bank wants the Philippines to steal the remittances from their overseas workers, to pay the debt. "The Philippine government can raise more capital to pay its debts by selling assets backed by the potential remittances of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), the Asian Development Bank said, according to the Manila Times Dec. 12. Augustine J. Belton, ADB consultant for private-sector operations division, said the Philippine government can raise at least a billion dollars to finance its obligations by securitizing OFW remittances. Remittance securitization refers to the sale of certificates backed by future worker remittance inflows, which would also ensure investors a return on their investments."
Thus, the international financial institutions intend to force those working overseasone-tenth of the Philippine work forceto send their remittances through approved channels, while their families will only get "shares" in the securitized entity. In the Philippines, this totals $11.6 billion per year, and is the last hold on survival for millions of Filipinos. A World Bank report listed the Philippines as the fifth-leading nation in receiving remittances. The first four are: India, $21.7 billion; China, $21.2 billion; Mexico, $18.1 billion; and France, $12.7 billion. Remittances in Ibero America as a whole are projected to reach $55 billion this yearand the vultures want every penny.
Mahathir Ridicules U.S. Denunciations of Myanmar
With the U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton and others demanding that ASEAN impose sanctions on Myanmar for human rights violations, former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad responded, according to Bernama Dec. 17: "There is a belief that if you become democratic, therefore you become good people. One has to remember that it is a democratic country that dropped atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. It is a democratic country that attacked Iraq. It is a democratic country that is trying to force others to do things before they are ready."
N. Korea Cancels Six-Power Talks Till U.S. Halts Sanctions
"Resumption of six-party talks is absolutely impossible while the U.S. is avoiding talks on lifting financial sanctions," North Korea's official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said Dec. 6. "Six-party talks cannot open under the sanctions." This follows a Foreign Ministry spokesman's official remarks Dec. 2 that lifting the sanctions "is prerequisite to progress of the talks."
Donald Rumsfeld revised the basic war plan for Korea, Operations Plan 5030, in 2003, adding plans to topple the Pyongyang regime using irregular warfare, including sanctions to strangle access to foreign exchange, food, energy, etc. The U.S. Treasury on Oct. 21 froze U.S.-based assets of eight North Korean companies it said aid proliferation of weapons of mass destruction via drug-running, counterfeiting, and money-laundering. Banco Delta Asia in Macao, North Korea's financial agent for 20 years, suffered a run and was forced to close. But the U.S. chief representative to the talks, Christopher Hill, said he would not discuss the sanctions.
S. Korean Minister Urges U.S.-N. Korea Talks on Sanctions
South Korean Unification Minister Chung Dong-Young urged the U.S. chief representative to the six-party talks, Chris Hill, to discuss sanctions with North Korea, and to attend the New York bilateral talks, Yonhap News reported Dec. 5. He told a Seoul forum that the deepening row between Washington and North Korea over U.S. sanctions could undermine six-nation talks on the North's nuclear programs. Non-nuclear complaints by the United States against North Korea "should be solved by bilateral talks between the two parties," Chung said. "As the six-party talks focus on resolving the nuclear issue, other matters should be separated from the six-party issue." Chung listed the North's missiles, biochemical and conventional weapons, and human rights abuses, as well as the sanction issues, as non-nuclear issues.
Annual 'Plus Three' Summit Cancelled
The annual "Plus Three" Heads of State Summit of China, Japan, and South Korea will not take place Dec. 14 at the East Asian Summit in Malaysia, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Dec. 4, due to "the current atmosphere and conditions." This summit has been held every year since 1999, and its postponement or cancellation shows the level of anger in Beijing at Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's repeated visits to Yasukuni Shrine, where Japanese World War II dead, including some war criminals, are buried. China earlier said it would not hold any bilateral talks between Koizumi and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Kuala Lumpur, either. China also refused direct talks last month during the APEC summit in Korea.
"Yasukuni isn't something that can be used as a diplomatic card. Even if China and South Korea try to use it as a diplomatic card, that won't work," Koizumi retorted in a Tokyo press conference Dec. 5. "Those who criticize it are wrong. I wouldn't mind holding the summit any time. But if they want to postpone it, that's fine."