|Asia News Digest
Moscow Accuses U.S. of Conniving with Afghan Drug Producers
March 29 (EIRNS)Increasingly frustrated over Washington's unwillingness to take any action to stop massive production of Afghan opium, which is causing havoc inside Russia and throughout Eurasia, and is financing the anti-Russia jihadists, the Russian Foreign Ministry accused the United States on March 28 of "conniving" with Afghanistan's drug producers by refusing to destroy opium crops. This is the second time in a week that Moscow has taken a swipe at the West over drug policy.
The Russian view and that of Lyndon LaRouche coincide. The current Obama Administration policy on drugs in Afghanistan is paving the way for the success of the terrorists. It is relevant to ask, how many Americans will die, as a result of this policy.
The Russian Foreign Ministry statement pointed out that the U.S. Marines have advanced into one of the main opium-growing regions of Afghanistan's Helmand Province since February, but have told villagers there they will not destroy the opium crop that is blooming this month. "We believe such statements are contrary to the decisions taken on Afghan narco-problems within the UN and other international forums," said a statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry released by the embassy in Kabul.
If NATO troops will not carry out eradication themselves, they should provide force protection for Afghans to do it, the statement said. Not eradicating poppy plantations "ignores the fact that thousands of people die from heroin ... including in Afghanistan.... The 'touching' concern about the Afghan farmers actually means, if not directly, then certainly indirectly, conniving [with] drug producers."
Last week, Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told the Security Council that U.S. and NATO commanders should continue to eradicate opium poppy fields. NATO rejected the criticism, and said Russia could best help by providing assistance to fight the insurgency.
China To Finance Most of Pakistan's Next Two Nuclear Reactors
March 30 (EIRNS)Pakistan has reached a nuclear deal with China, whereby China will provide Pakistan with 82% of project cost, comprising a loan, technology, and installation facilities to set up Chashma III and Chashma IV, two pressurized light water reactors (PWR), each of 325 MW capacity. They will be located in the Pakistani province of Punjab.
Two earlier reactors at the same site, Chasma I and Chashma II, were also of the same capacity supplied by China's CNNC under safeguards. The main part of the plant was designed by Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research and Design Institute, based on the model of the Qinshan Nuclear Power Plant. It started up in May 2000 and is known as Chasnupp-1. Construction of its twin, Chashma II, started in December 2005. It is reported to cost US$860 million, with $350 million of this financed by China. A safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was signed in 2006, and grid connection is expected in 2011.
The nuclear agreement with China was among a dozen economic cooperation accords signed during Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari's visit to Beijing last year. The breakthrough deal was finalized ahead of the latest round of the Pakistani-U.S. strategic dialogue, as the federal Cabinet granted financial approval at a meeting on March 24. Sources privy to the deal told the Pakistani media that Pakistan's federal cabinet had approved an inter-government framework agreement on the financing of Chasnupp-3 and Chasnupp-4 with China.
General McChrystal Takes Off His Burqa
March 30 (EIRNS)Commander of the U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, has been exposed by none other than the Times of London: When it peeled off his burqa, what came in to view was a thinner version of Winston Churchill. The anglophile commander has unleashed in southern Afghanistan what the British had implemented in their then-colony Malaysia in the 1960s, to subdue the Malay communist insurgents. Since then, the United States has adapted such irregular warfare, once in Vietnam, and now in Afghanistan. General McChrystal calls it the COIN (counterinsurgency).
According to the Times, McChrystal has discovered Churchill as his mentor. McChrystal is said to listen to the recorded writings of Churchill on his iPod, during his daily eight-mile jog. A recent visitor to NATO headquarters in Kabul found the American general immersed in Churchill's first book, his account of the struggle to pacify the tribes of the North West Frontier (in what is now Pakistan), at the end of the 19th Century, the Times noted. Next on the general's reading list is Churchill's The River War, describing the re-conquest of Sudan that ended in the battle of Omdurman in 1898.
Claims the Times, "One can see Churchill's choice reflected in the allies changing policy in Afghanistan: in the determination to recruit and train Afghans for the army and police, in the greater willingness to talk to elements within the Taleban and the distribution of hard cash."
On his brief visit to Bagram this week, President Obama spoke of the progress made in "good governance, rule of law, anti-corruption efforts."
Karzai: Afghan Insurgency Will Become a National Resistance
April 2 (EIRNS)Increasingly frustrated by the Obama Administration's undermining of Kabul's authority, and its disregard of Afghan lives in its campaign against the insurgents, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, addressing reporters and members of Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission (IEC), said, "In case the cooperation shifts to meddling, the legitimate government shifts to puppet government, the insurgency will change to a national resistance.... Foreigners must know, by standing against the Afghan law, doing arrogance and dividing Afghan people, the deal could be reversed at any moment." The Afghan President said the Taliban recognize that Afghanistan is an occupied country, and therefore they continue to fight against the Kabul government.
On April 1, Karzai accused the West of trying to ruin Afghanistan's elections, by intensifying a showdown with the parliament over whether foreigners will oversee a parliamentary vote this year. "Foreigners will make excuses, they do not want us to have a parliamentary election," a defiant Karzai told election officials. "They want parliament to be weakened and battered, and for me to be an ineffective President, and for parliament to be ineffective.... You have gone through the kind of elections during which you were not only threatened with terror, you also faced massive interference from foreigners," Karzai said. "Some embassies also tried to bribe the members of the commission."
An Asia Times cited local sources in Kabul that a gravy train runs through Rawalpindi and Lahore to Kabul for civilian and military "experts" and "advisors."
What is not said, is that only one-fifth of the money that the international community has poured into Afghanistan, has indeed passed through Karzai's hands. If the report tabled by the UN Secretary General in the UN Security Council in New York in March is to be believed, even after eight years of engagement in Afghanistan, 80% of international community assistance still bypasses the Afghan government, and is not closely aligned with Kabul's priorities.
Southern China Grassland Threatened with Desertification
April 1 (EIRNS)Large areas of the usually lush South China grasslands in Guizhou Autonomous Region and Yunnan Province have been hit this year with a drought that has lasted through most of the early Spring. One of the areas, known as the Sea of Grass, normally has grass of 10 cm. and more; this year, there are only stubs. This, in spite of emergency cloud-seeding, which has been done half a dozen times, but only resulted in a few inches of rain, with the water quickly dissipating in the parched soil. Some analysts estimate that if things do not change by the beginning of May, desertification will set in. Emergency relief, including truckloads of bottled water, have been brought into the provinces, some from Wenchuan, which last year was hit by the earthquake, in return for the relief given by people in Guangzhou and Guizhou to the earthquake victims.