Category Archives: Energy & Power

White House Fully Briefed on Possible Security Fallout From Jerusalem Decision

WASHINGTON The White House was fully briefed on the potential security fallout from officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announcing plans to move the U.S. embassy there.

The outgoing director of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center, Nicholas Rasmussen, said while intelligence officials offered no advice as to whether the move would help achieve U.S. policy goals, President Donald Trump was informed of the national security ramifications.

Our role is limited to spelling out with as much precision and care as possible our assessments of what particular courses of action will lead to in terms of threats, Rasmussen said Friday during an appearance at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

I can certainly say in the case of this particular policy decision [on Jerusalem], that was done, he added.

Protests across Arab, Muslim world

Protests have broken out across parts of the Arab and Muslim world, from Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon to Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia, in response to Trump’s announcement Wednesday.

Violence also erupted in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where Palestinians declared a day of rage Friday.

Militants in Gaza fired a series of rockets at Israeli towns. Israeli military officials responded with a series of airstrikes that reportedly wounded 25 people.

A Palestinian man was also killed by Israeli forces during clashes along the Israel-Gaza border.

Response from terror groups

Terrorist groups have also been quick to respond to Washington’s official recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Al-Qaida’s Al-Sahab Media Foundation on Thursday called the move an act of blatant aggression against the sanctities of Muslims � a high-voltage shock, and called on Muslims to target U.S. vital interests.

Just as you kill us, you shall be killed; just as you bomb us, you, too, shall be bombed, the statement said according to the SITE Intelligence Group.

The Islamic State also called for supporters to help liberate Jerusalem by waging jihad, against Israel and the West, in it’s weekly, digital Al Naba newspaper, SITE said.

State Department issues caution

Following Wednesday’s announcement on Jerusalem, the State Department issued a worldwide caution, saying, U.S. government facilities worldwide remain in a heightened state of alert.

There’s no doubt but that in the short term, the near term there will be an increase in violence and we are at greater risk in certain places around the world, Rasmussen, of the counterterrorism center, said Friday.

Certainly, from a diplomatic security perspective, our men and women serving in difficult spots overseas, this will add to the security problem and add to the security complexity, he said. I can’t tell you how long that will extend.

Still, at least some former U.S. officials said the Trump administration can help ease raw emotions gripping parts of the Middle East by reaching out to Palestinian and Arab officials.

Say, publicly, we’re not prejudging the negotiations and we respect and understand that the Palestinians and the Arabs have claims and needs and rights in Jerusalem that have to be addressed, former U.S. Ambassador and Middle East envoy Dennis Ross said.

The more that can be emphasized the better it will be for trying to create a different atmosphere, Ross said.

Source: Voice of America

Analysis: Jerusalem Decision Could Boost Extremist Islamist Parties

Islamist parties are using the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as a rallying cry that likely will resound in upcoming election campaigns in Muslim-dominated countries.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement on Wednesday sparked protests in a number of countries, with clashes breaking out with security forces in Palestinian territories. More crowds are expected from Indonesia to Turkey after Friday prayers.

It’s unclear how deep and lasting the outbreak of anti-American sentiment will be, and whether it may include terror attacks or other violence as some world leaders predicted. Trump’s earlier actions this year, including a ban on visas from several Muslim-majority countries, have fueled suspicions that America is becoming increasingly hostile to Muslims.

One key country to watch is Pakistan, which has seen growing religious conservatism and has bristled at U.S. pressure to oust extremist groups that have been blamed for attacks in neighboring Afghanistan.

Islamabad, which doesn’t recognize the existence of Israel as a state, has denied providing terror groups with safe havens.

Islamist leader Hafiz Saeed, who has been accused of masterminding terrorist attacks in India, was released from house arrest last week. He quickly announced that his Jamaat-ud-Dawa group, which has been designated a terrorist group by the United States, plans to run in national elections in May

The country’s major religious party Jamaat-e-Islami has called for nationwide protests Friday and urged Muslim leaders to sort out a joint strategy against Trump’s policy on Jerusalem.

Some U.S. allies have also denounced Trump’s change in longstanding U.S. policy, although dependence on U.S. aid is unlikely to prevent them from completely severing ties.

A spokesman for Afghanistan’s presidential palace said the action jeopardizes the peace process in the Middle East and that any unilateral action in this regard without Palestine’s participation and the solution of an independent state will not result in a positive outcome and a permanent solution.

Source: Voice of America

IOC bans Russia from Winter Games 2018

International Olympic Committee has banned Russia from the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea for systematic doping.

The IOC announced the decision after examining whether there was an institutional conspiracy by Russian officials to corrupt the London 2012 Olympics and the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

Former sports minister of Russia and 2018 World Cup chief, Vitaly Mutko has also been banned for life.

Source: Radio Pakistan

Afghan land being used in creating law & order problem in Pakistan

Home Minister Balochistan Mir Sarfraz Bugti has said that the land of Afghanistan is being used in creating law and order problem in Pakistan.

Addressing a news conference in Quetta on Tuesday, he said that Indian and Afghan intelligence agencies are involved in recent terrorists attacks on police in Quetta.

He said that provincial government and law enforcement agencies have killed many terrorists and their facilitators involved in the terrorist attacks in Balochistan.

He asked people of Balochistan to cooperate with law enforcement agencies in arresting elements involved in terrorist attacks. The Home Minister paid rich tribute to martyrs who sacrificed their lives during performing their duties.

Source: Radio Pakistan

Mattis Visits Pakistan Says He Won’t ‘Prod’ the Government

KUWAIT CITY, KUWAIT U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis made a visit Monday to Pakistan where he said he did not plan to “prod” the government, but expected it to adhere to its promises to combat terrorism.

Speaking aboard a military plane ahead of his first visit to Islamabad as Pentagon chief, Mattis said he did not expect to butt heads during his meetings with Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa.

“That’s not the way I deal with issues,” Mattis said. “I believe that we (can) work hard on finding common ground and then we work together.”

In October, Mattis warned the United States is willing to work “one more time” with Pakistan before taking “whatever steps are necessary” to address its alleged support for militants.

But on Sunday, Mattis said he is focused on trying to find “more common ground … by listening to one another without being combative.”

The United States has for a decade accused Pakistan of sheltering or having ties to terrorists, such as the Haqqani Network and the Afghan Taliban, which attack NATO coalition forces in neighboring Afghanistan.

Islamabad rejects the accusation, saying Washington is scapegoating Pakistan for its own failures in Afghanistan, where the United States remains in a stalemate after 16 years of war.

Tougher stance

Before Mattis’ visit, other Trump administration officials are taking a harder public stance on Pakistan.

Speaking at a defense forum Saturday, CIA director Mike Pompeo said, “We are going to do everything we can to ensure that safe havens no longer exist,” if Pakistan does not heed the U.S. message on militants.

Since 2004, the CIA has conducted drone strikes – mostly against al-Qaida and Pakistani Taliban targets – in northwest Pakistan, near the border with Afghanistan.

The United States is considering expanding those strikes, along with several other measures, according to media reports.

Other options include downgrading Pakistan’s status as a major non-NATO ally or sanctioning individual Pakistani leaders suspected having ties with the Taliban.

But any kind of punitive action wouldn’t take place for at least a few weeks at minimum, predicts Michael Kugelman, a South Asia analyst with the Woodrow Wilson Center.

“I think (the administration) wants to give the Pakistanis a bit more time to see if they’re responding to the various demands the United States made of them when it comes to cracking down on terrorists,” said Kugelman.

One of the likelier U.S. responses, according to Kugelman, is expanding not only the geographic scope of the drone war, but also widening the type of targets the United States goes after.

“I think we could start seeing the U.S. trying to target more Haqqani Network and Afghan Taliban targets,” especially in the sparsely populated Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, he said.

The Trump administration has also threatened cut off aid to Pakistan. Since 2002, the United States has given over $33 billion in assistance to Pakistan. But the aid has already been cut sharply in recent years.

Pakistani leverage?

If ties were to deteriorate, the United States also has much to lose. Pakistan controls U.S. military supply routes to landlocked Afghanistan, and could close them down, as they did in 2011. The United States would also like Pakistan to scale back its nuclear modernization, improve ties with India, and stay engaged in the broader fight against Islamic militants.

But despite the risks, Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, warns Washington appears to be running out of patience.

“For many years we were trying to hold out hope that the Pakistanis would change their mind about Afghanistan and our role there,” he said. “But those kinds of hopes aren’t as prevalent anymore. And on balance, therefore, I think we are closer to using some of those tougher methods.”

Mattis, who is on a regional tour that also took him to Egypt, Jordan, and Kuwait, wouldn’t elaborate on any possible U.S. action. But he says the situation is pressing.

“There’s always an urgency to something when 39 nations plus Afghanistan have their troops in the midst of a long war where casualties are being taken,” he said.

Source: Voice of America

Pakistan always played positive role for unity of Muslim Ummah: Yousaf

Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Muhammad Yousaf says Pakistan has always played a positive role for unity of the Muslim Ummah.

He was speaking at a dinner hosted by him in the honor of the foreign guests of International Seerat Conference in Islamabad. The Minister said Muslim countries should set their direction in light of the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (SAWW).

He said participation of scholars from the Muslim world in the International Seerat Confernce is a matter of pride for Pakistan. Scholars from various countries, including the United Sates, Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Oman attended the dinner. Besides, diplomats from Muslim countries in Pakistan also participated in the event.

Source: Voice of America