13 April, 2007

Pakistani army in South Waziristan.

The western mainstream media are beginning to pick up on the recent battles between the Taliban and al-Qaeda in South Waziristan.

In the UK, the Daily Telegraph focuses on Pakistani army's "marriage of convenience" with the Taliban.

Over the pond, the LA Times joins the DT in highlighting President Musharraf's acknowledgement for the first time that the Pak army is supporting the Taliban against the Uzbeks.

The BBC has a video news report from the area.

Uzbek casualties are currently being reported as 300 dead.

12 April, 2007

British army in Basra fightback:

Last week Iranian-sponsored Shia terrorists killed six British troops in Basra:Kingsman Danny Wilson, Rifleman Aaron Lincoln and in the most notorious incident, Second Lieutenant Joanna Yorke Dyer, Corporal Kris O’Neill, Private Eleanor Dlugosz and Kingsman Adam James Smith.

On Tuesday, the British army struck back:

An armoured force of 400 troops from the 2Bn The Rifles and 2Bn The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, both of which suffered fatalities last week, entered the Shia Flats area on the western outskirts of Basra to search for hidden weapons.The district is notorious as one of the most dangerous in southern Iraq.

"We wanted to make quite clear there's nowhere in Basra we cannot go," a British commander told The Daily Telegraph yesterday. "We are prepared to be there in daylight and take whatever comes our way. We are not being bombed out or intimidated."
At the time of posting, as far as I can see, the only broadsheet to carry the story is only the Daily Telegraph.

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11 April, 2007

No Sarah's Law for the UK.

Last Sunday, the News of the World ran a story proclaiming that, as a result of the paper's campaigning for a Sarah's Law, the Home Office was to pilot a scheme allowing parents to know if paedophiles were living in their area. Now it turns out that a rag hardly famed for the accuracy of its reporting has been fed a load of rubbish by Home secretary John Reid.

In typical Noo Labour style, the trumpeted pilot is little more than a headline grabbing propaganda exercise. Nothing will change. The Daily Telegraph has rumbled Reid's game.

Both the Times and the Independent run stories that parents are in fact to be denied the right to know of any dangerous sex offenders living locally. The Home Office is not saying anything.

10 April, 2007

Terrorist fall out.

Reports are emerging of clashes between Afghan Taliban and Uzbek al-Qaeda forces in South Waziristan. Global Terrorism Analysis carries an article entitled The Turf War in South Waziristan which says that current conflicts between the two parties, as reported in Dawn, " ...is a turf war that began to brew soon after the Taliban's victory over government troops in neighboring North Waziristan."

Global Terrorism references reports in Dawn on 5 April and on 6 April (filed on the 6th but in the 7 April edition). Other recent, related articles from Dawn are Dozens Killed As Tribesmen Attack Foreign Militants and , Tribesmen Seek Air Support Against Uzbeks.

The Daily Times also picks up the story, saying that the defeated Uzbeks are probably heading to North Waziristan.

Although al-Qaeda being on the receiving end of a good hiding is nothing to worry about, there must be some concern that, in consolidating their hold in western Pakistan, the Taliban is thereby posing an ever greater threat to ISAF forces in Afghanistan.

The Foreign Office on Iran.

Despite the humiliation of the United Kingdom by Iran, the chaps at the Foreign Office are feeling jolly pleased with themselves. So pleased that, in order to demonstrate how clever they are, they have complied a list of FO statements issued throughout the affair. Moreover, a smug Lord Triesman, (formerly a trade union thicko but now transformed into a sophisticated FO departmental minister) went on the BBC at the weekend and crowed about how wonderfully the Foreign Office dealt with the crisis.

Road race in Kandahar.

Here is a story the main stream media seems not to have picked up on: a 10km road race has been held through the northern part of Kandahar City, previously the scene of fighting between NATO forces and Taliban. The event attracted 500 runners and no exploding roadside devices or terrorist ambushes.

Despite the obvious continuing, serious problems from isolated suicide bombers, the Canadians' ISAF Provincial Reconstruction Team is making a difference in the province. Somebody tell the msm.

Blogger's code of conduct.

Somebody called Tim O'Reilly is leading an attempt to impose a "Blogger's Code of Conduct" [sic] on the web. Apparently O'Reilly wants bloggers to be polite and civilised. Sufficiently civilised blogs will get a badge of approval. In the British press, both the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph have picked up the story.

What a jolly good idea. Henceforth Crumbling Spires shall be civilised. So let me politely say to Mr O'Reilly, will you please be so good as to put your possessive apostrophe in the proper place you illiterate techie moron and then, if it is not too much trouble, do you think you could possibly fuck off. Thank you.

Be careful who you hug.

One of most curious aspects of Islam is the ease with which almost anybody can set themselves up as a religious leader, establish a Sharia court and issue fatwas against whomsoever they disagree with. Often, a fatwa serves as an open invitation to any homicidal maniacs to kill somebody. The fatwa against Salman Rushdie is a famous example.

According to Forbes, the most recent high profile subject of a fatwa is Nilofer Bakhtiar, Pakistani Tourism minister. Her crime was to hug her male instructors after surviving a charity parachute jump in France.

The Times of India has no doubts what is happening:

The fatwa, combined with threats by the mosque’s leader to unleash a wave of suicide bombers if the government tries to shut down the court, have fuelled concern over the creeping "Talibanisation" of Pakistan.
In the Pak Tribune, however, the mosque authorities are retreating at full speed. Could this possibly have anything to do with electioneering. If he lives that long, Musharraf's term of office expires in October.

Noblesse Oblige has a more detailed account of events.

08 April, 2007

Afghanistan: the Taliban Spring Offensive.

Afgha.com has started a chronicle of the Taliban's spring offensive in Afghanistan, which makes a useful reference:

Chronicling the "Spring Offensive".

Chronicling the Spring Offensive II: March 13-25.

Click to enlarge.

Afgha.com also has a detailed account, with links, of the deteriorating situation in the previously relatively peaceful Farah province.

I must admit that, having relied on the British printed media for the past few months, I had no idea the position was now potentially so bad in western Afghanistan, in the province next door to the British forces in Helmand. Recently, a number of serious incidents have occurred in Farah, including the murder by the Taliban of seven Afghans working for a US company, 22 arrests, including six teenagers, for bomb-making at a madrassah and a devastating roadside bomb attack which killed ten Afghan policemen.

Iran's Great Victory.

Here we go again. For the not so grand reopening, I was going to begin with a few remarks on Iran's great victory over the United Kingdom but, in the Chicago Sun Times, Mark Steyn does it better than I ever could, analysing the issues with his customary style and prescience: Iran's Bluff Humbles Britain.

Of the reams of UK press coverage, the Sunday Times leads the way, with the Sunday Telegraph some distance behind.

The Guardian unleashes Will Hutton, who seems to think the affair was a victory for the UK and a defeat for Iran.

Beyond the imagery and the jingoism lies, at least in relation to Iran, an unappreciated success that points the way to more. After all, the sailors are home and there has been no deal. Better still, the Iranian government, obviously looking for a propaganda coup, has revealed itself as a government prepared to flout international law and mistreat prisoners in its quest for an accommodation. Britain has clawed back a little of its shattered reputation and kept its head. Indeed, by arguing, talking and repudiating sabre-rattling, we have, paradoxically, weakened Iran's argument that it is an injured innocent and strengthened our own that the international community should be watchful of this power and its nuclear ambitions. Soft power works.
You could not make it up.

Over at the Independent, I expected Robert Fisk to be having a field day but there was no sign of him. Instead, the liberal self-haters tie the "hostages" story in with a doom and gloom account of looming disaster in Iraq.

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