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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Residents Flee Afghan City Ahead Of Expected Assault

Residents of a southern Afghan city are reported to be fleeing ahead of an expected offensive by NATO and Afghan forces against Taliban fighters there.

AFP reports hundreds of people leaving Marjah, a city of 80,000 in Helmand province.

A large force of U.S. Marines and Afghan soldiers is expected to launch an assault on Taliban forces there within days.

"The government of Afghanistan will reclaim Marjah as one of its own," said the British commander of the operation, General Nick Carter.

AFP reports NATO forces have been dropping leaflets in the region for weeks, warning residents of the impending assault.A Taliban spokesman told AFP the insurgents were massing fighters around Marjah and "ready to fight."

Analysts say the assault -- known as Operation Mushtarak, Dari for "together" -- will be the first big test of U.S. President Barack Obama's deployment of 30,000 extra U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

NATO: After Soviet collapsed in Eastern Europe

When Soviet power collapsed in Eastern Europe in 1989, an intense debate developed over the roles Europe’s security institutions should play in the new era. Some, led by Moscow, favoured abolish both the Warsaw Pact and NATO and giving primacy to pan-European collective security organization, perhaps in the form of a strengthened Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. Others, led by Paris, believed that NATO was still needed, but that primacy should be given to European institutions such as the Western European Union and the European Community, which became the European Union (EU) when the Maastricht Treaty on European Union went into effect in November 1993. Still others, led by Washington and London, believed that direct American engagement in European security affairs was still indispensable and that NATO, which provided the organizational framework for American engagement in Europe was indispensable as well. According to this line of thinking, NATO needed to be preserved, reformulated, and made the attraction of Europe’s new security architecture.

By the mid-1990s, it had become an article of faith in west European policy making circles that U.S. engagement in Europe was still an essential part of the European security equation. As a result, NATO came out on top in the debate over the relative merits of Europe’s security organizations. Unfortunately, NATO s mission has been reformulated in ways that will weaken the alliance’s effectiveness, authority, and long-term stability. It was natural and inevitable that NATO would change in some respects when Soviet power crumbled. Moscow was no longer in a position to launch a surprise attack on Western Europe. The alliance’s transformation, however, was not limited to changes in its force structure NATO’s leaders also changed its mission. The process began in 1990, with a campaign to soften the alliance’s image in order to get Moscow to go along with German unification on the West’s terms as a member of NATO.
With this unification problem in mind, the alliance’s leaders announced at their July 1990 summit that they would develop a new military strategy that would de-emphasize forward defense and enable NATO to play a more “political” role in European affairs.To begin with, NATO’s leaders expanded the alliance’s area of geographical concern: they declared that they would henceforth be worried about the continent as a whole, not just the NATO area. They also stated that threats to stability would be defined in much broader functional terms. They maintained that, in addition to traditional military problems, NATO would also address territorial disputes, ethnic rivalries, and political and economic problems throughout Europe. The rationale behind this new agenda was that, with the end of the Cold War and the diminishing importance of the collective defense mission, the alliance would have to address security problems throughout Europe if it was to survive.

The alliance’s new “expansionist” agenda led to the development of two new missions promoting stability in non-NATO Europe, and promoting stability in central and Eastern Europe by developing new institutional links with states in the region. The first of these new missions, promoting stability in non-NATO Europe, was put to the test almost immediately war broke out in Bosnia in early 1992, killing tens of thousands and displacing millions.

Surprisingly, NATO’s leaders continued to insist that promoting stability in non-NATO Europe was one of the alliance’s most important post-Cold War missions, even as they failed year after year to take effective action in Bosnia. The alliance’s second new mission was the development of new links with states in central and Eastern Europe, which the alliance’s leaders maintained would promote democracy and stability in the region. This led to the signing of Partner ship for Peace agreements between NATO and states throughout Europe and the former Soviet Union and, more recently, to the incorporation of the Czech Re public, Hungary, and Poland into the alliance itself. In the run-up to the alliance’s April 1999 summit, American officials argued that NATO’s expansionist agenda had to be extended and that yet another new mission had to be added to the alliance’s repertoire. The United States, they maintained, was spending a lot of money on power-projection capabilities to stabilize Europe, but NATO’s European members were not developing capabilities that would enable them to help the United States address its security concerns outside of Europe. The result, they argued, is that Europe has been getting a free ride. They contended that this state of affairs could not be sustained in the long run because the American public and the U.S. Congress would not tolerate it.

Globalist argues that a new transatlantic bargain is needed to keep the alliance alive. If the United States is to stay in Europe they say NATO’s European members must help the United States address its global concerns, NATO must go out of Europe or out of business. Both new agendas, however, the expansionist and the globalist, are wrong and dangerous for the alliance. They are wrong because they emphasize highly problematic missions. And they are dangerous because changing NATO’s main mission has made the alliance’s finish more likely.

The new mission of promoting stability throughout Europe is also highly problematic. Members of NATO will rarely be inclined to intervene in ethnic conflicts or other kinds of civil disturbances even in the heart of Europe, let alone in remote corners of the continent. Even if they are tending to act, they will have trouble defining clear political objectives and effective military strategies. Pulling together “coalitions of the willing” subsets of the alliance as a whole will always be difficult. Getting every member of the alliance to participate in a joint operation will be even harder.

The sad account of American and west European policy toward the wars in Yugoslavia and Bosnia should serve as a warning. For four years, from the summer of 1991 through the summer of 1995, American and west European leaders failed miserably in the Balkans, they failed to prevent war from breaking out in 1991, they failed to prevent war from spreading to Bosnia in 1992, and they failed most shamefully to stop genocidal slaughter from being carried out in Bosnia. They failed to act because they had limited national interests at risk, because they were unable to decide on a clear and coherent set of objectives, because they were unable to reach an agreement among themselves about what to do, and because they lacked the will to use military force in a firm and sustained way. Bosnia was a place where the need for outside intervention was clear-cut. Bosnian Serbs were engaged in a genocidal campaign against the civilian populations of their adversaries, who committed atrocities of their own. Civilian casualties were consequently high, and refugee problems posed difficulties for neighboring states.

Moreover, the Bosnian crisis was seen as a test of NATO’s ability to carry out its new mission and promote stability in non-NATO Europe. As a result NATO’s reputation was on the line. For these reasons, Bosnia was an easy test for NATO’s leaders but it was a test they nonetheless failed.The alliance needs a new, more durable strategic foundation, and this foundation should be framed by a minimalist vision of NATO’s future.

NATO allies to shuffle Afghan pledges to add training

ANKARA/MUNICH (Reuters) - NATO allies plan to reshuffle rather than expand existing troop commitments to Afghanistan, sending more military trainers in place of combat forces to ready the Afghan army and police to take control, senior U.S. and NATO officials said on Saturday.


The decision of some NATO member states to increase the proportion of trainers within existing troop pledges underscores the difficulty NATO and Washington have faced convincing European and other states to make new troop commitments.

A senior U.S. official said before a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Istanbul this week that Defense Secretary Robert Gates would urge allies to provide more than 4,000 trainers and mentors.

Yet NATO officials said France was the only country to make a firm new pledge at the two-day NATO meeting that ended on Friday -- offering just 80 instructors.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen nevertheless said he was confident the gap between what was needed and what was available would be filled, and that a force generation conference on February 23 would concentrate on this.

"I have already got positive responses from allies and partners to our requests for more trainers and training teams ... more will come from other countries," he told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines at a security conference in Munich.

Rasmussen also said it made sense to use existing resources to train the Afghan army and police, "so that we can already this year start the process of handing over responsibility for the security to the Afghans."

"It makes sense to use our resources to equip our training mission," he said. "I find it quite natural that we make sure that the composition of our troop contributions to the mission in Afghanistan reflects the strategy," he said.


Gates made similar comments when asked by reporters in Ankara if he was concerned about the small commitment from France. He said what was important was the way contributions were shaped.

He said that there was general agreement in Istanbul that the more trainers there were in the forces U.S. allies had committed to send to Afghanistan, the better.

"If there was one pretty clear theme at the NATO defense ministers meeting in Istanbul, it was: within the framework of the commitments you've made, trainers are the most important people we need ... It is important the right people go."

He said Germany had told its counterparts at the Istanbul meeting that it would significantly increase the proportion of trainers in its existing force in Afghanistan and reinforcements it plans to send.

But Gates warned his NATO counterparts their shared objectives would be achieved "only if the coalition continues to muster the resolve."

"No one wants to start issuing rosy predictions at this point, and a very tough fight lies in front of us. We are a long way from being done there," he told reporters in Ankara.

After Turkey, Gates was to take his call for more trainers to Rome, and then to Paris next week.

Nearly 120,000 foreign troops are now in Afghanistan, a number that will grow sharply in the coming months as new U.S. and NATO contingents arrive.

President Barack Obama has announced the deployment of 30,000 more U.S. troops and allies have committed almost 10,000 more with the aim of containing a widening Taliban insurgency and creating conditions for Afghan forces to take over.

The allies hope the big build of Afghan forces will allow them to start withdrawing some of the extra troops in July 2011.

Christine Fair, a professor at Georgetown University's Center for Peace and Security Studies, said it was important that U.S. allies did more.

"This is absolutely critical to the transition of security to the Afghans. We absolutely need these people (allies) to step up to the plate and provide mentors and money. It's a math problem. That being said, I'm not remotely optimistic," she said.

(Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom, Ibon Villelabeitia, Selcuk Gokoluk and Ayla Jean Yackley)


Nato keen to broaden dialogue with Pakistan’

ISLAMABAD: Robert Simmons, Nato Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy, says that Nato is very keen to broaden its dialogue with the Pakistan government even though they have a good ongoing dialogue with Pakistan’s military.

Simons, a familiar face for those on the diplomatic watch in Islamabad, was well liked by all while working at the US Embassy and today confessed when he heard the news of the Benazir Bhutto’s murder, he cried out loud.

Talking to the Pakistani media at a dinner in a restaurant overlooking the brightly lit Bhosphourous Sea, on the sidelines of the Nato Defence Minister’s meeting, Simmons was at pains to point out, “The message we have for Pakistan is that there should be broader than just the military-to-military relations, which are good. There is a Nato liaison officer in the Turkish Embassy in Islamabad as well for better contacts”. He said the active Nato-Pakistan political dialogue has seen with President Asif Ali Zardari visiting the Nato headquarters and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qurieshi is also expected soon. Besides, there have been visits by parliamentarians and journalists.

Nato welcomes Pakistan’s military and government efforts while taking on the Taliban in a military operation. “We hope that this combination work of civil and military can move forward to deal with the situation. Our dialogue with Pakistan does not mean we apply pressure. We do not have a solution but would like Pakistan to take on all the terrorists”, he added.

NATO SUPPLIES ROUTE: Eighty per cent of Nato supplies for ISAF go through Pakistan.

“Pakistan’s security for the Nato supplies has improved and more go through than not. A couple of shipments do get blown up. There is an increase demand for equipment going through and it is not a competitive process to look for other routes but rather looking for alternative routes. We will continue to send substantive goods through Pakistan,” he assured.


Nato follows carefully the proliferation issue and the missile programme of Iran. “The nuclear programme is a matter of concern and this make dialogue with Iran on Afghanistan more difficult. But we do have a small dialogue with them on Afghanistan”, he added.


Simmons says that they have a limited dialogue with India, whose main interest is what and how Nato is doing inside Afghanistan.

“India’s reactions are more reactive. But I feel that India’s role inside Afghanistan against Pakistan is exaggerated and we would not like these kind of difficult relations to hinder work inside Afghanistan. We hear both sides and this is the best approach. We are not shopping around for crisis”, he said.

Simmons also did not appear very impressed by the development work that India is carrying on inside Afghanistan and says that it is not on such a large scale.


“We are aware of Pakistan’s concerns but these are a bit overdrawn. These consulates are not manned heavily and probably involved in intelligence gathering. We do not see them as Pakistan sees them and they are not a threat to Pakistan’s security. It is up to the Afghanistan government to deliver on this”, he says.

He agreed that this was a point that General Kayani raised at the Nato during his visit. “We heard him”, was all that Simmons was willing to comment.


Simons appears disappointed at the governance of President Karzai but then says that Nato is not responsible and in reality the process is not going forward as it would want it to.

“The London Conference made it clear to Karzai that he has to carry forward this process effectively and we hold him to that”, he said.


Relations with Russia are going on well and the Nato would like to see Russian contribution in different fields but certainly no contribution to troops, which is not welcomed by the Afghans.

Faulkner visits Gallipoli after NATO summit

Defence Minister John Faulkner and his New Zealand counterpart, Dr Wayne Mapp, have attended ceremonies at Gallipoli honouring fallen Anzac and Turkish soldiers.

The men laid wreaths at Lone Pine, the Turkish National Memorial, Chunuk Bair and Anzac Cove after attending a NATO defence ministers meeting in Istanbul.

Turkey and Australia are both major contributors to the International Security Assistance Force effort in Afghanistan.

Senator Faulkner says the history between Australia and Turkey has developed into a strong bond of friendship.

"The mutual respect that Australia and Turkey established on this battlefield has developed into deep bonds of friendship, goodwill and cooperation," he said.

"Australia has a strong defence relationship with Turkey based on our historic links and a treaty-level defence cooperation agreement.

"Our engagement with Turkey includes Anzac Day commemorations, material cooperation, senior-level visits and educational exchanges."

Tags: defence-forces, security-alliances, world-war-1, australia, turkey

NATO forces recapture vessel seized by pirates

(CNN) -- NATO forces recaptured a ship Friday that had been taken over by armed Somali pirates, a spokesman for the European Union Naval Forces told CNN.

The ship's 25 crew members were freed, Commander John Harbour said.

The Ariella, an Antigua and Barbuda-flagged shipping vessel, was following a route from the Red Sea, through the Gulf of Aden, and into the Indian Ocean Friday when it was seized by the pirates, according to Harbour.

A European Maritime patrol airplane arrived on the scene shortly after receiving a distress call from the Ariella, he noted. After the plane verified the presence of pirates on the ship, nearby NATO Danish Special Forces approached and boarded the ship.

Special Forces members found the ship's crew hiding in a compartment, unharmed. Both the Special Forces and the EU Naval Forces believe the pirates fled when the warship arrived.

The Ariella is owned by the Slovenian company Splosna Plovda, according to Harbour. The route being followed by the Ariella at the time of the attack is a frequent target for pirates. It is strongly patrolled by anti-piracy forces, including NATO and individual countries' navies.

EU Naval Forces frequently work in conjunction with NATO on anti-piracy operations.

Too many civilians killed by NATO in Afghanistan in 2006, official says

KABUL, Afghanistan: NATO acknowledged Wednesday that the number of civilians killed by its forces in Afghanistan last year was too high, but said the Western alliance was working to change that in 2007.

Photos from NATO bomb victims by Maso Notarianni at the Emergency Hospital in Lashkar Gah
more photos and details | Photos Index"The single thing that we have done wrong and we are striving extremely hard to improve on (in 2007) is killing innocent civilians," Brig. Richard E. Nugee, the chief spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force, said.

Nugee said the alliance has been reviewing for several weeks measures to bring down the number of civilian casualties.

However, he said NATO forces have killed far fewer civilians than the Taliban, which launched a record number of roadside and suicide bombs last year.

"There is absolutely no comparison to be made," he said. "The Taliban are killing significant numbers of their own people and showing no remorse at all."

According to NATO, militants launched a record 117 suicide attacks in 2006, about a six-fold increase over 2005, killing 206 Afghan civilians, 54 Afghan security personnel and 18 soldiers from NATO's ISAF.

NATO forces were accused of killing dozens of civilians last year in airstrikes during battle and gunfire from military convoys that felt threatened.

Airstrikes in the Panjwayi district of Kandahar province in October were reported by Afghan authorities to have killed dozens of civilians, including some 20 members of one family.

A joint Afghan-NATO investigation into that incident has never been released. The New York Times has reported previously that the investigation found that 31 civilians were killed.

Nugee said that commanders have looked at the report "in very fine detail."

"While it has not come out publicly, it has made quite an impact on this headquarters," he said.

In the southern province of Helmand, meanwhile, NATO and Afghan troops killed 10 suspected Taliban fighters during a battle on Tuesday, said Ghalum Nabi Mullahkhail, the provincial police chief.

NATO and Afghan forces suffered no casualties, he said.

Afghan violence kills three US, Nato soldiers

KABUL: Bomb attacks and a firefight killed three foreign soldiers, one of them identified as an American, in separate incidents in war-torn Afghanistan on Monday, Nato said.

Two of the soldiers, including the American, were killed by improvised bombs, which have become a major asset in the arsenal of Taliban-led insurgents, Nato's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said.

ISAF did not disclose the nationalities of the two other casualties, who it said were killed in separate incidents in southern and western Afghanistan.

Two brief statements from ISAF announced the soldiers' deaths, but gave no specific details of where the incidents had taken place.

“An ISAF service member from the United States was killed today in an IED strike in southern Afghanistan,” the force said earlier Monday.

The deaths mark a grisly start to the month and bring to 47 the total number of foreign soldiers to die in Afghanistan so far this year, according to an AFP tally.

Last month's death toll of 44 was the highest for the month of January since the Taliban regime was overthrown in a US-led invasion in late 2001. It compared with 25 for January 2009. -AFP

Aafia’ s family wants NATO supply closed

Karachi: The family of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, found guilty of trying to kill American servicemen in Afghanistan believes that she will be released within three days if Pakistan closes down supplies to the NATO troops fighting in the war-ravaged country.

“ This all has happened because of our government, which has let down the entire nation. If Pakistani government today stops supplies to the NATO troops fighting in Afghanistan, my sister would be with us within next three days”, DR Fozia Siddiqui, an elder sister of Dr Aafia, said while addressing a press conference at her residence along with Senator Talah Mahmood, the chairman of the Senate’s standing committee on interior affairs, here on Thursday.

A US jury on Wednesday found Aafia Siddiqui, 37, a mother of three and a PhD in education from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, guilty on all charges. She could face life in prison when sentenced on May 6.

Ms Siddiqui, who picked up by FBI agents from Karachi in 2004 along with her three children, was accused of grabbing a rifle at an Afghan police station where she was being interrogated in July 2008 and trying to gun down US servicemen.

Dr Fozia said that the US court verdict was tantamount to a slap on the face of entire nation.She said that on the one hand Pakistan had been a close ally of the US in so-called war on terror, but it could not get its daughter released.

DR Fozia has been carrying on a campaign in collaboration with different political and religious parties for release of her sister, who has mistakenly been reported as a neuroscientist.

According to Ismat Siddiqui, the ailing mother of DR Aafia, she has done her PhD in education, and has never been a scientist.

Dr Aafia, before arriving in Pakistan in 2004, was grilled by FBI agents along with her ex-husband, DR Amjad, for collecting and donating huge amounts to some Islamic charities, which according to FBI had links with Al-Qaeda, and procuring some hunting weapons, and maps.

However, she was not charged her as a would-be terrorist who, according to US intelligence officials, had also plotted to bomb New York.

She was later divorced by her husband, and returned to her homeland. She was picked up by FBI agents when she was on way to Karachi Airport to leave for Islamabad.

Dr Fozia said she and her family were not shocked over this judgment. Whatelse we could expect from a US court, she said.

“ But we have not lost the hope, and will continue our efforts for her release because she is innocent”, she maintained.

Dr Fozia rejects the allegation against her sister that she had tried to kill US servicemen.

“ This is a pack of lies. Everybody knows that she was kidnapped by the Pakistani intelligence agencies at the behest of General Pervez Musharraf. He (Musharraf) later handed her over to Americans, who took her to Afghanistan, where she was detained and tortured for many months”.

A recent report submitted by an investigation officer appointed by the government following a high court order, says that Dr Aafia was kidnapped by FBI agents while she was on her way to Karachi airport to leave for Islamabad.

Dr Fozia thinks that the verdict is a humiliation for Americans

"This verdict has exposed the US judicial system, which cannot provide justice to innocent people. This is a humiliation for American nation too”.

Senator Talah Mahmood, the chairman of the Senate’s standing committee on home affairs, and head of the parliamentary committee set up by the government for Dr Aafia’s release, too appears to be disappointed over the verdict.

“ It is a high time for the government to review its policies vis-à-vis so-called war on terror”, Senator Talah Mahmood thought.

“ It was an opportunity for the government to show self-respect. But it has let down the whole nation”.

Senator Mahmood, who was head of a delegation that called on Dr Aafia three months back in NY, had reported to Pakistani government that the detained woman were mentally and physically tortured.

“ If Pakistan government had really wanted, she would have been with us. But the government has lost this opportunity”, he maintained.

“ The time has come, when as a nation we should think that what has we got in response to invaluable sacrifices in so-called war on terror? He asked.

NATO, Afghanistan to dominate last day of Munich conference

Munich - NATO's battle in Afghanistan and the alliance's attempts to make itself more modern were set to dominate talks on the last day of the annual Munich Security Conference Sunday. NATO is currently trying to implement a new, broad-based strategy in Afghanistan and is working on a new set of principles to guide its operations for the next decade, provoking sharp debate about what the alliance should do and how it should do it.

NATO members are desperate to train the Afghan security forces to defend their country and encourage Taliban-linked fighters to return to peaceful life, so that Western soldiers can come home.

In August, the commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) called for major reinforcements, but simultaneously demanded a new strategy which would put more effort into protecting the Afghan people and building up the country's army.

On January 28, the foreign ministers of some 60 nations, including the 44 ISAF members, agreed with Afghan President Hamid Karzai how to put that strategy into effect, promising more and better-coordinated aid in return for a pledge to crack down on corruption.

Karzai was set to address the Munich conference alongside speakers including the US special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, and Britain's defence minister, Bob Ainsworth.

NATO is also currently engaged in drawing up a new "strategic concept" for the next decade so that members can agree on what NATO is meant to do, how it should do it and what resources it will need.

The debate comes amidst tensions over NATO's overall purpose. Relatively new members such as the Baltic states hold that the main point of joining the alliance is to guarantee protection against a possible threat from Russia.

Those fears came into sharp focus after Russia's 2008 war with NATO hopeful - and Baltic ally - Georgia.

Western European states do not see Russia as a direct threat, and want NATO to have a broader and more international outlook.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen was set to open the debate on NATO's future on Sunday. Former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright, who heads the group tasked with drawing up the new NATO strategic concept, was also expected.

On Saturday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticized NATO's military presence in Eastern Europe.

NATO tanker attacked in Peshawar

PESHAWAR: Taliban blew up a tanker carrying oil supply to NATO forces in Afghanistan on the ring road in the Chamkani police precincts early on Monday, police said. Chamkani police officials told Daily Times that an Afghanistan-bound tanker carrying oil supply for
NATO forces was attacked by armed men on Monday morning. They said the assailants fired at the tanker and destroyed it with a magnet bomb. staff report

Nato container hit by bomb

QUETTA - The Frontier Corps (FC) arrested a suspected miscreant and recovered explosive material from his possession in Machh on Saturday.
In yet anther incident, a container carrying supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan was partially damaged when an explosive device planted along a road at Sorab, some 250km away from Quetta, exploded. Resultantly, the container partially damaged in the blast while its driver and cleaner remained unhurt. The container was travelling to Kabul from Karachi

Serbia cannot enter NATO with Kosovo

BELGRADE -- Russian ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said that Serbia must give up its fight for Kosovo if it wants to become a member of the NATO alliance.

He said that RUSSIA would then have to question its stances towards Kosovo, adding that “We cannot be bigger Serbs than the Serbs themselves,” daily Blic writes.

“All NATO member-states have not recognized Kosovo. Those are Spain, Greece, Romania and Slovakia who have not. But according to international law, and the NATO statute, such a situation is an obstacle for Serbia joining the Alliance,” Rogozin said.

He said that the stance of most NATO member-states will not change, which means that the Alliance can accept Serbia as a member-stated only with “new” borders—without Kosovo.

“Belgrade will have to officially recognize Priština’s sovereignty, which will also change the stances of Madrid and Moscow,” he said.

Asked what Moscow’s opinion is on the discussion of Serbia’s Atlantic integrations, Rogozin said that he understands the stances of the Serbian politicians and military elite that want Serbia to join NATO.

He reminded that NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that Serbia does not have to join NATO first if it wants to join the European Union.

Rogozin said that it is hard for him to understand how Belgrade can speak of NATO integration when there are still images in the capital of damage done by the 1999 NATO-led bombing.

“The problem of Kosovo is there as well, since most NATO member-states have recognized its independence, also, there is the demonization of the Serbian people, the flagrant anti-Serbian double-standards of the West towards participators in the wars of the former Yugoslavia…Has that been forgotten? Russia would not understand Serbia’s decision in favor of NATO considering everything I have mentioned,” Rogozin said.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

North Atlantic Treaty Organization

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO; pronounced /ˈneɪtoʊ/, NAY-toe); French: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique Nord (OTAN)), also called "the (North) Atlantic Alliance", is an intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty which was signed on April 4, 1949. The NATO headquarters are in Brussels, Belgium, and the organization constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party.

For its first few years, NATO was not much more than a political association. However, the Korean War galvanized the member states, and an integrated military structure was built up under the direction of two U.S. supreme commanders. The first NATO Secretary General, Lord Ismay, famously stated the organization's goal was "to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down". Doubts over the strength of the relationship between the European states and the United States ebbed and flowed, along with doubts over the credibility of the NATO defence against a prospective Soviet invasion—doubts that led to the development of the independent French nuclear deterrent and the withdrawal of the French from NATO's military structure from 1966.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the organization became drawn into the Balkans while building better links with former potential enemies to the east, which culminated with several former Warsaw Pact states joining the alliance in 1999 and 2004. On April 1, 2009, membership was enlarged to 28 with the entrance of Albania and croatia. Since the September 11 attacks, NATO has attempted to refocus itself to new challenges and has deployed troops to Afghanistan as well as trainers to Iraq.

The Berlin Plus agreement is a comprehensive package of agreements made between NATO and the European Union on December 16, 2002. With this agreement the EU was given the possibility to use NATO assets in case it wanted to act independently in an international crisis, on the condition that NATO itself did not want to act—the so-called "right of first refusal". Only if NATO refused to act would the EU have the option to act. The combined military spending of all NATO members constitutes over 70% of the world's defence spending, with the United States alone accounting for about half the total military spending of the world and the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and italy accounting for a further 15%.

Nato Beginnings

The Treaty of Brussels, signed on March 17, 1948 by Belgium, the Nether Lands, Luxembourg, France and the United Kingdom is considered the precursor to the NATO agreement. The treaty and the Russian Berlin Blockade led to the creation of the Western
European Union's Defence Organization in September 1948. However, participation of the United States was thought necessary in order to counter the military power of the USSR, and therefore talks for a new military alliance began almost immediately.

These talks resulted in the North Atlantic Treaty, which was signed in
Washington D.C. on April 4, 1949. It included the five Treaty of Brussels states, as well as the United States, Canada, Portugal, italy, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. Popular support for the Treaty was not unanimous; some Icelanders commenced a pro-neutrality, anti-membership riot in March 1949.

“ The Parties of NATO agreed that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all. Consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence will assist the Party or Parties being attacked, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area. ”

Such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force does not necessarily mean that other member states will respond with military action against the aggressor(s). Rather they are obliged to respond, but maintain the freedom to choose how they will respond. This differs from Article IV of the Treaty of Brussels (which founded the Western European Union) which clearly states that the response however often assumed that NATO members will aid the attacked member militarily. Further, the article limits the organization's scope to Europe and North America, which explains why the invasion of the British Falkland Islands did not result in NATO involvement.

The creation of NATO brought about some standardization of allied military terminology, procedures, and technology, which in many cases meant European countries adopting U.S.
practices. The roughly 1300 Standardization Agreements (STANAGs) codifies the standardization that NATO has achieved. Hence, the 7.62×51 NATO rifle cartridge was introduced in the 1950s as a standard firearm cartridge among many NATO countries. Fabrique Nationale de Herstal's FAL became the most popular 7.62 NATO rifle in Europe and served into the early 1990s. Also, aircraft marshalling signals were standardized, so that any NATO aircraft could land at any NATO base. Other standards such as the NATO phonetic alphabet have made their way beyond NATO into civilian use.

Cold War

The outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 was crucial for NATO as it raised the apparent threat level greatly (all Communist countries were suspected of working together) and forced the alliance to develop concrete military plans. The 1952 Lisbon conference, seeking to provide the forces necessary for NATO's Long-Term Defence Plan, called for an expansion to 96 divisions. However this requirement was dropped the following year to roughly 35 divisions with heavier use to be made of nuclear weapons. At this time, NATO could call on about 15 ready divisions in Central Europe, and another ten in italy and Scandinavia. Also at Lisbon, the post of Secretary General of NATO as the organization's chief civilian was also created, and Baron Hastings Ismay eventually appointed to the post. Later, in September 1952, the first major NATO maritime exercises began; Operation Mainbrace brought together 200 ships and over 50,000 personnel to practice the defence of Denmark and Norway.

Greece and Turkey joined the alliance the same year, forcing a series of controversial negotiations, in which the United States and Britain were the primary disputants, over how to bring the two countries into the military command structure. Meanwhile, while this overt military preparation was going on, covert stay-behind arrangements to continue resistance after a successful Soviet invasion ('Operation Gladio'), initially made by the Western European Union, were being transferred to NATO control. Ultimately unofficial bonds began to grow between NATO's armed forces, such as the NATO Tiger Association and competitions such as the Canadian Army Trophy for tank gunnery.

In 1954, the Soviet Union suggested that it should join NATO to preserve peace in Europe. The NATO countries, fearing that the Soviet Union's motive was to weaken the alliance, ultimately rejected this proposal. The incorporation of West Germany into the organization on May 9 1955 was described as "a decisive turning point in the history of our continent" by Halvard Lange, Foreign Minister of Norway at the time. A major reason for Germany's entry into the alliance was that without German manpower, it would have been impossible to field enough conventional forces to resist a Soviet invasion. Indeed, one of its immediate results was the creation of the Warsaw Pact, signed on May 14, 1955 by the Soviet Union, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, and East Germany, as a formal response to this event, thereby delineating the two opposing sides of the Cold War.