Russia recently said it would support Iran’s bid to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, an emerging economic and political alliance led by China. This Shanghai Bloc was originally formed in 1996 before it was rebranded in 2001. Its membership includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Last year, India and Pakistan also signed the memorandum of obligations and are expected to become full members sometime this year. The bloc has expanded into a military organization over the last few years and has run joint military exercises in the past.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Iran now fully fits the criteria for membership and that discussions on its bid to join will take place this summer.
“Next in line [for membership]…is Iran, which has resolved issues related to sanctions from the U.N. Security Council,” Lavrov told Russian state news agency Itar-Tass, as reported by Newsweek.
Back on September 11 and 12, there was a summit meeting in a city that involved an organization that most Americans have never heard of. Mainstream media coverage was all but nonexistent.
The place was Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, a country few Westerners could correctly place on a map.
But you can bet your last ruble that Vladimir Putin knows exactly where Tajikistan is. Because the group that met there is the Russian president’s baby. It’s the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), consisting of six member states: Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
According to Kurt Wulff of the oil investment firm McDep Associates, the Four Horsemen, romping in their new Far East pastures, saw asset increases from 1988-1994 as follows: Exxon Mobil- 54%, Chevron Texaco- 74%, Royal Dutch/Shell- 52% and BP Amoco- 54%. Big Oil had more than doubled its collective assets in six short years.
This quantum leap in global power had everything to do withthe takeover of the old Soviet oil patch and the subsequent impoverishment of its birthright owners.
While the Four Horsemen gorged on Russian and Central Asian oil, Wall Street investment bankers were facilitating the oil grab and ripping off the Russian Treasury.
Salomon Smith Barney’s Phibro Energy oil trading subsidiary set up shop in Moscow. Goldman Sachs was hired by Yeltsin to lure foreign capital to Russia. Heading the Russian Goldman Sachs team was Robert Rubin, later Clinton Secretary of Treasury & Citigroup CEO. CS First Boston took a 20% stake in Lukoil, in partnership with BP Amoco.
WHEN her baby died soon after delivery, Gulbahor Zavidova, 28, a poor farmer’s wife, longed to be pregnant again. After months of trying she and her husband visited a doctor who told her she could never have another child because she had been sterilised. The procedure had been performed immediately after she gave birth, by doctors who did not ask her consent. On learning she could not bear children, her husband left her. “Not a day passes without me crying,” she said. “I was outraged when I found out what they had done. How could they do such a horrible thing without asking me?” According to human rights groups, tens of thousands of young women like Zavidova have been sterilised without their consent in the authoritarian former Soviet state of Uzbekistan.
Uzbek sources say the measure was ordered by Islam Karimov, the president, who has ruled with an iron fist for 20 years. The policy is aimed at keeping down the country’s poor population – with 28m people, it is Central Asia’s most densely populated state.
Activists say mass sterilisation began in 2003, but was eased after two years following an outcry. It is said to have restarted in February this year, when the health ministry ordered doctors to recommend sterilisation as an “effective contraceptive”. Critics claim every doctor was told to persuade “at least two women” a month to have the procedure. Doctors who failed faced reprisals and fines.
“We estimate that since February, about 5,000 women have been sterilised without consent,” said a local human rights campaigner who fears detention if she is named.
In many cases, doctors opt for delivery by caesarean section and then perform a sterilisation without telling the woman. Widespread rumours of the practice have resulted in women opting for home births to avoid the risk.
This is “winning the hearts and minds of people” in action. This is how the US creates real terrorists.
Soldiers wake up! You die for nothing in Afghanistan except corporate profit benefiting only the elite.
The following videos were posted to YouTube by the Real News Network on Oct. 26 and Nov. 4, 2009.
The CIA relied on intelligence based on torture in prisons in Uzbekistan, a place where widespread torture practices include raping suspects with broken bottles and boiling them alive, says a former British ambassador to the central Asian country.
Craig Murray, the rector of the University of Dundee in Scotland and until 2004 the UK’s ambassador to Uzbekistan, said the CIA not only relied on confessions gleaned through extreme torture, it sent terror war suspects to Uzbekistan as part of its extraordinary rendition program.
“I’m talking of people being raped with broken bottles,” he said at a lecture late last month that was re-broadcast by the Real News Network. “I’m talking of people having their children tortured in front of them until they sign a confession. I’m talking of people being boiled alive. And the intelligence from these torture sessions was being received by the CIA, and was being passed on.”
Former UK ambassador Craig Murray
Human rights groups have long been raising the alarm about the legal system in Uzbekistan. In 2007, Human Rights Watch declared that torture is “endemic” to the country’s justice system.
Murray said he only realized after his stint as ambassador that the CIA was sending people to be tortured in Uzbekistan, country he describes as a “totalitarian” state that has never moved on from its communist era, when it was a part of the Soviet Union.
Suspects in Uzbekistan’s gulags “were being told to confess to membership in Al Qaeda. They were told to confess they’d been in training camps in Afghanistan. They were told to confess they had met Osama bin Laden in person. And the CIA intelligence constantly echoed these themes.”
“I was absolutely stunned — it changed my whole world view in an instant — to be told that London knew [the intelligence] coming from torture, that it was not illegal because our legal advisers had decided that under the United Nations convention against torture, it is not illegal to obtain or use intelligence gained from torture as long as we didn’t do the torture ourselves,” Murray said.
IT’S THE PIPELINE, STUPID
Murray asserts that the primary motivation for US and British military involvement in central Asia has to do with large natural gas deposits in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. As evidence, he points to the plans to build a natural gas pipeline through Afghanistan that would allow Western oil companies to avoid Russia and Iran when transporting natural gas out of the region.
Murray alleged that in the late 1990s the Uzbek ambassador to the US met with then-Texas Governor George W. Bush to discuss a pipeline for the region, and out of that meeting came agreements that would see Texas-based Enron gain the rights to Uzbekistan’s natural gas deposits, while oil company Unocal worked on developing the Trans-Afghanistan pipeline.
“The consultant who was organizing this for Unocal was a certain Mr. Karzai, who is now president of Afghanistan,” Murray noted.
MOSCOW, February 4 (RIA Novosti) – The collective rapid-reaction force to be created by a post-Soviet regional security bloc will be just as good as comparable NATO forces, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday.
The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) agreed on Wednesday at a summit in Moscow to set up the new force, to be based in Russia.
Medvedev said the force, to be comprised of a “sufficient” number of units, would be “well trained and well equipped.”
“Russia is ready to contribute a division and a brigade,” he said. “This gives you an idea of the scale.”
The Russian president also said the CSTO was open for cooperation with the United States in the fight against terrorism in Central Asia.
The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is a security grouping comprising the former Soviet republics of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
MOSCOW, August 28 (RIA Novosti) – The Belarusian ambassador to Moscow said Thursday that Belarus would in the next day or two recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
“We are allies and this says it all,” Vasily Dolgolev said of Minsk’s relations with Moscow. He added that the relevant announcement would be made by President Alexander Lukashenko on Thursday or Friday.
Russia recognized the two separatist Georgian republics’ sovereignty Tuesday, but despite President Dmitry Medvedev’s call for other countries to follow suit, none has.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned in March that Iran had detected a new highly pathogenic strain of wheat stem rust called Ug99.
The fungal disease could spread to other wheat producing states in the Near East and western Asia that provide one-quarter of the world’s wheat.
The FAO warned stated east of Iran — Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan to be on high alert.
Scientists and international organizations focused on controlling wheat stem rust have said 90 percent of world wheat lines are susceptible to Ug99. The situation is particularly critical in light of the existing worldwide wheat shortage.
The fungus causes dark orange pustules on stems and leaves of infected plants. The pustules can completely girdle stems, damaging their conducting tissue and preventing grain fill. Yield losses may reach 70 percent, while some fields are totally destroyed. If stem rust arrives early in the growing cycle, losses are higher. Spores released by the fungal pustules are spread by the wind and may travel great distances in storms.
Word of the new wheat disease comes amid global shortages of rice and wheat resulting from typhoon-related flooding in Java, Bangladesh, and India and from agricultural pests and diseases in Vietnam. Last year Australia suffered its second consecutive year of severe drought and a near complete crop failure, heavy rains reduced production in Europe, Argentina suffered heavy frost, and Canada and the U.S. both produced low yields.
Food riots have broken out in Egypt, Haiti and several African states, including Mauritania, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Senegal in recent months.
There is a time for food, and a time for ethical appraisals. This was the case even before Bertolt Brecht gave life to that expression in Die Driegroschen Oper. The time for a reasoned, coherent understanding for the growing food crisis is not just overdue, but seemingly past. Robert Zoellick of the World Bank, an organization often dedicated to flouting, rather than achieving its claimed goal of poverty reduction, stated the problem in Davos in January this year. ‘Hunger and malnutrition are the forgotten Millennium Development Goal.’
Global food prices have gone through the roof, terrifying the 3 billion or so people who live off less than $2 a day. This should terrify everybody else. In November, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization reported that food prices had suffered a 18 percent inflation in China, 13 percent in Indonesia and Pakistan, and 10 percent or more in Latin America, Russia and India. The devil in the detail is even more distressing: a doubling in the price of wheat, a twenty percent increase in the price of rice, an increase by half in maize prices.
Huge budget deficit means millions more face starvation.
Ears of wheat growing in a field. Photograph: Steve Satushek/Getty images
The United Nations warned yesterday that it no longer has enough money to keep global malnutrition at bay this year in the face of a dramatic upward surge in world commodity prices, which have created a “new face of hunger”.
A dangerous new fungus with the ability to destroy entire wheat fields has been detected in Iran, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported today.
The wheat stem rust, whose spores are carried by wind across continents, was previously found in East Africa and Yemen and has moved to Iran, which said that laboratory tests have confirmed its presence in some localities in Broujerd and Hamedan in the country’s west.
Up to 80 per cent of all Asian and African wheat varieties are susceptible to the fungus, and major wheat-producing nations to Iran’s east – such as Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan – should be on high alert, FAO warned.
“The fungus is spreading rapidly and could seriously lower wheat production in countries at direct risk,” said Shivaji Pandey, Director of FAO’s Plant Production and Protection Division.
He urged the control of the rust’s spread to lower the risk to countries already impacted by high food prices.
Iran has said that it will bolster its research capacity to tackle the new fungus and develop wheat varieties that are rust-resistant.
Called Ug99, the disease first surfaced in Uganda and subsequently spread to Kenya and Ethiopia, with both countries experiencing serious crop yield losses due to a serious rust epidemic last year. Also in 2007, FAO confirmed that a more virulent strain was found in Yemen.
Sure, maybe it was carried by the wind — and maybe the fungus was introduced by man. Not so much a conspiracy theory when history is taken into account. For instance, back in 1977, the San Francisco Chroniclereported the CIA dispatched “anti-Castro terrorists” to introduce “African swine fever virus into Cuba in 1971…. Six weeks later an outbreak of the disease forced the slaughter of 500,000 pigs to prevent a nationwide animal epidemic.” It was so scary that the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization labeled the outbreak the “most alarming event” of 1971.
HANOI – Rising prices and a growing fear of scarcity have prompted some of the world’s largest rice producers to announce drastic limits on the amount of rice they export.The price of rice, a staple in the diets of nearly half the world’s population, has almost doubled on international markets in the last three months. That has pinched the budgets of millions of poor Asians and raised fears of civil unrest.
Shortages and high prices for all kinds of food have caused tensions and even violence around the world in recent months. Since January, thousands of troops have been deployed in Pakistan to guard trucks carrying wheat and flour. Protests have erupted in Indonesia over soybean shortages, and China has put price controls on cooking oil, grain, meat, milk and eggs.
Food riots have erupted in recent months in Guinea, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Senegal, Uzbekistan and Yemen. But the moves by rice-exporting nations over the last two days – meant to ensure scarce supplies will meet domestic needs – drove prices on the world market even higher this week.
BEIJING, March 25 (AP) – (Kyodo)-China welcomes Iran’s wish to become a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which groups China, Russia and Central Asian nations, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Tuesday.But Tehran’s wish to be upgraded from observer status still requires discussion by the group, Qin Gang said at a regular press conference.
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