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Author Topic: Wars And Rumors Of Wars  (Read 12514 times)
Soldier4Christ
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« on: March 04, 2008, 10:19:39 PM »

Venezuela troops head to Colombia border
Response to killing of top rebel leader on Ecuadorean soil

Hundreds of Venezuelan troops deployed for the Colombian border on Tuesday under orders from President Hugo Chavez, who is sending about 9,000 soldiers to the frontier.

Hundreds of troops were seen boarding four buses and eight trucks at the Paramaracay base in the central city of Valencia on Tuesday morning, headed for the border. Their convoy also included fuel trucks and cranes. A helicopter flew overhead.

A base official, speaking on condition of anonymity because she wasn't permitted to speak to reporters, said the troops were heading for the Colombian border, though she didn't specify the location.

Elsewhere, in the northern state of Lara, pro-Chavez Gov. Luis Reyes said Tuesday that batallions in his state were heading for the border.

"There are mobilizations in Lara state toward the border zone," Reyes, a former lieutenant colonel, told the Venezuelan television station Globovision.

The Venezuelan military has been tightlipped about the movement of troops since Sunday, when Chavez ordered 10 battalions to the border, including tanks.

Retired Gen. Alberto Muller Rojas, a former aide and close ally of Chavez, told The Associated Press that the 10 battalions being sent to the border region include approximately 9,000 men. He called the troop deployment entirely "preventive."

Chavez deployed troops in response to Colombia's killing of a top rebel leader on Ecuadorean soil over the weekend. Ecuador has also sent troops to its border with Colombia, denouncing the military strike as a violation of its sovereignty.

Venezuela's military currently has about 100,000 regular troops and a growing force of reservists that now totals 280,000, said Muller, who in retirement is vice president of Chavez's socialist party.

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« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2008, 01:34:19 AM »

Sudan 'still bombing in Darfur'

A BBC correspondent in Chad has seen helicopters drop bombs over the Sudanese border in Darfur.

Stephanie Hancock says she saw a helicopter flying across the sky, then heard explosions and saw clouds of smoke coming from the ground.

Nations sending peacekeepers to Darfur are due to discuss how to speed up the force's deployment later at the UN.

Earlier, Russia offered to provide some of the helicopters which the force needs to move around the vast area.

So far only 9,000 of the planned 26,000 troops are on the ground.

Our correspondent in Baga Katala on the eastern Chadian border with Sudan was with a group of refugees who had fled previous bombing in Darfur.

They said Sudan's military wanted to stop them returning home.

Thousands of people have fled a recent government offensive in West Darfur.

Our correspondent said the helicopter was a dark colour - the refugees said the Sudanese military helicopters are black.

She said the refugees were clearly upset to see the bombing and scared in case some bombs fell over the border.

The UN is moving the refugees further into Chad away from the border.

Sudan's government says it has destroyed several rebel camps during its offensive in the Jebel Moun area.

At least 200,000 people have died in Sudan's five-year conflict, with more than two million fleeing their homes.
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« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2008, 01:37:27 AM »

Manila 'bomb plotters' arrested

The Philippine authorities say they have arrested three suspected militants accused of plotting to bomb foreign embassies in the capital, Manila.

The alleged targets were the British, US, Australian and Israeli embassies.

The three men are said to be Middle Eastern. One of them was carrying a Jordanian travel document.

Officials believe the men may have links to regional Islamist groups - Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines and Jemaah Islamiah in Indonesia.

"I don't have the names and the complete details of their arrests, but they were involved in teaching local terrorists on how to make bombs," Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said.

The Jordanian was arrested in Manila last month, while the two others were recently captured in the southern Philippines in two separate incidents.
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« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2008, 01:43:08 AM »

Colombia calls for Chavez charges

Colombia is accusing President Chavez of financing genocide.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe says he will ask the International Criminal Court to bring genocide charges against President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.

He accused Mr Chavez of sponsoring and financing Colombian Farc rebels. Venezuela denies the charge.

Colombian officials say a laptop found during a raid on a Farc camp held files indicating Venezuela gave Farc $300m.

Colombian forces entered Ecuadoran territory to raid the camp, provoking protests and a diplomatic crisis.

Venezuela and Ecuador have broken off ties with Colombia and moved troops to the Colombian border.

"Colombia proposes to denounce the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, in the International Criminal Court for sponsoring and financing genocide," Mr Uribe said.

In Washington, President George W Bush said the United States fully supported Colombia. He condemned what he called "provocative manoeuvres" by the Venezuelan government.

Saturday's incursion by Colombian forces saw the killing of senior Farc commander Raul Reyes, and 16 others.

Colombian Vice-President Francisco Santos, speaking earlier at a disarmament conference in Geneva, said evidence of plans to make a dirty bomb - a bomb using radioactive material - was also found on the computer.

Latin American powers including Chile, Mexico and Brazil have offered to mediate in the dispute. An emergency meeting of the Organization of American States is being held to discuss the crisis.

Farc - the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - has been fighting for more than four decades with the declared aim of fairer wealth distribution.

However, analysts say it funds itself mainly through the cocaine trade, while holding hundreds of hostages it has kidnapped for ransom and political ends.

President Chavez and Venezuela have been involved in recent talks to free some of them.

In a statement, Farc said the raid had "dealt a serious blow" to negotiations for the release of the highest-profile hostage, the former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt.

She also holds French nationality by marriage.
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« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2008, 02:05:52 AM »

Hezbollah says US ship is threat

A Hezbollah MP has condemned the deployment of the USS Cole warship off the coast of Lebanon as a threat to Lebanese sovereignty and independence.

The US is sending one warship and a support ship to the eastern Mediterranean as a show of support for "regional stability".

The deployment is seen as a warning to Syria, which backs the opposition, of which Hezbollah is part.

But MP Hassan Fadlallah said the movement would not give in to threats.

He told reporters: "It is clear this threat and intimidation will not affect us."

"The American move threatens the stability of Lebanon and the region and it is an attempt to spark tension," he told Reuters news agency.

"The American administration has used the policy of sending warships to support its allies in Lebanon before, and that experiment failed and backfired.

"We don't succumb to threats and military intimidation practised by the United States to implement its hegemony over Lebanon."

Lebanon is deep in political crisis, precipitating a series of political assassinations.

The country has not had a president since 24 November, when pro-Syrian Emile Lahoud left office. Parliament has repeatedly failed to elect a successor amid an ongoing row over candidates.

The election was postponed once again this week, and is now due to take place on 11 March. There are fears that the political deadlock could lead to escalating sectarian violence.

Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Michael Mullen, said the presence of the USS Cole was important.

He said the signal was "not specifically sent to any one country as much as it is to the region itself".

"That's a very important part of the world and stability there is an important outcome for us," he said.

The USS Cole is expected to take up position, out of visible range of Lebanon.
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« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2008, 06:52:13 AM »

Chavez urges unity after summit

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has said the "happy" end to the regional crisis with Colombia should boost unity in Latin America.

"This summit was a gift from God," he was quoted by Reuters as saying after shaking hands with his Colombian and Ecuadorean counterparts at a summit.

The crisis began after Colombian troops killed Raul Reyes - the Farc rebels' second most important man - in Ecuador.

It has now emerged that four Mexicans may have been killed in the raid.

Mexico has ordered an investigation, and Ecuador has yet to confirm the identity of those killed last Saturday.

A fifth member of the Mexican group - who were all students - is recovering in a hospital in Ecuador's capital, Quito.

Colombia's government has also announced that another commander of the Farc left-wing rebels has been killed.

Ivan Rios - the youngest in the seven-member Farc secretariat - was killed by his own men in the province of Caldas, said Defence Minister Juan Manuel Santos. It was not clear why he was killed.

There were heated exchanges at the Rio Group summit of Latin American leaders in Dominican Republic that had originally been planned to discuss energy and other issues.

But the crisis became the worst political spat in the region for years.

Venezuela and Ecuador cut diplomatic ties with Bogota and sent troops to their borders after the Colombian operation which left 20 Farc rebels dead.

Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega, who had also broken off diplomatic ties with Colombia, said they would be re-established after the presidents shook hands.

The handshakes were broadcast live on television across Latin America in response to a special request from the summit's host, Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez.

"We are all happy," Mr Chavez said afterwards.

"Peace! We must unite and integrate."

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa and his Colombian counterpart Alvaro Uribe had clashed at the opening of the summit.

Mr Correa condemned Colombia's "aggression", while Mr Uribe accused his opposite number of having links with the Farc rebels.

The Colombian president said he had not warned Ecuador before the raid because Mr Correa had not co-operated in the fight against terrorism.

He also claimed material seized in the operation proved links between Mr Correa's government and the rebels.

Mr Correa rejected the claims, saying his hands were not "stained with blood".

He admitted there had been communications with Farc, but only because his government was trying to secure the release of hostages held by the rebels, including former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt.

But before shaking hands, to applause from the summit delegates, Mr Correa said: "With the commitment of never attacking a brother country again and by asking forgiveness, we can consider this very serious incident resolved."

The BBC's Jeremy McDermott says President Uribe's huge gamble in ordering the air strike that killed Reyes appears to have paid off.

He said Mr Uribe knew it would lead to a diplomatic incident with Ecuador, but perhaps did not realise that Venezuela and Nicaragua would also break off diplomatic relations.
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« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2008, 06:54:26 AM »

Leaders say Colombia crisis over

The presidents of Ecuador, Venezuela and Colombia have shaken hands at a regional summit, marking the end of a diplomatic crisis in the Andean region.

The crisis had been triggered by a cross-border raid by Colombian troops into Ecuador to attack Farc rebels.

Earlier there had been heated exchanges between the heads of state at the Rio Group summit in the Dominican Republic.

The summit of Latin American leaders had originally been planned to discuss energy and other issues.

But the crisis, which started with the raid last Saturday, had erupted into the worst political spat in the region for years.

Venezuela and Ecuador cut diplomatic ties with Bogota and sent troops to their borders after the Colombian operation which left 20 Farc rebels dead, including a senior Farc commander, Raul Reyes.

As the summit debate unfolded, Colombia's defence minister announced that another rebel leader, Ivan Rios, had been killed - this time on Colombian soil and at the hands of his own men.

Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega, who had also broken off diplomatic ties with Colombia, said they would be re-established after the presidents shook hands.

The handshakes were broadcast live on television across Latin America in response to a special request from the summit's host, Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez.

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa and his Colombian counterpart Alvaro Uribe had clashed at the opening of the summit.

Mr Correa condemned Colombia's "aggression", while Mr Uribe accused his opposite number of having links with the Farc rebels.

The Colombian president said he had not warned Ecuador before the raid because Mr Correa had not co-operated in the fight against terrorism.

He also claimed material seized in the operation proved links between Mr Correa's government and the rebels.

Mr Correa rejected the claims, saying his hands were not "stained with blood".

He admitted there had been communications with Farc, but only because his government was trying to secure the release of hostages held by the rebels, including former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt.

But before shaking hands, to applause from the summit delegates, Mr Correa said: "With the commitment of never attacking a brother country again and by asking forgiveness, we can consider this very serious incident resolved."

The BBC's Jeremy McDermott says President Uribe's huge gamble in ordering the air strike that killed Reyes appears to have paid off.

He said Mr Uribe knew it would lead to a diplomatic incident with Ecuador, but perhaps did not realise that Venezuela and Nicaragua would also break off diplomatic relations.
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« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2008, 07:05:40 AM »

U.S. making no secret of its strategic buildup in the Pacific

The United States is building up forces on Guam with an eye toward a future conflict with China, Pacific forces commander Adm. Timothy Keating said recently.

Keating told a group of defense reporters on Jan. 28 that the issue of the strategic buildup on Guam, which has been underway for the past three years, was not raised by Chinese military officials during his recent visit to China.

Asked if the Chinese are monitoring the buildup, Keating said: I kind of hope they do. We've got a number of B-2s in Guam now. I'm hoping they notice. We're doing our best to make sure they do. We want them to understand that we're going to continue to course around the Pacific in ways apparent and maybe not quite so apparent, but we're going to utilize all the arrows in our quiver, if you will, and B-2s in Guam, continuous bomber presence writ larger in Guam and elsewhere. We've been told to do it by Defense Policy Guidance, and we're most assuredly doing it.

Guam is being upgraded by the Pentagon as a central strategic operating base in the Pacific and would be used in case of a future conflict with China over Taiwan or other issues, or as a base for operations for a war in Korea.

Additionally, Guam is being beefed up to better project power to the strategic oil-producing region of the Middle East.

Enhancements have included hardened storage facilities for B-2 bombers, additional attack submarines and better communications and infrastructure.
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« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2008, 07:06:48 AM »

Al Qaeda May Be Working To Plan Attack, Official Says

By Associated Press
March 7, 2008

WASHINGTON The military commander in charge of domestic security says Al Qaeda may be working more urgently to plan an attack on America to maintain its credibility.

Air Force Gen. Gene Renuart, who is chief of the U.S. Northern Command, told reporters he has not seen any direct threats tied to the American presidential elections. But he says it would be imprudent to think that such threats are not there. While he believes that American authorities have thwarted attacks on a number of occasions, he says terrorist cells may be trying harder than ever to plot high-impact events.
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« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2008, 05:25:50 PM »

Army offensive on Kenya militia

Kenya's army has launched a huge military operation targeting a militia which has killed some 500 people in a land dispute over the past 18 months.

The army is using heavy artillery, hundreds of troops and helicopter gunships, in the Mount Elgon forests near the border with Uganda.

They are targeting the Sabaot Land Defence Forces (SLDF) which was blamed for the killing of 12 people last week.

The militia has also been accused of links to recent political violence.

Kenyan MPs are expected to meet on Tuesday to start discussing the power-sharing deal designed to end the violence following December's disputed election.

Thousands of people have fled their homes fearing being caught up in the fighting.

The operation began under cover of darkness as hundreds of Kenyan troops were driven in trucks to prepare for an offensive against the militia.

Reporters have been been told not to go into the area.

The SLDF has been carrying out an increasing number of attacks on villages, killing people, stealing cattle and destroying homes.

They claim to be fighting for land which they say belongs to the Sabaot clan of the Kalenjin community.

Correspondents say the instability in Mount Elgon is not directly related to the violence that erupted in Kenya after December's disputed presidential election.

But long-standing land disputes between different ethnic groups have overlapped with political divisions in some areas.
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« Reply #10 on: March 10, 2008, 05:27:14 PM »

UN envoy fails to meet Burma head

The UN special envoy to Burma, Ibrahim Gambari, has ended his latest visit to the country without meeting military leader Than Shwe.

He did meet detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, but requests for talks with top generals were denied.

Mr Gambari has been pressing Burma's authorities for political reforms, but with little apparent progress.

Burma has rejected his call for independent observers to monitor a referendum on the new constitution.

It also refused to consider changing the constitution to allow Aung San Suu Kyi to take part in proposed elections.

This was Mr Gambari's third visit to Burma since September's brutally suppressed pro-democracy marches.

He met Aung San Suu Kyi twice, as well as the information minister, Brigadier General Kyaw Hsan, and several junior ministers.

There has been no word as yet on the content of the talks, but analysts say there is likely to have been no significant breakthrough - especially as Mr Gambari was not granted an audience with Than Shwe or other senior officials.

During his trip, Mr Gambari had hoped to discuss the junta's recent announcement that it would hold a referendum in May on its plans to move towards democracy.

The process is due to lead to democratic elections in 2010, although opposition groups have cast doubt on whether the government will stick to its pledges.

Pro-democracy activists say the proposals will leave the military largely in power.

A quarter of seats in parliament would be reserved for the armed forces under the plans.

After leaving Burma, Mr Gambari flew to Singapore, en route to meeting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Africa to report on his mission.
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« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2008, 05:28:56 PM »

Bandit raids cut Darfur food aid

Food aid deliveries to Sudan's Darfur region have been reduced by 50% after a series of bandit attacks on convoys, the UN's food agency has warned.

In the latest incident, seven trucks were stolen and their drivers abducted last week as they drove to Fasher, the World Food Programme says.

WFP says 37 trucks and 23 drivers are still missing and other drivers are unwilling to risk going to Darfur.

Some two million people rely on food aid as a result of the conflict.

The WFP also warns it could halt its Humanitarian Air Service which transports aid workers around the vast country at the end of this month because of a lack of funding.

"This is an unprecedented situation," said WFP representative in Sudan Kenro Oshidari.

"Our humanitarian air operation for aid workers could be forced to stop flying because we have no money, at a time when our helicopters and aircraft are needed more than ever because of high insecurity on the roads."

WFP does not say who is behind the attacks in Darfur - there are numerous rebel groups and pro-government militia in the region.

Some 8,000 people a month use WFP flights in Darfur - 3,000 in helicopters to reach parts of the country which are otherwise inaccessible, the UN agency says.

Aid agency Oxfam has warned that its operation in Darfur would be at "serious risk" if the WFP flights stopped or were reduced.

WFP also operates flights around South Sudan, which is slowly recovering from its own long conflict and where infrastructure is even worse than in Darfur.

Here too, a massive aid operation to help millions of people affected by the war would be badly affected if flights were stopped.

The UN's special rapporteur for Sudan Sima Samar accuses says civilians were used as human shields in recent clashes in West Darfur.

Fighting has increased recently there, leading to a new stream of refugees.

The joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force is making little progress - it still has just 9,000 troops out of the 26,000 planned.
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« Reply #12 on: March 11, 2008, 10:10:35 AM »

Humberto Fontova: Venezuela should be classified as state sponsor of terrorism

Author and Latin American expert Humberto Fontova says Venezuela should be classified as a state sponsor of terrorism in light of the evidence that President Hugo Chavez is helping fund narco-terrorists in neighboring Colombia.

At a meeting of Latin American leaders in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic Hugo Chavez called for tensions between his country and Colombia to cool down following a crisis that was triggered by a Columbian cross-border raid into Ecuador -- in which a Columbian rebel was killed.

Fontova says the "rebel" was a major drug kingpin, who had some valuable information on a computer that was captured by the Colombians. "This computer...had all of the messages confirming that Hugo Chavez was in fact financing them -- to the tunes of millions of dollars," he exclaims.

According to Fontova, the Colombian military responded well when Chavez ordered Venezuelan troops to the border on national television. "The man is a clown," he points out. "The evidence is so overwhelming...Venezuela should now be classified as a state sponsor of terrorism."
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« Reply #13 on: March 11, 2008, 11:04:58 PM »

Somalis mourn killed peace cleric

Hundreds of people in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, have attended the funeral of a prominent preacher well known for his sermons against violence.

Sheikh Muhammad Ahmed Kashka, 55, was shot dead by two gunmen as he was returning home from a mosque on Monday.

In his last Friday sermon he condemned insurgents for targeting people who worked for the transitional government.

Ethiopian troops backing the government ousted the Union of Islamic Courts from Mogadishu in December 2006.

Since then many government officials have been assassinated by Islamist insurgents - including at least 10 of Mogadishu's 17 district commissioners.

All government associates are targets from tax collectors to businessmen felt to be backing the administration.

Correspondents say officials drive at break-neck speed through the streets of the city fearing attacks.

But a BBC correspondent in Mogadishu says it is not clear if the cleric, who was an imam in the Medina district of the city, was killed because of his sermon.

The UN estimates that violence in Mogadishu has forced 60% of the city's residents to flee and last month it warned that Somalia was the world's "forgotten crisis".

So far only 2,400 African Union peacekeepers have been sent to Somalia, of a planned 8,000-strong force.
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« Reply #14 on: March 11, 2008, 11:06:59 PM »

AU troops arrive in the Comoros

African Union troops have arrived in the Comoros to help its military regain control of an island where a renegade leader has declared himself president.

The Comoran army chief said France had helped transport Tanzanian forces to the Comoros to prepare an amphibious assault on Anjouan island.

Lt-Col Mohamed Salimou said Anjouan's renegade leader, Mohamed Bacar, only understood the language of violence.

Mr Bacar unilaterally declared himself president of Anjouan island last year.

Earlier, AU special envoy Francesco Madeira told the BBC that time had run out for Mr Bacar and urged him to step down or be overwhelmed by its troops.

In an interview with the BBC, Col Salimou said some Tanzanian troops had just landed in the Comoros, where they would join troops from the federal National Development Army preparing for an amphibious assault on Anjouan.

Although he would not say when the operation might begin, Col Salimou said it would not take more than a week and that they were certain of victory.

Col Salimou said the time for negotiation was over.

"We have negotiated over and over and now this idea is no longer in fashion," he told Focus on Africa. "We have come to understand that the only language that Mohamed Bacar will understand is the language of weapons."

He said that the government forces would try to limit civilian casualties among the 30,000 people on Anjouan, adding that they supported the operation.

"What we know is that the civilian population in Anjouan is in favour for us and of this military intervention. So it will be a key element for our attack there and the likelihood of winning," he added.

Col Salimou told the AFP news agency that the Tanzanian force consisted of around 100 soldiers, 50 of whom had so far arrived in the capital, Moroni, on the island of Grande Comore.

Another official told AFP that 75 Senegalese soldiers had arrived in Moroni on Monday. Sudan and Libya have also pledged troops for the mission.

Col Salimou said the AU troops would be transported by ship to Moheli, the smallest of the three islands, where some 400 Comoran troops are based.

The deployment to the Comoros comes a month after a special AU ministers summit agreed to send troops in support of Comoran President Abdallah Sambi.

Mr Bacar has defied AU and international calls to step down since proclaiming himself president in July 2007 after an election which the central authorities declared illegal.

Earlier on Monday, the AU special envoy to the Comoros told the BBC that time had run out for Mr Bacar and warned him of the consequences if he tried to resist.

"I am afraid to say that if he tries to do that, it will be the end of him physically, if necessary," Mr Madeira said.

"He will be overwhelmed... and what we are going to do in Anjouan is to take over the island, we will intervene to capture the island."

A history of political violence has left the tiny Comoros archipelago in the Indian Ocean desperately poor since independence from France in 1975.

At times, the country has teetered on the brink of disintegration, amid tensions between the semi-autonomous islands and the central government. 
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