• Experts call for rules of the road for drone use in the Americas

    More and more Latin and Central American countries are using UAVs for domestic policing missions; these drones are employed as a high-tech answer by government to problems such as drug trafficking, gang violence, deforestation, and other illegal activities; experts say that Latin American countries should collaborate in developing a code of conduct that will prevent the arming of drones and assuage civilian concerns

  • Bill prohibits joint U.S.-China scientific activity

    Language inserted into the 2011 spending bill would prohibit any joint scientific activity between the United States and China that involves NASA or is coordinated by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP); Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Virginia), the author of the prohibition, says: “China is spying against us, and every U.S. government agency has been hit by cyberattacks —- They are stealing technology from every major U.S. company. They have taken technology from NASA, and they have hit the NSF computers. —- You name the company, and the Chinese are trying to get its secrets”

  • Campaign in Libya likely to be a drawn out affair

    NATO campaign has so far failed to yield the desired results, for four reasons: new tactics by Gaddafi’s forces and militias have negated NATO’s air superiority; NATO members are divided among themselves as to the ultimate goals of the campaign and its immediate tactics; the rebel forces are utterly ineffective as a military force; and the rebel leadership is divided in incoherent; unless all these factors change — that is, NATO finds a military response to Gaddafi’s ever-changing tactics; NATO members become more unified in their approach; the rebels develop into an effective military force; and the rebel leadership become more unified — it is not likely the campaign will end any time soon; this does not mean it will not succeed, though, as Gaddafi and his regime are under a tight economic and arms embargo, and he is likely to get weaker over time, even if it is a long time

  • Syria's wrong numbers; ME democratic hard test begins now

    In instructions to Syrian security forces engaged in suppressing the anti-government protests, the government cautions that when security forces and snipers enter protest areas, “the number of people killed must not exceed twenty each time, because it would let them be more easily noticed and exposed, which may lead to situations of foreign intervention”; the Syrian regime may have a naive view of Western public opinion; killing twenty-one or twenty-two, rather than “only” twenty, pro-democracy Syrian activists a day would be enough to draw the attention of Western public opinion to the machinations of the Syrian regime? Would that it were true!

  • Military stalemate, growing humanitarian crisis

    The Libyan air force no longer exists, Libya’s air defense are crippled, and much of Gaddafi’s heavy armor has been destroyed; still, the leaderless, disorganized, ill-equipped, and untrained rebels cannot take military advantage of the situation; the stalemate is creating a growing humanitarian crisis: almost half a million people had left the country since the crisis began, about 330,000 people have been internally displaced, and the UN estimates that as many 3.6 million people could eventually require humanitarian assistance; on the diplomatic front, though, the rebels, for the first time, participated in a high-level diplomatic meeting in Doha — the summit of the newly formed Contact Group on Libya, which called on Gaddafi to stand down

  • Pakistan asks U.S. to reduce covert presence in country

    In a move which is going to hamper the U.S. ability to operate effectively against militants in Pakistan, Pakistan has let it be known that it wants about 335 U.S. personnel, CIA officers and contractors, and special operations force personnel to leave Pakistan; this would account for 25-40 percent of CIA staff in the country; tension between the two countries has been rising for a while, and it came to a head earlier this year when a CIA operative panicked during a covert operation and killed to innocent bystanders; the operative was released after the two families, who received $2.3 million in blood money from the CIA, asked the court to let him go; the Pakistani government, however, wants the U.S. covert footprint reduced and covert activity, including the use of drones, curtailed

  • Gaddafi government accepts AU peace plan

    The disorganization and lack of military effectiveness of the anti-Gaddafi rebels have led coalition leaders to conclude that the opposition can overthrow Qaddafi even with air support, and some are weighing options such as arming the fighters even while attempting diplomatic solutions; such a solution may be offered by an AU “road map” to peace in Libya which, according to AU sources, Gaddafi has accepted; trouble is, Qaddafi enjoys substantial support from countries of the AU, an organization that he chaired two years ago and helped transform using Libya’s oil wealth, so it is not clear whether rebels would accept the AU as a fair broker, and the AU plan as a fair plan

  • Ambassador Shaikh Abdul-Aziz of Bahrain

    Ambassador Shaikh Abdul-Aziz, a veteran diplomat and foreign policy adviser to the government of Bahrain, sat down with Homeland Security NewsWire’s executive editor Eugene Chow to examine the current state of affairs in Bahrain; the ambassador discusses the effect of protests on Bahrain’s economy, the source of the current sectarian strife, and what a political solution to protestors’ demands might look like; “A political solution must be reached,” he says

  • On sleeper cells, smell test, and big numbers

    Whether or not Gaddafi has the means, or the intention, to launch a terror campaign inside the United States in retaliation for U.S. attacks on his military remains to be seen; another country, however, has not shied away from such actions: Iran; just one example: in the early 1990s, in response to Israeli attacks on Hezbollah leaders in Lebanon, Iranian agents blew up the Israeli embassy and a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires; scores were killed and hundreds wounded; there are many other examples for the Iranian penchant for such actions; if the United States attacked Iran’s nuclear facilities, then an Iranian terror campaign against targets inside the United States would be one of the ways in which Iran would retaliate for such attacks

  • Qaddafi family split over next move

    Two of Gaddafi sons, Seif and Saadi — Gaddafi has seven sons — have floated the idea of having their father retire and for a transitional government to over see a transition to constitutional democracy; it is not clear whether Col. Gaddafi himself endorses the idea, but it is known that two other sons, Khamis and Mutuassim, who are considered hard-liners and who head their own militias, oppose the move; since the rebellion is fueled as much by tribal rivalry as by a desire for a more democratic Libya, rebel leaders were quick to announce that they were not interested in any solution which would include Gaddafi family members involved; on the ground, the low quality of the rebel forces and their lack of discipline and organization prevent them from exploiting the gains the coalition air strikes have made against Gaddafi’s heavy weaponry

  • "An act of extreme intolerance and bigotry"

    Florida pastor Terry Jones made good on his threat to burn a Koran; the backlash has begun: in Afghanistan, demonstrators attacked a UN building, killing twenty and wounding eighty-three; among the dead are Norwegian, Romanian, Swedish, and Nepalese nationals; experts worry that the wave of protest will sweep the Muslim world; last year, Obama, Clinton, Gates, Petraeus, Muller and others warned of the pernicious consequences burning the Koran would have; they were criticized in some quarters for having a “chilling effect” on free speech — but they were right; fighting for the hearts and minds of more than a billion Muslims is difficult enough without Jones’s reckless and narcissistic action

  • Analysis: Support for, opposition to, Gaddafi is tribal in nature

    The biggest danger to Col. Gaddafi is not the disorganized rebel forces, not even the destruction of the Libyan air force. Rather, the one thing that will bring him down is the loss of support from the tribal coalition that has kept him in power for four decades; the key to the success of the coalition in its efforts to persuade Gaddafi to abdicate is thus the coalition’s ability to persuade the tribes which have supported Gaddafi so far that they are betting on a losing horse; the tribal support for Gaddafi has thus far held, but high-level defections by members of historically supportive tribe — for example, Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa and Ali Abdel-Salam al-Treki, former foreign minister who had been representing Libya at the U.N.— may be an indication that the Gaddafi’s tribal coalition is fraying

  • Eyeless in Libya -- and a Swiftian border security solution

    Everyone knows what the Libyan rebels are against — Gaddafi — but there is no way tell what they are for; this lack of information is not good; first, the United States and its allies may be pushing for the replacement of the devil we know with the devil we do not know; this is akin to giving Michael Phelps a three body length advantage at a swim meet: not a good idea; second, the lack of knowledge about the rebels is like a Rorschach test: outsiders look at them and see what they want to see; Jonathan Swift suggests that impoverished Irish might ease their economic troubles by selling their children as food for rich gentlemen and ladies; should we consider a Swiftian solution to problem of securing the U.S.-Mexico border?

  • Coalition faces unappealing choices in Libya

    The Obama foreign policy and national security team has concluded that the poorly equipped opposition is probably incapable of prevailing without decisive Western intervention — either an all-out U.S.-led military assault on regime forces or a decision to arm the rebels; even though an invasion of Libya will be smaller in scope than the invasion of Iraq, the United States and the Europeans have no stomach for it, and the coalition’s Muslim members will not support it; a decision fully to coordinate Western air power with rebel ground movements would place Washington openly on the side of the rebels, whose goals and makeup are murky and whose chances of winning — even with more air support — are questionable

  • NATO to take command over stalemated campaign

    Agreement has been reached for NATO to take over command of the Libya campaign from the U.S. Africa Command; the question of command and control has been resolved, but the questions about strategy and direction of the operation have not; it is not easy to see how, short of a ground intervention by an outside force, the operation can escape the current stalemate