Wednesday, 23 March 2011

China expressed regret on Sunday !!!

BEIJING News Update: China expressed regret on Sunday over the multinational air strikes in Libya, saying in a foreign ministry statement that it opposed the use of force in international relations.

“China has noted the latest developments in Libya and expresses regret over the military attacks on Libya,” the statement said.

Russia also issued a similarly worded statement in which it called for a ceasefire as soon as possible.

China’s statement made no mention of a ceasefire and stressed that China respected the north African country’s “sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity”.

“We hope Libya can restore stability as soon as possible and avoid further civilian casualties due to an escalation of armed conflict,” it added.
Multinational forces led by France and Britain began bombarding Libya with missiles from air and sea on Saturday to enforce a United Nations-mandated no-fly zone and protection of rebels from Moamer Gaddfai forces.
China and Russia were the most prominent voices in opposition to military action in Libya within the 15-member United Nations Security Council.
However, neither blocked the UN resolution authorising the operation, abstaining in the Security Council vote on the issue rather than using their veto power.

France and Britain had led the demands for a no-fly zone, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy wrote to the heads of state or government of all the other council members seeking urgent backing for the measure.
China said earlier it abstained after having taken into account “the concerns and positions of Arab countries and the African Union, as well as the current special circumstances in Libya”, without elaborating further.

China, which faces frequent foreign criticism over its own human rights record and treatment of restive minority groups, consistently opposes moves deemed as interfering in the affairs of other countries.
“China has always opposed the use of force in international relations,”Sunday’s statement said, adding that Beijing supported the spirit and principles of the UN Charter, without elaborating.
China’s leaders have watched with concern as a mix of issues ranging from the economy to corruption — and a lack of democracy — sparked popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and elsewhere in the Arab world.
Premier Wen Jiabao last year rejected any comparison to the situation in the Middle East and North Africa with China.
Nonetheless, leading web censors have blocked results for “Egypt” and other terms that could be related to the uprisings, for instance on the popular web portal
It has also poured security forces into the streets in Beijing, Shanghai and other cities across the country in response to anonymous calls for weekly Sunday “strolling” rallies in major Chinese cities.
The calls have largely fizzled under the smothering police response, and no obvious protest actions have been reported.

Pakistan criticises intervention in Libya

ISLAMABAD News: Three days after the US-led coalition launched air strikes on Libya to enforce a UN-mandated no-fly zone, Pakistan issued on Monday a veiled disapproval of the biggest military intervention in Arab world since Iraq war and said it was concerned over the developments.

But that came after the US indicated that it would reduce its military role over the next few days.

The belated criticism of the military intervention looked a safe bet for the cautious Foreign Office following China’s disapproval of the attacks even though it (Beijing) had not blocked the move in the UN Security Council.

“Pakistan is following, with serious concern, the developments in Libya in the wake of the military strikes. The loss of precious human lives is indeed regrettable. Peaceful political solution needs to be evolved by the Libyan people themselves in the spirit of mutual accommodation and national reconciliation,” Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar said in a policy statement.Staying short of a clear demand for a ceasefire, Ms Khar called for ensuring “stability, peace and unity of Libya”.

She also urged all parties to the conflict to observe humanitarian norms.

“Reports of civilian casualties are extremely distressing and raise serious questions and could have far-reaching implications about interpretation and implementation of humanitarian principles.”

Double standards were evident in Pakistan’s demand for upholding the principles of non-intervention and non-interference in internal affairs in case of Libya as it had tacitly endorsed GCC intervention in Bahrain.

Principles of respect for sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of states as well as principles of non-intervention and non-interference in internal affairs, the statement noted, were universal and must be respected in Libya.—Baqir Sajjad Syed

US role in Libya costs billions

WASHINGTON — Stretched thin by two wars, the U.S. military is spending upward of $1 billion in an international assault to destroy Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's air defenses and save rebels from likely defeat, according to analysts and a rough calculation of the military operation so far.

Missiles fired from submarines in the Mediterranean, bombs dropped by B-2 stealth bombers and an array of warplanes launching airstrikes over the northern portion of Libya easily total hundreds of millions of dollars. The campaign entered its fifth day on Wednesday.

The Obama administration isn't talking overall cost, but the magnitude of the military campaign, the warships and aircraft deployed and the munitions used provide some information to estimate the growing price tag.

As of Tuesday, the coalition had fired at least 162 sea-launched Tomahawk missiles priced at $1 million to $1.5 million apiece and dispatched B-2 stealth bombers - round-trip from Missouri - to drop 2,000-pound bombs on Libyan sites.

Total flying time: 25 hours. Operating cost for one hour: at least $10,000.

Yet those numbers only provide part of the costs. The B-2 bombers require expensive fuel - and rely on air tankers to refuel in flight - and probably needed parts replaced upon their return to Whiteman Air Force Base. The pilots most certainly will get combat pay.

A contingent of U.S. warplanes; 11 ships steaming in the Mediterranean, including three submarines, two destroyers and two amphibious ships; and one F-15 fighter jet that crashed, costing $75 million or more - it all adds up to numbers that unnerve budget-conscious lawmakers.

"Every six hours we have another billion-dollar deficit," said Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., a member of the House Armed Services Committee. "This could cost us a billion dollars there, which means simply another billion-dollar debt that our kids, our grandkids and our great-grandkids are going to have to pay back."

Yet some Democrats argue it could have been far more costly.

"This financial obligation would have been much more significant it if were unilateral," Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Wednesday in a conference call with reporters. "Multilateral would not eliminate it, but it minimizes it."

Said the panel's chairman, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich.: "We're going to be the junior partner in a multilateral effort." He suggested other countries would cover some of the cost of equipment or fuel.

Zack Cooper, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said Wednesday that the initial cost of the operation was between $400 million and $800 million and the weekly expense was likely $30 million to $100 million.

Cooper said missiles and bombs represent the significant first-time cost. As the campaign progresses, fuel will be a major expense.

"The real question looking ahead is what the length of the operation is going to be and who is going to bear the burden of maintaining the no-fly zone," he said.

President Barack Obama has insisted that the United States will turn control of the operation over to other countries within days. Defense Secretary Robert Gates suggested it could be as early as Saturday.

The Pentagon is expected to cover the cost of the no-fly zone in its current budget. In a classified briefing for congressional staff Tuesday, officials from the State Department, Pentagon and Treasury were pressed on the cost. They declined to address the issue.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, said he would offer an amendment to the next budget resolution that would prohibit taxpayer dollars from being used to fund U.S. military operations in Libya. His effort could gain significant congressional support, including the backing of tea partiers, if the U.S. military operation is going full-bore when lawmakers return from their recess next week.

"We have already spent trillions of dollars on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, both of which descended into unwinnable quagmires," Kucinich wrote his colleagues. "Now, the president is plunging the United States into yet another war we cannot afford."

The government already is operating on a series of stopgap spending bills for the current fiscal year amid the clamor to cut the budget, including defense dollars. The Pentagon has requested $553 billion for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, plus $118 billion in war costs for Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The Pentagon really needs to do this on the cheap," said Loren Thompson, head of the Virginia-based Lexington Institute and adviser to several major defense contractors. "If someone suggests more money to do the Libyan operation, most voters would say, 'Let's not do the Libyan operation.'"

In the past, the United States has footed the bill for some costly no-fly zones.

In the 1990s, the U.S. participated in Operation Noble Anvil, an air assault in Yugoslavia. Enforcement of the no-fly zone lasted from March 1999 to June 1999, and cost $1.8 billion. After the first Persian Gulf War, two no-fly zones in Iraq to protect citizens from Saddam Hussein's wrath cost about $700 million a year - from 1992 to 2003.

Rep. Howard Berman of California, top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he expected lawmakers to make a spending cut exception for national security.

"Do we sit out the whole transition in Egypt or are there roles we can play?" Berman said. "Even the most rabid budget-cutters have as a general proposition accepted the notion that national security matters are treated differently than other matters."

The Congressional Research Service said the costs of establishing and maintaining a no-fly zone can vary widely based on several factors, including the duration of the military operation, the specific military actions, the size and terrain of the targeted country, and whether "mission creep" occurs. The latter is an expansion of military steps toward the same goal.