Sunday, January 19, 2014

Putin: Terror strikes should not affect the Sochi Olympics

Russian President added that security would be ensured by some 40,000 law enforcement and special services officers
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with Russian and foreign media that he did not want terrorist acts like the two recent explosions in Volgograd in December 2013 to affect the Olympic Games in Sochi. “I would not want these acts of terrorism -crimes of the kind aimed at undermining international cooperation in the political as well as, so to say, humanitarian area, including sports, to affect the upcoming events. For if we allow ourselves to show weakness, to show our fear, it means we will help the terrorists achieve their goals. I think that international community, working in all areas - humanitarian, political and economic - must join forces in the fight against the inhumanity of terrorist attacks and killing entirely innocent people. Our task as organizers is to ensure the security of athletes and guests at this major sport event, and will do our best,” the Russian president said when he was asked how the two recent terrorist acts in Volgograd could affect the security at the Games. Putin added that security would be ensured by some 40,000 law enforcement and special services officers. “Of course, we will draw on the experience acquired during similar events held in other regions or the world and in other countries. It means that we will protect our air and sea space as well as the mountain cluster, “Putin explained. “I hope things will be organized in such a way that they do not catch the eye and, as I have already said, will not, so to say, depress the participants in the Olympic Games,” Putin explained, adding the law enforcers will do their best to make the aforesaid measures effective. One of the journalists shared her memories of the London Olympic Games where Patriot missile launchers had been deployed on the roofs of houses and military ships were anchored in the bay. “I hope you will not see anything but we will do our best,” the president went on to say. “As for London, we remember that one of the G8 summits there saw a number of terrorist attacks, including in the tube. I remember the painful reaction of the then British Prime Minister Tony Blair to the attacks and I remember how we all provided him moral, and if necessary special support,” Putin said. The president thanked the law enforcers of many foreign countries for active cooperation with Russian security forces and law enforcement in the run-up to the Sochi Olympic Games.

Video: President Obama Speaks on U.S. Intelligence Programs, Jan 17, 2014

Video: Ukrainian riot police in flames

As violent anti-government protests continue into the night in Kiev, riot police catch fire.

Suicide blast in Rawalpindi kills 6, injures 15

The Express Tribune News
A suicide bomb blast near RA Bazaar in Rawalpindi killed six people including three army personnel and injured 15 others, Express News reported on Monday. The target of the blast was a joint check post of the police and the Pakistan Army. The blast took place near the General Headquarters of the Pakistan military and the RA police station. It occurred in front of the National Logistics Cell building. Security forces have cordoned off the area. The injured were taken to Combined Military Hospital for medical attention. Further investigation is underway.

Global Terrorism and Saudi Arabia: Bandar’s Terror Network

By Prof. James Petras
Saudi Arabia has all the vices and none of the virtues of an oil rich state like Venezuela. The country is governed by a family dictatorship which tolerates no opposition and severely punishes human rights advocates and political dissidents.
Hundreds of billions in oil revenues are controlled by the royal despotism and fuel speculative investments the world over. The ruling elite relies on the purchase of Western arms and US military bases for protection. The wealth of productive nations is siphoned to enrich the conspicuous consumption of the Saudi ruling family. The ruling elite finances the most fanatical, retrograde, misogynist version of Islam, “Wahhabi” a sect of Sunni Islam.
Faced with internal dissent from repressed subjects and religious minorities, the Saudi dictatorship perceives threats and dangers from all sides, overseas, secular, nationalists and Shiite ruling governments; internally, moderate Sunni nationalists, democrats and feminists; within the royalist cliques, traditionalists and modernizers. In response it has turned toward financing, training and arming an international network of Islamic terrorists who are directed toward attacking, invading and destroying regimes opposed to the Saudi clerical-dictatorial regime.
The mastermind of the Saudi terror network is Bandar bin Sultan, who has longstanding and deep ties to high level US political, military and intelligence officials. Bandar was trained and indoctrinated at Maxwell Air Force Base and Johns Hopkins University and served as Saudi Ambassador to the US for over two decades (1983 – 2005). Between 2005 – 2011 he was Secretary of the National Security Council and in 2012 he was appointed as Director General of the Saudi Intelligence Agency. Early on Bandar became deeply immersed in clandestine terror operations working in liaison with the CIA. Among his numerous dirty operations with the CIA during the 1980s, Bandar channeled $32 million dollars to the Nicaragua Contra’s engaged in a terror campaign to overthrow the revolutionary Sandinista government in Nicaragua.
During his tenure as ambassador he was actively engaged in protecting Saudi royalty with ties to the 9/11/01 bombing of the Triple Towers and the Pentagon. Suspicion that Bandar and his allies in the Royal family had prior knowledge of the bombings by Saudi terrorists (11 of the 19), is suggested by the sudden flight of Saudi Royalty following the terrorist act. US intelligence documents regarding the Saudi-Bandar connection are under Congressional review. With a wealth of experience and training in running clandestine terrorist operations, derived from his two decades of collaboration with the US intelligence agencies, Bandar was in a position to organize his own global terror network in defense of the isolated retrograde and vulnerable Saudi despotic monarchy.
Bandar’s Terror Network
Bandar bin Sultan has transformed Saudi Arabia from an inward-looking, tribal based regime totally dependent on US military power for its survival, to a major regional center of a vast terror network, an active financial backer of rightwing military dictatorships (Egypt) and client regimes (Yemen) and military interventor in the (Persian) Gulf region (Bahrain). Bandar has financed and armed a vast array of clandestine terror operations, utilizing Islamic affiliates of Al-Qaeda, the Saudi controlled Wahhabi sect as well as numerous other Sunni armed groups. Bandar is a pragmatic terrorist operator, repressing Al-Qaeda adversaries in Saudi Arabia and financing Al-Qaeda terrorists in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere. While Bandar was a long-term asset of the US intelligence services, he has, more recently, taken an independent course where the regional interests of the despotic state diverge from those of the US. In the same vein, while Saudi Arabia has a longstanding enmity toward Israel, Bandar has developed a “covert understanding” and working relation with the Netanyahu regime, around their common enmity toward Iran and more specifically in opposition to the interim agreement between the Obama-Rouhani regime. Bandar has intervened directly or via proxies in reshaping political alignments, destabilizing adversaries and bolstering and expanding the political reach of the Saudi dictatorship from North Africa to South Asia, from the Russian Caucuses to the Horn of Africa, sometimes in concert with Western imperialism, other times projecting Saudi hegemonic aspirations.
North Africa: Tunisia, Morocco, Libya and Egypt
Bandar has poured billions of dollars to bolster the rightwing pro-Islamic regimes in Tunisia and Morocco, ensuring that the mass pro-democracy movements would be repressed, marginalized and demobilized. Islamic extremists receiving Saudi financial support are encouraged to back the “moderate” Islamists in government by assassinating secular democratic leaders and socialist trade union leaders in opposition. Bandar’s policies largely coincide with those of the US and France in Tunisia and Morocco; but not in Libya and Egypt.
Saudi financial backing for Islamist terrorists and Al-Qaeda affiliates against Libyan President Gadhafi were in-line with the NATO air war. However divergences emerged in the aftermath, the NATO backed client regime made up of neo-liberal ex-pat’s faced off against Saudi backed Al-Qaeda and Islamist terror gangs and assorted tribal gunmen and marauders. Bandar funded Islamic extremists in Libya were bankrolled to extend their military operations to Syria, where the Saudi regime was organizing a vast military operation to overthrow the Assad regime. The internecine conflict between NATO and Saudi armed groups in Libya, spilled over and led to the Islamist murder of the US Ambassador and CIA operatives in Benghazi. Having overthrown Gadhafi, Bandar virtually abandoned interest in the ensuing blood bath and chaos provoked by his armed assets. They in turn, became self-financing – robbing banks, pilfering oil and emptying local treasuries – relatively “independent” of Bandar’s control.
In Egypt, Bandar developed, in coordination with Israel (but for different reasons), a strategy of undermining the relatively independent, democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood regime of Mohammed Morsi. Bandar and the Saudi dictatorship financially backed the military coup and dictatorship of General Sisi. The US strategy of a power-sharing agreement between the Moslem Brotherhood and the military regime, combining popular electoral legitimacy and the pro-Israel-pro NATO military was sabotaged. With a $15 billion aid package and promises of more to come, Bandar provided the Egyptian military a financial lifeline and economic immunity from any international financial reprisals. None were taken of any consequences. The military crushed the Brotherhood, jailed and threatened to execute its elected leaders. It outlawed sectors of the liberal-left opposition which it had used as cannon fodder to justify its seizure of power. In backing the military coup, Bandar eliminated a rival, democratically elected Islamic regime which stood in contrast to the Saudi despotism. He secured a like-minded dictatorial regime in a key Arab country, even though the military rulers are more secular, pro-Western, pro-Israel and less anti-Assad than the Brotherhood regime. Bandar’s success in greasing the wheels for the Egyptian coup secured a political ally but faces an uncertain future.
The revival of a new anti-dictatorial mass movement would also target the Saudi connection. Moreover Bandar undercut and weakened (Persian) Gulf State unity, Qatar had financed the Morsi regime and was out $5 billion dollars it had extended to the previous regime.
Bandar’s terror network is most evident in his long-term large scale financing, arming, training and transport of tens of thousands of Islamic terrorist “volunteers” from the US, Europe, the Middle East, the Caucuses, North Africa and elsewhere. Al-Qaeda terrorists in Saudi Arabia became “martyrs of Islam” in Syria. Dozens of Islamic armed gangs in Syria competed for Saudi arms and funds. Training bases with US and European instructors and Saudi financing were established in Jordan, Pakistan and Turkey. Bandar financed the major rebel Islamic terrorist armed group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, for cross border operations.
"With Hezbollah supporting Assad," Bandar directed money and arms to the Abdullah Azzam Brigades in Lebanon to bomb South Beirut, the Iranian embassy and Tripoli. Bandar directed $3 billion to the Lebanese military with the idea of fomenting a new civil war between it and Hezbollah. In co-ordination with France and the US, but with far greater funding and greater latitude to recruit Islamic terrorists, Bandar assumed the leading role and became the principle director of a three front military and diplomatic offensive against Syria, Hezbollah and Iran. For Bandar, an Islamic takeover in Syria would lead to an Islamic Syrian invasion in support of Al-Qaeda in Lebanon to defeat Hezbollah in hopes of isolating Iran. Tehran would then become the target of a Saudi-Israeli-US offensive. Bandar’s strategy is more fantasy than reality.
Bandar Diverges from Washington, the Offensive in Iraq and Iran
Saudi Arabia has been an extremely useful but sometimes out of control client of Washington. This is especially the case since Bandar has taken over as Intelligence chief, a long-time asset of the CIA he has also, at times, taken the liberty to extract favors for his services, especially when those favors enhance his upward advance within the Saudi power structure. Hence, for example, his ability to secure AWACs despite AIPAC opposition earned him merit points. As did Bandar’s ability to secure the departure of several hundred Saudi royalty with ties to the 9/11 bombers, despite a high level national security lockdown in the aftermath of the bombing. While there were episodic transgressions in the past, Bandar moved on to more serious divergences from US policy. He went ahead, building his own terror network, directed toward maximizing Saudi hegemony – even where it conflicted with US proxies, clients and clandestine operatives.
"While the US is committed to backing the rightwing Maliki regime in Iraq," Bandar is providing political, military and financial backing to the Sunni terrorist “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”. When the US negotiated the “interim agreement” with Iran Bandar voiced his opposition and “bought” support. Saudi signed off on a billion dollar arms agreement during French President Hollande’s visit, in exchange for greater sanctions on Iran. Bandar also expressed support for Israel’s use of the Zionist power configuration to influence the Congress, to sabotage US negotiations with Iran.
Bandar has moved beyond his original submission to US intelligence handlers. His close ties with past and present US and EU presidents and political influentials have encouraged him to engage in “Big Power adventures”. He met with Russian President Putin to convince him to drop his support for Syria, offering a carrot or a stick, a multi-billion dollar arms sale for compliance and a threat to unleash Chechnyian terrorists to undermine the Sochi Olympics. He has turned Erdogan from a NATO ally supporting moderate armed opponents to Bashar Assad, into embracing the Saudi backed Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a terrorist Al-Qaeda affiliate. Bandar has “overlooked” Erdogan’s “opportunist” efforts to sign off oil deals with Iran and Iraq, his continuing military arrangements with NATO and his past backing of the defunct Morsi regime in Egypt, in order to secure Erdogan’s support for the easy transit of large numbers of Saudi trained terrorists to Syria and probably Lebanon. Bandar has strengthened ties with the armed Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, arming and financing their armed resistance against the US, as well as offering the US a site for a negotiated departure. Bandar is probably supporting and arming Uighur Muslim terrorists in western China, and Chechens and Caucasian Islamic terrorists in Russia, even as the Saudis expand their oil agreements with China and cooperate with Russia’s Gazprom. The only region where the Saudis have exercised direct military intervention is in the (Persian) Gulf min-state of Bahrain, where Saudi troops crushed the pro-democracy movement challenging the local despot.
Bandar: Global Terror on Dubious Domestic Foundations
Bandar has embarked on an extraordinary transformation of Saudi foreign policy and enhanced its global influence. All to the worst. Like Israel, when a reactionary ruler comes to power and overturns the democratic order, Saudi arrives on the scene with bags of dollars to buttress the regime. Whenever an Islamic terror network emerges to subvert a nationalist, secular or Shiite regime, it can count on Saudi funds and arms. What some Western scribes euphemistically describe as “tenuous effort to liberalize and modernize” the retrograde Saudi regime, is really a military upgrade of its overseas terrorist activity. Bandar uses modern techniques of terror to impose the Saudi model of reactionary rule on neighboring and distant regimes with Muslim populations.
The problem is that Bandar’s “adventurous” large scale overseas operations conflict with some of the ruling Royal family’s “introspective” style of rulership. They want to be left alone to accrue hundreds of billions collecting petrol rents, to invest in high-end properties around the world, and to quietly patronize high end call girls in Washington, London and Beirut –while posing as pious guardians of Medina, Mecca and the Holy sites. So far Bandar has not been challenged, because he has been careful to pay his respects to the ruling monarch and his inner circle. He has bought and brought Western and Eastern prime ministers, presidents and other respectable notable to Riyadh to sign deals and pay compliments to the delight of the reigning despot. Yet his solicitous behavior to overseas Al-Qaeda operations, his encouraging Saudi extremists to go overseas and engage in terrorist wars, disturbs monarchical circles. They worry that Saudis trained, armed and knowledgeable terrorists – dubbed as “holy warriors” – may return from Syria, Russia and Iraq and bomb the King's palaces. Moreover, oversea regimes targeted by Bandar’s terror network may retaliate, Russia or Iran, Syrians, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Iraqis may just sponsor their own instruments of retaliation. Despite the hundreds of billions spent on arms purchases, the Saudi regime is very vulnerable on all levels. Apart from tribal legions, the billionaire elite have little popular support and even less legitimacy. It depends on overseas migrant labor, foreign “experts” and US military forces. The Saudi elite is also despised by the most religious of the Wahhabi clergy for allowing “infidels” on sacred terrain. While Bandar extends Saudi power abroad, the domestic foundations of rule are narrowing. While he defies US policymakers in Syria, Iran and Afghanistan, the regime depends on the US Air Force and Seventh Fleet to protect it from a growing array of adversarial regimes.
Bandar, with his inflated ego, may believe that he is a “Saladin” building a new Islamic empire, but in reality, by waving one finger his patron monarch can lead to his rapid dismissal. One too many provocative civilian bombings by his Islamic terrorist beneficiaries can lead to an international crises leading to Saudi Arabia becoming the target of world opprobrium.
In reality, Bandar bin Sultan is the protégé and successor of Bin Laden; he has deepened and systematized global terrorism. Bandar’s terror network has murdered far more innocent victims than Bin Laden. That, of course, is to be expected; after all he has billions of dollars from the Saudi treasury, training from the CIA and the handshake of Netanyahu!

Bahrain’s Lethal Teargas War

Pro-democracy activists are banding together in an online campaign to stop the shipment of tear gas canisters to Bahrain, where government forces have transformed the gas into a mortal weapon.
Sayed Hashim Saeed was 15 years, nine months and six days old the day he died. Two years on, his father remembers every detail. It was New Year’s Eve 2011, and the family was visiting Sayed Hashim’s grandparents in a suburb of Bahrain’s Hamad City. At 5pm, the high-school freshman slipped out of the house and joined a nearby pro-democracy protest.
“There was a sit-in in the street. They just sat in front of the houses, it was peaceful,” said his father, Sayed Saeed. “Then the security forces came in with vans. Of course, Sayed Hashim ran away. So they chased him.”
Armed officers in dark uniforms and white helmets pursued him down the narrow alleys. When they got a clear shot, they fired a teargas canister directly at his upper body. It hit him in the neck and knocked him to the floor. As he lay there, they fired another round, which caught in his clothes and caused a huge burn across his chest.
“The other guys tried to save him, but the police fired more rounds, so the gas became thick around him. The gas had overcome him. He couldn’t get up,” said his father. By the time he made it to hospital, Sayed Hashim was dead.
He was one of at least 39 Bahrainis killed by teargas canisters since the start of an Arab Spring-inspired uprising in the tiny Gulf kingdom, an island with the population of San Diego. Bahrain has seen daily street protests and brutal police violence since February 2011, when security forces used force to break up a peaceful sit-in at the Pearl Roundabout in capital Manama. Human-rights groups say the regime has arrested and tortured dozens of opposition activists. But in the streets, the security forces’ weapon of choice is teargas. Lots of it.
“Teargas in Bahrain is used as a weapon for killing, not for breaking up demos,” said Sayed Yousif Al Muhafda, head of documentation at the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights. “It’s always used as a weapon—it’s fired from close up and towards the upper part of the body.”
Teargas canisters are meant to be fired in an arc, landing amid crowds of protestors and giving off an instant fog of foul-smelling, eye-watering smoke to force people to clear out. But human-rights groups accuse the Bahraini security forces of “weaponizing” both the gas and the canisters, to lethal effect.
Physicians for Human Rights reported in 2012 that the government’s use of tear gas as a weapon had maimed, blinded and killed protestors. Muhafda said he had documented 30 cases where people—mostly elderly or disabled—had died of suffocation after canisters were fired or thrown into their homes. Several pregnant women have lost babies as a result.
One police tactic has been to fire dozens of canisters in quick succession into the mostly Shia villages where the protests are strongest, a crude exercise in collective punishment by the Sunni regime. Dozens of Youtube videos bear witness to this, and it’s particularly common around the time of big events such as this weekend’s Bahrain International Air Show—or the country’s showcase annual event, the Formula 1 racing.
“Formula 1 actually causes human-rights violations,” said Maryam Al Khawaja, acting President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. “Right before the event, the government goes on a crackdown in the surrounding villages to make sure there are no protests. If they feel there’s a probability that will happen, they’ll do the same with the air show.”
The Obama administration has banned the sale of U.S.-made tear gas canisters to Bahrain, but not all countries have done the same. Last October, campaign group Bahrain Watch discovered that the Bahrain government had ordered a massive batch of tear gas rounds from South Korean company. The tender was for 1.6 million canisters—more than one round for every Bahraini citizen. They launched a huge online campaign dubbed #Stoptheshipment. After supporters sent 400,000 emails to South Korean officials, Seoul banned the delivery, citing “political instability” in Bahrain. But activists now fear that Bahrain will import the canisters via a third country to evade export controls. All the signs are that the authorities are upping the ante.
“They used to use gas that was weak—it would only make your eyes water. Now they’re using poisonous gas,” said Sayed Saeed, who said he attends protests almost daily. “Now, you just stand for a few moments, and if you don’t leave, or close your mouth to the gas, you’ll fall on the ground because it’s so strong.”
This week’s meeting between the Bahraini Crown Prince and the head of the main opposition party, Al Wefaq, raised hopes of a deal to end the deadlock in the country. But with violations continuing every day, it seems unlikely Bahrainis will be able to openly express their opinions any time soon.
“Teargas is a subset of the problem,” said Joe Stork, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division. “We’re talking about a government that denies people the ability to exercise the right to peacefully demonstrate.”

U.N. Invites Iran to Peace Conference on Syria, Surprising U.S. Officials

Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, said on Sunday that he had invited Iran to an international peace conference to end the war in Syria. The announcement drew immediate objections from American officials, who suggested that Iran had not met all the conditions for attending and that the invitation might need to be withdrawn.
At the heart of the dispute is whether Iran has publicly accepted the terms of the talks, which begin Wednesday in Montreux, Switzerland: to establish “by mutual consent” a transitional body to govern Syria. Mr. Ban said he had been privately assured that Iran understood those ground rules and had pledged to play “a positive and constructive role.”
The State Department appeared to have been caught off guard by Mr. Ban’s hastily organized news conference Sunday evening. It pointed out that Iran had actively aided the government of President Bashar al-Assad and failed to accept the terms agreed upon in Geneva in 2012, which are known as the Geneva communiqué.
“If Iran does not fully and publicly accept the Geneva communiqué, the invitation must be rescinded,” said Jen Psaki, a State Department spokeswoman.
Iran had made no such public statement at the time of Mr. Ban’s news conference.
“The United States views the U.N. secretary general’s invitation to Iran to attend the upcoming Geneva conference as conditioned on Iran’s explicit and public support for the full implementation of the Geneva communiqué, including the establishment of a transitional governing body by mutual consent with full executive authorities,” Ms. Psaki said in a statement. “We also remain deeply concerned about Iran’s contributions to the Assad regime’s brutal campaign against its own people, which has contributed to the growth of extremism and instability in the region.”
Mr. Ban took pains to note that Iran had accepted the terms of the talks. That would be a major turnaround, since Iran has long insisted that it will participate in talks only if there are no preconditions. Still, Iran’s acceptance of the terms would not necessarily mean it accepted the principle that Mr. Assad must leave office. Iranian officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Some 30 countries, including Saudi Arabia, a bitter rival of Iran, have been invited to what may be a largely ceremonial opening day of the peace talks. Two days later, Syria’s government and opposition delegations will move to Geneva to continue the deliberations, mediated by a United Nations special envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi. Diplomats and Middle East analysts say that if there are any breakthroughs, they will take place in Geneva. The negotiations are not expected to yield major results, except perhaps to open up certain parts of Syria to the delivery of humanitarian aid, which has been long denied.
Iran’s participation has been the subject of intense diplomatic wrangling for several weeks. Mr. Ban and Mr. Brahimi have insisted that Iran, with its considerable influence over the Assad government, should be part of the negotiations. So has the Syrian government’s other major ally, Russia. The United States has long been wary of Iran’s intentions. Tehran has been one of the Assad government’s staunchest political and military supporters, sending arms to Damascus and encouraging Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militia, to join the fight on the side of Mr. Assad.
As recently as last Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry complained that Iran was, effectively, a belligerent in the conflict.
“Iran is currently a major actor with respect to adverse consequences in Syria,” Mr. Kerry said. “No other nation has its people on the ground fighting in the way that they are.”
Mr. Kerry repeated the longstanding American position that Iran should not be invited unless it formally accepts the goal of establishing a post-Assad transitional government.
Andrew J. Tabler, an expert on Syria at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said Iran’s presence “seems to widen the circle of regional involvement.” But Mr. Tabler also noted that Iran and the United States could be expected to hold diametrically opposed views as to whether Mr. Assad must give up power. “Given that Iranian forces and their Shia militias are deployed on the ground backing up Assad, it means another Assad backer will be present at this meeting,” he said.
Syria’s political opposition said in a Twitter message that it would not attend unless Mr. Ban withdrew Iran’s invitation.
“The Syrian coalition announces that they will withdraw their attendance in Geneva 2 unless Ban Ki-moon retracts Iran’s invitation,” the Twitter message said, quoting Louay Safi, a coalition spokesman.
The ultimatum came just a day after the coalition, facing a boycott from a third of its members, had voted to send a delegation to the peace talks. The opposition has been under intense international pressure, including from the United States government, to participate.
Mr. Ban reported on Sunday that Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, had said his country supported the ground rules.
“He has assured me that, like all the other countries invited to the opening day discussions in Montreux, Iran understands that the basis of the talks is the full implementation of the 30 June, 2012, Geneva communiqué,” Mr. Ban said.
“Foreign Minister Zarif and I agreed that the goal of the negotiations is to establish by mutual consent a transitional governing body with full executive powers,” he added. “It was on that basis that Foreign Minister Zarif pledged that Iran would play a positive and constructive role in Montreux.”

Bilawal Bhutto condemns Bannu attack
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Patron in Chief, Pakistan Peoples Party has strongly condemned the coward attack on nation’s brave soldiers of FC in Bannu resulting in martyrdom of 20 sons fighting to save their motherland from scourge of beastly terrorism. “Our soldiers are being killed…Our patriotic politicians are being mowed down…almost every institution and segment of our society is being attacked barring the scared and apologetic ostriches,” he stated. “From mosques to schools, hospitals to churches, media houses to military cantonments, prisons to Tableeghi Markaz, these beasts are attacking everything that protects and upholds the flag of Islam and Pakistan,” he said stressing entire nation needs to rise up against these deadly criminals, anti-Islam and anti-Pakistan elements and finish them off before they annihilate all of us. PPP Patron in Chief said those who have refused to recognise TTP as the enemy and perpetuated the myth of ‘peace talks’ have blood on their hands.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari expressed sympathies with the bereaved families of soldiers and prayed eternal life for the martyred soldiers.

Pakistan: Explosion kills 22 in Bannu; TTP claims attack

A bombing, targeting a security forces convoy, killed 22 people and injured 38 others near Razmak gate in Cantt area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Bannu district on Sunday. The Pakistani Taliban claimed the attack. An ISPR spokesman said that in the attack, 20 security personnel were killed and 30 were injured.
Speaking to CNN, Shahidullah Shahid, spokesman for the proscribed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed that the militant organisation was responsible for the attack and said that their attacks on security forces would continue.
On the other hand, intelligence sources say that a convoy, comprising military and civilian vehicles, was ready to move towards Miramshah in the North Waziristan tribal region from a ground near Razmak Gate in Cantt area of Bannu when the explosion occurred in one of the coaches.
The sources added that the explosives were planted in one of the vehicles hired from a private party.
Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan condemning the incident has sought a report from the Inspector General of Frontier Corps with the details related to the hiring of the private vehicles for transportation.
Emergency and security forces reached the attack site and shifted the victims to a nearby hospital. Those killed in the attack included civilians and security forces personnel. Security and rescue sources said 18 personnel and four civilians were among the dead.
Moreover, security forces cordoned off the area as a probe into the incident went underway. Within hours of the attack, the TTP spokesman said that the Taliban were ready for meaningful dialogue, however, the government should show its sincerity. The northwestern town of Bannu, which stands at the gateway to the semi-autonomous Waziristan tribal region, is 150 kilometres southwest of Peshawar, the capital of KP.
The town has witnessed a number of attacks and was the scene of a massive jail break in April 2012 during which 384 prisoners escaped from its central prison.