Archive for the ‘London’ Category

British Troops Forced to “Make Do” Killed in Afghanistan by Taliban

November 15, 2008

Capt David Hicks, who was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry, told his girlfriend Nicola Billen that his men were “sitting ducks” at their makeshift base just days before he was killed in an attack.

In letters to Miss Billen, seen by The Daily Telegraph, he repeatedly spoke of his “frustration” that requests for equipment went unheard.

On several occasions he had asked for a doctor for be sent to the remote outpost called Inkerman base because they were being attacked twice a day by the Taliban.

But it was not until the officer was killed while leading the counterattack against the enemy on Aug 11 last year that a doctor was permanently stationed at the base.

By Thomas Harding
Defence Correspondent
The Telegraph, London

The coroner at Capt Hick’s inquest earlier this week criticised the Ministry of Defence for forcing troops to “make do” on the front line after the court also heard that the sand-bagged fortifications were poor.

Read the rest:

British troops out of Iraq by end of 2009

November 14, 2008

All British troops will be out of Iraq by the end of next year, Iraq’s national security advisor said on Friday, days before Baghdad was expected to vote on a controversial US military pact.

“By the end of next year there will be no British troops in Iraq. By the end of 2009,” Muwafaq al-Rubaie said, adding that negotiations between London and Baghdad on the pull-out had begun two weeks ago.


A defence ministry spokesman in London said in response that Britain has “no timetable” for the withdrawal of its roughly 4,000 troops in Iraq, the vast majority of which are based in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.


“At the minute, we have no timetable,” the spokesman told AFP.

“We are hopefully making progress, we have made progress in Basra, and we are on course to meet the prime minister’s fundamental change of mission in 2009,” the spokesman said, reiterating previously-stated plans.

Baghdad has been racing to secure separate agreements with both Britain and the United States to replace the UN mandate currently governing the presence of foreign troops in the country, which expires December 31.

Iraq’s cabinet was expected to vote on the so-called Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), a wide-ranging US military pact, either Saturday or Sunday. The two sides have been wrangling over the document for months.


Rubaie insisted however that the agreement Iraq sought with the British was simpler and would not take as much time to complete.

“It will be a much shorter agreement with the UK,” Rubaie said. “And it progresses quite nicely. It’s much shorter and much simpler.”

He added that by the middle of next year there would be a “dramatic” reduction of British troops.

Read the rest:

Pirates Near Somalia Chased, Killed As Naval Forces Get Tough

November 13, 2008

British Royal Navy commandos gave chase to suspected pirates off the coast of Yemen, killing two of them in an ensuing gunfight.

The HMS Cumberland was on a routine patrol in the Gulf of Aden on Nov. 11 when it spotted a Yemeni registered fishing boat, or dhow, positively identified in a hijacking attempt on a Danish cargo ship, the MV Powerful, earlier in the day, the U.K.’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement late yesterday.

Two suspected Somali pirates were killed in an exchange of fire ...
Two suspected Somali pirates were killed in an exchange of fire with the British navy’s HMS Cumberland, the defence ministry said on Wednesday.(AFP/File/Po Luigi Cotrufo)

After “non forcible methods” to stop the dhow failed, the Royal Navy launched small assault craft to encircle the vessel, the MoD said. The pirates opened fire and the Navy fired back in self defense, according to the statement.

Two foreign nationals, believed to be Somali, were shot and killed, the MoD said. A Yemeni was found injured and died later. He received emergency treatment from Cumberland’s doctor, the MoD said, though it wasn’t clear whether his injuries were due to the firefight or to a previous incident, it added.

Indian warship 'INS Tabar' successfully defended a merchant ... 
Indian warship ‘INS Tabar’ successfully defended a merchant vessel from being hijacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden. The frigate escorted the Jag Arnav to safety.(AFP/INDIAN NAVY/File/Ho)

Read the rest from Bloomberg:

Britain boosts Mandarin in schools as China’s power grows

February 7, 2008

LONDON (AFP) – Teenagers in England will be able to study for a new national qualification in Mandarin, reflecting the growing importance of China as a global power, an exam board announced Thursday.

Students aged 15 and 16 will get the chance to study the subject for their GCSE exams, which all young people in the country have to sit, from next year, the Assessments and Qualifications Alliance said.

The board said it was making the announcement to coincide with the start of Lunar New Year.

Read the rest:

High school students leave a school in London. Teenagers in ...
High school students leave a school in London. Teenagers in England will be able to study for a new national qualification in Mandarin, reflecting the growing importance of China as a global power, an exam board announced Thursday.(AFP/File/Carl de Souza)

Britain Accused of Undermining Afghanistan

February 6, 2008

By David Blair
London Telegraph
February 6, 2008

Britain’s troubled relations with Afghanistan’s government have worsened with the disclosure that London had secretly planned to build training camps for former Taliban fighters.

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, pictured on January 21, ...
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, pictured on January 21, said his country along with Pakistan faces “gloom and doom” from Taliban insurgents, and called for the world to “join hands” to defeat the Islamist rebels.
(AFP/File/Shah Marai)

The Afghan authorities denied any knowledge of the scheme to rehabilitate gunmen who have defected from the Taliban in Helmand province, a key opium-growing region. .
Officials said this was another example of Britain undermining President Hamid Karzai’s authority.
Two Western diplomats, one working for the United Nations and the other serving the European Union, were asked to leave Afghanistan in December after they reportedly held direct talks with Taliban commanders without Mr. Karzai’s official permission.

Read the  rest:

Singer Amy Winehouse: Court Ordered Rehab

February 5, 2008

The Guardian (UK)
February 5, 2008

Singer Amy Winehouse left her London rehab clinic for a few hours to meet officials at the US Embassy.

She was also accompanied by a nurse as the terms of her treatment mean she must remain under supervision at all times.

She was admitted to the Capio Nightingale clinic in north London on January 24, days after a video emerged showing her apparently smoking crack cocaine.

Read the rest:

Troubled soul singer Amy Winehouse, pictured on January 18, ... 
Troubled soul singer Amy Winehouse, pictured on January 18, was admitted Thursday to a rehabilitation clinic to help her battle against drug addiction, her record company said.(AFP/Shaun Curry)

Sharif deported from Pakistan

September 10, 2007

By ZARAR KHAN, Associated Press Writer

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was deported to Saudi Arabia Monday, hours after he had landed in Pakistan following seven years in exile hoping to campaign against the country’s U.S.-allied military ruler, officials said.

About four hours after he arrived on a flight from London, Sharif was taken into custody and charged with corruption, but then quickly spirited to another plane and flown out of Pakistan toward Jiddah, a close aide to President Gen. Pervez Musharraf said.

An intelligence official confirmed the information. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity ….

Read it all at:

Britain puts brakes on immigration

September 9, 2007

Sunday Telegraph (London)
By Patrick Hennessy
September 9, 2007

Tens of thousands of immigrant workers will be forced to learn English before they are allowed into Britain under a plan Prime Minister Gordon Brown is expected to announce tomorrow in a speech to the Trades Union Congress in Brighton, informed sources revealed yesterday.

The rules, expected to reduce the number of people entering Britain by at least 35,000 a year, will affect those from countries outside the European Union who are seeking to work and settle permanently in Britain.

“Those who we welcome into the UK to work and settle here need to understand our traditions and feel that they are part of our shared national culture….

Read the rest at:

September 11: Terror Milestone

September 8, 2007

Milestone No. 5

By John E. Carey
The Washington Times
First Published
September 11, 2006

On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The attack was unprovoked and unannounced. No state of war existed before the attack.

On April 18, 1942, just more than four months later, America retaliated with a bomber attack on Tokyo. The pilots had been trained and qualified, in that short time, to do something never tried before: fly off a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Pacific Ocean, conduct a bombing mission and ditch instead of land at an airfield.

On September 11, 2001, the United States was attacked at the World Trade Center in New York City and at the Pentagon near Washington D.C. The attack was unprovoked and unannounced. No state of war existed before the attack.

On October 7, 2001, less than a month later, the United States attacked Afghanistan.

It is difficult to imagine any other nation in the world being able to respond so quickly and so professionally after an attack like that suffered by the United States on December 7, 1941, or on September 11, 2001.

Both days were dark days. Both days challenged our unity and resolve. Both days ended with great jubilation in quarters of the enemy camp. And both days marked commencement of a long, arduous struggle.

Since September 11, the damaged section of the Pentagon has been rebuilt, a plan is in place in New York, and despite terror attacks in London, Madrid and elsewhere, there has not been a significant follow-up strike against the United States on U.S. soil.

By carrying the battle to the enemy in Iraq and Afghanistan, with our professional military forces and not our women and children and other innocents, we, as a nation, have already achieved a significant advantage over the enemy.

And, as the president said last Thursday during an interview with Katie Couric, of this new enemy: “They share the same jihadist mentality, this radicalism. See, that’s the interesting thing about this war, Katie. It’s — we’re not facing a nation-state. We’re facing people from other nation — around the — around the globe, frankly, that share an ideology and the desire to — achieve objectives through killing innocent people.”

So this war is different from all others. And we have responded differently. We reformed our government and created the Department of Homeland Security. We energized and reformed our intelligence services and created the director of national intelligence (John Negroponte) above the Central Intelligence Agency director. We monitored the terrorists’ communications, computer networks, financing and banking. We commenced a war like no other war ever on Earth.

We, the United States, redefined war. The war on terror we are engaged in, what the Pentagon calls the Global War on Terror (GWOT), and the underlying wars like the war between Israel and Hezbollah, may best carry this new definition: We will do what we have to do, on all levels throughout the world, to keep the enemy on the run, off-balance and living in fear.

The GWOT is more than a military confrontation. It is also a spy game, a media battle for “hearts and minds,” a war of financial sleuthing and intrigue, a war on the internet and much more.

Saddam Hussein is behind bars or in court. Despite some ugly military prison scandals of our own, the rule of law prevails and reforms are in place. We have not lowered ourselves to the level of the terrorists.

Sure, one can criticize. Sure the effort has proceeded slowly and deliberately. Sure, the enemy has changed the rules of the game several times (he is not stupid) like springing Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) on us and attempting to instill sectarian violence so severe Iraq may splinter into civil war.

But our nation is perhaps the only nation that could have responded so quickly, so professionally and, seemingly, so effortlessly to the attacks we sustained. Shopping malls in America still teem with happy shoppers. Cars still sell. Gas is not yet even $4 a gallon. Our economy is strong. We continue to pursue projects in space.

Yes, we have made sacrifices, principal among them the sacrifice of life and blood and limb by our men and women in the combat forces. But what is the second biggest sacrifice? Processing before an airline flight takes longer? One has to remove ones shoes before boarding a plane?

Our schools continue to function. People still go to work.  Our mass transit systems are operating just fine. Our football season is getting underway.  No American has spent a night in a bomb shelter — even though many Israelis spent a month or more living in bomb-proof underground facilities as Hezbollah rained down missiles.

We should not be complacent. As the president has said: This will be a long war.

So what is our weakness? Our Achilles heel is our own resolve. Our weakness is our own lack of unity, now exacerbated by an election cycle.

And our enemies are still with us. In Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defies not just the United States but the entire international community. He is the first president ever to defy the United Nations in the pursuit of nuclear projects. He pushes ahead despite U.N. Resolutions to the contrary.

What are Mr. Ahmadinejad’s goals? Well, he calls the United States the Great Satan. Israel is only the little Satan. And he blithely says he intends to “wipe the Zionist state off the map.” So what will his plan be for the Great Satan?

And in North Korea, an attention-seeking dictator has nuclear weapons and strives to perfect his long-range ballistic missiles.

So, like the Roman Emperors, we face the Huns on many fronts.

And like our forefathers in Rome and in other great civilizations, we have to guard against our own disagreements and divisions from becoming crippling. We have to watch our Achilles heel.

Because our enemies are real. And they want to win.

Thaksin Not Going to Thailand Soon

September 5, 2007

LONDON (AP) — Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is unlikely to return to Thailand in the near future because he fears for his safety, a statement said Tuesday.

A day after a Thai court issued a new set of arrest warrants for him and his wife, Thaksin’s public relations company said the exiled former leader was innocent of any crime.

Read the rest at: