Crossfire War – RAPID FIRE NEWS=BELGRADE – ATHENS – TEHRAN WATCH – Southeast Europe Theatre: Belgrade – Athens – Moscow – Tehran – Banja Luka – Podogrica – Sofia – Bucharest – Budapest – Kosovska Mitrovica/(Brussels – Vienna – Warsaw)/Pristina – Tirana – Tehran – Skopje – Ankara; Explosion – Gunshots in Kosovo Day After Serbia Election – PM Kostunica Holds Key to Runoff Election – Arab League in Emergency Meeting in Cairo on Israel Blockade of Gaza – Iran Calls for Action on Highest Level – Heavy Fighting in Kashmir – 30 Naval Chiefs of Indian Ocean States to Meet in India February
Night Watch: PRISTINA – B92 reports the day after the first round of Serbia’s Presidential elections there was an explosion in Pristina, capital of Kosovo province and gunshots heard on the Ismet Krasniqi road near the suburb Dragodani. A number of foreign diplomatic representative offices are located near the site of the shooting. Kosovo Police Service (KPS) are attempting to explain it away as a “clash between individuals” but the timing makes me suspect it is directly connected to the issue of Kosovo independence and reports indicate it will be declared right after the Serbian runoff election February 3. There is no word on the countries that have diplomatic offices near the shooting, but since most of them support the Albanian community’s declaration of independence I have to assume the shooting was a warning from Serbian nationalists on the consequences of supporting Kosovo. [B92]
Belgrade – Political analysts in Serbia are now saying Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica is the key in determining which candidate will win the second round in just two weeks. The nationalist candidate Tomislav Nikolic of the Serbian Radical party won the first round with 39 per cent of the vote over incumbent President Boris Tadic of the Democratic Party who received 34 per cent. Though both of them are against Kosovo independence Nikolic is virulently against Serbia being regulated by the European Union (EU) and would rather Serbia continue to increase its relations with its historical ally Russia that is against Kosovo independence. On the other hand, Tadic believes Serbia’s future is with the EU even though it would mean a smaller Serbia. [B92]
Analyst Goran Svilanovic stated Kostunica will “decide who will be President of Serbia” but Svilanovic and all the other analysts assume Kostunica will support Tadic. These analysts may have forgotten it was Kostunica who played a crucial role in signing the security agreements with Iran in January 2006 and Greece that November. He also agreed with Russia re-arming Serbia and also with the new military strength of the Serbian community in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Republika Srpska. I believe Kostunica will endorse the Radical Party candidate Tomislav Nikolic and the resumption of war with Serbia better prepared than during the 1990s and by no means alone.
Cairo – Al Jazeera is reporting the twenty-two member Arab League is holding an emergency meeting in Cairo Monday to plan their response to Israel’s blockade of Gaza, one of Jerusalem’s responses to the Qassam rocket and mortar barrages Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups have been conducting. Amr Moussa, head of the organization is already calling for international pressure on Israel especially from the “quartet,” United Nations-European Union (EU)-Russia-U.S., “The quartet must immediately move to stop the series of aggressions and to allow humanitarian aid to enter Gaza in order to end the humanitarian crisis and to avoid collapse of current Palestinian/Israeli talks.” Hamas, under Tehran’s instruction, has used the blockade to create a power blackout even though Israeli officials have said there is enough fuel to keep essential services running. There have been mass rallies against the blockade at the Rafah terminal crossing between Gaza and Egypt, in southern Gaza, Amman, Palestinian refugee camp Shatila in Lebanon and by university students in Algiers. [ALJAZEERA]
Iran Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Mohammad Ali Hosseini stated, “Iran is ready to host the extraordinary Foreign Minister’s meeting of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and it is ready to participate anywhere that it is held. Iran will participate at the highest level. But it is important to hold the meeting as soon as possible.” Tehran has planned this crisis, just as it has planned the rocket-mortar barrages, as a way to demonstrate Islamic unity, but so far, all the 57 member OIC has done is issued a condemnation of Israel and called on the UN Security-Council to take action. No Islamic government has yet mentioned publicly any military response or military support for Palestinian units though Tehran-Damascus have been actively doing just that. Tehran may hope that is the next step and not in secret. So far, the only unit in Gaza calling for violent action is the Popular Resistance Committees who have said they will break through the Rafah terminal to Egypt.
Tehran – Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in trouble again with Iran’s leadership. Asharq al-Awast/AFP report Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has supported Parliament in resisting attempts by the President to dissolve several institutions including the important Monetary and Credit Council. Regular readers of crossfirewar.com know I have stated Ahmadinejad’s days as President are numbered, not because of the state of Iran’s economy, but because he is not a cleric and has already served his purpose by making outlandish statements to distract the international community. His role was to give the misleading impression Israel is the main target of Tehran’s foreign policy, but there is no market for salt in the Dead Sea and Iran’s foreign policy is extremely economic. The West and India are the two main targets. The West since they are Tehran’s main international rival and India in support of Pakistan and the Muslim community in Kashmir and to attempt to control the resources of the Indian subcontinent. [ASHARQALAWSAT]
I suspect former President and cleric Mohammad Khatami will be summoned to resume office. The religious establishment has been leading the foreign policy since the 1979 revolution under the Ayatollah Khomenei. Khatami continues to deceive the world into believing he is a moderate. The Council of Guardians, which approves candidates, would never allow a genuine moderate to become head of state.
Kupwara – WebIndia reports several members of the Islamic unit Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) were killed in a 36-hour gun battle in North Kashmir in the frontier district of Kupwara. Acting on information a militant group was in the area India used a Special Operations Group (SOG), of police and soldiers of the 30 Rashtriya Rifles (RR). Two Indian soldiers, one of them a Major and a police officer were killed, as the unit had to use mortars to demolish the house the militants were firing from. [WEBINDIA]
Delhi – Thirty naval chiefs from Indian Ocean countries are due to meet in Delhi on February 13-14 to discuss safety, security and maritime cooperation. The only nation not represented will be Somalia, which is where the threat to international shipping in this region has been based for the past several years. The meeting is called the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) Seminar 2008-“Contemporary Trans-National Challenges-International Maritme Connectivity.” [WEBINDIA]