20 I WORLD NEWS
Passion Islam I June 2010
The top US military commander in the Middle East signed a secret order in late 2009 that set the stage for an increase in covert operations to counter militants and other threats across the region, defense officials said.
Gen. David Petraeus, the head of US Central Command, signed an order in September authorizing Special Operations forces to deploy to both allied and hostile nations in the Mideast, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa to conduct surveillance missions and partner with local forces, two officials said on condition of anonymity because it involves clandestine forces.
The seven-page order also appears to authorize specific operations in Iran, most likely to gather intelligence about the country’s nuclear program or identify dissident groups that might be useful for a future military offensive, according to The New York Times, which first disclosed the directive in its editions. Also citing anonymous sources, the newspaper said that the new order does not authorize offensive action, but rather its goal is to build new networks to “penetrate, disrupt, defeat or destroy” militant groups, including Al-Qaeda, and “prepare the environment” for future attacks.
As such, the Joint Unconventional
Warfare Task Force Execute Order of Sept. 30 to a large extent is aimed at codifying established activities — some of which have been
US expands counterterror operations in hot spots
under way for years — and more systematically align them and fund them under Central Command’s special operations component, one defense official said.
One such major escalation in the region is the work already under way with Yemen, the country where Al-Qaeda linked militants planned the failed Christmas Day airliner attack over Detroit by the so-called underwear bomber. In that case, the Defense Department plans to more than double to $150 million this year the money spent on helicopters, weapons and other counterterrorism efforts to help local security forces go after the group Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Aside from that expansion, it was unclear precisely what other operations or missions in recent months might have stemmed from the new order. Officials said that many top commanders, Gen. Petraeus among them, have advocated an expansive interpretation of the military’s role around the world, arguing that troops need to operate beyond Iraq and Afghanistan to better fight militant
The order, which an official said was drafted in close coordination with Adm. Eric T. Olson, the officer in charge of the United States Special Operations Command, calls for clandestine activities that “cannot or will not be accomplished” by conventional military operations or “interagency activities,” a reference to American spy agencies. While the CIA and the Pentagon have often been at odds over expansion of clandestine military activity, most recently over intelligence gathering by Pentagon contractors in Pakistan and Afghanistan, there does not appear to have been a significant dispute over the September order. A spokesman for the CIA declined to confirm the existence of Gen. Petraeus’ order, but said that the spy agency and the Pentagon had a “close relationship” and generally coordinate operations in the field. During the Bush administration, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld endorsed clandestine military operations.
Syria launches tourism campaign
Syrian Ministry of Tourism launched an advertising campaign in Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain to promote Syria as a tourist destination. Promotion Director at the Syrian
Tourism Ministry Dr. Ahmad Al- Yousef said in a press statement that advertising promotional campaign
in Jordan and GCC included ads in newspapers, television, magazines and billboards. He pointed out that the ministry
launched similar campaigns in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey since last year. The Ministry will participate in Riyadh Travel Exhibition 2010 for Tourism
investment and promotion of tourist destinations, to be held in the Saudi capital in June, he added. The Ministry also participated in a number of exhibitions in Dubai, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Tunisia. The number of GCC tourists in Syria during 2009 exceeded 764,000 compared to 659,000 in 2008.-Kuna
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