16 May 14. Not waiting for the formation of a new government after May 16 elections, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government has appointed a new Indian Army chief, ignoring protests from the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). ‘The government has decided to appoint Lt. General Dalbir Singh, presently Vice Chief of the Army Staff, as the next Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) after retirement of the present Chief of the Army Staff, General Bikram Singh on July 31, 2014,’ says a Ministry of Defense release. Former Army Chief Gen. V.K. Singh, who is running for election on the BJP ticket, protested last month against the appointment of a new chief before the new government was formed. V.K. Singh, days before his retirement in 2012, imposed a promotion ban on Dalbir Singh for a botched intelligence operation in the northeastern state of Assam. The ban was revoked by his successor, the current Army chief. “The appointment of a new Army chief is mired in controversy and could have been easily avoided if Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony had waited for another week,” says Nitin Mehta, defense analyst.
An MoD official said the government is well within its right to name a new Army Chief. India’s Election Commission early this week also said the government was within its rights to select the Chief and not wait for the election.
The UPA government is likely to lose power to the BJP-led government, according to the polls, and the hurry to appoint Dalbir Singh gives an impression that the UPA government wants to keep its own man in the position, said an Army official.
(Source: Defense News)
17 May 14. Palestinian media outlets on Friday conveyed remarks by Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh announcing that his group and the rival Palestinian Fatah faction had resolved issues surrounding the integration of security forces, as the two Palestinians organizations moved closer toward the implementation of a unity agreement aimed at establishing a single government ruling over the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and Fatah-controlled portions of the West Bank. Haniyeh added that Hamas “will not give up the weapon of resistance, and… will not forsake resistance… [and] will not depart the position of manliness and dignity and will remain loyal soldiers of Palestine,” with “resistance” in this context being a euphemism for the eradication of Israel. Fatah officials in late April had announced a deal with Hamas to establish a single government. The move had been the latest in almost a decade’s worth of efforts designed to bridge gaps between the two factions, all of which had failed and many of which had deteriorated precisely because of differences over the disposition of various security forces. The security infrastructure of the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA) is Western-backed and U.S.-trained, while Hamas has been armed with weapons – including tens of thousands of missiles – by Iran. There are multiple issues at stake. Regarding integration, Hamas has long demanded that any deal that be reciprocal, with PA forces being brought into Hamas’s force structure and vice versa. The scenario, which would see the American-designated terror group avail itself of American resources originally given to the PA, is all but guaranteed to trigger an international backlash. Hamas’s projectile arsenal presents a separate problem. Putting it under the control of Western-backed PA forces would put the group at odds with its long-time Iranian sponsors, which whom Hamas officials have in recent months been seeking closer ties. The alternative – under which Hamas was permitted to maintain its own mini-army and Iranian-supplied missile arsenal independent of the central Palestinian government – would risk making any future Palestinian state into a mirror of Lebanon, under which Hamas maintaining a similar state-within-a-state to the one Hezbollah currently controls. (Source: theisraelproject.org)
16 May 14. France steps up efforts to bolste