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Entries in Defense Minister (4)

Wednesday
Aug082012

Afghanistan's Defense Minister Quits Following No-Confidence Vote

MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/GettyImages(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Afghanistan's goal of achieving long-term stability suffered a major blow on Tuesday when Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak decided to quit after lawmakers gave him a vote of no-confidence last weekend.

In a terse statement to reporters in Kabul, Wardak said, "I respected the parliament's decision to twice appoint me as defense minister, and now I accept the parliament decision to remove me.  I resign my position."

U.S. and NATO allies were stunned by Wardak's resignation since he had their full support.  However, there has been a spike in violence by the Taliban in recent months, and those within the government felt a change was necessary to improve the country's security situation.

The recent assassinations of senior officials and cross-border attacks with Pakistan fueled the no-confidence vote, which also included a reprimand of Interior Minister Bismillah Mohammadi.

Wardak's resignation came on the same day that a U.S. soldier was killed by two men wearing Afghan soldiers' uniforms.  Both suspects were taken into custody.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul182012

Syrian President's Brother-in-Law, Defense Minister Die in Bombing

AFP/Getty Images(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- A bombing at Syria's national security building has killed the country's defense minister and the Syrian president's brother-in-law, and wounded other senior officials, Syrian state-run TV said.

Defense Minister Dawoud Rajha, 65, died in the attack Wednesday after four days of battles in which Syrian troops used tanks and helicopters against rebels. Rajha is the most senior official to die during the country's civil war, which has escalated since the spring of 2011.

The country's 62-year-old Deputy Defense Minister Assef Shawkat, who is Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's brother-in-law and a top aide, also died in the attack, according to Syrian State TV.  A source in Damascus confirmed to ABC News that that Shawkat was dead on arrival to the hospital.

State television reported that the country's interior minister, Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shaar, is in stable condition after being wounded in the attack. The head of the national security office, Hisham Bekhtyar, was reportedly critically wounded.

The Free Syrian Army and Islamist rebel group Liwa al-Islam claimed responsibility for the attack.

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In a statement made on the group's Facebook page, Liwa al-Islam said it "targeted the cell called the crisis control room in the capital of Damascus."

"We announce to Syrians in general and those in the capital Damascus in particular that thanks to God the national security office, which includes the crisis management cell in the capital Damascus, has been targeted with a bomb planted by the 'Chief of the Martyrs' battalion that is attached to Islam Brigade," the statement read.

Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi appeared on State TV after the attacks, blaming "foreign elements" and calling it a "terrorist bomb attack."

"[This is a] cowardly act that will only increase the determination of the army to chase them and only add to our resolve," al-Zohbi said.

He also blamed Arab and Western governments and their intelligence services for the attack for which those responsible "will pay for dearly."

It is still unclear whether it was a suicide bomber in a car near the building or someone who was able to get close to the Syrian leaders who carried out the attack. The attack was close to Assad's residence.

The attack came during a meeting of cabinet ministers and senior security officials that included Rajha, Shawkat, Syria's interior minister, the country's head of intelligence and the head of national security.

Al Jazeera reported that Defense Minister Shawkat's bodyguard carried out the attack.

Wednesday's attack comes amid the worst violence the capital has seen during this uprising. Continued reports of clashes have been met by a huge mobilization by the Syrian army to quash the uprising.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague condemned the attacks in a statement Wednesday highlighting an "urgent need" to impose a resolution on the Assad regime.

"This incident, which we condemn, confirms the urgent need for a chapter VII resolution of the UN Security Council on Syria," he said. "The situation in Syria is clearly deteriorating. All the members of the UN Security Council have a responsibility to put their weight behind the enforcement of joint special envoy Kofi Annan's plan to end the violence.

"We call on all parties to refrain from violence," he said, "and for the Security Council to shoulder its responsibilities."

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Wednesday morning that the attack is "a real escalation in the fighting" and that the increased fighting and loss of life "tells us that this is a situation that is rapidly spinning out of control."

Both Panetta and British Defense Minister Phillip Hammond warned Syria not to use its chemical weapons stockpiles against its civilian population.

"We will hold them responsible should anything happen with regards to those sites," Panetta said, adding that the United States and its allies are working "very closely together to ensure that they are ensuring their responsibilities to effectively secure these chemical sites."

Panetta urged the United States and the international community to use what pressure they can to bring Assad to step down through the peaceful transition laid out in the Annan Plan.

"We are very concerned" by the increasing loss of life in Syria, Panetta said.

Syrian National Council member Ausama Monajed told ABC News that he believes the explosives were planted and not triggered by a suicide bomber. Monajed said he believes the attack was planned for two months, and warned of more attacks in the coming days.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul182012

Syrian Defense Minister Killed in Suicide Bombing in Damascus

AFP/GettyImages(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- Syria's defense minister and the president's brother-in-law were killed Wednesday when a suicide bomber targeted the national security building in Damascus, according to Syrian state-run TV.  Other top government officials were also said to have been wounded.

Defense Minister Dawoud Rajha, 65, died in the attack Wednesday after four days of battles in which Syrian troops used tanks and helicopters against rebels.  Rajha is the most senior official to die during the country's civil war, which has escalated since it began in March 2011.

The country's 62-year-old Deputy Defense Minister Assef Shawkat, who is Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's brother-in-law and a top aide, also died in the attack, according to state-run TV.

State television reported that the country's interior minister, Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shaar, is in stable condition after being wounded in the attack.  The head of the national security office, Hisham Bekhtyar, was reportedly critically wounded.

The Free Syrian Army and Islamist rebel group Liwa al-Islam claimed responsibility for the attack.

In a statement made on the group's Facebook page, Liwa al-Islam said it "targeted the cell called the crisis control room in the capital of Damascus," Al Jazeera reported.

Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi appeared on state TV after the attacks, again blaming "foreign elements" and calling it a "terrorist bomb attack."

"[This is a] cowardly act that will only increase the determination of the army to chase them and only add to our resolve," al-Zohbi said.

He also blamed Arab and Western governments and their intelligence services for the attack, which he said those responsible "will pay for dearly."

It is still unclear whether it was a suicide bomber in a car near the building or someone who was able to get close to the Syrian leaders who carried out the attack.  The attack was close to Assad's residence and came during a meeting of cabinet ministers and senior security officials that included Rajha, Shawkat, Syria's interior minister, the country's head of intelligence and the head of national security.

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White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said today that the bombing in Syria “makes clear that Assad is losing control” and that the “window is closing” to find a peaceful solution to the violence.

Carney stressed that the administration does not “believe that violence is the answer” to the escalating crisis, but stopped short of condemning the attack on top officials of the Assad regime.

“It is precisely because of the ongoing campaign by President Assad against his own people that we are seeing a situation that is getting worse and worse,” Carney told reporters at the daily briefing. “That is why it is so important for the international community to come together around a plan that produces the transition -- the political transition that is essential if Syria is to have a brighter future.”

Carney could not confirm whether Assad was a target of the bombing or say where he is currently located and he did not have any information about who may have been behind the attack.

“We're still gathering details about the incident,” he said. “All I can tell you is that it reflects the fact that the situation is getting more violent every day in Syria. And it only proves the point that we've been making, that the window is closing. We need to take action in a unified way to help bring about the transition that the Syrian people so deserve.”

Carney confirmed that President Obama called Russian President Putin today to discuss the situation in Syria, but did not have a full readout for the press yet. He confirmed that the U.S. is working with its partners at the UN to try to “bring about the consensus that we believe is absolutely necessary.”

“One concern expressed by those who have resisted supporting a transition that would see Assad remove himself from power is that it would -- that that outcome would cause the situation to spiral out of control or cause chaos or more violence. And our argument has always been that the situation as it exists with Assad in power is what will result in greater violence and greater chaos. And that is being borne out, unfortunately,” Carney said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan102011

Japanese, South Korean Defense Ministers Discuss Military Pact

Photo Courtesy - Chung Sung-Jun/ Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) -- Japanese and South Korean defense ministers met in Seoul, South Korea Monday to discuss a bilateral military pact.

In a rare show of unity, Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa said Japan and Korea must deepen military exchanges, while his South Korean counterpart, Kim Kwan-Jin, declared the bilateral relationship stronger than ever.

Japan and South Korea haven't had a military pact in place since the end of World War II, when Japan ended its colonial rule of the Korean peninsula.  While the two countries have economic and diplomatic ties, a military exchange remains sensitive because many Koreans believe Japan hasn't apologized properly for its past.

North Korea's attack on Yeonpyeong Island last November may force these countries to look beyond those differences to insure safety.  Kitazawa and Kwan-Jin condemned the attacks and said both sides hoped to share intelligence, and provide support for military services.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio