JUPITER/SATURN OPPOSITION APRIL 2010 – 2012

exact in May & August 2010 and March 2011

The Opposition stays in a 10 degree orb from April 11 2010 to March 9 2012.

THE 2014-16 CYCLE IN SQUARE DOES NOT COMPLETE TILL JULY 2016 SO ANALYSIS WILL NOT BE ENTERED TILL THEN

IRAQ

The cycle opposition sees violence and bloodshed in Iraq continue – during this period around 330 civilians get killed per month – high though this is it contrasts with the thousands killed every month in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

MAXIMISATION OF CHAOS & UNCERTAINTY AS US AND BRITISH TROOPS LEAVE

What the Jupiter/Saturn opposition represents is a maximisation of chaos and uncertainty stemming from the departure from Iraq of UK troops (May 2011) and US troops (Dec 2011) and this following a nine month period when Iraq actually had no acting government at all. We shall look at the political and constitutional picture but first let us look at what kind of violence takes place in this period.

BOMBINGS AND SHOOTINGS TARGET SECURITY AND GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS

It is a quite different patchwork of violence from the predominantly execution style violence at the cycle out-square. There are indeed very much fewer execution style killings. The main targets of bombings and shootings are security officials and government workers – the aim being to disrupt the running of the country. However what is difficult is to distinguish the al-Qaeda (‘al-Qaeda in Iraq’) and ‘Islamic State of Iraq’ killings from what seem to be purely sectarian killings. It is true there are a very large number of attacks targeting members of those Sunni groups (Awakening Councils) who have turned against al-Qaeda (remember al Qaeda is a largely Sunni group) and these attacks are anti- coalition in nature but there are a huge group of Sunni attacks on Shiite mosques, pilgrims and neighbourhoods that appear purely sectarian. It is true that these attacks serve to undermine the government – the government being Shia led – but it seems unlikely that this is the main motivation

MAJOR BOMBINGS INCREASINGLY SECTARIAN

The list below summarises all bombings reported with over 20 fatalities. You will see how they group around the exact cycle opposition dates and how the mainly, or purely. sectarian attacks (in red) increasingly start to predominate.

2010 Apr 4 (40), Apr 6 (50), Apr 23 (72), May 10 (50), May 14 (20) May 17 (30) May 23 First Exact Hit June 20 (32), July 7 (45), July 15 (27), July 18 (48), July 26 (30), Aug 7 (20), Aug 16 Second Exact Hit Aug 17 (61), Sept 19 (36) Oct 29 (22), Oct 31 (68), Nov 2 (91),

2011 Jan 18 (65), Jan 20 (56), Jan 24 (36), Jan 27 (51), Feb 12 (36) March 28 Third Exact Hit May 5 (20), May 22 (20), June 3 (21), June 21 (27), June 23 (24), July 5 (37), Aug 2 (23), Aug 15 (89), Aug 28 (29), Sept 30 (20), Oct 12 (25), Oct 27 (32), Dec 5 (30), Dec 21 (69),

2012 Jan 5 (78), Jan 14 (53), Jan 27 (33)

But the key development in Iraq that correlates with the cycle opposition seems to be the absence of government and the departure, 9 years after the invasion, of US and UK forces. Has the invasion, as claimed, laid the foundations for democracy in Iraq ? Will the new government be able to cope on its own ?  What other geographical factor could influence the outcome ?

ELECTIONS LEAD TO POLITICAL DEADLOCK

On April 7 2010 as the cycle opposition starts an ‘election results’ investigation raises doubts over Nouri al-Maliki’s win and leads to a recount being ordered. On April 23 Iraq’s two main Shiite blocs sign an agreement likely to further alienate Iraq’s Sunni minority which had been hoping that March’s election would boost their role in power. On May 14 the election commission decides that the recount did not change the result (May 23 is the First exact Opposition) and on June 1st the Supreme Court ratifies the election results. On Aug 31 US Vice President Joe Biden presiding over the formal end to US combat operations in Iraq makes a new appeal to Iraqi leaders to end the political deadlock and seat a new government. (Aug 16 is the Second exact Opposition)

BREAKTHROUGH POWER SHARING DEAL

On September 28 2010 the cycle opposition goes out of orb till February 23. Politically and constitutionally matters change direction. On Oct 24 Iraq’s highest court orders parliament back to work after a seven-month political impasse and a few days later Iraq’s political rivals reach a breakthrough power-sharing deal in which Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, retains the premiership. The deal is between the National Alliance, which represents the main Shiite parties, and the Kurdish coalition, while the Sunni-backed Iraqiya’s support hinges on its agreement over the posts of speaker and president. On Dec 21 Iraqi lawmakers unanimously approve the new government. They also adopt a 43-point program aimed at liberalizing the economy and fighting terrorism.

MAJOR SUICIDE BOMBINGS + NEW INSURGENT GROUP EMERGES

On Feb 23 2011 the cycle opposition comes back into orb. On Feb 26 thousands march on government buildings and clash with security forces in cities across the country – 14 die in these protests at the government’s failure to provide basic services. There are further major demonstrations in March and early April. (March 28 is the Third exact opposition)  In June and July there are several major suicide bombs then on August 15 bomb blasts rip through more than a dozen Iraqi cities, killing at least 89 security forces and civilians in the worst attack this year.

Although at this time the security forces announce they have smashed an al-Qaeda network responsible for hundreds of killings in Baghdad, the Islamic State of Iraq group, a front group for al-Qaeda in Iraq and others, vows to carry out “100 attacks” across the country, to exact revenge for the US inflicted death of Osama bin Laden. On Dec 15 US officials formally shut down the war in Iraq after nearly nine years at a cost of 4,500 American dead and an absolute minimum of 100,000 Iraqi dead and with a price tag for the US Treasury of $800 billion.

The United States’ absence shows when on Dec 21 a wave of at least 14 bombings rips across Baghdad, killing 69 people in the worst violence in Iraq since August. The bombings which continue through till early March when the cycle opposition finally and permanently goes out of orb, are serious and emphatically sectarian.

If developments in Iraq do follow this cycle we should expect only a gradual change in how people view the sectarian conflict or al-Qaeda in Iraq’s destabilising attacks until late 2014 when the In square comes into orb. Indeed there is a strong possibility of violence surging around 24 March 2013 and 20 May 2013 when the difficult cycle stages of 210 and 225 degrees are hit.

IRAN

MAXIMISATION OF IMPASSE BETWEEN THE WEST AND IRAN AS IT PUSHES AHEAD WITH ITS NUCLEAR PROGRAMME.

The cycle opposition sees the maximisation of an impasse between the Western powers and Iran over its nuclear programme. While sanctions and later an embargo are imposed the controversial uranium enrichment proceeds. As the Opposition begins, on April 9 2010 Iran unveils a third generation of domestically built centrifuges as it pushes ahead with plans to accelerate its uranium enrichment program which has so alarmed world powers. On May 19 Iran dismisses as “illegitimate” a draft UN Security Council resolution seeking to impose harsher sanctions against Tehran for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment. (May 23 2010 is the 1st exact cycle opposition)

The following day Iran formally submits its plan to swap some of its enriched uranium for reactor fuel stating that the onus is on world powers to defuse tensions by accepting the deal. On June 21 Iran says it has banned two UN nuclear inspectors from entering the country because they had leaked “false information” about Iran’s disputed nuclear program. At the same time Iran’s nuclear chief says his country has produced 17 kilograms of uranium enriched to 20 percent, in defiance of UN demands.

DESPITE NEW US & EU SANCTIONS IRAN DEFIES UN SECURITY COUNCIL

On July 1 President Obama signs into law new sanctions on Iran that, for the first time, will bar from the American market foreign companies that work with Iranian businesses charged with aiding Tehran’s nuclear program. On July 24 Iran warns it will stop trading with countries that impose such restrictions on its assets abroad. A few days later Iran vows to press ahead with its nuclear program despite being slapped with tough new EU sanctions – sanctions swiftly condemned by Russia. On July 30 Iran says it is ready for immediate talks with the US, Russia and France over an exchange of nuclear fuel adding it is also against stockpiling higher enriched uranium. On August 9 the IAEA says Iran has activated equipment to enrich uranium more efficiently – a move directly defying the UN Security Council. (August 16 2010 is the 2nd exact cycle opposition)

IRAN OFFERS TO END HIGH LEVEL ENRICHMENT

On August 16 Iran says it plans to build 10 new uranium enrichment sites inside protected mountain strongholds. At the same time Iran takes its case against the US to the UN strongly condemning a top US military chief who said military action remains a possibility if Iran develops nuclear weapons.  At the same time Iran launches an array of new military hardware including a new surface to air missile and its own unmanned bomber. On Sept 24 Iran’s President Ahmadinejad tells reporters that Iran would consider ending higher level uranium enrichment if world powers send Tehran nuclear fuel for a medical research reactor.

On Sept 28 the cycle opposition goes out of orb till Feb 23 – only two developments of any note occur during this period. On Dec 5 Iran claims it could now use domestically mined uranium to produce nuclear fuel, giving the country complete control over a process the West suspects is geared toward producing weapons. On Jan 4 2011 Iran’s government invites world powers and its allies in the Arab and developing world to tour Iranian nuclear sites – the proposal loses all credibility when the most sympathetic of the world powers Russia and China reject such a move as inadequate. After February 23 the opposition is back in orb. On Feb 26 Iran concedes it is having to remove nuclear fuel from the reactor of its only nuclear power station. (March 28 2011 is the 3rd exact cycle opposition)

IRAN WON’T RETREAT ONE IOTA FROM ITS NUCLEAR PROGRAM

On May 10 Iran says it has accepted the EU’s proposal for more talks. On June 8 the government of Iran announces it plans to continue nuclear enrichment, regardless of opposition. On July 19 Iran issues a new warning that it will halt supplies of crude oil to India unless the issue of billions of dollars owed to Iran and held back by international sanctions is paid. On Nov 9 President Ahmadinejad vows that Iran “won’t retreat one iota” from its nuclear program, denying claims that it seeks atomic weapons. On Jan 1 2012 Iran’s nuclear agency announces its scientists have tested the first nuclear fuel rod produced from uranium ore deposits inside the country. On Jan 23 the EU bans the purchase of Iranian oil – in response Iran threatens to retaliate by closing the Strait of Hormuz.

In February 2012 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors leave Iran after being denied access to the Parchin site, south of Tehran. The cycle correlation suggests there will be no breakthrough affecting Iran’s nuclear development programme till the cycle In square in mid 2015. Whether that breakthrough will be the retreat of Iran in the face of negotiations or as the result of targeted sanctions or even the threat of a military strike is unclear. If the correlation is right nothing pivotal will happen till then.

ISRAEL/PALESTINE

MAXIMISATION OF IMPASSE BETWEEN ISRAEL AND PALESTINIANS OVER A PEACE DEAL

The cycle opposition sees the maximisation of an impasse between Israel and Palestinian representatives over a peace resolution – specifically one that allows the creation of an independent Palestine state. It also sees a maximisation of the clash between the two Palestinian groups Fatah and Hamas. As the opposition begins, on April 17 2010 Hamas and Fatah do close ranks to protest against Israel continuing to keep some 6,600 Palestinian militants in jail – the first joint initiative by the bitter rivals since Fatah was routed from Gaza in 2007 – but it is not to last. Days later on the Israeli side Defence minister Ehud Barak says Israel must recognize that the world will not put up with decades more of Israeli rule over the Palestinian people. It will be Palestinian solidarity and Israeli longterm realism that will be tested and found wanting during this cycle stage.

On May 5 Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations restart after a break of more than a year – on the opposite sides of the table are a hard-line Israeli government and a Palestinian administration in control of only part of its territory. Indirect peace talks follow led by US Middle East envoy George Mitchell. On the Israeli side it is its construction of new housing for Jews in East Jerusalem, the traditionally Arab sector of the city, that proves the critical bar to progress on a peace agreement. On May 10 Israel says it will press ahead with planned construction there – such announcements, to the US administration’s chagrin, do much to detract from any progress made on other issues and recur throughout this cycle stage. (23 May 2010 First exact cycle opposition) The first major international newsworthy incident occurs almost immediately after this cycle opposition date.

ISRAEL’S NAVAL ATTACK ON ‘HUMANITARIAN’ FLOTILLA CAUSES OUTRAGE

Eight ships carrying 10,000 tons of donated supplies and hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists approach blockaded Gaza. On May 31 Israeli naval commandos storm the small flotilla of ships killing nine passengers in a predawn raid that sets off worldwide condemnation and a diplomatic crisis. At least four of the nine dead come from Turkey where a massive protest breaks out – and Turkey had been for many years Israel’s only Muslim ally. Ankara announces it is recalling its ambassador and calling off military exercises with Israel. Turkey’s prime minister declares that Israel had carried out a “bloody massacre”. Days later Israel rejects calls from the UN and others for an international investigation of its deadly raid. On August 15 Israel’s military says Hezbollah is moving fighters and weapons into the villages of south Lebanon, building up a secret network of arms warehouses, bunkers and command posts in apparent preparation for war. But there is to be no war there. (16 Aug 2010 Second exact cycle opposition)

ISRAELIS  INTRANSIGENT ON KEY ISSUES

On Sept 2 2010 Israeli and Palestinian leaders meet in Washington to prepare negotiations, vowing to try to settle core differences within a year but neither leader addresses the sensitive question of whether Israel would extend a moratorium on settlement building in the West Bank due to expire on September 26. On Sept 27 Israeli settlement building resumes across the West Bank but Palestinian President Abbas holds back on a threat to quit the peace talks. And then on Oct 11 the Israeli government endorses a bill requiring a national referendum to be held before any withdrawal from occupied east Jerusalem or the Golan Heights – ensuring this key element of any peace agreement is subject to popular support among Israelis. PM Netanyahu spells out recognition of Israel as a Jewish state as his price for a renewal of a ban on construction in the occupied West Bank. The offer is rejected out of hand by the Palestinians, who say it had “nothing to do with the peace process.”

ISRAELI GOVERNMENT REJECTS SETTLEMENT FREEZE

On Oct 15 Israel signs off the construction of 238 homes in Jewish neighbourhoods in east Jerusalem. On Oct 27 it appears that Israel’s Defence minister is holding up construction on 4,300 apartments that could be built immediately in the West Bank. However on Nov 8 he moves ahead with plans to build 1,300 of them. On Nov 21 Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas says that he will not return to the negotiating table with Israel without a settlement freeze that includes annexed Arab east Jerusalem. A week later the US vetoes a UN resolution condemning Israel’s West Bank settlements. In early March in Jerusalem again officials approve new housing for Jews in the heart of an Arab neighbourhood, once again infuriating Palestinians.

MILITANT ROCKETS ELICIT ISRAELI TANK & AIR ATTACKS

The violent aspect of relations between Palestinians and Israel throughout this cycle stage consists of Palestinian militants – especially the Islamic Jihad – firing rockets into Southern Israel and Israel responding with targeted air and tank attacks on Gaza. On March 25 Israel deploys its newly developed rocket defence system for the first time to defend its southern communities from attacks by Gaza militants after the bloodiest week of Palestinian strikes and Israeli reprisals. (28 March 2011 Third exact cycle opposition)

ISRAEL SIGNS OFF HOME CONSTRUCTION IN ARAB EAST JERUSALEM

On April 6 2011 a group of prominent Israelis, many of them former defence chiefs, launch a new peace plan calling for the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital – shortly after 47 signatories call for an Israeli pull-out from the West Bank. And yet the focus is still on house construction in Jerusalem. On April 11 Israel’s PM Netanyahu asks a government panel to put off final approval of 2,500 new apartments in east Jerusalem. On Aug 11 Israel’s interior minister gives final authorization to build 1,600 apartments in east Jerusalem stating he will approve 2,700 more later. On Sept 27 1,100 of those are authorised. On Jan 3 2012 the two sides meet in Jordan in the presence of envoys from the US, Russia, the EU and the UN. There is no significant breakthrough. By March 2012 the cycle opposition has moved out of orb.

CLASHES BETWEEN HAMAS AND FATAH

The other side of the story is the relationship between the two Palestinian liberation groups – Hamas and Fatah. The first rules Gaza, the second, as the Palestinian National Authority, rules the West Bank – both territories of course under the control of Israel. Hamas is known for its militant operations though it does have a strong community role and it acts to establish order in Gaza – albeit in a ruthless manner. In April 2010 it starts to carry out formal executions. It also orders Gaza residents to shut smuggling tunnels along the border with Egypt indefinitely, cutting off what had been something of an economic lifeline. It even destroys nearly 2 million pills of Tramadol, a painkiller many Gazans take recreationally

On May 6 Palestinian President Abbas accuses Hamas of smuggling large amounts of weapons into the West Bank as part of the militant group’s efforts to undermine his administration. It is unclear whether Hamas has control over other militant groups in Gaza – on June 28 two dozen masked men vandalize a UN summer camp for children, burning and slashing tents, toys and a plastic swimming pool – the second such attack in just over a month. More seriously there are other militant groups firing rockets into Israel. In August 2011 Hamas security forces in the Gaza Strip detain two members of an extremist organization called Al-Tawfid wal Jihad, suspected of such attacks.

HAMAS & FATAH REACH AGREEMENT AFTER 4 BITTER YEARS

In November 2010 representatives of Hamas and Fatah meet in Damascus for reconciliation talks. Over the coming months there is evidence Israel tries to undermine this coming together by arresting up to a dozen Hamas MPs. Yet there is also evidence Hamas urges other militants to halt their attacks, saying that continued violence would only invite Israeli reprisals. On April 27 2011 Hamas and Fatah say they have reached an agreement on reuniting their governments after four years of bitter infighting. On May 3 a top Palestinian negotiator confirms that 15 smaller factions, including militant Islamic groups, have thrown their weight behind this reconciliation deal.

On Aug 7 2011 Hamas and Fatah open further talks in Egypt then on Nov 24 Palestinian President Abbas and Khaled Mashaal, the Head of Hamas, say they have significantly narrowed differences between them. On Dec 22 the two announce plans to admit Hamas to the umbrella group that has overseen two decades of on-and-off peace talks with Israel. Two months later the opposition cycle goes out of orb and if the correlation is correct we can expect that united front to be consolidated over the years to come. Hamas’s position in August 2011 is that it is willing to cooperate with “a resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict which included a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders,” provided that Palestinian refugees held the right to return to Israel and that East Jerusalem be the new nation’s capital. But will Hamas be prepared to compromise in any way on these two issues, likely to be contentious to the Israelis ? Will there be the emergence of a new type of peace deal in 2015 ?

NORTH KOREA

DEATH OF KIM JONG IL

The cycle opposition sees the maximisation of an impasse between North Korea and world powers over the abandonment of North Korea’s nuclear weapon development. It also sees the death of Kim Jong Il and the succession passing to his third son – as yet an unknown player. The cycle opposition starts with officials from 47 countries attending a summit on nuclear proliferation – the key concerns are Iran, Israel and North Korea. On May 11 the Israeli Foreign minister accuses North Korea of supplying Syria with weapons of mass destruction – bringing into focus the dangers in N Korea being able to export nuclear weapons.

NORTH KOREA BLAMED FOR SINKING SOUTH KOREAN CORVETTE

(May 23 2010 is the first exact cycle opposition) The first major international newsworthy incident occurs immediately before this. On May 20 a multinational team blames North Korea for sinking a South Korean corvette with a torpedo in March claiming 46 lives – prompting an angry denial from Pyongyang and a threat of war if it is punished. Two days later North Korea declares that it is severing all communication and relations with Seoul as punishment for it being blamed for the sinking of the South Korean warship. It goes on to scrap an accord with the South designed to prevent armed clashes at their maritime border, and warns of “immediate physical strikes” if any South Korean ships enters its waters.

On June 12 North Korea vows to launch an all-out attack against South Korean loudspeaker broadcasts and other propaganda facilities along their heavily fortified border, warning it could even turn its capital Seoul into a “sea of flame.” On June 21 South Korea says abnormally high radiation levels were detected near the border between the two Koreas on May 15, days after North Korea claimed to have mastered a complex technology key to manufacturing a hydrogen bomb.

On July 10 North Korea expresses willingness to return to international nuclear disarmament talks but on July 21 the US announces new sanctions against North Korea and warns of serious consequences if it again attacks the South. On July 24 North Korea vows to respond with “powerful nuclear deterrence” to joint US and South Korean military exercises. (Aug 16 2010 is the second exact cycle opposition) The following day North Korea rejects a new unification proposal from South Korea, calling it a “ridiculous” plan aimed at weakening the North in preparation for a US-assisted invasion.

UN REPORT SUGGESTS NORTH KOREA MAY HAVE SUPPLIED SYRIA, IRAN AND MYANMAR WITH NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY

On Sep 28 North Korea’s Kim Jong Il makes his youngest son, Kim Jong Un, a four-star general in a promotion – seen as the first step toward his ascent as the country’s next leader. On Oct 10 he appears next to his father at a massive military parade. On Oct 16 2010 North Korea says it is willing to resume six-nation nuclear disarmament talks. On Nov 9 a UN report suggesting North Korea may have supplied Syria, Iran and Myanmar with banned nuclear technology reaches the Security Council. On Nov 19 a UN General Assembly committee passes resolutions condemning human rights violations in Iran, Myanmar and North Korea, provoking a furious reaction from their delegations.

NORTH KOREA ATTACK ON DISPUTED ISLAND

On Nov 23 North and South Korea exchange artillery fire after the North shells an island near their disputed sea border, killing at least 2 South Korean marines and 2 civilians. On Dec 3 South Korea threatens to bomb North Korea if it tries a repeat of the attack, its President promising to transform the five islands that lie along the disputed border into “military fortresses”. By January 5 2011 North Korea turns conciliatory – proposing ‘unconditional’ talks with Seoul to mend their damaged cross-border ties. On Jan 20 South Korea agrees to an offer of high-level military talks but the meeting in February falls apart when the two sides cannot agree on the agenda. (March 28 2011 is the third exact cycle opposition)

KIM JONG UN DECLARED NEW LEADER

Nothing substantive happens till 25 October 2011 when in Geneva US and North Korean officials conclude their two-day talks about Pyongyang’s nuclear program – talks described by the US delegate as very positive. But this is made irrelevant by the major event of 17 Dec 2011 – North Korean leader Kim Jong Il dies of a heart attack. He had succeeded his father Kim II Sung who had founded the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in 1948. On Dec 29 2011 the dead ruler’s third son, Kim Jong Un is publicly declared the country’s supreme leader at a massive public memorial ceremony followed in February 2012 by the army pledging its loyalty.

 AFGHANISTAN

MAXIMISATION OF CIVILIAN DEATHS CAUSED BY TALIBAN INSURGENCY – IN PARTICULAR SUICIDE BOMBINGS

The cycle does not correlate with the war in Afghanistan as a whole but with the Taliban’s interaction with Afghan civilians and the Afghan government. The cycle opposition from April 2010 to March 2012 sees a maximisation of civilian deaths caused by Taliban insurgent activities – in particular suicide bombings. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) makes 2010 and 2011 the worst for insurgent caused civilian deaths and civilian deaths as a whole. In 2010, the deadliest year for Afghans since the fall of the Taliban government some 2,080 civilians are killed by insurgents. In 2011 2,416 civilians are killed by insurgents. Not all these insurgent caused deaths are carried out by the Taliban but it seems reasonable to attribute the vast majority of planned attacks to the group. A 2012 report by UNAMA notes that the number of Afghan civilians killed or injured in 2012 decreased for the first time since the UN began keeping track of such figures – this fall off in civilian casualties overall in 2012 is consistent with the cycle opposition going out of orb in March 2012.

SURGE IN USE OF IEDs AND CONVOY ATTACKS.

It is exactly in this 2010-2012 period that the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) increases and that a surge in major suicide bombings take place. Let us focus on suicide bombings. In April the Afghan police had thwarted a major attack in Kabul, arresting five would-be suicide bombers, the largest such group apprehended in the capital. They later trapped nine members of a terrorist cell seizing nearly a quarter of a ton of explosives. Then on May 18, 2010 as the cycle opposition comes into orb the May 2010 Kabul bombing occurs. 18 people are killed and 52 injured when a NATO convoy is targeted by a Taliban suicide attacker. (May 23 2010 is the first exact cycle opposition)

ATTACK ON GIRLS SCHOOL  WEDDING PARTY AND MEDICAL TEAM

On May 30 suspected Taliban members, using rocket-propelled grenades and bombs, blow up a barely completed school for girls – built with international aid at a cost of a quarter of a million dollars. On June 2 Taliban militants launch a suicide attack on Afghanistan’s three day national peace conference opened by President Hamid Karzai – it is successfully foiled. That week sees a spike in insurgent attacks in advance of a major NATO operation in the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar. There on June 9, in one of the worst incidents in this period, a 12 year-old suicide bomber detonates his vest at a wedding party for a family with ties to the police, killing over 40 people. The Taliban, blamed by NATO, deny they were responsible for the attack, even condemning it as “a brutal act”.

On June 30 six suicide attackers kill 32 foreign and Afghan security forces at a NATO airbase near the Pakistan border. On Aug 5 ten members of a medical team are shot and killed by the Taliban as they are returning from providing eye treatment in remote villages – another shock to international opinion. (Aug 16 2010 is the second exact cycle opposition) On Aug 19 the Taliban kill 25 security guards in Helmand and the day after 15 police officers across the country .

KARZAI BEGINS SECRET TALKS WITH TALIBAN

The remainder of the period see increasing attempts to negotiate with the Taliban. On Sept 4 President Karzai announces a Peace Council has been set up to pursue talks with the Taliban. On Oct 6 President Karzai starts secret discussions with Taliban representatives – talks authorised by Muhammed Omar, the leader of the Pakistani based Taliban. However October 2010 sees a number of Taliban leaders killed or captured while on Oct 8 the Kunduz provincial governor and at least 19 other people are killed by the Taliban using a massive bomb inside a packed mosque during Friday prayers. In November in Ghazni province the Taliban overrun a district seat torching government buildings there and killing 16 policemen. On Nov 6 suspected Taliban members set fire to a girls’ school in Laghman province, burning the entire structure and its contents.

As 2011 gets underway on Jan 18 fifty Taliban fighters lay down their arms and join pro-government forces in northern Afghanistan. On Feb 12 Taliban suicide bombers kill 19 people in an attack on police headquarters in Kandahar. On Feb 18 in eastern Afghanistan suspected Taliban gunmen and suicide bombers dressed as border police kill 38 people in an attack on a bank in Jalalabad. On Feb 21 a suicide bomber blows himself up at the entrance to a government office in Kunduz province, killing at least 30 people.

AFGHAN FORCES TO TAKE OVER FROM COALITION IN 7 AREAS

On March 22 President Karzai says that his nation’s security forces will take over from the US led coalition in seven parts of the country – a first step toward his goal of having Afghan police and soldiers in charge by the end of 2014. This plan draws a line for the Western powers and their electoral support at home but arguably allows the Taliban to just keep going till they can take over when the coalition exits. (March 28 2011 is the third exact cycle opposition)

TALIBAN START SPRING MILITARY OFFENSIVE

At the end of March the Taliban announce the start of their spring military offensive. On Mar 29 in Nuristan province about 300 Taliban fighters overrun the tiny capital of this remote mountainous district while in Kunar province Taliban militants kidnap 40 police. On Apr 16 President Karzai and visiting Pakistani PM Raza Gilani agree to boost joint peace efforts with Taliban insurgents. In that same month President Karzai publicly berates the Taliban for using a 12 year old as a suicide bomber – later he pardons two dozen boys who had been caught trying to carry out suicide attacks – but the following year with terrible irony two of the boys (aged 10) are re-arrested for again attempting to carry out suicide bombings !

ATTEMPTS AT DIALOGUE SHOULD BE WITH PAKISTAN NOT TALIBAN

In May the Taliban unleash a wave of attacks on government targets in Kandahar city and in remote Taliban dominated Nuristan province, as well as Jawzjan province. On June 25 a medical clinic in Logar province is blown up killing 38 people. On June 28 heavily armed Taliban militants storm a top Kabul hotel, sparking a ferocious battle involving Afghan commandos and a NATO helicopter gunship that leaves 20 people dead. On July 6 the Taliban kill some 25 police in Nuristan province. On Aug 14 six suspected Taliban suicide bombers storm the Parwan governor’s compound, killing 22 people. On Sep 20 a Taliban suicide bomber in Kabul, with concealed explosives in a turban, assassinates former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani, who had been leading peace efforts. On Sep 30 President Karzai says attempts to negotiate with the Taliban are futile and efforts at dialogue should focus instead on Pakistan. Pointing out that the key Taliban leaders are based in Quetta, Pakistan, Karzai goes on to claim that the Taliban are being propped up by Pakistan, saying the militants cannot lift a finger without the Pakistanis.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN WHEN ISAF FORCES LEAVE IN 2014 ?

However the Taliban are not the only militant groups conducting suicide bombings. On December 6 the Ashura suicide bombings taqke place in the Afghan capital Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif, killing 80 and injuring 160. The Taliban deny responsibility for these and the suicide bombing carried out on Dec 25 in Takhar province killing 19. Responsibility for the former bombings are attributed to the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Jhangvi group and to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan for the latter. Indeed as 2012 begins, President Karzai meets delegates from Afghanistan’s second largest militant group – Hezb-i-Islami – led by a former Afghan prime minister. As January ends and the cycle opposition starts to go out of orb NATO confirms a secret report saying that the Taliban, backed by Pakistan, are set to retake control of Afghanistan as soon as NATO-led forces withdraw.

FINANCE

EU LEADERS AGREE TO PROVIDE $640 BILLION IN NEW LOANS TO CONTAIN THE SPREADING GOVERNMENT DEBT CRISIS

On March 8 2010 just before the cycle opposition comes into orb the EU says it plans to create a European Monetary Fund to better co-ordinate the economies of the 16 countries that use the euro – and prevent financial debacles such as the Greek debt crisis from undermining the credibility of Europe’s single currency. On May 9 EU leaders agree to provide almost $640 billion in new loans to contain the spreading government debt crisis and keep it from tearing the euro currency apart. An IMF contribution would raise the amount to over $900 million. (23 May 2010 is the 1st Exact Hit)

On May 25 US and Chinese officials sign accords on trade finance, China’s gas reserves and credit arrangements, but give no indication of any progress on issues involving the value of China’s currency. On June 1 the Bank of Canada raises its key interest rate to 0.5 percent from 0.25 percent, making Canada the first of the G7 major industrialized countries to start hiking interest rates after the global financial crisis.

CONGRESS AGREES A SWEEPING OVERHAUL OF US BANKING RULES

On June 19 China’s central bank says it will gradually make the yuan’s exchange rate more flexible keeping the yuan’s exchange rate at a basically stable level. On June 25 the US Congress reaches agreement on a sweeping overhaul of rules governing the US banking system. In June China begins allowing most of the country to pay for imports in yuan and for Chinese companies to sell exports for currency. On July 21 President Obama signs in the financial overhaul legislation. (16 Aug 2010 is the 2nd Exact hit)

NEW BASEL 3 RULES ON BANK LIQUIDITY & CAPITAL

On Sept 3 the Basel Committee of international bank regulators agrees on a new set of rules, known as ‘Basel 3’, with specific requirements for banks liquidity and capital. On Sept 28 Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega warns that the world is in the grip of a ‘currency war’, with leading nations using devaluation to solve economic problems. On Oct 9 the IMF finishes two days of talks in Washington DC. but global leaders fail to resolve deep differences that threaten that full-blown currency war. On Oct 19 China’s central bank surprises with its first increase of interest rates in nearly three years. The impact is felt by markets across the board. Oil and gold prices tumble, stocks turn negative in Europe and the dollar jumps.

US GOVERNMENT DEBT REACHES ALL TIME HIGH OF $14 TRILLION

On Nov 9 China signals its intention to drain excess cash from its financial system by altering rates and changing money inflow rules. On Dec 6 European finance ministers wrestle over whether to commit more money to help stabilize the euro. On Jan 1 2011 Estonia becomes the first former Soviet republic to join the euro. On Jan 15 the US passes a dubious milestone – Government debt reaches an all-time high of more than $14 trillion, close to its legal debt limit. On Feb 8 China raises interest rates for the second time to check stubbornly high inflation. On March 11 Euro-zone leaders begin a 2-day summit to launch the ‘pact for the euro’ – a pledge to align members’ economic policies and enhance their competitiveness. (23 March 2011 is the 3rd Exact hit)

7 EUROZONE COUNTRIES AGREE TO PAY GREECE $11 BILLION IN BAILOUT LOANS

On April 1 debt-stressed Portugal gets some respite from its financial troubles when it manages to borrow Euro 1.645 billion ($2.3 billion) in a bond auction. On May 20 the IMF approves providing Portugal with $36.8 billion as part of the rescue package. On July 21 Eurozone leaders agree to give Greece Euro 109 billion ($156 billion) in new financing in a complex package that includes new loans, buybacks of Greek debt, and credit guarantees. On Oct 6 the UK follows the US into a second round of quantitative easing as a defence against the debt crisis. On Oct 21 finance ministers from 17 eurozone countries agree to pay Greece $11 billion in its next batch of bailout loans to avoid a potentially disastrous default. On Dec 31 Basel 2.5, the new set of international rules charging banks higher capital for risks in their trading books, takes effect.

On Feb 21 2012 Greece reaches an agreement on $172 billion in loans through to 2014 from the EU governments and the IMF and the Greek parliament approves the bond swap that will wipe a massive €107 billion ($142 billion) off the country’s privately-held debt. On March 9 the Jupiter/Saturn opposition goes out of orb.

Will Greece default on this debt at the In Square ?

The Incoming Square, which will be exact on 3 Aug 2015, 23 March 2016 and 26 May 2016, will come into a 10 degree orb on 18 August 18 2014 through to 21 July 2016.