May 12, 2003
World Media Watch
by Gloria R. Lalumia
BUZZFLASH NOTE: Once again, these are the views and perspectives of the individual papers, not of BuzzFlash or Gloria. They offer BuzzFlash readers a way of reading what other nations are saying about the crisis, whether we like it or not. We repeat: This is not an endorsement of their viewpoints.
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1/The Independent, UK--'SECRET TRAIN' THE AMERICANS DON'T SEEM TO BE ASKING QUESTIONS ABOUT (The Americans have also yet to speak to him about mobile biological weapons labs. Had they done so they would have drawn a blank. But they would have heard from him about the existence of a top secret and mysterious "special train". Yesterday he and two of his colleagues described a train - about which they dared not speak during the Saddam years - that moved constantly around the railway system, and which they believe might have contained chemical weapons, although they admit to being unsure.)
2/The Moscow Times, Russia--U.S. PLAN FOR IRAQI OIL WORRIES RUSSIA (Russia signaled its unease on Saturday over a U.S. draft resolution that would lift UN sanctions on Iraq and give Washington and its allies control over Baghdad's oil revenues. Deputy Foreign Minister Yury Fedotov said the draft had some positive aspects but "there are also a number of parts that are not sufficiently clear and that require serious work and clarification." ... He said China was sending a senior official to Moscow on Monday for consultations on the Iraqi question.)
Daily Star, Lebanon--KHATAMI TRIP TO BEIRUT HERALDS EMERGING ALLIANCE
(Iranian President Mohammad Khatami is flying into Beirut
next week on a historic trip that signals an emerging alliance among
three Middle East countries on Washington's list of "bad guys" Iran,
Syria and Lebanon... A Lebanese official source, commenting on Khatami's
visit, said that Lebanon would repeat its "unequivocal" stand
that Hizbullah "is a Lebanese political party and a resistance
movement operating solely to liberate" a patch of Lebanese territory
that is still occupied by Israel and known as the Shebaa Farms. The
Iranian diplomat said Khatami's government "is fully behind
Syria and Lebanon" on the issue of Hizbullah.)
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Independent 11 May 2003
'SECRET TRAIN' THE AMERICANS DON'T SEEM TO BE ASKING QUESTIONS ABOUT
By Phil Reeves in Baghdad
Every day for the last fortnight Salam Salom, a top Iraqi railwayman, has sat down with the Americans. They discussed the bomb-damaged track, the wrecked communications network, and the looters who descended on the rolling stock like a plague of locusts.
But one subject has not come up. There has never been any mention, he says, of chemical or biological weapons.
"They have not discussed this with me," he said, after yet another round of talks with a US army officer in the imperious monolith erected by the British in 1953 to serve as Baghdad's main railway terminal. "Perhaps they talked to the director-general about it, but it has not been raised with me."
If true, this is remarkable. The Americans are supposedly conducting an intensive search to find the illicit weapons programme whose alleged existence served as a pretext for the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Three months ago, the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, declared that the US had a first-hand description of mobile biological weapons factories that ran on wheels and rails so that they could be moved around to evade detection by UN inspectors.
Mr Salom is the traffic manager for the entire 2,000km rail network - high up the pecking order in the Baathist-dominated management structure of Iraqi national railways. He may very well be a stranger to Saddam Hussein's closest military secrets, but one might expect him at least to be asked about the issue by US officials. Yet, he insists, there has been nothing.
Suggestions that the Americans appear surprisingly unengaged in their mission to unearth weapons of mass destruction come as no surprise to many Iraqis, who have long maintained that the US occupation is about seizing their oil. This is certainly the view of ticket inspector Ali Muhsan al-Kinani, 42, a railwayman for 25 years.
He backed up this argument by pointing out that the Americans have done nothing to weed out the upper echelons of the Iraqi railway company. He said that US officials are working in close co-operation with the same men who made the workforce's lives a misery by jailing them for minor administrative offences, or levying large fines if they were involved in an accident.
The Americans have also yet to speak to him about mobile biological weapons labs. Had they done so they would have drawn a blank. But they would have heard from him about the existence of a top secret and mysterious "special train".
Yesterday he and two of his colleagues described a train - about which they dared not speak during the Saddam years - that moved constantly around the railway system, and which they believe might have contained chemical weapons, although they admit to being unsure.
U.S. PLAN FOR IRAQI OIL WORRIES RUSSIA
Russia signaled its unease on Saturday over a U.S. draft resolution that would lift UN sanctions on Iraq and give Washington and its allies control over Baghdad's oil revenues.
Deputy Foreign Minister Yury Fedotov said the draft had some positive aspects but "there are also a number of parts that are not sufficiently clear and that require serious work and clarification."
"Most UN Security Council members, on the one hand, welcome the fact that the issue of the postwar rebuilding of Iraq has reached the Security Council," Fedotov told Interfax. "But, on the other hand, the U.S.-proposed draft resolution may raise numerous questions."
Fedotov said the document in particular "fails to provide a clear picture of the transition from the UN's oil-for-food program to the lifting of international sanctions against Iraq."
Russian officials have repeatedly said that the sanctions, imposed against Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, should be lifted but only after UN inspectors have verified that there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Washington opposes the return of UN inspectors and has sent its own experts to look for banned weapons.
Fedotov indicated to Interfax that Russia would press for the UN to have a central role in postwar Iraq when the 15-member Security Council resumes consideration of the U.S. draft next week.
He said China was sending a senior official to Moscow on Monday for consultations on the Iraqi question.
Putin is to meet with President George W. Bush June 1 in St. Petersburg -- their first meeting since deep disagreement over the invasion of Iraq -- and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell will be in Moscow this week to prepare for the summit.
KHATAMI TRIP TO BEIRUT HERALDS EMERGING ALLIANCE
Khatami arrives Monday for a three-day visit that has been pending since Lebanese President Emile Lahoud's trip to Tehran in April 2000 barely a month before the Israeli withdrawal from south Lebanon.
The trip comes amid mounting US pressure on the Lebanese government to disarm Hizbullah resistance heroes for Arabs and Muslims, but "terrorists" in the eyes of the United States and Israel.
But like Iran, Lebanon and its key ally, Syria, are feeling the pinch of US President George W. Bush's hard-line policies, which have impeded the dialogue Khatami has sought since a landmark address at the United Nations in 2000.
has pushed the three countries into an unofficial alliance in the
face of a US thrust to "reshape" the Middle East
by imposing an Arab-Israeli settlement that favors Israel and compromises
A Lebanese official source, commenting on Khatami's visit, said that Lebanon would repeat its "unequivocal" stand that Hizbullah "is a Lebanese political party and a resistance movement operating solely to liberate" a patch of Lebanese territory that is still occupied by Israel and known as the Shebaa Farms. The Iranian diplomat said Khatami's government "is fully behind Syria and Lebanon" on the issue of Hizbullah.
As for the newly released "road map" to Palestinian statehood, the diplomat said that Iran would "accept what is acceptable to the Palestinians," signaling the shift in Tehran's erstwhile rejection of any compromise with Israel.
"But any solution will have to uphold Palestinian rights, all
Palestinian rights, including the right of return" for refugees,
the diplomat added. This is precisely the support Lebanon needs in
the quest to prevent the settlement of up to 300,000 Palestinian
refugees in a country that has struggled to preserve a demographic
balance between Christians and Muslims to prevent more civil strife.
THOUSANDS OF PALESTINIANS TO LOSE CITIZENSHIP-LEBANESE MINISTER
"We will annul the citizenships of all the Palestinians who do not deserve it ... and who falsified documents and submitted thousands of applications in order to obtain it," Murr said on television late Friday in remarks carried by local press reports.
"All those who don't deserve it will lose their Lebanese citizenship," the interior minister said, citing namely "people who were in prison" when became nationals.
On Thursday, Lebanon's constitutional council asked the interior ministry to strip the citizenship of tens of thousands of Palestinians and Syrians naturalised in 1994 under an official decree.
Murr said the Lebanese people had been waiting for the ruling for nearly 10 years, adding that the 1994 decree "triggered an imbalance and constituted a dangerous precedent" by granting citizenship to Palestinians.
He was referring to concerns among Lebanon's Christians, who constitute roughly one third of the population, that the naturalisations alter the country's demographic balance, most of those naturalised being Muslims.
CHINA TO ENJOY EVIAN WITH THE BIG BOYS
BEIJING - May the United Nations rest in peace, may the new world order commence its work. With the announcement that China will join the next Group of Eight meeting in Evian, France, next month, the summit of the world's largest economies has completely emptied the UN Security Council. In fact the G8 will have together the five permanent members of the Security Council, plus four of the largest global economies that have no veto power at the UN, namely Japan, Germany, Italy and Canada.
It is true, China won't be an official member of the group, and other countries have been invited along to the meeting - India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa. These latter four lack the economic clout of China, and its political reach. In fact China, which now boasts one of the largest gross domestic products (GDPs) in the world, would strengthen the G8 if it were to join. And this is clear to all participants, but the same is not true for the other four unofficial participants.
Furthermore, the G8 meeting will muster the heads of state of each country, rather than diplomats, thus it could well be conducive to concrete authoritative decisions.
Inviting China to the G8 summit was a necessity. China in the past two years represents the lion's share of global economic growth in a time of widespread recession. This year the topics on the agenda will be the war in Iraq, where everybody will listen to what the United States has to say, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), with its global economic impact, and here everybody will want to hear from China.
This also leaves large and proud India out in the cold and underscores the reality that most of the world's countries are but spectators at somebody's else play. How to address this concern without pretending to forget the reality that money talks is the challenge of the new world order that will be born in the new G8 delivery room.
This is the new game in a town full of tricks and snares. Bye-bye United Nations.
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©2003, Gloria R. Lalumia, email@example.com
Radio for the Left at http://www.zianet.com/insightanalytical/radio.htm
otherwise noted, all original