August 11, 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--THE NIGER TIMEBOMB (We have spoken to the Iraqi diplomat Britain accuses of trying to buy uranium for Saddam. If what he has told us is true, his evidence will blow apart one of Mr Blair's main justifications for war.)
2//Arab News, Saudi Arabia--CAN SADDAM EVADE CAPTURE FOREVER? (It was exactly three months ago when Iraq's deposed dictator Saddam Hussein was last seen in public. And it is precisely 100 days since the US-led coalition launched a formal hunt for him. And, yet, as The US Secretary of State Colin Powell admitted in Washington Thursday night, the Americans are nowhere near capturing the fugitive. One may wonder why? The short answer is that no one has been really looking for him.)
3//Inter Press Service, Italy--ANALYSIS: ADMINISTRATION PARALYSED
OVER IRAN (Does the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush
still consider al-Qaeda and its associates the main target in its
almost three-year-old ''war on terrorism'', or has its military victory
in Iraq whetted its appetite for bigger game? That is effectively
the question that the powers-that-be in Iran appear to be posing
to Washington at a critical moment in the war's evolution. The administration
appears deadlocked over an answer.)
5//The News International, Pakistan--NATO NEEDS TIME BEFORE ANY AFGHANISTAN EXPANSION (In its first ever operation outside Europe, NATO will take over the 5,000-strong, 31-nation International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) on Monday. But the ISAF mandate will remain limited to Kabul despite repeated calls by the government and the United Nations for its deployment to the provinces to ensure security for humanitarian and reconstruction efforts and elections next June.)
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Independent 10 August 2003
THE NIGER TIMEBOMB
We have spoken to the Iraqi diplomat Britain accuses of trying to
buy uranium for Saddam. If what he has told us is true, his evidence
will blow apart one of Mr Blair's main justifications for war
The man accused by Britain of trying to buy uranium in Africa for Saddam Hussein's nuclear programme - one of the Government's main justifications for waging war on Iraq - has denied the allegation, saying he is the victim of a forgery.
Britain has remained undaunted by proof that documents purporting to show an Iraqi uranium deal with the West African state of Niger turned out to be fakes. While the US admits it should never have made allegations based on the documents, Britain insists it has "independent intelligence" about Iraq's quest for uranium, pointing out that an Iraqi delegation visited Niger in 1999.
One Foreign Office official said: "Niger has two main exports - uranium and chickens. The Iraqi delegation did not go to Niger for chickens."
But the man who made the trip, Wissam al-Zahawie, Iraq's former ambassador to the Vatican, told The Independent on Sunday: "My only mission was to meet the President of Niger and invite him to visit Iraq. The invitation and the situation in Iraq resulting from the genocidal UN sanctions were all we talked about. I had no other instructions, and certainly none concerning the purchase of uranium."
Mr Zahawie, 73, speaking to the British press for the first time, said in London: "I have been cleared by everyone else, including the US and the United Nations. I am surprised to hear there are still question marks over me in Britain. I am willing to co-operate with anyone who wants to see me and find out more."
CAN SADDAM EVADE CAPTURE FOREVER?
LONDON, 10 August 2003 - It was exactly three months ago when Iraq's deposed dictator Saddam Hussein was last seen in public. And it is precisely 100 days since the US-led coalition launched a formal hunt for him. And, yet, as The US Secretary of State Colin Powell admitted in Washington Thursday night, the Americans are nowhere near capturing the fugitive. One may wonder why? The short answer is that no one has been really looking for him. Yes, the US is offering $ 25million for Saddam's capture. And, yes, American troops have carried out 22 raids in nine localities, including Baghdad, in the past100 days in response to reports that Saddam may be hiding there. None of this, however, amounts to a systematic search for Saddam. In every case US troops were sent into action on the basis of tips received from Iraqi informers, presumably looking for the reward.
Maj. Gen. John Odierno, one of the American commanders in Iraq, says that the ex-dictator is changing houses three to four times a day. That makes a minimum total of 300 houses for the past 100 days. If that theory is correct, Saddam must be hiding in a relatively big town where such a large number of hideouts could be used without arousing suspicion. Also, so many movements each day would require a measure of cover and diversion, again available only in a large city.
Furthermore Saddam would not be able to make so many moves so frequently in a hostile environment. He should, therefore, be hiding among a reasonably friendly, or at least indifferent, population.
If these assumptions are correct, Saddam could be hiding in only one of two places: The northwestern districts of Baghdad, and the northern city of Mosul. And yet Saddam-seeking raids in Baghdad and Mosul number only six so far, a sign that the US commanders do not really believe he maybe hiding in either place. In other words, the US itself does not have a clear theoretical concept regarding Saddam's "disappearance."
To be sure the US forces have captured many Baathist fugitives, and recently killed Saddam Hussein's two sons as well. But in every case the operations resulted from information supplied by Iraqi informants working for money, and not as a result of probes by American investigators. Thus the initiative on search-raids lies with Iraqi informants, not with US commanders. And that, simply, is not the best way to look for Saddam Hussein.
Now, let us consider an alternative theory. Saddam may be hiding in one single place where he is sure of the loyalty of the population, or at least their fear of denouncing him. The single-place hideout has the advantage of avoiding highly dangerous movements from hideout to hideout - movements that could be monitored through electronic and aerial surveillance. It also offers the advantage of familiarity, which makes the application of security measures easier, while facilitating contact with networks of support elsewhere. The ideal hiding place would have to pass five tests.
So, what is to be done? The first thing to do is to put some professionals in charge of the hunt for Saddam. This is a task for police detectives, not the regular armed forces or MP. The second is to mobilize the Iraqis to conduct the hunt on the ground. There are areas where no outsider could really penetrate or, if he did, be able to pierce the thick wall of silence. Wondering why the US is not seriously looking for Saddam, many Iraqis are listening to conspiracy theories. One such theory is that Washington wishes to keep the threat of Saddam alive to silence the Iraqis into accepting a long American presence. Another "theory" is that Saddam had been working for the Americans all along and has just been whisked away to Washington or Tel Aviv to spend the rest of his life with a new identity.
Can Saddam escape arrest for years? This may be theoretically possible. After all, some Nazi leaders managed to hide for decades. (Klaus Barbie was captured 40 years after the war had ended.) The comparison, however, is not exact. Unlike the Nazis who could hide in South America, Saddam, and the remaining Baathist fugitives, do not have a safe haven outside Iraq. This is why they can be captured. Provided someone begins to look for them seriously.
ANALYSIS: ADMINISTRATION PARALYSED OVER IRAN
WASHINGTON, Aug 7 (IPS) - Does the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush still consider al-Qaeda and its associates the main target in its almost three-year-old ''war on terrorism'', or has its military victory in Iraq whetted its appetite for bigger game?
That is effectively the question that the powers-that-be in Iran appear to be posing to Washington at a critical moment in the war's evolution.
The administration appears deadlocked over an answer.
According to a series of leaks by U.S. officials, Iran has offered to hand over, if not directly to Washington then to friendly allies, three senior al-Qaeda leaders and might provide another three top terrorist suspects that Washington believes are being held by Teheran.
But its price -- for the U.S. military to permanently shut down the operations of an Iraq-based Iranian rebel group that is on the State Department's official terrorism list -- might be too high for some hard-liners, centred in the Pentagon and Vice President Dick Cheney's office, who led the charge for war in Iraq.
Members of this group see the rebels, the Mujahedin el Khalq (MEK), or People's Mujahedin, as potentially helpful to their ambitions to achieve ''regime change'' in Iran, charter member of Bush's ''axis of evil'' and a nation that is believed to have accelerated its nuclear weapons programme in recent months.
The question of what to do about the reported Iranian offer is one of the issues being discussed this week in successive visits to Bush's Texas ranch by Secretary of State Colin Powell (who returned from there Wednesday night), Cheney, and Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld.
The State Department has been pushing the administration to engage Iran more directly in pursuit of the best deal possible and was reportedly authorised to hold one meeting with the Iranians two weeks ago.
But the same hard-liners reportedly oppose a deal with Teheran, which they depict not only as a sponsor of terrorism determined to acquire nuclear weapons, but also an exhausted dictatorship teetering on the verge of collapse that could be easily overthrown in a popular insurrection, with covert U.S. help or even military intervention.
The hawks are backed by the Likud government in Israel, which has been urging Washington to go after Iran since even before the war in Iraq. As soon as Iraq is dealt with, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told the 'New York Post' last November, he ''will push for Iran to be at the top of the 'to do' list''.
Pentagon hard-liners, who exert the greatest control over the occupation authority in Iraq, last month authorised the re-birth of the arm of Saddam Hussein's intelligence service -- the Mukhabarat -- that worked on Iran, according to the Pentagon-backed Iraqi National Congress (INC), which is helping in the effort.
That was the same unit that worked closely with the MEK under Saddam Hussein.
''It's hard to see how they could ever be seen as a political asset to the United States in Iran,'' one administration official who favours a deal told IPS recently. ''The (MEK) is precisely the kind of common enemy against which both the reformists and the conservatives -- and even the students -- are likely to rally against.''
But the Pentagon reportedly remains resistant to stronger action against the group.
''There is no question that we have not disbanded them, and there is an ongoing debate about them between the office of the Secretary of Defence and the State Department,'' Vince Cannistraro, a former counter-terrorism director in the Central Intelligence Agency, told 'USA Today' this week.
It appears that some officials believe the MEK could yet serve some purpose.
IRAN NOT AN EASY TARGET FOR REGIME CHANGE
It seems that the United States has already made strategic plans to deal with regime change in Iran, the way it has done with Saddam Hussain's regime in Iraq.
The U.S. invaded Iraq under the slogan of finding weapons of mass destruction, but more than a hundred days after the combat was declared over, there have been no WMD found in that country.
However, Iraq is no longer considered by the U.S. to be part of the "axis of evil", along with Iran and North Korea. The muzzles are turned towards its eastern neighbour, Iran.
As usual, the U.S. started threatening Iran the same way it did with Iraq using the same old pretexts of developing (WMD), sponsoring terrorism and supporting Al Qaida.
Iran is really a big bite and cannot be snacked easily like Iraq. The country is still in its full vigour so far. The government entity still intact and the economy is on full steam.
Iran is a theocratic republic based on Islam. Its total population exceeds 66 million comprised of many ethnic groups half of which are Persian, as well as Azeri, Gilaki, Kurd, Arabs and others. Its main natural resource is oil.
All of a sudden, anti-government riots have broken out in Iran over the last few weeks calling for "regime change," instead of having the traditional slogans calling for 'Death to America!'
The U.S. has spared no effort in calling the international community against Iran, stressing that "the international community must come together to make it very clear to Iran that we will not tolerate construction of a nuclear weapon," as U.S. President George W. Bush put it.
It was such calls that led the United Nations nuclear watchdog IAEA to have stricter inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities to ensure that Iran is not developing WMDs.
All in all, it will be more difficult for the United States to succeed in its campaign to do the regime change in Iran the way it has already done in Iraq.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is no way similar to Iraq for the reasons mentioned above and many other reasons that will make it impossible for the Americans to form a strong international coalition against the Iranian regime which has many friends worldwide.
Most importantly, the whole world, including the Americans, is watching the poor performance of the coalition in post-Saddam Iraq.
The Americans should ask themselves now how to get out of the Iraqi quagmire instead of indulging themselves into the deeper one of Iran.
NATO NEEDS TIME BEFORE ANY AFGHANISTAN EXPANSION
KABUL: NATO is willing to discuss expanding peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan beyond Kabul after it takes command of the force on Monday, but it wants "some months" to settle down in the job first, a spokesman said.
But the ISAF mandate will remain limited to Kabul despite repeated calls by the government and the United Nations for its deployment to the provinces to ensure security for humanitarian and reconstruction efforts and elections next June.
"Our first priority will be to settle in and do the existing
job before we start immediately looking for more jobs," NATO
spokesman Mark Laity told a news conference on Sunday.
otherwise noted, all original