August 25, 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.
* * *
Observer/Guardian, UK--FAREWELL AMERICA (After six years, The
Observer's award-winning US correspondent
Ed Vulliamy takes his leave from a wounded and belligerent nation
with which, reluctantly, he has now fallen out of love: "I
still love that adrenaline rush, the desert light, those big shoulders;
but something else has happened to America during my six years
to invoke that bitter love song by a great American, BB King, 'The
Thrill is Gone': 'And now that it's all over / All I can do is
wish you well...' ")
3//Asia Times Online, Hong Kong--THE PLOT THICKENS (Whatever goes terribly wrong in Iraq is not enough to force the Pentagon to change its script. It still refuses to acknowledge the indigenous broad-based Iraqi resistance against the occupation, which, as Asia Times Online has reported, spreads out from Sunni mosques and is guided by patriotism. The Pentagon keeps repeating what it wants to hear - and it all comes from none other than Chalabi, according to whom there was an important meeting between the notorious "remnants of Saddam's regime" and "international terrorists" before the UN bombing.)
4//The Turkish Daily News, Turkey--TURKEY DEFINES ITS IRAQ ROLE (The deliberations of the MGK are secret by law, but according to well placed sources the top civilian and political leaders established a consensus at the meeting that it was in Turkey's best interest to contribute in any way possible, and compatible with the realities of the country, to the eradication of the instability and the chaotic atmosphere in the next-door country and help rebuild Iraq "with a humanitarian perspective", avoiding an image of "occupier" like the American and British presence there.)
story: GUL: TURKISH TROOPS UNDER TURKISH COMMAND (Gul said Turkey
was considering sending troops to areas north and west
of Baghdad. News reports have said the troops would number around
10,000. "There will be a separate sector under Turkish command
and a separate chain of command," Gul said.)
* * *
Observer/Guardian Sunday August 24, 2003
Once smitten, it should be impossible to fall out of love with America. Who could fall out of love with that New York adrenaline rush, or the clutter of the 7 Train as it grinds on stilts of iron from Manhattan out to Queens through the scents and sounds of 160 first languages? Who could fall out of love with the mighty desert when a lilac dawn fades out the constellations in its vast sky? Who could fall out of love with the muscular industry of America's real capital, Chicago, 'city of big shoulders', as the poet Carl Sandburg described it? It was insurgent Chicago that first captured my heart for America as a visiting teenager in 1970.
Now it's time to leave the United States as a supposed adult, having been a resident and correspondent for exactly as long as Tony Blair has been Prime Minister - I was appointed that May morning in 1997 that brought Britain's Conservative night to an end. Blair's love for America seems to have deepened since; but love is both the strongest and most brittle of sentiments, and mine has depreciated. I still love that adrenaline rush, the desert light, those big shoulders; but something else has happened to America during my six years to invoke that bitter love song by a great American, BB King, 'The Thrill is Gone': 'And now that it's all over / All I can do is wish you well...'
I arrived in an America regarded by the world as 'cool'. One can never be sure whether a President defines the country or vice versa, but this was Bill Clinton's America.
I'm not quite sure what 'cool' means in any context beyond a vague positive, but the Clinton administration turned even Washington into a vaguely 'cool' place; one could spend a relaxed evening listening to the Allman Brothers Band with someone who had all day been advising the President of the United States over takeout pizza (George Stephanopoulos, who, admittedly, left the administration, disillusioned).
Meanwhile out in the world, intervention by the US was either welcomed by the persecuted of Haiti and Kosovo or else craved by (but culpably denied) those in Bosnia and Rwanda - as a force of deliverance, not of empire. Clinton's declared quest did not always aim to embrace only the Americans. Terrorists then were spawned by the homegrown Right; proud to murder hundreds of their own countrymen, women and children with the Oklahoma bomb of April 1995, a bloodbath I covered during a brief American sojourn exploring the armed 'patriot' network in which Timothy McVeigh - by no means a lone wolf - operated. Strange now to recall that stench of charred masonry, the floodlit wreckage, the rescue workers spluttering dust, the tearful, wandering bereaved displaying pictures of their 'missing'... (scenes that would return to a different America, from a different quarter, six years later).
PUSHING REGIONAL REFORM
At her office at the State Department, US Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, Liz Cheney, is busy hanging up front pages of newspapers which mark the fall of Baghdad to US forces on 9 April. "Hussein's Baghdad falls", reads one headline above the famous picture of the statue of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein being pulled down by a US tank surrounded by several hundred Iraqis. Like other members of the US administration, 36-year-old Cheney believes that the fall of the former Iraqi regime and "establishing Iraq as a stable, democratic and prosperous nation" are crucial for the rest of the region.
Liz, daughter of US Vice-President Dick Cheney who is known as a key hard-liner in the Bush administration together with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, has been supervising the implementation of the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), officially announced by Secretary of State Colin Powell in December. The aims of the initiative, which received an initial funding of $29 million in 2002 and $100 million for 2003, are to provide support for "economic, political, and educational reform efforts in the Middle East and champion opportunity for all people of the region, especially women and youth".
Critics of the MEPI in the Arab world, however, see this initiative as a means for imposing US-backed reforms in the region following the 11 September attacks in New York and Washington. However, the current US administration believes that without these reforms, the region would continue to produce "ideologies of hatred and violence". In addition to the MEPI, US President George Bush announced in May another plan to establish a joint Middle East Free Trade Zone by 2013.
Under the auspices of the MEPI, explained Cheney, the US administration provides funding for over 50 programmes, which include parliamentary training for new parliaments, technical assistance for elections, support for countries seeking to sign Free Trade Agreements with the United States and training for Arab journalists. They also provide support for programmes which aim to revise current teaching methods, replacing the current system of learning by rote with a more child- oriented system of learning.
Two major programmes happening in the next two months include a forum in Bahrain to be held from 15 to 17 September on judicial development across the Middle East, and a meeting in Qatar in October, which will bring together women from the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and Yemen for a week-long course on leadership and communication skills to promote the role of women in the political process. US Supreme Court Justice Sandra O'Connor will lead the US delegation at the judicial conference in Qatar, while Cherie Blair, wife of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, will lead the British delegation. Cheney said that Bahrain had also invited governments in the region to send three to four jurists, ministers of justice, chief justices and some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) "to emphasise the importance of an independent judicial system, how to select judges, how judges are trained and what kind of ethical standards should be applied". Also in October, she added, another meeting will be held in Qatar, specifically for women judges from across the Arab world to speak about the role of women and their experiences in the field of law.
Critics in the Arab world maintain that crucial issues -- like the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the US occupation of Iraq -- must be resolved before political, economic or educational reforms can be introduced in the region. This argument is rejected by Cheney, who believes that the resolution of issues and the introduction of reforms can happen concurrently. "Both Iraq, and what happens between the Israelis and Palestinians, are critical in terms of what the future of the Middle East looks like." The establishment of a stable and prosperous Iraq will have a positive effect on the rest of the region, while an Iraq with open markets will be of both economic and political benefit to the entire Middle East, she argues. Israeli-Palestinian peace is also important, she continues, and the failure to achieve this will hold the region back. She concedes that the US must work in tandem with people in the region to achieve peace. Both the US and Middle Eastern governments, she believes, know that reform cannot wait. "You can't say, well we're going to work just on Iraq and just on the peace process, and we will talk about reform later." The demographics of the area, with 50 per cent of the population under the age of 20, mean rapid change is must. "You have to work now to open up economies and to create jobs," she said.
But one of the main reasons, says Cheney, for investors leaving the region -- including Arab investors -- is because of the legal situation. "If the countries in the region don't change their investment regimes, and don't establish court systems that investors can count on, and don't begin to eliminate red tape that goes along with investment, investors are still not going to come."
THE PLOT THICKENS
HANOI - Ahmad Chalabi, the Pentagon erstwhile protege, leader of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), member of the American-appointed Iraqi interim government in Iraq and a convicted criminal in Jordan, went on record in Baghdad saying that he had received intelligence on Thursday, August 14, that "a large-scale act would take place ... against a soft target, such as Iraqi political parties or other parties, including the UN". He even learned that the attack would be a truck bombing - by means of a suicide bomber or a remote-controlled detonator. Chalabi also made clear that according to this intelligence, "neither the Coalition Provisional Authority nor coalition troops" would be attacked.
Chalabi is usually not recognized as a reliable source. But if this startling piece of information is true, it means two things: 1) The Americans in Iraq knew about an attack, and did nothing to try to prevent it. 2) The UN itself didn't know anything about it, according to Fred Eckhard, spokesman for secretary general Kofi Annan: "To my knowledge, that information was not relayed to the United Nations."
The frightening possibility that Chalabi knew it, the Americans knew it, the UN didn't and the Americans did nothing to improve security at the UN headquarters will only benefit one player: the Pentagon, according to which Iraq is now the central battle in the "war against terrorism". And right on cue, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and US Central Command chief General John Abizaid, in a joint briefing, declared Iraq now to be a sort of terrorist Woodstock.
Whatever goes terribly wrong in Iraq is not enough to force the Pentagon to change its script. It still refuses to acknowledge the indigenous broad-based Iraqi resistance against the occupation, which, as Asia Times Online has reported, spreads out from Sunni mosques and is guided by patriotism. The Pentagon keeps repeating what it wants to hear - and it all comes from none other than Chalabi, according to whom there was an important meeting between the notorious "remnants of Saddam's regime" and "international terrorists" before the UN bombing.
TURKEY DEFINES ITS IRAQ ROLE
Turkey's top civilian and military leaders gathered at the Presidential Palace Friday to define the possible role the country could play in the rebuilding of Iraq.
The National Security Council (MGK), the power of which was seriously curtailed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) administration in a constitutional amendment last month and was converted into a fully advisory body with very limited executive power, listened to Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, evaluate written and verbal communication between Ankara and Washington over the U.S. request to deploy thousands of Turkish soldiers in Iraq, a deployment that could make this predominantly Muslim country the third largest foreign country in Iraq after the United States and Britain, and came up with a statement leaving the final decision on the issue to Parliament and advising the government to take whatever steps required for the interests of the country.
The deliberations of the MGK are secret by law, but according to well placed sources the top civilian and political leaders established a consensus at the meeting that it was in Turkey's best interest to contribute in any way possible, and compatible with the realities of the country, to the eradication of the instability and the chaotic atmosphere in the next-door country and help rebuild Iraq "with a humanitarian perspective", avoiding an image of "occupier" like the American and British presence there.
The meeting of the council came amid reports from Pakistan of a fresh terrorist threat against Turkey and a report from northern Iraq that in Kirkuk Patriotic Union of Kirdustan (PUK) peshmergas have ambushed and killed six Turkmen people.
According to some unconfirmed reports, Turkey informed the United States very recently that according to Turkish intelligence two more trucks laden with explosives were in the streets of Baghdad.
The MGK meeting also came amid increased Iraq-related traffic in Ankara. Two American delegations were in the Turkish capital last week, while over the past few days there have been visitors to Ankara from Iraq and to Iraq from Turkey.
Turkish government sources said Ankara has been trying to learn of the possible reaction of the Iraqi people to deployment of Turkish troops in that country before a decision on the issue was made.
A delegation of Turkish parliamentarians, on the other hand, has entered Iraq yesterday for talks with local political leaders on the issue.
Furthermore, Turkey is preparing to host two consecutive American delegations. The first delegation, headed by Republican enator John McCain will be in Istanbul this weekend while a House of Representatives delegation headed by Representative Tom Davis will be in Turkey between Aug. 28 and 30.
The ruling AKP government of Turkey has been looking to back a peacekeeping force to help repair frayed ties with the country's most important ally, but are also mindful of public opposition to the war, which according to some polls was at over 90 percent before the invasion.
GUL: TURKISH TROOPS UNDER TURKISH COMMAND
Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, reflecting the approach of the AKP government on the issue, told the Milliyet newspaper that Turkey could send peacekeepers to Iraq, but stressed that the soldiers would go to help rebuild the neighboring country and "definitely will not be occupiers."
Gul said Turkey was considering sending troops to areas north and west of Baghdad. News reports have said the troops would number around 10,000.
"There will be a separate sector under Turkish command and a separate chain of command," Gul said.
Gul emphasized that there was still no decision on sending troops and Parliament would have to approve any deployment. That approval is not guaranteed. Turkish legislators in March, citing public pressure, rejected a request from Washington to host U.S. troops in the country for the war, straining ties between the NATO allies.
TURKMEN REPRESENTATIVE ON IRAQI COUNCIL WANTS KIRKUK POLICE DISARMED
AFP BAGHDAD, Aug 24 (AFP) - 16h18 - Police in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk should be disarmed in order to prevent a repetition of Turkmen-Kurdish strife that left three Turkmen dead, the Turkmen's representative on Iraq's interim Governing Council said Sunday.
"I call for disarming Kirkuk's police because weapons are the source of the problem we are going through," Shangul Shapuk told AFP a day after the unrest.
"The situation in the city is tragic. The Kurds control everything, including the police ... I urge them not to try to dominate the Turkmen," said Ms Shapuk, warning against "an explosion in the town."
Three Turkmen were shot dead by police during a demonstration in Kirkuk Saturday, a day after fighting between Turkmen and Kurds in nearby Tuz Khurmatu left eight dead on both sides, while two more Turkmen were killed by US soldiers there.
The infighting comes at a time when Turkey, which backs the Turkmen, is weighing whether to send up to 10,000 troops to join the US-led coalition occupying Iraq.
otherwise noted, all original