January 26, 2004
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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WORLD MEDIA WATCH FOR JANUARY 26, 2004
1//The Straits Times, Malaysia--REBELLION BREWING
IN SAUDI CITY (The tiny city of Sakaka in the remote
al-Jouf province that borders Iraq may seem an unlikely
setting for the beginning of a revolution against the
ruling al-Saud family. But one does not have to spend
too long here to realise that this is what is happening.)
3//The Independent, UK--BROWN OFFERS HIS SUPPORT ON TOP-UP FEES BUT SUGGESTS PM MAY QUIT SOON (Gordon Brown yesterday revived speculation about Tony Blair's leadership when he failed to confirm that the Prime Minister would lead his party into the next election. At the beginning of what could be Mr Blair's most difficult week since coming to power, Mr Brown renewed talk about a possible deal which would see the Chancellor become prime minister.)
4//Asia Times Online, Hong Kong--GERMANY SECURES A
FOOTHOLD IN IRAN (Iran has become the prize for which
both the United States and the European Union are fighting,
with the EU having already made huge investments in
future decision-makers, thus possessing a determining
edge over Washington, according to analysts. The end
game is about the political return of Germany to the
Middle East, where other major players, namely the
United States, France, Britain and Russia, are present
and have their proxies, analysts say.)
* * *
Straits Times January 26, 2004
REBELLION BREWING IN SAUDI CITY
By John R. Bradley for the Straits Times
SAKAKA (Saudi Arabia) - The tiny city of Sakaka in the remote al-Jouf province that borders Iraq may seem an unlikely setting for the beginning of a revolution against the ruling al-Saud family.
But one does not have to spend too long here to realise that this is what is happening.
Al-Jouf has witnessed an extraordinary level of political violence in recent months.
Seven men have so far been arrested over the shootings, according to Saudi officials.
They admit that the attacks are linked, and that the seven may have been aided by as many as 40 others.
Elsewhere in Saudi Arabia, such violence could be put down to tribal feuds or the general lawlessness of a remote region.
And there are also, everyone agrees, new social problems in al-Jouf, of the kind that is now plaguing this once crime-free Islamic state.
But residents of the provincial capital Sakaka insist that the violence here is political.
They say it stems from the fact that al-Jouf is the historic power base of the al-Sudairy branch of the royal family, which includes King Fahd and his six full brothers.
Known as the Sudairy Seven, they include Prince Naif, the Interior Minister, Prince Sultan, the Defence Minister, and Prince Salman, the Governor of Riyadh.
When it comes to business and local government in al-Jouf, the clan has ruled the roost for the seven decades since the kingdom was founded.
For more than 40 of those years, the governor was one of their own.
But other merchant families and tribes which were prominent before al-Jouf was incorporated into the Saudi kingdom and al-Sudairy took over are rebelling.
Residents say the final straw was the build-up to the invasion of Iraq, when United States troops took control of the airport in the nearby Arar, the kingdom's official border crossing with Iraq.
This was deeply resented by all Saudis, but especially by al-Jouf's residents, who have historic tribal links to Iraqis across the border.
Many local officers in the Saudi army resigned at the time in protest against being relieved temporarily of their duties by US soldiers, say Saudi opposition groups.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Saudis have since sneaked across the border into Iraq to join the jihad against US-led occupation forces.
A number have been arrested by the Iraqi police, who describe them as 'Arab Wahhabis', in a pejorative reference to Saudi Arabia's austere, jihad-oriented brand of Islam.
Other Saudis have been implicated in suicide attacks in Iraq, including one that targeted the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad.
Only four people have so far been caught before they managed to get into Iraq, according to official Saudi government statements, leading many to wonder whether the border guards in al-Jouf are turning a blind eye.
KURDISH WOMEN REJECT REPEAL OF SECULAR FAMILY LAWS
Around 5000 thousand women rejected and protested on Wednesday the US-backed Iraqi Governing Council decision to repeal secular family laws.
Kurdish women protested the resolution, through the initiation by the PUK-backed Women's Union (Jinan), by marching to the headquarters of the PUK-administration in Sulemani.
A delegation handed a memorandum to the Prime Minister of the PUK-administration, Dr Barham Salih, and the representative of the CPA in Sulemani.
Meanwhile, about 500 veiled women gathered in the Shiite Muslim holy city of Najaf to support the decision that still has to be passed into law by U.S. chief administrator Paul Bremer.
BROWN OFFERS HIS SUPPORT ON TOP-UP FEES BUT SUGGESTS
PM MAY QUIT SOON
Gordon Brown yesterday revived speculation about Tony Blair's leadership when he failed to confirm that the Prime Minister would lead his party into the next election.
At the beginning of what could be Mr Blair's most difficult week since coming to power, Mr Brown renewed talk about a possible deal which would see the Chancellor become prime minister. When asked, on GMTV's Sunday programme, if the Mr Blair would still be in his job at the next general election, Mr Brown said: "Should he be? Yes. Will Tony Blair be? That's a matter for him. Tony Blair has been a great prime minister for Britain and I think he has been a great leader of the Labour Party as well." The Chancellor gave Mr Blair strong backing in his fight for the introduction of university top-up fees, urging backbenchers to give "full support" for a "sensible, radical reform".
The Government sought to head off defeat in tomorrow's Commons vote with a late concession that fees would not be allowed to rise above £3,000 during the next Parliament.
GERMANY SECURES A FOOTHOLD IN IRAN
PARIS - Iran has become the prize for which both the United States and the European Union are fighting, with the EU having already made huge investments in future decision-makers, thus possessing a determining edge over Washington, according to analysts.
The end game is about the political return of Germany to the Middle East, where other major players, namely the United States, France, Britain and Russia, are present and have their proxies, analysts say.
"From a long time ago, Germany, aware of the importance of Iran as the major economic, but also political and strategic power in the region, and given the new situation created following the Islamic revolution of 1979 that revived Iranian nationalism, chose Iran as its principal ally for its political return to this sensitive region, building firm contacts with the new Iranian leaders, including both the clerics and civilians, many of them pro-German," Morteza Rai'si, an Iranian journalist based in Bonn who has followed Iran-Germany relations for over half a century, told Asia Times Online.
"All the world's major nations have reached the conclusion that the [Middle East] region needs a strong power; which cannot be any other than Iran, where Germany, rich and with a very positive record, would have a privileged position," Ra'isi said, explaining Berlin's close relations with the Islamic Republic, a regime that Germany is well aware is isolated on the international scene and which has internal political problems too.
In the view of other Iranian observers, while the United States is banking on the collapse of the theocratic regime in Iran and pushing strongly for regime change, the European Union, including Britain, is served by better "humint" (human intelligence) in contrast to that of the US and will tell its governments that the ayatollahs are here to stay for "quite a long time" and to adopt a policy of "critical dialogue".
DOWNER 'DOESN'T ACCEPT' WEAPONS INSPECTOR'S WMD DENIAL
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer today said he did not accept chief US weapons inspector David Kay's opinion that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
The federal opposition had earlier claimed the government's case for war against Iraq had been destroyed by Dr Kay's assessment.
Mr Downer told ABC radio: "I think it remains to be seen and the Iraqi survey group's work will continue," Mr Downer told ABC Radio.
"What we do know from the report that Dr Kay produced a few months ago is that (former Iraqi president) Saddam Hussein certainly continued with chemical and biological weapons programs.
"Whether we'll find any stockpiles or not just remains to be seen."
otherwise noted, all original