BuzzFlash.com's World Media Watch
by Gloria R. Lalumia
WORLD MEDIA WATCH FOR NOVEMBER 28, 2001
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.
1//DEBKAfile, Israel-MYSTERY OF DISAPPEARING AL QAEDA SOLDIERS (Pakistani ISI airlifts forces out of Konduz into Pakistan; "sources report that al Qaeda and their Taliban allies are streaming out of Kandahar in the south and crossing east into Pakistan. The two forces have thus far grouped some 4000 fighting men on the Pakistani side,… bin Laden and the Taliban leader Mullah Omar clearly remain operationally viable.")
2//The Dawn, Pakistan--BENAZIR DEMANDS ASSURANCE OF SAFETY ON RETURN "Even if there is no agreement between the military regime and my party, I still intend contesting the next election. And then I would return in the context of no understanding with the military regime."
3//The Daily Pioneer, India--VAJPAYEE VIRTUALLY REJECTS MUSHARRAF'S TALK OF "SPLIT" (Prime Minister asks Islamabad "not to have any 'illusion' that New Delhi will 'give away' Kashmir to Pakistan.")
4//Pakistan News Service, Pakistan--AGGRESSORS TO BE TAUGHT A LESSON: MUSHARRAF ("President General Pervez Musharraf said Monday that Pakistan will teach India 'a lesson' in case of any offensive.")
5//Ha'aretz, Israel--AFULA ATTACK EMBARRASSES ARAFAT ON EVE OF ZINNI MEETING AND UNDERLINES HIS FADING CONTROL ("According to senior intelligence sources, Arafat is currently subject to heavy pressure from several directions…")
6//The DEBKAfile, Israel--MARINE DIPLOMACY ENLISTED FOR A MID EAST TRUCE ("DEBKAfile's political analysts do not put General Zinni's chances any higher than his predecessors'… US special forces are standing by quietly for that contingency in Jordan, Israel, Turkey and aboard 40 US warships present in the eastern Mediterranean for some weeks.")
MYSTERY OF DISAPPEARING AL QAEDA SOLDIERS
27 November: While US troops scour the mountains and caves for Osama bin Laden, the bulk of his al Qaeda army has also disappeared. It was found to be missing when the Northern Alliance seized control of the northern Taliban enclave of Konduz-Khanabad on Monday, November 26. Roughly 1,500 of bin Laden's men are reported still holding out outside Konduz. A similar number is unaccounted for.
DEBKAfile groups the various surmises…:
A. Correspondents who entered Konduz with the Northern Alliance quoted local inhabitants as reporting that two nights before the town fell - and immediately after the Pakistani planes flew in - heavy Russian Antonov air transports touched down at Konduz airport and gathered up the al Qaeda "Arabs" - with their weapons. DEBKAfile's military sources, after checking on this lead with army intelligence sources in the Indian subcontinent, present this explanation of the mystery as the most plausible. Those Antonovs were chartered by the Pakistani ISI to lift the al Qaeda contingents together with a few Taliban units out of Konduz in north Afghanistan into north Pakistan. And that was not the end of the transfer. It is still going on. Our sources report that al Qaeda and their Taliban allies are streaming out of Kandahar in the south and crossing east into Pakistan. The two forces have thus far grouped some 4000 fighting men on the Pakistani side.
According to DEBKAfile 's intelligence sources, the United States hurriedly injected Marines to the south on Monday in direct response to the enemy's redeployment. That too is why the first US troop engagement was with a Taliban convoy approaching the Pakistani frontier.
Whichever theory turns out to be fact, bin Laden and the Taliban leader Mullah Omar clearly remain operationally viable. But questions must be asked about the operational capabilities of the Northern Alliance. If their siege of Konduz was as effective as described, why did they fail to prevent a mass exodus of enemy troops?
For a realistic summing up of the last ten days' successful battles against the Taliban and al Qaeda, DEBKAfile's military sources point out that the 15,000-strong Northern Alliance could never have pulled off these complex feats on their own. Their tanks may proudly fly their green-and-white flags, but Russian special forces generals, in command of ethnic Uzbek and Tajik fighters, managed the Northern Alliance tank war in close conjunction with US special forces.
DEMANDS ASSURANCE OF SAFETY ON RETURN
NEW DELHI, Nov 26: Saying that her exile was a reflection of the state of human rights in Pakistan, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto on Monday sought assurances of safety from President Pervez Musharraf's regime whenever she does decide to return to her country.
Ms Bhutto denied charges that her government was largely responsible for the creation of the Taliban militants in Afghanistan, but said she had worked with them for some time with the United States and European countries.
Asked about her prospects of returning to Pakistan to contest elections promised by Gen Musharraf, Ms Bhutto said her party and the military regime were engaged in a discussion on the issue.
"There is still a wide gulf between the two sides. And this wide gulf depends on a range of issues, including our demand that political prisoners be released, politically motivated cases be withdrawn, that elections be fair, free and impartial, in that regard certain substantive steps be taken and, of course, safety assurances for my return."
However, she said: "Even if there is no agreement between the military regime and my party, I still intend contesting the next election. And then I would return in the context of no understanding with the military regime. But that would mean that the military regime does not want to have fair elections.
VIRTUALLY REJECTS MUSHARRAF'S TALK OF "SPLIT"
A day after Musharraf said the Indian polity was "split" between hardliners and softliners on the Kashmir issue, Vajpayee told Rajya Sabha "the country is fully united on Kashmir. The country will never accept another partition."
Replying to a debate on the international situation arising out of the Sept 11 terrorist strikes and the US action in Afghanistan, he asserted that if Pakistan was under the "illusion" that Indo-Pak relations would improve only if India would give away Kashmir then "this condition will never be fulfilled".
News Service November 27, 2001
TO BE TAUGHT A LESSON: MUSHARRAF
Musharraf maintained that Indian held Kashmir was focal to improvement of relations between the two countries. "We have other issues also and I am ready for dialogue on all of them. The bottom-line is what is the solution", he said.
Asked if Pakistan was under any threat due to the imposition of the Northern Alliance government in Afghanistan, he said, "we want a multi ethnic, broad based government in Afghanistan. Northern Alliance should also have a share. We have nothing against them", he said.
AFULA ATTACK EMBARRASSES ARAFAT ON EVE OF ZINNI MEETING AND UNDERLINES HIS FADING CONTROL By Peter Hirschberg, Ha'aretz Correspondent
For Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat the shooting attack in Afula on Tuesday in which two Israelis were killed and 10 seriously injured, could not have come at a worse time - the day before he is scheduled to meet new U.S. envoy to the region Anthony Zinni.
Arafat, who is to meet Zinni on Wednesday for cease-fire talks, will have been even further embarrassed by the fact that one of the gunmen was a member of his own Fatah party. The other gunman was an Islamic Jihad member. Both hailed from the West Bank town of Jenin, from where the IDF pulled out overnight Monday.
"This certainly is another sign that Arafat is losing control," says Ha'aretz Arab Affairs commentator Danny Rubinstein. "There are whole population centers, including Jenin, over which he has no control. In many areas there are Intifada committees which are made up of all the different factions and they are not disciplined."
Ha'aretz reported Monday that intelligence analyses presented to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon assert that the Palestinian political system is already talking about the post-Arafat era. According to senior intelligence sources, Arafat is currently subject to heavy pressure from several directions, including internal pressure from the Palestinian street as a result of increased support for the Islamic organizations Hamas and Islamic Jihad. This is seen as the most serious threat to Arafat's rule.
But he is also believed to be under pressure from the senior Palestinian leadership, which believes that the PA chairman is leading the Palestinians to a dead end. Finally, there is military pressure by Israel, which is carrying out damaging operations in Palestinian-controlled areas.
MARINE DIPLOMACY ENLISTED FOR A MID EAST TRUCE
DEBKAfile's political analysts do not put General Zinni's chances any higher than his predecessors'. US Marine ventures in the Middle East have never been blessed with good fortune.
…The point Sharon is driving home by appointing hard-line military and intelligence officers to negotiate with the US diplomats is that the only acceptable item on the agenda is a ceasefire. All other issues are to be left for his own White House discussions with President Bush. That includes the question of if, when and against whom US Marines are to be employed on the ground in the Middle East, in the continuing US war on terror - with or without Israeli Special Forces. DEBKAfile's military sources reveal that US special forces are standing by quietly for that contingency in Jordan, Israel, Turkey and aboard 40 US warships present in the eastern Mediterranean for some weeks. Yasser Arafat knows that the only way he can make his presence felt in the Sharon-Bush talks in Washington is by revving up his campaign of terror to maximum, which he has already begun.
Copyright 2001, Gloria R. Lalumia
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otherwise noted, all original