September 2006 Archives

September 30, 2006

George Bush's 'State of Denial' About Iraq

Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz rightly observes in 'State of Denial' Lands Early And Hits Harder," that For several years now, liberal critics have been denigrating" Washington Post Assistant managing Editor Bob Woodward "as a high-level stenographer for an administration they detest, even as his last two books have also revealed information that embarrassed the White House."

"But this new volume -- written, unlike the others, without access to President Bush -- has media and political circles buzzing about whether the one-time Watergate sleuth has suddenly gotten tougher on the administration," Kurtz opines in the September 30, 2006 post.

I read Woodward's Bush At War and Plan of Attack. I intend to read State of Denial: Bush at War Part III within the next week.

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September 29, 2006

Arab League Sends Fact Finding Mission To Somalia

Shabelle Media Network's Hassan Shiek Abdullahi (Hassan Kalkata) reported September 29, 2006, from
Mogadishu, Somalia, that The Arab league has "decided to send [a] high-level delegation" on a "fact-finding mission to Somalia" to assess the possibility of soon holding a "third round of the Khartoum peace talks between the Somali transitional federal government and the powerful of Islamic courts’ union (ICU)."

For more, please see "Arab league delegates to visit for Somalia."

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Somalia's Gedi Says Kenya, Ethiopia Will Help Him Fight SICC

SomaliNet News has a report on Somali interim Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi's visit to Kenya. Mr. Gedi described the visit in a news conference in Baidoa a city in the south-central portion of the failed state. See "Somali PM briefs his trip in Kenya.

Unless foreign forces from Ethiopia or Kenya come to his rescue, Mr. Gedi will likely be ousted by the Supreme Islamic Courts Council, which has made considerable military and political headway in Somalia since forcing warlords out of Mogadishu, the capital, in June 2006.

According to a September 29, 2006, BBC report, Mr. Gedi "has warned the Islamist group that is making rapid advances in the country that Ethiopia and Kenya will help him in case of attack." See "Somalia's premier warns Islamists."

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September 28, 2006

Spinning The National Intelligence Estimate

Saying "I know there will be a lot of questions" about the National Intelligence Estimate dated April 2006, which U.S. President George W. Bush partially declassified September 26, 2006, White House spokesman Tony Snow offered "just a couple of opening thoughts" on it at his September 27, 2006 White House press briefing and then took questions."

Perhaps the most controversial conclusion in the declassified portion of the NIE, which is the collecting thinking of U.S. spy agencies, is that, "The Iraq conflict has become the "cause celebre" for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement. Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight."

To read a White House transcript of the Snow press briefing, see "Press Briefing by Tony Snow." The Diplomatic Times cannot guarantee that it has not been altered. 

Also see "President Bush's Statement On Intelligence Estimate On Iraq."

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Who's Responsible For Protecting The People Of Darfur?

William G. O'Neill, "senior adviser to the Brookings Institution Project on Internal Displacement and coauthor of  "Protecting Two Million Internally Displaced: the Successes and Shortcomings of the African Union in Darfur," has an important article at csmonitor.com headlined "The responsibility to protect Darfur." 

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September 27, 2006

President Bush's Statement On Intelligence Estimate On Iraq

After welcoming President Hamid Karzai, the U.S.' caretaker in Afghanistan, in the East Room of the White House on September 26, 2006, U.S. President George W. Bush took questions from the White House Press corps on, among other things excerpts from the National Intelligence Estimate, portions of which was leaked to the press and is causing the White House much anxiety. 

Consequently, Mr. Bush ordered the release of "Declassified Key Judgments of the National Intelligence Estimate:Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States dated April 2006, to try to blunt contentions that his Iraqi policies have resulted in making the U.S. more vulnerable to attack. The entire document is reportedly 30-pages. Here are the questions related to the NIE Estimate: 

Q Thank you, sir. Even after hearing that one of the major conclusions of the National Intelligence Estimate in April was that the Iraq war has fueled terror growth around the world, why have you continued to say that the Iraq war has made this country safer?

And to President Karzai, if I might, what do you think of President Musharraf's comments that you need to get to know your own country better when you're talking about where terror threats and the Taliban threat is coming from?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Do you want to start?

PRESIDENT KARZAI: Go ahead, please. (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT BUSH: I, of course, read the key judgments on the NIE. I agree with their conclusion that because of our successes against the leadership of al Qaeda, the enemy is becoming more diffuse and independent. I'm not surprised the enemy is exploiting the situation in Iraq and using it as a propaganda tool to try to recruit more people to their -- to their murderous ways.

Some people have guessed what's in the report and have concluded that going into Iraq was a mistake. I strongly disagree. I think it's naive. I think it's a mistake for people to believe that going on the offense against people that want to do harm to the American people makes us less safe. The terrorists fight us in Iraq for a reason: They want to try to stop a young democracy from developing, just like they're trying to fight another young democracy in Afghanistan. And they use it as a recruitment tool, because they understand the stakes. They understand what will happen to them when we defeat them in Iraq.

You know, to suggest that if we weren't in Iraq, we would see a rosier scenario with fewer extremists joining the radical movement requires us to ignore 20 years of experience. We weren't in Iraq when we got attacked on September the 11th. We weren't in Iraq, and thousands of fighters were trained in terror camps inside your country, Mr. President. We weren't in Iraq when they first attacked the World Trade Center in 1993. We weren't in Iraq when they bombed the Cole. We weren't in Iraq when they blew up our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. My judgment is, if we weren't in Iraq, they'd find some other excuse, because they have ambitions. They kill in order to achieve their objectives.

You know, in the past, Osama bin Laden used Somalia as an excuse for people to join his jihadist movement. In the past, they used the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It was a convenient way to try to recruit people to their jihadist movement. They've used all kinds of excuses.

This government is going to do whatever it takes to protect this homeland. We're not going to let their excuses stop us from staying on the offense. The best way to protect America is defeat these killers overseas so we do not have to face them here at home. We're not going to let lies and propaganda by the enemy dictate how we win this war.

Now, you know what's interesting about the NIE -- it was a intelligence report done last April. As I understand, the conclusions -- the evidence on the conclusions reached was stopped being gathered on February -- at the end of February. And here we are, coming down the stretch in an election campaign, and it's on the front page of your newspapers. Isn't that interesting? Somebody has taken it upon themselves to leak classified information for political purposes.

I talked to John Negroponte today, the DNI. You know, I think it's a bad habit for our government to declassify every time there's a leak, because it means that it's going to be hard to get good product out of our analysts. Those of you who have been around here long enough know what I'm talking about. But once again, there's a leak out of our government, coming right down the stretch in this campaign, -- to create confusion in the minds of the American people, in my judgment, is why they leaked it.

And so we're going to -- I told the DNI to declassify this document. You can read it for yourself. We'll stop all the speculation, all the politics about somebody saying something about Iraq, somebody trying to confuse the American people about the nature of this enemy. And so John Negroponte, the DNI, is going to declassify the document as quickly as possible. He'll declassify the key judgments for you to read yourself. And he'll do so in such a way that we'll be able to protect sources and methods that our intelligence community uses. And then everybody can draw their own conclusions about what the report says.

For the entire news conference, please see a White House Transcript headlined "President Bush Welcomes President Karzai of Afghanistan to the White House."
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Key Findings From The NIE Estimate On Global Terrorist Trends

As might be expected, journalists and analysts around the world are intensely debating and commenting on U,S, President George W. Bush's reluctant decision to declassify about four-pages or less of a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that suggest that the U.S.' war in Iraq is producing a new generation of Jihad leaders and soldiers. See "Bush Goes Public With Terror Study."

He released the summary of "Declassified Key Judgments of the National Intelligence Estimate:Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States dated April 2006, to try to blunt contention that his Iraqi policies have resulted in making the U.S. more vulnerable to attack. Portions of the document had been leaked to the press. The entire document is reportedly 30-pages.

NIE ANALYSTS SAID, AMONG OTHER THINGS:

"We assess that the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives; perceived Jihadists success there would inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere.

• The Iraq conflict has become the "cause celebre" for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement. Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight.

We assess that the underlying factors fueling the spread of the movement outweigh itsvulnerabilities and are likely to do so for the duration of the timeframe of this Estimate.

• Four underlying factors are fueling the spread of the jihadist movement:

(1)Entrenched grievances, such as corruption, injustice, and fear of Western domination, leading to anger, humiliation, and a sense of powerlessness;

(2) the Iraq "jihad;"

(3) the slow pace of real and sustained economic, social, and political reforms in many Muslim majority nations; and

(4) pervasive anti-US sentiment among most Muslims—all of which jihadists exploit."

The report says, "Concomitant vulnerabilities in the jihadist movement have emerged that, if fully exposed and exploited, could begin to slow the spread of the movement. They include dependence on the continuation of Muslim-related conflicts, the limited appeal of the jihadists' radical ideology, the emergence of respected voices of moderation, and criticism of the violent tactics employed against mostly Muslim citizens."

I predict that the United States will never be able to exploit these alleged "vulnerabilities" as long as its actions are aimed at subduing and dominating the Muslim world.Such an effort will always lead to resistance.

I recommend a close reading of the document.

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September 26, 2006

What Does Tariq Ramadan Have To Say To Be Allowed Into The U.S.?

Writer and Historian Stephen O'Shea says in the September 26, 2006 Comment is free: "So, according to news reports Tariq Ramadan has once again been denied a visa to enter the USA. I met Tariq last June in a BBC studio in London where we debated whether Islam should be reformed. But if anything needs reforming in a hurry, it is public discourse in the United States," Mr. O'Shea contends.

He said, "Presumably, the sages at the department of homeland security do not read Comment is free, where, only last week, Tariq posted a typically stimulating analysis, this time of the pope's notorious speech, an analysis that ended with a call for reasoned debate. Actually, someone in Washington is doubtless paid to read Comment is free - hi there! - but Tariq's message about dialogue was so profoundly antipathetic to current political wisdom in the United States that it could well have been a further prod to deny him entry."

To read more, please see "Marooned on an island of misinformation." Hopefully, he won't stoop to butt-kissing just to get into the country.

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Musharraf: CIA Paid U.S. To Hand Over Al-Qaeda Members

Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf notes in his book, In The Line of Fire: A Memoir, that, "Since shortly after 9/11, when many members of al-Qaeda fled Afghanistan and crossed the border into Pakistan, we have played cat and mouse with them. The biggest of them all, Osama bin Laden, is still at large at the time of this writing, but we have caught many, many others."

The book is being serialized in The Times of London. A September 25, 2006 extract is called "All hell broke loose. It went dark."  Another extract is called "I took a ruthless decision for the sake of my people."

Also see "The wanted man, the Heathrow plot and the 7/7 bombers" and "How we found Pearl buried in ten pieces.

Mr. Musharraf said, "some" of the Al-Qaeda members it captured "are known to the world, some are not. We have captured 689 and handed over 369 to the United States," he reveals. "We have earned bounties totaling millions of dollars. Those who habitually accuse us of “not doing enough” in the war on terror should simply ask the CIA how much prize money it has paid to the Government of Pakistan."

I suspect the Bush Administration would have preferred that this information remain secret.

Related Links

CIA paid us for al-Qa'ida suspects: Musharraf --- The Australian, Australia

America paid us to hand over al-Qaeda suspects' --- By Daniel McGrory, Times Online, UK

Battle-hardened soldier walks a diplomatic tightrope --- By Bronwen Maddox, Times Online, UK

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Mr. Ahmadinejad And Mr. Chavez

Back on September 23, 2006, Letta Tayler, Latin America Correspondent for the American paper New York Newsday, in writing about the president of Iran and the president of Nicaragua's speeches last week before the United Nations General Assembly, said, "They made an odd couple, the booming, boisterous Venezuelan president and his quietly intense Iranian counterpart, as they stole the spotlight at last week's UN General Assembly with their virulently anti-U.S. rhetoric."

"But," Ms. Tayler wrote, "if Venezuela's Hugo Chávez and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appeared to be the comic and the straight man, their speeches marked the harshest criticism of U.S. policy from the General Assembly floor in decades."

I think it was refreshing to see leaders unafraid to criticize U.S. foreign policy. To read more of Ms. Tayler's analysis, please see "Leaders' lack of diplomacy on world stage.

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'Shock And Awe Diplomacy...'

Ben Tanosborn, a Vancouver, Washington (USA)-based contributing writer at the Online Journal, which was "established in 1998 to provide uncensored and accurate news, analysis and commentary," takes a look at "American exceptionalism" in a September 26, 2006, post headlined "Shock and awe” diplomacy confronts American Exceptionalism." I think it's worth reading.

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September 25, 2006

Some Muslim Writers Debate Reaction To Pope's September 12 Speech

Magdi Abdelhadi, Arab Affairs Analyst for BBC News reported today that, "Despite the predominantly emotional and angry response to the Pope's controversial remarks about Islam, some Muslim writers and intellectuals have been extremely critical of the way Muslims have responded so far."

That may be so, but their criticism won't matter in the grand scheme of things, because they have no influence where it counts. And that's with the average person on the street. However, they will be on record as condemning the response precipated by the pope's September 12, 2006, remarks about Islam and Prophet Muhammad during a lecture at the University of Regensburg in Bavaria, Germany.

During his discourse on "Faith, Reason and the University Memories and Reflections," he quoted from 14th century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus, who is on record as saying:

“Show me just what Muhammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

To read Mr. Abdelhadi's entire post, please see "Muslims debate Pope's speech reaction."

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Pope Benedict Tells Muslim Envoys He Wants New Dialogue

"Pope Benedict XVI held an audience with some 40 Muslim leaders at his summer residence outside Rome Monday September 25, 2006], telling his visitors he wanted to "strengthen the bonds of friendship and solidarity between the Holy See and Muslim communities throughout the world." according to the "global information agency" Adnkronosinternational (AKI).  

AKI said, "The meeting, which involved 20 Muslim ambassadors to the Vatican and a similar number of Italian Muslim community leaders, was an effort to put an end to the controversy caused by Pope Benedict's remarks about Islam on 12 September" 2006, during a lecture at the University of Regensburg in Bavaria, Germany, titled  "Faith, Reason and the University Memories and Reflections." What sparked Muslim anger, protests and church burning was his use of a quote  from 14th century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus, that says:

“Show me just what Muhammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.

According to AKI, "The pope was accompanied at the meeting by the head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Cardinal Paul Poupard, as well as his new secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who took office last week."

To read the entire AKi report, please see "Vatican: Pope Tells 'Muslim Friends' He wants New Dialogue."

A Few Related Links

Muslim ambassadors arrive for talks with pope --- Khaleej Times, United Arab Emirates 

Inter-faith dialogue crucial to peace: Pope tells Muslim envoys --- Khaleej Times, United Arab Emirates 

"Future" depends on dialogue between Christians and Muslims - Pope --- EITB, Spain

Call for Pope's apology to Muslims, Christians --- IranMania News, Iran 

Pope remarks may stall Isfahan-Vatican twinning --- IranMania News, Iran 

LEONARD PITTS JR. Pope, stop explaining yourself --- Houston Chronicle, USA 

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September 24, 2006

Cameron Duodu: 'The IMF Must Listen To Africa'

Cameron Duodu, "a columnist for New African magazine, argues in a September 24, 2006, Comment is Free post that "The IMF must listen to Africa." It's a valid argument.

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Waiting For The Slaughter In Darfur

Time magazine's  Peter Beinart has an article online headlined "How to Save Darfur" It was posted September 24, 2006. As I read it, what came to mind was, this is Africa, not Europe, so don't expect Europe or the U.S. to do too much to save Africans from other Africans in some desolate refugee camps in Sudan and Chad. Of course, European governments, and the American government, did back the passage of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1706, which implores Sudan to let UN Peace keepers into Darfur, Western Sudan. Sudanese President Omar al- Bashir says no way. And that's that.

As for the  African Union Mission in Sudan, it can barely protect itself  let along the inhabitants of Darfur. In other words, both are up the creek without a paddle unless a military force more powerful than Sudan's army and the Janjaweed militias intervene. So far, such a force doesn't seem likely. 

Meanwhile, after the Sudanese complete their slaughter in Darfur, and it's just a matter a time before it occurs, unless there is armed intervention or a quick political solution, look for the Europeans and the Americans to issue calls for war crimes trials for Sudanese leaders. But maybe not, the Americans may have to give an account for Iraq.

A Few Related Links

Why No Action in Darfur? Race --- Washington Post, USA

Sudan's president accuses US, through UN, of meddling in Darfur - International Herald Tribune, Paris

Sudan says US efforts on Darfur for internal political agenda --- Sudan Tribune, Sudan 

Darfur: Where is the will? --- Sudan Tribune, Sudan 

African Union To Bolster Peacekeeping Force In Darfur --- Easy Bourse (Communiqués de presse), France 

UN envoy calls for peace in Darfur during Ramadan --- Mail & Guardian Online, South Africa 

Sudan and the Security Council --- Dar Al-Hayat, Lebanon 

SA urges Sudan to accept UN force plan --- Business Day, South Africa 

The last thing Darfur needs is the involvement of Western troops --- Taipei Times, Taiwan 

Bombs rain down on Darfur villages--- Time Online, UK

Janjaweed Are Winning --- The Washington Post, USA

As World Talks, More Violence Racks Darfur --- The Los Angeles Times, USA

Rice, Others Press Sudan to Open Darfur to UN Force --- Washington Post, USA 

INTERVIEW-US special envoy for Sudan feels weight of his job --- Reuters AlertNet, UK 

Beckett presses Sudan on Darfur --- BBC News, UK 

The Darfur Smokescreen: Is Humanitarian Interventionism Humane? --- Alarab online, UK 

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Daily Mail: Fate Of Osama Bin Laden Subject Of Intense Debate

"The fate of Osama Bin Laden was the subject of intense debate last night after a leaked intelligence report claimed he had died of typhoid," Glen Owen and Peter Allen of London's Daily Mail online reported September 24, 2006. See "CIA probes French claim that bin Laden has died of typhoid."

"But the document was quickly contradicted by a security source in Saudi Arabia - where the Al Qaeda leader was born, and many of his family still live - who said he was still alive, but extremely unwell," the reporters added.

As Claude Salhani, United Press International's (UPI) Lebanese-born international editor notes in a September 23, 2006, news analysis, "The news of the death of al-Qaida's chief was reported in the Saturday [September 23, 2006] edition of l'Est Republicain, a respected regional daily. The French paper cites a memo they claim was obtained from the French counter-espionage agency, the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure,  or the DGSE. (See "Analysis: Is bin Laden truly dead?"

A Few Related Links

bin Laden Dead? Officials Scramble To Confirm Reports (UPDATED)--- The Moderate Voice, USA

Time: Bin Laden Very Sick with Water-Borne Illness, Probably Dead --- Sofia News Agency, Bulgaria 

Bin Laden "Terminal Decease" Paralyses Internal Organs --- Sofia News Agency, Bulgaria 

Osama bin Laden: dead or alive? --- Independent Online, South Africa

Dead or alive: have we seen the last of bin Laden? --- Sunday Herald, UK

Bin Laden Found Dead, Says Rumour --- Zaman Online, Turkey

Saudis put damper on Bin Laden death reports --- Middle East Times, Egypt 

Saudi Arabia Has No Proof Bin Laden Is Dead --- Yahoo! News (press release), USA

Saudis Say No Evidence Bin Laden Died --- RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty, Czech Republic 

No Afghan confirmation of Bin Laden's reported death --- Kuwait News Agency, Kuwait 

Karzai dismisses bin Laden death --- The Australian, Australia 

Report of Bin Laden death mere 'speculation': Afghan President --- Zee News, India 

Officials Skeptical of Bin Laden Report --- ABC, USA

Leaders cautious on Osama death reports --- The Age, Australia

Reports about Osama’s death stir mystery --- Dawn, Pakistan

Pakistan says it has no information --- Dawn, Pakistan

Spy chiefs to probe 'Osama is dead' claim ---Guardian Unlimited, UK

With Bin Laden Dead Who'll Be The Next Terror Bogeyman? --- Blogcritics.org, Ohio, USA 

Maybe we can finally drop the Tora Bora rhetoric --- Questions and Observations, USA

Osama's Death: That Might be a Bad Thing! --- Blogger News Network, USA 

Bin Laden Had Kidney Ailments, "Certainly Worse if Not Dead " --- Sofia News Agency, Bulgaria 

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Britain Restructuring Its Dead Zone In Afghanistan

Kim Sengupta in London and Ahmed Rahim in Lashkargar, Afghanistan, report in the September 11, 2006 edition of The Independent (UK) that "British forces in Afghanistan are restructuring their operations after months of fierce combat which have taken a mounting toll on the battlefield and caused rising concern at home." 

The correspondents said, "The policy of setting up "advanced platoon houses", which have drawn relentless attacks in the heart of Helmand province's Taliban country, will be quietly abandoned. British troops will instead be concentrated in more easily defended bases near the towns of Lashkargar, Grishk, Sangin and Musa Qala, as well as their main base, Camp Bastion."

For more, please see "Special report: Afghanistan - The dead zone.

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Torture And Abuse Leads To 'A Silence In The Afghan Mountains'

The September 24, 2006 edition of the Los Angeles Times has a long, disturbing article on its investigation of the questionable activities  in Afghanistan of some U.S. Special Forces units, including those of a 10-member Alabama National Guard Special Forces team that reportedly concealed the deaths of two Afghan detainees in 2003. The Times said it "paints a troubling picture of abuse by U.S. Special Forces units deployed to the country." U.S. forces invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 following Al-Qaeda's September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.

"Apparently unknown to Army officials, two detainees had died in the team's custody in separate incidents during the unit's final month in eastern Afghanistan," according to reporters Kevin Sack and Craig Pyes. They reported that "several other detainees allege that they were badly beaten or tortured while held at the base in Gardez." They also wrote:

What distinguishes these two fatalities from scores of other questionable deaths in U.S. custody is that they were successfully concealed — not just from the American public but from the military's chain of command and legal authorities.

The deaths came to light only after an investigation by The Times and a nonprofit educational organization, the Crimes of War Project, led the Army to open criminal inquiries on the incidents. Two years later, the cases remain under investigation and no charges have been filed.

The Times said its reporters have "since reviewed thousands of pages of internal military records showing that prisoner abuse by Special Forces units was more common in Afghanistan than previously acknowledged.

The September 11, 2006, edition of The Birmingham (Alabama) News says, "Five years after the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, Alabama's Guard has sent 5,777 troops to war and trails only the much larger states of Texas, California and North Carolina in the total number of members deployed first to Afghanistan and then Iraq." See "Post-9/11 action nonstop for state Guard members.

To read the entire Los Angeles Times article on the alleged abuse, please see "A Silence in the Afghan Mountains.

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September 23, 2006

Saudi Arabia: Reports On Bin Laden's Death Are Speculative

News.Com.au of Australia reported in its September 24, 2006  that "The Saudi government late on Saturday [September 23, 2006] pulled the rug from under" the  French newspaper L'Est Republicain's "report about the alleged death of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, saying in a statement that it "has no evidence to support" the contention.

"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has no evidence to support recent media reports that Osama bin Laden is dead," the Saudi Embassy here [in Washington] said in a statement. "Information that has been reported otherwise is purely speculative and cannot be independently verified."

For more, please see "Saudis refute bin Laden report."

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Recommended: 'The November Surprise---Bin Laden On A Silver Platter'

Jayne Lyn Stahl over Lady Jane's blog raises interesting questions in her September 23, 2006, post headlined  "The November Surprise---bin Laden on a Silver Platter?" I think it's worth reading.

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Pakistani Intelligence: 'We Are Sure Bin Laden Is Alive'

Amir Mir of Daily News & Analysis (DNA) of India reported September 24, 2006, that "Pakistani intelligence circles have strongly refuted a French newspaper report claiming that al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden had died of typhoid in the country some time between August 23 and September 4 this year." A senior intelligence official in Rawalpindi is quoted as saying:

Based on the information gleaned from several arrested al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders, we can say with authority that Osama bin Laden, his deputy Ayman Al Zawahiri and the former Taliban chief Mullah Mohammad Omar are very much alive and in good health.

The official added, according to Mr. Mir: “We are sure that bin Laden is hiding somewhere between Afghanistan and Pakistan.  We believe that his deputy sometimes moves back and forth between the two with the help of Mullah Omar and his associates.”

To read more, please see "Laden alive and healthy: Pak intelligence."

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The Sunday Times: 'Spies Reject Bin Laden Is Dead'

The Sunday Times online says in a September 24, 2006 article that "Spies reject ‘Bin Laden is dead’ claim."

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U.S. Doesn't Have Unlimited Time Or Support In Iraq

While the Number of U.S. troops in Iraq [is] likely to remain stable, the "Campaign to bring peace to Baghdad's neighborhoods faces hurdles," according to reports by McClatchy Newspapers' Washington Bureau.

As for a U.S. victory in Iraq, see The Christian Science Monitor's September 21, 2006, report headlined "US general's key to victory in Iraq: 'Unlimited time, unlimited support." The Bush Administration has neither.

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Jewish, Arab Israelis More Divided Than Ever: Why?

The headline on a September 22, 2006, San Jose Mercury News article by Dion Nissenbaum of McClatchy Newspapers' highly regarded Washington Bureau says "War with Hezbollah has left Jewish, Arab Israelis more divided than ever."

Is anyone surprised by this?

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If Bin Laden is Dead, Would U.S. Actually Confirm It Now?

"France and the United States said on Saturday [September 23, 2006] they could not confirm a report that Osama bin Laden had died and France launched a probe into how a secret document containing the claim was leaked," reports Anna Willard of Reuters. See "France and U.S. unable to confirm report bin Laden dead."

Since the Bush Administration is know for its political theater and managing events for maximum effect, a question that comes to mind is this: If administration officials knew for certain that Mr. bin Laden had died --  and they may know despite claims to the contrary -- would they withhold confirmation, to use as a political prop at some point leading up to the November 2006 elections?

Many of President George W. Bush's Republican supporters in Congress up for re-election are worried by the public's increasing disapproval of the Iraq war, which has been been a costly and deadly diversion from the stated goal of capturing or killing Mr. bin Laden for attacking the United States on September 11, 2006. Would they take their frustration out on the Republicans?  See "Polls show opposition to Iraq war at all-time high."

Announcing Mr. bin Laden's death in late October would likely give Republicans a boost, but only for a few days.

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Claude Salhani's Analysis Of Reports Of Bin Laden's Death

Claude Salhani, United Press International's (UPI) Lebanese-born international editor, notes in a September 23, 2006, news analysis that, "The news of the death" of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden (in photo below), "was reported in the Saturday [September 23, 2006 edition of l'Est Republicain, a respected regional daily," with purported ties to French intelligence. See "Analysis: Is bin Laden truly dead?" I recommend it as a another voice in the world-wide speculation about the Al-Qaeda leader's alleged demise.

The report of Mr. Laden's death, reportedly on August 23, 2006, in Pakistan, is based on an alleged Saudi intelligence analysis obtained by French counter-intelligence [Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure ], according to published reports. Mr. Salhani said he contacted a source in Saudi intelligence, who told UPI: "We are not saying he is dead, but there is a lot of truth in the report."

He said, "The Saudi source, who spoke on condition that his name not be revealed, confirmed the existence of a Saudi intelligence report relating to the health of bin Laden. And according to that Saudi Arabian intelligence document, it states, "bin Laden was very ill these past few weeks."

"The Saudi source," according to Mr. Salhani, also "told UPI the French intelligence report must have concluded that Saudi authorities believes bin Laden to be dead."

"There is no way we can prove that bin Laden is dead until we can see the body," the Saudi intelligence source told UPI. But, he stressed, "A good portion of what is in the report is true."

Mr. Salhani said for its source on Mr. bin Laden, "The French paper cites a memo they claim was obtained from the French counter-espionage agency, the Direction Générale des Services Extérieurs, or the DGSE."

Mr. Salhani said, "Making the report all the more credible was the choice by those in French counter-intelligence of where to leak the Saudi report, the regional L'Est Republicain, rather than one of the larger Paris-based dailies.

"There is a history with that paper," the Saudi source told UPI. The newspaper is known to have had intelligence reports leaked to it in the past. "They are very reliable," said the Saudi official.

"The information purporting the death of the world's most sought after terrorist is based on what the newspaper calls "a usually reliable source," stating that Saudi intelligence sources "are convinced" of bin Laden's death."

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Bush Uses Diplomatic Arm-Twisting to Forge Karzai, Musharraf Bond

"Faced with a bloody Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan, over the next few days [U.S.] President George W. Bush will be prodding leaders from Afghanistan and Pakistan to work together against Muslim extremists," according to Ron Hutcheson of McClatchy Newspapers. See "DIPLOMACY AND THE WAR ON TERRORISM: Bush aims to make some new alliances. Also see "Bush praises Afghanistan and Pakistan for their roles in war on terror."

Mr. Hutcheson said, "The diplomatic arm-twisting comes at a particularly challenging time in a region that remains a spawning ground for international terrorism. In Afghanistan, a Taliban military offensive is testing the viability of the U.S.-backed government in Kabul. Neighboring Pakistan continues to serve as a haven for Taliban operatives and Al Qaeda terrorists."

Mr. Bush is trying to forge a bond between Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the U.S.' man in Kabul. Relations between the men are sometimes testy, usually over who is responsible for the Taliban's resurgence. See "Terror allies waging turf war."

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Transcript Of Bush And Musharraf's White House Press Conference

During his September 22, 2006, press conference in the East Room of the White House with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, U.S. President George W. Bush describes what he and Mr. Musharraf talked about.

Regarding Mr. Musharraf's disclosure that Richard Armitage, former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's deputy at the State Department, told him in 2001 that Pakistan would be bombed into the stone age if it did not help the U.S. destroy the Taliban and Al-Qaida following the latter's September 11, 2001, attack on the U.S. , Mr. Bush's exchange on the subject is disclosed in a White House transcript headlined President Bush and President Musharraf of Pakistan Participate in Press Availability. Here's an excerpt: 

Q: Mr. President, after 9/11, would the United States have actually attacked Pakistan if President Musharraf had not agreed to cooperate with the war on terrorism? He says that the United States was threatening to bomb his country back into the stone age.

And, President Musharraf, would Pakistan have given up its backing of the Taliban if this threat had not come from Armitage?

PRESIDENT BUSH: First, let me -- she's asking about the Armitage thing. The first I heard of this was when I read it in the newspaper today. You know, I was -- I guess I was taken aback by the harshness of the words.

All I can tell you is, is that shortly after 9/11, Secretary Colin Powell came in and said, President Musharraf understands the stakes and he wants to join and help route out an enemy that has come and killed 3,000 of our citizens. As a matter of fact, my recollection was that one of the first leaders to step up and say that the stakes have changed, that attack on America that killed 3,000 of the citizens needs to be dealt with firmly, was the President. And if I'm not mistaken, Colin told us that, if not the night of September the 11th, shortly thereafter. I need to make sure I get my facts straight, but it was soon.

I don't know of any conversation that was reported in the newspaper like that. I just don't know about it.

PRESIDENT MUSHARRAF: I would like to -- I am launching my book on the 25th, and I am honor-bound to Simon and Schuster not to comment on the book before that day. (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT BUSH: In other words, buy the book, is what he's saying. (Laughter.)

Mr. Musharraf added: "I think, as the President said, we are on the hunt together against these people. Now why are we bothering or how to -- the semantics of the tactics of how to deal with the situation? We will deal with it. We are on the hunt together. You want the person -- if at all we confront him, if at all we find out his location, we are quite clear what to do.

"But let's not get involved in how it ought to be done, by whom it ought to be done. There's total coordination at the intelligence level between the two forces, there's coordination at the operational level, at the strategic level, even at the tactical level. So, therefore, we are working together, and when the situation arises, we need to pick the right decision to strike. That's how I --"

Note: The Diplomatic Times Review cannot guarantee that the White House transcript of the Bush/ Musharraf news conference has not be edited. 

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Musharraf's Disclosure of U.S. Bombing Threat: What's Behind It?

Agence France Press (AFP), in a dispatch from Islamabad, Pakistan, reports that some analysts think "President Pervez Musharraf’s disclosure of a U.S. threat to bomb Pakistan if it did not back the war on terror may have been meant as a sop to domestic opponents, but made him look weak instead...." See "Musharraf’s ‘Stone Age’ revelation shows weakness: analysts. Also see  "Armitage denies threatening to send Pakistan "back to the Stone Age. "

AFP said "Experts said they were baffled why military ruler Musharraf had brought up the five-year-old alleged warning shortly before a crucial meeting Friday [September 22, 2006],  with U.S. President George W. Bush." Mr. Bush told journalist he first heard about the threat when he read it a newspaper September 22.

AFP quotes "former army chief General Mirza Aslam Beg" as saying: "It is a bad reflection on the Pakistani leadership that it buckled to pressures despite the fact that we are a powerful nation with a strong army and nuclear power.’"

Related Links

Musharraf's Comments Rattle Pakistanis --- Forbes, USA 

Pakistanis React To 'Stone Age' Claim --- CBS News, USA

Bush Now Threatens Pakistan --- Zaman Online, Turkey

Hijacked into terrorism war: Pakistan tells of US threat --- Sydney Morning Herald, Australia 

White House denies threat to bomb Pakistan `back to the Stone Age' ---San Jose Mercury News, USA

US: threat to bomb Pakistan was a 'misunderstanding' --- Times Online, United Kingdom

Bush says he was 'taken aback' by Musharraf's bombing claim --- The Independent, United Kingdom

Bush and Musharraf letting strains show --- International Herald Tribune, France 

Bush Tries to Ease Strain in Pakistan Ties --- Los Angeles Times, USA

US-Pakistan Relationship Fragile --- Washington Post, USA   

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September 22, 2006

AP: 'Three Christian Terrorists Executed In Indonesia'

The Associated Press reports that, "Three Christian terrorists were executed by a firing squad early on Friday [September 22, 2006] for leading attacks on Muslims six years ago that left 70 people dead, police and relatives said."

The wire service said, "The men were taken before the firing squad at 12:15 am (2:15 pm EDT on Thursday), said a senior police officer who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media. Family members later said they had received confirmation of their deaths."

For more, please see "Three Christian terrorists executed in Indonesia

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Pope's Meeting With Muslim Envoys Is A Week Too Late

On September 25, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to do what he should have done a week ago, and that is meet Muslim ambassadors to the Vatican and Italian Islamic leaders "to try to calm" what Reuters calls "lingering anger" over his use during a September 12, 2006, lecture of a quote  from 14th century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus, that says:

“Show me just what Muhammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.

Reuters quotes a senior Vatican official on September 22, 2006, as saying: "The purpose of this meeting is to relaunch dialogue with the Islamic world." 

The meeting, barring any unforeseen circumstances, will take place "at the Pope's summer palace in Castelgandolfo, outside Rome."

For more, please see "Pope to meet Muslim envoys after speech offends."

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Muslim Sensitivities and Non-Muslim Insensitivities

"The controversy over Pope Benedict XVI's remarks on Islam in a speech last week continues to simmer on a low fire," observes Rami G. Khouri,  editor-at-large of the Beirut, Lebanon-based Daily Star, in an opinion column published in the September 22, 2006, Middle East Online.

The "internationally syndicated columnist" and "director of the Issam Fares Institute at the American University of Beirut, said "It could move towards a greater global backlash by angry Muslims against the Pope and Christianity itself, or it could fade away in light of his sincere but slightly clipped public expression of regret and sorrow. The issue reveals as much about the sensitivities of Muslims as it does about the insensitivities of non-Muslims."

To read more, please see "Muslim Faith and Muslim Anger.

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September 21, 2006

The Editorial Observer

To satisfy my constant quest for stimulating editorials and informed opinion on international affairs, I've started a blog called The Editorial Observer. I will use it monitor, comment on and link to diverse, thought-provoking editorials, op-ed columns and opinion by writers and publications around the world."

Please visit and feel free to comment. It's still a work in progress.

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September 20, 2006

Bloggers Helped Get Out The News About Thai Coup

Jason Staines, a correspondent with The Age of Australia, noted in a September 20, 2006, report that "Strict controls on foreign and domestic media has meant the Internet has become a valuable source of information for those in Thailand wishing to discover more about the coup" that took place there September 19, 2006.

To read how bloggers helped get the news out, please see "Bloggers quick off the mark."

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How Coup Exposed Thailand's Fragile Democracy

Christian Science Monitor reporters Simon Montlake and Daniel Ten Kate, writing from Beijing, China, and Bangkok, Thailand, notes in a September 21, 2006 article that, "A bloodless [ September 19, 2006] coup in Thailand has upended the country's fragile democracy, to the delight of many middle-class activists who had campaigned for months for the removal of Thaksin Shinawatra, the populist prime minister. But the manner of his removal by Army officers loyal to the Thai monarch exposes the shallow roots of the democratic institutions that grew in the shadow of past military regimes."

For more, please see "Thai coup uproots a thin democracy."

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President Bush's Address To U.N. General Assembly

The Diplomatic Times Review provides a link to a White House transcript of U.S. President George W. Bush's September 19, 2006 addresses to United Nations General Assembly. TDTR can't guarantee that it has not been altered.

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September 19, 2006

Britain's Faulty Intelligence On The Taliban' Strength

Michael Evans, defense editor for The Times Online, reports in a September 20, 2006, article that, Des Browne, the British Defense Secretary, admitted during a speech to the Royal United Services Institute in London on September 19, 2006, that:

We do have to accept that it has been even harder than we expected: the Taleban’s tenacity has been a surprise, absorbing more of our effort than we predicted it would and consequently slowing progress on reconstruction” [in Helmand Province in south Afghanistan]

To read the entire article, please see "Tenacity of Taliban is a surprise, says Browne. Also see this transcript of Browne's speech.

Related Links

Browne fears deeper Afghan conflict ---Guardian Unlimited, UK 

Nato credibility 'on the line' --- Guardian Unlimited, UK 

Royal Highland Fusiliers expected to be sent to Afghanistan ---The Herald, UK

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Vatican Diplomats Deployed To Muslim Capitals

"The Vatican deployed diplomats to capitals of Muslim states Monday [September 18, 2006] in an effort to contain anger over Pope Benedict XVI's comments on Islam, as shadowy threats against the pontiff and Christianity multiplied," reports Tracy Wilkinson of the Los Angeles Times.

For more, please see "Vatican sends envoys to key Muslim cities to ease unrest."

Related Links

Vatican begins diplomatic offensive to appease Muslims --- Daily News & Analysis, India 

Papal envoys work to defuse Muslim anger over pope's remarks --- International Herald Tribune, Paris

Turkey trip seen as chance for Pope to make amends --- Washington Post, United States 

Gul: No Change in Pope's Visit to Turkey --- Zaman Online, Turkey 

Moroccan king sends letter to Vatican protesting pope's remarks on Islam --- International Herald Tribune, Paris

Muslim countries ask U.N. Human Rights Council to address Pope's remarks --- International Herald Tribune, Paris

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Editorials And Opinion On The Pope Benedict, Muslim Controversy

John L. Allen Jr., Vatican correspondent for The National Catholic Reporter, contends in a September 19, 2006 opinion piece in The New York Times that, "Seen in context, Pope Benedict XVI’s citation last week of a 14th-century Byzantine emperor who claimed that the Prophet Muhammad brought “things only evil and inhuman” to the world was not intended as an anti-Islamic broadside. The pope’s real target in his lecture at the University of Regensburg, in Germany, was not Islam but the West, especially its tendency to separate reason and faith. He also denounced religious violence, hardly a crusader’s sentiment."

If the pope's real target was the west, he missed it by a wide margin. Even some of those he may have intended to reach seem to think he was aiming at Muslims. 

For more, please see "A Challenge, Not a Crusade." May require registration.

 Outrage and understanding --- The Toronto Star, Canada

The Pope wimps out --- BuzzMachine, United States

Radical Islamists are the ones who insult Islam, not the Pope --- Eric Mendoza

Dionne: Pope's remarks on Islam troubling for church, West --- Houston Chronicle, United States

A pope’s predicament --- Khaleej Times, United Arab Emirates

Pope's comments threaten dialogue --- Chicago Tribune, United States 

Should Vatican aides have warned the Pope? --- Telegraph.co.uk, United Kingdom 

Return to the dark ages --- Guardian Unlimited, United Kingdom

Clashing civilisations on the banks of the Bosphorus --- Financial Times, United Kingdom

An insufficient apology --- Guardian Unlimited, United Kingdom

Critical time for our Pope --- Manila Standard Today, Philippines 

Lost in translation --- The Age, Australia 

The Pope, the Crusades, and the Muslims --- Dr. David Yeagley's Online Journal

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September 18, 2006

Daily Telegraph: 'Islam, Like Christianity, Is Not Above Criticism'

One of the Daily Telegraph's lead articles today is "Islam, like Christianity, is not above criticism." What about Judaism?

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Daily Telegraph Reporter: Has Pope Benedict Really Apologized?

The headline on a dispatch from Rome by Daily Telegraph reporter Malcolm Moore is "Pope says sorry, but has he really apologised? Great question. Pope Benedict's attempt at an apology for the furor caused when he quoted during a September 12, 2006 lecture in Bavaria from 14th century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus, who said:

“Show me just what Muhammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.

By the way, his "apology" was "broadcast live to the Arab world via the al-Jazeera television network," notes Mr. Moore.

Related Link

Vatican has adopted a tougher line with Islam --- Daily Telegraph, United Kingdom

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Pope Benedict's '...History Of Wariness Toward Islam'

Today The New York Sun reprinted  Daily Telegraph reporter Jonathan Petre's informative article headlined "Benedict Has a History of Wariness Toward Islam." 

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September 17, 2006

GOP Cronies, Not Professionals, Ran U.S. Occupation Authority In Iraq

I highly recommend former Washington Post staff writer Rajiv Chandrasekaran's September 17, 2006 article headlined "Ties to GOP Trumped Know-How Among Staff Sent to Rebuild Iraq," which is "adapted from his book "Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone"( Knopf 2006).

Mr. Chandrasekaran, "who started as a summer intern 11 years ago and subsequently covered local and financial news and served as the newspaper's Baghdad bureau chief, was named assistant managing editor for continuous news" on September 16, 2006. See "Post Names Continuous News Editor."

By the way, I intend to buy Mr. Mr. Chandrasekaran's book tomorrow.

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Author: U.S. Entanglement In Iraq Resembles Rome's Punic Wars

"America's entanglement in Iraq bears a striking resemblance to ancient Rome's Punic wars (with Carthage), according to the author of a new book on the Roman Empire," reports Tom Anderson of The Independent of Britain in a September 17, 2006 report.

Mr. Anderson said, "Simon Baker, who also produced BBC2's forthcoming series "Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire," on which his book is based, claims the decision by the greatest civilisation in the ancient world to attack its Mediterranean rival Carthage mirrors America's actions in the build-up to the second Gulf War."

To read why Mr. baker thinks so, please see "US 'mirrors Roman Empire' in Iraq war.

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Can U.S. Democrats Make Gains By Exploiting Anti-War Sentiment?

Al Cross, former Louisville, Kentucky Courier-Journal political writer and current "director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues in the School of Journalism and Telecommunications at the University of Kentucky," says in a September 17, 2006 column:

It was silly of Senate Democrats to complain last week that President Bush had politicized his 9/11 anniversary speech by defending his Iraq policy. Iraq is the country's chief concern, and will probably be the main factor in the fall elections, so Bush could not avoid talking about it. And he had the right to defend his policy, which, after all, runs in a direct line from 9/11/01.
"But," he added, "the evidence continues to mount that it is a line running in the wrong direction, and a line that voters are increasingly unlikely to follow in November -- if Democrats don't keep misplaying the hand Bush's misadventure has dealt them."

To read more, please see "Democrats could gain by exploiting anti-war sentiments

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Bush Administration Reportedly Frustrated With Iraqi Leaders

Los Angeles Times correspondent Paul Richter reported September 16, 2006 that, "Four months after Iraq's new government took office, U.S. officials are growing impatient with leaders in Baghdad and pushing them to move more quickly on the difficult agenda confronting them."

"The top U.S. goal in Iraq is to help the regime led by Prime Minister Nouri Maliki to suppress sectarian violence, strengthen the fragile government and economy and move toward national reconciliation, senior officials say," according to Mr. Richter.

He quoted "one of those officials" as saying in "a recent interview:"The rhetoric has to be matched by concrete action." As usual, the official "asked to remain unidentified, citing the sensitivity of the subject." The Iraqi government "needs to begin acting, on the ground, on its own behalf," he or she reportedly said.

And if it doesn't, does this mean the U.S. will oust that government and force another election in an attempt to get someone who can play the role of puppet to the satisfaction of the Bush Administration. Stay tuned. We haven't heard the last this.

For more, please see "U.S. Frustrated by Pace of Change in Iraq."

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The Grim News From Iraq And Afghanistan

On September 15, 2006, Christian Science Monitor Columnist and Just World News proprietor Helena Cobban observed that, "The news from Iraq has been so bad, for so long, that I've been almost too depressed to even write about it. I'm not sure that any of us who opposed the ghastly US invasion and occupation of the country from the get-go-- and even before then-- can take any pleasure at all in reading the news these days."

To read Ms. Cobban's post, please see "The US in Iraq and Afghanistan: what to do?"

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Pope Benedict Apologizes To Muslims, Sort Of

Pope Benedict XVI, who is scheduled to visit predominantly Muslim Turkey from November 28 to 30, 2006, "opened his regular Sunday blessing with a plea for calm and understanding," according to EuroNews and other publications.

"I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address ["Faith, Reason and the University Memories and Reflections] which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims," EuroNews quoted him as telling "pilgrims at his Castelgandolfo summer residence" in Italy. [Link added]

"These in fact were a quotation from a medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought. I hope this serves to appease hearts and to clarify the true meaning of my address, which in its totality was and is an invitation to frank and sincere dialogue, with mutual respect,"

A Few Comments And International Editorials On Pope, Muslim Controversy

Focus: Pope vs Prophet ---- The Sunday Times, United Kingdom

Pope Benedict's long mission to confront radical Islam --- The Observer, United Kingdom

Subtle scholar, but what an inept politician --- The Age, Australia

Text of Pope's apology --- BBC, United Kingdom

Muslim Leaders welcome Pope's apology --- Irish Independent, Ireland 

Brotherhood seeks 'clear apology' --- Aljazeera.net, Qatar

Pope apology 'not good enough' --- Melbourne Herald Sun, Australia

Peace - how, if critics must die? --- Daily Telegraph, Australia

Threats of revenge on Pope --- The Australian, Australia

The case for tolerance --- The Times of Malta, Malta

Blow to Islam's claim of tolerance --- Daily Telegraph, Australia

An open invitation to dialogue --- Hindustan Times, India

What the Scottish Sunday papers say --- BBC News, United Kingdom

Muslims 'sensitive when it suits' says top Irish bishop --- Irish Independent, Ireland 

European leaders back Benedict --- Jerusalem Post, Israel

Arab papers urge Pope apology for Islam comments --- Reuters India, India

Egypt summons Vatican envoy to protest Pope's remarks --- Xinhua, China

Morocco recalls Vatican envoy over Pope Controversy --- African News Dimension (subscription), South Africa

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The Sunday Herald's Philip Willan On 'Diplomacy And The Church'

The Sunday Herald's Philip Willan, writing from Rome, "examines," to use the words of The Herald, " how Pope Benedict, theologian and scholar of Islam, has disastrously failed in his statesmanship."  It's an analysis of the furore evoked among Muslims by "just 32 words from a text of 3600 that had not at that time been officially translated by the Vatican into either French or Arabic."

Mr. Willan noted that, "The pope quoted from a discussion between the emperor and a Persian scholar, emphasising twice that he was quoting" [from 14th century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus, who said]:

“Show me just what Muhammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.
Mr. Willan adds: "The reference was part of a heartfelt appeal for inter-religious dialogue and a renunciation of violence, which the pope described as against reason and against God. The target of his attack was actually Western materialism, which, he said, had created a chasm between reason and God."

To read more of the  Willan analysis, please see "diplomacy and the church.

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If The U.S. Cracks The Taliban's Command Code Then What?

Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asian Times Online's Pakistan Bureau chief, makes a pertinent observation in a September 16, 2006 article, in which he says:

Despite spending many millions of dollars, US intelligence, five years after the ouster of the Taliban from Kabul, remains in the dark over the command structure of the Taliban.

The Taliban have a tight high command from where - and this is the mystery - precise orders, such as targets, are relayed to the fighters in the field. Cracking this code is key to putting a brake on the insurgency that gathers strength by the day.

Mr. Shahzad said "When the Taliban's spring offensive began in June, the US-led coalition's intelligence identified the people in the Taliban's command council and their usual modus operandi and location in the guerrilla war.
All coalition tactics were based on this information, such as search operations, troop postings, logistics and arms allocations. The primary aim was to net Taliban leader Mullah Omar and close aides, such as Maualana Jalaluddin Haqqani, Mullah Dadullah and Mullah Gul Mohammed Jangvi." The men are still at large as of this post.

To read more, please see "In search of the Taliban's missing link. It's worth the time.

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Ichiro Ozawa And The Democratic Party Of Japan's Leadership Race

A September 15, 2006, Japan Times editorial asserts that,  "Just as the Liberal Democratic Party [of Japan] presidential election campaign is making headlines, Mr. Ichiro Ozawa, president of the Democratic Party of Japan, formally announces his candidacy in the No. 1 opposition party's leadership race and discloses his platform."

The Times said, "By emphasizing the need to rectify what some people see as a widening economic gap between the rich and the poor under the administration of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, Mr. Ozawa is targeting the policy line pursued by Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, the front-runner in the LDP leadership race.

To read the entire editorial, please see "Mr. Ozawa on the offensive.

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Abe Says Japan Will No Longer Play Sumo To Other Nations

What would be Japan's foreign policy objectives be if Shinzo Abe, Chief Cabinet Secretary in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) government of Junichiro Koizumi, becomes Japan's next prime minister?

Well, Mr. Abe, who will likely become leader of the LDP following the September 20, 2006 elections, which he's expected to win, thus making him prime minister since the LDP has the majority of seats in parliament, gave a hint September 14, 2006, during a speech in Tokyo, according to China's Peoples Daily Online. Mr. Abe was quoted as saying:

In the past, Japan often performed sumo to please foreign countries on a ring they made, abiding by their rules, in order to achieve our national interest," Abe said, comparing Tokyo's past diplomacy to the country's ancient form of wrestling.

"As a leader, Japan should join setting the rules, creating the framework and develop a more assertive diplomacy.

He was also quoted as saying: "We must shift our foreign policy so that Japan, as a leader, will participate in the rulemaking and the ground-setting."

"We must also be assertive when we need to be, and in order to do so, it is important to be a responsible permanent member of the UN Security Council." According to Peoples Daily, Mr. Abe made his comments "in the first of a series of speeches" by Japan's "three prime ministerial candidates." As the publication notes, Mr. Abe "is widely seen as the favorite to win the September 20  election for a new president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party."

To read more, please see "Abe won't 'play sumo' for foreign countries

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Admirers And Critics' Views Of Japan's Shinzo Abe

Reuters Correspondent Linda Sieg reports that, "Admirers see Japan's Shinzo Abe as a forceful man of principle who will revive traditional values and help Japan take its rightful place on the world stage." 

On the otherhand, she notes in a news analysis datelined Tokyo, "Critics fear he is a conservative ideologue who could lead the country down a dangerous nationalist path."

To read why, please see "ANALYSIS - Japan's Abe may temper ideology with pragmatism."

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September 16, 2006

Transdniestrians Vote September 16 In Referendum On Joining Russia

"The breakaway republic of Transdniestria in Moldova will on Sunday [September17, 2006] vote in a referendum on joining Russia, in a potentially damaging blow to EU diplomacy in the post-Soviet region," reports the EU Observer in a September 15, 2006 post headlined "Referendum to test EU diplomacy in Moldova."

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C. Kenneth Quinones Reviews 'A Moment In Crisis...'

C. Kenneth Quinones, "director of global studies and professor of Korean studies at Akita International University, has a review of Marion Creekmore Jr.'s book "A Moment of Crisis: Jimmy Carter, The Power of a Peacemaker, and North Korea's Nuclear Ambitions" in the  September 16, 2006, edition of Daily Yomiuri Online.

The author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding North Korea" says "A Moment of Crisis is destined to become a classic work about conflict resolution regarding the proliferation of nuclear weapons, not just with North Korea, but for all similar crises."

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StrategyPage: 'Cold War Dollar Diplomacy Returns'

StrategyPage has an informative, September 16, 2006, post headlined "Cold War Dollar Diplomacy Returns."  It's about how "Dollar Diplomacy" is

One of the ways by which Iran, Venezuela, China, and other outlaw nations (I wouldn't call them that), garner international support is by spreading their money around.
Actually, "dollar diplomacy" precedes the Cold War. It has been around for decades. As the U.S. State Department notes, "From 1909 to 1913, President William Howard Taft and Secretary of State Philander C. Knox followed a foreign policy characterized as "dollar diplomacy."

This was preceded by "Big stick diplomacy" and then "Gunboat diplomacy." These now combined diplomatic approaches are used to varying degrees today, and helps the U.S. maintain its position as the formidable world power that it is. Historically, it has always been controversial since many Americans think that money going to foreign aid should be spent at home.

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A White House Transcript Of Bush's September 15, 2006 Press Conference

During his September 15, 2006 press conference in the White House Rose Garden, U.S. President George W. Bush [in  photo at right taken September 15 by White House photographer  Eric Draper] put on what at times was an impassioned defense of "two vital pieces of legislation in Congress..." that he thinks "are President George W. Bush holds a press conference in the Rose Garden Friday, Sept. 15, 2006. White House photo by Eric Drapernecessary to help us win the war on terror." He vows to veto the Warner-McCain legislation authorizing "trial by military commission for violations of the law of war, and for other purposes, if it is adopted. See the blog Balkinization for comprehensive coverage of this issue.

Some in Mr. Bush's own party, the Republican party, disagree with his position on CIA interrogation techniques used against  Al-Qaeda prisoners, to obtain information, and military tribunals. Some have even revolted against his proposed legislation. So has a number of retired military and intelligence officials. As  Associated Press writer Ann Plummer Flaherty notes in "Senate panel defies Bush on terror:"

A rebellious Senate committee defied President Bush on Thursday [September 14, 2006] and approved terror-detainee legislation he has vowed to block, deepening Republican conflict over terrorism and national security in the middle of the election season.

Republican Senator John Warner (news, bio, voting record) of Virginia, normally a Bush supporter, pushed the measure through his Armed Services Committee by a 15-9 vote, with Warner and three other GOP lawmakers joining Democrats. The vote set the stage for a showdown on the Senate floor as early as next week.

In an embarrassment to the White House, Colin Powell — Bush's first secretary of state — announced his opposition to his old boss' plan, saying it would hurt the country. Powell's successor, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, jumped to the president's defense in a letter of her own.

For more, see "Off Message and  "Bush Fires Back at Republican Rebels. Also see Dispute Centers on Reading of Geneva Convention.

To read Mr. Bush's statement and answers to reporter's questions, please see a September 15, 2006 press conference Transcript issued by the White House. The Diplomatic Times Review cannot guarantee that it has not been altered.

Related Links

ANALYSIS-Bush terror trials pit military against civilians --- Reuters AlertNet, United Kingdom

Bush defends demands for CIA 'torture' power ---The Independent, United Kingdom

Bush stands by policy on detainees --- International Herald Tribune, France 

Bush Wants 'Clarity' on Interrogations --- San Francisco Chronicle,  USA 

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The Vatican's Statement On Muslim Criticism Of Pope Benedict XVI

The Associated Press has transmitted what it says is the "Text of Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone's statement, issued Saturday [September 16, 2006] in Italian, about criticism in the Muslim world over Pope Benedict XVI's remarks about Islam and violence." The wire service said the "English translation is provided by the Vatican."

To read it, see "Text of Vatican statement on Pope speech

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Vatican's New Foreign Minister's Skills Will Be Tested

Archbishop Dominique Francois Joseph Mamberti, the Vatican's  Moroccan- born foreign minister, assumed that position September 15, 2006, three days after Muslims all over the world responded unfavorably to passages in a September 12, 2006 address that Pope Benedict XVI  delivered at the University of Regensburg in Bavaria, Germany. Some Muslims contend he insulted Muslims and Prophet Muhammad ibn Abdullah during the address when he used a statement Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologos' allegedly made about Islam, Prophet Muhammad ibn Abdullah and Jihad. See passage below.

The foreign minister will have  a chance to display his diplomatic skills, or lack  of them, in the coming days as he works to extricate the Vatican and the Pope from an inflammatory and dangerous situation.

"The Pope has repeatedly said the question of dialogue between cultures and religions is one of the crucial questions of our time," he told Agence France Presse, the French wire service, "by telephone from Sudanese capital Khartoum where he is papal ambassador." See "Muslim fury grows over Pope speech."

Most international press reports contain only the inflammatory  passage of the popes address. It was enough to caused condemnation and demonstrations in some parts of the Muslim world. It also sparked demands for a personal apology from the Pope. The Vatican has issued an apology, but Pope Benedict has not issued a personal apology as of this post. Whether he will remains to be seen. Below is the passage that caused controversy:

I was reminded of all this recently, when I read the edition by Professor Theodore Khoury (Münster) of part of the dialogue carried on - perhaps in 1391 in the winter barracks near Ankara - by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both. It was presumably the emperor himself who set down this dialogue, during the siege of Constantinople between 1394 and 1402; and this would explain why his arguments are given in greater detail than those of his Persian interlocutor. The dialogue ranges widely over the structures of faith contained in the Bible and in the Qur'an, and deals especially with the image of God and of man, while necessarily returning repeatedly to the relationship between - as they were called - three "Laws" or "rules of life": the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Qur'an. It is not my intention to discuss this question in the present lecture; here I would like to discuss only one point - itself rather marginal to the dialogue as a whole - which, in the context of the issue of "faith and reason", I found interesting and which can serve as the starting-point for my reflections on this issue.


In the seventh conversation (*4V8,>4H - controversy) edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion". According to the experts, this is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur'an, concerning holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels", he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached". The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God", he says, "is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably (F×< 8`(T) is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death..."

To read the entire address, please see  "Faith, Reason and the University Memories and Reflections." The speech is courtesy of the BBC
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Pope Benedict's September 12 Address At The University of Regensburg

If you are interested in reading the  September 12, 2006 address that Pope Benedict XVI  delivered at the University of Regensburg in Bavaria, Germany, please see  "Faith, Reason and the University Memories and Reflections." Statements made in the lecture about the Muslim Prophet Muhammad and Islam sparked protest in the Muslim world and calls for an apology.  Thanks to the BBC for posting the speech.

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Benedict XVI Scheduled To Visit Turkey November 28 to 30, 2006

On February 9, 2006,  the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict XVI  will visit Turkey from November 28 to 30, 2006. That visit may now be jeopardized  by his use of Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologos' statement, "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman."

That wasn't all Benedict said about Islam during a September 12, 2006 address to Bavarian academics. See his  lecture titled "Faith, Reason and the University Memories and Reflections" delivered at the University of Regensburg.

The snippet that the international press focused on was enough to induce protests in the Muslim world and a call for an apology.

As for Benedict's visit to Turkey, Zaman Daily Online quotes Ali Bardakoglu, head of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate, as saying on September 15, 2006: "I do not think any good will come from a visit to the Muslim world by a person who has such ideas about Islam's prophet. He should first of all replace the grudge in his heart with moral values and respect for others."

For more, please see "Top Turkish Religious Leader Expects Apology from Pope."

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Did Benedict XVI Use Manuel II's Remarks To Express His Own Views?

Dr Giles Fraser, "the vicar of Putney and a lecturer in philosophy at Wadham College, Oxford," contends in a September 16, 2006 article that Pope Benedict XVI  use of Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologos' statement "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached," "look rather more than just a slip or a casual mistake."

He explains why in a comment is free post headlined "The unmistakable whiff of Christian triumphalism." 

Related Links

Thread: Pope Speaks Against Islam? ---, IslamOnline.Net, Doha, Qatar

Muslim anger against Pope's remarks sweeps the globe --- Hindu, India 

Vatican fears Pope in peril over 'insult against Islam' --- Unison.ie, Ireland 

Muslims Ask Pope Benedict to Apologize --- Arab News, Saudi Arabia

After a quiet first year as pontiff, God's Rottweiler shows his teeth ---, The Guardian, United Kingdom

'Such insults are as old as Islam' --- The Guardian, United Kingdom

Muslim world protests at Pope's 'derogatory' Mohamed comments --- Independent, United Kingdom

He bears no malice, but he is a worried man --- Telegraph.co.uk, United Kingdom 

The Pope's point was the virtue of dialogue --- Telegraph.co.uk, United Kingdom 

Don’t let Pope poison ties with Christians, say Muslim leaders --- Mumbai Mirror, India 

Vatican tries to douse flames of fury --- Times of India, India 

Pope's comments on Islam unite Iraqis --- San Jose Mercury News,  USA 

Thousands protest in Gaza over Pope's remarks on Mohammed --- Ha'aretz, Israel 

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September 15, 2006

Why Did Poland Announce It Was Sending 1000 Troops to Afghanistan?

After it was announced on September 14, 2006, that the 26-member North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) refused to approve more NATO troops for Afghanistan, Poland said it would send an additional 1,000 troops to join the 100 it has in Afghanistan. The announcement made it seem as if they would be deployed immediately, in response to what can viewed as an urgent appeal from NATO commanders in southern Afghanistan.

The question should be: Why was the announcement made?

Well, if a report in the Daily Mail is accurate, there is a bit of subtefuge behind the announcement. According to a September 14, 2006, article by reporter Matthew Hickley, "Nato Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer seized on the news, calling it a "very important step".

"But has it (sic) emerged that the Polish troops had long been expected as part of a planned rotation and will not arrive until February, [2006] despite frontline commanders' pleas for extra manpower now," Mr. Hickley wrote.

"To make matters worse," Mr. Hickley added, " the Poles will be restricted to peacekeeping in the relatively calm east around the capital Kabul, rather than joining the fighting in the volatile south.

"Poland also wants Nato to pay for their transport to the region."

Interestingly, Polish Defence minister Radoslaw Sikorski inadvertly, or perhaps deliberately, "let slip that Nato chiefs asked him to announce the long-planned move to give the impression of progress and encourage other allies to join the mission," Mr. Hicley said..

He quotes Mr. Mr Sikorski as telling journalist during a visit to Washington with Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski: "Nato's secretary general asked me to make the decision public today because it will help him mobilise more forces."

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Are Canadian Troops Paying A High Price For U.S. Afghan Policy?

"Canadian troops are increasingly paying a heavy price for the Bush administration's ill-conceived policies since 2001 in violence-wracked Afghanistan," according to a September 14, 2006, article in the Ottawa Citizen of Canada.

To read it, please see "We're cleaning up a U.S. mess."

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September 14, 2006

Helena Cobban: Are Henry Kissinger And Tom Friedman Unhinged?

Helena Cobban at Just World News asks in a September 14, 2006 column: "Did the bloody nose that Hizbullah was able to deal to Israel's once-"famed" military in South Lebanon this summer have the effect of driving some long-time American supporters of Israel almost batty?"

Th read her answer, please see "Kissinger and Friedman-- unhinged?"

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The Debate Over An Attempt To Bomb The U.S. Embassy in Damascus

Syria Comment.com proprietor Joshua M. Landis, "Co-Director of the Center for Peace Studies at the International Programs Center and Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern Studies in the School of International and Area Studies at the University of Oklahoma, in the U.S., makes timely and relevant observations about "the attempted bombing of the US embassy in Damascus" and the debate it "has stirred up... over whose fault it is that the attack took place."

To read it it, please see "Bombing the US Embassy - What Does it Mean?"

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Kaczynski: Poland Will Continue To Help U.S. In Iraq, Afghanistan

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, "Poland's new prime minister yesterday [September 13, 2006] reaffirmed his nation's commitment to fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he suggested during his first U.S. visit that Poland might be willing to host elements of a missile defense system," according to The Washington Post.

For more, please see "Leader Reaffirms Poland's Role in Iraq, Afghanistan.

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Iran Tells Nuri al-Maliki Peace Would Return To Iraq If U.S. Left

"In a meeting with visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Wednesday," September 12, 2006, "Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for the withdrawal of United States-led troops from Iraq," according to Iran Focus and other publications.

To read more, please see "Iran’s Khamenei calls for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Also see the Tehran Times' article headlined "End of occupation would resolve most of Iraq’s problems: Leader."

Related Links

Supreme Leader: Prosperity of Iraqi nation equal to that of Iranian, regional people --- IRNA, Iran

’Occupiers’ should leave, Iran tells Iraqi PM  ---- Khaleej Times, United Arab Emirates 

Khamenei vows 'practical' support for Iraq --- United Press International, United States 

Al-Maliki in Iran calling Tehran not to interfere in Iraqi affairs --- Alsumaria, Iraq 

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Middle East Leaders Say Iraq Invasion Created A Disaster For Them

During his September 13, 2006, press conference at the United Nations in New York, U.N Secretary General Kofi Annan, told correspondents that "most of the leaders I spoke to [in the Middle East] felt that the invasion of Iraq and its aftermath has been a real disaster for them. A reporter asked:

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, I would like to ask you about a place that you did not go to on your trip but a place that must have been the subject of conversations with leaders of the places you did go to, and that is Iraq. Leaders of the region - what do they think the consequences have been for the region of the American invasion of Iraq? Did they have a view as to whether the Americans should stay there or whether they should leave?
Mr. Annan's response was:
Honestly, most of the leaders I spoke to felt that the invasion of Iraq and its aftermath has been a real disaster for them. They believe it has destabilized the region. They also believe that ? actually, there were two schools. Many leaders felt that the Americans should stay until the situation improves and that, having created the problem, they cannot walk away. Then, you have another school of thought, particularly in Iran, that believes that the presence of the US is a problem and that the US should leave and that, if the US were to decided to leave, they would help them leave.

So, in a way, the US has found itself in the position where it cannot stay and it cannot leave. I believe that, if it has to leave, the timing has to be optimum and it has to be arranged in such a way that it does not lead to even greater disruption or violence in the region.

This response was followed by unrelated questions but a correspondent later returned to it.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, I wanted to go back to Iraq and the Iraq Compact. Can you tell us what concrete guidance or contributions are expected to come out of this? And some nations are a little bit sceptical; they say it's a fig leaf that you all are putting down over this.

And, since you brought it up, can I ask you to expand upon how Iran has offered to help the Americans leave?

ANNAN: Let me take the second one first. I didn't get into details as to how they intend to help. But, I mean, they were quite clear that the US presence was a problem and they should be withdrawn. What was your first, the other question?

Voice: The Iraq Compact.

ANNAN: The Compact, obviously, is an Iraqi initiative that we are supporting; the US is also very actively involved. And the idea here really is to generate international support for the economic development of Iraq. I think, wait 'til next week; the pessimists may be surprised. I don't know what will happen. But the attendance is good.

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Transcript Of Kofi Annan's September 13, 2006 Press Conference

Note: On September 13, 2006, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, seen below in a September 13, 2006, UN Photo taken by Paulo Filgueirasheld a press conference at the United Nations in New York and described his recent foray to Europe and the Middle East. A transcript of the press conference was made available at the U.N News Center. Below is Mr. Annan' statement and questions asked by correspondent.

For the record, the only thing The Diplomatic Times Review changed in the transcript is the way Mr. Annan is identified. The original transcript identified him as SG during the questions and answer period. This was replaced by his name. Links were also added to provide background and perspective for readers.

MR. ANNAN'S STATEMENT

ANNAN: Good Morning, Ladies and Gentlemen.

As you know, I have just come back from a trip to the Middle East.

My first stop was Brussels, where I worked with the European leaders to generate the force necessary for south Lebanon. And I therefore left Brussels with about 7,000 European troops pledged. From there I went to Lebanon, and Israel, and I think you have seen the report I have put out. But let me say that, throughout my visit, almost every leader I met felt that Lebanon was a wake up call, and we should really focus on stabilizing the situation in Lebanon, and relations between Lebanon and Israel, but not stop there – build on from there to deal with other conflicts in the region – Palestine, the Golan Heights. And of course you also know that since then, the Arab League and other leaders have put forward a proposal to the [Security] Council that there be a ministerial meeting next week, discussing the issue of peace in the Middle East.

I should also say that I was really encouraged by the seriousness with which governments are pressing ahead with implementation [of Security Council Resolution 1701]. In both Lebanon and Israel I left convinced that the governments are determined to implement the resolution. As you know the ceasefire has held and is holding, and since you have all read my report I don't want to dwell too much on my visit to the Middle East.

But of course we have other urgent tasks on our agenda. Darfur for one, which the Council discussed only recently. The situation there is desperate. The Government continues to refuse to accept the transition to the UN. The presence of the African Union forces is itself not certain, and we are going to continue our efforts and I have appealed to all the governments with influence to work with the Sudanese Government, and get the Government to change its attitude and its approach, because if the African Union forces were to leave, and we are not able to put in a UN follow-on force, we are heading for a disaster, and I don't think we can allow that to happen, particularly since we only recently passed the Responsibility to Protect resolution. And not only that, when we had Rwanda, almost everyone said we should not let it happen again. So we have a big challenge in Sudan.

We also have another big challenge in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a country the size of western Europe, where we have organized the first elections in forty years, and the second round is due on 29 October. We are working very seriously with all concerned to ensure that the second round moves ahead as smoothly as the first round, and that the parties and the political leaders play by the rules of the game, and accept the results regardless of who wins.

And of course we also have the Iranian nuclear dossier, where I had the chance also to discuss with Iranian leaders in Teheran. I was very pleased to see that Mr. Javier Solana and Mr. [Ali] Larijani met last Saturday [September 9, 2006], and another meeting is planned on Thursday [September 14, 2006]. I notice there is a bit of a shift. When I was in Iran, the Iranians maintained that they would not suspend [uranium enrichment] as a precondition, but that suspension can be part of the agenda at the negotiations. And now the discussions that were held on [Saturday] has been reported as constructive and fruitful, and I hope the next meeting will be equally fruitful, and that we will find a way of resolving this issue peacefully. I don't think confrontation is in anyone's interest. I can also say that in the region there was lots of anxiety about this issue, with leaders telling me, 'We cannot afford another crisis in this region.' And I appeal to the Iranians to really work with the international community and lift the cloud of uncertainty surrounding their program, so hopefully this will be done.

Finally, as you know, the 61st session of the General Assembly formally opened yesterday, and next week a large number of Heads of State and Government will be here attending the meeting, as well as Foreign Ministers, and of course I will have time to have discussions with these leaders on some of the issues we have discussed here.

But today I would like to pay tribute to the 60th session, which has just ended, and which I think will be remembered as a historic one. Certainly no session of the UN's General Assembly has worked as hard, or accomplished as much. Thanks to the hard work that was put in by the Member States, we were able to establish the Central Emergency [Response] Fund, the Human Rights Council, and I hope at its next session the Human Rights Council will focus on respect for human rights throughout the world, without focusing merely on individual countries. It should be fair, and apply the rules consistently across the board.

We also have a Peacebuilding Commission, and recently the comprehensive Counter-Terrorism strategy. I think these are important achievements for the Member States. I would like to pay tribute to Jan Eliasson for the extraordinary leadership he showed as President of the General Assembly. He was able to not only work effectively with all the Member States, but also lead them to concrete results.

I would also want to welcome Sheikha Haya Rashid Al Khalifa, and wish her strength and courage as she takes on this challenge. She is the first woman President of the General Assembly since 1969, so she is also making a bit of history, and we should all give her the support that she will need, and I am sure she is going to do as well as Jan Eliasson, and I wish her every success.

I will now take your questions.

QUESTIONS FROM CORRESPONDENTS AND MR. ANNAN'S ANSWERS

Spokesman: So we can hear as many questions as possible, please limit yourselves to one question. Thank you.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, first of all, welcome to this press conference – and I hope this will not be the last press conference before you leave here, and we hope to see you again and again. We wish you the best.

Since these are the waning days of your heading the United Nations, can you reflect upon the fact that since you took over, and you inherited a lot of problems, like the Middle East, tense situations, ongoing situations – what is it that you think was success in your time and what is it that was not so successful?

Also, because of the fact that you visited Middle East and everything in Iran, my question to you is on Iran. You have met with the leaders of Iran just now, and you have just now also said that you're asking them to be more flexible and that the talks should continue. What is it that you've seen: the ray of hope have you seen, the ray of hope in order to avoid this crisis which we are about to confront?

ANNAN: On the first question, you said, “during your tenure”. I still have a couple of months to go, and other things may happen between now and then. But I think I can say that, in addition to trying to tackle some of the peace and security issues, one of the important things we've done during the past 10 years is to focus attention on poverty and economic development, to get the world to understand that, in a world where you have immense wealth and extreme poverty living side by side, it's not sustainable, and that we needed to be concerned about weaker members of the family. And I think that's an achievement. We also have to understand that often there is an economic basis to conflict, so in effect it does also touch on the issue of peace and security.

On the Iranian issue, I think I do note there is a slight shift – I wouldn't say it's a major shift – a slight shift in the sense that they are now saying that, “Let's negotiate”. Suspension will be on the agenda and may be possible during the negotiations, not that it's outright rejection. And this is, I think, is something that the parties have to explore. And I suspect this is what Javier Solana is exploring with Larijani. And eventually, when the parties sit together, I hope they will find a way out of this and avoid a confrontation.

Q: Continuing on the Iran situation, the question is how long would the US, the UK, the European partners who are keen to really get possible sanctions against Iran: how much time should they give, and how should they measure whether Iran is just stalling for time? And what is the threshold that they should say, “Enough is enough; let's move ahead”? Or how should they gauge that, do you think? How much patience should they have?

ANNAN: There's quite a bit of mistrust between both sides. That is clear. The West believes that Iran has to reestablish trust and confidence. The Iranians tell me the same thing: that the West has to establish confidence with them. I hope that discussions which are going on will help build some confidence for the two to move forward. When you talk to the two sides, for example, the West will tell you the Iranians have been stringing along the negotiations in order to continue with their enrichment and that they kept stringing us along and suddenly there they were in the midst of enrichment. When you talk to the Iranians, they believe that they have been deceived. They were at the table for two years, were prepared to do all sort of things, and nothing happened. And suddenly, they were before the G-8 and the Security Council.

I'm sharing this with you to underscore the lack of trust on both sides that needs to be rebuilt so that we can go forward. I don't think it's a question of how much time do you have to give before you lose patience. I think it should be dictated by the process of the negotiations or discussions and what progress is being made, and also what tools you have for achieving your goals. What is the goal? How do you get there? How best do you achieve it? Do you do it with sanctions, or do you get them to the table and negotiate? In my judgment, as I've said time and time again, the best solution is a negotiated one. I've also told the Iranians, if their intention is really clear and is peaceful, they should open up their system and tell the inspectors, “We have nothing to hide; come in”; apply, even implement the Additional Protocol even if it's not been signed.

So I think it's a question of, really, a bit more confidence being developed and each focusing on the issue at hand and what it takes to settle it, without artificial deadlines that you have to do it at this time, or else. I think that leads to further complications and difficulties.

Q: I might as well continue on Iran. I understand you told Council members the other day that they should give Iran a ladder to climb down on. Did you have anything in particular in mind for the rungs of the ladder? And I wondered what brought you to that point, because in your Middle East trip that was your one big black hole: on both Lebanon and on the nuclear.

ANNAN: No, let me say that, on Iran, I had not gone to Iran to resolve the nuclear issue. My main purpose for going to the region is to drum up support for 1701 and to shore up the cessation of hostilities.

It was really fortuitous that I was in Iran at the time and I took up this issue with them. But I think if you look at the problem as it is - one party saying, “Suspend and then we negotiate”, the other side says, “Negotiate and then maybe suspend” - one had to find a way of testing the seriousness of this and really bringing them to the table to discuss.

Discussions are going on, as I said, between Javier Solana and Larijani, and also among the Member States. I am also in touch with them, but at this stage I think we should give the process a chance to move forward and let it run its course - the Larijani-Javier Solana discussions. I have indicated it seems to be going well, and I would not want to say or do anything that would interfere.

Q: Do you have any comments on the Hizbollah demand today and yesterday that the Government of Lebanon, the Siniora Government, step down for collusion with Israel and the United States?

ANNAN: That they should step down?

Q: Yes. Is this a breach of resolution 1701?

ANNAN: First of all, I didn't see what Hizbollah said, so I'm a bit hesitant to comment on it. As to whether it was wrong or right or is in breach of 1701, I would want to see the text before I jump into that sort of judgement. But I think that the Siniora Government has done extremely well; he's been a very active and very effective wartime leader. I know the efforts he had to go through to hold the country together and to project the concerns of Lebanon to the world. And I hope all Lebanese will support him and his Government.

Q: You started out by mentioning the need to revive the entire Middle East peace process. The question of whether there is going to be a ministerial meeting next week remains in question. Is this a meeting you support? And what do you believe the outcome should be?

I know we're not allowed second questions, but on the same Mideast issue, could you comment on the meeting that I hear you're planning on Iraq?

ANNAN: I think the Security Council is discussing the meeting. I spoke to the President about it yesterday. He said it's not quite settled yet, but a vast majority of the Council members want it. I don't think the intention - from what the initiators have told me - is to come with concrete solutions, but really to discuss the issue and raise awareness as to the urgency of tackling the outstanding peace issues in the region, as well as perhaps asking the Council to think through and come up with a mechanism or commission a report that would make recommendations as to how to proceed in the future.

I think that sort of discussion can be healthy; I don't think we should be worried about that. Of course, if one is going to take concrete action, that will have to be planned properly, and it will take time. But the kind of frank discussions we are going to have should not bother anyone.

On Iraq, we're going to have the Iraq Compact meeting, which will be attended by about 33 countries and institutions. The Iraq Compact is an idea that the Iraqi Government came up with, and we are working with them on this to really help strengthen their economic and financial systems and also seek international support. They will be setting benchmarks that they will put forward as to what they intend to do in order not only to firm up their own economic situation, but also to provide assurance and confidence to the international community that they have a serious partner on the other side, and for all of us to work together. There will be separate meeting between Iraq and its neighbours, but this is a much broader meeting.

Q: Is there going to be pledges, fund-raising?

ANNAN: No, there will be no pledges and fund-raising. I think it is the 18th of September.

Q: In your report, which I read thoroughly, it's noticeable that you said you were greatly encouraged by Iran. You actually didn't tell us at all why, because there is no other mention but that you're greatly encouraged. You also said you're greatly encouraged by Syria, whereas Syria, you didn't tell us any timelines, any guarantees, anything that was new in their position, whether it is the border delineation or whether it is every other resolution you want to implement.

This resolution, 1701, gave you a mandate to come up with proposals. Forgive me for being very blunt: you did not come up with any proposals. Now, did you choose not to do that? Were you unable to? And why did you waste such an important opportunity for you to really come up with proposals at such a very important time for Lebanon and for the region?

ANNAN: That is an opinion, and I'm not sure people in Lebanon and in the region agree with that assessment. Obviously, my proposals are meant for the Council. Over time they will get these details, and I will be discussing with the Council.

You also have to understand that not everything I discuss with a Head of State is put in the open. I have told you time and time again that I can do that: I can give you verse and chapter of what I discuss with President Ahmadinejad, Assad and everybody, President Bush. You'll be very happy, and maybe I will get certain things off my chest. But next time I meet them, they will talk to me about the weather and their grandchildren. [laughter] I think, as far as the details are concerned, I will provide the details to the Council, and over time it will come out. I think no one in this room or in the region believes that the trip I took was a waste of time or a wasted opportunity.

Next question.

Q: I'd like you to actually give us a picture of what would have to happen in the United Nations for the resolution on the responsibility to protect to be implemented regarding Darfur. What kind of scenario or what kind of procedure has to take place at the United Nations, or what kind of images do we have to get from Darfur, for the United Nations to actually invoke its responsibility to protect the people?

ANNAN: I think when I met with the Council a few days ago, I was very clear as to the situation in Darfur and what was expected of Council members and Member States. Because sometimes when we refer to the United Nations and talk of the United Nations, we absolve the Member States; we behave as if the United Nations is some satellite out there. But here, we are really talking to the Member States. They are the ones who have to have the political will; they are the ones who have to put pressure to influence the Sudanese Government to act and accept the transition, and several of them have indicated that they will do that. In my own trip to the Middle East also, I did ask some of the leaders to help us and work with us on this.

The fact is, without the consent of the Sudanese Government, we are not going to be able to put in the troops. So what we need is to convince the Sudanese Government to bend and change its attitude and allow us to go in.

Q: On answering [a previous] question, you mentioned that in 10 years, you really worked hard fighting against poverty and for economic development. But you also really worked hard for the law in the international arena. How do you assess what you have done? Is there really progress or decline?

ANNAN: I wasn't ignoring the push we gave human rights and the rule of law, but he did ask me for one issue, and I indicated one. I think that was equally important.

As I leave office, I'm really satisfied that the Member States have accepted that the United Nations has three pillars on which it should build its work: peace and security; economic and social development; human rights and the rule of law. I think we have made progress in some areas; in other areas we need to work harder. But I think there is greater awareness of the importance of human rights and the rule of law and the whole issue of good governance. And not only are Governments talking about this issue, but you have active civil society elements who are fully engaged in this, and I think it's important.

Q: It was one of the clarion calls of your administration a few years ago in the General Assembly that there may be a need for humanitarian interventionism. Do you personally believe, after years of speaking out on Sudan and on what many call a genocide – and what some there are calling another Rwanda – that now there should be a coalition of the willing to go in? If not, why not?

And 'though I don't want you to talk about grandchildren in your last four months, the quote was so startling – and your aides talked about – did the President of Iran say “Britain and America won the last world war, but they won't win the next one; Iran would”?

ANNAN: On your first question, let me first of all say that the world is different from what it was in 1999, when I made that statement. It's different also in the sense that when you look around at the world today, we are stretched with a number of troops deployed around the world. You have about 150-160,000 in Iraq, thousands in Afghanistan, the UN itself with a deployment to south Lebanon, and the approved deployment to East Timor, we will soon be hitting 100,000 or so people deployed. You have NATO forces in Kosovo and all the area. Governments keep telling us “We are fully stretched.” You've seen the difficulties NATO has had getting an additional 2,500 troops for Afghanistan. So we are competing for the same troops.

Since then there has also been Iraq. The Sudanese have been very clear in exploiting some of these issues, saying, “If you want to have another Iraq, come there.” This has scared away some Governments. So not only would I not have troops, if I do not have the consent of the Sudanese Government, I'm not sure if a coalition of the willing were to be formed that there will be members.

On the second question, I prefer not to comment. I really, I don't know who has said, but I prefer not to comment.

Q: Shab'a farms is used by the militias in Lebanon to justify bearing arms, is used by others to pressure parties to delineate borders. However, in your report yesterday you did not touch on the proposal by the Lebanese Government to hand over the occupied Shab'a farms to United Nations custody. Everybody in the Middle East acknowledges Shab'a farms, including Israel. [Israeli Ambassador] Dan Gillerman admitted here, from the podium outside the Security Council, that it is not Israeli land. Why didn't you take that opportunity to at least address – you abhor occupation. Even in one of the interviews you upheld the right of people to resist occupation without demeaning or detracting from their cause. Yet you didn't touch on the proposal of Lebanon to hand over an occupied part of the Middle East to the custody of the United Nations.

ANNAN: If you look at the report very carefully, I indicated that there will be steps taken to resolve the issue of the border. I also made a reference to Shab'a. The world is not built in a day. Don't expect me, in implementation of a resolution, to put everything in one report in 30 days. You cannot do everything in 30 days; it has to take time. Some of the issues involve several ?. Shab'a may seem simple, but Shab'a involves Israel, it involves Syria, it involves Lebanon. One has to take time to work it out with these Governments and come up with the solution that is optimal and respects the concerns and interests of all. I cannot just take the view of one Government and put it and say we are going to do it this way. But it will be dealt with, and I think the report gives indications that there are further steps to be taken.

Q: But by not taking the view of one Government you are prolonging occupation of a Middle Eastern land.

ANNAN: Take a second look at the report. I'm not prolonging an occupation; we are looking for a solution. That is what we are doing, and there will be a solution. But don't expect the solution in 30 days. A solution does not come from a declaration of the Secretary-General. I need to work it out with all involved.I need to consult Israel; I need to consult Syria; I need to consult Lebanon, and that's what will be done.

Question (interpretation from French): The countdown on your mandate has already begun. In three months we will be speaking of you as the former SG –

The Secretary-General (interpretation from French): Fortunately!

Question (interpretation from French): Among the conflicts in Africa, which would you like to have settled before you go: Côte d'Ivoire? DRC? Northern Uganda? Somalia? Darfur? Could you give us a detailed comment on each of these African problems, please.

The Secretary-General (interpretation from French): I think we're on the right path in the DRC. If the second round goes well, we should be able to quiet things down so long as everybody accepts the result of the vote.

On Côte d'Ivoire, there's going to be a meeting here next week with all the political leaders. I hope an agreement will be possible, to decide what next after October. That will be very difficult to settle, but I hope that everybody will be reasonable and that they will be thinking of the country and of the people's interest, and that a fair solution will be found.

Darfur is complicated, and it's going to take time.

You also mentioned Burundi, did you? No? On northern Uganda, there are negotiations under way. Things seem to be going rather well, but it's too soon to say. You have to give us a few more weeks and months.

Somalia – we've just started. IGAD is trying to determine whether troops should be deployed in Somalia. I'm hoping that the Somalis themselves will start talking to each other. There had been a beginning, but we have to encourage them to continue talks leading to a national solution that the international community can support.

Q: The families of the two kidnapped Israeli soldiers repeatedly said that the first thing they need is a sign of life. Have you received one?

Secondly, yesterday Nasrallah said that without Samir Kuntar he will not deal with ? Do you agree that Samir Kuntar should be part of the equation? Or do you agree with the Security Council that the release of the soldiers should be unconditional?

ANNAN: My envoy is very hard at work. He is in the region. I think I would wait for him to report back to me with his preliminary, initial report. He will be in touch by the end of this week, or next, with all the parties and all concerned. He will give me an indication as to where we stand and how his discussions are going. You will understand that I don't want to appoint someone to handle such a delicate issue and comment on it here as to what should be done, who should be part of the issue. I will wait until he comes to me.

Q: No sign of life?

ANNAN: He has not reported back to me yet, but when he does he may be able to indicate there is a sign of life, but as of today he has not indicated. But give him a bit of time; he's just started.

By the way, on the sign of life, we ourselves had asked for it, but let the envoy work with the parties and then come back.

Q: His name is ??

ANNAN: He has a very nice name, actually.

Q: The plan which carries your name, the famous Annan plan, did not roll on. Although it's not perfect, it was a good instrument to bring the parties together and find a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem. While preparing, you and your advisers, this instrument, your people contacted both sides in an early phase of bringing out the plan. Then finally you gave the plan to both sides. Turks said 'yes', and the Greeks said 'no'. Do you feel duped, cheated, betrayed by the Greeks, who did not tell you before that they don't like it so well; don't bring it out?

ANNAN: I think it was a missed opportunity to unify Cyprus. But, of course, once one party rejected the proposal: you could not take it any further. But, obviously, if the crisis had come to a head earlier ? which I think is the implication of your question ? maybe one could have made some adjustments. But, of course, this happens when you put proposals on the table. They are not always accepted 100 per cent. But I hope that the process will continue to go forward. I have a man on the ground working with both communities, trying to build confidence for us to be able to make a judgment, when the situation is right, to start all over again.

Q: And your feeling? How do you feel?

ANNAN: Obviously, I was disappointed. I was disappointed; I thought we missed an opportunity.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, are you disappointed that some of the reform measures that you had advocated have not been adopted by the Member States? Also, the Millennium Goals have so far not been met in a timely manner.

ANNAN: I think, on the question of the reform, obviously, the decisions were up to the Member States. But I think that I did give them a good menu. My plans were ambitious, some would even say overambitious. We got quite a lot done. So I would not say that I am dissatisfied with the outcome of the reform process. Earlier this morning I listed for you some of the achievements. I also applauded Eliasson's leadership. So I think we have achieved quite a lot. But there are areas where I feel we could have done more, and we should continue. I think the management reform should continue. I think efforts to reform the Security Council should not be given up. They should go ahead, because it is a serious problem for this Organization. I have made it clear that, as far as I am concerned, no reform of the UN will be complete without the reform of the Security Council.

Quite honestly, it is an undercurrent to quite a lot of the tensions and the difficulties we have here in the Organization, where many Member States feel the Organization has too narrow a power base, which is in the hands, as they see it, of five Member States. The world has changed. The world is not the world of 1945. If we really want to make this Organization what it ought to be, we need to reform the Council to make it more democratic, more representative. If we do that, the Council would even gain in greater legitimacy.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, I would like to ask you about a place that you did not go to on your trip but a place that must have been the subject of conversations with leaders of the places you did go to, and that is Iraq.

Leaders of the region - what do they think the consequences have been for the region of the American invasion of Iraq? Did they have a view as to whether the Americans should stay there or whether they should leave?

ANNAN: Honestly, most of the leaders I spoke to felt that the invasion of Iraq and its aftermath has been a real disaster for them. They believe it has destabilized the region. They also believe that ? actually, there were two schools. Many leaders felt that the Americans should stay until the situation improves and that, having created the problem, they cannot walk away. Then, you have another school of thought, particularly in Iran, that believes that the presence of the US is a problem and that the US should leave and that, if the US were to decided to leave, they would help them leave.

So, in a way, the US has found itself in the position where it cannot stay and it cannot leave. I believe that, if it has to leave, the timing has to be optimum and it has to be arranged in such a way that it does not lead to even greater disruption or violence in the region.

Q: You just said that there is another school in Iran, the one that was content to help the United States leave.

ANNAN: Yes, that is correct.

Q: Did they say how they had to leave?

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, picking up on the Iraq issue, that is one issue over which you and the United States have had defined differences since you've come here ?

ANNAN: Since the beginning.

Q: Yes, since the beginning?

ANNAN: You wouldn't hurt me.

Q: Of course. And from that moment it seemed as though you earned a reputation, justly or unjustly, for being an obstacle to US interests around the world. Can you talk about your relations with the US now and how they have differed between the time you took office and what they are now?

ANNAN: I think my relations with the US Administration are very good. I work very well with the Secretary of State and with the President himself. On key and important issues, we are able to discuss, sometimes agree - often agree. There are times, perforce, we disagree. I think everyone has to respect that. So my relations with the Administration, in that sense, are good. I cannot say that my relations with everybody in Washington are good; there are so many Washingtons. But at least with the Administration ? that is, those whom I deal with, the President and the Secretary of State ? they are good. I have some friends on the Hill, and some who are not so friendly. We have to accept that also.

Q: Mr. Secretary. I would like to ask you, in the light of having a non-nuclear Middle East, what have you done, or what would you do, to encourage Israel to join the NPT? A follow-up question is, from your point of view, what is the optimal solution to overcome the existing problem among the parties?

The President: Existing problem?

Q: Existing problems among the parties, that means get rid of the differences, come up with the optimal solution. You know what I mean by optimal solution?

ANNAN: I know that the question of Israel having a nuclear bomb has been at the top of the discussions in the region. Even as we discuss the Iranian issues, sometimes the question is raised: Why are you focusing on Iran but not on Israel? But the fact is that Iran is a member of the NPT. Iran entered into certain commitments and certain understandings with the international community, and it is being asked to live up to them.

I think, as far as the nuclear-free zone region, I think most of the Governments in the region would prefer to see a nuclear-free zone. They would prefer to avoid an arms race, an arms race that becomes more than the acquisition of conventional weapons but even competition to acquire nuclear weapons. So they are following what is happening in the debate on this whole nuclear issue very, very carefully. So the stakes are quite high as to how we handle this problem.

Question (interpretation from French): Mr. Secretary-General, among the crises that you have had to deal with over the last 10 years, which ones have left their mark on you the most? There are rumours in the Secretariat that you might be asked to stay another year. Would this be true?

The Secretary-General (interpretation from French): Well, I think Iraq is what has impressed and marked me the most. I think it has marked the Organization and everybody else as well.

I should say quite clearly that, starting 1 January, I have projects. I am not available as of 1 January, to stay an extra three months, six months or a year. I think the Member States have the possibility of choosing a Secretary-General. They have more than three months in which to do so. I encourage them to do it as soon as possible. I will not be available. Anyway, nobody has asked me to be available.

Q: Sir, you have just been in the area. Do you sincerely and personally really believe that Syria is really an obstacle to peace? You have been there; you've talked to them. Can you put us in the picture of what happened and what you were told, how predisposed to peace?

ANNAN: As I have indicated, I had constructive discussions with the President and urged him to support the implementation of 1701, bearing in mind that all Lebanese, all the political parties, groups in Lebanon, including Hizbollah, had accepted 1701, and that it was incumbent on the international community and neighbours and countries in the region to work with us to implement it. And they did confirm to me they will work with us. We talked about improving security and border control, which we are going to help them do.

The German Government is going to be providing technical assistance to Lebanon in terms of equipment, training of border personnel and expertise. And I have suggested to Syria that they accept the same assistance and I have approached the Germans to provide it. They indicated they will accept it. So at least on this one, they've indicated full cooperation, but of course, they also raised their own issue - that whilst we resolve this Lebanese issue and we talk of Sheba'a, we should not forget the Golan.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, this is on Côte d'Ivoire, following up on an earlier question. I know that you're meeting on the 20th of September in the G.A., or on the sideline of the G.A. Do you think with the postponed elections, when should they be held? Should President Laurent Gbagbo stay in power until the elections are held? And what about this toxic dumping that's taken place? It's actually by a company, Trafigura, which shows up in the Volcker report in connection with Cotecna.

Also, if you could just address one thing, and this is for your able spokesman, that said, “Have you filed your financial disclosure and if so, why not?”

ANNAN: Let me take it in turn. First of all, on the question of Côte d'Ivoire, we are going to have a mini-summit here with all the leaders of the political parties and regional leaders. And we will resolve some of the issues that you have raised.

On the question of the toxic waste, I think that this is a serious issue. We need to be careful that the developing world and the poor countries do not become dumping grounds for these kinds of waste, and I hope serious action will be taken against the company and all involved. And of course UN agencies have been active in helping the Government resolve this.

As to your second, your third question, I honour all my obligations to the UN, and I think that is as I have always done.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, as part of the Quartet, do you think that the Quartet reached a dead end with each Roadmap? And in the light of the forthcoming meeting on the issues of the Middle East, do you have any ideas about any creative new mechanisms that could be proposed? Or are we going to start from point one again?

ANNAN: I think the Roadmap could have been implemented much faster, or we had hoped it would have been implemented much faster. Alas, it has not been. We are going to meet here next week, and we are meeting at a very critical time for the people in Palestine.

[On Monday] I got a call from President Abbas to tell me that they have reached an agreement with Hamas about forming a unity Government. I think this is a very important development. He also went on to say that the programme they have adopted requires all members of the Government to accept the programme of the PLO and all the agreements they had entered into earlier, and that he felt this decision should satisfy the requirements and the conditions demanded by the international community.

If that is indeed the case, he should really allow the international community and the donor community to move ahead very quickly and provide the assistance that the Palestinian people need, because it is a very desperate and serious situation. Teachers are on strike, people have not been paid for 6 months. We have a temporary mechanism, which allows some money to go in, but to pay for humanitarian services, but not for salaries. It's become a very complex situation that the Quartet will be looking at when we meet next week to review the impact of our own policies and what has happened on the ground.

I was also very encouraged to see that the Israeli courts released 18 parliamentarians who had been in prison. So justice took its course, and it shows what an effective justice system in a democracy can do. I was very relieved to see that these people can go back and resume their work in their parliament.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, do you think the world needed to be more patient and give more opportunity and time to Iran for solution of the nuclear problem?

ANNAN: I believe that the negotiations should continue, and as I said, I am encouraged by the recent developments between Mr. Solana and Mr. Larijani. I hope this will lead to constructive talks that will help us resolve this problem once and for all.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, about that Mercedes ? Just kidding.

ANNAN: I'll give you a ride. [laughter]

Q: Great. You certainly got a few more months to go; we shouldn't write you off just yet. So could you tell us exactly what you would like to accomplish in those last few months, specifically at the General Assembly, when all the heads of State are here? And what advice would you give your successor to transcend the paralysis of the UN when its Member States disagree?

ANNAN: I think this morning some of the issues I highlighted for you will be very much on the agenda. I think Lebanon and the broader Middle East, Darfur, the Democratic Republic of Congo, I suspect Kosovo would also come up high on the agenda. And, of course, other issues we are dealing with, the fight against HIV and some others, will continue. But I think with the heads of States here, these will be some of the key issues that we will deal with, and I think for the next couple of months it should keep us busy.

I also believe that it is extremely important that the international community and the UN - which has a reputation in the Middle East, a reputation that indicates that UN resolutions are never implemented and that the UN has double standards in the Middle East - if the UN, if we could, I would want to see us move expeditiously to implement 1701. Quite honestly, when I look at what needs to be done, and having been in the region and discussed this with everybody, I think with a bit of goodwill, reasonableness and hard work, this can be done within three to six months. This would also send a message that resolutions dealing with peace in the Middle East can be implemented and help establish peace and stability between nations and borders and that we can build on from there and tackle Palestine and others. So I think we are going to be seeing quite a lot of action on some of these three or four crises I have given you.

As to my successors, I have often said, “My predecessors did it their way. I did it my way, and I hope he or she will do it his or her way.” I know I got into trouble in Turkey when I said, “When she takes over.” And they asked me, “Why are you talking about a 'she'?” I said, “Because a 'she' has never had it.”

But let me say that, on the question of how do you transcend the paralysis of the Member States, I don't think a Secretary-General can transcend the paralysis of the Member States. The Secretary-General always needs the Member States, and you need to work with them. There are times when they lead, but there are times when the Secretary-General has to lead, become the general and lead them.

But even in those instances, he cannot act alone. The UN is its Member States, and so he or she has to find a way of working very effectively with them. I think what happened in Lebanon was a clear demonstration of what can happen when the Secretary-General and the Member States work very effectively together.

When I left New York on this trip, we did not have the force. I was on the phone talking to heads of States. In Brussels that Friday, things gelled, and we had a force, a force of 7,000, and on to the region. But to give you an indication of how it works – and it has to work – when it came to the question of lifting the embargo, the German naval task force, which had to come, couldn't get there for two weeks. And the Israeli Government indicated, “If we don't have a naval task force protecting the coast, we are not going to lift the embargo.” So you had a two-week gap, but another blockade for two weeks would have been disastrous for Lebanon, its people and its reconstruction. So, I picked up the phone and called a few leaders. I spoke to President Chirac, Prime Minister Prodi, Prime Minister Karamanlis, we got hold of the Brits, and we had a temporary naval task force to go in.

If the Member States had said, “No, get lost”, there's nothing the Secretary-General could have done. But they cooperated, and we were able to put in a task force. Then it came to the question of do you have international experts at the airport before we do the lifting? And again, I had to call the German Government to help, and we got the experts to go in very quickly, and both land and sea were lifted.

But I'm giving this as an example as to how the two have to work together. The Secretary-General can do nothing if the Member States are not willing to help him, give him the means, support him and let him do it. So I hope my successor will develop these kind of relations with the leaders, with the countries, and to be able to work with them effectively: not just Washington, but around the world – global network.

Q: They should be more than a bureaucrat?

ANNAN: Absolutely.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, you wrote a letter to the President of the Security Council at the end of June, asking the Security Council to use the next four months wisely before the mandate of MINURSO in the Western Sahara is going to be renewed. You said that it couldn't – it shouldn't be at a stalemate and that it shouldn't constantly be renewed. I want to know: it hasn't been on the agenda for the past three months. Are you disappointed in that? And do you think anything will happen next month?

ANNAN: I don't know what they are doing with it – you know, they are probably thinking about it; they're probably going to come with a creative solution. And so I can't say I'm disappointed until I know what they are going to do. But I think it is important. I did indicate it shouldn't be business as usual: we should try and be creative. And we've been down this road before. You remember when former Secretary of State Jim Baker was working on this issue. At one point he came with five options for the Council to choose one. We didn't get an answer. And that's why I hope, if they themselves can come up with some ideas as to how they would want to proceed, we may do better this time around. But the time is not up yet; we still have a month or so.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, I wanted to go back to Iraq and the Iraq Compact. Can you tell us what concrete guidance or contributions are expected to come out of this? And some nations are a little bit sceptical; they say it's a fig leaf that you all are putting down over this.

And, since you brought it up, can I ask you to expand upon how Iran has offered to help the Americans leave?

ANNAN: Let me take the second one first. I didn't get into details as to how they intend to help. But, I mean, they were quite clear that the US presence was a problem and they should be withdrawn. What was your first, the other question?

Voice: The Iraq Compact.

ANNAN: The Compact, obviously, is an Iraqi initiative that we are supporting; the US is also very actively involved. And the idea here really is to generate international support for the economic development of Iraq. I think, wait 'til next week; the pessimists may be surprised. I don't know what will happen. But the attendance is good.

Q: (inaudible).

ANNAN: No specifics. We are going to discuss it, and they will put forward some ideas; the Iranians – the Iraqis will put forward some ideas – not the Iranians! You guys are confusing me.

Voice: We're going to take one last question.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, I have a big-picture question. It's now almost a decade since you've been in this position. Do you think in general the world is moving closer or further away from being more tolerant, democratic, open? And you'll be attending the Non-Aligned meeting in Cuba this weekend. What message do you expect to deliver to those nations, some of whom, as we know, represent repressive, non-open and non-tolerant regimes?

ANNAN: I think when we look at the world today, there are more Governments that are elected democratically – more people voting for their leaders – today than there were a decade or so ago. I think there's a greater awareness on what good governance means. Not only a greater awareness on what good governance means: people are aware of their human rights, and civil society has become very active in this. And I think it is a healthy development. And you also in many countries now are seeing very active press who are being heard and questioning. In some cases they are suppressed, and we should resist that. But despite that, you see a broad development of openness around the world.

I think, on the question of the leaders I'm going to meet: Obviously, I have always encouraged good governance; I have also always encouraged respect for human rights and the rule of law. And that message will not change. But we also have to be careful not to try and insist, or see the whole world in a sort of homogeneous sort of way: everyone has to be the same; they have to do things the way we want to see them, or else. I think we live in a world which is varied and is going to remain varied: different cultures, different religions, different systems. Even in democratic systems you have different versions of democracy, although the basic tenets must be the same. And in situations where we think human rights can be improved, governance can be improved, I think we need to work with these Governments and these societies to encourage them. I do not believe in the tendency to isolate countries or leaders; we need to engage them. We need to help them strengthen their institutions. We need to give them assistance. And in fact I hope the new Human Rights Council will be very active in offering technical assistance to Governments in strengthening their human rights mechanisms and institutions. It should be more supportive, provide assistance, steer, guide, rather than condemn. Yes, where necessary we should condemn, but that should not be the main purpose of the Council, as it turned out to be with the Human Rights Commission.

Thank you very much.

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September 13, 2006

Seton Hall Still Looking For Dean To Head School Of Diplomacy

Roisin Hansche, staff writer at The Setonian at Seton Hall University, reports that "The search for a dean to lead the John C. Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations will begin again this fall, and a candidate is now expected to be appointed by the end of spring semester."

For more, please see "Diplomacy dean search unsuccessful.

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The EU Prepares For 'Port Crisis' Diplomacy With Turkey

"The European Union has accelerated preparations to begin “port crisis” diplomacy following Turkey’s refusal to open its ports to Greek Cyprus vessels before a lifting of the isolations imposed on the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC)," Zaman Online reported September 11, 2006.

For more, please see "Port Diplomacy Intensified in the EU.

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Powell To Lecture On 'Diplomacy, Persuasion, Trust And Values'

"Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is scheduled to speak at Florida Gulf Coast University at 6 p.m. March 23 [2007] as part of the university's lecture series," Matt Conn of News-Press.com , a Gannett Publication in Fort Myers,  Florida, reported September 13, 2006.

Mr. Conn said Mr. "Powell's speech — "Diplomacy: Persuasion, Trust and Values" — will focus on global initiatives and thinking from within the United States, an FGCU announcement said."

For more, please see "Powell to speak at FGCU in March."

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Politicians Fail To Ok More NATO Troops For Afghanistan: Why?

The 26-member alliance known as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) failed September 13, 2006 "to find the urgent reinforcements that its top generals have demanded to strengthen operations against the Taliban in Afghanistan," notes Times Online's David Charter in Brussels and Michael Evans, Defense Editor.

They said, "Despite the recent pressure on NATO governments to reinforce alliance troops fighting in the south of the country, officials admitted that there had been no formal offers in response to an appeal from the alliance’s military and political chiefs to produce another 2,500 troops, as well as helicopters and transport aircraft."

They "must now wait until a defense ministers’ meeting in Slovenia on September 28 [2006] to discover whether there has been any change of heart," according to Mr. Charter and Mr. Evans. They reveal that "NATO foreign ministers will also meet in the margins of" the September 21, 2006  United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, which is expected to attract a number of heads of state and government.

For more, please see "NATO chiefs fail to win additional 2,500 troops.

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Israeli Reserve Generals Expected To Ask Halutz To Resign

Haaretz Correspondents Jonathan Lis, Eli Ashkenazi and Ari Shavit reported September 14, 2006,  at Haaretz.com that "A number of generals in the reserves are expected to publicly call on [Israeli Defense Force Chief of Staff Dan] Halutz to step down during a meeting with him Friday," September 15, 2006.

"In an exclusive interview with Haaretz, which will be published in Thursday's [September 14, 2006] Haaretz Magazine, former chief of staff Moshe Ya'alon said he believed the prime minister [Ehud Olmert] and chief of staff should resign, and the defense minister should be replaced for mismanaging the war in Lebanon," the correspondents wrote.

For more, please see "Former IDF chief Moshe Ya'alon: Olmert and Halutz must resign.

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Udi Adam's Resignation

Arthur Bright over at csmonitor.com has a roundup of news and commentary on the September 13, 2006 resignation of Major General Udi Adam, "one of Israel's key commanders during its month-long conflict with Hizbullah in Lebanon."

For more, please see "Key Israeli commander in Hizbullah conflict steps down.

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The National Security Surveillance Act

Ryan Singel at Wired News reports that "A bill radically redefining and expanding the [U.S.] government's ability to eavesdrop and search the houses of U.S. citizens without court approval passed a key Senate committee Wednesday [February 13, 2006], and may be voted on by the full Senate as early as next week."

"By a 10-8 vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee [link added] approved SB2453, the National Security Surveillance Act (.pdf), which was co-written by committee's chairman Senator Arlen Specter [link added] (R-Pennsylvania) in concert with the White House." according to Mr. Ryan.

He said, "The committee also passed two other surveillance measures, including one from Senator Dianne Feinstein [link added] (D-California), one of the few senators to be briefed on the National Security Agency [link added] program. [Ms.] Feinstein's bill, which [Mr.] Specter co-sponsored before submitting another bill, rebuffs the administration's legal arguments and all but declares the warrantless wiretapping illegal."

For more, please see "NSA Performs A Patriot Act."

Related Links

Panel Approves Bush Proposals on Intelligence --- The New York Times, United States

Warrantless Wiretapping Bill Stalls in House --- The Los Angeles Times, United States

White House, Republican senators clash over terrorism legislation --- International Herald Tribune, France 

Senate Republicans defy Bush over terrorism trials --- The Washington Post, United States 

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Syria Sees An Opportunity To Improve Ties With U.S.

The Times Online reported September 13, 2006 that, "In an interview with the government newspaper, Ath-Thawra, today, the Syrian Ambassador to Washington," Imad Mustafa, "said that the attack [on the U.S. embassy in Damascus, Syria] provided an opportunity to improve relations" between the U.S. and Syria.

"The ball is now in the US administration’s court," Imad Mustafa told the newspaper. "The policies followed by this administration do not help in improving relations in a positive fashion."

"There is a chance to improve these relations because Syria has always believed in dialogue as a means to solving all problems and pending issues," he said, according to The Times.

For more, please see "US Embassy attackers were Syrians." Also see "Syria says ball in US court over ties."

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Asad: Syria Ready To Establish Peace With Israel But...

Haaretz Correspondent Jackie Khoury reported September 15, 2006 that, "Syrian President Bashar Assad on Tuesday [September 12, 2006] told three Israeli Arab MKs [members of Knesset, the Israeli parliament] visiting Damascus that Syria is ready to establish peace with Israel based on the Arab League's 2002 plan, saying it was Israel who was not willing to accept the initiative."

The correspondent said, "Balad MKs Jamal Zahalka, Azmi Bishara, and Wassel Taha met with Assad Tuesday night for nearly two hours to discuss the peace process, developments in the Palestinian government and the war with Lebanon."

For more, please see "Assad to Arab MKs: Syria ready for peace, but Israel unwilling.

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Will Blair Heed Leo Docherty's Warning On Afghanistan?

Will British Prime Minister Tony Blair heed the warning on Afghanistan issued by Captain Leo Docherty, of the Scots Guards, who, according to the September 10, 2006, Sunday Times of London, "became so disillusioned that he quit the army last month?"

It remains to be be seen as Britain's troop loses in Afghanistan continue to mount as they encounter a resurgent and resilient Taliban allegedly funded, in part, by Afghanistan's lucrative poppy crop. See "AFGHANISTAN: Opium harvest set to increase by 60 percent - UN Report" and "US Says Taliban Attacks Hampering Progress, Opium Eradication."

“Having a big old fight is pointless and just making things worse,” Mr. Docherty told The Times' Christina Lamb.

“All those people whose homes have been destroyed and sons killed are going to turn against the British,” he said. “It’s a pretty clear equation — if people are losing homes and poppy fields, they will go and fight. I certainly would.

“We’ve been grotesquely clumsy," he added, we’ve said we’ll be different to the Americans who were bombing and strafing villages, then behaved exactly like them.”

Ms. Lamb said Mr. "Docherty’s criticisms, the first from an officer who has served in Helmand, came during the worst week so far for British troops in Afghanistan, with the loss of 18 men."

"They reflected growing concern that forces have been left exposed in small northern outposts of Helmand such as Sangin, Musa Qala and Nawzad. Pinned down by daily Taliban attacks, many have run short of food and water and have been forced to rely on air support and artillery."

 “We’ve deviated spectacularly from the original plan,” Mr. Docherty contends, according to Ms. Lamb.

Mr. Docherty, "who was aide-de-camp to Colonel Charlie Knaggs, the commander in Helmand, according to Ms. Lamb, added: 

“The plan was to secure the provincial capital Lashkar Gah, initiate development projects and enable governance . . . During this time, the insecure northern part of Helmand would be contained: troops would not be ‘sucked in’ to a problem unsolvable by military means alone.”

For more, please see "Top soldier quits as blundering campaign turns into 'pointless' war.

Related Links

NATO awaits Afghan force pledges --- BBC, United Kingdom

US NATO envoy calls for more troops in Afghanistan --- Washington Post, USA

Britain offers more troops for Afghanistan if allies refuse -- International News Network, Pakistan

NATO seeks Afghanistan support --- InTheNews.co.uk, UK 

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Musharraf: The Taliban, Not Al-Qaeda, Is More Dangerous

During a September 13, 2006 quiz by the foreign affairs committee of the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf warned the West that Taliban fighters are more dangerous now than al Qaeda because of the "broad support" the Taliban has in Afghanistan, according to Reuters and other news sources.

For more, please see "Taliban more dangerous now than al Qaeda: Musharraf.

Related Links

Taliban exposes cracks in NATO --- Guardian Unlimited, United Kingdom

Mullah Umar in Southern Afghanistan: Musharraf --- KeralaNext.com, India

Afghanistan could be 'failed state' again --- RTE News, Ireland

Doubts intensify over Afghanistan's future --- Afghan News.Net via The Christian Science Monitor, USA

Rice Warns Against Afghanistan Pullout --- Guardian Unlimited via AP, United Kingdom

UN Urges NATO to Destroy Afghanistan's Opium Crop - FOX News, USA

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September 12, 2006

Hamas: Damned If It Makes Concessions And Damned If It Doesn't

Haaretz's Danny Rubinstein says, "While Hamas made a few concessions to enable a Palestinian unity government to be established, it is doubtful that these will be sufficient to completely end the embargo that has been imposed on the Palestinian government since February [ 2006 ] and allow the start of diplomatic negotiations with Israel."

"A good example," he contends, " is the issue of recognizing the state of Israel, which is one of three conditions that the Middle East Quartet posed for recognizing the Hamas government (the others are renouncing violence and accepting previous agreements between Israel and the PLO). In the current draft of the unity government agreement, the Hamas leadership agrees to recognize "the existing political reality in the region," but evades saying that it recognizes Israel."

To read Rubinstein's analysis, please see "ANALYSIS: Indirect recognition, surrender of power. Also see "Analysis: has Hamas gone far enough?"

Links added for bacground purposes.

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The Grateful Ungrateful

"The United States, which has long had tense relations with Syria, expressed gratitude on Tuesday [ September 12, 2006 ] to the Syrian government for going after men who attacked the U.S. Embassy in Damascus" today, according to Reuters and other news outlets.

"Syrian officials came to the aid of the Americans, the U.S. government is grateful for the assistance the Syrians provided in going after the attackers," White House spokesman Tony Snow said, according to Reuters.

"We are hoping they will become an ally and make the choice of fighting against terrorists."

Mr. Snow, if they are not fighting terrorism, what do you call what they did today? A Game a marbles.

For more, please see "U.S. grateful to Syria over attackers: White House." Also see Radio Netherland's "Failed attack in Damascus - setback for al-Assad?"

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Juan Cole: 'The War With al-Qaeda Has Many Dimensions'

"The war with al-Qaeda has many dimensions," contends Professor Juan Cole  in a September 11, 2006, post at Informed Comment. "There is the war with the organization itself. There is the struggle against its offshoots and copycats. There is cooperation with Muslim governments and communities in derailing the threat. There is the question of the strength of Sunni fundamentalist parties that might support al-Qaeda. And there is winning hearts and minds in the Muslim world."

To read Mr. Cole's analysis, please see "The War with al-Qaeda.

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President Bush's Sept. 11, 2006 Address To The Nation

Here is a White House transcript of U.S. President George W. Bush's September 11, 2006, address to the nation on the fifth anniversary of A-Qaeda's September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., USA.

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Rice: Taliban Poses No 'Strategic Threat' To Karzai

PakTribune of Pakistan told its readers in a September 12, 2006, report that U.S. "Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has acknowledged that the United States was surprised by the strength of Afghanistan's Taliban militia five years after its ouster from power in the wake of the September 11 [2001] attacks on New York and Washington.

"But [Ms.] Rice told Fox News that NATO forces [in Afghanistan] were inflicting heavy losses on the Taliban and that the rebels posed no "strategic threat" to the embattled government of President Hamid Karzai." See "Interview on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace."

If this another one of those infamous intelligence failures or a case of being too pre-occupied with Iraq?

For more, please see "US surprised by Taliban strength in Afghanistan: Rice." Also see "The harsh realities of Afghanistan."

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September 11, 2006

The 'Shiite Push For Autonomy In Iraq...'

Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Abdul Razzaq al-Saiedi, New York Times correspondents in Baghdad, reported September 11, 2006 that:

Eleven months ago, Shiite and Kurdish political leaders [in Iraq] thought they had resolved the biggest obstacle to winning Sunni Arab support for a new Constitution. But they had merely delayed the problem, which now is causing concern among some leaders that it could rip apart Iraq's fragile governing coalition.

"The problem," the correspondents added, is that, "Many Shiite legislators, led by the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a powerful Shiite party, want the authority to quickly create Shiite autonomous states in southern Iraq with wide powers to control security and their own petroleum resources. They are pushing legislation required under the new Constitution to establish a way for provinces to start the process of creating these semi-independent states."

To read the entire report, please see "Shiite push for autonomy endangers Iraq's fragile coalition."

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New Zealand's Clark: Iraq Has Made World Less Safe From Terrorism

Mike Houlahan at the New Zealand Herald reported September 12, 2006 [New Zealand Time] that "Prime Minister Helen Clark has risked incurring the ire of the United States and Britain by saying the invasion of Iraq has made the world less safe from terrorism."

For more, please see "Clark claims Iraq invasion has made world less safe.

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Kofi Annan's September 1, 2006 Report On Iraq

In his September 1, 2006, 25-page "Report of the Secretary-General pursuant to paragraph 30 of resolution 1546 (2004), " U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan reports, among other things:

Despite the significant achievements in the political transition process, meeting the benchmarks endorsed by the Security Council in resolution 1546 (2004) has not translated into an improved security and human rights situation [in Iraq]. This remains a major challenge. Insurgent, militia and terrorist attacks, as well as gross violations of human rights, including killings, kidnappings and torture, continued unabated in many parts of the country. Many of the victims are women, children and minorities. Iraq today has become one of the most violent conflict areas in the world. According to the latest Government figures, the number of civilians killed has increased considerably and stands at an average of 100 people per day, while more than 14,000 were reportedly wounded per month. Since the Samarra attack on 22 February 2006, approximately 200,000 individuals have been displaced.
Mr. Annan said, "These are worrisome trends, and if they continue, the social and political fabric of the country could be endangered."
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Khaleej Times: Blair's Middle East Visit Had Its Benefits

Khaleej Times Online of Kuwait opines in a September 12, 2006, editorial that, "Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, under unrelenting pressure at home, has paradoxically found reprieve in the restless Middle East. This weekend," the publication added, "the British prime minister surprised his people back home as well as the leaders in the Middle East by dashing off to the region on a new peace mission. Although this had clearly been essentially a mission to rescue himself from the leadership crisis in the governing Labour party, Blair's Middle East visit is nonetheless not without its benefits."

To read the editorial," please see "The Original Cause.

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Was Blair's Middle East Trip Too Little Too Late?

British "Prime Minister Tony Blair's Middle East peace drive is unlikely to break the logjam there nor restore his reputation at home, which is still tarnished by the decision to go to war in Iraq," writes Adrian Croft in a news analysis at News.Scotsman.com.

To read it, please see "Blair's trip may be too little too late.

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Cameron, Thatcher At Odds Over Blair's 'Slavish' Relationship With U.S.

Times Online  Political Correspondent Sam Coates reports in a September 12, 2006 dispatch that "David Cameron found himself at odds" last night with former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, now Baroness Thatcher, "after the Conservative Party leader made a speech criticising Britain’s “slavish” relationship with the United States."

Mr. Coates said, "While Mr Cameron attacked [British Prime Minister] Tony Blair for his “uncritical” dealings with President Bush, his predecessor used a rare visit to Washington to insist that Britain and America must not be divided over the War of Terror."

For more, please see "Cameron and Thatcher divided over ‘slavish’ special relationship.

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Afghanistan's Envoy To Washington Want's More Western Aid

T. Jawad, "Afghanistan's ambassador to Washington called yesterday [September 10, 2006] for more military and economic help from the West, citing a spike in terrorist activity in the past six months and fears that it could spread," according to The Washington Times.

For more, please see "Afghan envoy seeks military, financial aid.

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Angry Protesters Greet Blair In Beirut: Why?

In a followup to an earlier report, Naharnet, the Lebanese news portal, reported September 11, 3006 that, "British Prime Minister Tony Blair arrived in Beirut Monday," September 11, 2006, "amid an airtight security dragnet around the downtown area as angry demonstrators gathered in the center of the capital to protest his stance on Israel's 34-day aggression on Lebanon.

"Blair's jetliner landed at 10 a.m. [Beirut time] at Rafik Hariri International airport where he was welcomed by Premier Fouad Saniora and Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh," Naharnet noted.

Naharnet said, "The British PM [prime minister] then headed to the Grand Serail for talks with [Mr.] Saniora whose office announced last Wednesday [September September 6, 2006] -- the day before Israel began lifting its eight-week blockade on Lebanon -- that [Mr.] Blair had been invited to intervene with Israel over the travel restrictions."

So why is the beleaguered prime minister even in the Middle East? Naharnet said he is there "to urge both Israel and the Palestinians to resume peace talks after months of deadlock following the election of the hardline Hamas movement to government. He is also looking to redress a perceived pro-Israeli bias in British foreign policy, particularly after his refusal to back calls for an immediate ceasefire in the Israel-Hizbullah conflict," Naharnet reported.

For more, please see "Blair Arrives in Lebanon as Authorities Shield Downtown Beirut from Angry Protestors."

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Security Tight In Beirut For Potential Blair Visit

"Authorities threw an airtight security dragnet around downtown Beirut Monday [September 11, 2006] ahead of British Prime Minister Tony Blair's visit to Lebanon, where he will face protests for his stance on Israel's 34-day aggression on the country," according to Naharnet, the Lebanese news portal.

To read more, please see "Lebanon Shields Downtown Beirut from Protestors Against Blair's Visit."

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September 10, 2006

Al Jazeera.Net: 'Anger Grows In Iraq Flag Dispute'

"A dispute over the Iraqi national flag has led to deteriorating relations between Baghdad and the country's northern Kurdish region," Al Jazeera.Net reported September 10, 2006.

To read about it, please see "Anger grows in Iraq flag dispute."

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Nuri al-Maliki's First Official Visit To Iran Delayed

"Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's planned visit to Iran this week has been postponed and will take place later this month, Iraq's ambassador to Tehran told state-run television on Sunday," September 10, 2006, "IranMania reported  September 10.

For more, please see "Iraq PM's first visit to Iran delayed."

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Human Rights Watch: 34,000 Palestinians In Iraq In Danger

Human Rights Watch said in a report released September 10, 2006 that, "The security of the approximately 34,000 Palestinian refugees in Iraq has drastically deteriorated since the fall of the Saddam Hussein government in April 2003."

The report, titled "Nowhere to Flee: The Perilous Situation of Palestinians in Iraq," says "Militant groups, mostly Shi`a, have targeted this predominantly Sunni minority community, attacking their communal buildings, committing several dozen murders, and threatening harm unless they immediately leave Iraq. Amidst the widespread politically motivated and criminal violence in Iraq, Palestinians have been targeted more than other minorities because of resentment of the privileges Palestinians received during Saddam Hussein’s rule, and suspicions that they are supporting the insurgency," the report contends 

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Talk Of A Divided Iraq Escalates

The Christian Science Monitor's Howard LaFranchi says in the paper's September 11, 2006 edition that:

A small but apparently growing number of Iraq experts believe dissolution of the country is inevitable. Others say a united and nominally democratic Iraq may still be possible, but suggest other solutions - including a redrawn Iraq - would eventually make the Middle East more stable. Still others say the US should face reality and help create the new Iraq that is already splintering along sectarian and ethnic lines.

"But where many specialists agree is that the Bush administration is not planning ahead sufficiently for the curveballs that continuing sectarian and religious conflict might have in store for the US in terms of Iraq's final architecture," Mr. LaFranchi said.

For more, please see "As violence escalates, so does talk of a divided Iraq." Also see "Iraq’s parliament delays debate on divisive federalism bill."

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Der Spiegel Online: 'Who's Bombing Tourist' In Turkey?

On September 7, 2006, Der Spiegel Online International asked "Who's Bombing Tourists" in Turkey? Journalist Annette Grossbongardt, writing from Istanbul, the Turkish capital, sought to answer it in a post that looks at The "Kurdistan People's Congress," or PKK and the Kurdistan Liberation Hawks (TAK)."

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Diplomacy, Patrols Can't Stop African Immigrants Headed For Spain

"Despite European-African summits on migration and desperate Spanish diplomatic moves to tackle the problem, the numbers of young Senegalese setting off for the Canaries [600 miles] to the north in flimsy fishing boats to seek a better life in Europe have risen sharply," according to a September 5, 2006 Reuters dispatch from Dakar, Senegal, West Africa.

To learn why they take the risky journey, please see "Diplomacy, patrols fail to stop African migrants.

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Musharraf, Singh May Parlay At Non-Aligned Movement Summit

"Backdoor diplomacy played an important part in making" parlays in Cuba between Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh "a possibility on the sidelines of the  Non-Aligned Movement Conference," which will be held in Havana September 11-16, 2006, the PakTribune reported September 9, 2006.

The PakTribune said "sources" informed it that Pakistani NSC (National Security Council) secretary Tariq Aziz and  S. K. Narayan, India's Advisor for National Security, "had secretly initiated a series of backdoor diplomatic contacts to pave the way for these talks to be held in Havana on the occasion of non-aligned nations moot.

"This would ensure smooth operations of ongoing peace talks, which had been interrupted due to the Mumbai blasts," the PakTribune said.

To read more on these maneuvers, please see "Backdoor diplomacy played an important part in Musharraf-Manmohan parlays in Cuba." Also see The Times of India's September 10, 2006 report headlined "PM-Pervez talks on, but risk increases."

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Non-Aligned Summit Will Test India's Diplomatic Skills

Indrani Bagchi at The Times of India contends that, "The Havana summit [of non-aligned nations] is shaping up to be one of the most challenging non-aligned summits ever for Indian diplomacy. On one level," the writer asserts, " Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will have to contend with demands for strongly worded statements on Iran, Lebanon and Palestine."

"But on another level, New Delhi must face the fact that the 116-nation NAM's [Non-Aligned Movement] agenda is increasingly being set by a new international alliance of Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and neo-Socialists."

As Inter Press Service News Agency's Patricia Grogg reported on August 15, 2006, "The 116 non-aligned countries of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean will be meeting in Havana on Sept. 11-16, [2006] at a time when the international context could not be more different than it was 25 years ago, when the sixth summit was also held in the Cuban capital." See "CUBA: All Set for Non-Aligned Summit - With or Without Fidel."

To read more Bagchi's analysis, please see "PM will have to do deft diplomacy at NAM meet

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TIME: Why Bush's Security Pitch May Not Work This Time'

TIME magazine's Mike Allen reported September 10, 2006, "Thirty-five minutes after [U.S.] President [George W.] Bush finished his surprise East Room announcement last week about plans for prosecuting some of the world's most prominent terrorists, White House and Republican officials convened a conference call of conservative TV pundits and other allies, and later of state party leaders around the country. A participant said listeners were urged to spread the word about the aggressive speech "by talking about it in the context of the election." The message: Republicans are strong, and Democrats are weak."

This is not a surprise to anyone who has closely followed the Bush Administration. They are known for coordinating their message with friendly pundits and bloggers.

To read Mr. Allen's article, see "Why Bush's Security Pitch May Not Work This Time."

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Transcripts of Condoleeza Rice's Sunday Talk Show Appearances

The U.S. Department of State has put up transcripts of Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice's September 10, 2006 "Interview on CBS Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer and her Interview on CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer.

The Diplomatic Times Review cannot vouch for their accuracy.

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U.S. Envoy To Afghanistan Will Host 'Ask The Ambassador' Sept. 12

On September 12, 2006, Ronald E. Neumann, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan,  will host "Ask the Ambassador," a program the U.S. Department of State initiated in June 2006. He will discuss "progress made in Afghanistan on the war on terror, and the reconstruction effort in the region," according to State. Ok, but will he be candid?

If you want to participate, go here.

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UN Awaits Sudan's Consent to Deploy Peacekeepers in Darfur: Why?

Back on September 8, 2006, Mark Leon Goldberg over at the UN Dispatch made an important observation about the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1706, which authorizes the deployment of about 17, 2000 U.N. Peacekeepers in Darfur, Sudan . He wrote:

"Writing in The New Republic, Tim Fenholz asks whether Security Council Resolution 1706 is enough to stop the genocide in Darfur. The short answer is "no," but not because the resolution is feckless -- it is actually quite ambitious and calls for a robust peacekeeping force for Darfur. Rather, the U.S.- U.K. sponsored resolution is failing Darfur because it is currently in a holding pattern while the Security Council awaits Khartoum's consent.

To read the entire post, please see "Why Khartoum's Permission is Required.

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Is The U.S. Winning The 'War On Terror'?

"Five years after Sept. 11, is the United States winning the war against Al Qaeda?" Los Angeles Times correspondent Doyle McManus asks in a September 10, 2006 perspective.

His answer: "President Bush says yes, but most experts — including many inside the U.S. government — say no." 

To read the pros and cons, see "Is the U.S. Winning This War? "

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U.S. Secretary Of State Rice To Spend Sept. 11-12 in Nova Scotia

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will visit Nova Scotia September 11-12, 2006, to mark the fifth anniversary of Al-Qaeda's September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. She will join Canadian Foreign Minister Peter MacKay on visits to Halifax and Stellarton, Canada.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said September 8, 2006, "The trip to the Foreign Minister's home province will occur on the fifth anniversary of September 11 to underscore our two countries' extraordinary friendship, shared values, and continuing commitment to work together closely as partners on a wide range of issues of mutual concern."

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Andrew Sullivan On 'Bush's Last Stand...'

Former New Republic editor Andrew Sullivan, an English-American journalist and blogger who gained renown with The Daily Dish, one of the so-called A-list blogs, says in a September 10, 2006 column in The Sunday Times:

Last week we saw the classic Rovian contours for the November [election] campaign [in the United States]. The Republicans are going to run on Guantanamo Bay. No, I’m not hallucinating. The evidence was in the president’s speech last Wednesday. The headlines trumpeted that Bush had finally admitted the existence of secret CIA black sites in eastern Europe, and that the American military would henceforth be barred from using any coercive interrogation techniques. That is all true.

"But," Mr. Sullivan added, "the real news was something different. The president simultaneously sent to Capitol Hill a bill that would legalise the military tribunals the Supreme Court had found unconstitutional in June, allow an elite squad of the CIA to continue Geneva-banned coercive interrogations, and grant retroactive legal impunity to all civilian officials who had authorised torture and war crimes since 9/11."

For more, please see "Bush’s last stand: turning the war on its head

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Transcript of U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney On 'Meet The Press'

U.S. Vice President Richard "Dick" Cheney was the sole guest September 10, 2006, on the American television program Meet the Press with Tim Russert.  Here is a Transcript of the exchange between Mr. Russert, an attorney, and a rather subdued Mr. Cheney. 

Related Links

Cheney: Despite no WMDs, war justified ---United Press International, USA

Cheney 'overly optimistic' on Iraq war --- The Australian, Australia 

Cheney invokes Pakistan and Afghanistan in defense of Iraq war ---International Herald Tribune, Paris

Cheney Defends Iraq War, Says World Safer Since US Invasion --- Bloomberg, USA

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Haniyeh Chides Blair For Backing Economic Boycott Of Hamas

Ismail Haniyeh,the Palestinian prime minister of the Palestinian National Authority and a ranking Hamas leader, has an article in the September 9, 2006 edition of The Guardian directed primarily to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is in the Middle East for talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. He contends, among other things, that:

Despite the historic responsibility of successive British governments for what has befallen our people, from the Balfour declaration to the catastrophe of dispossession, Palestinians had hoped that the new generation of British politicians might break with the past and stand for truth and justice in the Middle East.

Regrettably, however, the last decade has witnessed the most unfair and one-sided British policy towards the region since the creation of the state of Israel in our homeland close to 60 years ago. The problem has been the unquestioning attachment of Tony Blair's government to the Clinton and then Bush administrations, which have seen the Middle East through Israeli eyes only.

Mr. Haniyeh said, "Despite Israeli war crimes against our people and assassinations of our leaders, the Palestinians introduced to the region one of the most transparent democratic experiences ever."

"The response of the British government has been to back the US and Israel in imposing boycotts and sanctions, in a blatant act of collective punishment," he said, adding: "Since the legislative elections in January 2006, the Palestinian people have endured an effective state of siege and economic and diplomatic boycotts, and the Israeli military machine has been given free rein. During July and August, Israeli occupation troops killed 251 Palestinians, about half of them civilians - without a word of criticism from the British government."

For more, please see "A policy of punishment. Also see "Across Palestinian territories, support for Hamas erodes."

Note: Links added for background purposes.

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Excerpts From Blair And Olmert's Joint Press Conference

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has posted "excerpts" from the September 9, 2006, "Joint Press Conference by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and British Prime Minister Tony Blair,"  who is in the Middle East for talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

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Tony Blair's Middle East Foray: What Will It Accomplish?

So British Prime Minister Tony Blair (center in photo below), a man who in 2003 helped George W. Bush, the U.S. President, invade and occupy Iraq and set in motion forces that has resulted in thousands of Iraqi deaths and a destroyed country, is in the Middle East today, far way from his troubles at home. He has already met with Israeli Prime Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Prime Minister Tony Blair in Parliament

See "Palestinians agree to meet Israelis after Blair's visit" and Israel PM agrees to meet Palestinian president for talks.

According to press reports, both Mr. Olmert and Mr. Abbas are willing to resume negotiations, something I'm sure Mr. Blair will gladly take credit for if the Palestinians and the Israelis can reach an accommodation. He'll take credit if they simply talk.

By the way, I suspect Mr. Olmert threw Mr. Blair a bone because he is a " a 'true friend' "of Israel's in need of political help. Score one for Tony!  

As for Mr. Abbas,  he has no choice but to follow Israel's direction if he's going to get any relief, which won't be much,  from the Israelis. Although he is seeking to improve ties with the ruling Hamas organization, severe economic problems has led to strikes by civil servants and other woes that has Mr. Abbas and Hamas between  a rock and a hard place. Due to Bush Administration imposed sanctions, virtually no aid is coming into Palestine. Just promises. See "Donors pledge $500m for Palestinians.

According to a September 10, 2006, Kuwaiti News Agency report, "Palestinian Minister of Economy Alaa al-Aaraj said unemployment in Palestine now stands at 50 percent whereas poverty has reached 74 percent." If Mr. Blair can do something about that, he will have accomplished something.

But how effective can Blair operate when he is  essentially a lame duck  engaged in a civil war within his own party, the British Labour Party?  This has undermined his moral authority, if he had any left after invading Iraq under false pretenses. Will most foreign leaders take him seriously only because he's still leader of the UK and still has a powerful friend in George Bush?  Yes, but if Mr. Bush withdraws support, even slightly, it's curtains for Tony before his scheduled departure within a year. So far, Mr. Bush hasn't and probably won't.   

For analysis and reportage on Mr. Blair's trip, please see:

Blair vows to pursue Mid East peace --- Guardian Unlimited, UK 

Blair is unlikely to find a sympathetic ear in Middle East --- Times Online, UK

Blair leaves troubles behind with Middle East trip --- Monsters and Critics, UK

PM promises Palestine effort --- ePolitix, UK 

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September 9, 2006

Where's Riverbend, The Proprietor Of Baghdad Burning?

Riverbend, the Iraqi female blogger and proprietor of Baghdad Burning, who made a name in the West with her vivid description of hardship under U.S. occupation, hasn't posted since August 5, 2006, when she posted "Summer of Goodbyes..." It's about people, especially what's left of the middle class, leaving Iraq in droves this summer.

She concluded with this: "I sometimes wonder if we’ll ever know just how many hundreds of thousands of Iraqis left the country this bleak summer. I wonder how many of them will actually return. Where will they go? What will they do with themselves? Is it time to follow? Is it time to wash our hands of the country and try to find a stable life somewhere else?"

River, if you haven't already, maybe it is time to leave your liberated country behind for awhile, in the interest of personal safety. Maybe President Bush will let you come to the relative safety of the United States.

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June 2007 Marks Two Significant Middle East Anniversaries

Helena Cobban at Just World News says in a September 9, 2006 post that, "The early days of June 2007 will see two significant Middle Eastern anniversaries: 25 years since Israel's June 1982 invasion of Lebanon and 40 years since the beginning of the -- still continuing!-- Israeli occupation of Gaza, the West Bank, and Golan."

To read the entire post, please see "Planning for June 2007."

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Britain's Foreign Policy Course Under Gordon Brown

"Gordon Brown [Chancellor of the Exchequer in Britain] will be pressed to chart a different foreign policy course from [beleaguered British Prime Minister] Tony Blair to win back voters put off by the unpopular campaigns waged by the prime minister, who the Scottish politician hopes to succeed," Reuters contends in a news analysis.

The wire service said, "The British electorate traditionally places foreign policy low on its priorities but Blair — now fending off rebellion over his leadership — has seen his popularity plunge over controversial international moves in the past three years."

To read about those controversial moves, see "Brown must mend Blair’s foreign policy errors.

By the way, Reuters seems certain that Mr. Brown will be the next prime minister. He won't be if former British Home Secretary Charles Clarke gets his way. See "Clarke questions Brown's fitness to lead."

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Somebody Likes Ambassador John Bolton

John Robert Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, spoke at "the E. N. Thompson Forum on World Issues on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus" on September 8, 2006 and "attracted a crowd of more than 2,000," according to JournalStar.com, the online presence of the Lincoln (Nebraska) Journal Star. "A small knot of anti-Bolton demonstrators stood outside the building," the publication said.

To read about it, see "Bolton argues case for Bush foreign policy

Related Articles

Bully Bolton ---Antiwar.com, USA

Chafee Delays Vote on Bolton Nomination ---ABC News, USA

Senate panel scrubs vote on Bolton as UN envoy --- Reuters

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U.S. Envoy To Trinidad: 'We're Not Neglecting The Caribbean'

The United States Ambassador to Trinidad & Tobago, Dr Roy Austin (in photo below), " has admitted that the U.S. does not spend as much on the drug trade in the Caribbean as it once did," The Trinidad Guardian reported September 9, 2006.

The Guardian said he told a group of businessmen on September 8, 2006: “I will admit to you that we do not spend as much money on these matters as we used to at one time and there are very good reasons for it."

“This world is a very treacherous place nowadays, especially for Americans," he added. "There are terrorists lurking in every corner as far as we are concerned and we have to take care of that problem.”

On September 5, 3006, Trinidad & Tobago Prime Minister Patrick Manning  criticized the Bush administration for "studiously ignoring the Caribbean." He said "We seek to leverage our energy resources in the cause of national development. It would have been nice if I could have said today that this is recognized in the United States of America. We don't know that it is recognized in Washington at all, in fact we believe that Washington had been studiously ignoring the Caribbean and ignoring the requirements of Trinidad and Tobago." For more, see "Trinidad PM critical of U.S."

For more of Mr. Austin's defense of the Bush Administration, please see "We’re not neglecting Caribbean says Austin.

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Caribbean Leaders Feel Neglected By Bush

Jamaican "Foreign Affairs Minister Anthony Hylton has come out in support of Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Patrick Manning’s tongue-lashing of the Bush administration," Radio Jamaica.com reported September 8, 2006.

To read why, please see "Jamaica’s Foreign Affairs Minister sides with TT Prime Minister.

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Lazaro Sumbeiywo: 'Chief Mediator Of The Sudan Peace Process'

The September 9, 2006 issue of The East African Standard of Nairobi, Kenya, has an account of how Kenyan journalist Waithaka Waihenya came to write the biography of Lt Gen Lazaro Sumbeiywo of Kenya, "the chief mediator of the Sudan Peace Process." The book is titled The Mediator, and published this week, according to The Standard.

For more, please see "Getting a military general to unlock secrets of Sudan talks."

Related

The Making of A Mediator --- East African Standard, Nairobi

The Voice of Reason in Sudan Peace Negotiations--- East African Standard, Nairobi.

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'The Struggle For The Soul Of Japan...'

Japan Focus coordinator David McNeill has a thought-provoking and timely article at ZNet headlined "The Struggle for the Japanese Soul: Komori Yoshihisa, Sankei Shimbun, and the JIIA controversy."

Mr. MacNeill, who also writes about Japan for the Independent of London "and other publications," according to ZNET, originally wrote the piece for Japan Focus, an electronic journal that "chronicles contemporary Japan and Asia Pacific."

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Examining Trends That Will Affect Japan And China

Vaclav Smil, a distinguished professor at the University of Manitoba in Canada, and author of a forthcoming book titled "Global Catastrophes and Trends: The Next 50 Years," has an excerpt in the e-journal Japan Focus that examines "some key trends that will affect Japan’s and China’s future during the coming two generations."

For more, please see "Japan and China: The Next Fifty Years."

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The Japan Times: 'Japan Joins The Great Game'

"A century ago, Russia and Britain contested for influence in Central Asia in a competition known as the Great Game," notes The Japan Times in a September 8, 2006 editorial. "One hundred years later, Central Asia remains a vitally important region, and the governments fighting for influence have increased, and now include Japan."

To read why Japan decided to become a player,  please see "Japan joins the Great Game.

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Iraq's Nuri al-Maliki Scheduled To Visit Iran September 11

"Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki will make his first official visit to Iran on Monday, [September 11, 2006]. a trip that will bring into focus key security and political issues at a time when Baghdad is battling to avert a civil war," according to Reuters, and other publications.

For more, please see "Iraq's PM to visit Iran next week for key talks."

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Liberia's President To Address Foreign Policy Conference

"Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will headline the University of Oklahoma's seventh Foreign Policy Conference" at  noon on September 14, 2006, according to The Norman Transcript, the student newspaper. The university is in Norman, Oklahoma, USA.

According to The Transcript, "The conference, "Africa and Prospects for Hope," will include" Mrs. "Sirleaf's keynote address during the President's Associates luncheon, which will be in the Molly Shi Boren Ballroom in Oklahoma Memorial Union, 900 Asp Avenue., as well as two panel discussions and the opening of the Oklahoma Diplomatic Archives at the Western History Collections. Reservations are required for all events."

For more, please see "Liberian president to headline conference.

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Do Papal Nuncio's Enjoy The Rights Of Ambassadors?

Msgr. Pedro Lopez-Gallo, writing in The B.C. Catholic, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Vancouver, Canada, contends that,

The Roman Pontiff has an inherent and independent right to appoint his envoys to particular churches and to send his ambassadors to various countries. He also has the right to transfer or recall them, observing international norms concerning the representatives accredited to states (canon 362).

"In other words," asserts in an article dated September 11, 2006, "the Church has the absolute right to communicate officially with episcopal conferences through her nuncios, and with nations, receiving their ambassadors, all as part of Vatican diplomacy."

For more, please see "Papal nuncios enjoy the rights of ambassadors.

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Denmark's Deputy Prime Minister Set For Official Visit To Vietnam

"Denmark's Deputy Prime Minister Bendt Bendtsen and his wife will pay an official visit to Vietnam from September 11-15, [2006] announced ... Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Le Dung on September 7, 2006, according to the Vietnamese newspaper Nhan Dan.

For more, please see "Denmark's Deputy Prime Minister to visit Vietnam.

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Nepal Says Its Foreign Policy Will Be Transparent

The Rising Nepal reported September 9, 2006 that, K. P. Sharma Oli, Nepal's "deputy prime minister and foreign minister" said September 8, 2006. "that the government that assumed office following the success of the April movement had adopted people centered foreign policy."


Minister Oli, "addressing a press conference organized to highlight the achievements of the new government during the first 100 days in office," said "The government has initiated work to make the country's foreign policy open, transparent and broad based in harmony with the democratic norms," according to The Rising Nepal.

For more, please see "Foreign policy will be transparent.   

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Where Do European And American Citizens Stand On Iran Nuclear Issue?

An article in the Gulf Times of Doha, Qatar, says "A large majority of people in the Europe and the U.S. favor resolving the volatile Iran nuclear issue through diplomatic channels, a new survey has found."

"As many as 84% of Europeans and 79% of US Citizens feel that the dispute should be resolved via Diplomacy, an annual survey of European and American public Opinion, ‘transatlantic trends’, said, according to The Times article.

"However," The Times added, " if diplomacy failed, 53% of Americans and 45% of Europeans would support military action to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear arms, [the] Press Trust of India reported."

For more, please see "Majority in Europe, US prefer diplomatic solution to Iran issue."

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Sudan Frees Chicago Tribune Reporter Paul Salopek

Chicago Tribune reporter Paul Salopek, "jailed on spying (and other) charges in Sudan August 6, [2006] was released from custody Saturday," September 9, 2006, "officials said, according to United Press International (UPI) and other publications.

Mr. Salopek was released into the custody of New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, a friend of Khidir Haroun Ahmed, Sudan's Ambassador to the United States. Mr. Richardson's spokesman, Pahl Shipley, announced September 8, 2006, that Mr. Salopek would be released today

UPI noted that, "The two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning Chicago Tribune foreign correspondent -- on assignment for National Geographic in the war-torn Darfur region -- was freed with his two Chadian assistants, presidential press secretary Mahjoub Fadul Badry announced."

"The American journalist and the two Chadians have been released," he said, according to UPI.

For more, please see "U.S. journalist Salopek freed in Sudan.

Related Links

Tribune correspondent charged as spy in Sudan --- Los Angeles Times, USA

Jailed as a spy, Tribune's Salopek no stranger to peril --- Orlando Sentinel, USA

US official speaks with Sudan president about Salopek's arrest ---San Jose Mercury News, USA

Statement from National Geographic Society on Journalist Paul ... Yahoo! News, USA (press release)
Jailed "Geographic" Reporter to Get High-Profile Help in Sudan National Geographic, USA
Statement from National Geographic Society on Journalist Paul ... PR Newswire (press release)

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The Times Of Malta: 'While Darfur Burns...'

The Times of Malta aptly states in a September 9, 2006 editorial : "Unless there is international intervention it is all too easy to predict that Darfur [link added] will blaze more brightly and the international media will regale us with stories of atrocities and expressions of horror. But where was the media when it was most needed? Not in Sudan, certainly. Now that the war in Lebanon is over, the commentators and reporters will switch their attention away from the aftermath of that war and express shock and concern for the hundreds of thousands whose lives are in danger. But these have been in danger for a long time now."

For more, please see "While Darfur burns...

Note: The following is not written out of malice but to correct the public record. The Times says in the first paragraph of its editorial:

Last May a peace deal that provided no peace was signed between one rebel group and the government in Sudan's capital Ajuba.

Sudan's capital is at Khartoum.  Although The Times used the name "Ajuba" (maybe the letters got transposed), presumably the writers meant Abuja, which is the capital of Nigeria. That's where the talks in question took place.

For the record, a decision was taken in 1976 to move the Nigerian capital from Lagos to Abuja, which is in the center of country on "neutral territory." It officially became the capital on December 12, 1991.

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September 8, 2006

An 'Open Letter' To U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld

Foreign Correspondent, Defense Analyst and Columnist Eric S. Margolis' September 7, 2006 Open Letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

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Anthony Cordesman: 'Civil War Can Breakout Anytime In Iraq'

Former New York Times reporter Bernard Gwertzman, consulting editor at Council on Foreign Relations, has a September 5, 2006 interview with Anthony H. Cordesman, "the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. It's headlined "Cordesman: Civil War Can Break Out Anytime In Iraq."

Mr. Cordesman's "expertise is in "Middle East and South Asia security issues," according to SourceWatch.

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U.S. Republicans Using Terror Theme For 3rd Election In A Row

U.S. President George W. Bush's "speeches on security this week signal that Republicans will use the terrorism issue for the third election in a row," contends Linda Feldman of The Christian Science Monitor.

To read why, see "Bush moves to shore up war-on-terror credentials.

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Dominique de Villepin's Views On 'War On Terror'

"France issued an implicit criticism of U.S. foreign policy on Thursday," September 7, 2006, "rejecting talk of a "war on terror," according to Reuters. See "French PM rejects 'war on terror.' "

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Again, Saddam Had Nothing To Do With Al-Qaeda

 U.S. President George W. Bush's speeches this week on "Progress in the Global War on Terror" and the "Creation of Military Commissions to try Suspected Terrorists" were overshadowed by the release today of two U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence reports.

One is Postwar Findings about Iraq's WMD Programs and Links to Terrorism and How they Compare with Prewar Assessments.

The second report is "The Use by the Intelligence Community of Information Provided by the Iraqi National Congress."

White House reaction to the reports came from spokesman Tony Snow. See this White Houses Transcript of his September 8, 2006 press briefing.

The reports will be debated on the Sunday talk shows.

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Brown Becomes A Target In British Labour Party Civil War

The Times Online's Philip Webster and Roland Watson report September 9, 2004 British time that the British Labour party's "civil war intensified yesterday," September 8, 2006, " as MPs gave warning of attempts by hardline Blairites this weekend to “take out” Gordon Brown, as well as a revival of pressure on the Prime Minister [Tony Blair] to step down soon."

"As Downing Street braced itself for more bloodletting, it has emerged that the plot to remove Tony Blair this week was far more ambitious than hitherto revealed, and that some of the conspirators expected him to be out by the end of this week."

To read more, please see "New front in Labour civil war – now it's get Brown.

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Clemons: 'Bush Pulls Plug On Cheney's Cloak And Dagger Dungeons'

Steven Clemens, executive vice president of the New America Foundation and proprietor of the increasingly influential blog The Washington Note, says in "Bush Pulls Plug on Cheney's "Cloak & Dagger" Dungeons" that:

"Much of the political left has missed the importance of what happened when President Bush interrupted soap operas on the networks on Wednesday [September 6, 2006] and announced that America's secret prisons around the world would be emptied and fourteen highly significant prisoners tried for their crimes.

What much of the left has not realized is that the Cheney wing in national security circles -- including personalities like David Addington, John Bolton, Scooter Libby, and others -- is seething at some of the better souls in the administration. Real right wingers who would love to see a return of arbitrary justice, vigilanteism, and secret executions for those accused of terrorism are quite angry with the President and with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for the enlightened steps they are now taking.

Mr. Clemon's post is first I've seen that puts forth this scenario, which seems plausible. I recommend it.

Note: Links added to provide background on persons mentioned in this post.

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Der Spiegel: Fundamentalists Rise Again In Afghanistan

Babak Khalatbari, who runs the Afghanistan office of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Kabul, the Afghan capital, told readers of Der Spiegel Online today that, "The Taliban were overthrown five years ago, but Afghanistan's hopes for democracy are faltering, and now interest in fundamentalism -- including draconian Islamic "religious police" -- is growing again.

"What can the international community do?" he asks in a post headlined "Fundamentalists Rise Again in Afghanistan."

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Dawn: 'Afghans Urged To End Blame Game'

"Islamabad and Kabul must stop playing blame games in the battle against the resurgent Taliban and work together to crush the group on both sides of the border, President General Pervez Musharraf said on Thursday," September 7, 2006, according to the Pakistani newspaper Dawn.

To read more, please see "Afghans urged to end blame game.

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Has Pakistan Backed Off From Fighting The Taliban?

David Montero, a Christian Science Monitor correspondent writing from Islamabad, Pakistan, takes a look at the most recent pendulum swing in Pakistan's relationship with Afghanistan, especially The Taliban. He writes:

On the eve of the five year anniversary of 9/11, Pakistan's government struck a deal Tuesday [September 5, 2006] with Taliban fighters, handing them what may turn out to be effective control over the tribal border region of North Waziristan.

Their allies will be freed from jail, confiscated weapons will be returned, and the Army will pull back from the check posts it has erected, ending aerial and ground operations. In return, the militants promise to evict foreign fighters and prevent infiltration into Afghanistan.

Mr. Montero said, "What looks like a stunning reversal of Pakistan's willingness to prosecute the war on terror is actually another pendulum shift between aggressive military tactics and optimistic deals for tribal support. But neither approach has worked particularly well over the past five years, and this course has moved Pakistan away from the political reforms that many analysts here think would best combat terrorism and better integrate autonomous zones that have become havens for Islamic militants."

For more of this insightful analysis, please see "In border zone, Pakistan backs off from Taliban.

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The Stirrer's Interview With Ex-MP Tom Watson

This from The Stirrer, a blog former British Labour Party MP and Blogger Tom Watson calls "a well-written news and current affairs, sport and culture site with a distinct West Midlands edge":

"The West Bromwich MP whose resignation forced Tony Blair to put a time limit on his Premiership says he had to quit the government because the public no longer trusts the PM."

"Tom Watson, the former defence minister told The Stirrer in an exclusive interview that Gordon Brown gets his vote as the next occupant of No.10 – but insists the Chancellor has not been plotting to get the job."

To read more, please see "'It's Got To Be Gordon' Says Minister Who Smoked Out Blair."

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'While Blair Limps On...'

The [British labor Party] revolt [against Prime Minister Tony Blair] was emphatically not a "Brownite plot", despite the starring role of Tom Watson, who - burly, Scottish and a former engineering-union official - is most people's idea of the archetypal Brownite," observes Guardian "columnist and political interviewer" Jackie Ashley in a September 8, 2006, comment is free column.

She said, "The chancellor [Gordon Brown] did not initiate, draft or sanction the letter calling on Tony Blair to stand down now. There were plenty of non-Brownites to do that. The letter was, after all, only the latest in a series of such demands."

Mr. Watson comments on the characterization in a September 8, 2006 post at his blog, Tom Watson, headlined "Label libel."

To read Ms. Ashley's commentary, see "While Blair limps on, the danger remains for Brown and the party.

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Gerard Baker: 'If The Next Prime Minister Is A Real Leader...'

The Times of London's Gerard Baker, "United States Editor and an Assistant Editor of The Times," as well as a blogger, said today in his weekly op-ed column:

The country [Britain] seems to be in a mood to seize the moment of Mr. [Tony] Blair’s impending departure to choose a radical new turn: end the ruinous special relationship with America and construct a new foreign policy that pragmatically chooses ad hoc between go-it-alone bulldog independence and alignment with our European “partners”. There’s a hope that Gordon Brown, heaven help us, will have a Love Actually moment, seizing the opportunity to declare his independence from the US yoke. A poll in The Times this week suggests that would be popular: a majority now favour much looser ties with the US.
Mr. Baker said, "If the next prime minister is a real leader, and not a mere implementer of the latest public opinion trends, he will take a firm stand against the seductive anti-Americanism that has Britain and much of Europe in its grip.

"He should state, categorically, that whatever our reservations, whatever our irritations, Britain will stand with America. Not because Britain is a weaker power that has little choice, or in the hope of some quid pro quo, but because it is the right thing to do."

To read more, please see "One friend Britain must stand by." 

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The Daily Telegraph On 'The Assassin And The Lame Duck'

Prime Minister Tony Blair in Parliament

Lame Duck British Prime Minister Tony Blair (at right, center) nor his main challenger Gordon Brown (in photo below), Chancellor of the Exchequer, comes off too favorably in a September 8, 2006 Daily Telegraph leader with the image-provoking headline "The assassin and the lame duck. The paper's position should come as no surprise given's its historical, editorial support for Britain's Conservative Party. The publication said:

At least he had the grace to apologise. Tony Blair's admission that the past week has not been the Labour Party's "finest hour" is the only part of his statement yesterday that amounted to anything. And what a typical piece of rueful Blair under-statement it was. The past week has in fact witnessed a shameful display of raw ambition from the Chancellor and abject timidity from the Prime Minister, during which the people who elevated them to the highest office, the people of this country, have been treated with contempt.

Mr Blair's declaration that he will not be in office this time next year tells us nothing we had not already learnt from the frantic semaphoring of his various lieutenants over the past few days. But how humiliating that he should be made to jump through this hoop to satisfy the demands of his power-hungry Chancellor. If we did not have a lame-duck Prime Minister before yesterday, we have one now. Any leader worth his salt would have faced down Mr Brown and invited him to leave the Government if he did not accept the Prime Minister's authority. That Mr Blair was unable to do so is ample testimony to the extent to which his power has ebbed away.

Regarding Mr. Brown, the Daily Telegraph, which  was founded in 1855 and outsells Rupert Murdoch's daily, The Times, excoriates the author of The Politics of Nationalism and Devolution and Where There is Greed:

The Chancellor's behaviour, meanwhile, has been disreputable and does not augur well for the future, should he ever become Prime Minister". He has appointed himself to a wholly new The Rt Hon Gordon Brown MPconstitutional role, that of Prime Minister-designate, without going through the tiresome process of seeking election by his party or the country. From this spurious platform he has connived cynically to undermine a Prime Minister who was given a fresh mandate by the British electorate – his third, making him Labour's most successful leader – just 16 months ago. For this latest eruption of hostilities was sparked by Mr Brown's consiglieri Ed Balls (who does not get out of bed in the morning without the Chancellor's say-so), who took to the airwaves a couple of weeks ago to formally open the Blair defenestration process. Loyalty is not a quality that we should expect to see in a Brown-led administration.
The Telegraph says more about Mr. Brown, which I can surmise will be painful for the former Rector of Edinburgh University in Scotland to read.

Note: The accompanying photos are from the No. 10 Downing Street Website.

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ePolitix.com: Papers 'Unimpressed' by Labor's 'Leadership Row'

ePolitix.com reported September 8, 2006 reported that British newspaper editors and columnists are "unimpressed" by the "leadership row" in the British Labor Party.

"Having spent years courting Fleet Street editors ahead of his likely premiership, Gordon Brown [Chancellor of the Exchequer and the main challenger to British Prime Minister Tony Blair for party leadership] will be worried about signs that he is losing support before he has even entered Number 10," contends ePolitix.com.

The website noted that, "The Telegraph on Friday [September 8, 2006] lambasted him for "disreputable" behaviour, although it also accused Tony Blair of weakness for not disciplining him before."

"The high-selling Daily Mail, whose backing Brown has worked hard to win, claimed the feud at the top of the government is "damaging Britain,"ePolitix.com noted, adding: "Influential Times columnist Peter Riddell also called on him to now start sounding like a prime minister and no longer "a man with a grievance".

"The Brownites need to calm down, not to conspire, mutter or undermine Mr Blair's last months in office, but to contemplate and plan for the promised land next spring or summer," he wrote.

Mr. Riddell said, "That should play to Mr Brown's strengths as a strategic thinker. This also requires Mr Brown to show that he is less tribal, more generous and willing to reach out to the Blairites."

To read the entire post, please see "Papers unimpressed by leadership row."

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NATO Wants More Troops For Fight Against Taliban

Japp De Hoop Scheffer, Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military alliance, "has asked NATO member countries to provide more troops for operations in southern Afghanistan," Radio Telefís Éireann (RTE), "Ireland's Public Service Broadcaster," reported September 8, 2006.

As RTE notes, "The NATO-led force took over military command of southern Afghanistan on 31 July [2006] from the U.S.-led coalition that toppled the fundamentalist Taliban government in late 2001."

According to RTE, "Mr de Hoop Scheffer said he and NATO's overall commander, General James Jones, had already appealed for more resources."

RTE said  Mr de Hoop Scheffer's "remarks came as the British commander on the ground said the fighting in the area was more ferocious on a daily basis than in Iraq, sometimes involving hand-to-hand combat."

"Brigadier Ed Butler said his troops were involved in clashes that were 'extraordinarily intense.' RTE said.

For more, please see "Taliban claims responsibility for attack."

Related Links

NATO chiefs study call for more Afghan troops--- Scotsman, United Kingdom 

NATO defense chiefs in Warsaw for talks on increasing force ... International Herald Tribune, Paris

Turkey says it was not asked to join fight in Afghanistan--- Turkish Daily News, Ankara, Turkey 

NATO Falling Short, General Says ---The New York Times, New York, USA

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Bulgaria Denies Hosting Secret CIA Prison

The Associated Press reported September 7, 2006 from Constanta, Romania, that, "Romanian authorities" in the Black Sea port of Constanta, which is "alleged to have hosted a secret CIA prison, said there was no proof such a facility existed but stopped short of an outright denial."

"Responding to U.S. President George W. Bush's acknowledgment that the U.S. intelligence agency has held terror suspects in secret prisons overseas, officials in the city of Constanta said Thursday [September 7, 2006] that no proof had been found that such a facility existed here" in Constanta.

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CIA Prisons Puts European Leaders In A Tight Spot

Jesús Torquemada, news analyst at  eitb24, the "Basque News and Information Channel," declares in a September 8, 2006, column that, "European governments find themselves in a difficult situation after U.S. President George Bush admitted Washington held terrorist suspects in CIA jails abroad."

"There seems to be little doubt that some of those jails are in Europe as the CIA used European airports for the transfer of suspects held in those jails," he wrote.

For read the entire analysis, please see "European Governments claim they know nothing about secret prisons. Also see Dick Marty's Alleged secret detentions in Council of Europe member states.

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September 7, 2006

The Herald Asks Tony Blair To 'End The Uncertainty'

The Herald of Britain says in a September 8, 2006 editorial on that "Given his projection of himself as a pretty straight sort of guy, Tony Blair let himself down yesterday by failing to come clean on when, exactly, he intends to stand down as Prime Minister."

"More importantly," the publication said, "he has let the country down. At least he and Gordon Brown, the other protagonist in the bloodletting of the past few days, finally broke their silence on the war for the Labour succession. In their separate statements, made 400 miles apart, they made clear they want it to end, for the sake of their party and, crucially, the country.

"But can they be believed?" The Herald asked. "Can the interests of the country be uppermost in Mr Blair's mind when the announcement he was bounced into making further prevaricated rather than finally clarified?"

To read the entire editorial, please see "End the uncertainty."

Related Links

Exit crisis engulfs No 10 as seven loyalists quit Government --- Times Online, United Kingdom 

Statement fails to quell discontent in Labour ranks --- The Herald, United Kingdom 

UK's Blair faces pressure to go sooner not later ---Reuters, United Kingdom 

Blair clings to the wreckage --- Telegraph.co.uk, United Kingdom 

Humbled Blair begs party to stay ---Daily Mail, United Kingdom 

Blair buys time with pledge to quit within 12 months --- Independent, United Kingdom 

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The CIA's Detention Camps In Europe

On January 22, 2006, Dick Marty, Rapporteur for the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly's Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights" "issued Information Memorandum II" on "Alleged secret detentions in Council of Europe member states.

The 25-page report suggest that CIA detention camps may exist in Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Kosovo and Ukraine, Poland, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Georgia, Armenia. 

Also see "Lawfulness of detentions by the United States in Guantánamo Bay.

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Opinion On Bush's Confirmation Of CIA's Secret Prisons

"Reaction in Europe to the transfer by the United States of 14 top terror suspects from secret CIA camps for trial at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has been sharply mixed, welcomed by some but termed a half-measure by others," according to International Herald Tribune reporter Brian Knowlton. To read why, see "Europeans of 2 minds on transfer of suspects."

U.S. President George W. Bush confirmed the presence of secret detention camps and the transfer of Al-Qaeda prisoners to Gitmo, as Guantanamo Bay is called, on September 6, 2006, with U.S. Vice President Richard Cheney, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice,  Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, family members of September 11, 2001 victims and others surrounding him in the East Room of the White House.

According to Associated Press reporter Alexander G. Higgings, Mr. Bush's confirmation "re-ignited controversy Thursday [September 7, 2006] with European lawmakers demanding the exact locations and other critics saying the system tacitly approves torture." See "Bush's prison revelations irks Europe."

The revelation prompted a response from Terry Davis, secretary general of the Council of Europe. Guardian Unlimited reporters Nicholas Watt in Brussels, Belgium, and Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington, D.C., state in a September 8, 2006, report that Mr. Davis "yesterday called for monitoring of CIA agents operating in Britain and other European countries, after President George Bush's admission that the U.S. had detained terrorist suspects in secret prisons."

"Terry Davis, secretary general of the Council of Europe, said CIA agents operating in Europe should be subject to the same rules as British agents working for MI5 and MI6," they reported. Mr. Davis was quoted as saying:

There is a need to deal with the conduct of allied foreign security services agents active on the territory of a council member state. In the UK there is parliamentary scrutiny of the intelligence services but there is no parliamentary scrutiny of friendly foreign services. The UK should be in the lead on this issue.

To read more, See "European watchdog calls for clampdown on CIA." Also  see "Council of Europe Secretary General proposes new international legal instruments to prevent human rights abuses in the fight against terrorism."

The Netherlands' René van der Linden, President of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), said September 7, 2006, that “President Bush's admission yesterday that there have been secret CIA prisons abroad vindicates the exhaustive investigation carried out by the Council of Europe in recent months."

He said, "There were those who doubted our rapporteur Mr. [Richard] Marty [of Switzerland and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe] and scorned his brief . They have been proved wrong, and the Council's unique role in upholding European human rights values has been affirmed the PACE leader said, adding: "Our work has helped to flush out the dirty nature of this secret war, which - we learn at last - has been carried out completely beyond any legal framework." See "PACE President reacts to George Bush’s admission of secret CIA prisons."

Related Links

Europe must tell truth about secret prisons" - Swissinfo 
Council Of Europe: Investigators To Continue Inquiry Into Secret ... - RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

Dutch FM welcomes Bush admission over secret CIA jails---Xinhua, China

EU govts urged to admit CIA has prisons in Europe---ABC Online, Australia 

Bush comments on secret prisons confirms fears about war on terror ... Mainichi Daily News, Japan 

European Officials Slam US Secret Prisons--- Deutsche Welle, Germany 

Greece denies involvement in CIA prisoner flights--- Daily News & Analysis, India 

Australia backs CIA secret prisons, while Muslim critics condemn ... Boston Herald, United States 

AP Interview: European investigator says Bush's CIA secret prisons admission 'just one piece of the truth'--- International Herald Tribune, Paris

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ISN Watch On 'Secret Prisons, Human Rights And Elections'

Jen Alic and Rashunda Tramble at ISN Security Watch, the blog for the International Relations and Security Network (ISN), reported today that "U.S President George W Bush's announcement on Wednesday [September 6, 2006] that the CIA did indeed have secret prisons around the world and that the remaining secret detainees, 14 key terror suspects, had been transferred to the military prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba," was "the culmination of months of allegations by human rights groups and Washington's European allies that the CIA had been hosting secret detention centers outside of the US, including in European countries, and that the CIA had conducted rendition flights over European airspace."

To read more, please see "Secret prisons, human rights and elections." Note: Links added to provide background for those unfamiliar with the subject of this post.

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Mohammad Khatami's Controversial Visit To Harvard

Javier C. Hernandez, staff writer of The Harvard Crimson, reported September 6, 2006 that "The Kennedy School of Government at Harvard said today it had secured protection for former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami when he visits Harvard on Sunday [September 10, 2006], "one day after Massachusetts Governor W. Mitt Romney ordered all state agencies to refuse requests to provide security for the Muslim cleric."

"The school will rely on support from the Boston and Cambridge police departments, the U.S. State Department, and Harvard’s own police force when Khatami delivers a speech on the “Ethics of Tolerance in the Age of Violence” at the school’s John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum at 4 p.m. on Sunday," Mr. Hernandez noted.

He said, "In a statement released this afternoon, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino said that the city is complying with a request from the State Department for security “in the interest of general public safety.”

“Boston has an obligation to offer police protection to provide security to Khatami,” Mr. Menino said in the statement, according to the Hernandez report.

For more, please see " Police Pledge to Protect Khatami. Also see the Romney press release headlined "Romney Denounces Khatami Visit to Harvard.

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Bush's Sept. 7, 2006, Address On 'Progress in the Global War On Terror'

On September 7, 2006, U.S. President George W. Bush delivered an address in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, on "Progress in the Global War on Terror." Here is a White House transcript of that speech.

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The CIA's Prison Network And Interrogation Program

The Los Angeles Times says in a September 7, 2006 article that "Taken together," U.S. President George W. Bush's September 6, 2006, "speech, documents released by the director of national intelligence and briefings by administration officials provided a sweeping overview of a CIA program that had been one of the government's most carefully guarded secrets."

"They also provided some unsettling details about Al Qaeda's sophisticated operation and its plots against the United States and its allies overseas," writes Times staff writer Josh Meyer.

For more, please see "Terror Suspects Still at Large,"

Also see these related links
FACTBOX-Details about al Qaeda detainees--Reuters
Bush denies torture claims at CIA-run facilities--Australian Broadcasting Corp.
How the CIA connected dots--The Ap

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September 6, 2006

USA Today's Editorial On Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador

"If the turmoil following Mexico's July 2 [2006] presidential election has shown anything, it is that Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the leftist candidate who narrowly lost, cares little about his nation's fragile democracy," declared USA Today in a September 6, 2006 editorial.

"What other explanation is there for his claims of widespread voter fraud, refuted by Tuesday's [September 5, 2006] unanimous ruling from Mexico's respected election court?" the publication asked. "How else should one interpret his current status as commander of a ragtag army of protesters intent on blocking streets and disrupting commerce, government and daily life?

USA Today said "López Obrador's protests have cost him dearly. A poll in late August by the Reforma newspaper showed that his opponent, Felipe Calderón, who won the July election 35.9%-35.3%, would have a 54%-30% advantage in a hypothetical rematch held now. Meanwhile, the Democratic Convergence Party, which had backed López Obrador in the election, has announced it will recognize Calderón's victory, as has the once-dominant Institutional Revolutionary Party, which came in third."

To read the entire editorial, please see "Mexico's sore loser.

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Washington Post: CIA Officials Relieved Bush Revealed Secret Prisons

The Washington Post's Dana Priest reports in the September 7, 2006 edition of The Post that, "Employees at CIA (U.S. Central Intelligence Agency) headquarters stood transfixed at television sets yesterday [September 6, 2006] in a moment one senior official called "electric" as [U.S. President [George W.] Bush told the nation about the agency's covert prison system -- a program once considered so secret that even Bush did not know the details."

For more, please see "Officials Relieved Secret Is Shared."

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Bush Previews Creation Of Military Commissions To Try Muslim Fighters

On September 6, 2006, with U.S. Vice President Richard Cheney, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice,  Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and others surrounding him in the East Room of the White House, President George W. Bush (below) ramped up efforts to justify his Iraq war goals and stave of what appears to be an impending Republican disaster in the November 7, 2006 congressional elections.President George W. Bush emphasizes a point Wednesday Sept. 6, 2006 in the East Room of the White House, as he discusses the administration's draft legislation to create a strong and effective military commission to try suspected terrorists. The bill being sent to Congress, said President Bush, "reflects the reality that we are a nation at war, and that it is essential for us to use all reliable evidence to bring these people to justice." White House photo by Kimberlee Hewitt

The White House billed the event a discussion of the "Creation of Military Commissions to Try Suspected Terrorists.

Once again, Mr. Bush is using the imagery of the horrific September 11, 2006 attack on the U.S. by Al Qaeda as political theater. The first time was during the 2004 presidential campaign between Mr. Bush and Senator John Kerry, the junior senator from Massachusetts. Only now, as Mr. Bush  tries to ensure Republican control of both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate, many are saying they don't see a connection between the invasion and occupation of Iraq and the so-called war on terror. Mr. Bush is trying to convince citizens there is one.  

According to the September 1, 2006 edition of The Christian Science Monitor, "Polls show opposition to Iraq war at all-time high."

And according to Rupert Murdoch's Fox News, "Subtly, Some GOP Candidates Are Changing Their War Message

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Sectarian Killings In 'Free' Iraq Escalating

Today in Iraq's chilling war news for today offers clear and convincing evidence that sectarian killings in Iraq are escalating. What's the evidence?

In a segment of its report labeled Unmanageable,  Today in Iraq said,  "The number of killings in the Iraqi capital escalated last week despite an American-led crackdown, with morgue workers receiving as many bodies as they had during the first three weeks of August combined."

"At least 334 people, including 23 women, were slain in Baghdad August 27 to Sept. 2, [2006] according to morgue figures provided by Ministry of Health officials, according to Today in Iraq. "Most of the victims were kidnapped, tortured, hogtied and shot."

Today in Iraq added: "During the week, at least 394 other people were killed around Iraq in other types of violence, including bombings, mortar attacks and gunfights, Iraqi authorities said."

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What Is A U.S. President Doing Extensively Quoting Osama bin Laden?

Dan Froomkin, writer of the controversial White House Briefing blog at washingtonpost.com rightly observed in a September 6, 2006, post that "The spectacle of the president of the United States extensively quoting Osama bin Laden to bolster his controversial policies during political season deserves notice, and reflection."

For more, please see "On Quoting bin Laden.

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Pakistan's Peace Overture in North Waziristan

Arthur Bright at csmonitor.com, The Christian Science Monitor's online presence, reports that, "In a move that some say appears 'a total capitulation' to pro-Taliban forces, Pakistan signed a peace deal with tribal leaders in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan Tuesday," September 5, 2006, "and is withdrawing military forces in exchange for promises that militant tribal groups there will not engage in terrorist activities."

For more, please see "Pakistan signs peace deal with pro-Taliban militants.

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Israel To Lift Sea And Air Blockade Of Lebanon

"Israel will lift its sea and air blockade of Lebanon on Thursday evening," September 7, 2006, the Israeli government announced September 6, 2006, according to Haaretz.com and other publications. It's about time.

By the way, one of the more interesting things about the blockade is that no Arab nation made a public effort to circumvent it, as far as I can tell. I wonder what are they afraid of. Israel perhaps. Or the United States. Or both. Whatever it is, it makes Arab leaders look impotent.

For more, please see "PMO: Int'l force to replace IDF at Lebanon ports."

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Nasrallah's Conditions For Talking About Disarming Hizbollah

The Daily Star of Lebanon reported today that Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizbollah, said in an interview published in the September 5, 2006 edition of the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir that "Hizbullah had 'filled a governmental vacuum,' but vowed that once 'a strong and steadfast government capable of providing guarantees and protecting the people is established, then this could constitute a step toward determining the fate of Hizbullah's arms.' "

For more, please see "Nasrallah: Build a strong state, then discuss arms.

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September 5, 2006

Iraq's State Of Emergency

If the coalition occupation force in Iraq and its proxy government have the security situation in the country under control, why did Iraq's parliament extend a two-year old state of emergency for a month? Just asking.

 For more, please see "Parliament votes to extend state of emergency in Iraq."

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Waiting For The Next National Intelligence Estimate On Iraq

Newsweek has an   interesting Periscope article that says the "Bush administration policymakers and their congressional backers may get some unwelcome news from a new analysis on Iraq that the office of intelligence czar John Negroponte will soon produce.

For more, see "Iraq: A Sweeping, Secret New Report."

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Like U.S., Britain Forced To Send More Troops To Iraq To Save Face

Like President George W. Bush in the United States, British Prime Minister Tony Blair is being forced to send more troops to Iraq to try to hold on to the very few gains British troops have made during a futile, three-year effort to help the Bush Administration impose Democracy on a nation that has descended into a civil war Mr. Bush refuses to admit exists

The Guardian Unlimited's Richard Norton-Taylor, Ewen MacAskill and Steven Morris noted in a  September 6, 2006 article that,

Britain is to reinforce its military presence in Iraq in a move that reflects increasing concern about the threat to its troops and the inability of local forces to take over responsibility for the country's security."

"The decision was announced by the Ministry of Defence as the foreign secretary, Margaret Beckett, on her first visit to Iraq, warned that it was making "very slow" progress on security. Separately, a leading international thinktank warned that the conflict in Iraq was producing highly trained and motivated jihadists ready to commit terrorist acts in Europe and elsewhere.

For more, please see "Britain forced to send more troops to Iraq.
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Britain Deports 32 Iraqis

Nigel Morris, Home Affairs Correspondent for The Independent of London, reported in the September 6, 2006 edition of the publication that, "Thirty-two Iraqis have been deported from Britain despite warnings that they face persecution and violence upon their return" to Iraq. See "Iraq: Deported refugees fearful of persecution on their return."

"To the anger of refugee groups, they will be forced to start new lives today in the Kurdish-controlled north of the country that some fled up to a decade ago," Mr. Morris wrote.

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Vladimir Putin Is The First Russian Leader To Visit South Africa

 "Vladimir Putin has become the first Russian president to visit South Africa in a trip aimed at forging closer diplomatic and business links," EuroNews observed today.  "Soon after arriving in Cape Town from Greece," the publication said, Mr. "Putin went into talks with President Thabo Mbeki."

EuroNews recalled that, "Moscow was one of the African National Congress' most important backers during the apartheid years when it was an illegal movement. But the visit is motivated by hard economic considerations more than nostalgia and Putin is accompanied by 100 business leaders. They hope to build bridges between two of the world's biggest emerging market economies."

For more, please see "Putin first Russian leader to visit South Africa. Also see "South Africa: Putin Begins Talks with Mbeki.

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African Union Responds To Sudan's Ultimatum

The African Union (AU) responded today to a Sudanese ultimatum designed to make the AU stand with Sudan on the question of stationing United Nations peacekeeping troops in Darfur, Sudan. The Sudan government is vehemently opposed to the idea. The deployment is authorized by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1706.

AU spokesman Nouredinne Mezni announced the decision following a September 4, 2006  meeting in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, where the AU has its secretariat. "We are ready to review the mandate in the event that Sudan and the U.N. agree on the transition to a U.N. peacekeeping force," he told journalists.

As the Sudan Tribune noted in a September 5, 2006 article, "On Monday [September 4, 2006], Sudan gave African Union troops a one-week ultimatum to accept a deal that would block the proposed 20,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping force in Darfur or else leave the region, a step that would likely worsen the world’s worst humanitarian disaster."

See "African troops only to stay if Sudan okays UN force - AU. Also see "A defiant Sudan gives African force ultimatum."

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Sudan's Cooperation Needed For U.N.'s Darfur Peacekeeping To Work

During a  September 5,  2006 joint press conference Alexandria, Egypt,with Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the Egyptian Foreign Minister, U.N. Secretary Secretary-General Kofi Annan addressed Sudan's opposition to the deployment of U.N. Peacekeeping troops in Darfur, where, according to some observers, a new government offensive is underway against rebel forces. Mr. Annan said:

On Darfur, which is at a very critical stage, the Security Council has passed a resolution asking for the deployment of UN troops. But of course we would like to have the consent and cooperation of the Sudanese government. That is the only way these kinds of operations work and work effectively.

I am going back to New York and I know that yesterday suddenly an important decision was taken by the Sudanese government which I don't consider entirely positive on the African Union force, and I understand and I thought that they were going to stay on but apparently they are going to leave -- which leaves hanging in the air the question of what happens to the internally displaced people and the people who are in need of help in Darfur.

Mr. Annan noted that, "The international community has been feeding and helping about three million people in camps and elsewhere, and if we have to leave because of lack of security, lack of access to the people, then what happens? The government will have to assume responsibility for doing this and, if it doesn't succeed, it will have lots of questions to answer to the rest of the world. And I have always mentioned that the international forces were going to help the Sudanese people, to help the government protect the people and assist them. We are not going there to invade. We have no other intentions."
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BBC: 'Western Policy Is In Near Despair Over Darfur'

Paul Reynolds, World affairs correspondent for the BBC News website, declared September 5, 2006 that, "Western policy is in near despair over Darfur, and governments are turning to Russia and China to see if they can put pressure on the Sudanese government to accept a UN peacekeeping force."

To read why, please see "Despair over Darfur."

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Annan: I Don't Want To Raise False Hopes On Lifting Lebanon Blockade

Will Israel grant UN secretary-general Kofi Annan's wish and lift the naval and air blockade of Lebanon, that was imposed during the recent 34-day war between Israel and Hezbollah?

Well, even he has learned not to be too opitmistic when it comes to the Israelis.

"I don't want to raise any false hopes, but I hope that in the next 48 hours we will have some news on that - constructive, positive news," Mr. Annan told journalists after holding talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the port city of Alexandria, reports Aljazeera.Net and other news outlets..

For more, please see "Annan hopes for blockade end 'soon.'

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Why Annan Refuses To Disclose Name of Prisoner Swap Negotiator

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan [in Wikipedia photo below] said while in Saudi Arabia September 4, 2006 for talks with King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud and Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal that he "will designate someone to work discreetly and quietly" with Hezbollah and Israel "to find a solution" for swapping prisoners," Kofi Annan

According a September 5, 2006 report by Arab News reporters Siraj Wahab and Saeed Al-Abyad," Mr. Annan "said an agreement had been reached between Israel and Hezbollah to negotiate the release of the two abducted Israeli soldiers that led to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. But he only referred to both Israel and Hezbollah as “the two parties” and refused to call it an agreement." They quoted the secretary-general, whose term ends December 31, 2006, as saying:

I wouldn’t want to refer to it as an agreement, but I would want to say that both parties have accepted the good offices of the secretary-general to help resolve the problem. I will work with the parties. I will designate someone to work discreetly and quietly with the parties.
Mr. Wahab and Mr. Al-Abyad said, "Annan, however, refused to divulge the name of the mediator." On that, he said:
I will not tell you the name of the person either today or tomorrow because I want him to be able to work discreetly. The only thing that I insisted on is that if I am going to use my good offices then my mediator should be the only mediator. If others get involved then we will pull out. You will get wires crossed. It will be very confusing. So there should be only one channel of communication.
Arab News noted that, "Minutes after the press conference, Israeli officials issued a statement in Jerusalem asking Annan to assist, not to mediate the soldiers’ release." An Israeli government official was quoted as saying:
A mediator is not needed.The UN resolution (1701) determines that the soldiers will be released unconditionally. The UN secretary-general will assist and not mediate.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is under intense pressure to obtain the release of Hezbollah-held soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev

Hezbollah killed eight Israeli troops during a July 12, 2006 operation that resulted in the captured of Mr. Goldwasser and Mr. Regev. It gave Israel an excuse to launch what became a 34-day war in Lebanon and Israel. The war caused civilian casualties on both sides, mostly from missiles and bombs. The war was a disaster for Israel domestically and in the public diplomacy arena.

For more, please see "‘Kingdom Key to Conflict Resolution’"

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Sistani No Longer Has Power to Save Iraq From Civil War

While reading Helena Cobban's Just World News blog entries for September 4, 2006, I came across a reference to what she called "the important piece of reporting that was in The Sunday Telegraph (London) yesterday [September 3, 2006] about the decline of Ayatollah Sistani's power among Iraq's Shiites. (Hat-tip to both Juan Cole and Pat Lang there.)"

"To me," she writes, "the significance of what reporters Gethin Chamberlain and Aqeel Hussein write there lies not just in the strong evidence they present of a steep decline in Sistani's power, but also, some equally strong evidence that the militia and political organization headed by Moqtada Sadr-- who seems to have gained much of the popular support that Sistani has lost-- has indeed turned massively towards participating in revenge killings against Sunnis."

I read The Telegraph's ""I no longer have power to save Iraq from civil war, warns Shia leader" and highly recommend it to U.S. President George W. Bush and anyone else who thinks that the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq hasn't resulted in a civil war along religious lines..

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September 4, 2006

'Why Darfur Was Left To Its Pitiful State'

Steve Bloomfield, Africa Correspondent for The Independent of London, answers questions about the tragedy in Darfur in a September 5, 2006 article headlined "The Big Question: Why has the crisis grown worse in Darfur, and can there be a solution?

Telegraph.co.uk tells "Why Darfur was left to its pitiful fate" while Mark Doyle, World affairs correspondent for BBC News says "Darfur tests international resolve."

On that note, The New York Times'  Lydia Polgren reported September 4, 2006 that, "The Sudanese government delivered an ultimatum on Monday [September 4, 2006] to the African Union peacekeeping force trying to enforce a shaky peace deal in Darfur, telling it to extend its mandate without handing off to the United Nations or else pack up and leave by the end of the month." See "Sudan Gives African Force an Ultimatum

Sudan's tactic doesn't seem to intimidate U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan who "today reiterated his appeal to the Government of Sudan to accept United Nations forces in the country's troubled Darfur region, as mandated by the Security Council," according to the U.N. News service.

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Leaders in The Horn Of Africa Embark On Another Peace Venture

Barbara Among, special correspondent for The East African of Kenya, reported today that, "Regional leaders have embarked on another peace initiative to tame the escalating violence in Somalia which has already drawn in Ethiopia and Eritrea."

"The conflict in Somalia has raised fears that it could escalate, sparking a new period of instability in Horn of Africa region," she contends.

She said, "The United Nations and Somalia's Transitional Federal Government's envoy to the African Union Abdikarim Farah, have warned that the conflict was now a regional dimension that could bring further insecurity and extremism." 

For more, please see "Regional leaders in new bid to end Somalia violence.

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Is There A Plan To Bring Down Lebanon's Government?

Syria expert Joshua M. Landis, "Co-Director of the Center for Peace Studies at the International Programs Center and Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern Studies in the School of International and Area Studies at the University of Oklahoma, notes in a September 4, 2006 post at his influential Syria Comment.com blog that:

Another story that has been circulating in the Arab press is that Syria, Iran and Hizbullah have a three step plan to bring down the Lebanese government with the help of General [Michel] Aoun and other anti-Hariri politicians. The basic idea is: Stage one, stay cool while Israel withdraws its troops. Stage two, create paralysis in the government by opposing all Siniora measures. Stage three, begin large scale demonstrations which will give cover for special inciters to provoke clashes with the police and get people shot. Then push for a vote of no-confidence in parliament and force new elections. The only source quoted in this story is a "high placed" government official.

Mr. Landis said, "There can be little doubt that opposition figures in Lebanon and their supporters further a field are strategizing to bring down the Hariri coalition that presently governs Lebanon, and which many have already accused of being complicit with Israel and the US during the war."

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Olmert Tells Israeli Committee How He Would Fight Syria

Amos Harel and Gideon Alon, writing at Haaretz.com, reported today that "Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (in photo below) told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday [September 4, 2006] that Israel would use more force in any war with Syria than it did in the recent conflict in Lebanon."Ehud Olmert

"If we have go to war with Syria, we will do away the limitations on the use of force we placed upon ourselves in Lebanon," Mr. Olmert was quoted as saying "during his first appearance before the panel since the end of the 34-day conflict with Hezbollah."

Mr. Alon and Mr. Harel also reported that Mr. Olmert "said he would be happy to meet with Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, but said he doubted that the conditions existed to hold negotiations with Syria."

For more, please see "Olmert to Knesset defense panel: We'd use more force in war with Syria." Also see "Olmert warns Syria" and "Olmert: Recent War was Deterrent to Hostilities with Syria."

Is Mr. Olmert trying to save face among Israelis after the debacle in Lebanon against Hezbollah? Just asking.

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Haaretz: El Al Planes With IDF Cargo Can't Land At Some European Airports

"A number of European states are refusing to allow El Al cargo planes carrying Israel Defense Forces equipment from stopover landings in their airports," reports Haaretz Correspondent  Zohar Blumenkrantz. See "Europe nixes landing rights for El Al planes with IDF cargo.

Blumenkrantz said, "The refusal came from states considered friendly with Israel, including Britain, Germany and Italy, according to Captain Etai Regev, the chairman of El Al's pilots' union."

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Kurdish Demands May Force Iraq To Choose A New Flag

Alastair Macdonald, one of  Reuters' Baghdad correspondent, reported September 4, 2006 that, "Iraq may get a new flag to replace one rejected by ethnic Kurds as a symbol of oppression under [former Iraqi president] Saddam Hussein, the government said on Monday [September 4, 2006] , hoping to defuse a nasty row that provoked threats of Kurdish secession."

For more, see "Iraq govt mulls new flag after Kurdish threats. Also see "Kurds brandish secession threat in Iraq flag row.

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Turkey, EU Reportedly Headed For A Major Crisis

Honor Mahony at EUObserver.com reported September 4, 2006 that "EU [European Union] negotiations with Turkey are heading for a major crisis this autumn, predicts a new report, with only the political will of the main players able to keep relations on track."

The crisis is over conditions for the "Accession of Turkey to the European Union."

For more, please see "Turkey EU talks could be heading for breakdown, says report." Also see Cihan News Agency's "EP Report Slams Turkey for Slow Pace of Reforms."

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Iran Focus: 'Iran Demands UN Be Relocated From New York'

"Iran suggested on Monday [September 4, 2006] that the United Nations headquarters be relocated from New York to a country other than the United States," according to Iran Focus.
"Government spokesman" Gholam-Hossein Elham was quoted as telling reporters during his weekly press conference: "The U.S. tries to pressure Iran in any way possible. We are convinced that considerations should be made regarding the United Nations which is based in this country.”

Mr. Elham said,“Either the UN must be relocated from the U.S. and set up in a different country or the U.S.’s provisions in this regard must be limited so that the UN plays a more serious role.”

For more, please see "Iran demands UN be relocated from New York."

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What Did The Kremlin Learn From The Beslan Tragedy?

Masha Lipman, editor of the Russian and English language Pro et Contra journal, published by the Carnegie Moscow Center," says in her September 4, 2006,  Washington Post column on the September 3, 2004, Beslan school massacre allegedly carried out by Chechen fighters in North Ossetia:

If there is one lesson the Kremlin has learned -- or had confirmed for itself -- since Beslan, it is that by maintaining tight control over political life and major media coverage, it can efficiently minimize the political fallout from just about any event, even a tragedy as huge as Beslan.

Ms. Lipman said, "By way of contrast, consider that in the United States, alleged mismanagement of the Hurricane Katrina disaster continues to be a hot public and political issue a year later. In Russia, little is heard of Beslan."

To read more, please see "After Beslan, the Media in Shackles. Also see "Beslan still a raw nerve for Russia" and "Why 333 were killed may never be known."

"Authorities Ban Expert’s Report on Beslan Crisis — HR Activist" also sheds  light on the controversy surrounding Beslan

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What Sparked Tensions in Kondopoga?

"Tensions between ethnic Russians and ethnic Caucasians are “extremely critical” in the northwestern Russian city of Kondopoga after a deadly barfight sparked violent protests by hundreds of Russians, a local Muslim religious leader has said," MosNews.com reported September 4, 2006.

To read more, please see "Ethnic Tensions Extremely High in North Russia — Muslim Leader." Also see RIA Novosti's "Authorities scramble to curb ethnic violence in North Russia.

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Russia, Bulgaria, Greece Sign Energy Pact

The Russian News Information Agency (RIA Novosti) reported today that, "The leaders of Russia, Bulgaria and Greece signed a joint declaration on energy cooperation in Athens" on September 4, 2006.

For more, please see "Russia, Greece, Bulgaria sign energy declaration.

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India To Improve Roads Along Borders With Five Of Its Neighbors

The Associated Press reported September 4, 2006 that "India plans to build 27 new roads along its 3,225-kilometer (2,015-mile)-long border with China over the next six years" as "part of the Indian Home Ministry's larger plans to develop 94 districts that lie along India's borders with five of its neighbors — China, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan and Nepal.

The AP report is based on a September 4, 2006, "state-run television channel" report.

The AP, again citing Indian television, said the roads, "expected to cost around 9 billion rupees (US$195.6 million; €163 million), are also "aimed at boosting the economic development of these areas and promoting a sense of security among people living in the far-flung districts."

For more, please read "India to build 27 new roads along border with China as part of development plan.

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Despite Restrictions, China Wants To Invest More In India

The Times of India reported September 4, 2006, that Sun Yuxi, China's ambassador to India, "told a select group of journalists" that China wants to invest more in India, but "We are facing restrictions on investing here. We are facing difficulty in investing here."

Nevertheless, "China, particularly, plans to set up a steel factory in India in view of availability of large amount of iron ore in this country which it imports from here," The Times said.

For more, please see "China wants to beef up its India base."

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The Taliban's 'Stubborness' Surprises Some Canadian Soldiers

Les Perreaux of The Canadian Press reported September 4, 2006, that some of the Canadian soldiers that "launched a ground assault" on a Taliban position on September 3, 2006, "expressed surprise at how stubbornly Taliban fighters had defended their ground, near a river valley that cuts a green ribbon through this desert area west of Kandahar city."

"Others noted NATO had given everyone including the enemy a few days of advance notice before starting Operation Medusa in Panjwaii district," Mr. Perreaux reported from Panjwaii, Afghanistan.

I'm surprised that they are surprised. The Taliban are known for their fighting ability. Perhaps they were surprised because they fought hard after being repeatedly bombed by NATO planes. Or was it because they fought along more conventional lines rather than use guerilla-style hit-and-run tactics. 

To read more, please see "Resistance surprises Canadians."

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AP: Mullah Dadullah Issues A Warning To Journalists

An Associated Press correspondent who claims to have spoken by satellite phone to "Mullah Dadullah, Taliban military commander for south and southeastern Afghanistan," reported September 4, 2006 "that the Taliban dispute's "NATO's (North Atlantic Treaty Organization] claims to have killed more than 200 insurgents over the weekend." Mullah Dadullah is quoted as saying:

They are saying that they have killed 200 Taliban but they did not kill even 10 Taliban. They are just destroying civilian homes and agricultural land. They are using the media to do propaganda against the Taliban.
The correspondent said "Dadullah spoke to The Associated Press in a satellite phone call from an undisclosed location. The reporter has spoken to him in the past and recognized his voice."

Mullah Dadullah, according to the correspondent, issued a warning to journalist: "From today, I want to tell journalists that if in future they use wrong information from coalition forces or NATO we will target those journalists and media. We have the Islamic right to kill these journalists and media."

For more, see "Top Taliban military commander dismisses NATO casualty reports, warns journalists."

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Sir Richard Dannatt: Britain's Army 'Just Coping'

The Guardian's Richard Norton-Taylor reported September 4, 2006, that "The new head of the British army has told the Guardian that his soldiers are fighting at the limit of their capacity and can only just cope with the demands placed on them by the government. Sir Richard Dannatt, who took over from Sir Mike Jackson last week, called for a national debate about what resources the armed forces should be given, and what value society should place on them," Mr. Taylor said, adding"

"In his first interview since taking up his post as chief of the general staff, General Dannatt warned: "We are running hot, certainly running hot." He added: "Can we cope? I pause. I say 'just'."

According to the BBC "Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells said he did not think that the British Army was overstretched."

For more of the Mr. Dannatt's candid observations, please see "Britain's new top soldier: 'Can the military cope? I say - just'."

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BBC: 'NATO Troops In Complex Fight' In Afghanistan

"NATO's big victories on the battle field [in Afghanistan] will start to look a little hollow if the Taleban are able to continue to move around at will in the south, striking fear into the local population," asserts Paul Wood, Defense Correspondent for BBC News.

To read more of his September 3, 2006 analysis of NATO's predicament in Afghanistan, see "Nato troops in complex fight."

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Waziristan May Soon Be A Household Word In The U.S.

"The tribal areas bordering Afghanistan's volatile southern and southwestern provinces are once again a focus of the "war on terror" and are likely to soon become as significant to the United States as Afghanistan itself," write's Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times Online's Pakistan bureau chief, in a September 2, 2006, dispatch from Miranshah, North Waziristan.

Mr. Shahzad said, "The Americans are pointing directly at the two Waziristans as the primary conduit for the suicide bombers who are currently playing havoc with the US-NATO-led war machine in Afghanistan, and a safe haven for enemy combatants. The U.S. now has come up with a plan to confront the strategic arm of the Taliban based on the Pakistani side of the border."

To read more of Mr. Shahzad's important analysis, please see "The knife at Pakistan's throat."

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The Fallout From Killing Nawab Akbar Bugti Expected To Worsen

Gulfnews.com correspondent Mujahid Ali, writing from Karachi, Pakistan, in a September 4, 2006 dispatch, says "Pakistani authorities expect more attacks in Balochistan and Sindh by Baloch nationalists spurred by the [August 26, 2006] killing of tribal chief Nawab Akbar Bugti" by Pakistan's military.

Mr. Ali, whose report is based on statements issued by Pakistani officials on September 3, 2006, reported that, "Angry mobs have already set ablaze a number of government buildings in towns and cities in Balochistan in a spate of violence following the killing of Bugti on August 26. But officials say that the worst is still to come."

To learn why they think so, please see "More attacks by Balochistan militants feared.

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Was The Killing Of Nawab Akbar Bugti A Pakistani Blunder?

Journalist Nasim Zehra contends in a September 4, 2006 Arab News article that "The distressing events following Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti’s death on August 26 [2006] have created an environment of acute distrust between the government and the people in Pakistan. Quite apart from one’s political leanings and views about Nawab Bugti, it is the dreadful, almost surreal, developments following the death that are causing concern."

"Nawab Bugti was a controversial politician — charismatic, well read, and occasionally brutal," the writer notes. "While clamoring for Baloch rights from the federal government, Bugti conceded perhaps only minimal rights to those he ruled with an iron hand, a militia and a jail. But now it’s a different story."

To learn why it's "a different story," please see "Anatomy of a Blunder." Also Amin Tarzi's September 2, 1006 article headlined "Afghanistan: Pakistani Tribal Leader's Killing Touches Nerve.

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September 3, 2006

LA Times: GOP Hold On [U.S.] House Shakier'

Los Angeles Times staff writer Janet Hook reported September 3, 2006 that, "As Labor Day signals the start of intense campaigning for the November 7 [2006] election [in the United States], the political landscape is crowded with disgruntled voters like [Raye] Haug [, a retired librarian in northern Virginia, USA], who tell pollsters they don't like the direction the country has taken under President Bush and Republican rule in Congress."

"Most voters are just now beginning to pay attention to the campaign, but candidates and their advisors have been mobilized for months," Ms. Hook notes. "After 12 years of Republican dominance, Democrats have their best shot in years at winning control of Congress — especially the House."

And it has many Republicans worried. To read more of Ms. Hook's analysis, please see "GOP's Hold on House Shakier.

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LRB Debate On 'The Israel Lobby' And U.S. Foreign Policy Set For Sept. 28

Back on March 23, 2006, American political scientists John Mearsheimer, the Wendell Harrison Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, and Stephen Walt, Professor of International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, disregarded a long-standing taboo in American political discourse by discussing the stranglehold Israel's lobby the United States has on U.S. Middle East policy.

Their article, "The Israel Lobby," was published in the London Review of Books and online, which meant that it would  accessible to anyone around the world. The 83-page version of the article can be read under the headline "THE ISRAEL LOBBY AND U.S. FOREIGN POLICY." 

As LRB noted on March 23, "on September 28, 2006, at 7 p.m.," LRB "will host a public debate in the Great Hall, Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, Cooper Square, New York, on the subject."

Anne-Marie Slaughter, "dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the Bert G. Kerstetter '66 University Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University," will moderate the debate, which includes debaters Shlomo Ben-Ami, Martin Indyk, Tony Judt, Rashid Khalidi, John Mearsheimer and Dennis Ross.

As might be expected, the conclusions in the Mearsheimer/Walt article were disputed by commentators and some of Israel's supporters

Nevertheless, the scholars continue to present their argument. See "John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt: pro-Israel Lobby influence over U.S. foreign policy on the recent Israel-Lebanon war."

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September 2, 2006

Is Mahmoud Abbas Too Optimistic About Unity Government?

Nabil Abu Rudeina, "a spokesman for [Palestinian] President Mahmoud Abbas said yesterday [September 2, 2006] that the Palestinian national unity government will be announced within 10 days following weeks of wrangling between his Fatah party and the ruling Hamas movement, reports Arab News correspondent Hisham Abu Taha from Gaza City, Gaza.

To read more, please see "Palestinians to Announce Unity Government in 10 Days: Aide.

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Can Tony Blair Survive The Long Knives?

Is British Prime Minister Tony Blair, often derisively called U.S. President George W. Bush's "poodle" because he walked lockstep with Mr. Bush on the planning, invasion and occupation of Iraq, about to fight the last major political battle of a beleaguered career?

The answer is yes, according to some British newspapers and blogs. The fact that supporters of Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer, want him to set a timetable confirms that he may have to engage in a battle that could leave him even bloodier and the party in such back shape that Mr. Brown will inherit a party debilitated by infighting.

Mr. Blair's spokesman addressed the issue at a "Morning press briefing" on August 29, 2006. A summary reads like this:

Asked if there was any response to Ed Balls' interview regarding the Prime Minister's departure date from No10, the PMS replied that these discussions had all being carried out in the context of a debate about the future of the Labour Party. It would therefore be inappropriate for the PMS to comment on party matters.

Asked if the Prime Minister would remain Prime Minister, the PMS referred the journalist to the Prime Minister's answer to the same question when he was last asked.

According to the BBC, Mr. Blair "has been warned by a top union leader [Tony Woodley, head of the Transport and General Workers Union] not to repeat the mistake of Margaret Thatcher by staying on too long as prime minister." See "Blair 'must heed Thatcher lesson.' On the other hand, the BBC said August 27, 2006, that Charles Leslie Falconer, Baron Falconer of Thoroton, "Lord Falconer, told the BBC that "this is not the time to try to change the leader".

 Interestingly, Francis Elliott, Whitehall Editor for The Independent, says in a September 3, 1006 article that Mr. Blair "will be served notice to quit Downing Street at a meeting of the Cabinet next week when senior ministers plan to confront him over his refusal to commit to a departure timetable."

If the Telegraph.co.uk's September 3, 2006 article headlined "Put up or shut up, Blair's dwindling allies tell Brown" is an indicator, Mr. Blair doesn't seem to have many friends within his own party.

Ned Temko', the  Observer's political writer, calls what is taking place "The final battle. He noted in a September 3, 2006 analysis of the "turmoil gripping the party" that  Mr. Blair is trying " to ensure the nature and timing of his departure."

Labour Watch has been tracking commentary on the issue. Two interesting articles are "Off with his head" and "Even Hain?"

The Mail Online's Benedict Brogan seems disgusted with the whole affair. In a September 1, 2006 article headlined "Here we go. Again, he said, "There was a time when Tony Blair and Labour could put a message together and get it out in one piece, with conviction and clarity. Those days are long gone, and the past 24 hours illustrate just how woeful things have become for Downing Street. So much for the "stable and sensible and orderly" transition he keeps talking about."

Finally, I expected to see backingblair.co.uk come to Mr. Blair's defense. Nothing so far. Nor has The Blair Must Go Party posted anything. Peter Cuthbertson at the excellent Conservative Commentary is also silent, at least at his blog, which isn't updated that often.

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100 Lebanese MPs Protest Israeli Blockade

"About 100 MPs" of the 128-member Lebanese parliament "held an open-ended sit-in in parliament on Saturday [September 2, 2006] to protest Israel's seven-week-old air and sea blockade which should have ended as soon as UN resolution 1701 was adopted and accepted by all," according to Ya Libnan (O Lebanon). See "Lawmakers hold sit-in to protest Israeli blockade."

According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri "urged fellow Arab countries to defy the air and sea blockade by sending boats to Lebanon without seeking authorization from Israel. "

For more, see "Lebanese MPs stage sit-in to protest blockade." Also see

(1) Israel retains Lebanon blockade----Cleveland Jewish News.com (2) Annan: Israel must lift Lebanon blockade----Houston Chronicle

(3) Israel: We won't lift Lebanon blockade----Haaretz. (4) Commentary: Lebanon's economy - the new hostage?----Middle East Times.

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Bush Sends A Former Secretary Of State To Iraq: Why?

Professor Juan Cole at Informed Comment noted September 2, 2006 that Jim Baker is in Baghdad meeting with Sunni leaders and trying to save W.'s [U.S. President George W. Bush] bacon. Al-Zaman says that he is exploring ways of ending the marginalization of some groups (i.e. Sunnis) in the new Iraq," Mr. Cole writes.

Mr. Cole, President of the Global Americana Institute, added:

A key difficulty is this. Sunni marginalization would be lessened if provincial elections were held and more representative provincial governments were brought to power, including in Baghdad. (Provincial elections should have been held by now). On the other hand, the Sadr movement has become so popular in the Shiite south that there is a prospect that it would sweep to power in provinces such as Muthanna, Maysan, Dhi Qar, Wasit, Babil and Qadisiyah. The current provincial administrations in the south are mainly Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and relatively cooperative with the US.
"So," Mr. Cole added, "the US can reduce Sunni marginalization by holding provincial elections soon; but thereby risks that the Mahdi Army will end up controlling most of the South. (SCIRI wouldn't lose everything-- Najaf and Karbala are safe for it)."
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'One Hell Of A Speech'

Besides its roundup of death and mayhem that occurred in Iraq this week, Today in Iraq published what it calls "ONE HELL OF A SPEECH" delivered by Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, Mayor Ross C. "Rocky" Anderson at an anti-war protest rally August 30, 2006. A number of important Bush Administration officials were in the city attending the 88th annual American Legion Convention.

President George W. Bush addressed  attendees on August 31, 2006. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld addressed them on August 29, 2006   Here are Ms. Rice's remarks. Here are  Mr. Rumsfeld's remarks.

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AP: Shiites, Sunnis Engaged in Battle For Baghdad Neighborhoods

Robert F. Reid, an Associated Press correspondent writing from Baghdad, Iraq, said, "Four years ago this was a city where people mixed freely where, in most parts of town, no one cared if a neighborhood was majority Sunni or Shiite. Loyalty to [former Iraqi president] Saddam Hussein was more important than religious identity."

"But now," Mr. Reid reports, "a battle for Baghdad is well under way between the two major Muslim sects. Death squads are slaughtering people daily and an estimated 160,000 Iraqis have fled their homes mostly here in the capital."

For more, please see "

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Bush: U.S. Officials in Iraq Say Country Is Not In A Civil War

During his September 2, 2006 weekly radio address, U.S. President George W. Bush said, among other things:

A vital part of our strategy to defeat the terrorists is to help establish a democratic Iraq, which will be a beacon of liberty in the region and an ally in the global war on terror. The terrorists understand the threat a democratic Iraq poses to their cause, so they've been fighting a bloody campaign of sectarian violence, which they hope will plunge that country into a civil war. Our commanders and diplomats on the ground believe that Iraq has not descended into a civil war. They report that only a small number of Iraqis are engaged in sectarian violence, while the overwhelming majority want peace and a normal life in a unified country.

Mr. Bush said, "America will stand with the Iraqi people as they protect their new freedom -- and build a democracy that can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself."

Here's the White House Transcript of Mr. Bush's address.

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DoD: 'Conditions That Could Lead To Civil War Exist In Iraq'

The "Security Environment" section of Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq, an August 2006, U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) "Report to Congress In accordance with the Department of Defense Appropriations Act 2006 (Section 9010), acknowledges that:

Setbacks in the levels and nature of violence in Iraq affect all other measures of stability, reconstruction, and transition. Sectarian tensions increased over the past quarter, manifested in an increasing number of execution-style killings, kidnappings, and attacks on civilians, and increasing numbers of internally displaced persons.

Sunni and Shi’a extremists, particularly al-Qaeda in Iraq and rogue elements of Jaysh al Mahdi (JAM), are increasingly interlocked in retaliatory violence and are contesting control of ethnically mixed areas to expand their existing areas of influence. Concern about civil war within the Iraqi civilian population and among some defense analysts has increased in recent months.

Conditions that could lead to civil war exist in Iraq. Nevertheless, the current violence is not a civil war, and movement toward civil war can be prevented. Breaking the cycle of violence is the most pressing goal of Coalition and Iraqi operations.

DoD said, "In the current reporting period the average number of weekly attacks increased 15% over the previous reporting period average, and Iraqi casualties increased by 51% compared to the previous quarter. Much of this violence occurred in Baghdad, as terrorists, insurgents, and illegal armed groups recognized and exploited the political and economic significance of conducting operations in the capital city."

"However," DoD added, "the Coalition and the Government of Iraq continued to make progress this quarter, improving the security environment in Fallujah and some parts of northern Iraq. Although sectarian violence threatens the effectiveness of the Government of Iraqi,terrorists have failed to derail Iraq’s political process, or to widen their political support among the Iraqi people. Polling data continue to show the confidence of most segments of the Iraqi people in the Iraqi Army and their rejection of al-Qaeda’s vision of Iraq’s future."

That's about what I'd expect DoD to say given what's at stake.

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Sudan Releases Slovene 'Envoy' Tomar Kriznar

"Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir has issued a decision releasing" Tomo Kriznar, the envoy for President Janez Drnovsek of Slovenia, "from jail, the state-run SUNA reported," the Sudan Tribune revealed September 2, 2006. According to Wikipedia, Mr. Kriznar:

entered the Sudanese Darfur region in February 2006 via the neighboring Chad, with the help of Darfur rebels and without a valid visa.

"He was arrested on 20 July 2006. On 14 August, the criminal court of Al-Fashir in Northern Darfur convicted Križnar of "publishing false news, espionage and entering Sudan without an entry visa" and sentenced him for two years imprisonment and a fine of 500.000 dinars (2.400 USD). His photography equipment and films were confiscated.

The Sudanese are also holding Chicago Tribune Journalist Paul Salopek on alleged espionage charges. President Bashir told Jendayi Frazer, the American Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, last week that "he would look into it as a humanitarian gesture," according to Ms. Frazer

To read why Mr. Kriznar was released, see "Sudan releases Slovene envoy jailed for espionage.

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Sudan Tribune: Sudan To Expel AU Force From Darfur

The Sudan Tribute reported September 2, 2006 that, "Sudan has decided to expel [the] African Union force from the troubled Darfur region" of Sudan. "The decision is taken by Khartoum twenty-four hours after the adoption of a UN resolution on Darfur peacekeeping mission," the publication said.

The Tribune said, "According to London based Asharq Al-Awsat, the Sudanese government has decided to end the AU (African Union) mission in Darfur after the AU approval for UN takeover in Darfur.

"Sudanese president had warned the AU against any support to the UN takeover," the Tribune noted.

To read more, please see "Sudan to expel AU force from Darfur."

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U.S. Envoy John Bolton's Statement on Resolution 1706

In his August 31, 2006,  statement to the United Nation's Security Council during debate on Resolution 1706, which authorizes the deployment of 17,000 military personnel and over 3,000 civilian police under United Nations auspices  to Darfur, Sudan, to keep peace between the government and rebel groups,  John R. Bolton, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said:

It is imperative that we move immediately to implement it fully to stop the tragic events unfolding in Darfur. Every day we delay only adds to the suffering of the Sudanese people and extends the genocide."

"The United States calls on the Government of Sudan to comply fully with Resolution 1706 and cooperate with the UN as we begin the work of implementation. Paragraph 1 of the resolution invites the Government of Sudan to consent to deployment, though nothing in this language requires their consent.

Mr. Bolton added: "We expect their full and unconditional cooperation and support with the new UN peacekeeping force. Failure on the Government of Sudan's part to do so will significantly undermine the Darfur Peace Agreement and prolong the humanitarian crisis in Darfur."

To read the entire statement, please see "Statement on Resolution 1706: Sudan." 

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Jendayi Frazer's August 31, 2006 Briefing On Her Sudan Mission

[Note: On August 30, 2006, Jendayi FrazerU.S. Assistant Secretary for African Affairs and head of the State Department's Bureau of African Affairs, returned to the United States from an important mission to Sudan.  On August 31, 2006, she briefed journalist on the trip. A transcript of the afternoon news conference was released by the U.S. Department of State, and may or may not be 100 percent as given. Links added to provide readers with context and background].

MR. [SEAN] MCCORMACK [U.S. State Department Spokesman] : Good afternoon, everybody. What I would like to do today is start the briefing off with two guest briefers, Assistant Secretary Jendayi Frazer, our Assistant Secretary for African Affairs. She can talk to you a little bit about her recent trip to Sudan. She just returned yesterday [August 30, 2006] to the United States. And then also Assistant Secretary Kristen Silverberg, our Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs, and she can talk to you a little bit about and answer your questions concerning the resolution that was just passed up in New York regarding Sudan.

So without further ado I'll turn it over to them, and then afterwards we can return to any other questions you might have regarding other topics. So I'll turn it over to our two guest briefers.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER [in photo below]: Thank you, Sean. And thank you all for being here. I'm going to brief a little on my trip to Sudan, from which I returned last night. I went to Khartoum to consult with the leadership of Sudan's Government of National Unity on shared goals of ending the Darfur crisis. My specific mission was to consult the Government of National Unity on the UN Security Council resolution and as a result of that consultation we were able to make some small changes in the draft to help address some of the concerns they raised. 

I also passed President Bush's message to President [Omar al] Bashir about the need to end the Darfur crisis, including extending UNMIS's mandate to Darfur, helping to implement the DPA, to protect innocent lives and to help with humanitarian assistance operations.

I also expressed concern that Sudan's military plan for an offensive against the non-signatories, particularly the National Redemption Front, violates the N'djamena ceasefire agreement and the Darfur Peace Agreement and can lead to a further deterioration of the humanitarian situation on the ground, and to really push what many numerous UN Security Council resolutions have said, which is that there can be no military solution to the crisis in Darfur.

Contrary to many news reports, I did meet with Sudanese President Bashir on Tuesday, August 29th. He received me in his home and we had a very cordial meeting. I also had frank and constructive meetings with Sudan's First Vice President Salva Kiir; Foreign Minister Lam Akol, who President Bashir said he will send now to Washington; also former foreign minister and now presidential advisor Mustafa Ismail; presidential advisor and head of the DPA negotiations for the government side Magzoub Khalifa; and senior assistant to the president and the number four in the presidency, Mini Minawi; as well as other humanitarian workers and Government of Sudan SPLM officials. I believe my trip was worthwhile, successful and will help us move towards a final resolution to the crisis in Darfur.

The passage today of the Security Council Resolution 1706, I believe, is the key to stop -- the key step to ultimately ending the crisis in Darfur, and the United States continues to support strengthening the African Union force in Darfur and having those troops become the core of a UN mission in Darfur.

I will now turn over to my colleague Kristen Silverberg, who really shepherded the passage of the UN Security Council resolution. Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY SILVERBERG [in photo below]: Thank you. We're very pleased by the step the Council took today in passing this resolution. We think it lays the groundwork for an effective multilateral intervention in Sudan to help bring an end to the violence. And so we'll now begin the hard work of working with DPKO and with all of our UN partners to begin to  build this force of up to 17,000 military personnel and up to 3,000 civilian police with a substantial African element at the core of the mission. Significant logistical work has already taken place at DPKO and with the passage of the resolution we can begin finalizing those details and begin deployment as soon as possible.

And with that, we're prepared to take questions.

QUESTION: Well, you like the resolution? I mean, you can't -- it's -- You're paralyzed unless Sudan agrees to comply with it.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY SILVERBERG: This resolution --(interrupted) QUESTION: So what's so positive about this?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY SILVERBERG: I don't think that's accurate. This resolution invites Sudanese consent. Nothing requires Sudanese consent. That said, we fully expect and hope that the Government of Sudan, and really all of the parties, will assist in the cooperation of implementation of this agreement. Keep in mind that the resolution includes a Chapter 7 mandate to protect civilians and the significant thing about Chapter 7 is that while it's frequently implemented with the cooperation of the host government, it doesn't require the consent or cooperation of the host government. And so that was an essential U.S. red line in these negotiations. We held firm and we ultimately were able to persuade the Council to adopt the resolution on those terms.

QUESTION: Is there something that the press is not aware of so far as Sudan relenting in its opposition?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY SILVERBERG: Actually, Assistant Secretary Frazer can --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: Sure. I'd like to answer that question as well as the first one. Also in this UN Security Council resolution you will see that it allows for the immediate strengthening of the African Union mission, and that is a point of convergence between the United States and the Government of Sudan. We all agree that the African Union force needs to be strengthened immediately and this is the will and intention of the African Union. And so having a Security Council resolution passed now was essential for that work to start.

It's also important to note that the Government of Sudan, we've had extensive consultations with them since 2005 on this process of getting a peacekeeping mission in Darfur. And the Government of Sudan had said to us repeatedly that the passage of a Darfur Peace Agreement was a necessary condition for them to agree to a peacekeeping operation. That was important. And in fact, on March 10th the AU Peace and Security Council, it notes what we've known, which is that the Sudanese Government had stated that it was prepared to accept the deployment of a UN operation in Darfur after and as part of the conclusion of a peace agreement at the Abuja talks.

And so it was important during my trip to remind the government that it had already taken a position on this issue and had said that it would accept that peacekeeping mission and, you know, welcomed it after the conclusion of the DPA.

QUESTION: Sue Pleming from Reuters. While your mission may have been worthwhile, you didn't achieve the goal of getting President Bashir to accept a UN force. You've said that you're not going to fight your way in, so how are you going to convince him to accept a force? What makes you think that they're going to accept it now when you went there with a message from President Bush and failed to get him to agree to it?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: My mission was as I outlined it, which was to pass President Bush's message to President Bashir, to consult with the government to make them aware that the Security Council resolution was to pass imminently to try to get their input into it, as well as to express the concern that the buildup, the military buildup that was taking place in Darfur, would further undermine the humanitarian situation. So the purpose of my mission was not to get an answer from President Bashir. I was very clear at the outset that I didn't indeed expect him to give me an answer after my meeting, that in fact what we needed as two governments was to continue this consultation. There is not going to be an easy or simple solution to Darfur. What's important is to open lines of communication and clarity of communication, which is why I was asked personally to deliver the message to President Bashir and not to rely on public communication which is often quite distorted; people can't hear what you specifically mean. And so that -- you know, I think that my mission succeeded in what I set out to accomplish.

QUESTION: When is the envoy going to be coming to Washington?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: We would hope that he would come -- President Bashir in his meeting just said that Lam Akol, his Foreign Minister, would be the envoy that he was sending to Washington. He didn't say the time frame. I think, frankly, the Government of Sudan was a bit out of touch with the timeline for the passage of the Security Council resolution. When I went there I explained to them that it was a matter of days that the resolution was going to pass. And I think that actually caught them a bit unawares, but I would expect Lam Akol to comment. You know, I'm going to give him a call today to see if he can come in the next week or so. I think it should be sooner rather than later.

QUESTION: Just a follow-up. Do you still expect -- do you still see October 1 as the deadline for re-hatting the AU forces that are there?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: I believe the Security Council resolution reads -- the language that's there -- is that the -- it asks and requests the Secretary General to begin strengthening the African Union force as soon as possible by assistance from UNMIS and no later than October 1st. And that it would transition to a UN operation on the expiration of the AMIS mission, which that expiration currently is October 1st. But the African Union Peace and Security Council is planning to meet in September. It says -- on the expiration of the AMIS mandate, which is October 1st, but in any event, no later than December 31st, which they may extend it till December 31st.

Yes.

QUESTION: Tom Lane, ABC. The reports are that even as you were meeting with President Bashir the military buildup was already being used to attack villages. What does this say about how Khartoum intends to actually cooperate?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: Well, I think it really is concerning. Not only was the build up taking place but you know that President Bashir had sent a letter to Kofi Annan stating that their preferred option for moving towards implementation of the DPA was to engage militarily against the National Redemption Front. In my consultations with the Government of Sudan officials I heard a plan that included working with Chad. You know that there was a recent accord with Chad to try to end its support of rebels, working with Eritrea to end its military assistance to the National Redemption Front. They were also intending to reach out to those non-signatories who seem to still want peace, that being Abdulwahid's faction of the SLM, which you know has changed the leadership to Mr. Shafi, so reaching out to non-signatories that are still talking about how they can come onboard with the DPA [Darfur Peace Agreement]. But then also militarily attacking the National Redemption Front forces that are unwilling and that continue to attack AU convoys, the civilian population.

What I made clear to them is that the expectation that they could have a discrete attack was very flawed and that they should have learned from the past that that is not possible. And that, in fact, their military build up has led some humanitarian workers and NGOs to start pulling back. It's undermined access of humanitarian -- so just the fact they're mobilizing into Darfur is undermining the humanitarian situation. So I think that the government hasn't yet fully learned the lesson and it's important for us as a world community to put pressure on them, which is also the importance of my going to Sudan at this time. And I think others will follow to say to the government very clearly, not only are you undermining your international obligations but it's counterproductive to what you say the purpose is which is to facilitate the implementation of the DPA.

Yes.

QUESTION: Ms. Frazer, as of this morning, apparently there's reports that -- at the airport when journalists and others are arriving, including NGO workers, that laptops are being seized as well as cell phones. And Jan Egeland has said it's again a bigger humanitarian disaster. Did you make that known to Umar al-Bashir in your talks and apparently the situation is still worsening?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: I didn't on that particular issue of the, you know, seizing of laptops. I brought my own laptop in and no one tried to take it from me. You know, no one -- and you saw my reception. It wasn't, you know, that warm when I first entered the airport. So I wasn't aware of that taking place when I was there. What I did raise with him was the case of Paul, you know, Salopek, who is the Chicago Tribune journalist. I raised that issue with the Foreign Minister as well as the President.

President Bashir basically said that -- my point was he is a journalist; he's not a spy. Because you know he's -- one of the charges is espionage. President Bashir, his basic point was that bottom line, he would look into it as a humanitarian gesture he would look into the case and Foreign Minister Lam Akol also indicated that he felt that if it's already in a justice system, which you know it is, that then the government could look into the case after that process completed itself. And so we did raise the question and I was given some assurances. The Chargé, you know, is working on this case and we're following it. Our Consular Office is meeting and checking on his welfare every single day.

QUESTION: And finally, are you --

MR. MCCORMACK: Two more, Joel. Let’s take two more questions.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. MCCORMACK: You, sir, and then --

QUESTION: Yeah. The clear position of President al-Bashir, as of this moment, he will not accept the multiforces in Sudan and he will fight them and he will lead the fight himself. And the language that I hear from you that some changes have happened, I don't think Bashir will accept it. So it seem like you are talking two languages. Khartoum is talking one language and you are talking one language and the people in the Security Council are talking another language. So can you explain to us?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: This was the importance of him sending his own emissary here to the United States, so that he can talk directly to us, and for my going there. Unfortunately, I was quite stunned by the amount of misinformation in the newspapers, including on my own mission and at the time that I was meeting with President Bashir, it was being reported worldwide that I was on a plane leaving, not having had a meeting. That -- I'm saying that because I don't have confidence anymore about what has been reported as public statements in the newspapers. And so I think it's important for us to hear directly from President Bashir and his envoy here.

It is absolutely the case that the public dialogue has been very heated on this issue of the UN coming in, our multinational forces coming in. What the government said to me very clearly is they welcome any effort to support and to strengthen the African Union forces that are in Darfur. The resolution allows for that to occur. That's very positive. They also were looking for funding mechanisms. They -- in all of my meetings, including with President Bashir, he welcomed and said that he appreciated and they said that they appreciated all of America's assistance in getting the DPA signed as well as all of the humanitarian assistance we have been providing to the people of Darfur, to the people of southern Sudan and to the African Union mission.

Right now they are worried about the next important phase of this, is how would you fund the AU mission if it were to extend itself. And the government of Sudan is looking to the Arab League and to Arab countries to do this, as well as they're saying that they can do it. But at the Brussels Donor Conference, the United States provided $116 million of the $220 million that was raised. No Arab country offered any pledge except for Qatar, which was $6.7 million with they had already pledged in March. And so the private -- the bottom line of what I'm trying to say to you is I've heard the public rhetoric and it's important. That public rhetoric has an impact on policy, and we need that public rhetoric to be toned down. But what I'm most interested in is what we as two governments can do to solve this crisis working multilaterally with the United Nations and the AU to solve the crisis in Darfur. And the Security Council resolution is a key step in that process.

QUESTION: Are you optimistic that ultimately the Sudanese Government will accept without any conditions a UN force augmenting the African Union force and for it to be re-hatted? And if not, do you plan punitive actions because of their refusal to do this?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: I'm very confident that ultimately they will accept the decision of the African Union and the decision of the African Union is that there needs to be a transition from AMIS to a UN mission. And I'm absolutely confident that ultimately the government of Sudan will accept that decision. I think that there needs to be continued consultation. I would think it was very positive the consultation that took place between the two governments despite what was reported, and I'm looking forward to us finding the bridge that can help them to accept the decision of their own organization, the African Union.

QUESTION: One for Assistant Secretary Silverberg. Are you at all disappointed by the Russian abstention on this resolution? Were you expecting it? And what does it bode for the coming action on Iran?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY SILVERBERG: We would have liked Russian and Chinese and Qatari support, affirmative support for the resolution. We think their abstention was hard to explain in light of their previous endorsements of the concept of an expanded UN operation. We think it's inexplicable in light of the very grave and serious and deteriorating security situation. So we would have liked affirmative support. But the important thing is that the Council acted and acted definitively, and now we can move forward in getting the peacekeeping troops deployed. Thank you.

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September 1, 2006

Has Sudan Launched A Major Offensive In Darfur?

"The Sudanese government has launched a major offensive against [National Redemption Front (NRF) ] rebels in war-torn Darfur in recent days, human rights activists and African Union officials said Friday [September 1, 2006], according to a report in the September 2, 2006 edition of the Sudan Tribune. Various news outlets around the world are reporting the same.

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) reported September 1, 2006, that, "Sudanese government forces have recaptured the rebel-held town of Um Sidir near El Fasher, capital of North Darfur State."

IRIN quotes an unnamed rebel  source in Darfur as saying:

Six days ago, a bombing campaign started in the area north of El Fasher that lasted a couple of days. It seems to have been an attempt to soften up resistance in the area and to allow government troops to move in.

For the Tribune report, based partly on Associated Press dispatches, see "Sudan launches major offensive against Darfur rebels."

Here Are Related Links

CHRONOLOGY-Darfur conflict, peace efforts--Reuters

Sudan SPLM wants to avoid confrontation over Darfur--Sudan Tribune

Sudan’s Salva Kiir meets Darfur SLM leader in Asmara--Sudan Tribune

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Bush Announces Plan To Make National Sales Calls About Iraq

During his August 31, 2006 address to 88th American Legion National Convention in
Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, George W. Bush, the American President, said, among other things:

In the coming days, I'll deliver a series of speeches describing the nature of our enemy in the war on terror, the insights we've gained about their aims and ambitions, the successes and setbacks we've experienced, and our strategy to prevail in this long war. Today, I'll discuss a critical aspect of this war: the struggle between freedom and terror in the Middle East, including the battle in Iraq, which is the central front in our fight against terrorism.
Mr. Bush continues to act as if his actions didn't cause the violence in Iraq. It should be obvious to him by now that he couldn't invade a country, overthrow its goverment and attempt to impose his will on it without violent resistance. No amount of name calling will change that.

To read Mr. Bush's entire speech, please see the White House transcipt headlined "President Bush Addresses American Legion National Convention.

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How Right-Wing Press Got Bush To Call Muslim Foes Fascists

Inter Press Service's Jim Lobe provides insightful analysis of "The aggressive new campaign by the administration of President George W Bush to depict US foes in the Middle East as "fascists" and its domestic critics as "appeasers.""

Mr. Lobe said the campaign "owes a great deal to steadily intensifying efforts by the right-wing press over the past several months to draw the same comparison."

For more, please see "Fascism" Frame Set Up by Right-Wing Press."

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