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Supplement, 23-29/9/01 (1)

Jihad against Œterrorism¹ (1)

At the beginning of my screed last week against the American jihad I put in
a paragraph evoking the possibility that, under all the noise, a more
cautious and reasonable policy might be evolving. To my great surprise, this
speculation is still holding good. Of course, anything might happen at any
moment but, at the time of writing, it looks as though the Powell wing in
the US government is gaining the upper hand and that G.W.Bush is getting a
better understanding of the complexities of the world. It even looks as
though Mr Blair¹s alliance building has been useful since, as the
fundamentalist terrorist faction of the US press often point out, allies
have a way of limiting your freedom of action.

The resulting disarray in these circles is reflected in some of the articles
below. Which, I admit, is a pretty poor selection. Those wanting to compile
a serious archive on recent events would be better just gathering together
the excellent articles Robert Fisk has been producing for the Independent.

I have not covered the most important matter ­ the famine in Afghanistan and
the withdrawal of the aid agencies. I record the fact that the government
seem to be aware of the problem.


*  Toppling Taliban should not be a war aim [extract from editorial by Max
Hastings in the Evening Standard advocating caution]
*  Isolating the Isolationists [Russian view arguing in favour of a broad
*  The War: A Road Map [Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post
(extracts). 1. Destroy Afghanistan. 2. Terrorise Syria. 3. Destroy Iran and
Iraq. ŒThe war on terrorism will conclude in Baghdad.¹ Paper, as Stalin once
remarked, will bear anything one chooses to put on it.]
*  Powell is calling it wrong once again [Apoplectic attack on Powell. We
get a mention too as Œthe West's peacenik boobs¹ lining up Œto denounce the
Americans for systematically starving Iraqi children¹.
*  Tense times in the bunker [Contradictions in US policy and more
discontent with Powell]


*  A trap? [Possible unfortunate consequences for the US of it war against
terrorism. From a Yemeni point of view]
*  Massive Arrest Campaign Against Arab-Afghans [in the Yemen]
*  Arabs reluctant to join war [Arab League General Secretary: "Clearly, we
would never accept a strike against an Arab country, no matter what the
*  Blow to US hopes for backing from key border countries [Pakistan worried
about US support for the Afghan Northern Alliance]
*  Why China is taking America's side [This and the following, two
interesting articles from the Asia Times on the implications for China]
*  China, US, and the future of Pakistan
*  Baharain opposes terrorism [but also strongly opposes any attack on Iraq]
*  Venezuela's Chavez defends ties with Iraq, Libya ["So if Chavez is a
friend of this country, and a partner of that one, which is the same as the
other, then Chavez ends up being a terrorist too ... Osama bin Chaven!"]
*  Set the Saudis straight [Tough talkin¹ from the New York Post outlining
many ways in which the Saudis have been misbehaving themselves]
*  Turkey signs up, but fears Iraq is next US target

*  Text of Saudi kingdom's announcement [on co-operation with the United
Times of India, 24th September

AND, IN SUPPLEMENT, 23-29/9/01 (2)


*  Century of biological and chemical weapons [General account from the BBC
of the history of these weapons]
*  Disposal of Chemical Arms in U.S. Lags as Costs Mount [Amazing story of
the US army¹s problems in disposing of 31,496 tons of chemical weapons at an
estimated cost of $24 billion]
*  Get educated [Bibliography of books on Osama bin Laden, Central Asia,
terrorism, fundamentalism]


by Max Hasting
London Evening Standard, 26th September


As Jeremy Campbell discusses elsewhere on our news pages today, all the
signs coming out of Washington suggest that the Bush Administration is
narrowing its war aims rather than widening them. It is possible, of course,
that air strikes will so weaken the Taliban's control that it becomes
possible for the rebel forces of the Northern Alliance - heavily rearmed
from Aghanistan's northern neighbours - to gain power. If this happens, it
may prove to the benefit of the hapless people under Kabul's control, but it
seems rash to count on such an outcome, or to make it a declared objective.

And given the disastrous history of full-scale foreign ground invasions of
Afghanistan, it would be folly to go that route today. It is almost
certainly because the Bush Administration has already made the same
judgement that there are no signs of heavy armoured and infantry units being
moved to the region, which would be essential for any sustained land


Moscow Times, 27th September (from Los Angeles Times)

President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell are doing an
extraordinarily able job of putting together an international anti-terror
coalition. A viable and effective coalition is essential for a number of
reasons. It would allow the administration to avoid the impression that the
United States is conducting a lone crusade against Islam. It would also
allow the U.S. and its allies to coordinate their efforts, from keeping tabs
on suspected terrorists to tracking the movement of money.

But some important figures inside the Bush administration such as Deputy
Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz are challenging this policy.
Restlessness is growing among those who want full support for the rebel
Iraqi National Congress and an all-out assault on Iraq because they believe
that Baghdad was tied to the Sept. 11 attacks and that Saddam Hussein poses
a mortal danger to U.S. interests.

For many American conservatives, Powell is excessively cautious in the use
of military power and too deferential to European and Middle Eastern
countries. As this thinking goes, the United States risks losing the battle
by taking the time needed to construct a coalition and by refraining from an
immediate effort to drive Hussein out of power; allies can only impede the
United States. This counterproductive, go-it-alone notion is the one that
initially animated Bush's foreign policy.

Powell is most likely to avoid a quick leap to military solutions. He may
have gone too far in the first Bush administration with his reservations,
but this time caution is necessary.

The second Bush administration is fortunate that it did not have more time
to pursue its unilateralist foreign policy, which almost wrecked relations
with its European allies. Until the terrorist attacks, Powell was largely
relegated to the sidelines. Now Washington has been forced to rely on the
allies it once disdained, and Powell has made a comeback.

Nevertheless, the coalition is not an end in itself. The United States will
need to lead the coalition, not be led by it. Powell's habitual caution
about intervention abroad, rooted in a fear of repeating Vietnam, might
allow his reluctance to intervene in Iraq to extend to attacking the Taliban
directly. As the Taliban continues to shield Osama bin Laden, it becomes
increasingly difficult to argue that the two can be separated. Smashing the
bin Laden network will require toppling the Taliban. But intervening now in
Iraq would crack up the international coalition before it has been built.
Immediate intervention there wouldn't isolate terrorists. It would isolate
the United States.

by Charles Krauthammer
Washington Post, 28th September

Yes, we need to get Osama bin Laden. Yes, we need to bring down the
terrorist networks. But the overriding aim of the war on terrorism is
changing regimes. And it starts with the Taliban.

Searching Afghan caves for bin Laden is precisely the trap he would wish us
to fall into. Terrorists cannot operate without the succor and protection of
governments. The planet is divided into countries. Unless terrorists want to
camp in Antarctica, they must live in sovereign states. The objective of
this war must be to make it impossible or intolerable for any state to
harbor, protect or aid and abet terrorists. The point is not to swat every
mosquito but to drain the swamp.

The war begins in Afghanistan. The first objective must be to destroy the
Taliban regime. Indeed, to make an example of the Taliban, to show the world
-- and especially regimes engaged in terrorism -- that President Bush was
serious when he told the nation that we make no distinction between the
terrorists and the governments that harbor them. The take home lesson must
be: Harbor terrorists -- and your regime dies.

Remember the context. Radical Islam is riding a wave of victories: The
bombing of the Marine barracks in 1983 that drove the United States out of
Lebanon; the killing of 18 American soldiers in Mogadishu in 1993 that drove
the United States out of Somalia; and, in between, the war that drove the
other superpower, the Soviet Union, out of Afghanistan.

And now Sept. 11, which sent America into shock and leaves it deep in fear.
Victory breeds victory. The terrorists feel invincible, and those sitting on
the fence in the region are waiting to see whether they really are.
Overthrowing the Taliban would reverse the historical tide and profoundly
affect the psychological balance of power.

This step is so obvious and necessary that it is deeply troubling to see the
secretary of state begin to wobble. If the Taliban give up bin Laden and al
Qaeda (his terrorist network), said Powell on Tuesday, "we wouldn't be
worrying about whether they are the regime in power or not." He then offered
carrots ("significant benefits . . . a better relationship with the West")
and even hinted at American aid.

Carrots? Aid? After Sept. 11? The Taliban share responsibility for the worst
mass murder in American history. For that they must be made to pay, or what
meaning is there to the president's pledge that "justice will be done"?

If the administration goes wobbly on the Taliban, it might as well give up
the war on terrorism before it starts. The Taliban are dripping blood. They
are totally isolated. They are militarily vulnerable. On the ground they
face a fierce armed opposition, the Northern Alliance, that is ready and
eager to take Kabul. With our support, it could.


A logical stage two is Syria. It harbors a myriad of terrorist groups, but
the regime is as rational as it is cynical. Syria has no ideological or
religious affinity with the terrorists it supports. It uses them to advance
geopolitical aims. It can therefore be persuaded to abandon them.

We know this. For years, Damascus harbored Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of
the PKK (Kurdish Workers' Party), which was fighting the government in
Turkey. Turkey repeatedly demanded that Syria turn him over. Syria refused.
Until October 1998, when Turkey massed troops on its Syrian border,
threatening military action. Ocalan was shortly expelled from Damascus. He
now sits in a Turkish jail.

Syria is terrorist. But Syria is pliable. It is a low-hanging fruit. After
Afghanistan, we turn to Damascus. What then?

Stage three is Iraq and Iran, obviously the most difficult and dangerous.
Which is why it would be foolish to take them on right away. Changing
regimes in Kabul and changing policy in Damascus, however, would already
have radically changed the regional dynamic by demonstrating American power
in a region where power, above all, commands respect.

In Iran, where the conservative clerics are unpopular and a large
Westernized middle class is already straining for a free society, change
might come from within. In Iraq, although Saddam is detested, internal
revolt is less likely. Saddam will make his stand and we will have to
confront the most dangerous terrorist regime in the world. The war on
terrorism will conclude in Baghdad.


National Post, Toronto, 27th September


But six years on, Arafat's waging a new intifada; the UN inspectors have
been kicked out; the coalition Powell prized above all else has dribbled
away to the U.S. and Britain, the last enforcers of Iraq's no-fly zone;
France and the other "allies" have figured that, if Washington hasn't the
guts to take him out, they'd like to get back to business as usual with
Saddam. And, worst of all, 10 years of economic sanctions have given the old
butcher a grand propaganda coup, as the West's peacenik boobs line up to
denounce the Americans for systematically starving Iraqi children. It should
be said they're not. Saddam's personal fortune is estimated at US$7-billion.
(Who knew a career in Iraqi public service could be so rewarding?) If
there'd been no sanctions, the kids would still be starving and his personal
fortune would now be up to $10-billion. But sanctions have enabled him to
portray Washington as the source of his people's woes, and there'll always
be a big audience for that in the West. The net result of Powell's
"moderation" has been to tarnish the morality of our cause.

True, there are no Tony Blairs or Al Gores waiting in the wings in Baghdad.
The only way you could make Iraq democratic would be through colonial
occupation, and, as we know from UN conferences, colonialism is A Very Bad
Thing. So realistically the best we could hope for in a post-Saddam Iraq is
a thug who's marginally less bloody. But a new thug is still better than
letting the old thug stick around to cock snooks at you. If Saddam had been
toppled, the new nut would have come to power in the shadow of the
cautionary tale of his predecessor.

Powell's famous restraint has now come back to haunt if not him then his
countrymen. There are strong circumstantial links between Saddam and Osama
bin Laden, from the 1993 World Trade Center bombing through to Saddam's
support for one of Osama's subsidiaries, Jund al Islam ("Soldiers of
Islam"). But Powell, like Lloyd Webber, sees no reason to change his tune.
He wants no targeting of Iraq, or the Taleban, just a small-scale response
against Osama. Last week, when asked about Deputy Defence Secretary Paul
Wolfowitz's call to "end" states that sponsor terrorism, Powell slapped down
his colleague and said Wolfowitz speaks only for himself. By Thursday night,
it seemed it was Powell who spoke only for himself. Step by step, the
President calmly broadened his target from the perpetrators to their support
structures to the regimes that provide cover for them. But on Sunday, though
Bush had devoted a big chunk of his speech to Talebanic arcana ("A man can
be jailed in Afghanistan if his beard is not long enough"), there was Powell
all over the morning gabfests insisting that the Administration had no plans
to dislodge the regime and, come to that, had no strong views on these
fellows one way or the other. He seemed to regard the President as he does
Wolfowitz, as a junior colleague apt to wander off-message, an impression
reinforced by their joint press conference at which Powell observed none of
the usual courtesies ("As the President has said," etc.) but instead acted
as if he were pretty much running things solo.

[.....] FEATURES  

The Age, 29th September

Colin Powell once referred to then-defence secretary Dick Cheney's staff as
"right-wing nutters". He was talking about Paul Wolfowitz, then a key
planner at the Pentagon and now the Deputy Defence Secretary.

Wolfowitz, an intellectual foreign policy specialist, was asked this year
why he took the job, normally a dull managerial position. He is said to have
given a one-word answer: Powell. (Wolfowitz denies the story.)

The confusion over the administration's plans to fight its war on terrorism
was obvious this week and can be neatly summarised as Powell v. Wolfowitz.
The urbane, multilateralist Powell, anxiously guarding his international
coalition of nations to fight terrorism, versus the workaholic Wolfowitz,
who says he wants to destroy states that sponsor terrorism, particularly
America's old nemesis, Iraq.

The administration says its strategy to conquer terrorism is evolving. It
evolved all week.

Was there any evidence linking suspect Osama bin Laden to the terrorist
attacks on September 11? Yes, but that evidence would, then would not, be
publicly released. Was the removal of the Taliban regime, which has harbored
bin Laden in Afghanistan, a clear goal of any military action? advertisement

Yes, President GeorgeW.Bush implied last week. No, administration officials
said this week, although it would be good if internal divisions within the
Taliban caused its collapse.

Would Iraq and other states be targets of the terrorism assault? No, argues
Powell. Yes, yes, yes, say the conservatives in the administration and
leading figures in the Republican Party.

Powell, the lone moderate in the cabinet before the terrorist attacks, so
far is the dominant voice, say analysts and those close to the
administration. President Bush is on his side, so is National Security
Adviser Condoleezza Rice. So, for now, is Vice-{President Cheney.

At least in the first phase of the response to the terrorist attacks,
military strikes will be limited to destroying airfields and military
installations in Afghanistan, to allow for special forces to undertake
commando-style raids on bin Laden's hideouts. That is, if intelligence
sources - particularly from neighboring Pakistan, which has strong ties to
the Taliban - can find bin Laden.

The dissenting voices are growing louder. Frank Gaffney, the assistant
secretary of defence for international security policy in the Reagan
administration, was one of 41 conservatives who wrote to Bush last week
urging a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq or
risk a decisive surrender in the war on terrorism.

Gaffney still has faith that Bush meant it when he said in his address to
Congress last week that "from this day forward, any nation that continues to
harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a
hostile regime". But he is beginning to have doubts.

"I don't trust Powell's judgement," he says. And what of Powell's argument
that to overthrow the Taliban, and especially to bomb Baghdad, would kill
too many innocent civilians, enrage the Arab world and risk extremist
Islamic uprisings in states such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia? "That is
wildly overrated," says Gaffney.

"This is a region that respects power, and it's always in a state of
convulsion anyway. If we actually succeed in bringing down one or more of
the governments, that would have a very therapeutic effect on others in the

Gaffney's voice is not unique. The administration so far has been praised
for its restrained response to the attacks in New York and Washington, when
almost 7000 people died.

But the apparent swings in position this week reflected the struggles within
Bush's war cabinet about what is the best response. They also reflect
arguments and tensions between key personalities that go back at least a
decade to the Gulf War, magnified during this crisis.

Powell said last Sunday that the administration would publicly release
evidence linking the attacks with bin Laden - as Arab states such as Egypt
had insisted on this as a condition for their full support. "I think in the
near future, we will be able to put out a paper, a document, that will
describe quite clearly the evidence," Powell said.

The next day, Bush, standing next to Powell, appeared to back away from the
commitment. "We will not make the war more difficult to win by publicly
disclosing classified information," he said. Powell said some non-classified
information might be released, but most of it was classified.

The reason for the change of heart? According to a senior British diplomat
in Washington closely involved with the planned response to terrorism, it
was about more than the fear of placing sources at risk. One factor was that
administration hard-liners, including Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld
and Wolfowitz, didn't want documents released because, for now, there was no
evidence that Iraq was involved in the attacks.

The mixed messages are equally apparent domestically. Bush yesterday urged
Americans to "Get on the airlines! Get about the business of America!" on
the same day as he authorised the shooting down of commercial planes which
threatened American cities.

All of which led The New York Times to ask yesterday: "Issue now: Does the
US have a plan?"

People in Washington who usually have a pretty clear notion of what the
government is up to - including senators, senior diplomats and national
security specialists - express doubts. Perhaps, several said in recent days,
the seeming confusion is all part of a design to keep the enemy in the dark,
but perhaps it is something else.

The something else includes the complexities of the Central Asian region and
Powell's fragile coalition. The something else also includes the
personalities of Bush's war cabinet.



*  A TRAP?
Yemen Times, 24th September


Hence, the retaliation could indeed be a trap for President Bush because of
three negative consequences that could emerge from this war. One is the
possible defeat in the war, i.e., if the USA fails to bring Osama bin Laden
to justice, which if even considered alone could be a nightmare for the USA
and its intelligent offices. The second is the possible negative reactions
of Arab and Islamic countries to the war because of pressure exerted by the
public, which could understand that this war is only a war against Islam.
This could force some leaders to divert from their supporting tone to the
USA and possibly come against it. The third, and which is also a severe
consequence, is the possible killing of innocent civilians leading to mass
immigrations that could become a humanitarian disaster. The third
consequence will have great influence on the third world countries, which
will feel that the USA is using its might to destroy and punish the
civilians of the weakest countries of the world. This image of the USA could
reflect itself unintentionally in an evil manner. Not only could the USA be
the enemy of the developing world, but equally, Osama bin Laden could rise
to be the hero of the third world.


Yermen Times, 24th-30th Sept

The Yemeni security authorities have launched a massive arrest campaign, at
the request of Washington, against the Islamic groups in Yemen with the view
of getting information on their relations with the Arab Afghans or any
extremist Islamic groups.

A senior official source told the Yemen Times that the Yemeni authorities
had detained dozens of people at the beginning of this week after suspecting
that they might have relations with Osama bin Laden, accused by Washington
to be the prime suspect of the terrorist attacks carried out in New York and
Washington on September 11, 2001.

On the other hand, Yemen has taken precautionary security measures at the
request of the USA, which called on it to cooperate in investigating the
attacks by detaining dozens of people and closely monitoring persons coming
from or going to Afghanistan.

An officer of the Yemeni police confirmed that the Yemeni authorities have
started, since the beginning of last week, enforcing strict measures at
Yemeni airports, sea and land outlets, adding that firm instructions have
been given to them to arrest any person suspected.

The same source, who requested anonymity, further added that these measures
came within a campaign to enhance the state of security in the country by
fighting terrorism within the context of the policies Yemen has been
adopting for combating terrorism, indicating that the Yemeni authorities
carried out a campaign against the so-called Arab-Afghans. Within the same
context the source said that Yemen has deported more than 14,000 people who
illegally entered the country. "The campaign included the deportation of
thousands of Arabs from Egypt, Algeria, Sudan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and
Jordan," the source said. Similarly, the Yemeni militants who fought in
Afghanistan were reintegrated and everyone suspected of taking part in any
bombing incidents were tracked down. The source particularly mentioned the
so-called Islamic Aden-Abyan Army, headed by Abubakar al-Mihthar, which held
captive a group of 16 tourists on December, 1998, leading to the murderof 4
tourists and the arrest of the group's members after the intervention of the
security forces. Al-Mihthar was executed on October, 2000 following his
trial in Sana'a.

It is obvious that the Yemeni authorities are not concerned about carrying
out of any military attack against it by the US within the latter's campaign
against terrorism.

Abu Bakar al-Qirbi, Yemen Foreign Minister, in a press conference ruled out
the possibility of carrying out any attack against Yemen. Al-Qirbi noted
that Yemen is far from any accusations or suspicions, adding that the
Americans are surprised with the news reporting such attacks. In the
meanwhile, eight Yemeni opposition parties expressed their deep regret about
the attacks carried out against the US, and at the same time, condemned any
global alliance that does not rely on a clear definition of terrorism. The
Yemeni Socialist Part and the Islah Party called for differentiating between
the terrorism of individuals, groups and states, and the struggle of nations
against oppression and occupation. The Yemeni opposition parties called on
the US to adhere to international laws, respect human rights, and not to
adopt a double standard in tackling international issues, adding that the
standing of the US can not be achieved by depending merely on arms.

Daily Star (Bangla Desh), 25th September

AFP, Cairo: Arab countries are increasingly reticent about joining the US
coalition against terrorism, fearing its goals are murky and will ignore the
festering sore of the Palestinian Israeli conflict.

>From Egypt to the Gulf monarchies, Arab leaders are becoming increasingly
critical of US pressure to join the effort amid as Arab public opinion
blames US policies in the Middle East for provoking the attacks on September

During a visit Sunday to Jordan, Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa
renewed warnings to the United States about the type of military response it

"Clearly, we would never accept a strike against an Arab country, no matter
what the circumstances," he said.

And he called for a review of the 11-year-old sanctions on Iraq, echoing
Arab reservations about joining a coalition with ill-defined goals which
could allow the United States to strike the targets it likes, particularly

On Friday, Mussa had already set limits to Arab participation, saying Arab
states could not join an anti-terrorist alliance that included Israel.

Mussa also said Sunday that the Arabs were enraged over the plight of the
Palestinians and appealed for a remedy for the Israeli-Palestinian problem.,3604,558854,00.html

by Rory McCarthy in Islamabad
The Guardian, 27th September

Cracks were appearing last night in Pakistan's support for the US as doubts
mounted over plans to use Afghanistan's opposition forces to overthrow the
Taliban regime.

Islamabad's concern is that Washington plans to replace the Taliban with
leaders drawn from the ethnic minorities in the opposition Northern
Alliance. Pakistan regards the alliance as an enemy and ally of India, its
long-time rival on the subcontinent.

"I think Pakistan would be very upset if the Taliban regime falls and then
the government that comes into power is dominated by the Northern Alliance,"
said Talat Masood, a retired general and close friend of Gen Pervez
Musharraf, Pakistan's military leader. On Tuesday Pakistan's foreign
minister, Abdul Sattar, warned the Americans against "trying to foist a
government" on Afghanistan.

Western military analysts are convinced Pakistan's powerful military
intelligence agency has provided money and military advice to the Taliban
over the past seven years.

Although US and Pakistani military officials in Islamabad last night reached
a broad agreement on logistics support for an attack on Afghanistan, the
relationship appears to be weakening. "Things from the US side on the
diplomatic front are not moving the way we initially expected," a senior
Pakistani official said.

Islamabad is concerned that Washington is not seeking UN approval for a
military operation and has only limited support from the Muslim world.
Military sources in Islamabad say Pakistan has agreed to open its airspace
to US fighters but is much more reluctant to allow US troops to be stationed
here. Permission is likely to be given for only aircraft maintenance crews
to stay on Pakistani soil.

by Francesco Sisci
Asia Times, 26th September


Professor Zhang Xiaodong, secretary general of the Society for Middle East
Studies, and author of a very comprehensive, recent work on Afghanistan,
argues that US encroachment in Central Asia creates unprecedented pressure
on China. American intervention in Afghanistan will draw Pakistan more into
the American orbit, and the US could station troops there or leave behind
military structures that could be used by its forces at short notice. China
in this way may lose out, or at least see the dilution of its influence on a
traditional ally by which it has stood for about 50 years.

It is clear that the key to controlling Afghanistan is to have influence in
Pakistan, and the US is already working on that. Furthermore, the US might
gain control of Afghanistan and, from there, radiate its power to former
Soviet Central Asian republics, and thus in future push at will the touchy
Chinese issues of Xinjiang independence or Islamic self-determination. It
could turn out to be a very awkward predicament for China, caught in the
vice of Japan and Taiwan in the east, both firmly in the American camp, and
Afghanistan to the west.

Yet China cannot really deflect American intervention in Afghanistan.
Suggesting an alternative intervention in Iraq, as some Chinese circles have
been, won't address the issue. Clearly, the terrorist threat stems from the
existence of some geopolitical black holes where terrorism can be prepared
and planned. Afghanistan is in this sense out of control, with a largely
unchecked border with Pakistan over which terrorists and resources can flow.
The activism of its Taliban destabilizes a number of bordering countries and
thwarts the development of a land route between the east and west parts of

Conversely Iraq, although still troublesome, is largely under control. Its
borders are relatively in check, it is removed from the strategic central
Asian plains, and it is safely cordoned by countries which are not subject
to Baghdad's influence. In the past 10 years, a new, delicate balance of
power has been reached in the area. To hit Iraq would tip this balance
without solving the Central Asian headache.

Thus, US intervention in Afghanistan is unstoppable. In this situation,
according to Zhang, China's options are either to stand by passively as the
US acts, or to take an active stand. The first option has no positives. It
would strengthen the US presence on China's doorstep without winning any
gratitude from the US; on the contrary, the US would remember China's lack
of active involvement in Afghanistan. China would not even gain credit from
the Muslim world.

On the other hand, taking an active role in Afghanistan has many positive
consequences. It would extend Chinese influence in Central Asia and thus
balance the American extension in the region; it would win gratitude from
the US, and in the process a new confidence could be built between the two
countries. All these benefits would play in Beijing's favor on the Taiwan or
Xinjiang issues. Even without any specific agreement on a quid pro quo, it
is clear that a China-US rapprochement would undermine the forces in favor
of Taiwan's independence and hasten the process of dialogue for
re-unification. In other words, China's active role in Afghanistan would
solve problems to its east and west.

The drawback of the the second option is that China doesn't want to become a
primary target of terrorism and doesn't want to spoil her ties with the Arab
world. Without the global clout that the US possesses, China needs a stable
relationship with the Middle East, on which it will grow more reliant for
oil imports in future years. Despite official statements, public opinion in
many Arab countries is concerned, if not utterly against, American
intervention. Beijing doesn't want to antagonize those Arabs, and is afraid
that despite supporting the US in Afghanistan, Washington could turn against
China whenever it wishes.

However, there is ample space for maneuver. On the American side, the
reality of terrorist threats compels a two-pronged strategy: eliminate the
geopolitical black holes like Afghanistan, and work on solving large
political disputes - like the Palestinian question - that may foster
terrorist ideas. On both fronts, the US can't act without China. The issue
goes beyond the actual bombing of the notorious Osama bin Laden, or war
against the fundamentalist government in Kabul. The issue is to eliminate
Afghanistan as a source of instability in Eurasia and bring it back onto a
track of development. This needs a long term program.

by Francesco Sisci
Asia Times, 27th September

BEIJING - In the short term, the US has to rely on Pakistan to provide
logistic assistance for a strike on Afghanistan, and to provide intelligence
on how to strike effectively.

Here, China's role can be unique. Beijing has a 50-year-old friendship with
Islamabad, and bilateral relations are so good that China occupies part of
the disputed Kashmiri region on lease from Pakistan. China is the single
most influential country in Pakistan, and the US has accused Beijing of
having provided the support that enabled Islamabad to explode its nuclear
devices in 1998.

With China in favor of a US strike, the internal Pakistani dispute over the
issue can be convincingly presented as necessary to forestall possible
Indian intervention, as Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf said
this month.

If China were against the US strike, Pakistan could be split asunder.
Musharraf may not find enough consensus to side with the US; then the US,
determined to respond to the September 11 attacks, would side more with
India, enhancing the possibility of confrontation with Pakistan.
Immediately, a stronger US-India tie could increase the possibility of
all-out war not against a backward state like Afghanistan, but against
Pakistan, a 170-million-strong, nuclear armed country. The chances of a
nuclear war, with millions of victims, would immediately be much higher, and
a war not against terrorism but against Islam would become more likely.

These very broad considerations are behind an appeal in the International
Herald Tribune on September 21 by two former senior American officials,
James E Goodby and Kenneth Weisbrode. They advocated a recast of US-China
relations by correcting "the implications of what [Bush's] administration
has done to portray China as the successor to the Soviet Union as the chief
global adversary of America".

"For too long we have been told that China is a strategic competitor
determined to counter US interests in the Asia-Pacific in order to advance
its own regional, or even global, ambitions. In the light of more pressing
threats to US security, this view appears exaggerated and unproductive. It
is now clear that we need a China that opposes terrorism and supports
stability both in Asia and elsewhere, not a China that sees itself as the
target of a US technological and military build-up."

A new friendship between China and the US, in conjunction with China's
accession to the World Trade Organization, could open the floodgates of
foreign investment to China next year. Billions could flow in, thanks to the
new legal guarantees provided by WTO clauses and the new political
predictability afforded by a pact with the US.


by Latheef Farook
Gulf News, 28th September

Information Minister Nabeel Al Hamer has said the US military presence in
Bahrain is solely of a "logistical and administrative nature" and so far the
US has not requested extra military assistance from Bahrain.

He also warned that public opinion in the entire Gulf region would not
tolerate an attack on Iraq as predicted by Baghdad.

He pointed out that Bahrain and its GCC partners are opposed to terrorism.
But they would not allow the use of their bases as springboards for attacks
on any country.

He said Bahrain grants U.S. facilities within the framework of the defence
agreement between the two countries.

"Bahrain's policy is that no (U.S.) warplane will fly from its  territory to
bomb any friend or brotherly state. We keep an eye on public opinion in the
region and there are people who support the American (plan to) strike at
places that host terrorists camps and others who oppose it," Al Hamer said.

He added that the "U.S. was aware of the Gulf states' position and had not
sought their active participation in the impending offensive. In any case,
Americans do not need Bahrain as a launching pad."

He said while Bahrain backs any effort to combat terrorism, the targets of
any military offensive should be clearly defined.

"A country that harbours terrorists must bear the consequences," he said.

On the speculated U.S. attack on Iraq, Nabeel Al Hamer said he doesn't
expect a military offensive against Afghanistan to be expanded to include

Warning that public opinion in the Gulf would not tolerate the targeting of
Iraq he pointed out that "there is no proof of Iraq's involvement in the
(anti-U.S.) attacks. Punishing Iraq for something in which it is not
implicated would be unacceptable.

On whether the U.S. would attack Arab countries such as  Yemen because of
the alleged presence of some organisations accused of links to Osama bin
Laden, Al Hamer said: "I don't know. But I think that in the present
circumstance, the offensive will be directed at Afghanistan and bin Laden."

He also explained that a U.S. strike against an Arab country would trigger
reactions that would not be in the interest of international cooperation in
the fight against terrorism."

On whether he expected Washington to respond to a call  from Gulf and other
Arab governments to fight the state terrorism they say Israel practices
against the Palestinians, Al Hamer said: "The U.S. has been putting pressure
on the Jewish state in recent days. But this could well be a manoeuvre aimed
at enlisting Arab support for the anti-terror coalition the U.S. is trying
to build."

He said even the American on the street has started wondering why terrorism
is targeting Americans. The U.S. support to Israel has left U.S. without
friends on the "Arab street and we must look for the causes of terrorism and
tackle the reasons that led to the emergence of these terrorist groups."

Bahrain has been reiterating its position and even the Foreign Minister
Sheikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Khalifa stated earlier that the Bahrain
government has not received a request from the U.S. nor has it agreed for
the use of U.S. forces in Bahrain to strike against Afghanistan.

CNN, 28th September

CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Friday
defended his friendly ties with nations shunned by the United States and
said he saw no proof that countries such as Iraq and Libya were "terrorist"

In an emotional speech to parliament, the left-leaning Venezuelan leader
angrily rejected criticism of his oil-rich country's foreign policy in the
tense aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks against the United States.

Following these attacks, foreign and domestic opponents of the outspoken
paratrooper turned-president have stepped up calls for him to reduce
Venezuela's ties with states blacklisted by Washington as "sponsors of

But Chavez unreservedly defended these ties on Friday, hailing countries
such as Iraq, Libya, Iran and others as "brothers and partners" of Venezuela
in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

"What is the problem?," he asked during a three-hour address to the National
Assembly in which he outlined his government's economic and social goals for
the coming years.

"For us, there is no problem," he said. "These countries are our partners
and we don't condemn any of them," he added.

Chavez denounced the Sept. 11 suicide attacks in New York and Washington as
"abominable." But he bluntly questioned the U.S. blacklisting of states such
as Iraq and Libya.

"Who has any conclusive proof that any of these states ... are really,
really terrorist states, to justify wiping them off the face of the earth?"
he asked.

"I haven't seen any proof up to now. If there was any, then we would
re-think our relations," added.

He did not mention Afghanistan, whose Taliban rulers have been accused by
the United States of harboring Osama bin Laden, the Saudi-born fugitive
identified by Washington as the prime suspect in the hijackings.

Since he took office in early 1999, the former paratroop officer has made a
point of broadening his government's foreign relations and shifting
Venezuela away from a traditionally close alliance with Washington.

Chavez ridiculed suggestions by critics that his ties with Iraq and Libya
put him on the side of countries viewed as enemies by the U.S. government,
which is now seeking to build an international coalition against terrorism.

He scoffed at his opponents' arguments. "So if Chavez is a friend of this
country, and a partner of that one, which is the same as the other, then
Chavez ends up being a terrorist too ... Osama bin Chaven!" he joked.

He said his country had a sovereign, independent foreign policy which sought
good ties with all nations of the world.

"We have a good relationship with the United States and we will carry on
having it," he added. Venezuela is one of the top three world suppliers of
crude oil to the U.S. market.

But Chavez insisted his government could not give "a blank check" of support
for a retaliatory U.S. military strike against the suspected culprits.

The Venezuelan leader, who won a landslide election in 1998 after failing to
take power in a coup bid six years earlier, said the real causes of violence
and conflict in the world were inequality, poverty and hunger affecting
millions of people.

"We can't just restrict ourselves to condemning, chasing and punishing the
terrorists ... Let's look at the causes."

New York Post, 28th September

Despite their professed support for the U.S.-led war against terrorism,
Saudi Arabia's rulers still won't let America use their bases to mount air
strikes against Afghanistan.

The Saudis have been thumbing their noses at Washington for years. But Saudi
Arabia still owes the United States - big. And it's time to call in some

The United States saved the Saudis from Saddam Hussein in 1991; the Gulf War
was as much about protecting Saudi Arabia as it was about freeing Kuwait.

Not that the Saudis have ever expressed real gratitude for that effort.

As a senior Saudi official told The Wall Street Journal at the time: "You
think I want to send my teenaged son to die for Kuwait? We have our white
slaves from America to do that."

Once upon a time, America needed to court Saudi Arabia to keep its valuable
oil fields out of Soviet hands. No more.

In recent decades, Riyadh has been increasingly fearful of the
fundamentalist movement that fueled Iran's revolution.

Saudi sources have been paying off anti-Western terrorist movements. Since
1995, Saudi Arabia has moved ever closer to extremist elements.

Indeed, Riyadh had been one of only three governments that recognized
Afghanistan's Taliban government. This year, it signed a security pact with

True, the Saudis have allowed U.S. forces to remain stationed on their soil.
But U.S. planes that fly from Saudi bases to enforce the no-fly zone against
Iraq are forbidden to strike back if fired on.

And when a Saudi refusal to upgrade security around a U.S. barracks made
possible the 1996 terrorist bombing of Khobar Towers - in which 19 American
airmen were killed - Riyadh refused to lift a finger to help investigate the

Indeed, the Saudis stonewalled the probe, freezing U.S. investigators out of
the case - even summarily executing four suspects without letting American
intelligence speak to them first.

It gets worse:Last June, a U.S. grand jury indicted 13 Saudis for complicity
in the crime and asked for their extradition. Riyadh's interior minister
responded: "No. Never. Impossible."

Why? Because all fingers point to Iran as the mastermind of the terrorist
bombing - and the Saudis would rather antagonize America than offend Tehran.

The irony here is that Osama bin Laden has targeted the House of Saud for
its connections with the United States.

He wants American troops out of his native land and an end to all Western
influences, however limited they are in a nation that is governed by Islamic

The Saudis are playing a dangerous game by trying to keep all sides happy.

In the long run, they need us more than we need them. In the short run,
however, America needs full and unimpeded access to Saudi air bases.

As President Bush said last week: "Every nation, in every region, now has a
decision to make: Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."

Now the president needs to impress upon the oil sheikhs of Riyadh the
consequences of ignoring his words.

by Amberin Zaman
Daily Telegraph, 29th September

AS the United States pursues efforts to build an international coalition, a
long-time ally has re-emerged as a crucial regional lynchpin: Turkey.

Nato's sole Muslim member, an important partner in the Gulf war coalition
and Israel's closest regional ally is poised to play a key role in the war
against terrorism.

Bordered by Iran, Iraq and Syria, Turkey has been quick to offer its
unstinting support to the United States, saying it would open its airspace
to military transport planes and share intelligence on Afghanistan.

British and American warplanes based at the Incirlik base in southern Turkey
patrol the no fly zone over Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq and frequently
mount retaliatory strikes against Iraqi military targets outside the Kurdish
"safe haven" declared by the allies at the end of the Gulf war.

Turkey reaffirmed its backing yesterday after a National Security Council
meeting chaired by the country's president Ahmet Necdet Sezer and attended
by the prime minister and senior cabinet ministers.

At the same time, the Turkish foreign minister Ismail Cem was holding talks
with officials in Washington. In a statement, Turkey said it would offer the
America "all necessary support so long as it does not negatively impact
Turkey's national interests".

The wording reflects the unease felt by many Turkish leaders that Saddam
Hussein will be next on Washington's list of targets once it deals with the
Taliban and Osama bin Laden.

Dogu Ergil, a leading Middle East expert at Ankara University, said: "Iraq
remains the most neuralgic area in Turkey's relations with Washington."

Ankara's greatest worry is that overthrowing Saddam Hussein could trigger
the dismemberment of its southern neighbour and result in the emergence of
an independent Kurdish state on its borders.

This, in turn, would fuel separatist sentiment among Turkey's own estimated
12 million Kurds just as a 15-year rebellion led by the Kurdistan Workers
Party (PKK) winds down. Its fears are shared by Iran and Syria, which also
have restive Kurdish minorities.

It was with such concerns in mind that, defying pressure from Washington,
Turkey has been rebuilding ties with Baghdad, raising its diplomatic
presence in the Iraqi capital to ambassadorial level earlier this year and
sending numerous trade delegations to expand commercial ties with the

Bulent Ecevit, Turkey's Left-wing prime minister, recently declared that the
establishment of a Kurdish state in northern Iraq would constitute an act of

Meanwhile, Ankara has been negotiating with the Iraqis to open a border
gate, in addition to the Habur crossing, that would by-pass the Kurdish
administered region and directly access areas under Iraqi government

But Turkey's Iraqi policy has undergone a dramatic shift following the
September 11 attacks. "Maintaining the status quo in Iraq is against our
interests," said a senior Turkish foreign ministry official, but declined to

An Iraqi Kurdish official said: "Turkey senses that the Americans are
determined now to get rid of Saddam regardless how the Turks feel about it.
So, they want to jump on the bandwagon and make sure that the Americans give
the Kurds nothing."

That would mean Turkey opening up its bases to American forces in an
eventual attack against Iraq and perhaps even taking part in the operation.

But the scenario is fraught with risks. On the one hand, recent opinion
polls show the public is squarely against involvement in military action
against its neighbours.

On the other, it would turn an already hostile Arab world against Turkey,
reviled over its strong military ties with Israel. As Turkey grows ever
dependent on Western loans and grapples with the worst economic crisis in
its modern history it has little room to manoeuvre.

Prof Ergil said: "Turkey may have little influence over the decision imposed
on it. Let's hope that those that are imposed on it coincide with Turkey's
own interests."

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