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Monday, 18 September 2006 08:57

Gloria R. Lalumia's World Media Watch for September 18, 2006

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WORLD MEDIA WATCH

1//Azzaman in English, Iraq--IRAQ, IRAN TO DEVELOP OIL FIELDS STRADDLING INTERNATIONAL BORDERS - MINISTER (Iraq and Iran will develop oil fields straddling their international borders, according to Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani. Some of Iraq's largest, but still undeveloped oil fields are located close to the borders with Iran. The gigantic field of Majnoun, believed to be holding massive reserves, is situated very close to the international borders. Experts say portion of reserves maybe located on the Iranian side. ... The minister said Iraq would pump crude oil to Iranian refineries to further bolster bilateral relations. Previously, Shahristani had accused Iran of extracting crude oil from joint oil fields without Iraqi permission.)

2//The Sydney Morning Herald, Australia--TROOPS ‘LET OFF STEAM' IN VIDEO (Prime Minister John Howard says Australians should not overreact to offensive videos of Australian soldiers while in service in Iraq. The videos, which were filmed by soldiers in Iraq from 2003 to 2005, were posted on a popular website, but were removed after the Army contacted the people responsible for posting them. One shows a serviceman holding a gun to the head of a man in Arab dress while another features a soldier demonstrating his quick-draw prowess. Mr Howard said soldiers needed to "let off a bit of steam" when working in stressful environments. "I don't think we should overreact to this," Mr Howard told reporters in Sydney. ... Former SAS commander Jim Wallace said while the images were wrong, they were an attempt by soldiers to release stress through humour. ... "It is digger humour gone wrong." Brigadier Wallace said although the soldiers had broken army rules, it was a fairly minor offence.)

3//Asia Times Online, Hong Kong--IN SEARCH OF THE TALIBAN'S MISSING LINK (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. 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. Months later, these men have not even come close to being captured. That leaves the questions unanswered: How [and from where] do they manage to relay their instructions into the battlefield? Asia Times Online has learned that this year alone, international intelligence operations in Afghanistan have spent millions of dollars trying to find out, even as fighting in the past month has been the heaviest ever.)

4//Euobserver.com, Belgium--EU MINISTERS FAIL TO ADOPT OFFICIAL TEXT ON CIA CAMPS (EU foreign ministers have failed to agree on an official statement on alleged secret CIA jails and instead allowed the Finnish EU presidency to read out a "press line" with hardly any status. Dutch foreign minister Bernard Bot, supported by his Belgian, Luxembourg and Spanish counterparts, had proposed a common EU declaration on alleged illegal activities by the CIA - the US intelligence agency - at a foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Friday [15 September]. But ministers finally agreed only on a move which has the lowest diplomatic status possible at EU foreign ministers meetings - a "press line" not forming part of the official conclusions and not being an official declaration.)

5//The Independent, UK--NEO-NAZIS CAPTURE SEATS IN MERKEL'S HOME STATE (Neo-Nazis dealt an embarrassing political blow to Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday after winning parliamentary seats in her eastern home state for the first time since the country's reunification in 1990. The overtly racist National Democratic Party, won 6.4 per cent of votes in the Baltic coastal state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, where Mrs Merkel has her parliamentary constituency and keeps a holiday home. ... The NPD campaigned on a strongly anti-foreigner platform. Its share of the vote was enough to enable the party to enter the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state parliament. However, its leaders admitted the party's role would be confined to "stirring up opposition" to the established parties. The party shocked Germany two years ago after obtaining seats in the eastern state of Saxony for the first time in 36 years.)

* * *

1//Azzaman in English, Iraq September 17, 2006

IRAQ, IRAN TO DEVELOP OIL FIELDS STRADDING INTERNATIONAL BORDERS - MINISTER
By Nidhal al-Laithi

Iraq and Iran will develop oil fields straddling their international borders, according to Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani.

Some of Iraq's largest, but still undeveloped oil fields are located close to the borders with Iran.

The gigantic field of Majnoun, believed to be holding massive reserves, is situated very close to the international borders. Experts say portion of reserves maybe located on the Iranian side.

(SNIP)

Shahristani said the countries intend to jointly develop such fields. Shahristani did not elaborate.

The joint development will start, Shahristani said, once a border demarcation committee ends its job.

Experts from both countries are working on a pact to regulate joint oil exploration and development, he said.

The minister said Iraq would pump crude oil to Iranian refineries to further bolster bilateral relations.

Previously, Shahristani had accused Iran of extracting crude oil from joint oil fields without Iraqi permission.

2//The Sydney Morning Herald, Australia September 18, 2006 - 10:36AM

TROOPS ‘LET OFF STEAM' IN VIDEO

Prime Minister John Howard says Australians should not overreact to offensive videos of Australian soldiers while in service in Iraq.

The videos, which were filmed by soldiers in Iraq from 2003 to 2005, were posted on a popular website, but were removed after the Army contacted the people responsible for posting them.

One shows a serviceman holding a gun to the head of a man in Arab dress while another features a soldier demonstrating his quick-draw prowess.

Mr Howard said soldiers needed to "let off a bit of steam" when working in stressful environments.

"I don't think we should overreact to this," Mr Howard told reporters in Sydney.

"I think we have to understand that soldiers work ... in very stressful environments and soldiers throughout the ages have let off a bit of steam when they're working in stressful environments."

Mr Howard said it was up to the military to decide what action to take in response to the matter.

"I will leave it to the military," Mr Howard said. "I am not going to tell the military and I don't think anybody else should tell the military how to handle this."

'Inappropriate humour', says ex-SAS chief
Former SAS commander Jim Wallace said while the images were wrong, they were an attempt by soldiers to release stress through humour.

"What you have here is an attempt at soldier's humour," Brigadier Wallace told the Seven Network.

"Humour is something which is very important to soldiers, it is a very important way of being able to take humour and use it as a pressure relief valve in these situations, it has been for a long time."

"It is digger humour gone wrong."

Brigadier Wallace said although the soldiers had broken army rules, it was a fairly minor offence.

(MORE)

3//Asia Times Online, Hong Kong Sep 16, 2006

IN SEARCH OF THE TALIBAN'S MISSING LINK
By Syed Saleem Shahzad

KARACHI - 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.

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.

Months later, these men have not even come close to being captured. That leaves the questions unanswered: How (and from where) do they manage to relay their instructions into the battlefield? Asia Times Online has learned that this year alone, international intelligence operations in Afghanistan have spent millions of dollars trying to find out, even as fighting in the past month has been the heaviest ever.

Significantly, the Taliban are now drawing increasing support from the Afghan population. These additional numbers have allowed them for the first time to conduct their own large-scale search operations against NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) troops in the south.

As a result, NATO this week requested additional troops, with no success. The alliance, which took command of military operations in southern Afghanistan on July 31, had wanted 2,000 extra soldiers to reinforce the 19,000-strong International Security Assistance Force.

Throwing more troops into a conventional battle (artillery and air strikes especially) might not be the best way to go as long as there remains a basic lack of understanding of where the enemy's command center is and how the mujahideen receive orders. What is known is that among the rank and file of the mujahideen there is a strong system of communication, with instructions flowing freely and quickly.

And despite claims by coalition forces to the contrary, the Taliban are not obsessed with taking control of provinces or districts. They abandoned that tactic at the end of July, and a lull in fighting followed.
Since then, the new policy has been that the local population join in the fight against NATO, especially hunting down its convoys.

What is worth noting is that what is happening in Afghanistan has happened before, against the British many years ago and against the Soviets more recently. This latest battle against a foreign invader is being fought as a classic Afghan war, although the sequence of events is somewhat different.

(MORE)

4//Euobserver.com, Belgium 15.09.2006 - 18:34 CET


EU MINISTERS FAIL TO ADOPT OFFICIAL TEXT ON CIA CAMPS
By Mark Beunderman

BRUSSELS - EU foreign ministers have failed to agree on an official statement on alleged secret CIA jails and instead allowed the Finnish EU presidency to read out a "press line" with hardly any status.

Dutch foreign minister Bernard Bot, supported by his Belgian, Luxembourg and Spanish counterparts, had proposed a common EU declaration on alleged illegal activities by the CIA - the US intelligence agency - at a foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Friday (15 September).

But ministers finally agreed only on a move which has the lowest diplomatic status possible at EU foreign ministers meetings - a "press line" not forming part of the official conclusions and not being an official declaration.

The press line was read out after the meeting by Finnish foreign minister Erkki Tuomioja and says that "the existence of secret detention facilities where detained persons are kept in a legal vacuum, is not in conformity with international humanitarian law and international criminal law."

The statement comes one week after US president George W. Bush admitted that the CIA had run covert prisons for terror suspects, but did not say where.

A Finnish presidency contact said the press line "has no official status," with one EU diplomat adding that two member states in particular - the UK and the Czech Republic - still disliked the wording.

Mr Bot told reporters "I had preferred to see a declaration but this was not acceptable to all 25 member states."

He added however that he believed "the message came across" in Washington that the EU "does not agree with the philosophy that the camps are still being used in the future."

The text was distributed at the meeting by the Dutch delegation, which is under heavy pressure at home from its national parliament which is angry with Washington's behaviour. It was not put on official EU paper.
(MORE)

5//The Independent, UK Published: 18 September 2006

NEO-NAZIS CAPTURE SEATS IN MERKEL'S HOME STATE
By Tony Paterson in Berlin

Neo-Nazis dealt an embarrassing political blow to Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday after winning parliamentary seats in her eastern home state for the first time since the country's reunification in 1990.

The overtly racist National Democratic Party, won 6.4 per cent of votes in the Baltic coastal state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, where Mrs Merkel has her parliamentary constituency and keeps a holiday home.

Mrs Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats were narrowly beaten by the ruling Social Democrats in the state, which is renowned for having the highest unemployment in Germany.

However, the Social Democrats lost more than 10 per cent of the vote, and it was unclear whether the party would continue its so-called "Red-Red" ruling coalition with reform Communists or attempt a grand coalition with the conservatives. Harald Ringstorff, the state's Social Democrat prime minister, described the NPD's gains as an " absolute catastrophe" yesterday.

He added: "Our most important task now is to take on these brown brothers and defeat them through argument." The NPD campaigned on a strongly anti-foreigner platform. Its share of the vote was enough to enable the party to enter the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state parliament.

However, its leaders admitted the party's role would be confined to " stirring up opposition" to the established parties.

The party shocked Germany two years ago after obtaining seats in the eastern state of Saxony for the first time in 36 years.

(MORE)

Copyright 2006, Gloria R. Lalumia

WORLD MEDIA WATCH