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Wednesday, 02 August 2006 01:28

World Media Watch for August 2, 2006

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WORLD MEDIA WATCH

1//The Jordan Times, Jordan--IRAN’S INVOLVEMENT TO END CONFLICT RISKY, BUT MAY BE INEVITABLE (France's idea of involving Iran directly in talks to end the conflict between Israel and Hizbollah is a risky venture but may well prove inevitable, French analysts said Tuesday. They were reacting to French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy's meeting on Monday in Beirut with Iranian opposite number Manouchehr Mottaki, and to his remarks concerning Iran's "important stabilising role in the region." The comments — condemned as "outrageous" by French Jewish leaders — appeared to indicate a willingness to include Tehran in the search for a settlement to three weeks of violence, in direct contradiction of American and Israeli policy. … "It is a high-risk initiative. It has a certain logic, but it implies a willingness on the part of Iran and Hizbollah to alter their behaviour," said Francois Gere of the French Institute for Strategic Analysis. For Gere, the very fact that Douste-Blazy and Mottaki were unable to agree on a joint statement at the end of their talks is a sign of the delicacy of the French approach. "French diplomacy is trying to pull off something that is extremely subtle and complex," he said. Francois Heisbourg, of the Foundation for Strategic Research, agreed that "it would on the face of it be extremely surprising for Iran to play a stabilising role in Lebanon. And if it did, the next question is obviously what is the price Iran gets in return — on its nuclear programme." Iran has in recent days toughened its position in the stand-off with outside powers over its nuclear programme, indicating that the Israeli offensives in Gaza and Lebanon will have an impact on its next step.)

2//The Independent, UK--WE MUST RETHINK OUR STRATEGY SAYS PM, AS CABINET RIFT WIDENS (Tony Blair admitted last night that the US and Britain were losing the battle for mainstream Muslim and Arab opinion, as it emerged that he had rejected an appeal by his Foreign Secretary, Margaret Beckett, to seek an early ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon. In a speech delivered to the World Affairs Institute in Los Angeles, the Prime Minister said that the West was "very far" from persuading world opinion that it was fair or even-handed, in a speech that came close to an open rebuke to the US President, George Bush. But senior Labour figures will be furious that the Prime Minister once again failed to call for an immediate ceasefire in the Middle East. As he returns to Britain today, Mr Blair will find himself an isolated figure in his own Cabinet over Lebanon. The dissent among senior Labour figures over Britain's approach to the conflict is now being seen as a growing challenge to the authority of the Prime Minister. … Jack Straw, the former foreign secretary, became the first cabinet minister to break ranks publicly at the weekend by telling Muslims in his Blackburn constituency that he shared the views of Kim Howells, the junior foreign minister, that the bombing was "disproportionate". Irwin Stelzer, an aide to Rupert Murdoch with close contacts in the Bush administration, said the Bush administration raised doubts about Mr Straw when he was foreign secretary, because of the high number of Muslims in his constituency. That raised questions over whether he was moved to please Washington.)

3//Eurasianet.org, US--IRAN: ETHNIC AZERI ACTIVIST PREDICTS MORE PROTESTS (As the crisis over Iran’s nuclear research program intensifies, US officials appear to be paying greater attention to the demands and concerns of the country’s ethnic Azeris, its largest minority group. … Reflecting the increased US interest in interethnic issues inside Iran, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns and Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams met July 21 with US-based representatives of Iranian minority ethnic groups. The ways in which Iran’s different ethnic groups view Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ‘s nuclear policies was of particular interest to both officials, stated Rahim Shahbazi, the deputy chairman of the World Azerbaijanis Congress [WAC], and one of the participants in the meeting. Amid an overview of conditions for ethnic Azeris in Iran, Shahbazi said that he had expressed the concern to Burns and Abrams that weapons of mass destruction, once acquired, could be used against groups perceived as opposed to the Ahmadinejad administration. "Dictators tend to use their weapons of mass destruction against the internal opposition first," he stated. "That is what happened in Iraq, when Saddam [Hussein] used chemical weapons against the Shi’ah opposition." US officials have not yet provided an account of what was discussed during the meeting.

4//The Turkish Daily News, Turkey--IRAQI GOV’T HINTS AT ACTION AGAINST PKK (Neighboring Iraq's deputy prime minister, Barham Salih, said his government is planning a new phase against all terror organizations based within their borders. Salih, who is a senior member of President Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan [PUK] -- accompanied by the ministers of finance, petrol, planning and national security -- evaluated the developments of the last four months at a press conference, the Do?an News Agency [DHA] reported yesterday. “We know that these terror organizations are threatening not only us but also our neighbors,” Salih was quoted as saying by DHA, in an apparent reference to Turkey's uneasiness concerning the presence of members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party [PKK] in the northern part of Iraq. “We will struggle against terror not only for the security of Iraq but also for the security of the entire region, and moreover for the security of the world,” Salih added. The Iraqi deputy prime minister's remarks came following a Turkish news report over the weekend which said that Iraqi Kurdish leaders have called on PKK members to lay down arms or face isolation in their mountain camps.)

5//Worldpress.org, US--GORBACHEV URGES AUSTRALIA, U.S. TO SIGN KYOTO PROTOCOL, AVOID NUCLEAR POWER (Former president of the U.S.S.R. Mikhail Gorbachev has urged Australia and the United States to sign the Kyoto Protocol while cautioning the Australian government not to go down the path of nuclear power. Speaking through an interpreter at Brisbane's Earth Dialogues conference last week, the 75-year-old head of the environmental group Green Cross International described his country's tragic history with nuclear power and weighed in on the current debate in Australia over the environmental benefits of investing in nuclear power. … Green Cross, founded by Gorbachev in 1993, provides assistance to groups affected by environmental degradation and aims to promote "changes in the values, actions and attitudes of government, the private sector, and civil society, necessary to build a sustainable future," according to the Geneva-based organization's Web site. In this position, Gorbachev has championed the Kyoto Protocol — an agreement signed by most nations in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, to reduce environmentally damaging carbon emissions — and used his appearance at the summit to berate Australia and the U.S. for their refusal to endorse the agreement. … He also accused the United States of behaving like a "stubborn animal" over its refusal to ratify the protocol and urged the Australian government to use its influence with the Bush administration to change its mind. … using his closing address last week to warn the audience that immediate emergency action was necessary, Gorbachev said the global environmental crisis amounts to a "five minutes to midnight" warning for the world.)

* * *

1//The Jordan Times, Jordan Wednesday, August 2, 2006

IRAN’S INVOLVEMENT TO END CONFLICT RISKY, BUT MAY BE INEVITABLE
By Indalecio Alvarez, Agence France-Presse

PARIS — France's idea of involving Iran directly in talks to end the conflict between Israel and Hizbollah is a risky venture but may well prove inevitable, French analysts said Tuesday.

They were reacting to French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy's meeting on Monday in Beirut with Iranian opposite number Manouchehr Mottaki, and to his remarks concerning Iran's "important stabilising role in the region." The comments — condemned as "outrageous" by French Jewish leaders — appeared to indicate a willingness to include Tehran in the search for a settlement to three weeks of violence, in direct contradiction of American and Israeli policy.

"It is a high-risk initiative. It has a certain logic, but it implies a willingness on the part of Iran and Hizbollah to alter their behaviour," said Francois Gere of the French Institute for Strategic Analysis.

For Gere, the very fact that Douste-Blazy and Mottaki were unable to agree on a joint statement at the end of their talks is a sign of the delicacy of the French approach.

"French diplomacy is trying to pull off something that is extremely subtle and complex," he said.

Francois Heisbourg, of the Foundation for Strategic Research, agreed that "it would on the face of it be extremely surprising for Iran to play a stabilising role in Lebanon. And if it did, the next question is obviously what is the price Iran gets in return — on its nuclear programme." Iran has in recent days toughened its position in the stand-off with outside powers over its nuclear programme, indicating that the Israeli offensives in Gaza and Lebanon will have an impact on its next step.

On Monday, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution giving Tehran one month to suspend uranium enrichment, with the threat of sanctions if it fails to comply.

For Dominique Moisi, of the French Institute for International Relations, "France's underlying idea — even if it denies it publicly — is to say to Iran: 'Show yourselves to be responsible on the Hizbollah issue and we will be more understanding on the nuclear issue’." But according to Moisi, this approach risks handing Iran a political victory to add to the symbolic triumph of Hizbollah, which has already "won the war by not losing it." "When you treat totalitarian regimes in this way, not only are they not grateful, they despise you. They reckon you are ready to do anything to avoid a fight," Moisi said.

But the same experts believed that an Iranian role in negotiations to end the fighting may in the end be impossible to avoid.

(SNIP)

French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said on Monday that any deal to end the hostilities must have the agreement of "all states in the region" — a formulation that includes Syria, which like Iran is accused of backing Hizbollah.

However, President Jacques Chirac said that the Syrian regime was "at odds with security and peace", while Douste-Blazy at the weekend ruled out "entering discussions with Syria". According to Gere, "the aim [of France] is to speak to the dominant power — Iran — in the hope that the weaker power — Syria — realises that she risks isolation. The objective is to break the Syria-Iran alliance."

2//The Independent, UK Published: 02 August 2006


WE MUST RETHINK OUR STRATEGY SAYS PM, AS CABINET RIFT WIDENS
By Francis Elliot, Colin Brown and Ben Russell

Tony Blair admitted last night that the US and Britain were losing the battle for mainstream Muslim and Arab opinion, as it emerged that he had rejected an appeal by his Foreign Secretary, Margaret Beckett, to seek an early ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon.

In a speech delivered to the World Affairs Institute in Los Angeles, the Prime Minister said that the West was "very far" from persuading world opinion that it was fair or even-handed, in a speech that came close to an open rebuke to the US President, George Bush. But senior Labour figures will be furious that the Prime Minister once again failed to call for an immediate ceasefire in the Middle East.

As he returns to Britain today, Mr Blair will find himself an isolated figure in his own Cabinet over Lebanon. The dissent among senior Labour figures over Britain's approach to the conflict is now being seen as a growing challenge to the authority of the Prime Minister.

Mr Blair will defend his position at a monthly press conference tomorrow in Downing Street. He will then hand over the day-to-day running of the Government to John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, before going on holiday on Friday. But there are likely to be calls for Mr Blair to delay his holiday until the crisis is over, although critics of his diplomacy in the US said last night that his absence might even be a blessing.

"At home or abroad, he is dragging Britain further into the mire," said Frank Dobson, a former cabinet minister.

In his US speech, Mr Blair called for a "complete renaissance" of strategy to defeat international terrorism, suggesting a significant shift in emphasis from military force to the "soft power" of trade agreements and aid. He said: "'To defeat [terrorism] we need an alliance of moderation that paints a different future in which Muslim, Jew and Christian, Arab and Western, wealthy and developing nations can make progress towards peace and harmony with each other. My argument is that we won't tackle the cause of this global extremism unless we win it on the level of values as much as force; unless we show that we are even handed, fair and just".

But among senior ministers, his standing as an honest broker in the region was undermined by revelations that Mrs Beckett urged Downing Street to press President Bush on the issue.

Her advice was rejected, and the Foreign Secretary urged Mr Blair at least to object to the US use of British civilian airports as stop-overs for secret US and Israeli flights to deliver munitions to Israeli forces. But Mr Blair also shrugged off her complaints, leaving Mrs Beckett to make her dissatisfaction clear by saying she was going to demand some answers from the Americans about the use of British airports.

(SNIP)

Jack Straw, the former foreign secretary, became the first cabinet minister to break ranks publicly at the weekend by telling Muslims in his Blackburn constituency that he shared the views of Kim Howells, the junior foreign minister, that the bombing was "disproportionate".

Irwin Stelzer, an aide to Rupert Murdoch with close contacts in the Bush administration, said the Bush administration raised doubts about Mr Straw when he was foreign secretary, because of the high number of Muslims in his constituency. That raised questions over whether he was moved to please Washington.

(MORE)

3//Eurasianet.org, US 7/31/06


IRAN: ETHNIC AZERI ACTIVIST PREDICTS MORE PROTESTS
Shahin Abbasov and Khadija Ismailova
(Khadija Ismayilova is an analyst based in Washington. Shain Abbasov is a freelance journalist based in Baku.)

As the crisis over Iran’s nuclear research program intensifies, US officials appear to be paying greater attention to the demands and concerns of the country’s ethnic Azeris, its largest minority group.

On July 31, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution mandating that Tehran suspend uranium enrichment by August 31, or face sanctions. Iranian officials claim the country’s nuclear program is designed to meet civilian energy needs. US and European leaders, meanwhile, insist that Iran is striving to develop nuclear weapons. Iranian diplomats immediately rejected the Security Council resolution.

While the United States has long pressed for UN Security Council action to thwart Iran’s suspected atomic ambitions, in recent months American policymakers have looked for other means to slow, if not halt Iran’s nuclear research. Accordingly, mounting interethnic tension in Iran has intrigued some in Washington.

Unrest among Iranian Azeris began in late May, when protests over an official newspaper’s caricature of Azerbaijan as a cockroach led to the deaths of 24 people and the arrests of hundreds of activists demanding an expansion of Azeri cultural rights.

(SNIP)

Reflecting the increased US interest in interethnic issues inside Iran, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns and Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams met July 21 with US-based representatives of Iranian minority ethnic groups. The ways in which Iran’s different ethnic groups view Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ‘s nuclear policies was of particular interest to both officials, stated Rahim Shahbazi, the deputy chairman of the World Azerbaijanis Congress (WAC), and one of the participants in the meeting.

Amid an overview of conditions for ethnic Azeris in Iran, Shahbazi said that he had expressed the concern to Burns and Abrams that weapons of mass destruction, once acquired, could be used against groups perceived as opposed to the Ahmadinejad administration. "Dictators tend to use their weapons of mass destruction against the internal opposition first," he stated. "That is what happened in Iraq, when Saddam [Hussein] used chemical weapons against the Shi’ah opposition."

US officials have not yet provided an account of what was discussed during the meeting.
The Iranian government is keen to draw connections between Azeri activists and the US and Israel, members of Iran’s Azeri community say. An April 10 report in The New Yorker magazine by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh – which indicated that Washington has been working with ethnic Azeris in Iran to undermine the Islamic Republic -- reportedly raised a furor in Tehran.

Representatives of the Azeri opposition both inside Iran and in exile, however, deny Tehran’s allegation of financial dealings involving ethnic Azeris and the United States or Israel.

Mahmudali Chehreganli, a former professor at Tabriz University and the leader of The National Awakening Movement of Southern Azerbaijan (SANAM), who received political asylum in the United States in 2003, told EurasiaNet that the Azeri movement "gets zero investment from the outside." Chehreganli declined to speak about meetings he has reportedly had with officials in the State Department and Pentagon since 2003.

Other Azeri activists echo Chehreganli’s denial of US or Israeli support. Said Naimi, head of the Azerbaijan Defense Committee based in Tabriz, told EurasiaNet that Azerbaijani human rights activists and non-governmental organizations are the only places where his group seeks outside support.

In an apparent effort to appease local Azeri grievances, President Ahmadinejad toured ethnic Azeri cities in July, promising to allocate state funds for various road and factory projects. At a demonstration in Tabriz, Ahmadinejad quoted from Azeri-language poems and praised the region of Azerbaijan as a pearl of Iran.

One Azeri journalist based in Iran, Said Mughanli, reported that state employees and villagers were coerced into attending Ahmadinejad’s appearances. In addition, dozens of people were reportedly detained before Ahmadinejad’s appearances, and released afterwards, he said.

According to Chehreganli, more resistance to Tehran can be expected. After the relatively moderate policies of former President Mohammad Khatami, patience is running thin with the more strident Ahmadinejad, he claimed.

"The [Azeri] nation better understands its rights now. For the first time in the history of Tabriz, the city market was closed during the protest actions. For the first time in the history of this city, vendors left their business for a political protest," he said. "This, I think is a good indicator of the readiness of Azeris to take serious steps to change their lives for the better."

4//The Turkish Daily News, Turkey Tuesday, August 1, 2006

IRAQI GOV’T HINTS AT ACTION AGAINST PKK

ANKARA - Turkish Daily News
Neighboring Iraq's deputy prime minister, Barham Salih, said his government is planning a new phase against all terror organizations based within their borders.

Salih, who is a senior member of President Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) -- accompanied by the ministers of finance, petrol, planning and national security -- evaluated the developments of the last four months at a press conference, the Do?an News Agency (DHA) reported yesterday.

“We know that these terror organizations are threatening not only us but also our neighbors,” Salih was quoted as saying by DHA, in an apparent reference to Turkey's uneasiness concerning the presence of members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in the northern part of Iraq.

“We will struggle against terror not only for the security of Iraq but also for the security of the entire region, and moreover for the security of the world,” Salih added.

The Iraqi deputy prime minister's remarks came following a Turkish news report over the weekend which said that Iraqi Kurdish leaders have called on PKK members to lay down arms or face isolation in their mountain camps.

The call on Kurdish leaders is part of a comprehensive effort by Turkey to “bring the PKK members down from mountains” that authorities have been working on for about a year, Sabah newspaper said.

Turkey has been fighting an escalating terrorist campaign at the hands of the PKK and is urging U.S. and Iraqi authorities to crack down on the group's camps in northern Iraq. It has recently stepped up warnings that it could send its own forces to hit the PKK camps if U.S. and Iraqi inactivity persists.

(MORE)

5//Worldpress.org, US July 31, 2006

GORBACHEV URGES AUSTRALIA, U.S. TO SIGN KYOTO PROTOCOL, AVOID NUCLEAR POWER

Rich Bowden, Worldpress.org Contributing Editor
Sydney, Australia

Former president of the U.S.S.R. Mikhail Gorbachev has urged Australia and the United States to sign the Kyoto Protocol while cautioning the Australian government not to go down the path of nuclear power.

Speaking through an interpreter at Brisbane's Earth Dialogues conference last week, the 75-year-old head of the environmental group Green Cross International described his country's tragic history with nuclear power and weighed in on the current debate in Australia over the environmental benefits of investing in nuclear power.

"In our country, we have seen the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and this changed our attitude toward nuclear power.

"I believe, given there is a deficit of energy and the power situation in the world is very difficult, that nuclear power stations may be needed, but only as a lesser evil, and only in extreme need should such stations be built," Gorbachev said to reporters.

The Green Cross chairman also lamented the lack of resources directed to develop alternative forms of energy.

"I believe that alternative sources are not available precisely because not enough investment is being made into those new sources of energy, into creating conditions for the use of new power sources.

"For the Iraq war, very quickly $100 billion was found to execute or prosecute that war, whereas we need just $50 billion over 10 years for research into solar power," Gorbachev said.

Credited with implementing the policies that ended the totalitarian rule of the Communist party in the Soviet Union, Gorbachev attended the Earth Dialogues summit as co-chairman and key speaker, in his capacity as head of the environmental organization Green Cross International.

Green Cross, founded by Gorbachev in 1993, provides assistance to groups affected by environmental degradation and aims to promote "changes in the values, actions and attitudes of government, the private sector, and civil society, necessary to build a sustainable future," according to the Geneva-based organization's Web site.

In this position, Gorbachev has championed the Kyoto Protocol — an agreement signed by most nations in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, to reduce environmentally damaging carbon emissions — and used his appearance at the summit to berate Australia and the U.S. for their refusal to endorse the agreement.

"Our reservoir of life is shrinking. Before it is too late I think we need to put our environmental house in order," Gorbachev said.

He also accused the United States of behaving like a "stubborn animal" over its refusal to ratify the protocol and urged the Australian government to use its influence with the Bush administration to change its mind.

The Howard government though has largely ignored Gorbachev's advice. In an address to the Queensland government's Climate Change summit, days after Gorbachev's speech, federal Environment Minister Senator Ian Campbell questioned the efficacy of the Kyoto Protocol.

(SNIP)

The Australian government, like its U.S. counterpart, has steadfastly refused to entertain the idea of ratifying the Kyoto protocol saying that to commit to targets for a reduction in carbon emissions would wreck the country's coal-based energy sector and throw the Australian economy into recession.

However, using his closing address last week to warn the audience that immediate emergency action was necessary, Gorbachev said the global environmental crisis amounts to a "five minutes to midnight" warning for the world.

"When we speak of the environment, we say that the situation is five minutes to midnight.

(MORE)

Copyright 2006, Gloria R. Lalumia

WORLD MEDIA WATCH