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Monday, 14 August 2006 02:06

World Media Watch August 14, 2006

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WORLD MEDIA WATCH

1//Arab News, Saudi Arabia--OUTRAGE OVER BUSH'S USE OF ‘FASCIST' TERM (US President George W. Bush's statement that the US is at war with "Islamic fascists" will deepen anti-American and anti-Western sentiments, a cross-section of expatriates contacted by Arab News said yesterday. Reacting to the report that some Muslims in Britain were involved in the plot to blow up aircraft bound for US airports from London, the US president said: "It was a stark reminder this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation." Describing the US president's remarks as "ill-conceived" and "inappropriate", expatriates from Britain, India and Pakistan said some hypermarkets in Riyadh had already withdrawn American products from their shelves in response to the US' anti-Islam campaign. "By linking Islam with fascism, Bush is stoking the fire of hatred against his country and his people, besides further expanding the recruitment pool of extremists," said the expatriates.)

Related: SAYING ‘ISLAMIC FASCISTS' MAY DEFEAT BUSH'S PURPOSE

2//The Daily Star, Lebanon--COMMENTARY: LEBANON'S MIDDLE CLASS IS DISILLUSIONED WITH AMERICA (The Lebanese educated middle class are asking Washington: "Why have you forsaken me?" as Lebanon's existence is bombed to smithereens. The current war is traumatizing Lebanon's Western-oriented middle class, as it witnesses the destruction of its hopes for a prosperous and independent Lebanon, as Israel, backed by the United States, systematically destroys Lebanon and places the destiny of 4 million Lebanese in serious jeopardy. Members of the Lebanese middle class see themselves as open-minded believers in a Western-style secular democracy. They did not hesitate to make their views known that when Southern Lebanon was freed from Israeli occupation in 2000 it was time for Hizbullah to disarm. Many, including Shiites, have written articles critical of Hizbullah and its state-within-a-state in Lebanon. ... Prior to July 12, 2006, there was hope that the United States would help Lebanese recovery by supporting economic reconstruction and development and encouraging internal dialogue on disarming military organizations, so that Lebanon would become a strong oasis for democracy. That kind of American support was what the Lebanese expected as strong evidence of America's good intentions toward Arabs and Muslims, and a step in the right direction to stem the tidal wave of Islamic fundamentalism sweeping Asia and the Middle East. ... People who marched in the million-strong demonstration on March 14 last year are now wondering what happened to freedom, democracy, humanity, sovereignty, and all the lofty principles that the US said it so badly wanted for Lebanon when the issue involved forcing a Syrian departure from Lebanon. ... People are now seeing the unfolding events in Gaza and occupied Iraq through different eyes. These are not events of liberation and democratization, but of occupation and self interest disguised as a war on terrorism. The Lebanese middle class, long resisting religious fundamentalism and totalitarian ideologies, is now disillusioned with a hypocritical Washington that would consent to bury the Lebanese alive and destroy their country.)

3//Asia Times Online, Hong Kong--INDIA'S FORAY INTO CENTRAL ASIA (Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov's five-day visit to India that ended on Thursday might not have grabbed much media attention in New Delhi, but it is in Tajikistan that India is taking quiet strides toward furthering its ambition of becoming a global player: India's first military base abroad will become operational in Tajikistan soon. During Rakhmonov's visit, the two countries signed pacts on strengthening cooperation in the fields of energy, science and technology, foreign-office consultation, and cultural exchange. India also offered to rehabilitate the Varzob-1 hydropower plant in Tajikistan. ... This cooperation is, however, just the tip of the iceberg. Less visible and more significant is the India-Tajik cooperation at Ayni Air Base, near the Tajik capital Dushanbe. Work on the base is expected to be completed next month, and the base will become operational by the year's end. ... It is Tajikistan's geographic location that has drawn India to this former Soviet republic. Tajikistan shares borders with China, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. A narrow stretch of Afghan territory separates Tajikistan from Pakistan-administered Kashmir. The significance of this region for India's security is immense. It is close to areas where scores of camps for jihadist and anti-India terrorist groups are based, and it is in the proximity of territory where Pakistan and China are engaged in massive military cooperation. Besides, Tajikistan is in Central Asia, a gas-rich region in which India has growing interests.)

4//The Toronto Star, Canada--HARPER VOWS MILITARY DEFENCE OF ARCTIC WATERS (The world has taken notice of the vast economic potential of the Far North and it is urgent that Canada demonstrate its sovereignty over the rich waters off its Arctic coast, says Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Harper returned Sunday from a short stay in the northernmost community in the world, the remote military outpost in Alert, Nunavut, on the northern tip of Ellesmere Island. Alert, along with Arctic waters 200 nautical miles off the northern shore, are Canadian, the prime minister said, and the Canadian military will defend that claim. "The economics and the strategic value of northern resource development are growing more attractive and critical to our nation," Harper said during a speech in front of the Nunavut legislature on Saturday, the first day of his first visit to the northern territories. "And trust me, it's not only Canadians who are noticing. It's no exaggeration to say that the need to assert our sovereignty and take action to protect our territorial integrity in the Arctic has never been more urgent.")

5//The Independent, UK--RESIGNATION HITS AL-JAZEERA PLANS (Al-Jazeera International, the much-vaunted Arab rival to CNN, has suffered yet another setback. After continual delays to its launch, the English-language news channel has now lost one of its top executives. Paul Gibbs, the director of programmes, has resigned after differences of opinions with management. He announced his departure just as AJI is gearing up to go on air in late September.)

* * *

1//Arab News, Saudi Arabia Sunday, 13, August, 2006 (19, Rajab, 1427)

OUTRAGE OVER BUSH'S USE OF ‘FASCIST' TERM
Javid Hassan, Arab News

RIYADH, 13 August 2006 - US President George W. Bush's statement that the US is at war with "Islamic fascists" will deepen anti-American and anti-Western sentiments, a cross-section of expatriates contacted by Arab News said yesterday.

Reacting to the report that some Muslims in Britain were involved in the plot to blow up aircraft bound for US airports from London, the US president said: "It was a stark reminder this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation."

Describing the US president's remarks as "ill-conceived" and "inappropriate", expatriates from Britain, India and Pakistan said some hypermarkets in Riyadh had already withdrawn American products from their shelves in response to the US' anti-Islam campaign. "By linking Islam with fascism, Bush is stoking the fire of hatred against his country and his people, besides further expanding the recruitment pool of extremists," said the expatriates.

Giving his name only as Hamza, a British expatriate, told Arab News that Bush's remarks were racist.

"Would the term fascist also apply to the members of other communities? We never speak of Christian fascists or Jewish fascists when they are involved in acts of terror. On what ground has the US president used the term with reference to Muslims?" he asked.

Shamshad Ali Siddiqui, secretary-general of the Pakistani Investors Forum, described Bush's remarks as highly derogatory and said everyone knows that terrorism has no religion or boundary. He called on the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) to act within the framework of the action plan drawn up at the Makkah summit last year.

Under the chapter "Combating Islamophobia," the OIC Action Plan stressed the need to counter anti-Muslim hatred through the establishment of an observatory at the OIC General Secretariat to monitor all forms of Islamophobia, issue an annual report thereon, and ensure cooperation with the relevant governmental and nongovernment organizations in order to counter the phenomenon.

The OIC's Action Plan also called on the international community, including all governments, to ensure respect for all religions and combat their defamation. It called upon all states to enact laws to counter Islamophobia through deterrent punishment, among other measures.

In a related development, Parvez Ahmed, chairman of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said in a message sent to Bush: "You have on many occasions said Islam is a ‘religion of peace'. Today you equated the religion of peace with the ugliness of fascism. The use of ill-defined hot button terms such as ‘Islamic fascists', ‘militant jihadism', ‘Islamic radicalism' or ‘totalitarian Islamic empire', harms our nation's image and interests worldwide, particularly in the Islamic world. It feeds the perception that the war on terror is actually a war on Islam."

(MORE)

RELATED:

Arab News, Saudi Arabia

SAYING ‘ISLAMIC FASCISTS' MAY DEFEAT BUSH'S PURPOSE
Parvez Ahmed, chairman of Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy group.

2//The Daily Star, Lebanon Monday, August 14, 2006

COMMENTARY: LEBANON'S MIDDLE CLASS IS DISILLUSIONED WITH AMERICA
By Kamal Dib
(Kamal Dib is a Canadian economist of Lebanese origin; he has written several books on Lebanon and the Middle East, most recently, "Warlords and Merchants.")

Special to The Daily Star

The Lebanese educated middle class are asking Washington: "Why have you forsaken me?" as Lebanon's existence is bombed to smithereens. The current war is traumatizing Lebanon's Western-oriented middle class, as it witnesses the destruction of its hopes for a prosperous and independent Lebanon, as Israel, backed by the United States, systematically destroys Lebanon and places the destiny of 4 million Lebanese in serious jeopardy.

Members of the Lebanese middle class see themselves as open-minded believers in a Western-style secular democracy. They did not hesitate to make their views known that when Southern Lebanon was freed from Israeli occupation in 2000 it was time for Hizbullah to disarm. Many, including Shiites, have written articles critical of Hizbullah and its state-within-a-state in Lebanon.

(SNIP)

Lebanese journalists, authors, academics, and public figures, who have worked for decades to cure the social ills that wracked Lebanon and are not fond of radical sectarian ideologies, will not accept to be at the receiving end of Israeli bombs that pretend to be helping them get rid of Hizbullah. There is a strong belief in Lebanon that disarming Hizbullah is better dealt with as an internal Lebanese matter through dialogue, as opposed to using violent means, especially by an outside power that will only strengthen the hand of the radicals and weaken the moderates.

This sentiment was echoed by Jamil Mroue, publisher of The Daily Star, and by other enlightened commentators in Beirut. Mroue told The New Yorker magazine (August 7, 2006): "Even after September 11, 2001, there is this expectation in the United States and Israel that some unspoken middle class is just sitting there waiting to inherit the ruins of whatever country it is that they are obliterating. But there is no calculation that, if they flatten Lebanon and Nasrallah comes out of hiding and is given a microphone to deliver a speech, he can topple governments. He has been extraordinarily empowered by this. Israel and America are still obsessed with destroying hardware. But if you do this with Hizbullah you just propagate what you want to destroy. The same errors that the Americans made in Iraq are the ones being made here. You get rid of Nasrallah not by destroying his guns but by helping to create a sustainable society." Mroue predicted that before July 12, almost 90 percent of the Lebanese public opinion favored disarming Hizbullah, "but now, I'd say it's around 50, teetering on 60 percent - in favor."

In a similar vein, Robert Fisk of The Independent newspaper (July 31, 2006) writes: "From the border of Pakistan to the Mediterranean, we have turned a 2,500-mile swath of the Muslim world into a hell-disaster of unparalleled suffering and hatred. In Iraq, our soldiers and those of the United States hide in their concrete crusader fortresses while the people they so generously liberated and introduced to the benefits of Western-style democracy slash each other to death."

(SNIP)

Prior to July 12, 2006, there was hope that the United States would help Lebanese recovery by supporting economic reconstruction and development and encouraging internal dialogue on disarming military organizations, so that Lebanon would become a strong oasis for democracy. That kind of American support was what the Lebanese expected as strong evidence of America's good intentions toward Arabs and Muslims, and a step in the right direction to stem the tidal wave of Islamic fundamentalism sweeping Asia and the Middle East.

Yet, what happened is that the US, spearheading what Muslims see as a "Christian Western Crusade," has helped the Jewish state destroy Lebanon, ending the nascent ray of hope in the little country and causing ominous prophecies about a forthcoming clash between Islam and a so-called Judeo-Christian world coming true. American complicity was clear: the Lebanese middle class witnessed the carnage and destruction of their country with US approval, and the killing of innocent women and children with advanced American weaponry that mutilated their bodies into pieces, and made their prime minister shed tears several times on television asking the world to stop the slaughter in Lebanon.

People who marched in the million-strong demonstration on March 14 last year are now wondering what happened to freedom, democracy, humanity, sovereignty, and all the lofty principles that the US said it so badly wanted for Lebanon when the issue involved forcing a Syrian departure from Lebanon. The destiny of Lebanon and its march to a secular welfare state are not on Washington's agenda as previously rumored, and Lebanon and its 4 million citizens are held ransom against the release of two Israeli soldiers. People are now seeing the unfolding events in Gaza and occupied Iraq through different eyes. These are not events of liberation and democratization, but of occupation and self interest disguised as a war on terrorism.

The Lebanese middle class, long resisting religious fundamentalism and totalitarian ideologies, is now disillusioned with a hypocritical Washington that would consent to bury the Lebanese alive and destroy their country.

3//Asia Times Online, Hong Kong Aug 12, 2006

INDIA'S FORAY INTO CENTRAL ASIA
By Sudha Ramachandran

BANGALORE - Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov's five-day visit to India that ended on Thursday might not have grabbed much media attention in New Delhi, but it is in Tajikistan that India is taking quiet strides toward furthering its ambition of becoming a global player: India's first military base abroad will become operational in Tajikistan soon.

During Rakhmonov's visit, the two countries signed pacts on strengthening cooperation in the fields of energy, science and technology, foreign-office consultation, and cultural exchange. India also offered to rehabilitate the Varzob-1 hydropower plant in Tajikistan.

Two days before the Tajik president's visit, the India-Tajikistan joint working group (JWG) on counter-terrorism met in Delhi. At the JWG meeting, the two sides agreed on bilateral mechanisms to exchange information on various aspects of terrorism, including the financing of terrorism, that affect their two countries. India also offered to provide Tajikistan with counter-terrorism training.

This cooperation is, however, just the tip of the iceberg. Less visible and more significant is the India-Tajik cooperation at Ayni Air Base, near the Tajik capital Dushanbe. Work on the base is expected to be completed next month, and the base will become operational by the year's end.

India is constructing three hangars at Ayni, two of which will be used by Indian aircraft. India will station about 12 MiG-29 bombers there. The third hangar will be used by the Tajik air force. The Indian Air Force (IAF) is also stationing trainer aircraft under a 2002 defense-cooperation agreement whereby India has been training the Tajik air force.

Neither New Delhi nor Dushanbe officially admits to an Indian air base at Ayni. Delhi maintains that it is only renovating this base. The first reports of India's intentions surfaced in 2002, and speculation gathered momentum in 2003 and into April this year when reports indicated that India's base at Ayni would become operational by end-2006.

India and Tajikistan were on the same side during the Afghan civil war in the 1990s. Both opposed the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and backed the Northern Alliance. In the late 1990s, India set up a 25-bed hospital at Farkhor, near Afghanistan's northern border, where injured Northern Alliance fighters battling the Taliban were treated.

According to Rahul Bedi, Jane's Defense Weekly's correspondent in Delhi, India supplied the Northern Alliance with high-altitude-warfare equipment worth US$8 million. The Northern Alliance also received input on strategy from Indian "advisers". Technicians from the Aviation Research Center of the Research and Analysis Wing (India's external intelligence agency) repaired the Northern Alliance's Soviet-made Mi-17 and Mi-35 attack helicopters. It was out of Tajikistan that India channeled this help to the Northern Alliance.

It is Tajikistan's geographic location that has drawn India to this former Soviet republic. Tajikistan shares borders with China, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. A narrow stretch of Afghan territory separates Tajikistan from Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

The significance of this region for India's security is immense. It is close to areas where scores of camps for jihadist and anti-India terrorist groups are based, and it is in the proximity of territory where Pakistan and China are engaged in massive military cooperation. Besides, Tajikistan is in Central Asia, a gas-rich region in which India has growing interests.

(MORE)

4//The Toronto Star, Canada Aug. 13, 2006. 04:14 PM
HARPER VOWS MILITARY DEFENCE OF ARCTIC WATERS
Dene Moore, Canadian Press

IQALUIT, Nunavut - The world has taken notice of the vast economic potential of the Far North and it is urgent that Canada demonstrate its sovereignty over the rich waters off its Arctic coast, says Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Harper returned Sunday from a short stay in the northernmost community in the world, the remote military outpost in Alert, Nunavut, on the northern tip of Ellesmere Island.

Alert, along with Arctic waters 200 nautical miles off the northern shore, are Canadian, the prime minister said, and the Canadian military will defend that claim.

"The economics and the strategic value of northern resource development are growing more attractive and critical to our nation," Harper said during a speech in front of the Nunavut legislature on Saturday, the first day of his first visit to the northern territories.

"And trust me, it's not only Canadians who are noticing. It's no exaggeration to say that the need to assert our sovereignty and take action to protect our territorial integrity in the Arctic has never been more urgent."

A high-profile military excursion in the Beaufort Sea has just wrapped up and another in the eastern Arctic, Operation Lancaster, is getting under way.

Harper said lax enforcement by previous governments allowed foreign vessels to enter those waters without the permission or even awareness of Canadian officials.

In fact, U.S. government vessels have made at least three incursions into the Northwest Passage without informing Canada, most recently in 1995 when a U.S. navy submarine traversed the waters.

Canada's southern neighbour has not ratified the international Law of the Sea, which recognizes a 200-nautical-mile, or 370-kilometre, exclusive economic zone off a country's coast.

"Any such voyage represents a potential threat to Canadian safety and security," Harper said on the weekend. "We always need to know who is in our waters and why they are there."

To that end, the Conservative government has promised increased military spending in the Far North, as well as a deep-sea port.

Some scientists believe that in as little as a decade, global warming could open the northern shipping route linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans to year-round traffic.

While some nations would like the northern waters to be international, falling under the jurisdiction of no one country, Harper said the Arctic is no different than the Atlantic or Pacific, where Canada's 200-mile limit is undisputed.

There is also major potential for oil and gas in the Arctic offshore.

Nunavut Premier Paul Okalik welcomed Harper's approach.

(MORE)

5//The Independent, UK 13 August 2006 14:19

RESIGNATION HITS AL-JAZEERA PLANS
By Joy Lo Dico

Al-Jazeera International, the much-vaunted Arab rival to CNN, has suffered yet another setback. After continual delays to its launch, the English-language news channel has now lost one of its top executives.

Paul Gibbs, the director of programmes, has resigned after differences of opinions with management. He announced his departure just as AJI is gearing up to go on air in late September.

A former editor of BBC Breakfast News, it was Mr Gibbs who oversaw the recruitment of high-profile names such as former BBC News correspondent Rageh Omaar for AJI flagship programme Witness, and Sir David Frost for the leading news discussion show.

Last week Mr Gibbs announced his departure after a series of conferences with al-Jazeera chiefs, including managing director Nigel Parsons - the former senior executive with Associated Press Television News and the BBC. He is understood to have had a different vision for the channel.

Al-Jazeera, which is bankrolled by the Emir of Qatar, is already the leading broadcaster in the Middle East. However, its planned international service has been beset by troubles. The service was due to launch in April but was delayed by construction and technical problems at its international bases in London, Doha, Kuala Lumpur and Washington. The launch had already been pushed back to June and is now mooted for the end of September.

(MORE)

WORLD MEDIA WATCH