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Monday, 28 August 2006 02:08

World Media Watch for August 28, 2006

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WORLD MEDIA WATCH FOR AUGUST 28, 2006

1//The Moscow Times, Russia--MOSCOW CONSIDERS TROOPS FOR LEBANON (As the United Nations cobbles together a peacekeeping force for Lebanon, debate is heating up in Moscow about whether to send troops to the Middle East. A growing consensus of Defense Ministry officials and military analysts oppose sending ground forces. But a handful of political observers counter that the situation offers Russia an opportunity to restore some of its Soviet-era prestige. ... . Mikhail Margelov, head of the Federation Council's Foreign Affairs Committee, voiced skepticism about sending troops. "That a number of nations have refused to participate in this operation is an alarm signal for me," Margelov said, according to Interfax. And Valery Manilov, a former deputy chief of staff of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, said sending troops now would be premature. "As the confrontation unfolds according to Washington's specifications, and as Israel continues to ignore UN resolutions, the presence of our peacekeepers, with their status and duties still unclear, is hardly warranted," he said. Margelov warned that if President Vladimir Putin decided to send troops to Lebanon, it would prompt heated debate in the Federation Council. By law, the president must get the approval of the upper house of the parliament to send troops abroad.)

2//The Turkish Daily News, Turkey--'TURKEY SHOULD SEND BUSINESSMEN TO NORTHERN IRAQ INSTEAD OF TROOPS' (While Turkey debates whether to launch a large-scale military operation to stop the increasing terrorist activities in Turkey by terrorists believed to be infiltrating from across the Iraqi border, northern Iraq has become a huge construction site with hundreds of Turkish companies operating in the area.)

3//The Chosun Ilbo, South Korea--BUSH, ROH TO REACH ACCORD ON KOREAN TROOP CONTROL (The meeting between U.S. President George W. Bush and President Roh Moo-hyun on Sept. 14 will result in a joint statement including an agreement on South Korea eventually exercising sole wartime control of its troops, a government official said Friday. The two will also take the opportunity to comment on the "continuing strength" of the Korea-U.S. alliance, he said. ... . If all goes according to plan, the Korean government stands to gain autonomy, while the U.S. will be assured its global troop realignment, "strategic flexibility" allowing troops to be deployed elsewhere, and a lightened load in the defense of South Korea. But Korea also faces a more uncertain future in terms of security.)

4//The Sunday Times, UK--10M WANT TO QUIT 'OVER-TAXED' UK (One in five Britons - nearly 10m adults - is considering leaving the country amid growing disillusionment over the failure of political parties to deliver tax cuts, according to a new poll. The extensive survey conducted by ICM, the polling company, shows that - contrary to the current approach of both Labour and the Tories - an overwhelming majority of voters do want to see cuts in income and inheritance tax. The results will raise alarm in both political camps, but particularly for David Cameron, who has yet to solidify the Conservatives' lead over Labour in the opinion polls. ... . Today's poll shows that many people are highly disillusioned with the British political system and nearly half the population do not associate themselves with the main parties. It suggests that a majority believe tax cuts would be affordable if public services were genuinely reformed, but they have little faith that any party could achieve this. The results suggest that Cameron could be missing an "open goal" by failing to capitalise on the desire for tax cuts.)

5//Inter Press Service News Agency, Italy--"WATER WARS" A MYTH, SAY EXPERTS (The world's future wars will be fought not over oil but water: an ominous prediction made by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency [CIA], the British ministry of defence and even by some officials of the World Bank. But experts and academics meeting at an international conference on water management in the Swedish capital are dismissing this prediction as unrealistic, far-fetched and nonsensical. "Water wars make good newspaper headlines but cooperation (agreements) don't," says Arunabha Ghosh, co-author of the upcoming Human Development Report 2006 themed on water management. The annual report, commissioned by the U.N. Development Programme [UNDP], is to be released in December. In reality, Ghosh told the meeting in Stockholm, there are plenty of bilateral, multilateral and trans-boundary agreements for water-sharing -- all or most of which do not make good newspaper copy.)

* * *

1//The Moscow Times, Russia Monday, August 28, 2006. Issue 3484. Page 2.

MOSCOW CONSIDERS TROOPS FOR LEBANON
By Oksana Yablokova, Staff Writer

As the United Nations cobbles together a peacekeeping force for Lebanon, debate is heating up in Moscow about whether to send troops to the Middle East.

A growing consensus of Defense Ministry officials and military analysts oppose sending ground forces. But a handful of political observers counter that the situation offers Russia an opportunity to restore some of its Soviet-era prestige.

"We are examining the situation," Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Friday, Interfax reported. "The peacekeepers' status and their rights are not clear, as well as what they will do there and what kind of mandate they will have."

Ivanov, who was in Magadan, added: "No decisions about any Russian military contingent have been made yet. I think it would be premature to do so."

Ivanov's comments appeared to conflict with a report Friday in Kommersant that the Defense Ministry was prepared to send a 2,000-man brigade stationed in Samara to Lebanon.

A Defense Ministry spokesman declined to comment about the report Friday.

Mikhail Margelov, head of the Federation Council's Foreign Affairs Committee, voiced skepticism about sending troops. "That a number of nations have refused to participate in this operation is an alarm signal for me," Margelov said, according to Interfax.

And Valery Manilov, a former deputy chief of staff of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, said sending troops now would be premature. "As the confrontation unfolds according to Washington's specifications, and as Israel continues to ignore UN resolutions, the presence of our peacekeepers, with their status and duties still unclear, is hardly warranted," he said.

Margelov warned that if President Vladimir Putin decided to send troops to Lebanon, it would prompt heated debate in the Federation Council. By law, the president must get the approval of the upper house of the parliament to send troops abroad.

During last month's Group of Eight summit in St. Petersburg, Putin said Russia might participate in a Lebanese operation if the UN Security Council opted to send a peacekeeping mission there. Since then, the president has not said anything about Lebanon.

(SNIP)

Alexei Makarkin, a political analyst with the Center of Political Technologies, said Russian participation could boost the country's prominence in a region where the Soviet Union once wielded considerable influence.

"If Russia distances itself from this situation altogether, that will mean Russian has abandoned the geopolitical position it inherited from the Soviet years," Makarkin said.

But Makarkin added that Russia must determine exactly what its responsibilities would be before sending any troops, Makarkin said.

Dispatching troops to Lebanon would give Russia a useful argument to respond to accusations that Russian peacekeepers have been anything but in the breakaway Moldovan province of Transdnestr and the separatist Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, a Kommersant article said.

Both Moldova and Georgia want the Russian troops to leave.

Russia participated in peacekeeping missions in the former Yugoslavia and Sierra Leone. It is currently taking part in missions in Liberia, Burundi and Sudan.


2//The Turkish Daily News, Turkey Sunday, August 27, 2006

'TURKEY SHOULD SEND BUSINESSMEN TO NORTHERN IRAQ INSTEAD OF TROOPS'

While Turkey debates whether to launch a large-scale military operation to stop the increasing terrorist activities in Turkey by terrorists believed to be infiltrating from across the Iraqi border, northern Iraq has become a huge construction site with hundreds of Turkish companies operating in the area

Metin Can

ARBIL-- The first rays of the morning sun start falling on Istanbul, It's 4 o'clock and the Fly Air plane ready to take off from Istanbul's Atatürk Airport is full of businessmen in their suits and ties. Even though there are scheduled flights three times a week, bookings need to be made two weeks in advance. The flight is full and the destination is one of northern Iraq's larger cities, Arbil.

The flight takes almost two hours before the plane touches down at Arbil Airport. Once a military airport, it is now open to civilian flights. We pass through the ruined airport building without any bureaucratic procedures and awaiting are brand-new air-conditioned taxis in line outside the exit.

A warm wind blows and the U.S. culture is visible at first sight with many different brands of four wheel drives waiting outside. We take a taxi for 10,000 dinars (YTL 10). Arbil is surrounded by desert and barren hills, and during our 25-minute ride to Arbil city center we come across many TIR trucks with Turkish plates. The roads are either being repaired or being built from scratch. Electricity can only be supplied between long intervals and water is almost nonexistent.

There are numerous shortages, but Arbil is a city being rebuilt. Our taxi driver, Kerim, jokes with a hint of pride, "We may as well put up a sign at the entrance to Arbil stating 'No entry; construction site.'"

With the earliest settlements dating back 1,500 years, Arbil is literally being rebuilt today. Kerim praises the Turkish contractors who have undertaken the construction work as we spot giant billboards of Turkish companies one after the other along the road. Ülker, Vestel, Beko, Istikbal, Merinos, Aksa and Sabanci Holding are all on display.

Since the U.S. invasion Iraq has not been able to solve its political problems, and after approval of Iraq's Constitution northern Iraq was named the 'regional Kurdish government.' For some, these are steps towards an independent Kurdish state by strengthening the economic infrastructure. More than $2 billion has been spent on constructing a central bank, a government, a university and various ministry buildings. This amount is expected to reach $15 billion over three years.

The government has opened its doors wide to foreign investment with a package of incentives that was passed in July and publicized in European countries. Another factor that has turned northern Iraq into a building site is that regional stability and confidence are rising.

More than 600 Turkish companies operating in northern Iraq: A possible Turkish military operation on the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) camps located in northern Iraq's Kandil Mountains is being debated.

The Turkish government is said to have been 'negotiating' with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). The feedback from these meetings is quite positive, with many PKK offices in the region shut down.

As political troubles continue, major economic developments are ongoing, with Turkish companies having won major tenders in northern Iraq reaching $1.5 billion annually. Out of the 440 foreign companies registered at the Arbil Chamber of Commerce, 321 are Turkish followed by Germany with 45 companies. The Makyol Construction Company has undertaken construction of Arbil Airport, a contract worth $480 million; the Tepe Group is building Salahaddin University; and Arbil's roads are being built by Gülmak and Grup 77.

Meanwhile, there are 600 Turkish firms operating in northern Iraq, with the Turkish Armed Forces Assistance Fund (OYAK) being the most active in meeting northern Iraq's cement, construction products and paper needs. Out of all the products sold at Arbil's first big shopping mall, Nazemall, Turkish goods make up 80 percent.

Turkish businessmen are investing in Arbil in record numbers, and the reason behind the Turkish success in the area is their international experience. The KDP's external relations representative, Safeen Dizayee, and Arbil's Chamber of Commerce chairman, Daarel Celil Hayat, are calling on Turkey to make use of this opportunity. "Turkey should take a leadership role in the area by sending businessmen instead of troops," said Hayat and Dizayee.

(MORE)


3//The Chosun Ilbo, South Korea Updated Aug.25,2006 20:31 KST

BUSH, ROH TO REACH ACCORD ON KOREAN TROOP CONTROL

The meeting between U.S. President George W. Bush and President Roh Moo-hyun on Sept. 14 will result in a joint statement including an agreement on South Korea eventually exercising sole wartime control of its troops, a government official said Friday. The two will also take the opportunity to comment on the "continuing strength" of the Korea-U.S. alliance, he said.

Another government official said since President Bush has signed onto the idea of ceding wartime military control, "there is a strong possibility that the two will confirm the principles" for the handover ahead of the Security Consultative Meeting that will hammer out a roadmap in Washington in October. If all goes according to plan, the Korean government stands to gain autonomy, while the U.S. will be assured its global troop realignment, "strategic flexibility" allowing troops to be deployed elsewhere, and a lightened load in the defense of South Korea. But Korea also faces a more uncertain future in terms of security.

(SNIP)

Bush on Aug. 14 "was briefed of the plan to hand over wartime operational control to Korea by the Defense Department and said, 'Let things go as Korea requests. Give our utmost support to the plan,'" a high-ranking Korean military official said Friday.

The official added Bush said the deadline for the handover had not been decided. Sources said Bush made no comment on the question of U.S. wartime reinforcements if Korea has sole control of its troops.

Bush briefly attended the meeting chaired by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and said, "I agree" when Rumsfeld and U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Burwell Bell reported that Korea's military has the needed capability to exercise sole wartime operational control, according to the sources. Bell has reportedly passed on Bush's comments to senior officials here including Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung.


4//The Sunday Times, UK August 27, 2006

10M WANT TO QUIT 'OVER-TAXED' UK
David Cracknell, Political Editor

One in five Britons - nearly 10m adults - is considering leaving the country amid growing disillusionment over the failure of political parties to deliver tax cuts, according to a new poll.

The extensive survey conducted by ICM, the polling company, shows that - contrary to the current approach of both Labour and the Tories - an overwhelming majority of voters do want to see cuts in income and inheritance tax.

The results will raise alarm in both political camps, but particularly for David Cameron, who has yet to solidify the Conservatives' lead over Labour in the opinion polls.

The Tory leader, who has ditched his party's long-standing commitment to tax cuts in favour of "economic stability", has maintained a solid lead over Labour since May in most of the polls, but is still well short of securing a majority.

Today's poll shows that many people are highly disillusioned with the British political system and nearly half the population do not associate themselves with the main parties. It suggests that a majority believe tax cuts would be affordable if public services were genuinely reformed, but they have little faith that any party could achieve this.

The results suggest that Cameron could be missing an "open goal" by failing to capitalise on the desire for tax cuts.

The poll found that a large majority of people - 81% against 9% - supported a "significant" increase in the £32,000 threshold for the 40% tax band, which would take more people on middling incomes out of that bracket.

The detailed market research, carried out by ICM on behalf of the Taxpayers' Alliance (TPA), an independent political lobbying group, comes as some modernising MPs are beginning to argue for a break with the current taboo over tax.

Labour, under Tony Blair and the chancellor Gordon Brown, has shied away from income tax rises, fearing they would frighten middle-class voters. Cameron, whose party has traditionally supported lower taxes, has sought to change that perception amid Labour accusations that the Tories will cut spending on vital public services.

(MORE)

5//Inter Press Service News Agency, Italy August 25, 2006

"WATER WARS" A MYTH, SAY EXPERTS
Thalif Deen

STOCKHOLM, Aug 25 (IPS) - The world's future wars will be fought not over oil but water: an ominous prediction made by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the British ministry of defence and even by some officials of the World Bank.

But experts and academics meeting at an international conference on water management in the Swedish capital are dismissing this prediction as unrealistic, far-fetched and nonsensical.

"Water wars make good newspaper headlines but cooperation (agreements) don't," says Arunabha Ghosh, co-author of the upcoming Human Development Report 2006 themed on water management. The annual report, commissioned by the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP), is to be released in December.

In reality, Ghosh told the meeting in Stockholm, there are plenty of bilateral, multilateral and trans-boundary agreements for water-sharing -- all or most of which do not make good newspaper copy.

Asked about water wars, Prof. Asit K. Biswas of the Mexico-based Third World Centre for Water Management, told IPS: "This is absolute nonsense because this is not going to happen -- at least not during the next 100 years."

He said the world is not facing a water crisis because of physical water scarcities. "This is baloney," he said.

"What it is facing is a crisis of bad water management," argued Biswas, who was awarded the 2006 international Stockholm Water Prize for "outstanding achievements" in his field. The presentation ceremony took place in Stockholm Thursday.

According to the Paris-based U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), one-third of all river basins are shared by more than two countries.

Globally, there are 262 international river basins: 59 in Africa, 52 in Asia, 73 in Europe, 61 in Latin America and the Caribbean, and 17 in North America. Overall, 145 countries have territories that include at least one shared river basin.

Between 1948 and 1999, UNESCO says, there have been 1,831 "international interactions" recorded, including 507 conflicts, 96 neutral or non-significant events, and most importantly, 1,228 instances of cooperation.

"Despite the potential problem, history has demonstrated that cooperation, rather than conflict, is likely in shared basins," UNESCO concludes.

The Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) says that 10- to 20-year-old arguments about conflict over water are still being recycled.

"Such arguments ignore massive amounts of recent research which shows that water-scarce states that share a water body tend to find cooperative solutions rather than enter into violent conflict," the institute says.

SIWI says that during the entire "intifada" -- the ongoing Palestinian uprising against Israel in the occupied territories of West Bank and Gaza -- the only thing on which the two warring parties continued to cooperate at a basic level was their shared waters.

"Thus, rather than reaching for arguments for the 'water war hypotheses,' the facts seem to support the idea that water is a uniting force and a potential source of peace rather than violent conflict." SIWI said.

(SNIP)

The study also says most of the conflicts have been within nations, and that international rivers are a different story, although a vice president of the World Bank predicted in 1995 that "the wars of the next century will be about water."

(MORE)

Copyright 2006, Gloria R. Lalumia