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Monday, 11 September 2006 01:59

World Media Watch for September 11, 2006

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WORLD MEDIA WATCH

1//The Observer/Guardian, UK--US ACCUSED OF COVERT OPERATIONS IN SOMALIA  (Dramatic evidence that America is involved in illegal mercenary operations in east Africa has emerged in a string of confidential emails seen by The Observer. The leaked communications between US private military companies suggest the CIA had knowledge of the plans to run covert military operations inside Somalia - against UN rulings - and they hint at involvement of British security firms.  The emails, dated June this year, reveal how US firms have been planning undercover missions in support of President Abdullahi Yusuf's transitional federal government - founded with UN backing in 2004 - against the Supreme Islamic Courts Council - a radical Muslim militia which took control of Mogadishu, the country's capital, also in June promising national unity under Sharia law.  Evidence of foreign involvement in the conflict would not only breach the UN arms embargo but could destabilise the entire region.  One email dated Friday, 16 June, is from Michele Ballarin, chief executive of Select Armor - a US military firm based in Virginia. Ballarin's email was sent to a number of individuals including Chris Farina of the Florida-based military company ATS Worldwide. ... The website of Farina's company ATS boasts it 'can execute operations in support of host national indigenous forces'. ATS claims it uses former US and British special operations personnel.)

2//The Daily Star, Lebanon--SAUDI KING ASSURES SINIORA OF POSTWAR HELP  (Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora briefed King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia Sunday on the latest developments in Lebanon and received assurances of support from the monarch, Saudi officials said.  Siniora met with Abdullah in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah and discussed the economic impact of the 34-day war, the officials said on condition of anonymity. The king said Saudi Arabia remained committed in its support for Lebanon until its complete recovery from the devastation of the war, which began on July 12.  Saudi Arabia has donated $500 million to help Lebanon rebuild from the massive devastation wrought by the fighting. It has also deposited $1 billion at Lebanon's Central Bank to support the country's war-shattered economy. ... Diplomats in Riyadh say there is a tussle for influence in Lebanon between Iran, which backs Hizbullah, and Arab states led by Saudi Arabia.) 

3//Xinhua Online, China--EGYPT SEEKS STRONGER TRADE TIES WITH CHINA  (Egypt is actively seeking stronger trade and investment ties with China and believes China can become Egypt's number one trading partner, over the next 10 years, overtaking traditional partners such as the United States, said Rachid Mohamed Rachid, Egypt's Minister of Trade and Industry.  "We want to be China's gateway to Europe, Africa and the Middle East, through our basket of preferential trade agreements with these markets", Rachid addressed the World Economic China Business Summit held here Sunday.  Rachid's participation in the Forum came at the end of a week-long visit in China, during which he signed a joint economic cooperation protocol with the Chinese Trade Minister Bo Xilai that seeks to boost Egypt's trade with China to five billion U.S. dollars from its current level of two billion. ... A series of MOUs were also signed between the two governments that facilitate the transfer of Chinese technology and equipment into strategic export sectors in Egypt such as textiles and building materials.  China currently ranks 29th largest investor in Egypt. In March 2006, Chinese-Egyptian joint ventures totaled 70.6 million U.S. dollars of inland investment.)

4//Gulf News, United Arab Emirates--SAUDI LAW TO SEPARATE BOYS AND GIRLS IN EXPAT SCHOOLS  (The Ministry of Education is going to strictly implement the law for separate classrooms for boys and girls in schools for expatriates in the kingdom within the next few days. Abdul Hadi Al Shailakhi, Director General of Foreign Education at the ministry, said that some 150 schools in the kingdom will come under the purview of the new law.  "The Saudi investors who run schools for non-Arab speakers have been asked to strictly implement the provision. "All the teaching and non-teaching staff members as well as students at these schools are bound to respect the Islamic principles and the Saudi rules and regulations," he said adding that the new law will not be applicable in the case of schools run by diplomatic missions of various countries in the kingdom. There are some 70 such schools in the kingdom. ... Dr Abdullah Sadeq Dahlan, one of the Saudi investors in the foreign school sector, expressed surprise over the provisions of the new law concerning Saudi students. He questioned such regulations to prevent Saudis from getting admission in a school of their choice. Several other investors also aired the same view expressed by Dr Dahlan.  Reacting to this, Al Shailakhi said that the Saudi syllabus is a full fledged and balanced one. "Why should we compromise identity of our students with foreign syllabus?" he asked.)

5//The Toronto Star, Canada--CONSERVATIVES REVERSE POLLUTION AID FOR POOR COUNTRIES  (The federal Conservatives are cancelling a $1.5 million pledge by the previous Liberal government to help developing countries cut greenhouse emissions under the rules of the Kyoto Protocol.  Abandoning the pledge made at a United Nations conference in Montreal last December is another blow to the teetering climate treaty which the Conservative government still claims to support.  The money would have gone to the treaty's clean development mechanism (CDM), which allows industrialized countries to earn credits by investing in emissions-cutting projects in the Third World.  ... As of June the CDM had about 800 projects in the pipeline, and the UN Climate Change Secretariat estimates it will generate more than one billion tonnes of emissions reductions by the end of 2012.  "The CDM is an excellent, positive feature of the Kyoto Protocol that is channelling billions of dollars to developing countries to fund projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions," said Matthew Bramley of the Pembina Institute. ... Some critics claim the prime minister is using Canada's position within the treaty to undermine it, acting on behalf of Washington which has little influence in Kyoto negotiations because the United States is not part of the protocol.)      

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1//The Observer/Guardian, UK               Sunday September 10, 2006

US ACCUSED OF COVERT OPERATIONS IN SOMALIA
Emails suggest that the CIA knew of plans by private military companies to breach UN rules

Antony Barnett and Patrick Smith
The Observer
Dramatic evidence that America is involved in illegal mercenary operations in east Africa has emerged in a string of confidential emails seen by The Observer. The leaked communications between US private military companies suggest the CIA had knowledge of the plans to run covert military operations inside Somalia - against UN rulings - and they hint at involvement of British security firms.

The emails, dated June this year, reveal how US firms have been planning undercover missions in support of President Abdullahi Yusuf's transitional federal government - founded with UN backing in 2004 - against the Supreme Islamic Courts Council - a radical Muslim militia which took control of Mogadishu, the country's capital, also in June promising national unity under Sharia law.

Evidence of foreign involvement in the conflict would not only breach the UN arms embargo but could destabilise the entire region.

One email dated Friday, 16 June, is from Michele Ballarin, chief executive of Select Armor - a US military firm based in Virginia. Ballarin's email was sent to a number of individuals including Chris Farina of the Florida-based military company ATS Worldwide.

Ballarin said: 'Boys: Successful meeting with President Abdullay Yussef [sic] and his chief staff personnel in Nairobi, Kenya on Tuesday ... where he invited us to his private hotel suite flacked by security detail ... He has appointed is chief of presidential protocol as our go to during this phase.'

She refers to one 'closed-door meeting' with a senior UN figure and mentions there are 'a number of Brit security firms' also looking to get involved.

Ballarin claimed she has been given 'carte blanche' to use three bases in Somalia 'and the air access to reach them'.

She then suggests that the CIA have been kept informed of the plans. Ballarin states: 'My contact whom we discussed from the agency side requested an in-person meeting with me. I arrived in New York at 2340 last night and was driven to Virginia - arriving at 0200 today.'

According to the highly respected newsletter, Africa Confidential, which originally published extracts of the emails last week, Select Armor started its operation planning in Kampala, Uganda. The emails suggest that the Ugandan government were willing to help secure arms supplies for any operation although this is denied by security officials in Kampala.

In one reply to Ballarin, Farina said: 'A forced entry operation [into Mogadishu] at this point without the addition of follow-on forces who can capitalise on the momentum/initiative of the initial op will result in a replay of Dien Bien Phu'. This is a reference to the defeat of French colonial forces in Indochina in 1953.

The website of Farina's company ATS boasts it 'can execute operations in support of host national indigenous forces'. ATS claims it uses former US and British special operations personnel.

(MORE)

2//The Daily Star, Lebanon                Monday, September 11, 2006

SAUDI KING ASSURES SINIORA OF POSTWAR HELP
Compiled by Daily Star staff

Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora briefed King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia Sunday on the latest developments in Lebanon and received assurances of support from the monarch, Saudi officials said.

Siniora met with Abdullah in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah and discussed the economic impact of the 34-day war, the officials said on condition of anonymity. The king said Saudi Arabia remained committed in its support for Lebanon until its complete recovery from the devastation of the war, which began on July 12.

Saudi Arabia has donated $500 million to help Lebanon rebuild from the massive devastation wrought by the fighting. It has also deposited $1 billion at Lebanon's Central Bank to support the country's war-shattered economy.

For his part, Siniora described his trip as "extremely significant" as it was the prime minister's first trip abroad since the end of the war. Siniora added that the trip was " to present thanks to King Abdullah and the Saudi people for their solidarity with Lebanon" during the Israeli offensive, a statement from the premier's office quoted him as saying.

Siniora discussed with King Abdullah the steps that Lebanon will undertake to achieve a "complete Israeli withdrawal, a permanent cease-fire and addressing the issue of the Shebaa Farms," the statement said.

Diplomats in Riyadh say there is a tussle for influence in Lebanon between Iran, which backs Hizbullah, and Arab states led by Saudi Arabia.

Lebanese officials have estimated that five weeks of Israeli attacks caused some $3.6 billion in damage. Saudi billionaire Saleh Kamel said on Saturday a group of Arab investors had launched a campaign to raise $2 billion for reconstruction and aid.

(MORE)

3//Xinhua Online, China                     2006-09-10 21:37:30

EGYPT SEEKS STRONGER TRADE TIES WITH CHINA

BEIJING, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- Egypt is actively seeking stronger trade and investment ties with China and believes China can become Egypt's number one trading partner, over the next 10 years, overtaking traditional partners such as the United States, said Rachid Mohamed Rachid, Egypt's Minister of Trade and Industry.

"We want to be China's gateway to Europe, Africa and the Middle East, through our basket of preferential trade agreements with these markets", Rachid addressed the World Economic China Business Summit held here Sunday.

Rachid's participation in the Forum came at the end of a week-long visit in China, during which he signed a joint economic cooperation protocol with the Chinese Trade Minister Bo Xilai that seeks to boost Egypt's trade with China to five billion U.S. dollars from its current level of two billion.

China exports to Egypt a range of products including parts of data processing equipment, tobacco with stems, truck tires, AC generators, decoders and radio transmission equipment, while Egypt's exports to China include cotton, marble, plastics, petroleum products, linen, glass and cow hides.

The main purpose of Rachid's visit is to pursue joint investment projects, worth more than two billion U.S. dollars, with his counterparts in the Chinese government and business leaders.

Joint government to government projects agreed during the week included the establishment of a Chinese industrial zone in Egypt to accommodate joint Chinese-Egyptian investment in Egypt's textiles, footwear and pharmaceuticals industries. The zone will be established together with the CNCEC, China's largest state-owned construction company.

"Egypt today has labor cost which is, if not equal, lower than China, the energy cost is definitely lower than China, and we have other infrastructure in place available," Rachid told Xinhua.

"We have two other advantages when we talk about Europe. Goods produced in Egypt can go to the European market at the cost less than from China, and we have free trade agreement with Europe," said Rachid.

A series of MOUs were also signed between the two governments that facilitate the transfer of Chinese technology and equipment into strategic export sectors in Egypt such as textiles and building materials.

China currently ranks 29th largest investor in Egypt. In March 2006, Chinese-Egyptian joint ventures totaled 70.6 million U.S. dollars of inland investment.

(MORE)

4//Gulf News, United Arab Emirates    Published: 09/10/2006 12:00 AM (UAE)


SAUDI LAW TO SEPARATE BOYS AND GIRLS IN EXPAT SCHOOLS
By Mariam Al Hakeem, Correspondent
 
Riyadh: The Ministry of Education is going to strictly implement the law for separate classrooms for boys and girls in schools for expatriates in the kingdom within the next few days.

Abdul Hadi Al Shailakhi, Director General of Foreign Education at the ministry, said that some 150 schools in the kingdom will come under the purview of the new law.

"The Saudi investors who run schools for non-Arab speakers have been asked to strictly implement the provision.

"All the teaching and non-teaching staff members as well as students at these schools are bound to respect the Islamic principles and the Saudi rules and regulations," he said adding that the new law will not be applicable in the case of schools run by diplomatic missions of various countries in the kingdom. There are some 70 such schools in the kingdom.

According to Al Shailakhi, the new law will be implemented effective from the beginning of the second semester of the academic year after the summer vacation. Separate class rooms will be mandatory for all students from the elementary class 1 level itself.

Inspections
"Supervisors from the ministry will be sent to the schools to inspect whether they are implementing the directives made by the Minister of Education in this regard. Stringent measures will be taken against those schools violating the law," he warned while adding that the penalties include cancellation of licences and shutting down of schools.

The new law prohibits Saudi students from joining schools for expatriates.

(SNIP)

Dr Abdullah Sadeq Dahlan, one of the Saudi investors in the foreign school sector, expressed surprise over the provisions of the new law concerning Saudi students. He questioned such regulations to prevent Saudis from getting admission in a school of their choice. Several other investors also aired the same view expressed by Dr Dahlan.

Reacting to this, Al Shailakhi said that the Saudi syllabus is a full fledged and balanced one. "Why should we compromise identity of our students with foreign syllabus?" he asked. It is noteworthy that the tuition fee at foreign schools in the kingdom ranges between 17,000 and 50,000 Saudi riyals annually in addition to the transportation charges and other expenses.

5//The Toronto Star, Canada             Sep. 10, 2006. 05:25 PM

CONSERVATIVES REVERSE POLLUTION AID FOR POOR COUNTRIES
Dennis Bueckert, Canadian Press

OTTAWA - The federal Conservatives are cancelling a $1.5 million pledge by the previous Liberal government to help developing countries cut greenhouse emissions under the rules of the Kyoto Protocol.

Abandoning the pledge made at a United Nations conference in Montreal last December is another blow to the teetering climate treaty which the Conservative government still claims to support.

The money would have gone to the treaty's clean development mechanism (CDM), which allows industrialized countries to earn credits by investing in emissions-cutting projects in the Third World.

"Taxpayers' dollars will not be spent on international credits," said Ryan Sparrow, spokesman for Environment Minister Rona Ambrose, in an interview.

"That's what our government's position has been since taking office."

Canada was among 20 industrialized countries which collectively pledged more than $8 million for the CDM. Canada's pledge, the biggest of any country, was seen as a big boost for the Kyoto process.

Environmentalists were dismayed to hear the commitment won't be honoured.

"The CDM is so important and it's doing such good work," said Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.

"It's economically rational (and) it makes sense because it's a way of outreach to developing countries to get them involved in binding targets."

One of the Conservative government's main objections to Kyoto is that it does not set emissions-cutting targets for developing countries such as China and India.

In theory, the CDM would provide an incentive for developing countries to participate in the Kyoto process by giving them access to the clean technology.

The mechanism is intended to promote technology transfer from north to south, while ensuring that emissions are cut at the lowest possible cost.

As of June the CDM had about 800 projects in the pipeline, and the UN Climate Change Secretariat estimates it will generate more than one billion tonnes of emissions reductions by the end of 2012.

"The CDM is an excellent, positive feature of the Kyoto Protocol that is channelling billions of dollars to developing countries to fund projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions," said Matthew Bramley of the Pembina Institute.

Cancellation of the pledge highlights Prime Minister Stephen Harper's ambivalence toward the protocol.

(SNIP)

Some critics claim the prime minister is using Canada's position within the treaty to undermine it, acting on behalf of Washington which has little influence in Kyoto negotiations because the United States is not part of the protocol.

"This exposes the real agenda of the Harper government," said Dave Martin of Greenpeace. "This is deliberate sabotage of one of the fundamental Kyoto mechanisms."

May said she fears that other countries will be influenced by Canada's decision and also withhold promised funding for the clean development mechanism.

Copyright 2006, Gloria R. Lalumia

WORLD MEDIA WATCH