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Friday, 21 July 2006 01:46

World Media Watch for July 21, 2006

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WORLD MEDIA WATCH 

WORLD MEDIA WATCH FOR JULY 21, 2006

1//The Financial Times, UK--ANTI-WEST BACKLASH IS GATHERING PACE, WARNS TURKISH MINISTER (Hesitation over Turkish membership of the European Union and US policies in the Middle East are causing an anti-western backlash in Turkey, the foreign minister warned yesterday. … "Moderate liberal people [in Turkey] are becoming anti-American and anti-EU," he said. "If our young, dynamic, educated and economically active people become bitter, if their attitudes and feelings are changed, it is not good. Their feeling has changed towards these global policies and strategic issues. This is dangerous.")

2//KurdishMedia.com, UK--KURDISH NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF SYRIA MEETS US OFFICIALS, SYRIAN PRESSURE CONTINUES (The newly-formed Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria (KNA-S), an umbrella organization representing a number of groups, political parties, NGOs and independent activists from the Kurdish region of Syria, is continuing its activities as pressure on the Syrian Ba’athist regime increases. The Assembly was formally founded in Brussels in May 2006 at a convention, which followed the Washington Conference of March 2006, in which representatives of various Kurdish groups, parties, NGO’s and independent agreed on the Washington Agreement or “13 Points”, a set of 13 basic principles and demands that serve as unifying principles among various groups and activists of Syrian Kurdistan who are struggling against the Assad dictatorship. On June 22 and 23, Assembly President Sherkoh Abbas and a members of the Assembly's Executive Committee traveled to Washington, DC for meetings with members of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the US State Department, and a number of political think tanks, as well as US Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur. The Assembly continues to conduct dialogue with US and other officials aimed at explaining the aims of the Assembly and winning support for democratization in Syria.)

3//The Independent, UK--EU PLANS ELITE BORDER GUARDS TO STOP MIGRANTS (Elite teams of EU border guards will be sent to Europe's southern frontiers at short notice to combat illegal migration, under plans unveiled by the European Commission. The move would mean the creation of a permanent rapid reaction force of 250-300 experts who could be dispatched within 10 days to deal with sudden movements of population. … Franco Frattini, the European justice and home affairs Commissioner, said: "The idea is to have at the disposal of Frontex a permanent team of 250-300 people from the member states which will be able to intervene quickly at the request of a member state and ... [within] 10 days from the request. We're talking about helping member states that are under particular, unexpected pressure. We're not talking about normal border checks.")

4//The Sydney Morning Herald, Australia--FEARS OF A NEW WAR IN SOMALIA (Somalia's Islamists vowed a "holy war" yesterday against Ethiopian troops crossing into the Horn of Africa nation, while Addis Ababa threatened to "crush" any attack on the interim government it supports. The aggressive rhetoric - combined with this week's military moves on both sides - have heightened fears of a new war in Somalia, plagued by violence and without central rule since the 1991 ouster of a military dictator. "The risk of full scale war increases by the day," said John Prendergast, of the International Crisis Group think-tank. … Nominally Christian-led Ethiopia, which condemns the Islamist leaders as "terrorists", is fearful of having a hardline Muslim state on its doorstep. It is also anxious at possible Islamist aspirations to establish a "Greater Somalia" which would incorporate areas inhabited by ethnic Somalis such as Ethiopia's Ogaden.)

5//The Jakarta Post, Indonesia--LAWMAKERS DECRY NEWFOUND FREEDOM OF THE PRESS (Lawmakers made a plea Wednesday for the Press Council to rein in the media, which they said had gone too far in criticizing the House of Representatives. Apparently dismayed by media reports highlighting political bickering, scandals and absenteeism, scores of legislators on Commission I on foreign affairs, military and the press accused news outlets of trying to belittle their contributions to democracy. "We have produced hundreds of laws that have practically changed the face of this nation. Yet, the press seems to forget that and only focus on our ills," lawmaker Sidarto Danusubroto of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle [PDI-P] told a hearing with the Press Council. He said the media's actions were part of a plan to return to an authoritarian form of government by making the legislative body look incompetent. … Press Council member Sabam Leo Batubara said some coverage of House politics is driven by legislators themselves. "After all, I know there are dozens of journalists who are on House members' payrolls and have been used to further their political interests," Sabam said.)

* * *

1//The Financial Times, UK Last updated: July 20 2006 03:00

ANTI-WEST BACKLASH IS GATHERING PACE, WARNS TURKISH MINISTER
By Quentin Peel in London

Hesitation over Turkish membership of the European Union and US policies in the Middle East are causing an anti-western backlash in Turkey, the foreign minister warned yesterday.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Financial Times, Abdullah Gül said failure to resolve the dispute in Cyprus was "poisoning" the process for negotiating Turkey's membership of the EU, while US support for Israel's actions in Lebanon would have a backlash across the Middle East region.

"Moderate liberal people [in Turkey] are becoming anti-American and anti-EU," he said. "If our young, dynamic, educated and economically active people become bitter, if their attitudes and feelings are changed, it is not good. Their feeling has changed towards these global policies and strategic issues. This is dangerous."

Turkey has also warned the US and Iraqi governments that they must stop the cross-border operations of Kurdish guerrillas who claimed the lives of 14 Turkish soldiers at the weekend, or Turkey will be forced to take action itself.

Mr Gül said the PKK separatists were armed with remote-controlled explosives and weapons obtained in Iraq, including from the Iraqi army.

"This is very dangerous," he said. "We cannot tolerate this. Definitely we will use all our rights under international law.

"Of course we understand the Iraqi government's position, but if they are not able to control their land, they should not hesitate to co-operate with us.

"If they cannot stop it, we will have to take action. That is clear."

(MORE)

2//KurdishMedia.com, UK 21 July 2006

KURDISH NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF SYRIA MEETS US OFFICIALS, SYRIAN PRESSURE CONTINUES

New York (KurdishMedia.com): The newly-formed Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria (KNA-S), an umbrella organization representing a number of groups, political parties, NGOs and independent activists from the Kurdish region of Syria, is continuing its activities as pressure on the Syrian Ba’athist regime increases. The Assembly was formally founded in Brussels in May 2006 at a convention, which followed the Washington Conference of March 2006, in which representatives of various Kurdish groups, parties, NGO’s and independent agreed on the Washington Agreement or “13 Points”, a set of 13 basic principles and demands that serve as unifying principles among various groups and activists of Syrian Kurdistan who are struggling against the Assad dictatorship.

On June 22 and 23, Assembly President Sherkoh Abbas and a members of the Assembly's Executive Committee traveled to Washington, DC for meetings with members of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the US State Department, and a number of political think tanks, as well as US Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur. The Assembly continues to conduct dialogue with US and other officials aimed at explaining the aims of the Assembly and winning support for democratization in Syria. At the same time, the Assembly is in discussions with other Syrian organizations focused on forming a strong, unified front against the Syrian dictatorship.

The Syrian regime continues to closely monitor the activities of the Assembly and has taken a number of measures aimed at counteracting the success that the Assembly has had in drawing attention to the oppression and criminal conduct of the Syrian dictatorship. Recently the Syrian regime has attempted to arrange for a meeting to take place between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and a delegation of Kurdish tribal leaders, although this meeting never occurred.

Meanwhile, the Dr. Najah al-Attar, Vice President of the Syrian Arab Republic for Cultural Affairs, met for the first time with representatives of three Syrian Kurdish parties who are asking for less than what was demanded in the Washington Agreement. In the weeks leading up to the Brussels Conference, the Syria regime put a great deal of pressure on a number of Kurdish personalities and political groups who were participating in the preparation for this conference, resulting in their withdrawal from the conference. The Syrian regime’s efforts indicate that the Assembly is being viewed as a serious threat to the dictatorship and, as the regime has arranged a number of meetings and events in its attempt to discredit the Assembly, it has continued to crack down on Kurds in Syria and jail Kurdish activists.

3//The Independent, UK Published: 20 July 2006 17:22

EU PLANS ELITE BORDER GUARDS TO STOP MIGRANTS
By Stephen Castle in Brussels

Elite teams of EU border guards will be sent to Europe's southern frontiers at short notice to combat illegal migration, under plans unveiled by the European Commission.

The move would mean the creation of a permanent rapid reaction force of 250-300 experts who could be dispatched within 10 days to deal with sudden movements of population.

It follows an experiment in the Canary Islands, which saw a sudden influx of migrants and where Spanish border guards were reinforced by a fact-finding mission from other member states. Four boats and two aircraft have been promised but have yet to arrive.

The European Commission also proposed setting up a database to register all third-country nationals entering or leaving the EU to help member states check whether a migrant was overstaying illegally. That system could be used to register seasonal workers too.

But the immediate priority is to help the EU's southern frontiers, including Malta, Greece and Italy's southern islands, from being overrun by African migrants risking their lives as they seek to reach Europe by sea.

(SNIP)

These would include translators and interpreters, people trained to identify migrants' countries of origin and those versed in risk assessment and who can use intelligence to predict movement of people. There would also be medical staff to administer first aid and isolate anyone thought to be suffering from a contagious disease.

Franco Frattini, the European justice and home affairs Commissioner, said: "The idea is to have at the disposal of Frontex a permanent team of 250-300 people from the member states which will be able to intervene quickly at the request of a member state and ... [within] 10 days from the request. We're talking about helping member states that are under particular, unexpected pressure. We're not talking about normal border checks."

Members of these special units would remain employed by their national authorities and would continue to wear their uniforms while sporting an armband with the EU flag. Mr Frattini wants to get agreement on rules that would spell out the powers given to the new teams.

Chris Nash, the legal officer for the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, said: "We support measures which increase capacity of EU member states to identify asylum-seekers and assess their claims. But we would be concerned about measures which exclusively focus on controlling borders and maintaining Fortress Europe, as these have had unfortunate consequences already."

The initiative is open only to countries associated with the Schengen free travel zone, of which the UK and Republic of Ireland are not members. However, Britain has launched a court case to try to win access to such schemes and, if it wins, might take part in the rapid-reaction force.

4//The Sydney Morning Herald, Australia July 21, 2006

FEARS OF A NEW WAR IN SOMALIA Reuters

Somalia's Islamists vowed a "holy war" yesterday against Ethiopian troops crossing into the Horn of Africa nation, while Addis Ababa threatened to "crush" any attack on the interim government it supports.

The aggressive rhetoric - combined with this week's military moves on both sides - have heightened fears of a new war in Somalia, plagued by violence and without central rule since the 1991 ouster of a military dictator.

"The risk of full scale war increases by the day," said John Prendergast, of the International Crisis Group think-tank.

Islamists took the capital Mogadishu from U.S.-backed warlords last month and are threatening the authority of a transitional administration formed in Kenya in 2004 and intended to steer the nation from anarchy to peace.

Sheikh Mukhtar Robow, a senior Islamist in charge of defence, said around 20 military vehicles from Ethiopia had crossed into Somalia at Dollow on Wednesday.

That added to previous Islamist accusations Ethiopia was pouring in troops to support Somalia's government against them.

"God willing, we will remove the Ethiopians in our country and wage a jihadi war against them," he told reporters.

Independent analysts believe Addis Ababa has sent up to 5,000 troops into Somalia, and is massing many more on the border, as a deterrent to any more advances by the Islamists, who took Mogadishu from U.S.-backed warlords last month.

The regional power, Ethiopia backs the interim government of President Abdullahi Yusuf, based in the provincial town of Baidoa because it lacks the strength to move into Mogadishu.

Addis Ababa termed the jihad call "foolish and cheap propaganda" aimed at winning support from Muslim states.

"The Islamists' agenda is to topple the legally constituted Federal Transitional Government of Somalia and destabilise Ethiopia," added Information Ministry spokesman Zemedhun Tekle.

Ethiopia denied incursions into Somalia but threatened to "crush" any bid by the Islamists to take Baidoa or cross the border.

Stalled talks

Nominally Christian-led Ethiopia, which condemns the Islamist leaders as "terrorists", is fearful of having a hardline Muslim state on its doorstep.

It is also anxious at possible Islamist aspirations to establish a "Greater Somalia" which would incorporate areas inhabited by ethnic Somalis such as Ethiopia's Ogaden.

Ethiopia sounded the alarm after Islamist militia moved from Mogadishu to Buur Hakaba - just 60 km (37 miles) from Baidoa - on Wednesday. The Islamists returned in the evening, saying they went to collect 150 soldiers switching sides from Yusuf's force.

(SNIP)

Islamist defence chief Robow said he could have gone on to Baidoa: "I had weapons and militia yesterday but did not go to my house in Baidoa to avoid being an obstacle to the talks and also to prevent confrontations and gun-battles."

He was referring to stalled Arab League-brokered talks between the Islamists and government in Khartoum. The government pulled out of the last round, saying the Islamists broke an accord to stop military advances.

5//The Jakarta Post, Indonesia July 21, 2006 [link currently unavailable]

LAWMAKERS DECRY NEWFOUND FREEDOM OF THE PRESS

Lawmakers made a plea Wednesday for the Press Council to rein in the media, which they said had gone too far in criticizing the House of Representatives. Apparently dismayed by media reports highlighting political bickering, scandals and absenteeism, scores of legislators on Commission I on foreign affairs, military and the press accused news outlets of trying to belittle their contributions to democracy. "We have produced hundreds of laws that have practically changed the face of this nation. Yet, the press seems to forget that and only focus on our ills," lawmaker Sidarto Danusubroto of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) told a hearing with the Press Council. He said the media's actions were part of a plan to return to an authoritarian form of government by making the legislative body look incompetent. "Can't the Press Council do something about this?" Sidarto asked.

(SNIP)

Permadi, another PDI-P legislator, said the thousands of journalists who covered the House in fact hindered members from performing their duties. Press Council chairman Ichlasul Amal said the council cannot tell the press what to report. "The Press Council has no authority to make regulations, and the press follows only the journalistic code of ethics," he said. Press Council member Sabam Leo Batubara said some coverage of House politics is driven by legislators themselves. "After all, I know there are dozens of journalists who are on House members' payrolls and have been used to further their political interests," Sabam said. Over the six years following the 1998 downfall of Soeharto's autocratic New Order regime, 2,000 media outlets were launched. However, only 829 have survived, and of those, only 30 percent are fiscally healthy.

Copyright 2006, Gloria R. Lalumia

WORLD MEDIA WATCH