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Monday, 24 July 2006 01:34

World Media Watch for July 24, 2006

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WORLD MEDIA WATCH

1//The Jordan Times, Jordan--FOR A FEW DOLLARS, ANYONE CAN BE IRAQI POLICEMAN (... Many Sunnis have accused the country's Shiite-dominated security forces of involvement in attacks and kidnappings, but would-be gunmen don't have to look far to find security uniforms. Iraqi army, police, ministry of interior, US army -- choose! We have all the uniforms," said one salesmen in Baghdad's downtown Tahrir Square. With shirts available for $3.25 (2.55 euros), pants at $5.50 and an "IP" armband for one dollar, a hypothetical kidnapper would only have to spend $10 for his disguise. … At the start of a month-old Baghdad security operation, the government also said that police and military units would wear new outfits that would be hard to imitate. They have yet to appear. There is debate over whether the new outfits will even solve the problem. Merchants selling military garb point out that while some uniforms are counterfeit, most are the real deal -- obtained from soldiers and police themselves.)

2//Scotland on Sunday, UK--AID STAFF POISED FOR EVACUATION OF AFGHANISTAN (British aid agencies have drawn up emergency plans to evacuate up to 2,000 charity workers from Afghanistan, months after thousands of UK troops arrived to help stabilise the country. As the Royal Navy directs the huge operation to lift thousands of British citizens out of war-torn Lebanon, it has emerged that the British community in Afghanistan is poised for a similar operation if the security situation there continues to deteriorate. Charity bosses representing almost 30 UK agencies have drawn up detailed contingency plans for evacuating staff at the drop of a hat, Scotland on Sunday can reveal. … Nato's supreme commander, US Gen James Jones, said member nations were expected to approve a plan to expand across Afghanistan at the alliance's November summit in Latvia. … Nato forces have a presence in the capital, Kabul, and the western and northern regions. … As military leaders prepare to increase their presence in the country, Afghan experts believe many non-governmental organisations [NGOs] now keep their emergency evacuation plans "in a permanent state of readiness".)

3//The Dong-A Ilbo, South Korea--U.S. MULLS OWN SANCTIONS ON N. KOREA (The U.S. is reviewing the possibility of taking independent action against any third nation that violates the sanctions resolution that the U.N. Security Council set against North Korea, Kyodo News reported on July 22. … Also, the U.S. will work to forbid North Korean cargo flights to pass through U.S. airspace, and keep Iranian technicians’ moves in check to prevent missile collaboration, he added.)

4//The Daily Times, Pakistan--‘INDIA WILL NOT TOLERATE ANOTHER TERROR ATTACK’ (If there is another attack in the country, India “will act with the hard option,” top intelligence and security officials have said at a meeting convened by the Indian prime minister. “If terror continues we will be forced to change our strategy towards a more punitive response. The general consensus was that we have yet to cross the threshold,” a security official told a Delhi-based weekly magazine. He said that security agencies were asked to weigh the options for responding to a possible terrorist attack in the future. One option discussed related to striking at the roots of terror in Pakistan and Bangladesh. The intention is to target ‘religious’ bodies promoting jihad against India, he said.)

5//The Japan Times, Japan--KYRGYZSTAN: LAND AT A CROSSROADS (Kyrgyzstan is referred to as a faltering state, meaning that it is not quite failing. The International Crisis Group describes a government there that "lurches from crisis to crisis in the face of worsening political violence, prison revolts, serious property disputes and popular disillusion." The ICG warns that allowing democracy to fail in Kyrgyzstan could reinforce perceptions among regional governments that "the path to stability lies not in democracy but in dictatorship." Compared to other Central Asian states, Kyrgyzstan is considered a bastion of freedom. Wags would say that sets the bar rather low. … However, anti-government political rallies are tolerated in Kyrgystan, critical news commentary is published, pornography is openly sold, gambling flourishes, Internet cafes are unrestricted, couples walk about hand in hand and virtually anything goes. That also means drugs, prostitution, street crime, contract killings and random "taxation" by police. In this rough-and-tumble world, the country's parliamentarians passed a law allowing them to carry guns to defend themselves. … as Prime Minister Feliks Kulov stated, "the biggest problem is that law-enforcement agencies have become intertwined with the criminals, and honest law-enforcement structures are afraid to fight crime.")

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1//The Jordan Times, Jordan Sunday, July 23, 2006

FOR A FEW DOLLARS, ANYONE CAN BE IRAQI POLICEMAN
By Nafia Abdel Jabbar and Patrick Fort
Agence France-Presse

BAGHDAD — A disreputable crew of unshaven men wearing police uniforms pounces on a businessman before the horrified eyes of his wife as he leaves his home in an upscale Baghdad neighbourhood.

Luckily for the hapless commuter, two crisply dressed "heroes" show up, swiftly disarm the attackers and derisively tear off their fake "Iraqi Police" armbands.

Welcome to the world of state-owned television's public service announcements.

Outside in the real streets, however, the heroes don't always arrive and survivors of incident after bloody incident report being attacked by gunmen wearing apparently official security uniforms — with total impunity.

The attacks have reached such a level that the interior ministry this week issued phone numbers for its operations room so people can call to confirm the identities of gunmen in uniform.

"The ministry asked citizens to prevent such criminals from carrying out their dirty intentions by using the name of a force which works hard to serve the people," the ministry statement said.

Many Sunnis have accused the country's Shiite-dominated security forces of involvement in attacks and kidnappings, but would-be gunmen don't have to look far to find security uniforms.

"Iraqi army, police, ministry of interior, US army — choose! We have all the uniforms," said one salesmen in Baghdad's downtown Tahrir Square.

With shirts available for $3.25 (2.55 euros), pants at $5.50 and an "IP" armband for one dollar, a hypothetical kidnapper would only have to spend $10 for his disguise.

For those looking to add flair to the outfit, unit insignia and ranks range from 15 cents to a dollar. Genuine medals can even be bought at stores in the major hotels.

"I regret that military clothing can be found freely sold in the market or be imported," said Major General Abdel Aziz Mohammed in a briefing this week.

"We will import new uniforms that will be distributed to our units that no one will be able to obtain otherwise, and will be difficult to imitate," he said, repeating the oft-heard promise of new uniforms.

At the start of a month-old Baghdad security operation, the government also said that police and military units would wear new outfits that would be hard to imitate. They have yet to appear.

There is debate over whether the new outfits will even solve the problem. Merchants selling military garb point out that while some uniforms are counterfeit, most are the real deal — obtained from soldiers and police themselves.

(MORE)

2//Scotland on Sunday, UK Sun 23 July 2006

AID STAFF POISED FOR EVACUATION OF AFGHANISTAN
Brian Brady, Westminster Editor

British aid agencies have drawn up emergency plans to evacuate up to 2,000 charity workers from Afghanistan, months after thousands of UK troops arrived to help stabilise the country.

As the Royal Navy directs the huge operation to lift thousands of British citizens out of war-torn Lebanon, it has emerged that the British community in Afghanistan is poised for a similar operation if the security situation there continues to deteriorate.

Charity bosses representing almost 30 UK agencies have drawn up detailed contingency plans for evacuating staff at the drop of a hat, Scotland on Sunday can reveal.

Foreign Office staff last night confirmed that Afghanistan remained a treacherous destination for foreigners and that they were aware of evacuation planning in the event of a sharp decline in security. But they insisted that, despite ongoing concerns about the fierce insurgency - often targeted at aid workers - there were no immediate plans to activate a mass evacuation programme.

However, a planning document produced by British and Irish charities and the Refugee Council lays bare the depth of concerns about the safety of foreign staff and their Afghan colleagues. It lists details of evacuation plans, gathering places and communication systems, as well as requirements for maintaining security for staff working in one of the world's most dangerous countries.

"The aid community is facing a situation of ongoing insecurity in which it is one of a number of key targets of an insurgency operation which commenced at the time of the US-led military intervention in Iraq of March 2003 and which shows no sign of abating," warned the document, compiled by the British and Irish Agencies Afghanistan Group (BAAG) and the Refugee Council. "There is the ever-present risk that circumstances may dictate an emergency evacuation of agency personnel, Afghan and international."

The deaths of six British servicemen within weeks in Helmand province brought home grave concerns about the perils of the UK presence in Afghanistan and led directly to the decision to send almost 1,000 more troops to the country.

But aid agencies point out their staff have also borne the brunt of rebel attacks. Last month alone, three aid workers were killed and three more kidnapped, while several more working for foreign construction firms were also killed.

Nato's top commander yesterday said the alliance would probably expand its Afghan mission by the end of the year to include the entire country, including the lawless east, where militants killed a coalition soldier in the latest fighting.

In recent months, the region has witnessed some of the worst fighting since the Taliban was ousted in late 2001. Militants have stepped up suicide attacks and assaults on Afghan and US-led coalition forces. More than 800 people, mostly militants, have died in violence nationwide since mid-May.

Nato's supreme commander, US Gen James Jones, said member nations were expected to approve a plan to expand across Afghanistan at the alliance's November summit in Latvia. "Certainly, by the Riga summit or sooner we should be able to achieve this," Jones said in the southern city of Kandahar.

Nato forces have a presence in the capital, Kabul, and the western and northern regions.
As military leaders prepare to increase their presence in the country, Afghan experts believe many non-governmental organisations (NGOs) now keep their emergency evacuation plans "in a permanent state of readiness".

(MORE)

3//The Dong-A Ilbo, South Korea July 24, 2006 03:18

U.S. MULLS OWN SANCTIONS ON N. KOREA
by Kwang-Am Cheon

The U.S. is reviewing the possibility of taking independent action against any third nation that violates the sanctions resolution that the U.N. Security Council set against North Korea, Kyodo News reported on July 22.

Countries concerned are those that take part in trading weapons of mass destruction with North Korea, or take actions such as aiding North Korean ships that transport such goods.

In an interview with Kyodo News, a high-level U.S. government official said, “In order to cut off North Korea’s source of funds for developing WMD, we will come up with a plan for countries to share information about companies that are aiding missile development.” He said, “Based on the U.N. resolution, there will be field studies on North Korean ships that stop in territorial waters of other countries, and operations regarding weapons of mass destruction proliferation security initiative will also be intensified.”

Also, the U.S. will work to forbid North Korean cargo flights to pass through U.S. airspace, and keep Iranian technicians’ moves in check to prevent missile collaboration, he added.

(MORE)

4//The Daily Times, Pakistan Sunday, July 23, 2006

‘INDIA WILL NOT TOLERATE ANOTHER TERROR ATTACK’
India mulling striking at the roots of terror in Pakistan

By Iftikhar Gilani

NEW DELHI: If there is another attack in the country, India “will act with the hard option,” top intelligence and security officials have said at a meeting convened by the Indian prime minister.

“If terror continues we will be forced to change our strategy towards a more punitive response. The general consensus was that we have yet to cross the threshold,” a security official told a Delhi-based weekly magazine.

He said that security agencies were asked to weigh the options for responding to a possible terrorist attack in the future. One option discussed related to striking at the roots of terror in Pakistan and Bangladesh. The intention is to target ‘religious’ bodies promoting jihad against India, he said. The meeting decided that India would not launch an operation on the scale of the Israeli offensive against Lebanon.

“We know who they (terrorists) are and what they do. If necessary, they can be neutralised. It all depends on whether we are pushed to a point that necessitates such action,” sources said. India has been tracking Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, who was released from house arrest by Pakistan on February 20. Saeed is one of the seven signatories, along with Al Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden and Ayman Al Zawahiri, to a 1999 pact that resolved to spread terror in India and the West.

While the security agencies pressed for stricter anti-terror laws, the meeting said the government will have to simultaneously engage with Muslim leaders to “try and not alienate Muslims”.

India is looking at sectarian and ethnic fault-lines in Pakistan and Bangladesh which can be exploited to its advantage, the sources said. Waziristan and Balochistan, which have been driven by unrest, are seen as vulnerable areas by India, the sources said.

(MORE)

5//The Japan Times, Japan Sunday, July 23, 2006

KYRGYZSTAN: LAND AT A CROSSROADS
Democracy falters as underworld forces flourish

By Jeff Kingston, Special to The Japan Times
(Jeff Kingston is Director of Asian Studies at Temple University, Japan Campus, in Tokyo.)

Kyrgyzstan is referred to as a faltering state, meaning that it is not quite failing.

The International Crisis Group describes a government there that "lurches from crisis to crisis in the face of worsening political violence, prison revolts, serious property disputes and popular disillusion."

The ICG warns that allowing democracy to fail in Kyrgyzstan could reinforce perceptions among regional governments that "the path to stability lies not in democracy but in dictatorship."
Compared to other Central Asian states, Kyrgyzstan is considered a bastion of freedom. Wags would say that sets the bar rather low.

This mostly mountainous, landlocked nation with stunning alpine vistas and lakes is more than double the size of Hungary. It shares borders with China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Its water is a significant resource in this parched zone, but it does not have the hydrocarbon riches of its neighbors.

However, anti-government political rallies are tolerated in Kyrgystan, critical news commentary is published, pornography is openly sold, gambling flourishes, Internet cafes are unrestricted, couples walk about hand in hand and virtually anything goes. That also means drugs, prostitution, street crime, contract killings and random "taxation" by police. In this rough-and-tumble world, the country's parliamentarians passed a law allowing them to carry guns to defend themselves.

People power

In 2005 the government was overthrown in the so-called Tulip Revolution, a demonstration of people power sweeping a corrupt regime out of office and into exile. In its wake, the new regime under President Kurmanbek Bakiyev has disappointed the people. Unemployment, underemployment and corruption remain endemic and are major grievances. And, as Prime Minister Feliks Kulov stated, "the biggest problem is that law-enforcement agencies have become intertwined with the criminals, and honest law-enforcement structures are afraid to fight crime."

Democracy has provided an opening for organized crime to consolidate its influence within the government. In October 2005, the parliamentary chairman of the Committee on Defense, Security and Law Enforcement was murdered while in a prison on an inspection tour -- apparently by the Chechen mafia. More recently, his brother, Ryspek Akmatbayev, one of the more notorious Kyrgyz crime bosses, was killed as he left a mosque. He lived dangerously by challenging the entrenched Chechen mafia, and had also become a political liability for the government.

(MORE)

Copyright 2006, Gloria R. Lalumia

WORLD MEDIA WATCH