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Military

Updated: 05-Apr-2004
 

SHAPE News Summary & Analysis

5 April 2004

NATO
  • NATO vows to beef up fight against terrorism

TERRORISM

  • Fax sent to daily threatens to turn Spain “into an inferno”

ESDP

  • EU defense ministers mull joint military body, Bosnia force

IRAQ

  • Text

NATO

  • NATO agreed Friday on a raft of measures to strengthen its fight against terrorism in the wake of the bombing attacks in Madrid, including deeper sharing of intelligence on extremists, reports AFP. According to the dispatch, NATO foreign ministers agreed in a statement to improve the sharing of intelligence, to give enhanced support if a NATO member suffers a terror attack, and to reinforce security for this summer’s Athens Olympics and European football championship in Portugal. Among other measures agreed by the foreign ministers, which go forward for debate by NATO leaders at the Istanbul summit, the dispatch lists: coordination of NATO assets to deal with nuclear, chemical and biological attack; further developing Mediterranean sea patrols under the banner of Operation Active Endeavor; supporting member states’ ability to prevent hijackings of civilian aircraft; deepening cooperation with the EU, which has embarked on its own anti-terrorism steps in the wake of Madrid attacks. A related article in The Independent quotes the ministers saying defense against terrorism may include action by the Alliance’s military forces to help “deter, defend, disrupt and protect against terrorist attack, or threat to attacks directed from abroad.”

TERRORISM

  • AP reports a group claiming responsibility for the Madrid bombings sent a fax to the daily ABC Saturday warning it would turn Spain “into an inferno” unless the country halted its support for the United States and withdrew its troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the dispatch, the fax, a handwritten letter in Arabic, was received by the daily just hours before five terror suspects blew themselves up in an apartment in Leganes, south of Madrid, to avoid police capture. According to Reuters, Spanish investigators are giving credence to the letter, purportedly from Al Qaeda. “In principle, the letter is given certain credibility, although the analysis is not yet complete. We believe it could have been sent by people directly involved in recent events,” an Interior Ministry spokesman is quoted saying.

ESDP

  • The Financial Times asserts that, according to confidential proposals it has obtained, the EU’s first military planning cell will be led by a one-star general heading a military and civilian staff that could rise to 100 by next year. The article notes that the push to move ahead comes at an important time for Europe’s military ambitions, to be discussed in Brussels later today at an informal meeting of EU defense ministers. It quotes diplomats saying ministers would start adapting Anglo-French plans for creating highly mobile, small “battlegroups” as part of a new EU rapid reaction force. This force would comprise about 1,500 troops, which could be deployed within 15 days and sustained for up to 120 days. The force would reportedly be trained to intervene in failed or failing states, separate warring parties, and be able to operate in urban, mountain, jungle, desert or amphibious environment. According to the article, the Anglo-French paper identified Africa as a priority. EU defense ministers are meeting in Brussels for a two-day informal meeting to discuss a landmark joint military body under preparation and possible leadership of the peacekeeping mission in Bosnia, says a related AFP dispatch. The report quotes diplomatic sources saying, however, that the EU “still has to agree on what its ambitions are” for the cell, which is being overseen by foreign policy chief Solana.

IRAQ

  • According to the Financial Times, Secretary of State Powell said in Brussels Friday NATO should consider a “new collective role” in Iraq after the transfer of power to a new Iraqi government. In the meantime, he reportedly added, it should discuss options with the Iraqi Governing Council. The newspaper notes that the “unexpected request” was the first time Washington has officially called on NATO to become actively involved in Iraq.

Media focus on reports that Iraq is racked by violent civil unrest with a coordinated Shiite uprising spreading across the country.
CNN showed footage of U.S. helicopter gunships firing at targets in a Shiite Moslem district of Baghdad Monday on the second day of the revolt. BBC News reported that supporters of radical cleric Moqtada Sadr have been involved in violent protests in at least four Iraqi cities. His militia have tried to seize key sites across the country. The protests were triggered by the closure of Sadr’s main newspaper a week ago. They intensified after the arrest on Saturday of one of his top aides, said the report. The network carried its correspondent in Baghdad suggesting that a new front may have opened in the battle to pacify Iraq.

 



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