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SHAPE NEWS SUMMARY & ANALYSIS 25 SEPTEMBER 2002

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

NATO

¨         Rumsfeld says he received support from some NATO ministers on Iraq

¨         Greenpeace blames NATO for death of whales off Canary Islands

IRAQ-NO FLY ZONES

¨         U.S.-British airstrike hits Iraq military facilities in no-fly zone

 

NATO

 

¨         In a news conference in Warsaw, carried live by CNN, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld indicated that at an informal meeting of NATO defense ministers he had received gestures of political or military support on Iraq from some of the NATO allies.  "People did come up to me and indicate in a variety of different ways the views of their government," Rumsfeld said.  Asked whether classified U.S. intelligence presented to the NATO allies linked Iraq and Al Qaeda, he replied, "I have no desire going beyond except to say the answer is 'yes.'"    Asked to evaluate reactions to his proposal for a NATO Rapid Response Force, Rumsfeld said the meeting had been "excellent" and the response to the proposal had been "broadly positive."  He noted that the problem NATO Secretary General Robertson and the NATO nations are facing in respect to capabilities is a serious one, which is determined by budgets.  Therefore, he added,  progress there has not been as great as it ought to be.  CNN carried its Pentagon correspondent saying the allies would now be refining the U.S. concept.  "Each has to determine what they want to contribute to the force and how soon," said the correspondent.

 

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's proposal for the establishment of a NATO Rapid Reaction Force continues to generate high interest.

The Financial Times observes that several of NATO's 19 members gave support for a force of about 20,000 troops that could be called up at short notice and be deployed within seven to 30 days.  Pentagon officials said the force would be drawn from all member states, including the U.S.,  with the main thrust on highly specialized units to be involved in "high intensity conflicts," adds the newspaper.  It claims, however, that the idea of the U.S. urging NATO down such a road raised many questions among the Europeans. French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie warned NATO about venturing out of its main geographic area of responsibility.  Spain and Belgium, among others, asked if the rapid reaction force would eclipse the EU's attempts to create its own force under the umbrella of ESDP, stresses the article.  It adds, however, that ESDP has lost much of its impetus with defense spending levels remaining low and delivery on capabilities well behind schedule.  The article further says that another concern voiced by several European countries was that separate EU and NATO rapid reaction forces could overstretch the armed services.  It could also leave the EU with a force capable only of conducting low-key peacekeeping operations as NATO would siphon away top officers.  The Daily Telegraph writes meanwhile that inevitably, the reductions in troops numbers as European countries move from large conscript armies to smaller professional forces will mean that the new NATO force and the Euro-Army would rely on the same troops.  "The most likely alternative is that the NATO force will cream off the troops from countries such as Britain that are prepared to commit them to do what will largely be U.S.-led operations.  That would leave the Euro-Army as a second division force capable only of minor peacekeeping operations," comments the newspaper.  It attributes the proposal for the new NATO force to U.S. concerns that Europe is often either unable or unwilling to deploy forces and seemingly reluctant to pay its way in terms of defense spending.  A related AFP dispatch stresses that the Pentagon believes that the creation of the force will help channel an Alliance effort to acquire advanced weapons and other military capabilities to close a yawning gap between the United States and its allies.  

While La Libre Belgique interprets Rumsfeld's proposal as a sign that "Washington wants NATO's success,"  Die Welt stresses that "NATO is sorting itself out again under the leading hand of the United States."

France's Le Figaro considers that while Iraq is not the target, it is clearly a new Iraq which the United States has in mind with its proposal to create the new rapid response force.  Acknowledging that there was no opposition to the proposal, the article warns, however, that "as often, the devil is in the details and there is no guarantee that the text presented by Rumsfeld in Warsaw will be approved in its current form at the Prague summit." 

The BBC World Service carried its correspondent in Warsaw saying the proposal was still in its early stages.  "The proposal is all part of NATO's transformation-the modernization of the Alliance to deal with the new threats of the 21st century. NATO has been facing a crisis of confidence and it desperately wants to transform itself and to maintain its relevance," the correspondent added. 

 

Assuming that the "capability gap" would be discussed at  the Warsaw meeting, Die Welt, Sept. 24, quoted former DSACEUR Gen. Stöckmann warning against national approaches in Europe.  

"We Europeans will have to put the screws on ourselves," the newspaper quoted Gen. Stöckmann saying in an interview, and adding:  "We have to set priorities, and we must implement these priorities in a credible manner."   According to the article, he added, that the question remains how the Europeans will react once they realize that these targets would have to be met and financed within a short time.  Noting, however, that Gen. Stöckmann remains confident, the newspaper further quoted him saying the European NATO countries could master the challenges if "they adopted a European way instead of going for national approaches." 

 

¨         According to AFP, the international environmental watchdog Greenpeace on Wednesday blamed NATO naval exercises in the Atlantic Ocean off the Canary Islands for the deaths of 16 whales which washed up onto local beaches in recent days.  The dispatch reports that the Spanish Defense Ministry insisted that there was no proof the whales had died as a result of the exercises near the Spanish archipelago. But, it adds, in a statement Wednesday, Greenpeace demanded that the Spanish government open an inquiry into the deaths of the whales which had washed onto beaches along the western shores of the islands of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote showing signs of having died as a result of high frequency radar transmissions.  "There is a clear link between the NATO exercises and the deaths of the whales," the dispatch quotes a Greenpeace spokesman saying and adding:  "It is unacceptable that the Spanish government authorizes exercises of this kind in waters that are one of the few places in the world with a large whale population..  The damage caused by acoustic pollution produced by high frequency sonar used in such exercises is well known."  The dispatch quotes a Spanish Defense Ministry spokesman insisting that "it had not been shown that the death of the whales had resulted from the naval exercises" and "these are not as such NATO exercises."  The Neo Tapon 2002 exercises were organized by Spain, which invited 11 other nations and part of NATO's permanent Atlantic Fleet to participate, the spokesman reportedly said.  The dispatch remarks that according to the Spanish Cetacian Society, in 1989, during similar naval exercises off the island of Fuerteventura, 84 whales were found dead.  Madrid's EFE, Sept. 24 reported that the deaths of the whales prompted protests from officials, political parties and environmentalists.  Defense Minister Trillo has ordered an "in depth" investigation to find out the causes of the stranding of the animals, added  the report. 

 

IRAQ-NO FLY ZONES

 

¨         AP quotes defense officials saying in Washington Wednesday that allied aircraft have again struck Iraqi air defense facilities.  In a double strike at two southeastern installations, precision-guided weapons were aimed at a radar facility near Al Amarah about 265 kilometers southeast of Baghdad and defense communications facility at Tallil, about 274 kilometers southeast of the capital, a statement from the U.S. Central Command reportedly said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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