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Military

 

SHAPE NEWS SUMMARY & ANALYSIS 11 DECEMBER 2002

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

ISAF

         Report: Afghan army demands warlords surrender arms or face joint operation with ISAF

IRAQ

         Turks offer partial support on Iraq in meeting with President Bush

EU-TURKEY

         EU set to talk Turkey in 2005

OTHER NEWS

         "Scud missiles" seized in Arabian Sea

 

ISAF

 

         According to Reuters, an Afghan army spokesman was quoted saying Wednesday that the Afghan army and international peacekeepers plan to crack down on warlords in five southeastern Afghan provinces if they do not lay down weapons in 10 days.  The spokesman reportedly told the private Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press agency (AIP) the government had asked all factional commanders in the region to surrender their weapons or face a joint operation by the Afghan army and ISAF.  The dispatch also quotes a military spokesman, whose 3rd Afghan Corps is based in Gardez city south of Kabul, saying that 200 ISAF soldiers had already arrived to take part in the operation.  ISAF was reportedly not immediately available for comment.

 

IRAQ

 

         The New York Times quotes senior administration officials saying President Bush appeared to win qualified support Tuesday from Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the leader of Turkey's governing party, for the use of the country's air bases to attack Iraq.  The newspaper notes that in a speech before the meeting, Erdogan stressed that Turkey's preference is for war to be the last resort. But, he reportedly added, "if Saddam Hussein's administration continues to protect developments which threaten world peace, then Turkey will give the necessary support" for the implementation of the UN resolution on Iraq.  That resolution threatens "serious consequences" if Baghdad fails to make a fully current and accurate declaration of its banned weapons. The newspaper comments that while Erdogan's statement seemed to suggest that Turkey might make its bases available, the degree to which it would allow U.S. forces to use its territory as a major staging area in any confrontation with Iraq still appeared unsettled.  The understanding with Erdogan could enable the United States to open a northern front that would compel Saddam Hussein to divide his forces, stresses the article.

 

Reports that the United States has asked Hungary for the use of the Taszar military base to train Iraqi opposition members for non-combatant duties in the event of military action against Iraq are generating interest.

President Bush has formally approved $92 million to train a pan-Iraqi militia to help fight a war against Saddam Hussein.  Over the past few weeks the Pentagon has been scouring countries looking for bases.  A NATO air base in southern Hungary emerged Tuesday as the favorite site, writes The Guardian.  The newspaper suggests that the creation of an Iraqi militia marks a cranking up of the war planning that contrasts with the softer tone from Washington in recent days as its officials analyze the Iraqi declaration on weapons of mass destruction.  It expects that the issue will come to the fore this weekend when about 350 representatives from Iraqi exile groups meet in London to try to thrash out a common front.

In Hungary, reported the BBC World Service, the authorities have announced that they have received an official request from the U.S. government for permission to use a U.S.-run air base in the south of the country to train Iraqis for a possible war in their country.  The program reported that last week, Hungarian Defense Minister Juhasz toured towns and villages around Taszar and held meetings with local officials.  The mayors were reportedly told that the training of up to 4,500 Iraqis was under discussion in two waves, lasting one to two months and possibly starting in January.  The program stressed that for the plan to be approved, it will need opposition support in parliament, where the government enjoys only a narrow majority.

 

German media continue to focus on the current debate within the German government regarding German participation in possible NATO AWACS missions in case of an Iraq conflict.

In the NATO Council, the questions which America asks the Alliance as a whole are being dealt with now.  The provision of the AWACS fleet is just one among many, writes Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, adding:   Here, Berlin has to make two decisions.  First, as soon as the formal American request has been submitted, the Federal government has to make clear whether it approves the employment of the NATO AWACS fleet at all.  Decisions of the NATO Council have to be unanimous. If Berlin does not exercise a veto, the Federal government will have to decide whether it will allow the 496 Air Force soldiers who belong to the AWACS formation to participate in the Iraq operation. Both questions are delicate:  A "no" as an answer to the first question would make it impossible for NATO to support America in an operation which takes place with the obvious UN approval, though not under a formal UN mandate. By doing so, Berlin could risk the demand of other allies that it should leave the Alliance.  A "no" as an answer to the second question would paralyze the crews of the 17 AWACS aircraft to a high degree. 

 

EU-TURKEY

 

         According to The Guardian, it emerged Tuesday that Turkey could start long-coveted negotiations on joining the EU in 2005 under a plan likely to be approved at this week's Copenhagen summit.  In a related article, The Times notes that British Foreign Secretary Straw refused to indicate whether the start of talks would be set for next year, as the Turkish government wishes, or for 2005-the date which France and Germany now believe is the most realistic.  The newspaper remarks that the emerging consensus follows intensive lobbying of member states by both Ankara and Washington, which has repeatedly emphasized Turkey's geo-political assistance, especially in the light of a war with Iraq. 

OTHER NEWS

 

         Electronic media report that U.S. experts are examining a ship in the Arabian Sea after it was stopped by Spanish warships and found to be carrying concealed Scud-type missiles.  The BBC World Service quoted officials saying that although the vessel's final destination was unclear, it was believed to be bound for Yemen, sailing from North Korea.  Twenty-three containers were reportedly found aboard the ship, concealed under 40,000 sacks of cement.  They were said to be full of missiles, warheads, rocket motors and fuel cells.  A related article in the Washington Post quotes a U.S. officials saying the decision to take over the ship was approved "at the highest levels of the administration."  It adds that the incident began around dawn Monday, when two Spanish ships, the Navarra and the Patino, signaled the freighter to stop. When the ship, sailing under a Cambodian flag but believed to be owned by North Korea, tried to evade capture, the Spanish ships fired warning shots across its bow.  When it continued to try to escape, Spanish special forces troops conducted a hostile boarding by helicopter.  The crew of about 20 was then put under guard and the ship was searched.  The Spanish soldiers opened large containers partially hidden by the cement and found missile parts. They then called in U.S. military experts in handling explosives.   According to the newspaper, a U.S. official termed the operation "a stunning success."

 

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