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Updated: 11-Aug-2003

SHAPE News Morning Update

11 August 2003

  • Afghan government welcomes impending NATO takeover ofinternational peacekeeping force
  • Uzbekistan allows German military to extend use of airport to support mission in Afghanistan


  • German troops could join NATO Iraq force-minister
  • Turkey ready to serve in peacekeeping force, top general says


  • Taylor declares love of the people compelling resignation


  • America cancels war drills with Egypt because U.S. forces are overstretched


  • Afghanistan on Sunday welcomed the impending NATO takeover of the 5,000-strong multinational peacekeeping force deployed in the capital and urged the international community to consider expanding the force beyond Kabul as soon as possible. "The Afghan Government is confident that ISAF’s mission effectiveness will be enhanced by NATO's new role at the helm of the peacekeeping force in Kabul," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. "The Afghan people are grateful for the commitment and assistance of the international community, including all nations that contribute troops to ISAF.” Largely because of the peacekeepers' presence, Kabul is now considered a safe island in a sea of insecurity. President Hamid Karzai's government, along with U.N. special envoy to Afghanistan Lakhdar Brahimi and human rights groups, have repeatedly called for ISAF’s mandate to be expanded outside the capital, particularly with general elections due in June 2004. So far, however, no nation has been willing to support that endeavor, which outgoing ISAF commander Lt. Gen. Norbert van Heyst said last week would require at least 10,000 additional troops. NATO spokesman Mark Laity told reporters in Kabul it was "premature" to talk about expanding the multinational force, but said a debate on the issue was "inevitable." Laity said a single, open-ended command by NATO would add more continuity to the mission as well as an institutional memory. Laity said ISAF’s will continue operating exactly as before, with the "same mission, same mandate, same banner." (AP 101509 Aug 03)

  • German Defense Minister Peter Struck agreed Sunday with Uzbekistan that is country will continue to use an airport in this Central Asian nation to support its military mission in neighboring Afghanistan. "I was pleased to accept the offer to continue to use (Termez) airport," Struck told reporters after talks with Uzbek Defense Minister Kadyr Gulyamov in Tashkent. About 200 German troops are stationed in the border town of Termez in southern Uzbekistan. Struck said Sunday he and Gulyamov discussed security cooperation between their countries and agreed to step up cooperation in military training. He said Germany was ready to help Uzbekistan train mountain troops. Uzbekistan also requested German assistance in training military pilots, Struck said. Struck stopped over in Tashkent on his way to Kabul, where on Monday he will attend a ceremony of NATO's takeover of the command of the International Security Assistance Force from Germany and the Netherlands. (AP 101638 Aug 03)


  • German Defence Minister Peter Struck said on Sunday that German troops could form part of a NATO mission in Iraq once the force was backed by a United Nations mandate. "If the relevant U.N. mandates are in place and if NATO is asked to take on more responsibility, then we would have no reason to oppose an engagement by the (NATO) Alliance in Iraq," Struck told Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper. In the Sonntagzeitung newspaper, Struck outlined Germany's main priorities when it came to deploying troops abroad, stressing Germany's strong ties with the United States. "Our first priority is to secure stability on our own continent, Europe, such as in the Balkans," Struck said. "Secondly, special German interests in a region or a country outside Europe such as Afghanistan, where we are fighting international terrorism and have shown solidarity with our most important coalition partner, the United States," he said. Struck said he was sceptical about German troops taking part in peacekeeping missions in Africa and ruled out German involvement in Liberia. (Reuters 101633 GMT Aug 03)

  • Turkey's military is ready to serve in a multinational peacekeeping force in neighboring Iraq, a top general said Sunday. The announcement by Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, the deputy chief of staff at a cocktail party for journalists in Ankara, could help ease public opposition against contributing to the U.S.-led operation. It was the first time the military publicly endorsed sending peacekeepers to Iraq. "Turkey's military is capable of carrying out any mission, but it is a political decision," Buyukanit added. Buyukanit admitted any mission could be dangerous. (AP 101728 Aug 03)


  • In a farewell address to his bloodied people, President Charles Taylor declared Sunday he would "sacrifice my presidency” to stop what has been 14 years of ruinous conflict in Liberia. The speech comes on the eve of his promised resignation, under intense pressure from the United States, West African leaders and rebels laying siege to his capital. The roughly 15-minute address made no mention of Taylor's acceptance of an asylum offer in Nigeria _ and ended with a declaration: "I say, God willing, I will be back." The recording would mark Taylor's first formal confirmation to Liberians that he would cede power on Monday, with Vice President Moses Blah as his designated successor. (AP 101835 Aug 03)


  • The United States has canceled this year's "Bright Star" maneuvers with the Egyptian military because American forces are over-stretched, the charge d'affaires at the U.S. Embassy said Sunday. "This decision was made purely on technical grounds because of commitments we have in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in fighting the war against terrorism," Gordon Gray told reporters after a meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher. The Bright Star maneuvers, which were scheduled to take place next month, have been held in the Egyptian desert every two years since 1981. "We wanted to emphasize the importance we attach to the U.S-Egyptian military relationship and to the bilateral relationship," Gray said of his talk with Maher in comments posted on the embassy's web site. (AP 101759 Aug 03)


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