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Updated: 05-May-2004

SHAPE News Summary & Analysis

4 May 2004

  • Computer war games give Europeans grim message of nuclear terror threat


  • Former Swedish Kosovo commander says region needs peacekeepers


  • Bush administration revamping plans for Greater Middle East Initiative


  • European officials received a stark warning of threats posed by nuclear terrorism during an unprecedented simulation at NATO showing how Al Qaeda could kill 40,000 people and plunge the continent into chaos by exploding a crude device in Brussels, reports AP. The dispatch adds that in the first part of the scenario, European officials were asked how they would respond to intelligence that Al Qaeda had obtained enough highly enriched uranium to build a nuclear bomb. In the second, they were confronted with computer projections and video displays illustrating the impact of terrorists exploding the device at NATO headquarters, overwhelming hospitals with hundreds of thousands of injured, spreading panic through Europe and plunging the world economy into turmoil. More than 50 people from 15 countries and a dozen international organizations reportedly attended the exercise, mostly EU ambassadors but also civilian and military officials from NATO, the International Atomic Energy Agency, Interpol and other bodies. “We are in a race between cooperation and catastrophe,” the dispatch quotes U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, who helped organize the exercise at NATO headquarters, saying and adding: “To win this race, we have to achieve cooperation on a scale we’ve never seen or attempted before.” According to the dispatch, Nunn appealed for the Europeans to step up funding for increased protection at sites where weapons-grade uranium and plutonium are stored—particularly in former Soviet states. He said preventing Al Qaeda from getting its hands on such material was the best chance of stopping the group from building a bomb.

Media center on reports that a Turkish court Monday charged nine suspected members of a group linked to Al Qaeda in an alleged plot to set off a bomb at the June NATO summit in Istanbul. Based on remarks by a NATO spokesman, media convey the message that NATO has full confidence in the ability of Turkey to guarantee the security of summit and that cancellation is “out of the question.”

Turkish Daily News writes that “undeterred by the bomb plot,” the Alliance said it was not reconsidering its plan to hold the summit in Istanbul at the end of June. “At the moment there is no consideration of that,” the report quotes a NATO spokesman saying in Brussels and adding: “The Turkish authorities are responsible for security and we have confidence in them.” The report adds that more than 30,000 police and other security forces, including hundreds of snipers, are expected to be on duty at the summit. Police are also reportedly keeping a close eye on anti-war, anti-globalization, and various leftist groups ahead of the summit, fearing they could stage protests or attacks.

Turkey has drawn up elaborate plans for security at the summit, which the government is hoping to use to showcase a modern, democratic and moderate nation of 70 million Moslems, writes the Financial Times. NATO said that canceling the summit was “out of the question,” the article adds.
USA Today asserts that a NATO task force has been working with Turkish officials to coordinate all aspects of the summit, from telephones and lodging to transportation and security. It notes that NATO’s expanding missions in the war on terrorism have made it a more attractive target for Islamic extremists.


  • In a contribution to Stockholm’s Dagens Nyheter, May 3, Brig. Gen. Anders Brannstrom, former head of the Swedish brigade in Kosovo, insisted that a strong international military force is needed to protect the Serb minority in the province. Gen. Brannstrom, who returned to Sweden Friday after his tour of duty in Kosovo, wrote: “Before the violent disturbances in March, the rest of the world believed that the situation in Kosovo had stabilized. There were plans to strongly reduce the KFOR peacekeeping force…. (However,) the illusion of plans to reduce KFOR dramatically was destroyed in a very obvious and brutal way on March 17, when coming as a complete surprise to the entire international community, rioting broke out everywhere in Kosovo. KFOR managed to prevent total ethnic cleansing, but there was still extensive damage everywhere in Kosovo…. In retrospect, it is almost embarrassing to note that we could have been so naïve. How could we believe that Kosovo … could be ready for different ethnic groups to start living together in harmony?” Under the caveat that it should not be seen as a political view, Gen. Brannstrom, presented his analysis of the new situation in Kosovo under four points. 1. Kosovo is not ready to be a multiethnic society in the near future. 2. The conflicts and hatred are so strong that this situation will persist for many years to come. 3. Kosovo-Serb lives and Kosovo-Serb property must be protected by a strong military organization. The available options are an international force like KFOR or the Army of Serbia-Montenegro. The latter alternative would not seem feasible under the prevailing political conditions. Gen. Brannstrom’s remarks were noted by France’s AFP.

KFOR’s reactions to ethnic riots in Kosovo last month continue to generate interest.
German weekly Der Spiegel reports that German UN police in Kosovo have voiced severe criticism of the German KFOR forces in the province, accusing them of having backed out and failed during the riots. According to article, German International Police Task Force (IPTF) complained in a letter to the Interior Ministry that they were not protected by KFOR troops during the incidents. The German troops “were unable to guarantee our protection or protect the Serb population,” the IPTF reportedly claimed and added: “KFOR was incapable of fulfilling the missions with which it has been entrusted.” IPTF was further quoted saying that KFOR “is not adapted to bringing security to places where acts of violence have taken place.” A related AFP dispatch quotes the Interior Ministry saying it did not know about the IPTF’s letter. It also cites Defense Minister Struck saying the charges against the German troops were “totally absurd.”


  • According to the Los Angeles Times, after an earlier effort was met by a storm of criticisms, the Bush administration is completing a retooled and expanded plan to promote democratic reform in a Moslem world that has grown more wary of U.S. objectives. American officials are reportedly putting the finishing touches on a new Greater Middle East Initiative. The article adds that meanwhile, the administration and its NATO allies are close to completing a related proposal, the Istanbul Cooperative Initiative, that seeks to strengthen the West’s ties to Middle Eastern countries by offering them a new kind of limited military partnership. The plan is to be unveiled at the NATO summit in Istanbul in June, the newspaper stresses.

A commentary in French daily Le Monde, speculates that the outcome of U.S. plans for a Greater Middle East Initiative is likely to be more modest than was originally expected. NATO’s role has been downsized, the article claims, adding: Initially, the United States’ ideas extended well beyond a mere takeover from the coalition in Iraq by NATO forces. They envisaged a kind of extension of the organization in the Gulf region, along the lines of what was done with PFP. This is an inappropriate comparison. PFP was devised in order to calm the ardors of former communist countries seeking accession to the Atlantic Alliance. In the Gulf, there is no such demand, even among the United States’ allies, which are satisfied with bilateral security guarantees. A more visible NATO presence, which is often regarded as a fig leaf for U.S. hegemony, is desired neither by the governments nor by the intellectual elites, however modernist they may be. The commentary expects that the NATO summit will accept the general principle of a NATO role in the region, without going into practical detail.


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