The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW

Military

Updated: 13-May-2004
 

SHAPE News Summary & Analysis

13 May 2004

GREATER MIDDLE EAST INITIATIVE
  • U.S. to present revised program for democracy in Mideast; skepticism is widespread

WAR ON TERRORISM

  • U.S. looks to Sahara as front in terror war

BALKANS

  • New Macedonian (sic) president takes office, vows EU and NATO push

ISAF

  • Eurocorps to take over ISAF command in August

GREATER MIDDLE EAST INITIATIVE

  • According to The New York Times, the Bush administration, troubled by the abuse scandal in Iraq, is launching a new appeal for democracy and political reform in the Middle East in spite of extreme skepticism in the region and in Europe. The proposal, in the framework of the so-called Greater Middle East Initiative, observes the daily, is an eight-page draft new version of a previous proposal leaked out last winter that provoked an angry outcry from Arab officials. The new document, says the paper, named “G-8 Plan of Support for Reform,” calls for increased engagement by the West to promote democracy, women’s rights, education, political reforms, free markets and investments, an independent judiciary and media, and greater efforts to combat corruption. President Bush, his administration reportedly said, “plans to get some form of the document adopted at the summit meeting of leading industrial nations and Russia, the so-called Group of 8, in June at Sea Island, Georgia.” “One detail of the document,” argues the paper, “calls for a ‘ministerial framework for our ongoing engagement on political, economic and social reform’ in the Middle East. This forum would convene foreign, finance and trade ministers from the G-8 countries and the Middle East on a regular basis.” European diplomats, however, allegedly say they are very skeptical about the opportunity to set up a bureaucratic structure or secretariat, especially given the current situation in Iraq. European and American officials are reported saying that their plan is to get the Arab League, which will meet in summit talks on May 22, to adopt a similar document, while they would consequently issue a statement at Sea Island to support the Arab leaders, possibly combining the two statements. Moreover, some officials say that the Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Cairo have adopted this week a document that could facilitate the American plan’s way ahead. Asked about the skepticism which surrounds the issue, a senior Bush administration official is quoted saying: “There’s broad agreement about the value of doing something to promote reform in the Middle East. But the skepticism is focused on how we want to put it into practice.”

WAR ON TERRORISM

  • “The American campaign against terrorism is opening a new front in a region that military officials fear could become the next base for Al-Qaeda, the largely ungoverned swath of territory stretching from the Horn of Africa to the Western Sahara’s Atlantic coast,” wrote the International Herald Tribune, May 12. The paper said generals at the U.S. Armed Forces European Command in Stuttgart believe in this region there are well financed bands of Islamic militants recruiting, training and arming themselves and the most recent terrorist attacks, like the one in Madrid on March 11, seem to have a link to North Africa. But, notes the daily, the approach for this battle is new compared with Afghanistan and Iraq: instead of having a heavy military presence, Special Operations Forces are dispatched to countries like Mali and Mauritania to train soldiers and outfit them with pickup trucks, radios and global-positioning equipment. “We want to be preventative, so that we don’t have to put boots on the ground here in North Africa as we did in Afghanistan,” Lieutenant Colonel Powl Smith, the European Command’s chief of counter-terrorism, was quoted saying. American military officials are also reported saying militants linked to Al-Qaeda, pushed out of Afghanistan and blocked by increased surveillance of traditional points of entry along the Mediterranean coast, are trying to make contact with North African Islamic terror groups.

BALKANS

  • An AFP dispatch, May 12, reported that Branko Crvenkovski took the oath of office as president of Macedonia (sic) on Wednesday, vowing to continue the country’s efforts to join the EU and NATO. “Macedonia (sic) as part of a united Europe and NATO is our future, our objective,” the new president was quoted saying in his inaugural speech before the parliament. “As the president of Macedonia (sic) I will be devoted to strengthening inter-ethnic confidence, ethnic and religious tolerance,” he reportedly added promising to implement the Ohrid Agreement, which recognized greater civil and political rights for the Albanian minority. The president, who until the election was prime minister, notes the agency, also resigned from the leading position of his party. Deputies of the opposition parties did not attend the inauguration, claiming electoral fraud and refusing to recognize him as the new president, concludes the report.

ISAF

  • Eurocorps will take over command of NATO international peacekeepers in Kabul for six months in August, Gen. Jean-Luis Py said late on Wednesday, according to an AFP report. “We will thus fulfill our vocation of being a rapid European reaction force, at the service of NATO, for this operation to secure and rebuild Afghanistan in support of the Afghan government,” the general is quoted saying. Gen. Py allegedly said the force deployed in Afghanistan would come from Eurocorps’ command structures, from Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Spain. Eurocorps, comments the dispatch, created in 1992, was approved as a NATO rapid reaction force in 2002. The Afghan operation will be the force’s first outside Europe. Another AFP report says that according to Bulgarian newspaper Troud, NATO Secretary General de Hoop Scheffer, due to arrive in Bulgaria today, has called on member states to contribute more soldiers to international peacekeeping missions, notably in Afghanistan. “NATO needs reinforcements in all its missions,” he was reported saying, and singling out Afghanistan: “NATO needs to do better here, therefore Bulgaria also… I will ask Bulgaria to step up its involvement and to continue with its military reforms. This message is not directed only at Sofia, but at all our members. They must make available more able men to allow us to deploy them where we need them.” Asked by the newspaper about a possible NATO mission in Iraq, he allegedly answered: “We need to wait for the Iraqi sovereign government to make an official request for NATO involvement... It is up to the government in Baghdad to decide if it wants to ask for a multinational force and if this is the case, we need to know what form it will take, how NATO will participate and who will command it.”


 



NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list