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Updated: 05-Jul-2004

News Summary & Analysis

5 July 2004


  • NATO chief sees both Iraq and Afghanistan at risk
  • NATO fact-finding mission going to Iraq
  • Belgian daily: NATO to hand over pipeline at port of Antwerp


  • According to the New York Times , July 3, NATO Secretary General de Hoop Scheffer warned in an interview Friday that Afghanistan and Iraq were doomed to be failed states if the United States and the international community did not find a way to work together to save them . The security situation and the risk of the spread of terrorism from those countries was so serious that the United States had to come together with all international organizations, including NATO, the EU, the UN and the international donor community, and forge a common strategy , he reportedly stressed. He made clear that his top priority as secretary general is not Iraq but Afghanistan . However, he said he will do all he can to fulfill the request made to NATO by Iraq's interim prime minister to train its security forces . "This should be a NATO operation in Iraq," he said, but insisted that the United States has to be fully engaged in the NATO mission to make it a success and not treat it as an operation that is somehow a separate project for NATO, minus America . Claiming that Mr. de Hoop Scheffer criticized Washington for abandoning NATO as an alliance and using it mainly when it suited U.S. interests, the article quotes him saying he had a "simple message" for Washington regarding NATO: "Get engaged." He reportedly also called on the U.S. to help reorganize the mission in Afghanistan in which the U.S. leads one force that is designed to hunt down Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda operatives but does not participate on the ground in the main NATO force whose mission is to bring stability to the country. "The Afghan model is not a model I like," the newspaper quotes Mr. de Hoop Scheffer saying. According to the newspaper, he also expressed regrets that the U.S. administration was not committing troops to the NRF.
  • The Italian news agency ANSA , July 3, reported that according to diplomatic sources at NATO Brussels, NATO is sending a small fact finding mission to Iraq this week following the Alliance's decision to train Iraqi security forces. The group will consists of less than 10 people and will be put together by NATO headquarters in Naples . The dispatch observed that some media claimed the mission could be led by Gen. Jones . It stressed, however, that this appears unlikely since, according to sources at SHAPE, the group will be set up at JFC Naples . AFP , July 3, quoted a NATO spokesman saying Saturday NATO was sending a fact-finding team to Iraq as part of its commitment to help train Iraqi security forces. "It's a fact- finding mission, because we are in the planning process," the spokesman was quoted saying. "He refused to confirm media speculation that the mission would be led by Gen. Jones. However, he said the team would be composed of about a dozen people from JFC Naples rather than from SHAPE," added the dispatch. The Financial Times , July 2, quoted a senior U.S. official saying Friday that Gen. Jones and Adm. Johnson, commander, JFC Naples, would lead the mission.

Remarks by Gen. Jones on a visit to Afghanistan on the eve of the Istanbul Summit continue to generate interest.

The Alliance agreed at its Istanbul Summit to expand peacekeeping forces in the north of the country and to boost protection for hoped-for September elections, wrote AFP , July 3. Noting, however, "that less well-noticed is a green light to start moving into more remote corners of western Afghanistan-stage two of a four-phase plan which could eventually see NATO troops throughout the country," the dispatch quoted Gen. Jones saying in Herat, near the Iranian border: "The logistical challenges are there. They're not insurmountable, but it's going to take some donations of some fairly impressive capability." The dispatch added that while declining to forecast how long NATO could be in Afghanistan, Gen. Jones said progress there had been about twice a rapid as Bosnia, from where NATO is just about to withdraw after about a decade. Gen. Jones was further quoted saying the first step in Herat could be a forward support base with some 300-400 troops paving the way for a number of PRTs in the west of the country. Stressing that after the Istanbul summit, "(Gen. Jones') staff declined to go into any further detail," the dispatch continued: "For Gen. Jones, the new PRTs are part of a strategy which could see NATO take command of nearly 20 PRTs across Afghanistan in all - clockwise, starting in the north moving to the west, then south and southeast. 'In a year's time some of the southern hotspots may not be hotspots,' he said, referring to the more dangerous regions where insurgency action by Al Qaeda, Taliban and others keeps currently U.S.-run PRTs firmly engaged."

  • Gen. Jones wants to hand over some parts of the 6,000-km NATO pipeline system spread throughout western Europe. According to preliminary plans, among them is the pipeline at the port of Antwerp, which supplies Brussels airport , wrote La Libre Belgique , July 3-4. The article added that Belgium, along with France, the Netherlands and Germany, has been approached by SHAPE, which is trying to negotiate a takeover of parts of the pipeline network by concerned countries and by private firms. "We want to reach a decision before 2008," the newspaper quotes a NATO spokesman saying and adding: "No conclusions have been made yet on which pipelines will be handed over or not. Decisions will be made with concerned countries." According to the newspaper, Belgian Defense Minister Flahaut was contacted a few days prior to the NATO summit . He informed the Ministerial Council on June 25 and a working group was set up to prepare negotiations which, the article expected, will be hard from a budgetary viewpoint. The newspaper recalled that the pipeline system was a crucial pivot in the allied defense against a Warsaw Pact attack . It added, however, that in the post Cold War era, Washington wants to reorient his forces eastward. The daily also quoted NATO sources stressing that the cost of maintaining the pipeline system is very high and that "if we invest in this pipeline, we will have less money for other investments." The newspaper quoted Flahaut saying that "what (Gen. Jones) wants to do is to keep 'a skeleton,' which would only supply military clients." The airport at Zaventem will be hurt, Flahaut reportedly warned.


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