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Wednesday, 02 August 2006 02:20

World Media Watch for August 2, 2006 (2)

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1//The Jordan Times, Jordan--IRAN'S INVOLVEMENT TO END CONFLICT RISKY, BUT MAY BE INEVITABLE (France's idea of involving Iran directly in talks to end the conflict between Israel and Hizbollah is a risky venture but may well prove inevitable, French analysts said Tuesday. They were reacting to French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy's meeting on Monday in Beirut with Iranian opposite number Manouchehr Mottaki, and to his remarks concerning Iran's "important stabilising role in the region." The comments - condemned as "outrageous" by French Jewish leaders - appeared to indicate a willingness to include Tehran in the search for a settlement to three weeks of violence, in direct contradiction of American and Israeli policy. ... "It is a high-risk initiative. It has a certain logic, but it implies a willingness on the part of Iran and Hizbollah to alter their behaviour," said Francois Gere of the French Institute for Strategic Analysis. For Gere, the very fact that Douste-Blazy and Mottaki were unable to agree on a joint statement at the end of their talks is a sign of the delicacy of the French approach. "French diplomacy is trying to pull off something that is extremely subtle and complex," he said. Francois Heisbourg, of the Foundation for Strategic Research, agreed that "it would on the face of it be extremely surprising for Iran to play a stabilising role in Lebanon. And if it did, the next question is obviously what is the price Iran gets in return - on its nuclear programme." Iran has in recent days toughened its position in the stand-off with outside powers over its nuclear programme, indicating that the Israeli offensives in Gaza and Lebanon will have an impact on its next step.)

2//The Independent, UK--WE MUST RETHINK OUR STRATEGY SAYS PM, AS CABINET RIFT WIDENS (Tony Blair admitted last night that the US and Britain were losing the battle for mainstream Muslim and Arab opinion, as it emerged that he had rejected an appeal by his Foreign Secretary, Margaret Beckett, to seek an early ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon. In a speech delivered to the World Affairs Institute in Los Angeles, the Prime Minister said that the West was "very far" from persuading world opinion that it was fair or even-handed, in a speech that came close to an open rebuke to the US President, George Bush. But senior Labour figures will be furious that the Prime Minister once again failed to call for an immediate ceasefire in the Middle East. As he returns to Britain today, Mr Blair will find himself an isolated figure in his own Cabinet over Lebanon. The dissent among senior Labour figures over Britain's approach to the conflict is now being seen as a growing challenge to the authority of the Prime Minister. ... Jack Straw, the former foreign secretary, became the first cabinet minister to break ranks publicly at the weekend by telling Muslims in his Blackburn constituency that he shared the views of Kim Howells, the junior foreign minister, that the bombing was "disproportionate". Irwin Stelzer, an aide to Rupert Murdoch with close contacts in the Bush administration, said the Bush administration raised doubts about Mr Straw when he was foreign secretary, because of the high number of Muslims in his constituency. That raised questions over whether he was moved to please Washington.)

3//Eurasianet.org, US--IRAN: ETHNIC AZERI ACTIVIST PREDICTS MORE PROTESTS (As the crisis over Iran's nuclear research program intensifies, US officials appear to be paying greater attention to the demands and concerns of the country's ethnic Azeris, its largest minority group. ... Reflecting the increased US interest in interethnic issues inside Iran, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns and Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams met July 21 with US-based representatives of Iranian minority ethnic groups. The ways in which Iran's different ethnic groups view Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's nuclear policies was of particular interest to both officials, stated Rahim Shahbazi, the deputy chairman of the World Azerbaijanis Congress [WAC], and one of the participants in the meeting. Amid an overview of conditions for ethnic Azeris in Iran, Shahbazi said that he had expressed the concern to Burns and Abrams that weapons of mass destruction, once acquired, could be used against groups perceived as opposed to the Ahmadinejad administration. "Dictators tend to use their weapons of mass destruction against the internal opposition first," he stated. "That is what happened in Iraq, when Saddam [Hussein] used chemical weapons against the Shi'ah opposition." US officials have not yet provided an account of what was discussed during the meeting.

4//The Turkish Daily News, Turkey--IRAQI GOV'T HINTS AT ACTION AGAINST PKK (Neighboring Iraq's deputy prime minister, Barham Salih, said his government is planning a new phase against all terror organizations based within their borders. Salih, who is a senior member of President Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan [PUK] -- accompanied by the ministers of finance, petrol, planning and national security -- evaluated the developments of the last four months at a press conference, the Do?an News Agency [DHA] reported yesterday. "We know that these terror organizations are threatening not only us but also our neighbors," Salih was quoted as saying by DHA, in an apparent reference to Turkey's uneasiness concerning the presence of members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party [PKK] in the northern part of Iraq. "We will struggle against terror not only for the security of Iraq but also for the security of the entire region, and moreover for the security of the world,' Salih added. The Iraqi deputy prime minister's remarks came following a Turkish news report over the weekend which said that Iraqi Kurdish leaders have called on PKK members to lay down arms or face isolation in their mountain camps.)

5//Worldpress.org, US--GORBACHEV URGES AUSTRALIA, U.S. TO SIGN KYOTO PROTOCOL, AVOID NUCLEAR POWER (Former president of the U.S.S.R. Mikhail Gorbachev has urged Australia and the United States to sign the Kyoto Protocol while cautioning the Australian government not to go down the path of nuclear power. Speaking through an interpreter at Brisbane's Earth Dialogues conference last week, the 75-year-old head of the environmental group Green Cross International described his country's tragic history with nuclear power and weighed in on the current debate in Australia over the environmental benefits of investing in nuclear power. ... Green Cross, founded by Gorbachev in 1993, provides assistance to groups affected by environmental degradation and aims to promote "changes in the values, actions and attitudes of government, the private sector, and civil society, necessary to build a sustainable future," according to the Geneva-based organization's Web site. In this position, Gorbachev has championed the Kyoto Protocol - an agreement signed by most nations in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, to reduce environmentally damaging carbon emissions -- and used his appearance at the summit to berate Australia and the U.S. for their refusal to endorse the agreement. ... He also accused the United States of behaving like a "stubborn animal" over its refusal to ratify the protocol and urged the Australian government to use its influence with the Bush administration to change its mind. ... using his closing address last week to warn the audience that immediate emergency action was necessary, Gorbachev said the global environmental crisis amounts to a "five minutes to midnight" warning for the world.)

Copyright 2006, Gloria R. Lalumia