News from around the World

  • From: "Muslim-News" <editor@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 4 Apr 2002 09:33:30 +0100

India proposing joint military exercises with the Saudis 

India is making a diplomatic end run to neutralize Pakistan's
traditional military links with its Islamic brethren in the Gulf.
Despite India's conviction that Pakistan became a nuclear power with
Chinese technology and Saudi money, India is now proposing joint
military exercises with the Saudis, starting with naval exercises, and
is also exploring low-cost arms sales to Riyadh. India is also offering
communications software and early warning systems to the six-nation Gulf
Cooperation Council, currently boosting its common defense plans. The
Indian initiative may not get far, but the effort is making Pakistan

================== ==================

After some frantic diplomacy by Miguel Moratinos, the European Union's
Middle East envoy, there is intense speculation that Palestinian leader
Yasser Arafat could be heading into exile again. In 1982, after being
expelled from Beirut, Arafat went to Tunisia. This time it could be
Morocco, after a mysterious phone call Sunday between Israeli premier
Ariel Sharon and King Muhammed VI, and subsequent calls between Moroccan
officials and U.N. envoy Terje Larsen. Could it be Casablanca for Arafat
and the usual suspects? 

================= ==================

Ariel Sharon is furious with his own media aides, the press office of
the Israeli Defense Forces and the Israeli media, for underplaying what
he sees as the real drama of the siege of Ramallah, the discovery of
large weapons hordes in tunnels beneath Arafat's compound. They claim
"two container loads" of Soviet-era Sam-7 portable anti-aircraft
missiles, and beneath the bunker of PLO security chief Colonel Tawfiq
Tirawi they came across over 200 M-72 LAWS light anti-tank rockets.
These count as heavy weapons, and are this in violation of the original
Oslo agreements. The Israelis are not, however, saying much so far about
the treasure trove of documents and bank records they have seized from
Arafat's office. 

================= ==================

The Pentagon's involvement in the oil-rich Caspian basin is deepening
fast, after Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Mira Ricardel signed an
agreement with Azeri Defense Minister Safar Abbiyev to help Azerbaijan
defend its territorial zone in the Caspian Sea against Iranian bullying.
Iran warships fired on an Azeri oil research ship last year, backing up
its claim to Azeri waters. "What we are talking about is helping
Azerbaijan in having the capability to protect its economic zone and
territorial waters," Ricardel said in Baku Friday. The U.S. aid was
designed to "enhance the naval capability to secure the maritime borders
of Azerbaijan." U.S. military aid was banned for a decade by Congress
because of Azerbaijan's war with Armenia, but President Bush lifted the
ban in January. The aid "can be viewed as part of the fight against
terrorism," Ricardel told an unconvinced Baku press conference. 

================= ==================

Just to be fair, the United States has also agreed to a $4.3 million
military aid package for Armenia, to modernize military communications
facilities and help train an Armenian peacekeeping battalion created
last year with the help of NATO-member Greece. Only 10 days before
signing the agreement at the Pentagon, Armenian Defense Minister Serge
Sarkisian hosted Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani, and signed a
separate bilateral military cooperation agreement with Tehran, a country
the United States sees as part of the problem. 

================= ==================

They won't call it "nation-building" because the term is taboo in the
White House, but it looks as if U.S. troops are in for a long and
stabilizing stay in Afghanistan that could amount to much the same
thing. After high-level talks between President George Bush's special
envoy, Afghan-born Zalmay Khalilzad, and senior Indian officials, the
two countries have agreed to work together to build and train an
indigenous Afghan armed force. The details are being worked out between
Khalilzad and India's Special Envoy on Afghanistan, S.K. Lambah, along
with their military advisers. But the Indian decision came from the top,
after Khalilzad's talks with National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra,
Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh and top official Chokila Iyer. From their
point of view, this is less about stabilizing Afghanistan and more about
excluding the return of Pakistani influence for years to come. 

Source:  United Press International

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