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Year 2001 No. 208, December 5, 2001 ARCHIVE HOME SEARCH SUBSCRIBE

Defence Secretary Warns of Extending "War against Terrorism":

No to Aggression and Intervention! No British Troops on Foreign Soil!

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

Defence Secretary Warns of Extending "War against Terrorism":
No to Aggression and Intervention! No British Troops on Foreign Soil!

Anti-War Organisation Plans Hoon and Rumsfeld Prosecution

For Your Information:
Opposition to Possible Anglo-US Attack on Iraq

Stepping Up Interference in Africa under the Guise of "Partnership"

MPs Oppose Strict Timetabling of Anti-Terrorism Bill

Alcan Cuts 805 Jobs at European Plants

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Defence Secretary Warns of Extending "War against Terrorism":

No to Aggression and Intervention! No British Troops on Foreign Soil!

The Defence Secretary, Geoff Hoon, is warning Britain must be prepared to take the "war against terrorism" to other countries.

Geoff Hoon is saying that Britain may have to use military force against those who support and protect "terrorist" organisations. He is saying that if necessary, the armed forces may launch "search and destroy raids" on "terrorist" facilities overseas.

In a speech at King's College London on December 5, Geoff Hoon discloses that the Ministry of Defence is now reviewing Britain's air defence arrangements in the light of the September 11 attacks. "We may need to act to destroy terrorist cells with military action, and perhaps, in the last instance, to act against regimes, such as the Taliban, while they support, protect, nurture and direct them," he said. "We need to refine our techniques for collapsing terrorist organisations as a whole and not just individual cells." He continued, "Our work now involves reviewing our longer-term air defence arrangements end-to-end, from radar coverage to 'shoot down' if necessary."

Utilising the government’s logic regarding "failed" or "weak" states, Geoff Hoon said Britain could be prepared to offer military assistance to "less capable states" to help them combat the "terrorist threat" within their own borders. It also needed to deter future attackers by making sure that they were aware of both the full range of military options that could be deployed against them and Britain’s willingness to use them.

No potential targets are named in his speech. However his comments come amid speculation that Britain and the US are preparing so-called "stiletto" attacks inside countries like Somalia, Sudan and Yemen where al Qaida cells are alleged to be active.

The Defence Secretary’s speech comes as commentators are saying that Britain is softening its opposition to action against Iraq which the US administration has been championing, as Downing Street pointed out that decisions had yet to be taken about the "second phase" of the war on terrorism. Downing Street officials were hinting that Iraq's alleged capability to produce "weapons of mass destruction" could be one issue used as a justification for phase two.

President Bush has suggested that the United States will soon turn its attention to "phase two", hinting at countries such as Iraq and Syria, and that al-Qaida bases in Sudan, Somalia and Yemen could be next in line for attack.

The Prime Minister’s Office Spokesman said: "There is no evidence that implicates Iraq in the events of September 11. That said, we have always acknowledged that the fight against international terrorism will take two phases."

However, the government has been preparing the ground for saying that the "war against terrorism" may soon spread to countries other than Afghanistan. With his speech on the "Strategic Defence Review, the next chapter" to academics and military experts at King's College, the Defence Secretary is confirming this move.

A spokesman from the Ministry of Defence said recently, "We have got rapid reaction forces at the moment called 16 Air Assault Brigade. What Geoff Hoon is saying is that since September 11 he sees more of our armed forces taking up this role. He is starting a debate on whether we ought to train more of our existing Army units or armed forces in that particular role."

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Anti-War Organisation Plans Hoon and Rumsfeld Prosecution

The organisation Christians against NATO Aggression is planning a private prosecution against Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon and his US counterpart Donald Rumsfeld. The organisation is saying that the Geneva Convention has been breached in Afghanistan, and Hoon and Rumsfeld will be named in evidence given by them in a London court.

Christians against NATO Aggression (CANA) is to allege that the two men ordered British and US troops to ignore the Convention when dealing with Taleban prisoners. Several hundred captives died in the suppression of a jail uprising at Qalai Janghi fort last week. Reports suggested that troops from the SAS and US special forces were present, directing Northern Alliance fighters.

The US Defence Secretary has officially confirmed that British SAS members are in action in Afghanistan. Donald Rumsfeld praised the SAS for its role in the "fight against terrorism". The Ministry of Defence has refused to discuss the activities of its special forces as a matter of policy, and has not confirmed their presence in Afghanistan, although many journalists have seen them there.

"American special forces are on the ground, helping the coalition, serving alongside the British special forces – some of the toughest, smartest troops in the world," Donald Rumsfeld wrote on Sunday in the News of the World. "Despite the progress in Afghanistan, the global war against terror is still in its early stages," he wrote. "The terrorist networks that threaten us operate in dozens of different countries, and terrorist threats against both of our nations' citizens and interests continue."

William Spring of CANA says that the prisoners' deaths at the Qalai Janghi fort were the result of "a policy decision taken at the highest level". This would amount to a breach of a 1995 act which incorporated into British law the Geneva Convention's provisions on the humane treatment of prisoners of war.

CANA failed in a similar attempt in 1999 against Tony Blair, Robin Cook and NATO secretary general Lord Robertson for their conduct of the war in Kosova. In that case, Highgate magistrates' court ruled that the evidence offered by William Spring was "inadmissible".

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For Your Information:

Opposition to Possible Anglo-US Attack on Iraq

George Galloway, the Labour MP, has completed a seven-day speaking tour around England and Ireland on behalf of the Emergency Committee on Iraq and Palestine.

During the meetings in Cambridge, Birmingham, Oxford, Batley, Dublin and Brent, George Galloway highlighted the "international chaos, death destruction and suffering" which would be caused by a new war on Iraq.

He denounced the "gunslinger" language of President George W Bush who recently threatened to extend the "war on terrorism" to Iraq. "President Bush's brazen threats have not frightened Iraq, but they have caused panic amongst European governments, even including the normally faithful, and much nervous fluttering in the dovecotes of the Middle East," he said.

Audiences for the six meeting tour were large and overwhelmingly supportive of the MP's call to "End the Sanctions: End the Wars: Let the Iraqi People Live!"

Sharing the platforms with Galloway were Labour MP Mike Wood, CASI's Colin Rowat, Irish MP Joe Higgins and journalist and former Taleban prisoner Yvonne Ridley.

George Galloway claimed that having completely failed to persuade anyone of the remotest connection of Iraq to the crimes of September 11 in the US, Bush had as usual simply moved the goalposts and resurrected the bankrupt demand
for arms inspectors as a potential causus belli. "Iraq has made clear since the Desert Fox fiasco at Christmas/Ramadan in 1998 that the west could have inspectors or they can have sanctions but they cannot have both," he said.

Major Iraqi opposition groups for the most part also said that they are strongly against the use of American air power to try to overthrow the regime of President Saddam Hussein.

Spokesmen for a variety of Iraqi opposition parties said that a US attack on their country – whether launched on the pretext of Baghdad's support for "terrorism" or its acquisition of weapons of mass destruction – would compound the suffering of the people without necessarily dislodging the regime, and could well strengthen rather than weaken its hold on power.

But while some dissident groups are adamantly opposed to any American military operation, others appear prepared to go along with one, provided it seriously aims to destroy the regime rather than merely deal it a blow, as has been the case with the various Anglo-American air strikes it has been subjected to since the 1991 Gulf war.

The latter category includes the American-backed Iraqi National Congress, nominally an umbrella organisation for opposition factions, which in the past has championed the idea of using American military protection to carve out a "safe haven" in Iraqi territory from which putative opposition forces could mount a guerrilla campaign against the regime.

The INC's London-based spokesman, Sharif Ali bin al-Hussein, said that Washington deems a confrontation with the Iraqi leader's regime "inevitable" but has not yet decided how to proceed. Commenting on President Bush's remarks on Monday, in which he implied that Iraq could face military action if it did not readmit UN arms inspectors, he said the INC would not favour an attack that sufficed with "punishing the regime" and would reject one that targets the country's "armed forces or infrastructure." Rather, the INC "calls for the Iraqi people to be helped to topple the regime," he was quoted as saying by the pan-Arab daily Al-
Hayat.

A spokesman for Iraq's other major Shiite Islamist opposition group, the Daawa Party, said an American attack would only make life harder for the long-suffering Iraqi people, and would provoke ferocious repression from the regime to pre-empt any popular uprising. "That the regime is terrorist and has destructive weapons is something no one disputes, but history has shown that bombing, destruction and sanctions do not lead to its collapse, but further compound the suffering of the Iraqi people," said Ibrahim al-Jaafari.

Jaafari added that if the international community wanted to promote political change in Iraq, it could do so by non-military means, such as indicting Iraqi leaders for war crimes. The failure to do so has left Iraqis unconvinced that the US really wants to replace the regime, as has the bitter memory of the 1991 uprising that immediately followed the Gulf war – which Washington verbally encouraged, only to sit back and watch as it was mercilessly crushed by government forces.

Jaafari also stressed that it was wrong-headed to think that because intensive American air strikes against Afghanistan led to the collapse of the Taleban regime, that the same could apply to Iraq, emphasising that the social fabric of, and power structure in, the two countries is so different as to make comparisons invalid.

Similar views were expressed by Sobhi al-Jumaili of the Iraqi Communist Party, who said that while an American attack on his country looked likely, it would not serve the interests of the Iraqi people or the cause of political change in the country. "We have always been against the military option and continue to be. Changing the regime is the responsibility of the Iraqi people," he said.

External powers could help by lending "political and moral support" to the Iraqi people and opposition – above all by lifting the draconian UN economic sanctions, which he argued were strengthening the regime's hold on power and making the people suffer. Jumaili said sanctions should be decoupled from the issue of disarmament, and the international community should seek to enforce the UN Security Council resolution upholding human rights in Iraq while continuing to subject the government to diplomatic isolation and an arms embargo.
Jumaili also urged the US to "stop interfering in the affairs of the Iraqi opposition" to suit its own purposes, charging that American meddling was impeding efforts to form an independent broad-based opposition front.

"We are not counting on the external factor" as an agent for change, he said.

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Stepping Up Interference in Africa under the Guise of "Partnership"

It has been announced that the Foreign Office Minister for Africa, Baroness Amos, will visit Ethiopia from December 5-7. As well as holding talks with members of the Ethiopian government she will also, in her capacity as the Prime Minister’s "Personal Representative", take part in talks between representatives of G8 and African countries concerning the so-called New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).

The NEPAD is the new title for the "New African Initiative", launched last July at the final summit of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). Initially conceived as a recovery and development plan for Africa, it was based on proposals made by South Africa, Nigeria, Senegal and Algeria to the OAU. This plan was launched at the same time as it was announced that a new African Union would be formed, specifically to combat the consequences of globalisation and to end Africa’s marginalisation in world affairs. Almost immediately the representatives of Britain and the other G8 countries announced their "Genoa Plan for Africa", which Tony Blair referred to as "a kind of Marshall Plan for the future of Africa". The Genoa Plan aimed to head off African opposition to globalisation by allegedly "building on the African Initiative". It envisaged establishing "a partnership between Africa and the developed world" in which representatives of the big powers liased with "committed African leaders" on a plan for the future of the African continent.

The New Partnership for Africa’s Development has emerged almost as an amalgamation of these two separate plans, allegedly still African-led but also a "new type of partnership with Africa’s international friends, based on shared responsibility and mutual interest". But rather than being a new partnership, as its name would suggest, NEPAD can be seen as re-establishing an existing neo-colonial relationship between two very unequal partners – on the one hand the representatives of countries of the African continent and on the other the representatives of the G8, the European Commission, the World Bank, IMF and International Financial Corporation.

Through NEPAD, in which Britain has played a leading role, the British government, as well as the other big powers, are working to establish a means to increase the exploitation of Africa and its resources, under the guise of assisting "development" in the continent and establish a "new, more genuine partnership" with African countries. The NEPAD is one of the means being utilised by the British government to step up its interference in Africa both directly and through various proxy states. It is encouraging more intervention in the internal affairs of African countries such as Zimbabwe by other African countries on the basis of "African peer review" of "parameters of good governance". The NEPAD is also one of the means by which the British government and the other big powers are promoting their own Eurocentric notions of "good governance", multiparty democracy and market economies. Efforts are being made to increase the penetration of both private and state capital flows to Africa and to present the view that globalisation can be made to work for the benefit of all countries, rich and poor alike.

As Baroness Amos points out, Tony Blair has made it clear that he sees Africa as "a major foreign policy priority" during the Labour government’s second term of office. The Prime Minister has committed the government to develop a new initiative in the New Year to further intervene in Africa’s affairs allegedly "to tackle emergency conflicts before they develop", and based on the spurious doctrines of "failed states" and "international community". Meanwhile, Britain and the other big powers remain committed to drawing up an "Africa Action Plan" at the G8 summit next year.

The British government is now meddling not just in such countries as Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, the Congo and Angola but countries throughout the African continent and at a time when the rivalry between the big powers in Africa is intensifying. There can be no illusions that British intervention is in the interests of the peoples of Africa or of the working class and people of Britain. All its interference and intervention in Africa under whatever guise must be condemned.

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MPs Oppose Strict Timetabling of Anti-Terrorism Bill

Liberal Democrat and Conservative MPs are exercising their role as the government opposition by joining forces to protest at the timetabling of the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Bill.

The Labour government’s timetable is for the legislation to enter into law by Thursday next week. This will be done by the House of Commons considering any Lords amendments to the Anti-Terrorism Bill immediately it has cleared its third reading in the upper house. The legislation would then be expected to receive Royal Assent on December 13.

Although it has already completed its Commons stages in three days of strictly time-limited debate, MPs will have to decide whether to accept or reverse the changes which the House of Lords passes.

The Conservative MP Douglas Hogg speaking in the House of Commons said: "What the Government is seeking to do is to coerce both this House and the Lords so that the Bill clears Parliament by Thursday, December 13. Do you not think that is deeply offensive to both Houses?"

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Simon Hughes said that MPs were being asked to approve the timetabling of the legislation "blind". He added: "The whole thing becomes a series of illogicalities. We don't know what we're going to have to do because the Lords hasn't done its work, we don't know how long it is going to take us to do it and we don't know what the Government has in mind as to how long they may suggest we do it."

It is also the case that a significant number of Labour MPs are opposed to the manner in which the legislation is being rushed through parliament, which is to go through the formalities which are supposed to safeguard against bad and undemocratic legislation. The way the government is riding roughshod over parliament exposes the absolute power of the executive in these circumstances and that the hollow nature of parliamentary procedure, as well as the necessity for a complete renewal of these processes, whose content is to enable this absolutism. When the more the draconian the legislation, the more dictatorial the procedures, clearly the character of these processes and institutions stands fundamentally opposed to the expression of the popular will.

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Alcan Cuts 805 Jobs at European Plants

Alcan Inc. announced 805 job cuts at its aluminium foil and rolled products plants in Europe on Tuesday, December 4, part of a plan to cut 3,640 jobs, or 5 to 7 percent of its work force, to lower costs and boost profits.

Montreal-based Alcan, the world's second-largest aluminium maker, said the cuts affect its rolled products businesses in Britain and Italy as well as its British and Swiss aluminium foil activities. The changes will affect all 200 workers at Alcan's Glasgow site, up to 310 of 600 at its Rogerstone plant in Newport, South Wales, and 95 of 550 at Kreuzlingen, Switzerland, Alcan said.

In Alcan's Italian rolled products operations, Alcan will exit from non-core products at its Pieve plant in Milan, which employs 200 people.

Alcan warned of big job cuts on October 17, telling analysts it expects to incur one-time costs of $250 million in the fourth quarter. The company had said it expects to boost annual pre-tax profits by $200 million, some $175 million of that coming in 2002, as a result of the cuts.

On Tuesday, Alcan said the cuts aimed to make the businesses affected more competitive. The company said it has begun consultations with trade unions and other employee representatives on the cuts.

Alcan has annual revenues of about $13 billion and employs 52,000 people in 38 countries.

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