Monday's press review

AFP Photo / Ali Al-Saadi
This Monday, Russian newspapers discuss Iraq’s inability to live without U.S. troops; report from the APEC summit in Lima; and both explore piracy as a means of improving Russia-U.S. relations, and diplomacy as a way to avoid signing a bad peace treaty.

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA writes that a hasty withdrawal of the U.S. troops stationed in Iraq may create threaten Iraq’s national security. The paper says that if the withdrawal happens before 2011 the threat will become very real. The Defence Minister of Iraq, General Abdel Kader Jasem, quoted by the paper, says that oil production will become impossible due to the lack of control over the oil-rich areas, that neighbouring countries will use the opportunity to interfere and secure parts of Iraq for themselves, and that armed ethnic groups will slip out of government control immediately. All of that, says the paper, can only bring chaos to the land and people of Iraq, and there’s no guarantee that it won’t happen even if the U.S. troops are withdrawn on schedule.

The same paper writes in an editorial that the joint declaration by Presidents Dmitry Medvedev and George W. Bush on the fight against piracy, which was made last Saturday in Lima, hints at a major international effort against the pirates of the Somalia coast. The paper says that the actual plan was not outlined in the declaration but that in most probably includes international naval operations against the pirates as well as some kind of political solution for Somalia, where the central government has no control over the coastline.

ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA says so far the ships belonging to the navies of different nations including the U.S., Russia, France, Spain and others, are engaged in passive defence operations against the pirates, mainly escorting convoys of merchant vessels through the Gulf of Aden. The paper says that it is not really effective as up to 250 vessels need passage every day, meaning they have to wait before a convoy is complete, which means plain loss of money. Then they go into the bay as a part of a long line of vessels shepherded by a single man of war, and one can only guess when the pirates will gain enough courage for attacking the tail of the convoy when the navy ship with guns is on the other end of it.

An expert quoted by the paper, General Leonid Ivashov, says that big ships are not really any good against the pirates in inflatable dinghies, apart from the times when they are used to launch helicopters. The General suggests setting up a small anti-pirate base on the Yemeni island of Soqatra, man it with special forces personnel, arm it with a wing of marine helicopter gunships, and have several border patrol or coastguard types of boats in the docks. From that base, insists the General, it would be easy for a combat team to reach the site of a pirate attack in mere minutes.

The same paper says that there’s no hint from any side about possible assistance to the central government of Somalia in maintaining law and order. The paper says it may be possible that the big players of the World are planning a regime change for Somalia. It continues to say that there is a persistent rumor that the U.S. is not interested in any normalization in the Gulf of Aden because it is planning at some point to go in, change the regime in the country and finish off the pirates in one go. Then the U.S. will occupy the oil-rich area, while also controlling one of the most important trading routes on the planet. However, the paper says there are also rumors that Russia ignores the pirates in order to lure more merchant vessels away from the Bay of Aden and into its own alternative Northern route…

The same paper reports from the APEC summit in Lima saying that this time the summit was dedicated more to the world financial crisis than to Asia-Pacific integration. The participants looked upon it as the first wider forum after the summit of the G20 in Washington. The paper writes that Russian business leaders, who participated in several meetings with their colleagues and the leaders of member nations, were pessimistic about the current status of the world economy and optimistic about the more distant future.

The paper also says that during the last official meeting ever between President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia and the U.S. President George W. Bush the two leaders decided to talk in retrospective about their work together and not touch too heavily on the issues that divide the two nations, like U.S. missile defence in Europe. Apparently, says the paper, the two leaders found a lot of common ground on the matter of piracy in the Gulf of Aden – to the extent of issuing a joint declaration afterwards, hinting at a joint plan of action to be revealed later.

KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA also reports from Lima but makes more emphasis on President Medvedev’s meeting with the Japanese prime minister, rather than the 40-minute talk with President Bush. The paper says ‘President Medvedev made a tremendous effort of being diplomatic with the new Japanese leader, Taro Aso who, like all other Japanese prime ministers before him, started with the request to immediately sign the peace treaty between Russia and Japan – one of the conditions of the treaty being the transfer of the Kuril Islands to Japan…’

Evgeny Belenkiy, RT.

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Friday's press review
Thursday's press review