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28 Jan, 2009 06:02

Wednesday's press review

Wednesday's press review

This Wednesday Russian newspapers discuss the new policy of the U.S. towards the Islamic world and analyze the perspectives of U.S. and NATO operations in Afghanistan.

ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA reports on the first interview U.S. President Barack Obama gave to a foreign television channel. The paper says the very choice of an Arabic channel for his first interview speaks of the new U.S. President’s determination in dismantling the system of international relations built by his predecessor.

The paper says the words spoken by Obama, as well as those intentionally left unspoken, may cause a revolution in the currently existing system of international relations. The president, says the paper, spoke of ‘initiating a new partnership’ with Moslem countries and even noted the necessity, in the process of solving the issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to take into account the situations in Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The paper says the new U.S. leader spoke of a dialogue with Tehran which he plans to develop in the near future. Apart from that, continues the paper, what Obama is offering to the Middle East is, in fact, a new form of partnership based on mutual interest and mutual respect.

VREMYA NOVOSTEI reports from the Middle East: George Mitchell, the special envoy of president Obama, has started his work in the region with a visit to Egypt. Then he will be visiting Israel and the West Bank after that. Mitchell, says the paper, has gained the reputation of a diplomatic wizard with his work during peace process negotiations in Northern Ireland.

KOMMERSANT publishes an interview with the NATO Secretary-general’s spokesperson James Alturai. He speaks of operations in Afghanistan as the main field for NATO’s interaction with Russia. He says that so far even the existing agreements on the transit of non-military cargoes are not being used to their full capacity, but in the near future the Afghan operation may become the central point in the re-establishing of cooperation between NATO and Russia.

The NATO official also says that the cooperation may exceed the limits put on it by the existing agreements as NATO would probably need transit of arms and ammunition as well, but that is a matter for further discussion. He says it is very important for NATO, the U.S. and Russia to work together in Afghanistan. All 27 ambassadors of the member states agreed that Afghanistan is a priority in NATO-Russia relations.

Alturai admits that in the West there are people who do not understand the importance of the operation in Afghanistan, and adds that the Secretary General and the whole NATO leadership believe that the intensive threat coming from the area of Pakistan and Afghanistan has to be dealt with swiftly, or it will spread around the world with severe consequences. “This is a problem we must solve” – says James Alturai in conclusion.

The same paper publishes an opinion article on Russia’s possible and increasingly active participation in the NATO and U.S. efforts in Afghanistan by Dr. Sergey Rogov, the Director of the Institute for U.S. and Canada Studies (a part of the Russian Academy of Sciences). Rogov writes that in the modern world the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, both of whom are trying to control Afghanistan and use it as their platform for furthering their cause, are a common enemy of the U.S., China, India, Europe and Russia – all of the world’s biggest centres of power.

To say nothing of the fact that they are based in Pakistan, which, at the moment, is a nuclear power with an unstable political regime, and a country where chaos may suddenly erupt with unpredictable consequences.

Rogov says, however, that even if the U.S. and NATO have over 100,000 troops in the country, it will not be enough for a victory, which was clearly shown by the Soviet effort in Afghanistan in the previous Century.

The author writes that Moscow has already announced its readiness for full-fledged cooperation in the issues of security in Afghanistan with all nations, including the U.S. He wonders that if the U.S. is ready to ask for Russia’s help in the matter, would that mean the U.S. is admitting its previous policy of the recent past was a mistake?

If so, would it mean the discontinuation of the plan to deploy elements of the American missile defense in Eastern Europe and a refusal to accept Georgia and Ukraine into NATO? Rogov says that if it happens, Afghanistan may become a model of security-related cooperation of the main power centres of the modern world.

Evgeny Belenkiy, RT.