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Western Press Review: Western Press Commentary Is Sparse

Prague, 15 November 1999 (RFE/RL) -- Commentary on international affairs was sparse and varied today and over the weekend in the Western press.

NEW YORK TIMES: The two issues are clearly separate

The New York Times in an editorial Saturday welcomed moves by the U.S. administration of President Bill Clinton to unblock nearly a billion dollars to pay U.S. back dues to the United Nations. The newspaper said the White House should set limits in its compromising with the opposition Republicans in Congress.

The Times said, in the editorial's words: "Senior (U.S. House of Representatives) Republicans have let the UN money become entangled with an unrelated and unacceptable amendment that would terminate aid to international family planning groups that lobby to change harsh foreign abortion laws. The two issues are clearly separate."

The editorial concludes with this: "The White House has some leverage in this bargaining. It should not be afraid to use it. The House Republican position is not a popular one among Republicans in the Senate or the broader American public. The administration has offered a reasonable compromise and should not rush to go further."

NEW YORK TIMES: Candidates fan fear of terrorists into hatred of all Chechens

Political columnist William Safire denounces today Russia's assaults on Chechens in the name of controlling what it labels Chechen terrorists. Writing in The New York Times today, Safire also denounces what he views as U.S. silence.

The columnist says that the Russian army's motive is, in his words: "vengeance for its humiliating defeat by independence-minded guerrillas five years ago." He writes this: "Russian generals have seized on popular [anti-terrorist] sentiment to demand more money and more recruits. The generals' lust to use scarce resources to rebuild Russia's military might comes at a propitious moment for them: One month from now, elections to parliament take place."

Safire says that Russian politicians are complicit. As he puts it: "Candidates fan fear of terrorists into hatred of all Chechens."

LA REPUBBLICA: The military campaign is aiming to reinstate the validity of Moscow authority

The Rome newspaper La Repubblica also interprets Russia's motives negatively, but slightly differently. As La Repubblica puts it in an editorial: "Grozny is besieged while Russian fighter planes and helicopters are bombing the other Chechen towns. [To us] it seems that military campaign is aiming by the day to reinstate the validity of Moscow authority."

SUEDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG: There are doubts that bin Laden's arm extends as far as his reputation

In the Sueddeutsche Zeitung today there appears a profile by Rudolph Chimelli of anti-U.S. terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.

Chimelli writes: "Afghan rulers are taking upon themselves the imposition of an air boycott by refusing to hand over Osama bin Laden. As far as the United States is concerned the 42-year-old former Saudi Emir represents Islamist international terror, which calls itself Kahida (that is, Support). On the other hand for the Afghans bin Laden is their brother in arms, who provided money, weapons and volunteers in the fight against the Russians."

Chimelli continues: "Certainly bin Laden would like to commit every possible evil against the United States and Israel, against the Jews and the Crusaders, as he describes the Christians. Nevertheless, in differentiated analyses doubts appear that [bin Laden's] arm extends as far as his reputation."

FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG: The aim is to prevent Afghanistan from becoming the exile home of terrorists from all over the world

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung editorializes today that the mere fact of UN authorized sanctions doesn't establish bin Laden as a convicted terrorist. The editorial says this: "In the international battle against terrorism, the UN want to force the fundamentalist Taliban in Afghanistan to come to heel. Sanctions threatened by the Security Council aim at causing the accused terrorist to be expelled."

The editorial says also: "The fact that the Security Council has agreed to impose sanctions, although it has not been proven that bin Laden actually initiated attacks against the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, suggests that other states, not particularly pro-West, also feel disquiet. Narcotics trafficking is acquiring dangerous dimensions. Radical fundamentalism, which has spread to neighboring Central Asian states and even to the People's Republic of China, is causing unrest everywhere. It is therefore the purpose of these states to prevent Afghanistan from becoming the exile home of terrorists from all over the world."