As U.S. military pressure on the Taliban protectors of Osama bin Laden grows, U.S. President George Bush’s anti-terror alliance is beginning to show signs of deterioration.
Although recent headlines proclaim a “common goal” reached by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and U.S. Secretary Colin Powell in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, a BBC report relates Musharraf’s hope for a “short and targeted” military operation.
The existence of the present Pakistani government, however, may directly depend upon a swift completion of U.S. operations in Afghanistan.
According to a report from a Deutsche Welle correspondent, the Pakistani government is not merely hoping for a “short and targeted” operation in Afghanistan, but it is “insisting on the short duration of military activity.”
Prolonged U.S. involvement – beyond “a couple of weeks,” the Deutsche Welle report warns, “could jeopardize the position of General Musharraf,” possibly leading to the overthrow of a government vital to U.S. activities in the region.
Deutsche Welle is the official broadcasting service of the German government but maintains a high degree of independence from Berlin.
Don’t count on extradition
Deutsche Welle also reports that U.S. attempts to bring terrorists to American courts may be impossible, if those terrorists are apprehended in one of the 43 nations who are members of the Council of Europe.
Investigations in Germany and France indicate that terrorist cells in Europe were closely connected with terrorist activities in the United States. Restrictions on extradition could seriously cripple any hope of successfully prosecuting the terrorist network involved in the Sept. 11 attacks.
Lord David Russell-Johnston, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, stated that Europe will not permit the transfer of suspected terrorists to the U.S. if they face the death penalty. Russell-Johnston informed Deutsche Welle that “the Council of Europe will only allow the extradition of terrorists if the U.S. indicates that it will not execute them.”
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe consists of delegations from the national parliaments of the member states and is a distinct entity from the European Parliament, a directly elected body from the population of the 15-member European Union.
Russell-Johnston cited a precedent in the Court of Human Rights for refusing to send defendants to the U.S. if there is a possibility of the death penalty.
According to Russell-Johnston, the Court of Human Rights, one of the structures of the Council of Europe, “some time ago indicated to the United Kingdom that it should not extradite somebody to the United States who is accused of an offense for which he might have been executed.”
Green Party’s cold feet
German participation in the coalition may be hampered – or eventually completely hindered – by the Green Party. The German Green Party is part of the governing coalition with the Social Democrats of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
Claudia Roth, a national leader of the Green Party, recently called for an end to U.S. air strikes in Afghanistan, stating, “It is time to stop; we need other priorities now,” according to a BBC report.
Roth, supported by other high-ranking Green Party officials, is calling for a political solution following the suspension of U.S. attacks.
If the Greens become adamant in their demands and threaten to leave the government coalition, the survival of the Schroeder government would be in question.
Extension of the anti-terrorist war beyond Afghanistan also raises questions. Iraq’s Saddam Hussein is generally assumed to be the next target of U.S. military operations, since the Iraqi government has long been associated with terrorism – both against foreigners and its own people – and is seeking to acquire the means of mass destruction.
Most recently, Iraqi agents have been reported to have connections with those involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. In late September 2000, the former head of the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq, Richard Butler, stated to a congressional committee that Iraq continues its research into chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, as well as missile delivery systems.
Ending Hussein’s rule may prove as insoluble a problem for the current Bush presidency as it was for the first one.
The Iraqi government is not as isolated as it once was. Baghdad has made overtures not only to its neighbors, including Egypt and Syria, but has even sought to extend its diplomacy to European capitals.
The world’s economic health is also a consideration.
An influential expert in petroleum pricing warns of a world oil crisis if Iraq is attacked.
In an interview given to the Italian news daily Corriere Della Sera, Ahmed Zaki Yamani, former Saudi Arabia oil minister and one of the founders of OPEC, asserted that an attack on Iraq could lead to an increase in the cost of oil and contribute to a worldwide recession.
Whether Yamani’s predictions are accurate or not, the threat of an oil-induced economic crisis is certain to have a negative influence upon future coalition operations.