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Russia, touted as a key U.S. partner in the war against terror, describes the possibility of further U.S. action in the war against terror as “aimed at subjugating” other nations to “America’s will,” according to official Russian sources.

Moscow also is sharply criticizing the stated U.S. policy of not only pursuing those involved in the Sept. 11 attacks, but also confronting nations providing assistance to them, stating: “This policy of meddling in other countries’ affairs is very dangerous.”

The remarks were carried by the Voice of Russia World Service, the official broadcasting service of the Russian government.

Referring to recent speculation that the U.S. could possibly extend its campaign against Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network into Yemen or Somalia, the government broadcast declared that the U.S. “has no evidence” connecting these countries to terrorism.

The Voice of Russia added, sardonically: “… but then, Washington doesn’t need evidence.”

Declaring that any U.S. expansion of the war on terrorism serves only to expand America’s military influence abroad, Moscow asserted: “The Pentagon … wants to extend its influence into other countries’ affairs.”

The legality of America’s successful assault on bin Laden’s terror operation in Afghanistan and its Taliban supporters was also questioned. Moscow has consistently maintained that the United Nations is the only proper authority to sanction and coordinate the war on terror. After Sept. 11, Moscow urged the U.S. to act only through the United Nations, and not to retaliate without a U.N. mandate.

The Voice of Russia quoted Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov’s statement that, “even if the [U.S.] military action in Afghanistan were legal and fruitful,” any further use of force must be “authorized by the U.N. Security Council,” accompanied by proof “of the existence of terrorist networks” in the target countries.

Observers note that further operations in the war on terror may not have the same support that America’s attack on the Taliban garnered, and will involve nations with widely divergent political configurations.

Among those countries mentioned, the East African nation of Somalia is near the top of the list.

At present, Somalia is without any effective central government, and is dominated by various tribal warlords, each leading its own group of armed followers. A brief U.S. intervention under President Bill Clinton ended in humiliation for America with over 20 troops killed and the body of one soldier dragged through the streets as a trophy.

According to the Italian news daily Corriere della Sera, the Italian government has agreed to assist the U.S. should it intervene in Somalia, which once was an area of Italian colonial influence. The interim Somali Prime Minister Hassan Abshir Farah, however, recently stated he would welcome U.S. military teams to investigate the possible existence of al-Qaida cells within his nation.

The bin Laden terror network is known to have numerous sympathizers in Somalia, including a wealthy businessman named Abuker Adane.

Adane is highly influential in the nominal Somali government, which is referred to as the government of national transition. It is believed to control only a small section of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

Another often-named nation that could be harboring terrorists is Yemen, a country on the south of the Arabian Peninsula. The USS Cole was seriously damaged in a terrorist attack in a Yemen port. The Yemeni government has sought to crack down on suspected terrorists, resulting in several bloody clashes.

There have been reports of offers of U.S. assistance to the Yemen government, but how effective that would be remains in doubt, since central government control does not extend far beyond the country’s major population centers.

The present nation of Yemen came about in 1990 as a combination of Islamic North and formerly Marxist South Yemen.

The Yemen government is run by its president, Ali Abdallah Saleh, and maintains strict control of the press as well as Internet access.

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