2 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, March 9, 2005
Bush: Mideast democracy progressing NEWS IN BRIEF
WASHINGTON (AP) - President
Bush said yesterday that authori-
tarian rule in the Middle East has
begun to ease, and he insisted anew
that Syria must end its nearly three-
decade occupation of Lebanon.
"Today, I have a message for the
people of Lebanon: All the world
is witnessing your great movement
of conscience," Bush said during
a speech on terrorism at National
Defense University. "The American
people are at your side."
Nearly 500,000 pro-Syrian dem-
onstrators in Lebanon, however,
had a different message. The mass
protest in Beirut by people chant-
ing anti-American slogans and car-
rying placards that read, "America
is the source of terrorism," far out-
numbered the 70,000 protesters who
shouted "Syria out" on the streets on
TheBush administration brushed
aside the anti-American sentiment,
saying it was happy to see people
peacefully express their views. Bush,
undaunted, listed nations - Russia,
France, Germany and Saudi Arabia
- that have called for Syria's with-
drawal from Lebanon.
"Freedom will prevail in Leba-
non," he said.
"History is moving quickly and
leaders in the Middle East have
important choices to make," Bush
said. "The world community ... has
presented the Syrian government
with one of those choices: to end its
nearly 30-year occupation of Leba-
non or become even more isolated
from the world."
The war on terrorism was the
theme of Bush's re-election cam-
paign, yet he has focused in the early
days of his second term on reform-
ing Social Security.
His wide-ranging speech was
filled with what he called "welcome
signs" of democratic reform in the
Middle East, including elections in
Afghanistan, Iraq and the Palestin-
"The chances of democratic prog-
ress in the broader Middle East have
A Lebanese policeman observes a pro-Syrian demonstration in Beirut yesterday that drew an estimated 500,000.
The protest was organized by the militant Islamist group Hezbollah to voice opposition to foreign intervention.
seemed frozen in place for decades,"
he said. "Yet, at last, clearly and sud-
denly, the thaw has begun."
Bush said America was safer
because dozens of nations have
stepped up their efforts to fight ter-
Bush cited Pakistan's capture of
more than 100 extremists across its
nation, Britain's arrest of an al-Qaeda
operative who had provided detailed
casing reports on American targets
to senior al-Qaeda leaders, the Ger-
man arrest of extremists planning
attacks against U.S. and coalition
targets in Iraq, and the Philippines'
new Anti-Terrorism Task Force's
success in helping capture more than
a dozen terrorist suspects.
Former White House security
adviser Richard Clarke disagrees
that more democracy will mean less
"President Bush's democracy-pro-
motion policy will be appropriate
and laudable at the right rime in the
right nations, but it is not the cure
for terrorism," Clark, the former top
counterterrorism adviser to Bush,
said in a recent opinion piece. He
said growing resentment is breeding
terrorism, "but it is chiefly resent-
ment of us, not of the absence of
The speech by Bush did not have
the unilateralist overtones of previ-
He trained his most forceful rhet-
oric on Syria and Iran, nations that
he said have long histories of sup-
porting terrorist groups determined
to sow division and chaos in the
"The time has come for Syria and
Iran to stop using murder as a tool of
policy and to end all support for ter-
rorism," the president said.
Bush again rejected Syrian Presi-
dent Bashar Assad's pledge for a
partial pullout of troops in Lebanon.
The/plan set no deadline for a com-
plete withdrawal of the 14,000 Syr-
ian troops and intelligence agents.
Bush has said that all Syrian mili-
tary forces and intelligence person-
nel must withdraw for the Lebanese
elections in May to be free and fair.
At the White House, Bush received
support from former presidents Bush
and Clinton as they provided an
update on aid for tsunami victims in
Former President George H.W.
Bush said events in Lebanon, the
recent elections in Iraq and Egyp-
tian President Hosni Mubarak's
recent promise to allow multi-can-
didate presidential elections are
"There's still a lot of work to do.
But my own view is, it's positive,"
Clinton said: "Sooner or later, the
Syrians are going to have to get out
of there and give the Lebanese their
country back. And I think the fact
that the Lebanese are in the street,
demanding it, is wonderful.
EREZ CROSSING, Israel
Israel will turn over two Palestinian towns
Israel will turn over two West Bank towns to Palestinian control in the coming
days, Israel's defense minister announced yesterday after meeting the Palestinian
leader Mahmoud Abbas, but disagreements remained over how much land around
the towns would be transferred.
The two-hour meeting at the main crossing point between Gaza and Israel was
Abbas's first with an Israeli leader since a Feb. 8 summit, when he and Prime Min-
ister Ariel Sharon declared a truce to end four years of bloodshed. Transferring
control of five West Bank towns was part of the truce package.
Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Israel would hand over control of
Tulkarem and Jericho in the coming days, but he did not say exactly when, which
would be first, or how much territory would be included - reflecting disagree-
ments with the Palestinians.
"In the next few days we will apparently transfer control over two ... towns, after
a meeting of security officers" today, Mofaz said. "We are talking about Tulkarem
Chechen leader of Beslan massacre killed
Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov, blamed by Russia for last year's school
hostage crisis and other deadly terrorist acts, was killed during a raid, the head of the
Federal Security Service told President Vladimir Putin yesterday. One report said he
was killed accidentally by his bodyguards.
The shirtless body of the gray-bearded Maskhadov, lying on a concrete floor, was
shown on Russia's NTV channel.
The death of Maskhadov, 53, would be a coup for Russia in its conflict with the
Chechens and a political boost for Putin after a series of setbacks.
Even beyond any possible revenge by Chechens, there could be longer-term implica-
tions because Maskhadov was the most prominent voice for moderation among the
rebels and commanded respect in many European countries. His killing might have
closed off the clearest path to talks ending the bloodshed that has raged in Chechnya
for much of a decade.
U.S. to investigate Italian hostage shooting
The U.S.-led coalition in Iraq ordered a follow-up investigation yesterday into
the fatal shooting of an Italian intelligence officer as he accompanied a former
hostage to Baghdad's airport last week.
The announcement came after clashes erupted earlier yesterday between U.S.
troops and insurgents in the troubled city of Ramadi, west of the capital, leaving at
least two people dead, officials said.
In the capital, gunmen assassinated the deputy chief of the Interior Ministry's
immigration office, Gen. Ghazi Mohammed Issa, in a drive-by shooting that al-
Qaida in Iraq purportedly claimed responsibility for in an Internet statement. The
claim could not be verified.
Volleys of automatic weapons-fire erupted in central Baghdad late Tuesday
near a main hotel housing foreign journalists. It was not immediately known what
sparked the violence.
Bill Clinton to have minor heart surgery
Six months after undergoing heart bypass surgery, former President Clinton will
return to the hospital this week to have a rare buildup of fluid and scar tissue removed
from his chest.
"I feel fine," Clinton said yesterday in Washington, adding that he plans to play golf
in Florida a day before the operation.
Doctors at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center,
where Clinton is scheduled to have the procedure tomorrow, said the surgery is low-
risk. During the procedure, known as a decortication, doctors will remove scar tissue
that is pressing down on his left lung. The surgery will be done either through a small
incision or with a video-assisted thorascope inserted between his ribs.
The former president said doctors discovered the condition during a recent X-
ray, and he called the surgery a "routine sort of deal."
China threatens Taiwan with new law
BEIJING (AP) - China unveiled a
law yesterday authorizing an attack if Tai-
wan moves toward formal independence,
increasing pressure on the self-ruled
island while warning other countries not
to interfere. Taiwan denounced the legis-
lation as a "blank check to invade" and
announced war games aimed at repelling
The proposed anti-secession law, read
out for the first time before the ceremo-
nial National People's Congress, doesn't
specify what actions might invite a Chi-
"If possibilities for a peaceful reunifi-
cation should be completely exhausted,
the state shall employ nonpeaceful means
and other necessary measures to protect
China's sovereignty and territorial integ-
rity," Wang Zhaoguo, deputy chairman
of the congress's Standing Committee,
told the nearly 3,000 members gathered
in the Great Hall of the People.
Beijing claims Taiwan, which split
from China since 1949, as part of its ter-
ritory. The communist mainland repeat-
edly has threatened to invade if Taiwan
tries to make its independence perma-
nent, and the new law doesn't impose
any new conditions or make new threats.
It lays out for the first time legal require-
ments for military action.
Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Coun-
cil, which handles the island's China
policy, said the law gives China's mili-
tary "a blank check to invade Taiwan"
and "exposed the Chinese communists'
attempt to use force to annex Taiwan and
to be a regional power."
The island's vice president, Annette
Lu, accused Beijing of violating interna-
tional norms for peacefully resolving dis-
putes, as Taipei prepared for an invasion.
Large-scale military exercises would
be held from mid-April to August, with
troops practicing knocking down Chi-
nese missiles and fighting communist
commandos, said Taiwan's Defense
Ministry spokesman Liu Chih-chien.
Mainland lawmakers immediately
expressed support for the anti-seces-
sion measure, which is sure to be passed
when they vote March 14. The congress
routinely approves all legislation already
decided by Communist Party leaders.
"We must join hands and absolute-
ly not allow Taiwan to separate from
China," said Chang Houchun, a busi-
nessman and member of congress from
southern China's Guangdong province.
Chinese officials say the law was
prompted in part by Taiwanese President
Chen Shui-bian's plans for a referendum
on a new constitution for the island that
Beijing worries might include a declara-
tion of independence.
Chen says the vote would be
aimed at building a better political
system, not at formalizing Taiwan's
de facto independence.
Chinese leaders have appealed in
recent months for Taiwan to return to
talks on unification. They insist that Tai-
wanese leaders first declare that the two
sides are "one China."
In Taipei, Chen Chin-jun, a legislative
leader of the ruling Democratic Progres-
sive Party, said the island wants peace
and trade with China.
However, he said, "We will not
accept any resolution to allow the Chi-
nese Communists to unilaterally decide
Taiwan's future, and it will only antago-
nize the Taiwanese."
China and Taiwan have no official
ties and most direct travel and shipping
between the two sides is banned. Taiwan-
ese companies have invested more than
$100 billion in the mainland and there is
a thriving indirect trade.
Wang said the law promises that Chi-
nese military forces would try to avoid
harming Taiwanese civilians. He said the
rights of Taiwanese on China's mainland
also would be protected.
Until recently, China's military was
thought to be incapable of carrying out
an invasion across the 100-mile-wide
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Wang Zhaoguo, vice chairman of the National People's Congress Stand-
ing Committee, explains the anti-secession law during a session of the
National People's Congress in Beijing's Great Hall of the People yesterday.
Taiwan Strait. But Beijing has spent
billions of dollars buying Russian-
made submarines, destroyers and other
high-tech weapons to extend the reach
of the 2.5 million-member People's
The United States has appealed to
both sides to settle Taiwan's status
peacefully, with no unilateral changes
by either side. Washington is Taiwan's
main arms supplier and could be drawn
into any conflict.
The proposed law says Beijing regards
Taiwan's future as an internal Chinese
matter, rejecting "any interference by
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