Monday, July 11, 2005

Behind the saturation coverage of London attack

Following the terrorist attacks in London on Thursday last week, much international news has fallen from the agenda. Though the saturation coverage has fallen away from most news channels, few have reported on Iraq nor other events around the globe. The attacks continued in Iraq over the weekend as 16 were killed by two suicide bombs and a shooting incident. The Italian government have confirmed that their troops will be withdrawn in two months. Silvio Berlusconi said at the G8 summit, "We will begin withdrawing 300 men in September." Italy's relations with the US were strained last month after an Italian judge ordered the arrest of 13 American agents accused of seizing a terrorist suspect on the streets of Milan and flying him out of the country. Of the original 47 countries that were a part of the so called 'Coalition of the Willing' few have a significant force on the ground. Thailand withdrew troops in August 2004, following attacks on troops and a number of kidnappings. Portugal withdrew their small contingent in March this year [2005] and Spain withdrew their troops following the Madrid bombings in March 2004. Others that have pulled out are Singapore [March 2005], the Philippines [March 2005], Hungary [December 2004], Nicaragua [July 2004], Honduras [June 2004] and the Dominican Republic [May 2004]. Italy, Ukraine, Bulgaria and the Netherlands have all announced a withdrawal date for sometime this year.

It was reported in one paper over the weekend that Britain would start to ‘scale down’ its presence in Iraq. According to a secret memo written for British Prime Minister Tony Blair by Defense Secretary John Reid, the United States and Britain were drawing up plans to withdraw the majority of their troops from Iraq by the middle of next year [2006]. The paper, which was marked "Secret -- UK Eyes Only," said "emerging U.S. plans assume that 14 out of 18 provinces could be handed over to Iraqi control by early 2006," allowing a reduction in overall U.S.-led forces in Iraq to 66,000 troops. The troop level is now at about 160,000, including 138,000 American troops, according to a military spokesman in Baghdad. [source: Washington Post ]

In other news, Condoleeza Rice was in Beijing to discuss trade issues especially with regards textiles. Also in China at least twenty-two miners were killed and 60 others were missing after a gas explosion ripped through a coal mine in Fukang, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Monday.

In Afghanistan, 10 Afghani troops were killed by Taliban insurgents. According to the Guardian the attack, near the Pakistani border on Saturday on a military convoy, was carried out by a number of militants traveling in four pick-up trucks. Ten soldiers were beheaded by the militants, 15 were said to have escaped.
[10:31 GMT 11/07/2005]

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