Cablegate: Media Reaction: Iran, China, Iran, Uk, Yemen, Mideast,

Published: Mon 1 Feb 2010 01:11 PM
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1. Lead Stories Summary
2. (Iran) U.S. Beefs Up Military Presence in the Gulf
3. (China-U.S.) Arms Shipments to Taiwan
4. (Iran) Opposition Movements
5. (UK) Iraq War Inquiry
6. (Yemen) Anti-Terror Measures
7. (Mideast) Goldstone Report
8. (Economic) Davos World Economic Forum
9. (EU) Greece' Financial Problems, Stability of Euro
10. (U.S.-Germany) Relations
1. Lead Stories Summary
Print media led with the controversy over whether the government
will accept stolen files on Germans who have parked money in
Switzerland to avoid paying taxes in Germany. Editorials focused on
the same issue, on the Economic Forum in Davos, and on the reaction
to FDP leader Pinkwart's suggestion to rescind the decision to cut
the VAT for overnight stays at hotels in half. ZDF-TV's early
evening newscast heute opened with a report on German politicians
haggling over buying stolen data on tax evaders in Switzerland,
while ARD TV's early evening newscast Tagesschau opened with a story
on the controversy between the CDU/CSU and the FDP on healthcare
2. (Iran) U.S. Beefs Up Military Presence in the Gulf
All major dailies (2/1) carried factual news reports on the U.S.
plan to beef up its military presence in the Persian Gulf.
Sueddeutsche Zeitung carried a lengthy report under the headline:
"U.S. Rearms Its Arab Allies" and wrote: "With a view towards a
possible escalation in the nuclear conflict with Iran, the United
States is rearming its Arab allies with advanced anti-missile
defense systems. In cooperation with the governments of several
Gulf states, the protection of oil terminals, harbors and other
facilities will also be improved." Frankfurter Allgemeine carried a
report under the headline: "America Strengthens Missile Defense
System - Patriot Missiles for the Persian Gulf States," while Die
Welt headlined: "U.S. Extends Missile Defense System in the Gulf."
In an editorial under the headline: "A Missile Umbrella for
Diplomacy," Sueddeutsche Zeitung (2/1) argued: "The U.S. government
under President Obama is now getting serious in the conflict about
Iran's nuclear program. After Tehran did not make up its mind and
grabbed the U.S. hand for a dialogue, the second part of the U.S.
strategy will now attempt to force Iran to give in. This is only
logical and correct, even though it is not clear whether this
strategy will succeed. The deployment of U.S. missiles in the Gulf
is another element in this strategy, one Tehran is likely to take
seriously. It will weaken Iran's ability to terrorize the region
with missiles in case of an escalation of the situation. It will
also diminish Iran's ability to impede the shipment of oil for the
global economy. These defense missiles, however, also underscore
the credibility of the U.S. threat to eliminate Tehran's nuclear
facilities through military means. These [U.S.] missiles are
defensive missiles...and it is now up to politicians and diplomats
to do everything that they will not be used."
3. (China-U.S.) Arms Shipments to Taiwan
All papers (2/1) carried reports on the planned U.S. arms shipments
to Taiwan. FAZ carried a front -page report headlined: "Beijing is
Threatening Sanctions against America - 'Considerable Negative
Consequences' for relations." Die Welt reported: "American Weapons
for Taiwan Anger China," and wrote: "With a series of strong
protests, threats to impose sanctions and the freezing of military
contacts with the United States, China's leadership reacted to the
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planned U.S. arms shipments to Taiwan. In a concerted action, the
Foreign, Defense and three other Ministries condemned the plans
initiated by President Obama." In a report under the headline:
"Beijing Is Threatening Washington," Sueddeutsche Zeitung noted:
"This time, open threats from Beijing are new in that Washington's
position will have adverse effects in regional political talks.
Political scientist Jin Canrong from Beijing University told the APN
news agency that 'the United States will now pay a price for these
shipments.' He added: 'As of today, China will really take
retaliatory measures, for instance with respect to cooperation in
the conflicts with North Korea and Iran and with respect to
anti-terror cooperation.'"
Frankfurter Allgemeine (2/1) carried an editorial under the
headline: "Serious," and argued: "If the 'unity of the fatherland'
is involved, the Chinese leadership is not open to arguments. It
always wants to decide on its own whether and when unity is
involved. The problem from a Beijing point of view is that the
people in Taiwan do not want to return to the fold of the
fatherland. But Beijing has never accepted such minor quibbles.
That is why the anger at the United States, which now wants to send
arms shipments to Taiwan for its own defense, is so great. This
anger is free from any kind of artificial thunder. China is very
serious about it. Hopefully, the Americans have kept this in mind
before. If they did, they should now not criticize China. They
must now get through this crisis in relations."
Die Welt (2/1) editorialized under the headline; "Misguided Gesture
of Threat" that "the outrage in Beijing was artificial. China had
known for weeks of these planned arms shipments to Taiwan. Both
sides know that the arms shipments do not signal a new anti-China
policy of the Obama government but only meet a large weapons order
that was initiated by the Bush administration in 2001. Beijing's
shrill tones do not aim at the shipments that cannot be stopped
anyway but they are also thought to be a shot across the bow not to
supply any of the promised offensive weapons Otherwise, relations
could really be burdened. Beijing should now try to find out why
Taiwan's new President Ma Ying-jeow welcomes these arms shipments.
They will help him pursue his overtures to China from an equal
position.... Taiwan is rightfully afraid of the more than 1,300
missiles which are pointed from China's southern coast at Taiwan.
Instead of rattling its saber, China's leadership should begin
dismantling its missile threat and renounce violence in the
reunification question. This would not only result in new relations
with Taiwan and the United States, but would also resolve the
question of U.S. arms shipments."
Under the headline: "Beijing is Testing its Own Strength," die
tageszeitung (2/1) opined: "These shrill tones from Beijing do not
come unexpectedly. This criticism is to test the U.S. government
but also the mood in China itself. For the first time, Chinese
politicians are not only threatening political consequences but they
are also threatening economic sanctions on U.S. companies. Since
the U.S. Congress must approve the deal within one month, time will
tell to what extent strong America's politicians and companies are
still backing Taiwan. But the most important audience for the
warnings is not the United States and the Taiwanese but the Chinese
and the military. They should realize that the Communist Party
leadership would no longer just sit back and take everything, not
even from the U.S. superpower."
4. (Iran) Opposition Movements
Under the headline: "Iranian Power Struggle," Frankfurter Rundschau
(1/30) judged: "The power struggle in Iran has by no means been
decided yet...and both sides apparently are awaiting the next
confrontation on February 11, the Day of the Revolution. Then again
millions of people will take to the streets and abuse the highest
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religious leader Ali Khamenei as murderer, dictator, and new Shah.
But this trend is also worrying the three opposition leaders. In
their loose coalition of government critics and the dissatisfied,
the number of those people is growing who want to completely abolish
the system of the Islamic Republic. The opposition leaders want to
dampen such a development and their latest remarks aim at this. The
core of the most recent message to the part of the regime that is
willing to make compromises is that they want a change personnel but
not the system. But they add that the right of the people is not
negotiable to call for measures against the deception that the
controversial president used to stay in power. That is why the
opposition leaders have now for the first time mentioned the price
for the internal pacification of the country - Ahmadinejad's
According to die tageszeitung (2/1), "February 11 could be decisive
for the future development in Iran. That is why it is all the more
surprising that the West ignores this situation and continues to
concentrate on the nuclear conflict with Iran. The United States
and the EU are pushing for tough sanctions and Washington is
increasing the pressure by deploying an anti-missile defense system
along the Persian Gulf as if the U.S. and the EU deliberately wanted
to distract attention from the internal Iranian conflict and back
the regime. The radicals in Iran are likely to secretly welcome the
escalation of the conflict with the West. They argue that the
fatherland and Islam would be in danger. In this emergency
situation, the people should unite and support the government. And
every criticism that divides the people is considered collaboration
with the international enemies. This is the logical consequence of
the current western strategy."
5. (UK) Iraq War Inquiry
Frankfurter Allgemeine (1/30) editorialized: "A part of the British
public and political elite would have liked to see former Prime
Minister Blair go down to his knees before the inquiry into the Iraq
War and ask for forgiveness... Of course, Blair did not submit to
the huntsmen. He did not apologize but vehemently defended his
decision to topple Saddam Hussein.... It is unlikely that Blair
persuaded his critics. However, they must realize that September 11
changed the foundation on which those responsible in London and
Washington made decisions. The issue of weapons of mass
destructions was given a higher priority. Without 9/11, there would
not have been a war in Afghanistan and Iraq."
In a front page editorial, Die Welt (1/30) remarked: "Those who
thought Tony Blair would come as a contrite sinner were mistaken.
Blair gave all he had in this rhetoric battle. He did so because
this is also about his place in history books, in which he does not
want to be written off as somebody who was wrong. However, he said
what he said on the Iraq War because he is convinced that it was
right. Once again he made clear to a public that tends to forget
that the first decade of the millennium, which began so joyfully,
turned into one of a lethal terrorist threat.. What happened on
September 11 was not a computer game. And it was good that there
were leaders who thought that this problem could not be resolved in
a diplomatic and multilateral dialogue. Who knows which tragedies
were prevented by the fact that they took action in Iraq (and
Afghanistan)? Tony Blair admitted the mistake of not having found
Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. However, he stuck to
the conviction that it was right to fight the war. He was eloquent
and convincing, reflecting the passion for democracy which is so
genuine for the Westminster parliament."
6. (Yemen) Anti-Terror Measures
"Why Yemen is Important" headlined Sueddeutsche Zeitung (2/1), and
editorialized: "The interest of the West for Yemen will rise if
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there are growing concerns that al-Qaida could move unimpededly in
Yemen. This is not new...but the Saudis should have greater reason
to be worried. It is not the Huthi rebels with which the Saudis
have clashed along the border but it is the disintegration of the
Yemenite state that is so dangerous for Saudi Arabia. For the
United States, too, there is also a reason to build up a presence in
the country right now, even though no one speaks about it: between
the Indian subcontinent and the Red Sea, the Chinese are looking for
a strategic basis. But everywhere they are faced with a clientele
from Washington. In Yemen, which has not yet been firmly embedded
in the U.S. system of states, they see a chance."
7. (Mideast) Goldstone Report
Several papers carried articles on the Goldstone Report, noting that
"the Israeli government is apparently considering allowing limited
investigations into the Gaza War" (Frankfurter Allgemeine 1/30).
Tagesspiegel (1/30) headlined a short report "Government defends
Gaza offensive," adding that "in a response to the UN report on the
Gaza offensive, Israel defended itself against the allegations of
war crimes." Frankfurter Rundschau (1/30) carried a lengthy report
by Mideast correspondent Inge Gnther, highlighting that Prime
Minister "Netanyahu suggested allowing independent experts to
investigate Gaza War." Frankfurter Allgemeine's Mideast
correspondent Hans-Christian RQler noted under the headline "Israel
denies war crimes" that "the Israeli government refuted allegations
that soldiers deliberately attacked civilians during the Gaza War"
In a Frankfurter Rundschau (1/30) editorial, Mideast correspondent
Inge Gnther noted: "Israel did not spare any efforts to respond to
the Goldstone Report. It moved heaven and earth to refute the
allegations that the Israeli army deliberately aimed at Palestinian
civilians. The office of the prime minister recruited numerous
volunteers for a counter-campaign. However, it was left to the army
to examine what really happened in Gaza. Most Israelis have
confidence in their army and believe it has the highest moral
standards in the world. Outside of Israel, the question of why
Operation Cast Lead killed 1,400 Palestinians, including many
children and women, remained unanswered. The Goldstone Report's
allegation of war crimes is going far, maybe too far. However, only
an independent commission can provide evidence to the contrary.
This is beginning to get through even to Prime Minister Netanyahu.
By doing so, Israel would not compromise itself. On the contrary, a
critical view would steel Israel against future mistakes and
8. (Economic) Davos World Economic Forum
Deutschlandfunk (1/30) commented: "The situation in the global
banking world cannot go on. New stricter rules must be implemented.
This was the number one issue in Davos, and it is reassuring that
the managers from trade and industry, politics, and science have
learned this lesson. But what is worrying is the still existing gap
between these camps.... Davos showed that the suggestions from
Washington, Paris, Brussels, and Berlin are still too contradictory
and every banker must be afraid that these proposals will be
implemented. The bankers are rightfully warning against quick
populist moves but offer enough points of attack and are then
wondering why their factual arguments are not accepted by the
public. The world is complex and multidimensional. Nevertheless,
new solutions for banks must be found and developed. This Economic
Forum is elitist but there is no doubt that it is also necessary."
Frankfurter Allgemeine (2/1) opined: "a first evaluation of the
World Economic Forum in Davos has revealed that the interest of
international media in the event is declining. This is not
surprising because prominent political actors and rousing issues
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were not present this year. This year's meeting could not send a
strong message because there were no clear answers to many
questions. In the snow flurry of Davos, the issues could only be
broached. But the mood among the U.S. and European managers was
clearly better than last year."
9. (EU) Greece' Financial Problems, Stability of Euro
Sddeutsche (2/1) commented: "Of course, the Europeans could let
Greece fail. They could stand by and watch what happens when one of
the Euro-zone countries goes bankrupt. However, this would be a
risky experiment, and all Euro countries, in fact the entire EU,
would have to pay dearly for it. The Europeans would try out what
the U.S. government and Federal Reserve did in the case of Lehman
Brothers.... Chancellor Merkel will not be able to reject a bailout
program because Greece's bankruptcy would be more dangerous in the
end. The conditions of the emergency loans are more important
because the wrongdoing must be punished, regardless of whether it is
a bank or a state. The EU must strip Athens of its power and dictate
its budget. This would make clear that it would not be a carte
blanche for everybody to live on money you don't have. The EU must
also apply this lesson to banks. It is not good enough that banks
just repay the loans. They must be strictly regulated to stop them
from making mistakes again."
10. (U.S.-Germany) Relations
In a front-page editorial, Frankfurter Allgemeine (1/30) remarked:
"Germany has special relations to three countries: the United States
of America, France and Israel. Their developments mirror Germany's
foreign policy after the Second World War and their significance
defines Germany's position in today's world policy. The
relationship with America is based upon the Marshall Plan and the
integration into the West. It is linked to Germany's economic rise
and its return to the civilized world community after the crimes of
the Nazis. The U.S. promoted the process of European unity and
guaranteed Europe's security in the Cold War, from which
particularly Germany as a leading state benefited. In addition, the
U.S. played a major part in the [German] reunification, which it
supported without any reservations, unlike some European neighbors.
The East-West conflict is history; the relations of the mentor to
its former model student were seriously disrupted during the Iraq
war; the elites who fostered close relations between Germany and
America are now beginning to leave the political stage.
German-American relations are no longer fundamentally different from
the obligations and interests that determine the relationships other
regional medium-sized powers have with the only real world power."
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