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Managing Second Line in Anti-terrorism War

Posted July. 29, 2002 22:17,   


US Secretary of State Colin Powell embarked on a 5-day trip to 6 Asian countries, starting with his arrival in Bangkok, Taiwan on 29th.

The final destination of this trip is the Asian Regional Forum, which will be held for two day from July 31st to August 1st. But the press sources reported that Powell’s trip is to drum up the region’s support for US-led war against terrorism in Afghanistan.

The 6 countries Powell will visit are mostly Muslim countries or countries suffering from Muslim guerrilla activities. Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei consist mostly of Muslims. On the other hand, Taipei, Singapore and Philippine are suffering either from the civil war or from conflict with Muslim portion of population. The September 11th terrorist attack was first conceived in the Al Qaeta’s secret meeting in Malaysia in January 2001.

US worries this region might become another home for the Al Qaeta group after the war in Afghanistan, and considers this region as the second front line. Powell’s visit seems to aim at boosting official and financial supports for the anti-terrorist fight by US.

In addition, according to a Reuters’ report on 28th, Powell will likely tap on the possibility of stationing US troops in this region to cope with the threat from Al Qaeta.

US has already sent its troops since January to Philippine to support Philippine’s war against Al Qaeta followers in that country.

Thus, US has secured an advance ground for deployment of its troops in this region. US, 10 years ago, withdrew its troops from Philippine upon the request by the Philippine Congress.

Powell focuses on soothing the increasing anti-America sentiment in Indonesia and building up the military cooperation with it, which has remained severed since 1999.

But those countries are showing sensitive reactions to the potential request of US for stationing its troops in that region.

Reuters reported, “Taipei worries that stationing US troops may damage its tourism industry, which has played a key role in rebuilding its economy since 1997.”

Taipei’s Foreign Minister said before Powell’s arrival, “In Taipei, no terrorist group is acting.” He also denied the accuracy of US intelligence report saying, “People who content that Al Qaeta is acting within out territory will argue that they have seen Osama bin Laden here.”

In the meanwhile, AFP reported that Foreign Minister of Malaysia, which has strongly supported US’ war against terrorism, said on 28th that the Asian would build up cooperation in fighting terrorism. But he did not comment on the possibility of allowing US troops in his country.

Secretary Powell warned at a press conference in Washington, D.C., held right before his departure, “No country should provide a friendly environment to Al Qaeta. Al Qaeta which tries to make most out of such environment will give only harm to that country.”

Eun-Taek Hong euntack@donga.com