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the latest news on kurds

1. Brookings Institute: Kerim Yildiz, the Executive Director of the Kurdish Human Rights Project, will make a presentation on the displacement of Kurds inside Turkey, as well as inside Iraq.
2. Baydmer: the experience of the Kurdistan region is a victory for all parts of Kurdistan
3. Rights, not cash is East’s demand-Turkey
4. KHRP Fact-Finding Mission Finds Human Rights Compromised with Imposition of ‘High Security Zones’-KHRP
5. Remembering Halabja: 20 years on
6. Cheney Officially Invites Barzani to Visit US
7. Cheney meets with Kurdish leader Barzani ahead of Ankara talks
8. USA to deploy another radar system in Turkey in addition to Poland and Czech Republic
9. Cheney in Iraq, Kurds assure they are part of a new Iraq
10. We share Iran fear, Angela Merkel to tell Israel
11. McCain wary of Iran’s influence in Iraq
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1. Brookings Institute: Kerim Yildiz, the Executive Director of the Kurdish Human Rights Project, will make a presentation on the displacement of Kurds inside Turkey, as well as inside Iraq.

Dear Colleague,
Turkey and Iraq are both home to sizeable Kurdish populations – with Kurds making up around 20% of the citizenry in each country. Decades of oppression and military campaigns in each state have created internal displacement, and minority rights have yet to be reconciled, at least in practice. Turkey has around 1 million mostly-Kurdish IDPs and Iraq’s +2 million displaced are comprised of both Kurds displaced during the Ba’ath regime as well as Iraqis of all ethnicities fleeing post-2003 ethno-sectarian violence. Many Kurdish families in Iraq and Turkey remain displaced, and continue to suffer human rights violations as part of their displacement. Solutions to their displacement are tied to political change which has proven to be difficult – to say the least – in both countries.
On Wednesday, March 26, from 12:00 – 2:00pm, the Project will hold a luncheon seminar at The Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, to discuss the issues surrounding Kurdish displacement in Turkey and Iraq.
Kerim Yildiz, the Executive Director of the Kurdish Human Rights Project, will make a presentation on the displacement of Kurds inside Turkey, as well as inside Iraq. After his statement, Nabil Al-Tikriti, a Senior Fellow in the Jennings Randolph Fellowship Program at the U.S. Institute of Peace, and Steven Cook, the Douglas Dillon Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, will provide comments.
We very much hope you can join us for this discussion. Please RSVP by 24 March to Erin Williams at (202) 797-2477 or ewilliams@brookings.edu.
Sincerely,
Elizabeth Ferris
Senior Fellow and Co-Director
Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement
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2. Baydmer: the experience of the Kurdistan region is a victory for all parts of Kurdistan

Mayor of Diyarbakir: the success of the Government and the Parliament of Kurdistan Region is the success and pleasure of all Kurds

PUKmedia Irbil
2008-03-19

Mr. Adnan Mufti president of the Kurdistan national assembly yesterday met with Mayor Baydmer in the presence of Dr. Kamal Kerkuki Vice President of the National Assembly and a delegation from Kurdistan of Turkey municipalities, included both Mr. Osman Baidamir Mayor of the city of Diyarbakir, Ahmet Artak Mayor of Shernak and Mokadas Kublai Mayor of Bayezid and Fayk Dulsson Mayor Bet Alshabab.

In a meeting attended by Abdullah Erez Chairman of the relations Committee of the Parliament of Kurdistan, Mr. Osman Baedmer stated that he was pleased to visit the Region of Kurdistan to participate in the commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of the tragedy of Halabja and the municipalities conference held in the city of Sulaymaniyah.

Then an exchange of views on how to resolve differences between the Region of Kurdistan and, Turkey and the consolidation of bilateral relations between the two sides at all levels. For his part, President of the Parliament of Kurdistan emphasized the importance to resolve outstanding problems through political dialogue, peace, understanding and mutual respect.

While Osman Baidamir Mayor of the city of Diyarbakir described the Kurdistan experience as a victory for all parts of Kurdistan and said that the success of the Government and the Parliament of Kurdistan Region is a success and pleasure to all Kurds. He wished Kurdistan Region to have big development and progress.
Translated
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3. Rights, not cash is East’s demand-Turkey

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The economic package promoted by the government as key to solving the Kurdish problem once and for all appears less than promising to the region’s leaders and people, who believe any solution has to include major political reforms

GÖKSEL BOZKURT
DİYARBAKIR – Turkish Daily News

License plate solution
Sezgin Tanrıkulu, the Diyarbakır Bar Association president

The sign of the problem being solved will be when locals didn’t fear putting the region’s license plates on their cars. When people don’t fear seeing the license plate number 21, it means the problem is solved. The money spent for war in the past 30 years is $400 billion. If peace was given a chance, do you think the region would still have had a problem with just a portion of that money?

Mass rehabilitation Diyarbakır Doctors’ Association Chairman Adem Avcıkıran Economic measures are welcome, but don’t hide the fact that he has little hope about it doing any good. What the region needs is democratization. The identity of those who die doesn’t matter. There has been war here for the past 30 years. The trauma caused by this constant war is reflected in the psyche of the people. What we need is a mass rehabilitation with political and economic measures.
In one of the squares of the Anatolian city of Diyarbakır, a conversation taking place between two people provided a general pointer at the ambiguity felt about a massive investment pledge for the region by the government. A tall young man turned and said, “the prime minister will send $12 billion to the region and the Kurdish problem will be solved immediately.” Another man next to him dismissed the economic package Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan promised for the Southeast and said, “his was the only government who had not come up with a package,” implying that the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) package was destined to fail like many others because such packages lacked a crucial ingredient. Diyarbakır is the most political city in the Southeast. Almost 650,000 people out of a total population of 1.5 million have green cards that provide them with free state health care. Unemployment stands at more than 30 percent, reflected in the coffee houses full of young people. Diyarbakır Chamber of Trade and Industry Chairman Mehmet Kaya said the city had attracted serious migration from the surrounding region in recent years and the average household contained eight to 10 people. “There is not a single industrial enterprise with a workforce of more than 500,” he said. The marble sector covers 25 percent of the industry while textile 23 percent. Kaya said the region has the potential to develop a viable agriculture and mining sector, but the lack of investment precluded such a development. On the promised package, Kaya said, “the region got 12 such packages in the past. None were truly implemented. If this package is implemented it will be good, but economic measures should be backed by political ones,” echoing the opinion of many in the region.
A book and the license plate: Sezgin Tanrıkulu, the Diyarbakır Bar Association president, is breathing heavily after having just returned from one of the endless cases at the court. The one he just witnessed was on the book published by the Diyarbakır Municipality that included stories by 37 local writers. It was published in Kurdish and Turkish. Mayor Osman Baydemir immediately faced charges based on the law that protects the Turkish alphabet. “Laws changed but there are problems in the implementation,” he said. Tanrıkulu said the ban on Kurdish broadcasts was lifted but private Kurdish television was still not permitted. “Economic packages are good but without political reforms, the problem will remain,” he said. The sign of the problem being solved would be when locals didn’t fear putting the region’s license plates on their cars, Tanrıkulu said. Nothing that the license plate number of Diyarbakır is 21, Tanrıkulu said, “when people don’t fear seeing this license plate number, it means the problem is solved.” When one looks at the cars around the city, the number of license plates starting with 06 or 34, Ankara and Istanbul, is striking. “I went to Istanbul with my car that has a license plate starting with 21. People looked at me like I’m a freak,” said Yılmaz, a driver. “Some created a society gripped by fear. They say they will invest $12 billion in the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP). The money spent for war in the past 30 years is $400 billion. If peace was given a chance, do you think the region would still have had a problem with just a portion of that money?” Tanrıkulu said.
A mass rehabilitation: Around 650,000 people with green cards reflects both the poverty in the region and the state of the health system. Diyarbakır Doctors’ Association Chairman Adem Avcıkıran said economic measures would be welcome, but doesn’t hide the fact that he has little hope about it doing any good. “What the region needs is democratization. The identity of those who die doesn’t matter. There has been war here for the past 30 years,” he said. The trauma caused by this constant war is reflected in the psyche of the people, he said and added, “what we need is a mass rehabilitation with political and economic measures.”
Diyarbakır politics: The recent elections have shown that the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) and the AKP are the ones with any political influence in the region and local elections slated for 2009 are expected to feature a tough contest between the two. The DTP’s bureau in Diyarbakır is buzzing with people. The provincial head of the party, Necdet Atalay, has been in the post for only 50 days but still the problems he is faced with are normal by DTP standards. “I have received two 10-month sentences in these 50 days for making Kurdish propaganda. I also face three other investigations,” he said.
He accuses the government of introducing economic incentives in order win votes in the local elections, expected to be held early next year.
“The constitution should recognize the Kurdish identity. There should be a democratic, autonomous government in the region. There should be a general amnesty. Kurdish should be introduced in the school curriculum as a language of education. Social and cultural rights should be granted,” Atalat said and added that they are the bare minimums.
While the AKP’s provincial chief, Abdurrahim Hattapoğlu, believes the economic package will do plenty of good, he also noted the importance of political measures. “People have waited for this package for a long time and I believe it will improve the current employment problem,” he said, but noted the importance of political reforms. “If this government can’t introduce political reforms, no government can. Political reforms will be part of the new constitution. This will take time. First will be the economic initiatives and then will come political reform.”
Charges for organ donation pamphlet in Kurdish:
The stances of political parties reflect the general mood of the province. For ordinary people, politics comes before economics.
Apart from a few retired people who say more jobs will cure all ills, the youth drenched in poverty still want political, cultural and social rights.
Municipality worker İrfan Uçar dismissed the government package and said, “this is no package. They say there are no bans imposed on the Kurdish language but then the Sur Municiaplity is charged for printing organ donation pamphlets in Kurdish.
Despite the general pessimism about the government’s economic package, it would be incorrect to say all people have lost hope.
Tea shop manager, Hasan Birsen, believes $12 billion will solve all the problems in the region, while tradesman Nevzat Fındıklı believes the AKP has the will to solve all the problems.
Rock till you drop:
A theme-shop with focus on rock music in the center of Diyarbakır’s commercial district is a common hang out for Kurdish youth.
The manager, İdris Tosun, is pessimistic. “This package will not amount to anything either. People are hungry. They can’t speak their own language. Freedom will solve everything,” he said.
Tosun said rock music reflects their own rebellious nature and call for more rights.
Eylem Güneş, 25, a regular at Sanat Café, is unemployed, like many of his friends. He doesn’t really expect much from the package. “Economic initiatives may scratch the surface, but it won’t delve into the heart of the problem. I am very unhappy that I have to live in this city,” he said.
His friend, İbrahim Polat, agreed with Güneş, but added, “the state needs to face its past and Kurds should be respected as human beings. Turkey’s problems cannot be solved without solving the Kurdish problem. I support some of the AKP’s policies but I am against its current attitude. Violence will solve nothing in this day and age. Science and knowledge will. The AKP should follow science and knowledge.”
Repeated failures cause pessimism:
The Southeastern Anatolia Journalists’ Association President Faruk Balıkçı is an experienced journalist with Kurdish roots. He believes the numerous government packages over the past decades and their eventual failure has made the region’s people pessimistic
“$12 billion will be invested in GAP, but this will not affect the welfare of the people on the street,” he said.
He said Kurdish education in schools, lifting of all bans on Kurdish broadcasts and granting of cultural, social and political rights are key to solving the issue. “Those who say they will solve the problem without mentioning these are just lying,” he said.
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4. KHRP Fact-Finding Mission Finds Human Rights Compromised with Imposition of ‘High Security Zones’-KHRP

Tuesday, 18 March 2008
Kurdish Human Rights Project

A KHRP Fact-Finding Mission sent to investigate the impact of the declaration of ‘High Security Zones’ in the Kurdish regions of Turkey returned yesterday. Mission members Sara Capogna and Nazmi Gür visited Tunceli, Bingöl, Diyarbakir, Cizre and Şirnak, meeting with human rights lawyers, government and political party officials, and trade union and NGO representatives.
The mission observed that the most commonly violated rights were related to the freedoms of expression, thought and association. Worryingly, the mission also noted that there was a general consensus that the situation in these regions had deteriorated over the last two years, although it has not reached the same levels of oppression and human rights violations of the 1990s.
‘After several reports of unlawful detention; disproportionate use of force by authorities at peaceful demonstrations against military activity in the region; and complaints from rural dwellers about access to their lands and livestock, the KHRP sent a mission to determine the human rights impact on the day-to-day life of the average person living in the Kurdish regions. Unfortunately, the delegation has returned reporting a series of violations that are entirely incompatible with international human rights norms.’
A full report of the mission’s findings and recommendations will be available in the coming weeks.
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5. Remembering Halabja: 20 years on

Tuesday, 18 March 2008
KHRP
As Kurds in Iraq remember the atrocities committed at Halabja 20 years ago in Kurdistan, Iraq, KHRP would like to take this opportunity to call for greater recognition of the genocidal crimes committed by the former Baathist government under Saddam Hussein and redress for those affected by them.
On 16 March 1988, Iraqi military planes dropped chemical agents on the town of Halabja in Kurdistan, Iraq, killing some 5,000 civilians. This attack was only part of a systematic six-and-a-half month ‘Anfal’ campaign, in which 180,000 people “disappeared” and some 4,000 villages were destroyed. The legacy of Halabja lives on today, as direct survivors and their descendents continue to suffer from medical, psychological, social and economic problems caused by the attacks and the massive displacement they have inflicted.
Despite the many governmental and intergovernmental organisations professing a commitment to human rights, full and appropriate acknowledgement by the international community of the tragedies at Halabja and of Anfal has been long overdue.
Bringing the perpetrators of these crimes to justice constitutes an essential step towards the achievement of recognition of the atrocities themselves. However, this process in itself will not provide adequate redress for the victims of these campaigns. In this regard, measures by the Kurdistan Regional Government and central Iraqi government to reconstruct the areas affected have so far proved insufficient. Moreover, the execution of Saddam Hussein and other former officials have already denied the possibility of these individuals facing trial for their crimes at Halabja and during the Anfal campaign. This year the potential execution of ‘Chemical’ Ali Hassan al-Majid for his role in the Anfal campaign likewise threatens to prevent him from being brought to justice for the full extent of his involvement in the Halabja attack.
In marking the anniversary of the attack on Halabja, KHRP Executive Director Kerim Yildiz today stated: “Kurds in Iraq today are no longer under threat of attacks such as those of Halabja and the Anfal campaigns. Recognising the crimes of the past and providing effective measures to address them is a vital component of the reconciliation process between Iraq’s various communities. This recognition must extend to the knock-on and lifelong effects victims of those attacks endured. Unfortunately, human rights abuse and regional instability continue to be very much a feature of the present, and thus undermine this process. The Iraqi authorities, regional governments and international community must take responsibility for providing a stable and peaceful environment to facilitate the development of this region, as it is vital to the development of Iraq and the region as a whole.”
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6. Cheney Officially Invites Barzani to Visit US

PUKmedia
18-03-2008

Today the President of the Kurdistan Region, Massud Barzani, met with the U.S. Vice President, Dick Cheney, and an acompanying delegation in Erbil.
Barzani welcomed Cheney and his companying delegation during a reception ceremony where many senior officials attended. Barzani appreciate the historic visit, thanking President Bush’s administration for librating Iraq from the Baath dictatorship regime and expressing his respect to the victims of the US army in librating Iraq.
The President of the Kurdistan Region also reiterated his commitment to the Iraqi constitution and his full support to the Iraqi political process and the alliance with the US in fighting against terrorism.
On his part, U.S. Vice President in addition to expressing his happiness to visit the Kurdistan region and the progress the region witnesses, he invited the President of the Kurdistan Region officially to visit Washington and meet with President Bush. Cheney stressed reinforcing special bilateral relations between US and the Kurdistan Region.
“We are certainly counting on President Barzani’s leadership to help us conclude a new strategic relationship between the United States and Iraq as well as crucial pieces of national legislation in the days ahead,” U.S. Vice President, Dick Cheney said.
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7. Cheney meets with Kurdish leader Barzani ahead of Ankara talks

19.03.2008
Today’s Zaman with wires Ankara

US Vice President Dick Cheney, on a regional tour in the Middle East, held talks yesterday with Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani in Arbil ahead of talks scheduled to take place in the Turkish capital within days.
Cheney’s visit to the region comes only weeks after a Turkish ground incursion into northern Iraq. The Turkish military began a ground offensive against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq on Feb. 21 and announced that troops were being withdrawn on Feb. 29. The offensive, the biggest anti-PKK operation in a decade, was ostensibly conducted with US acquiescence but with Washington underlining repeatedly that it must be limited in length and scope to avoid damaging Iraq’s stability. Turkish officials said the US provided intelligence support for the operation. “We are certainly counting on President Barzani’s leadership to help us conclude a new strategic relationship between the United States and Iraq as well as crucial pieces of national legislation in the days ahead,” Cheney, who flew from Baghdad to Arbil after a rally with troops, said, according to The Associated Press. Barzani called Cheney’s visit a “historic day” in Iraq’s Kurdish region. “We understand very well the importance of this visit,” he said.
“Indeed, I would like to reinstate our commitment that we will continue to play a positive role in order to build a new Iraq — an Iraq with a foundation of a great federal, democratic, pluralistic free Iraq. I would like also, Mr. Vice President, to assure you that we are committed to the constitution of Iraq and we will continue to be playing a positive role to be part of the solution, not part of the problem,” Barzani was quoted by AP as saying.
It was Cheney’s first visit to the Kurdish region. “It’s a visit that’s long overdue,” Cheney said. He said he and Barzani talked about the overall situation in Iraq as well as what is happening specifically in the Kurdish region. But Cheney did not specifically mention the problems with the PKK.
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8. USA to deploy another radar system in Turkey in addition to Poland and Czech Republic

Pravda.Ru
Friday, March 14, 2008

The US administration has been conducting secret talks on the deployment of a mobile radar of its missile defense system in another European country – Turkey. The USA may start official negotiations on the matter during the NATO summit. For the time being it is known that US Defense Secretary Robert Gates touched upon the issue during his recent visit to Turkey. The new plans of the US administration may seriously aggravate its relations with Moscow.
The fact of USA’s negotiations with Turkey has been officially confirmed only on March 13, 2008. Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters of Gates’s recent visit to Ankara, the capital of Turkey. US and Turkish officials discussed the military operation of the Turkish Army in Iraq. In addition, Morrell said, the parties discussed plans on the establishment of the missile defense system in Turkey.
John Rood, acting Undersecretary of State, previously rejected the fact of the negotiations. Rood particularly stated in Washington that the USA was not planning any missile defense talks with any countries other than Poland and the Czech Republic.
As it turns out, Robert Gates urged Turkey to cooperate in the creation of the third center of the missile defense system. The Pentagon head promised to render financial help to Turkey in terms of army modernization. According to Gates, investments in Turkey’s defense sector may reach one billion dollars.
The US-based Missile Defense Agency intends to deploy a mobile radar system in Turkey, the Austrian newspaper Die Presse wrote. For the time being, the USA uses only one such radar, which is located in California.
Apparently, the systems, which the USA intends to build in Poland and the Czech Republic, will not be able to protect all allies. Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey may suffer from a possible missile attack from Iran, US officials believe. The NATO summit is to discuss the problem at a meeting in Bucharest, in April.
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9. Cheney in Iraq, Kurds assure they are part of a new Iraq

Iraq-USA, Politics,
3/18/2008
Arab News

US Vice President Dick Cheney and Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government President Barzani held a meeting after which they made some remarks today.
Barzani said “On behalf of the people of Kurdistan, I would like to welcome very warmly Mr. Vice President, Dick Cheney, the Vice President of the United States for a very helpful visit in Kurdistan region. Indeed, this is a historic day; it’s a very historic day for our people. We, at this time very well — this is a very important message for everybody. As far as we are concerned, this is another evidence for the confirmation of the support of the United States for Iraq, for the people of Iraq, and also for the support of the people of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan region, and another evidence of the support of the United States for the democracy process and building a free, federal, democratic Iraq.
“We understand very well the importance of this visit. Indeed, I would like to reiterate our commitment that we will continue to play a positive role in order to build a new Iraq — an Iraq with a foundation of a great federal, democratic, pluralistic, free Iraq.
“I would like also, Mr. Vice President, to assure you that we have committed to the constitution of Iraq, and we will continue to be playing a positive role, to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. We will be part of the solution for all the efforts inside Iraq and out for the neighboring countries. We will also continue to be a factor for stability, a factor for peace and stability in all the area.
“I would like to take this opportunity to express our thanks and appreciation for President Bush, for yourself, the people of the United States, and also the United States military, for the sacrifices that they have given, and also for the great decision that they have taken in order to liberate the people of Iraq from the dictatorial, tyrannical regime.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to express our sincere condolences to the families of the victims, for all the sacrifices they have given. And we highly appreciate these sacrifices. I would also like to assure you that we will stay together, we will be with you in one trench, and without any hesitation or reservation, to fight terrorism and also to succeed in our efforts in the democratic process, and also in building a free and prosperous Iraq.
“Once again, I would like to welcome you very warmly, and thank you very much for this visit.
Cheney at the conference said ” Let me thank President Barzani for his most gracious hospitality today, for welcoming me on my first visit to Iraqi Kurdistan. It’s a visit that’s long overdue. Just about 17 years ago this month, when I was Secretary of Defense, the United States launched Operation Provide Comfort, to save hundreds of thousands of Kurdish men, women and children under threat from Saddam Hussein’s regime after the Gulf War.
“That operation, of course, followed just by three years the nightmare of Saddam Hussein’s brutal campaign against Iraqi Kurds, including the use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians at Halabja.
“Provide Comfort was an extraordinary mission that led to the establishment of the American “no fly zone” over Northern Iraq. It also led to the establishment of a very special friendship between the United States and the people of Iraqi Kurdistan. The results have been quite remarkable for all to see, in terms of the development and the prosperity of this part of Iraq. The transformation that has occurred in less than two decades sets an extraordinary example, I believe, for the rest of Iraq and for what is possible, with patience and resolve, when the United States and the people of Iraq join together in a common effort and strategic partnership.
“President Barzani and I, and his associates, have been talking today about the overall situation in Iraq, as well as what’s happening here in Iraqi Kurdistan. We are certainly counting on President Barzani’s leadership to help us conclude a new strategic relationship between the United States and Iraq, as well as to pass crucial pieces of national legislation in the months ahead.
“We think it’s important to lay the foundation for the kind of relationship that will bind our people together for the future as we build on the experiences and shared sacrifice that we’ve been — that we’ve worked on together in the past.
“So, Mr. President, let me thank you once again for your hospitality, and say that I look forward to having the opportunity to return the same when you visit Washington in the near future.”
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10. We share Iran fear, Angela Merkel to tell Israel

By Harry de Quetteville in Berlin and Tim Butcher in Jerusalem
18 Mar 2008
The Daily Telegraph

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, will deliver an address to Israel’s Knesset today, marking a new high point in relations between the two countries.
Sixty-five years after the Holocaust, and just eight years after Israeli MPs walked out during a speech by Johannes Rau, the then German president, Mrs Merkel is securing a uniquely warm welcome in the Jewish state.
Accompanied by half her cabinet, her three-day trip to Israel has embraced penance for the crimes of World War II, and a raft of practical, bilateral agreements in defence and education.
In the Knesset today, she is due to underline Germany’s commitment to preventing Iran acquiring an atomic weapon, emphasising that “the threats which the state of Israel faces are also our threats”.
But Mrs Merkel has been criticised for a decision not to visit the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, or Palestinian leaders, as is usual on such trips.
In a press conference yesterday, she was asked repeatedly about Israel’s continuing expansion of settlements in occupied Palestinian land.
While she deflected the questions, Ehud Olmert, Israel’s prime minister, insisted that the building programme would continue.
In Germany, analysts have been quick to suggest that Mrs Merkel’s trip smacks of cynical, self-serving diplomacy, as much as it does genuine reconciliation.
“States have relations, not feelings. It is clear that the crimes of Hitler are still gnawing at Germany’s psyche and it wants Israel to help its ego,” noted Malte Lehming in Der Tagesspiegel.
The Israeli government has agreed for the speech to be in German, although some Israeli politicians have voiced objections.
They said the German language would still be offensive to some Holocaust survivors and their descendants.
The chancellor visited Yad Vashem, the memorial to the victims of Nazi persecution.
Signing the guest book, she wrote: “In recognition of Germany’s responsibility for the Shoah, the German government underlines with the first German-Israeli consultations its determination for a joint shaping of the future.”
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11. McCain wary of Iran’s influence in Iraq

By ALFRED de MONTESQUIOU
18 Mar 2008
The Associated Press

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting, expressed fresh concern Tuesday about Iran’s influence in Iraq and rising sway in Mideast.
McCain noted U.S. military officials recently discovered a cache of armor-piercing bombs in Iraq, and he hinted the explosives had been provided by Iran. U.S. officials have long been saying that Iran provides explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs to, Shiite militias in Iraq, although the Iranian government denies any role.
The U.S. military reported two such finds during the past week.
McCain also voiced concern that Tehran is bringing militants over the border into Iran for training before sending them back to fight U.S. troops in Iraq, and blamed Syria for allegedly continuing to “expedite” a flow of foreign fighters.
“We continue to be concerned about Iranian influence and assistance to Hezbollah as well as Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons,” McCain said.
He added that, if elected president, he would coordinate better with Europe to impose a “broad range of sanctions and punishments” on Tehran, to “convince them that their activities, particularly development of nuclear weapons, is not a beneficial goal to seek.”
McCain declined to comment on whether he could back an eventual decision to strike Iran if Tehran doesn’t cease its nuclear activities.
In response to a question about possible U.S. strikes against Tehran, McCain only said: “At the end of the day, we cannot afford having a nuclear armed Iran.”
He warned that any hasty pullout from Iraq would be a mistake that would favor Iran and al-Qaida.
“We continue to be very concerned about the Iranian influence in Iraq and in the region,” McCain said.
McCain ran into trouble last year when he joked about bombing Iran, giving a campaign audience in South Carolina a rendition of the opening lyrics of the Beach Boys rock classic “Barbara Ann,” calling the tune “Bomb Iran” and changing the words to “bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, anyway, ah …”
McCain, who has linked his political future to U.S. success in Iraq, was in the wartorn country on Monday for meetings with Iraqi and U.S. diplomatic and military officials.
“We were very encouraged by the success of the surge and the reduction in U.S. casualties,” McCain told reporters in Jordan, where he stopped on the next leg of a congressional visit that will also take him to Israel, Britain and France.
“We are succeeding, but we still have a long way to go,” he warned. “Al-Qaida is on the run, they’re not defeated.”
A “major battle” remains to be fought to reclaim the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, he said, stating it was a success for the U.S. that Iraqi troops were now “taking the lead in that struggle” against al-Qaida.
Later Tuesday, McCain received a celebrity welcome in Jerusalem, beginning a two-day visit to Israel with a stop at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. As his motorcade pulled up dozens of tourists greeted him and chanted “Mac is back,” as he shook their hands and posed for photographs.
During his 90-minute visit at the memorial and museum, McCain was visibly moved, his eyes welling with tears as he viewed photographs from Nazi death camps.
Wearing a skullcap placed on his head by Lieberman, McCain laid a wreath in memory of the 6 million Jewish Holocaust victims and lit a memorial flame. Signing the Yad Vashem visitors’ book he wrote: “I am deeply moved. Never again. John McCain.”
His visit to Iraq was the Arizona senator’s first since emerging as the presumed Republican nominee. He was accompanied by Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, an independent, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., two of his top supporters in the race for president.
He promised that, if elected president, he would uphold a long-term military commitment in Iraq as long as al-Qaida in Iraq is not defeated.
McCain, who is the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the trip to the Middle East and Europe was for fact-finding purposes, not a campaign photo opportunity.
He is expected to meet with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown for the first time, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy for the third time. He met and corresponded with Sarkozy both before and after the French president was elected. They last saw each other last summer.
McCain has told U.S. reporters he worries that insurgents might try to influence the November presidential election by stepping up their attacks in Iraq.
McCain is a supporter of the 2003 invasion and President Bush’s troop increase last year.
Associated Press Writer Dale Gavlak in Amman, Jordan, contributed to this report .