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US suffers allies’ limited cooperation on terror fight

(AFP) Nearly six years after the September 11 attacks, Washington finds its closest allies give less-than-absolute cooperation in the battle against terrorism despite their professed solidarity with the United States. Amid US concerns over al-Qaeda and Taliban militants sheltering in Pakistan’s tribal areas, President George W. Bush’s top counter-terrorism aide said Tuesday Washington rarely got all of the help it wanted from allies like Islamabad in efforts to hunt down violent extremists. It is “almost never the case” that allies give the United States everything it wants in the way of counter-terrorism cooperation, said White House homeland security and counterterrorism advisor Frances Townsend. Most shape their participation and sharing based on their own national interest, Townsend said during a briefing on the latest US intelligence report on terrorist threats to the United States. “And you know what? If I only cooperated with those who gave me 100 percent of what I thought I needed or wanted, I wouldn’t have a whole lot of allies around the world.” The problem of maximizing cooperation has dogged Washington’s efforts to go after al-Qaeda and its leader Osama bin Laden and other perceived threats to the country. And as the impact of the devastating September 11 attacks on New York and Washington wanes in the global memory, cooperation among allies could also be somewhat adrift, said security expert John Pike. “It would be as no surprise that the level of cooperation today would be less than it was in September 2001,” Pike, director of Globalsecurity.org, told AFP in an interview. “The Americans pretty much had a blank check” after the 9/11 attacks, he noted. But the willingness to cooperate may have been hurt by things like the US handling of the Iraq war and the US’ widely controversial Guantanamo prison, he said. And while the Bush administration has prioritized fighting terrorism in policies, Pike said, among US allies there are other problems which affect the levels of cooperation. “For the Bush administration, if they can take care of counterterrorism, everything else would be OK. That’s not true for other countries. For other countries, bin Laden is one of a bunch of issues they worry about.” The most recent challenge has been to get Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf to take tougher action against al-Qaeda and Taliban hideouts in the remote tribal areas. But that runs into Pakistan domestic political problems, Pike said. “Mr. Musharraf would like to cooperate but the Pakistani government never controlled that part of the country. “And the deal for that part of the country from the very beginning was, as long you don’t make trouble for us we don’t make trouble for you. And now that deal comes unglued.” Global terror expert Anthony Cordesman said in an address last year that the key to success in cooperation against terrorism is to “focus on the art of the possible and on partnership and cooperation, rather than attempting too much and having one nation or culture attempt to dominate the effort.” “Too many nations define terrorism differently and have different ways of fighting terrorism, different cultural values, different legal standards and different approaches to human rights,” said Cordesman, of Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The fact is that we will never fully agree on who is a terrorist, or how to fight them,” he said. He said that institutions like the United Nations are important “to cut across the fault lines that divide the world.” But, he added, the truth is that some countries are “part of the problem and not part of the solution.” “Their regimes simply find it too tempting to try to exploit terrorists for their own interests.”

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July 19, 2007 - Posted by | Blogroll, news, personal, politics, random, religion, Terrorism, Terrorism In The U.S., Terrorism News, Uncategorized, War-On-Terror

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