|Asia News Digest
Ivanov: Taliban Control Most of Afghanistan
"Most of Afghan territory is not controlled by anybody but the Taliban," Russian Defense Secretary Sergei Ivanov told journalists in the Russian far eastern city of Petropavlask-Kamchatsky on July 28. Ivanov said Afghanistan was only an "excuse" for the presence of military forces in Central Asia, but the situation in Afghanistan is very "contradictory," because, while the Taliban roam free, there are "no active military" operations taking place. Ivanov said "it would be good to define for how many years the war in Afghanistan is going to last: 23, 30 or 250 years." Ivanov also claimed that "other countries are actively interfering" in the southern and eastern parts of Afghanistan.
Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman General Muhammad Zaher Azmi told a news conference in Kabul on July 31 that Ivanov's remarks were "irresponsible," and characterized by "political adventurism."
Kidnappings Drive Philippine Diplomats From Iraq
After kidnapped Algerian diplomats were killed by Iraqi insurgents, the Philippines government decided to pull its diplomats back to Amman, Jordan, to do what they could from there to deal with the 6,000 Filipinos working in Iraq (mostly as labor in the U.S. camps, or as truck drivers), according to the Philippines Inquirer July 29. The Iraqi employees of the Philippines Embassy will stay on the job.
The U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, said on July 28 that the U.S. is "considering" offering protection to foreign diplomats.
Philippine President Faces New Charges
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is facing new charges, of buying votes with numbers money, the Philippines Inquirer reported Aug. 2. The nephew of the elections official caught on tape recordings arranging to fix the election for Arroyo, has come forward "confessing" to be part of a scheme which bought off 27 leading elections officials on Arroyo's behalf, using money from the leading jueteng (the illegal national numbers racket) mafioso from the President's hometown.