ARAB TIMES, THURSDAY, APRIL 5, 2012
to land a blow
BERLIN, April 4, (RTRS): A lack of
strong leadership and distinctive
policies is hobbling the German
opposition Social Democrats’ (SPD)
hopes of ousting Chancellor Angela
Merkel in next year’s election and is
allowing her to claim credit for
steering Europe through its debt cri-
Damaging infighting is also hurt-
ing the centre-left party which many
end up playing
to Merkel after
2013 vote as
member of her
Merkel ness of the
governed Germany with the Greens
between 1998 and 2005, all but
guarantees Merkel’s continued dom-
inance of Europe’s biggest economy.
A likely SPD win next month in a
regional election in Germany’s most
populous state of North Rhine-
Westphalia (NRW) may briefly
boost morale but the challenges
ahead look daunting for a party trail-
ing Merkel’s conservatives by about French members of the French National Police Intervention Group (GIPN) arrest suspected radical Islamists group members on April 4, in the French southern city of Marseille, as part of down raids in
10 points. several French cities. (AFP)
“Things look very difficult for the
SPD. There’s not much hope,” said
Manfred Guellner, head of the Forsa
“It faces a problem in finding a
candidate to run against Merkel and
has lost its anchor of local support ...
Meanwhile, Merkel is having an
easy ride,” he said.
13 Islamists charged with terror offences
Conservative Merkel has been
able to count on the support of the
staunchly pro-European SPD for
votes on euro zone bailouts in par-
liament. She will need that support
10 arrested in crackdown on radicals
again in the summer when a two-
thirds majority of lawmakers is PARIS, April 4, (Agencies): expulsions to further his campaign The delegation’s work is con- by an Islamist gunman who killed
required to pass an EU deal on fiscal French police rounded up 10 peo- and for not doing enough to prevent sidered top secret and an unusual seven people.
discipline. ple in their second country-wide the killing spree last month in and news conference scheduled to Nine of the suspects, including
The backing of the SPD and the sweep in several days around Toulouse that left seven follow the hearing was abruptly Forsane Alizza leader Mohamed
opposition Greens on the issue has Wednesday, leading to criticism dead. canceled. Achamlane, were ordered to be
helped Merkel survive a rebellion in that President Nicolas Sarkozy is Emphasized Sarkozy’s opponents have also remanded in custody as police
her own ranks and assume the aura ramping up raids to win votes in a criticized the timing of the recent investigate their alleged crimes
of a steward of the European econo- The second official emphasized high-profile operations against sus-
Penitents of ‘Los Estudiantes’ brother- tight election. that those arrested Wednesday were which include a plan to kidnap a
my in turbulent times and boosted The arrests are part of a high-pro- pected radicals. judge, officials said.
her popularity among voters. hood leave their church after their pro- not linked to Forsane Alizza or to
cession was canceled due to bad file crackdown on radical Islamists Francois Hollande, who is lead- In related news, Opponents of
An opinion poll this week gave the Toulouse attacks. ing most polls in the April and May
Merkel’s centre-right Christian
weather during the Holy Week in in the wake of attacks on soldiers The raids represent the increased Sarkozy accused him Wednesday of
Democrats (CDU) 35 percent and
Seville on April 3. Christians around the and a Jewish school. They were car- elections, said the president was stage-managing a high-profile
world mark the Holy Week of Easter in focus in France on homegrown rad- trying to make up for earlier intelli-
the SPD 25 percent. The SPD’s pre- ried out as part of a preliminary icals. Last month’s attacks on round-up of suspected Islamists in
celebration of the crucifixion and resur- gence failures.
ferred coalition partner the Greens rection of Jesus Christ. (AFP) investigation opened Monday into French paratroopers and the Jewish order to boost his re-election hopes.
were on 13 percent and Merkel’s terror-linked activity in France, a “What’s surprising is why do Socialist flagbearer and opinion
school have been blamed on this after a terrorist attack that
current ally the Free Democrats on judicial official said. Mohamed Merah, a 23-year-old poll frontrunner Francois Hollande
just 3 percent. Another official close to the has, it’s true, profoundly affected unveiled a detailed plan for his
With the collapse in support for Frenchman of Algerian origin who us,” Hollande said on RTL radio,
investigation said the 10 were claimed to have received weapons hoped-for first year in office.
the pro-business Free Democrats, suspected of links to Islamist reacting to Wednesday’s raids. Coverage of Hollande’s plans
Merkel may have to look to the SPD training during trips to Afghanistan “I’m not questioning all that’s
websites and of threatening vio- and Pakistan. was drowned out on rolling news
as a partner next year. But the being done. I’m simply saying
prospect of returning to power only lence in online forums. Some of France expelled a foreign radical networks by images of the arrests,
them may have been trying to that we should have maybe done conducted by teams of heavily-
under Merkel and the compromises imam and a radical Islamist militant more before.”
that would entail could alienate the attend jihadist training camps earlier this week, sending them to armed and masked police accom-
SPD party base in the 2013 election along the Afghan-Pakistan bor- their homelands. Others are in line Barbs panied on the dawn swoop by
campaign. der, he added. to be forced out of France. Interior Minister Claude Gueant forewarned television crews.
Breivik Krekar Both officials spoke on condition Hollande was to return to the
Power Sarkozy on Tuesday declared a responded to the barbs by saying
The SPD shared power in a
of anonymity, citing policy. “zero tolerance” policy for hate that the raids would continue when- front later Wednesday at his first
Merkel-led government between The operation was led by speech and radical ideologies at ever there was sufficient evidence joint camapign appearance with
2005 and 2009 and paid the price Europe France’s counterespionage agency, odds with French values and for ‚Äî and that it was the judiciary that his former partner, Segolene
with a heavy election defeat. DCRI, and targeted people authori- those who use their role as preach- was driving these investigations. Royal, the Socialist Party’s defeat-
A poll victory for Merkel’s ties feared could turn to action, ers to do so. “The pressure on radical ed 2007 candidate.
Christian Democrats (CDU) in the 78-yr-old jumps to death: A 78- instead of just issuing idle threats, His administration and police Islamists and the threat they pose The arrests came in the wake of
tiny state of Saarland last month year-old Italian woman leapt to her death according to the judicial official. a murderous shooting spree last
from a fourth floor balcony on Tuesday came under criticism after the will not let up,” he told iTele news
does not bode well for the SPD, after her pension was cut, police said in Police seized computer hardware in Toulouse killing spree for not stop- channel. month by a self-declared Al-
although the party tried to put a Palermo, Sicily. the raids. ping the perpetrator sooner since Thirteen suspected Islamists Qaeda supporter, and were
brave face on the outcome. Authorities had recently reduced her The raids in five cities, mostly in ordered by independent anti-terror
“A lost election doesn’t mean you they knew he traveled to have been charged in France with
monthly pension to 600 euros from 800 southern France, were the second in Afghanistan and the Pakistani tribal “criminal conspiracy connected to magistrates, but Sarkozy’s oppo-
don’t have victory in your DNA,” and she had become overwhelmed with
General Secretary Andrea Nahles several days and appeared to be part area of Waziristan. a terrorist enterprise” and illegal nents accused him of seeking to
concern about not being able to make of a new focus on rooting out radi- exploit them.
said after the defeat. “It’s good to ends meet, her children told local police Police had Merah under surveil- possession and transportation of
have a win behind you. But it does- in Gela, southern Sicily. cal Islamists in France. lance after his return, but officials weapons, officials said “Police operations of this sort,
n’t guarantee it will work the next Suicide attempts connected to econom- Sarkozy, who is facing a tough have said they couldn’t arrest him. Wednesday. under the authority of the judici-
time.” ic woes are reported regularly in Italy, re-election, has promised to hunt In light of the criticism, a parlia- The 13, some of whom are ary, should not be done, it seems
Another problem for the move- which is struggling with a recession, ris- down radicals and hold them to mentary delegation held a hearing members of a suspected extremist to me, in the form of a stage-man-
ment is a surge in support for the ing unemployment and increasingly account or kick them out of the Wednesday on the role and organi- group called Forsane Alizza that aged advertising campaign,” said
maverick Pirate Party, which cam- severe austerity measures. country. But he has come under zation of France’s intelligence was banned this year, were arrest- centrist candidate Francois
paigns for online freedom and has Last week, two men facing financial
trouble set themselves on fire in northern criticism for using the raids and forces. ed on Friday in the wake of attacks Bayrou.
won seats in two state parliaments in
the last few months. All the main- Italy in two separate incidents. Both sur-
stream parties are struggling to stop vived, one with severe burns.
On Monday, a picture frame maker on measures imposed by foreign lenders in Insanity worse than death: A far- than death”, excerpts of a letter he wrote central Oslo that killed eight, starts in
it stealing their votes.
the outskirts of Rome hanged himself due return for bailout loans, said they planned right militant who killed 77 people in showed on Wednesday in Oslo. Oslo on April 16.
Probably the biggest headache for to what he described in a suicide note as
the SPD is picking a suitable candi- a march later on Wednesday. (RTRS) Norway last year will use his trial to chal- The trial of Anders Behring Breivik, In November two court-appointed psy-
“overwhelming economic problems,” lenge a diagnosis that he is criminally who gunned down 69 at a Labour Party chiatrists deemed the 33-year-old was
date to run against Merkel for the
chancellorship, a decision the party
newspapers reported. ❑ ❑ ❑ insane, something that would be “worse youth camp after detonating a car bomb in psychotic and paranoid schizophrenic at
The government is trying to revive
is widely expected to take in the growth while also remaining committed to the time of the attacks, which would nor-
autumn. an austerity plan after narrowly averting a mally mean he could not be sentenced to
There are three contenders but Greek-style debt crisis at the end of last Ex-Swedish spy prison.
none stand out, say critics. year. (RTRS) In a 38-page letter he wrote in jail and
Straight-talking former finance ❑ ❑ ❑ sent to various Norwegian media — of
minister Peer Steinbrueck picked up
some momentum last year when he Greek pensioner kills self: A cash- Stroberg dies which extracts were published in the daily
VG on Wednesday — Breivik said that
strapped Greek pensioner shot and killed being deemed criminally insane was
started campaigning but has since himself outside parliament in Athens on STOCKHOLM, April 4, (AP):
failed to make much impact and Bertil Stroberg, a former unbearable to him.
Wednesday saying he refused to scrounge “I must admit this is the worst thing
many politicians and analysts have for food in the rubbish, touching a nerve Swedish air force officer who
already ruled him out. was convicted of spying for that could have happened to me as it is the
among ordinary Greeks feeling the brunt ultimate humiliation,” he wrote.
Another option is party chairman of the country’s economic crisis. Poland during the Cold War
but always maintained his “To send a political activist to a mental
Sigmar Gabriel, who favours a more The public suicide of the 77-year-old hospital is more sadistic and evil than to
confrontational approach. He could retired pharmacist quickly triggered an innocence, has died. He was
79. kill him! It is a fate worse than death.”
mobilise the party’s grass roots but outpouring of sympathy in a country
where one in five is jobless and a sense of Stroberg’s wife, Marianne Breivik’s lawyer has said he would call
his low personal popularity ratings Stroberg, said Wednesday he defence witnesses to show his client was
mean few commentators rate his national humiliation has accompanied
successive rounds of salary and pension died in Stockholm on March 25 not criminally insane but held views
chances against Merkel. cuts. following a yearlong battle shared by others.
That leaves Frank-Walter Just hours after the death, an impromp- against cancer. Among those witnesses are Mullah
Steinmeier, a widely respected for- tu shrine with candles, flowers and hand- Stroberg was sentenced to Krekar, the Kurdish founder of Islamist
mer foreign minister who is the most written notes condemning the crisis six years in prison for spying in group Ansar al-Islam, who was recently
popular of the three. sprung up in the central Syntagma square 1983, but released on parole jailed in Norway for making death
But his track record may count where the suicide occurred. Dozens of after serving three years. threats, and “Fjordman,” a Norwegian
against him. He ran against Merkel bystanders gathered to pay their respects. The key evidence in right-wing blogger whom Oslo police
in 2009 only to deliver the party’s One note nailed to a tree said “Enough Stroberg’s case was a letter the say was a major intellectual influence on
worst performance since World is enough”, while another asked “Who Supporters react with banners and flags during an electoral meeting of Jean prosecution said he had written Breivik’s.
War Two, winning 23 percent of the will be the next victim?”. Luc Melenchon, leader of France’s leftist political party Front de Gauche, and to the Polish embassy offering Fjordman, whose real name is Peder
vote. The “Indignant” protesters, who staged candidate for the 2012 French presidential elections in Vierzon, center France, to sell military secrets. Jensen, has denied having any links with
mass protests in 2011 against austerity April 3. The presidential elections will take place on April 22 and May 6. (AP) Breivik. (RTRS)