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					                                                                                                                                                                                                                             ARAB TIMES, THURSDAY, APRIL 5, 2012
INTERNATIONAL                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  17


   Merkel dominates

 SPD struggles
 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
                       believe will
                       end up playing
                       second fiddle
                       to Merkel after
                       the September
                       2013 vote as
                       the      junior
                       member of her
                       coalition gov-
                          The weak-
        Merkel         ness of the
                       SPD, which
 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
 polling institute.
    “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)

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