- The Washington Times - Monday, January 7, 2002

ASSOCIATED PRESS
September 11 will shadow much of the world in the new year.
The war in Afghanistan has gone much more quickly than many expected, but Washington cautions that the campaign against Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network is far from over and the world wonders where the Bush administration will aim next.
The falloff in travel is hurting tourism businesses in rich and poor countries alike, worsening the economic slowdown that was evident even before September 11. Bloodshed in the Middle East has worsened.
Yet there are bright spots. Much of the world is showing a rare unity in dealing with terrorism. The United States and Europe are getting involved again in trying to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Washington's relations with Moscow and Beijing have improved markedly.
The Associated Press asked some of its correspondents around the world to assess the prospects for 2002. Here are their reports:

Asia
BEIJING Basking in its new World Trade Organization membership and the prestige of the 2008 Olympics, China was hoping 2002 would be its bragging year on the Asian stage, but attention lies elsewhere: The watchword in Asia for the coming year is terrorism.
Muslim movements in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India's Kashmir region, Indonesia, the Philippines have been snatching headlines from economic convulsions that have dominated recent years.
Atop the list is Afghanistan, birthing a delicate provisional government after the rigorously Islamic Taliban crumbled at the hands of U.S. and Afghan opposition forces for refusing to hand over Osama bin Laden.
In neighboring Pakistan, uneasiness remains among Muslims who object to President Pervez Musharraf's support for the United States. Central Asian countries also face fluid situations as they balance the war on terrorism with placating militant Muslims in their populations.
In the Philippines, the Abu Sayyaf insurgency continues to sow disorder as the military hops island to island in pursuit. Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, faces sectarian conflict on some islands and separatist movements on others.

Middle East
JERUSALEM For Israelis and Palestinians, the question is whether the new year will bring an end to 15 months of violence.
As 2002 begins, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has promised to crack down on Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants whose campaign of suicide bombings has killed dozens of Israelis. But in Israel there are growing calls to bring down Mr. Arafat's 7-year-old government.
Mr. Arafat says he wants to renew peace talks, but prospects are not clear as Prime Minister Ariel Sharon appears ready to offer only half the land the Palestinians seek for a state. Some Israelis propose another interim deal or a unilateral Israeli pullout from the West Bank and Gaza instead.
Continued stalemate could bring further deterioration, especially if the centrist Labor Party bolted Mr. Sharon's governing coalition. That would leave Mr. Sharon at the mercy of hard-liners calling for the destruction of the Palestinian Authority, and it also could lead to early elections.

Europe
BRUSSELS The war on terrorism remains a key factor, but the big news in Europe in the new year will be money.
Twelve of the European Union's 15 member-states abandoned their francs, marks, drachmas and pesetas on New Year's Day for the euro, the most concrete step yet in the European Union's effort to forge a real union.
NATO also will be working to draw Europeans closer together. At the 19-nation alliance's summit, the allies again will throw open the door to membership. Nine nations from the Baltics to Bulgaria are candidates.
Expanding will also occupy much of the European Union's time, with a dozen candidates knocking at the door, although the European Union still has to overhaul its rules so it can function efficiently with nearly double the number of nations.
Elections in France and Germany, two of the European Union's economic powerhouses, will be watched closely.
In the always-worrisome Balkans, the coming year might be Yugoslavia's last. The leadership in Montenegro, which along with Serbia makes up the Yugoslav federation, is determined to declare independence. The United States and its allies oppose this, fearing Yugoslavia's breakup could foment further regional separatist unrest.

Latin America
MEXICO CITY A punishing four-year recession has Argentina in a political crisis as anger over double-digit unemployment, hunger and poverty boils over into bloody rioting and looting. In chaos, the country has named five presidents in the last few weeks.
Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez, is increasingly clashing with the country's business community over laws to increase the state's role in the economy. As the oil-fueled economy slips, Mr. Chavez has accused his foes of trying to destabilize the country.
The honeymoon has worn off for Mexican President Vicente Fox, who is just finishing his first year after ending the 71-year reign of the former ruling party. Mr. Fox has had trouble getting a key tax measure approved by an opposition-dominated Congress. A new U.S. focus on cooperation with Mexico was diverted by the September 11 terror attacks.

Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States
MOSCOW Russian President Vladimir Putin enters the new year having made his mark as a world leader in 2001. He won accolades for his swift support of the U.S.-led anti-terror campaign, a major speech in Berlin delivered in impeccable German, and his defense of international security treaties.
Mr. Putin clearly is putting Russia in the West, defying his generals and many lawmakers still wary of Moscow's former enemies. His most significant step is the warming of ties between Moscow and Washington and his relationship with President Bush.
Buoyed by oil revenue, Russia's economy is doing well. Russia will pursue membership in the World Trade Organization and again seek favorable terms for repaying huge debts due in 2002.
At home, the Chechen conflict drags on, with the Muslim rebels showing no signs they are ready to lay down their arms.

Africa
JOHANNESBURG Africa continues to suffer from AIDS, internal conflicts and elusive efforts to resolve the Congo war, which threatens the stability of central Africa.
More than 28 million of the 40 million people infected with HIV live in sub-Saharan Africa, and most of the infected have little hope of getting the medicine needed to treat the disease, despite the drugs' reduced cost and U.N. efforts to create an international AIDS fund.
The momentum for peace in Congo has picked up since President Joseph Kabila succeeded his assassinated father. However, no agreement has been reached on the future makeup of the Congolese government, and Rwanda and Uganda seem unwilling to complete troop pullouts from eastern Congo so long as groups hostile to them remain in the region.
Peace prospects seem brighter in Sierra Leone, where more than 30,000 ex-combatants in a brutal 10-year civil war have turned in their weapons. National elections are scheduled for May 14. But the country's feared rebels have abandoned numerous accords in the past.

Caribbean
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico The Caribbean is looking at bleak economic prospects as tourism-dependent islands, already hit with lukewarm business, struggle with the post-September 11 drop in travel.
No world region is more dependent on tourism, which employs one of every four adults in the Caribbean.
Cuba was battered by lackluster sugar harvests, declining tourism profits and Hurricane Michelle.
For islands like St. Lucia, where banana exports have fallen 50 percent, the drop in tourism comes as former British colonies in the region and elsewhere prepare to lose preferential treatment in European markets because of a World Trade Organization ruling.
In Haiti, opposition is mounting against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's government as it struggles to rebuild a shattered economy and make good on promises of jobs and basic services.

The articles were filed by AP reporters Ted Anthony, Paisley Dodds, Ravi Nessman, John Rice, Dan Perry, Jeffrey Ulbrich, Deborah Seward and Mike Corder.

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