- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 25, 2004

Terror’s global threat

Terrorism has touched many foreign diplomats in Washington, as they watched their countries bloodied in spasms of violence stemming from Islamic fundamentalism to ethnic separatism.

Unlike the attacks on the United States in 2001, terrorism dates back decades in nations such as Algeria, Spain, Sri Lanka and Turkey. Diplomats from those countries shared their experiences at a recent Washington conference.

Algerian Ambassador Idriss Jazairy said modern terrorism in his homeland began in the 1960s.

“The idea of violent pursuit of some kind of misguided vision of Islam came to Algeria in 1964 when we imported wholesale large numbers of Egyptian leaders to help us ‘Arabize the country,’” he said, referring to the upheaval that followed independence from France.

In 1992, the government canceled elections that Islamic extremists were expected to win and banned all nonreligious activities in the country’s 10,000 mosques.

Mr. Jazairy said Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was one of the first foreign leaders to express support for President Bush’s war on terrorism after the September 11 attacks “because we knew very well what he was going through.”

Sri Lankan Ambassador Devinda Subasinghe recalled his country’s 20-year conflict with Tamil separatists that claimed 65,000 lives, both combatants and civilians.

“During this time, the country experienced the full spectrum of terrorism in all its manifestations,” he said.

Turkish Ambassador Osman Faruk Logoglu noted that his country gained its experience with terrorism at “tremendous costs” through the conflict with Kurdish militants in the 1980s and 1990s.

“We lost tens of thousands of our citizens and had to devote billions of dollars to this fight,” he said.

Spain fought Basque separatists who were little more than “criminals,” said Juan Sell, political counselor at the Spanish Embassy.

The conference earlier this month was organized by the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, who holds a 3 p.m. news conference at the National Press Club. Tomorrow, he meets President Bush, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee.

• Ishrat Husain, governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, and Khurshid Ahmad of Pakistan’s Institute of Policy Studies. They participate in a forum on Pakistan sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars.

• Irana Khakamada, a former member of the Russian parliament and now a candidate in the March presidential election. She addresses the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and will speak at the Nixon Center tomorrow.

Tomorrow

• Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who addresses the Center for Strategic and International Studies. On Wednesday, he meets President Bush, Vice President Richard B. Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Treasury Secretary John W. Snow and Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans. He addresses the American Enterprise Institute on Thursday and attends the American-Turkish Association conference on Friday.

• Former Russian Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar, who addresses the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Thursday

• Ecuadorian Commerce Minister Ivonne A-Baki and Gustavo Cisneros, chairman of the Venezuelan-based Cisneros Group of Companies. Mrs. A-Baki introduces Mr. Cisneros at a dinner where he will receive the Inter-American Economic Council Winter Award.

• Abdelbaki Hermassi, Tunisia’s minister of culture, youth and leisure. He addresses cultural issues in Tunisia at the Library of Congress.

• Serbian Orthodox Bishop Artemije of Kosovo, who addresses the Western Policy Center.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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