Karzai, who met with U.S. President George W. Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, said he received assurances the United States would not lose its focus in Afghanistan because of Iraq. Yet the Afghan president appeared to be leaving Washington without any new pledges beyond the current levels of U.S. aid -- despite his own direct appeal Bush before reporters at the White House:
Most of those taken into custody are campaign aides of Stepan Demirchian, Kocharian's opponent in the March 5 vote. Officials charged the opposition activists, many of whom were arrested in their homes, under Article 180 of the country's Code of Administrative Violations. The article outlines punishment for those who organize unauthorized public rallies and demonstrations.
Armenian authorities are cracking down on opposition activists in what international human rights advocates call a "clumsy attempt" to secure President Robert Kocharian's reelection in a March 5 run-off. The arrests of over 150 opposition supporters have come amid growing complaints about governmental vote-rigging during the initial stage of the presidential election.
While opinion polls suggest that somewhere between 80 and 90 percent of the population will turn out, the election campaign has been marked by a sense of disillusion and marred by persistent allegations of violations. These include the decision by the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) to prevent a leading challenger from standing.
Schroeder has ruled out any direct role for German forces in a possible US-led military campaign against Iraq. Germany, France and Russia have signed a joint declaration calling for weapons inspections in Iraq to be intensified and extended.
The report by researcher Akram Gizabi was released this month by "Jane's Islamic Affairs Analyst." Gizabi says four countries that actively tried to shape the affairs of Afghanistan during the past three decades -- Pakistan, Russia, Iran, and Uzbekistan -- are now on the scene again to varying degrees. And he warns that some countries have questionable intentions in Afghanistan.
Turkmen newspapers printed a list of the crimes that are now considered treasonous, including an assassination attempt on the president, an attempted coup, the revelation of state secrets, abuse of power and attempts by officials to sow doubt about the president's domestic or foreign policies.
The United States and Europe strongly criticized the 1998 Armenian elections and are again keeping a watchful eye on the intensifying election campaign. This time, Western officials say, the scrutiny will be far more focused.
Despite closer relations with the United States that have been forged during the war on terrorism, the countries of Central Asia have not offered their support to Washington's position on Iraq, repeatedly declaring that the crisis should be solved by political and diplomatic means and in accordance with the United Nations Security Council.