BEIJING -- Thousands of Chinese and Russian troops wrapped up their first joint military exercises Thursday with a mock invasion by paratroopers on China's east coast.It's cute to see these incompetent Potemkin militaries playing at war.
The eight-day maneuvers with 7,000 Chinese troops and 1,800 Russians underscored growing military ties between the former Cold War enemies, motivated by their common unease with U.S. dominance in world affairs.
On Thursday, Chinese and Russian paratroopers simulated the seizure of an airfield as planes dropped combat vehicles by parachute on the Shandong Peninsula in the Yellow Sea, China's official Xinhua News Agency reported.
Propaganda leaflets fell from the sky in ''a psychological tactic to shake the enemy's will,'' according to Xinhua.
''The exercise ended with the defeat of the 'enemy,' '' the agency said.
Russia's Interfax news agency also portrayed the operation as a success, saying Russian planes landed 10 combat vehicles and two armored personnel carriers by parachute in high winds.
''The military exercise deserves a high praise,'' Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov was quoted as saying.
"I'm interested in visiting Israel," Dewinter says in the interview. "First of all, from a geopolitical point of view. We in Western Europe should realize that our allies are not in the Arab or Muslim world, but rather in Israel. This is not just because we have a common civilization and values, but also to balance out the Islamic forces in the Middle East that are getting stronger. The State of Israel is a sort of outpost for our Western society, an outpost of democracy, of freedom of speech, of protecting common values within a hostile environment. You are surrounded by Islamic states, some of them fundamentalist, which are interested in only one thing: to throw the Jews into the sea.Between Haider and a hard place
"I also think that Islam is now the No. 1 enemy not only of Europe, but of the entire free world. After communism, the greatest threat to the West is radical fundamentalist Islam. There are already 25-30 million Muslims on Europe's soil and this becomes a threat. It's a real Trojan horse. Thus, I think that an alliance is needed between Western Europe and the State of Israel. I think we in Western Europe are too critical of Israel and we should support Israel in its struggle to survive. I think we should support Israel more than we do because its struggle is also very important for us."
But Dewinter admits that he wants to visit Israel for other reasons. "It's very important to me as leader of a right-wing national party [he rejects defining the party as "far right" - A.S.] to say that we respect the State of Israel and the Jews. To all of those who regard us as neo-Nazis, we say: `No, we want good relations with the Jews.' We should distance ourselves from all of those individuals and groups with anti-Semitic tendencies and from Holocaust deniers. I have no connection with these things. Because I am a leader of a right-wing party, some of the Jewish leaders in Antwerp do not believe that I am sincere. They think that this is a pose, that I am doing this to avoid being regarded as a neo-Nazi and that I am afraid they will call me a fascist. I'm interested in visiting Israel to express my affinity, but also to prove that I'm sincere."
Then, in 2003, a retired CIA officer gave a statement to Megrahi's lawyers in which he alleged evidence had been planted.
The decision of a former Scottish police chief to back this claim could add enormous weight to what has previously been dismissed as a wild conspiracy theory. It has long been rumoured the fragment was planted to implicate Libya for political reasons.
The first suspects in the case were the Syrian-led Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command (PFLP-GC), a terror group backed by Iranian cash. But the first Gulf War altered diplomatic relations with Middle East nations, and Libya became the pariah state.
Following the trial, legal observers from around the world, including senior United Nations officials, expressed disquiet about the verdict and the conduct of the proceedings at Camp Zeist, Holland. Those doubts were first fuelled when internal documents emerged from the offices of the US Defence Intelligence Agency. Dated 1994, more than two years after the Libyans were identified to the world as the bombers, they still described the PFLP-GC as the Lockerbie bombers.
A source close to Megrahi's defence said: "Britain and the US were telling the world it was Libya, but in their private communications they acknowledged that they knew it was the PFLP-GC.
"The case is starting to unravel largely because when they wrote the script, they never expected to have to act it out. Nobody expected agreement for a trial to be reached, but it was, and in preparing a manufactured case, mistakes were made."
Dr Jim Swire, who has publicly expressed his belief in Megrahi's innocence, said it was quite right that all relevant information now be put to the SCCRC.
Swire, whose daughter Flora was killed in the atrocity, said last night: "I am aware that there have been doubts about how some of the evidence in the case came to be presented in court.
"It is in all our interests that areas of doubt are thoroughly examined."
A spokeswoman for the Crown Office said: "As this case is currently being examined by the SCCRC, it would be inappropriate to comment."
No one from the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland was available to comment.