Home > News > News in Brief: 14 September 2007

News in Brief: 14 September 2007

A brief list of news for the day:

Japan’s leadership race heats up. The contest to succeed Shinzo Abe as Japan’s next prime minister was thrown wide open today as dovish ruling party veteran Yasuo Fukuda announced he would run in what has turned into a two-way race. Almost as soon as he declared his candidacy, he won the crucial backing of the finance minister who withdrew his own bid. Fukuda, a former chief cabinet secretary, has emerged as the new favourite but will face a fierce battle with former foreign minister Taro Aso for the helm of the world’s second largest economy. (The Australian)

Syria says not planning a military response to IAF air strike. The Syrian deputy foreign minister said Friday that Damascus is not planning a military response, a week after claiming that Israel Air Force warplanes bombed targets in its territory. (Click here for map). Damascus announced last Thursday that IAF jets had violated its airspace, and had been fired upon by Syrian air defenses. Israel has refused to make any comment about the incident. (Haaretz)

Bhutto sets Oct. 18 for return to Pakistan. Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto will return to Pakistan from an eight-year exile on Oct. 18, her party said Friday. The government said she was free to come back but would have to face corruption cases against her. Ms. Bhutto, who is in talks with President Gen. Pervez Musharraf that could see them share power after elections, would not be deported in the manner of another former premier, Nawaz Sharif, a government spokesman said. Mr. Sharif was expelled hours after he flew in on Monday. (Globe and Mail/AP)

Violence Kills More Than 60 in Northwest Pakistan. More than 60 people died in violence in Pakistan on Thursday, including at least 15 soldiers who were killed by an explosion in a heavily secured dining hall for army commandos. The violence, coming on the eve of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which starts Friday in Pakistan, follows an incident late last month in which 200 to 300 Pakistani troops were taken hostage in South Waziristan. Fighting between the military and extremist guerrillas has escalated markedly since July, when army commandos raided a radical mosque in the heart of Islamabad. A controversial peace deal in North Waziristan collapsed days later, and a second truce fell apart in South Waziristan last month. (Washington Post)

An assassination that blows apart Bush’s hopes of pacifying Iraq. Last week George Bush flew into Iraq to meet Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha, leader of Anbar province This week General David Petraeus told the US Congress how Anbar was a model for Iraq Yesterday Abu Risha was assassinated by bombers in Anbar. His killing is a serious blow to President Bush and the US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, who have both portrayed the US success in Anbar, once the heart of the Sunni rebellion against US forces, as a sign that victory was attainable across Iraq. (The Independent) — There is the audio, video, and transcript of an in the field documentary of the alliance of Sunnis claimed to be working in Washington’s favour. The documentary is at Democracy Now! along with a follow-up interview on the subject. Excerpt from Democracy Now! “When Gen. David Petraeus spoke of success stories in Iraq, he largely focused on the situation in Anbar province where former Sunni insurgents are now fighting Al Qaeda alongside U.S. troops. In a U.S. broadcast exclusive, we air a report from Anbar by independent filmmaker Rick Rowley that exposes how the U.S. is fueling sectarian civil war in Iraq by funding the former Sunni insurgents.” Read the transcript or listen to the broadcast.

Bush Tells Nation He Will Begin to Roll Back ‘Surge’. President Bush tried to turn a corner in the fractious debate over Iraq last night by ordering the first limited troop withdrawals since voters elected an antiwar Congress last year. But the move did little to appease Democratic leaders, who dismissed it as a token gesture masking an open-ended commitment of U.S. troops. Bush said progress on the ground means he can pull out by next summer the additional combat forces he sent in January — roughly 21,700 troops — and he opened the door to further troop reductions if conditions improve. (Washington Post)

Blair makes presence felt in the Middle East. Tony Blair flies back to London today after making himself – with unexpected rapidity – part of the furniture of the official Israeli-Palestinian relationship. With a packed programme, the new international Middle East envoy has met almost everyone who matters in the Israeli political and military establishment, the UN – whose officials have been showing him round parts of the West Bank – and the emergency government set up under the premiership of Salam Fayad by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, in Ramallah nearly three months ago. For a man often accused of media obsession, he has been remarkably silent, giving no formal interviews. (The Independent)

Native Peoples Score Historic Political Victory. After 22 years of long and cumbersome negotiations, leaders of the world’s 370 million indigenous people have won a powerful symbolic victory in their fight for recognition of the right to self-determination and control over their land and resources. On Thursday, an overwhelming majority of the 192-member U.N. General Assembly said “yes” to a resolution calling for the adoption of the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. As expected, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand refused to accept the declaration endorsed by as many as 143 countries. The nations that neither supported nor objected to the declaration were Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burundi, Columbia, Georgia, Kenya, Nigeria, Russia, Samoa and Ukraine. Before the vote, many indigenous leaders accused the United States and Canada of pressuring economically weak and vulnerable nations to reject the calls for the Declaration’s adoption. (IPS)

Zimbabwe: Mugabe to Cut Powers. President Robert Mugabe has agreed to shed some of his sweeping powers in talks between his party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), but at the same time he has begun consolidating his hold on ZANU PF, ahead of a special congress where he will seek to crush factions vying to block his candidacy. (allAfrica)

Japan launches lunar probe. Japan’s space agency today launched its much-delayed lunar probe in the most ambitious mission to the moon since the US Apollo space flights. The 32bn yen (£138.3m) Selene is designed to orbit twice around the Earth before going to the moon, a journey expected to take about three weeks. The launch came four years behind schedule. (Guardian)

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