Home > News > News in Brief: 25 September 2007

News in Brief: 25 September 2007

A brief list of news for the day:

Lebanon fails to pick president, but tension eases. Lebanon’s deadlocked parliament failed to elect a new head of state on Tuesday, but the anti-Syrian majority and the opposition renewed a dialogue to seek agreement before the house meets again on October 23. Most MPs from Hezbollah and its opposition partners stayed away from the session, blocking the Western-backed majority from choosing a successor to pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud. With security fears running high, thousands of Lebanese troops and police protected the assembly building in central Beirut where pro-government MPs arrived under armed escort from a heavily guarded seafront hotel where many had been staying. (Reuters)

Soldiers deploy in Myanmar as monks continue protests. Five truckloads of soldiers were seen heading downtown in Myanmar’s largest city Tuesday soon after tens of thousands of people led by Buddhist monks defied orders to stay off the streets and marched in another peaceful anti-government protest. Monks have taken over leadership of anti-government protests that began over a month ago, leading marches for the past eight days that are the largest anti-government protests since a 1988 pro-democracy uprising was brutally suppressed by the military. The soldiers’ movements in Yangon followed announcements by the junta earlier in the day warning monks not to take part in the demonstrations and the public to stay at home or risk arrest. (International Herald Tribune/AP)

Pentagon Urges U.S. Snipers to ‘Bait’ Iraqis Enemies. At the urging of Pentagon experts in special operations, U.S. military snipers operating in Iraq are “baiting” Iraqis by scattering items like detonation cord, plastic explosives and ammunition and then ambushing and killing those who pick them up, The Washington Post reported Sept. 24. The newspaper said the classified program was described in investigative documents related to recently filed murder charges against three snipers who are accused of planting evidence on Iraqis they killed. (Defense News/AFP)

India Facing Eviction From Tajikistan Military Base? Senior military officials said the emerging possibility of India looking to Washington and other Western suppliers for military hardware was responsible for Russia “leveraging” its considerable influence with Tajikistan to try and terminate New Delhi’s “loose arrangement” regarding Ayni if it declined to be “co-operative”. Military planners also consider Ayni air base as a “limited, yet significant” platform to inject Special Forces into a hostile region in response to any emerging threat from the volatile Afghanistan-Pakistan arc. (India Defence)

Fukuda elected Japanese PM. asuo Fukuda, has promised to bring stability and moderation to Japan’s tumultuous political scene, was elected prime minister by the lower house of the legislature Tuesday. (Globe and Mail)

U.S. and EU are ready to recognize Kosovo independence. The United States and the European Union will recognize Kosovo if the Balkan province declares independence from Serbia in early December when last-ditch negotiations end, senior U.S. and European officials said Monday. The officials spoke as the Serbs and Kosovo Albanians prepared to sit down this week at the United Nations for talks that diplomats have billed as part of a final effort to get agreement on the issue. It has turned into a confrontation between the West and Russia, which has threatened to veto any Security Council resolution approving independence for Kosovo. (International Herald Tribune)

Emboldened Taliban Reflected In More Attacks, Greater Reach. Preying on a weak government and rising public concerns about security, the Taliban is enjoying a military resurgence in Afghanistan and is now staging attacks just outside the capital, according to Western diplomats, private security analysts and aid workers. (Washington Post)

Gas Discussions in Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan after Budapest Nabucco Conference. Great Britain’s energy minister, Malcolm Wicks and the president of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimukhamedov discussed the proposed trans-Caspian gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan. The Turkmen gas would then be piped along the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum route and from there into the Nabucco pipeline to Central Europe. Berdimukhamedov seemed more amenable to this western option than at any point since he came to power nine months ago. However, he also dwelt on the southern option that would bring Turkmen gas via Iran to eastern Turkey for the planned Nabucco pipeline. (Eurasia Daily)

Turkey to earn $600 million from Iran natural gas. The details of a July natural gas exploration and transportation agreement between Turkey and Iran, over US objections, are now becoming clearer. According to the agreement Iran will pay 20 percent of profits from the natural gas extracted from the South Pars Basin to Turkey in compensation for exploration costs. (Today’s Zaman)

Iraq-Iran border chaos over detainee dispute. The sudden closure by Iran of its border with northern Iraq caused trucking chaos at the frontier on Tuesday, as experts warned of severe economic fallout and traders scrambled for goods. Tehran said on Monday it was closing its frontier with Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region in protest at the detention last week of an Iranian by US troops. The US military charges that Farhadi is an officer in the covert operations arm of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, accused by American commanders of helping Shiite militias involved in Iraq’s bloody sectarian conflict. (IC Publications)

Iraqi villagers say rebels Iran seeks are near. For more than a month, Iran has been raining down mortar rounds on villages in the border area, complaining that they’ve become a refuge for Kurdish rebels operating in Iran from the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PEJAK). The group is a branch of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which for years has been blamed for terrorist attacks in Turkey in its quest for a Kurdish homeland. The man who’s essentially the defense minister for Iraq’s Kurdistan regional government said in an interview that Kurdish leaders had no interest in sending the region’s crack militia, the peshmerga, after the PKK or PEJAK. (McClatchy)

Blown-up pipeline creates oil slick disaster in Tigris. A blown-up pipeline is discharging most of its crude into the River Tigris forcing the closure of water purification plants on major cities and towns in central Iraq, including the capital Baghdad. The pipeline exploded early this week and the damage is too extensive for the Iraqi technicians and engineers to repair. The pipeline carries crude from Kirkuk oilfields to the country’s major refinery in Baiji, 200 kilometers north of Baghdad. It is also used to carry crude to Haditha further west which the Oil Ministry has turned into a depot for oil shipments to Jordan. Water plants in the Province Salahideen, of which Tikreet is the capital have been shut for several days. All plants downstream to Baghdad have stopped operating. (Azzaman)

Rahul Gandhi promoted to key Congress role. Rahul Gandhi, the 37-year-old scion of India’s Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, was elevated to a key political position for the first time since he entered parliament three years ago amid speculation that the world’s largest democracy may face snap polls. The appointment comes as India’s coalition government has been torn apart by a bitter row over whether Delhi should sign up to a nuclear deal with Washington that would allow the country to retain its atomic weapons and buy reactors and uranium. The communist parties, whose support is essential for the government, vehemently oppose the deal. (Guardian)

India-UK military exercise in disputed Kashmir criticised. Pakistan on Monday censured the holding of joint India-UK military exercises in the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir and also termed the Indian-sponsored trekking expedition in the conflict zone of Siachen an “illegal” step. Responding to a question about the joint India-UK military exercises in Ladakh and Indian plan to conduct similar exercises with the UK in the Siachen area, Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam told a weekly news briefing: “Yes, we are aware of it and we feel that this is not a legitimate activity because Ladakh is part of Jammu and Kashmir which is an internationally recognised disputed territory. Britain, more than anyone else, should be aware of it.” (DAWN)

N. Korea accuses U.S. of helping Israel develop nuclear weapons. North Korea accused the United States on Tuesday of actively providing nuclear weapons assistance to Israel while seeking to deprive other countries of the right to peaceful nuclear programs. North Korea’s top nuclear negotiator, meanwhile, denied accusations that his country had cooperated with Syria on a secret nuclear project. (Haaretz)

UN Rapporteur Studies Effects of Coca Spraying in Ecuador. Aerial spraying of drug crops along Colombia’s border with Ecuador must be brought to a halt until the government of Álvaro Uribe proves its claim that the practice is harmless, warned a United Nations official. Until it does so, Colombia cannot put Ecuador’s right to health at risk for any reason, said Paul Hunt, U.N. special rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. (IPS)

Ahmadinejad attacked as ‘petty dictator’. It was not the stuff of ordinary political debate. Inside Columbia University in New York yesterday, Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was attacked as a “petty and cruel dictator”. Outside, furious protesters competed with the sound of helicopters to voice their anger that the Iranian leader was being allowed to speak at all. (The Independent)

New Russian cabinet takes charge. Russian President Vladimir Putin has named a new cabinet but there are few clear clues as to who might succeed him when he leaves office next year. The two men most frequently spoken of as the next president – Sergei Ivanov and Dmitry Medvedev – have both kept their jobs as deputy prime ministers. (BBC)

Jakarta’s sights on Soeharto billions. Indonesia, with the help of the UN and the World Bank, is hoping to seize international assets worth billions of dollars held by the family of its former dictator, Soeharto. (The Age)

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