Home > News > News in Brief: 11 October 2007

News in Brief: 11 October 2007

A brief list of news for the day:

Turkish PM Confirms Plan to Allow Iraq Incursion. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Oct. 10 confirmed his government was drawing up plans to authorize a military incursion into northern Iraq to fight Kurdish rebels using the region as a base. Erdogan is under pressure to act after rebel attacks which have killed 15 soldiers since Oct. 7, but political analysts say a major cross-border operation remains unlikely. A large incursion would strain ties with the U.S. and the European Union, which Ankara hopes to join, and could undermine regional stability. Russia also urged restraint. (Defense News/Reuters)

Africa: War Costs Continent U.S. $18 Billion Annually. A new study shows that conflicts in Africa cost the continent over 300 billion U.S. dollars between 1990 and 2005 – an amount equivalent to all the international aid received by sub-Saharan Africa in the same period. (allAfrica)

Only now, the full horror of Burmese junta’s repression of monks emerges. Monks confined in a room with their own excrement for days, people beaten just for being bystanders at a demonstration, a young woman too traumatised to speak, and screams in the night as Rangoon’s residents hear their neighbours being taken away. Harrowing accounts smuggled out of Burma reveal how a systematic campaign of physical punishment and psychological terror is being waged by the Burmese security forces as they take revenge on those suspected of involvement in last month’s pro-democracy uprising. (The Independent)

Blackwater Case Highlights Legal Uncertainties. If a private in the United States military fires on civilians, a clear body of law and a set of procedures exist for the military to use in investigating each incident and deciding if the evidence is sufficient to bring charges. But when private security contractors do the same, it is exceedingly unlikely that they will be called to account. A patchwork of laws that are largely untested, and practical obstacles to building cases in war zones, have all but insulated contractors from accountability. (New York Times)

Palestinian students continue to face exclusion. The Israeli army is continuing to bar Palestinian students from Israeli universities, in spite of an order from the Israeli high court that it relax its restrictions. The army was asked to explain its policy in March 2006, but it has so far asked for delays on seven occasions. The delays mean that Palestinian students will miss the start of the Israeli term on October 15. (Guardian)

Jordan rejects Israel’s ‘illegitimate’ move. The government on Wednesday rejected as illegitimate Israel’s confiscation of Palestinian lands in East Jerusalem. In a statement run by the Jordan News Agency, Petra, Government Spokesperson Nasser Judeh stressed the move is “in violation of international legitimacy resolutions and the international law that consider the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as occupied territories”. Israel has ordered the confiscation of Arab plots of land outside Old Jerusalem, Agence France-Presse reported Tuesday. (Jordan Times)

Hamas offers talks with Fatah. Hamas has said it will hold reconciliation talks with Fatah and hinted it may be ready to give up control of the Gaza Strip it seized in June. Ismail Haniya, who was prime minister in the national unity government, made the peace overture in an urgent bulletin posted on a pro-Hamas website on Wednesday, but Fatah said it was not a “real offer”. (Al JAzeera)

India PM meets IAEA head. The UN nuclear watchdog head Mohamed ElBaradei met India’s prime minister on Thursday in a long-scheduled trip as time started to run out for the government to press forward with a nuclear deal with the United States. ElBaradei’s trip came just as the government and its leftist allies faced off in an impasse that has threatened either to scupper the nuclear deal, or spark a snap general election. In order to get the deal passed by US Congress before the end of the Bush administration, the Indian government wants to negotiate IAEA safeguards by the end of this month. (Khaleej Times/Reuters)

South Sudan party recalls ministers. The main political party in south Sudan has suspended its participation in the national government because of what it called Khartoum’s failure to implement a peace deal. (Al Jazeera)

Pakistan elections in January. Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz says general elections will be held in January under a caretaker government whose members cannot contest the poll. The caretaker government will take over after the current national and provincial assemblies’ terms end Nov. 15, Dawn newspaper reported Thursday. (UPI)

As India-Iran gas pipe sputters, Turkmenistan plan surges ahead. The proposal on a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan is making quiet advances over the one planned from Iran with project sponsor Asian Development Bank piloting comprehensive agreements for signing next month. (Indian Express)

Poland-Russia: Once an Enemy, Always an Enemy. Poland remains Russia’s most staunch enemy in the Central European region. But besides history, ideology and energy are playing a key role in the diplomatic impasse. That impasse now necessarily involves the European Union. Last May Warsaw vetoed the start of EU-Russian talks on reaching a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement as a response to a Russian embargo on its food products. Brussels was especially interested in reaching an agreement that would set up the framework for energy cooperation with Moscow. The existing 1994 agreement is considered outdated. More than 50 percent of Russia’s foreign trade is with the EU, whereas Russia is Brussels’ third largest economic partner. (IPS)

In Egypt, A Son Is Readied for Succession. Gamal Mubarak, son of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the man most widely expected to succeed him, had not made much of an impression. Then again, Egyptians say, Gamal Mubarak probably doesn’t have to. Egyptians have never experienced a democratic transfer of presidential power. As Hosni Mubarak, 79, begins the 27th year of his rule this month, many say they expect Mubarak’s family and ruling party, military officers and security officials to decide on his successor. (Washington Post)

Egypt: After Summer Shortages, Promise of Water Runs Dry. This summer saw a spate of severe water shortages throughout the country, leading to numerous protests by frustrated — and thirsty — citizens. Egypt has seen its share of political demonstrations in recent years, but the latest water protests are the first time that ordinary people have taken to the streets to demand a basic service. (IPS)

Turkey Angry Over House Armenian Genocide Vote. Turkey reacted angrily today to a House committee vote in Washington on Wednesday to condemn the mass killings of Armenians in Turkey in World War I as an act of genocide, calling the decision “unacceptable.” (New York Times)

Iran police warn 122,000 over unIslamic dress. Iranian police have warned 122,000 people, mostly women, about flouting strict Islamic dress codes since April and nearly 7,000 of those attended classes on respecting the rules, a newspaper said on Thursday. Such crackdowns, on the women as well as on men deemed to have haircuts considered too Westernised, are an annual event and usually last a few weeks. But this year’s measures have been longer and more severe than in recent years. (Khaleej Times/Reuters)

FSB Says Spies Want to Break Up Russia. Federal Security Service chief Nikolai Patrushev said Western spies were working to weaken and break up the country and singled out British agents as the most intrusive, according to an interview published Wednesday. Patrushev also claimed that foreign spies were working to foment discontent in Russia in the run-up to December’s parliamentary elections and the presidential vote next spring. (Moscow Times)

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