Home > News > News in Brief: 25 October 2007

News in Brief: 25 October 2007

A brief list of news for the day:

Turkey ‘hits PKK targets’. Turkish warplanes have bombed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) targets along the Iraqi border in southeast Turkey, the country’s semi-official Anatolia news agency has said. (Al Jazeera)

Kurdish leaders divided over Turkish demands. Divisions have surfaced in the Kurdish political ranks since Turkey asked Iraq to extradite leaders of Kurdistan Worker’s Party which is accused of using the mountains of northern Iraq as bases to launch attacks on Turkish military targets. Abdul Salam Haji, a Kurdish political researcher, told Gulf News: “The position of Massoud Barzani, president of Kurdistan region, is extremely difficult. (Gulf News)

Maliki can’t stop PKK attacks, officials say. In Baghdad, politicians acknowledged that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki lacked the political and military muscle needed to fulfill his pledge to crack down on rebels from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, who last week killed 12 Turkish soldiers and captured eight in an ambush in Turkey. (McClatchy)

US war costs could hit $2,400bn. The cost of the US’s operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, together with wider efforts in the “war against terror”, could reach $2,400bn (£1,175bn, €1,700) over the next decade, with interest payments representing more than a quarter of the total, the US Congressional Budget Office said on Wednesday. (FT)

NATO nations offer more troops for Afghanistan. US Defence Secretary Robert Gates expressed cautious optimism Wednesday after NATO allies offered more troops for Afghanistan, but he urged them to live up to their promises. France said it would for the first time send dozens of military trainers to southern Afghanistan, where heavy fighting has taken place, according to a defence ministry official. (AFP)

Iraq clamps down on security firms. The Iraqi government has decided to formally revoke the immunity from prosecution granted to private security companies operating in the country. The immunity granted to private contractors such as Blackwater has become controversial since a series of shootings involving foreign security guards. (Al JAzeera)

Official quits over Iraq security. The man in charge of security for US diplomats in Iraq has resigned after heavy criticism of how foreign private security firms in Iraq are supervised. US state department official Richard Griffin did not mention the issue in his resignation letter. (BBC)

U.S. outlines Baghdad security handover plan. U.S. forces hope to hand over half of Baghdad to Iraqi security control by the end of 2008, after violence in Iraq dropped to its lowest level since January 2006, the No. 2 U.S. general in Iraq said on Wednesday. (Reuters)

US claims photos show Syrian nuclear reactor. US security experts have published what they believe to be photographs of a secret nuclear facility in Syria, which was bombed by Israeli jets last month. Their analysis of satellite images in an area near the river Euphrates reveals what they say are buildings similar to a North Korean nuclear reactor capable of producing fuel for a nuclear bomb. (The Independent)

An economic tailspin in Gaza. The cost of everything from cigarettes to children’s clothing has skyrocketed since June when, in the wake of the Hamas military takeover, Israel shut the main economic terminal linking Gaza to the outside world. Israel is allowing little but essential food and medicine into Gaza. And things could be about to get worse. After declaring Gaza a “hostile entity” because Hamas is in control, Israel is now preparing to clamp down even harder by cutting off electricity every time militants in Gaza fire a rocket into Israel, restricting fuel deliveries and cutting back on other goods. (Checkpoint Jerusalem)

Pentagon to speed up delivery of Joint Strike Fighter to Israel Air Force. Pentagon has agreed to move up delivery of its newest stealth fighter to Israel by two years, to as early as 2012. Last month, the IDF announced plans to purchase a squadron (at least 25 aircraft) of the fifth-generation Joint Strike Fighter. That delivery was expected to commence in 2014. (Jerusalem Post)

Bahrain rejects nuclear assistance by Iran. Bahrain yesterday turned down an offer from Iran to help establish a nuclear programme for peaceful purposes, saying that cooperation could be achieved only through the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). (Gulf News)

Ahmadinejad: Rumors of Mottaki’s resignation are ‘psychological war’. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday denied speculation that the country’s foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, was to become the latest casualty of changes to his government. Two prominent Iranian MPs said earlier that Mottaki had already tendered his resignation to Ahmadinejad, less than a week after the shock replacement of chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani. (Daily Star)

Russia seeks to derail election monitors. Russia has started a diplomatic effort to curtail the activities of the most influential election observers in the former Soviet Union, submitting proposals to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe that would sharply cut the size of observation missions and prohibit the publication of their reports immediately after an election. (International Herald Tribune)

EU Talks Tough with the Poor. The European Union’s top trade official has refused to accept African demands that he grant them lengthy transition periods for removing restrictions on imports under a new market opening deal. (IPS)

Asia’s space race heats up as China heads for moon. Asia’s space race heated up on Wednesday as China launched its first lunar orbiter, an event hailed by the world’s most populous nation as a milestone event in its global rise. (AFP)

U.S. Treasury Secretary Paulson backs India financial reforms. Hank Paulson, the US Treasury Secretary, on Wednesday threw his weight behind plans to turn Mumbai into an international financial centre in a speech ahead of his first official visit to India later this week. In an interview with the Financial Times Mr Paulson added that he saw his visit as part of a broader effort to build stronger economic ties between India and the US – in a parallel to his regular high-level US consultations with China. (FT)

Mixed Election Result Points to Switzerland’s Myriad Contradictions. Big gains on the right and left in Swiss elections point to some of the bizarre contradictions in this Alpine nation that takes pride in being a cradle of humanitarian work, yet whose famed neutrality is often a mask for stubborn insularity. The rightwing Swiss People’s Party, which campaigned on a promise to kick out entire immigrant families if one member of the family broke the law, made advances not only in the socially conservative north but among French and Italian speakers as well. The party broke a record by gaining 29 percent of the vote in Sunday’s parliamentary elections, the highest any party has achieved since the current parliamentary system began immediately after World War I. (AP)

U.N. Report Suggests Syrian Role in Arming of Hezbollah, Other Groups. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued a report Wednesday strongly suggesting that Syria has helped smuggle weapons to the Shiite movement Hezbollah and other armed groups, and that it sponsored Islamic militants involved in a military confrontation with the Lebanese army earlier this year. (Washington Post)

New Steps by U.S. Against Iranians. The Bush administration will announce a long-debated policy of new sanctions against Iran on Thursday, accusing the elite Quds division of the Revolutionary Guard Corps of supporting terrorism, administration officials said Wednesday night. (New York Times)

U.S. Supplemental Request Contains Billions for Weapons Development. The $45.9 billion in additional war funding President George W. Bush asked for Oct. 22 includes more than $3.8 billion for research and development of new weapons and $7.8 billion to buy new planes and upgrade existing planes in the Navy and Air Force. (Defense News)

CROWS = Videogame + Vehicle + Real Guns. Armored vehicles have begun using Remote Weapon Systems (RWS), consisting of a gun and sensors that sit on top of the vehicle. These systems are controlled from inside via joystick and screen, and all ammunition, sensors, et. al. are part of the topside assembly. The USA’s Common Remotely-Operated Weapons Station (CROWS) is a program uses smaller RWS options on vehicles like up-armored Hummers. (Defense Industry Daily)

Morocco to Buy a French FREMM Frigate. True to form, there has been no announcement yet concerning the Rafale in conjunction with French President Sarkozy’s visit. The frigate sale appears to have gone through, however, as France’s military shipbuilder DCNS has now announced that “the Kingdom’s highest authorities confirmed an agreement between the two countries to provide the Royal Moroccan Navy with a FREMM multimission frigate.” (Defense Industry Daily)

Egypt: Strikes Sound a New Warning. A week-long sit-in strike last month achieved limited gains for employees of the state-owned Mahala Company for Spinning and Weaving in Egypt’s Nile Delta region. Although government spokesmen have accused opposition movements of standing behind a recent spate of workers’ strikes, independent critics attribute the labour unrest to the widening gap between public salaries and the rising cost of living. (IPS)

Congo’s Army Clashing With Militias. Eastern Congo continues to be torn by violence, United Nations officials said Wednesday. Battles between rival militias are driving thousands of beleaguered villagers from their homes, complicating the government’s efforts to strike a truce, they said. (New York Times)

Indian FM Mukherjee meets the Russian Foreign Minister in China. External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee met with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in the northeast Chinese city of Harbin on Wednesday. The meeting took place at the initiative of the Russian side, sources said. (India Express)

Russia: Food Industry Agrees on Price Freeze. The food industry agreed on Wednesday to freeze prices on a range of foodstuffs as the government seeks to combat a surge in the cost of basic staples, an Agriculture Ministry spokeswoman said. The pact is being seen as a crucial way to stave off public discontent over sharp rises in food prices over the past few months and to ease fears that overall inflation could reach double digits this year. Prices on vegetable oil rose 13.5 percent and the price of pasteurized milk by 9.4 percent in September, according to figures from the State Statistics Service. (Moscow Times)

Russia calls US shield proposals ‘positive’. US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said this week Washington had offered to delay the activation of parts of its European shield if Russia cooperated on the project. (YNet/Reuters)

An ominous calm returns to streets of Rangoon. Worshippers have begun returning to the Shwedagon Pagoda, the towering gold-coated landmark that had been cordoned off with soldiers and barbed wire only days before. (Toronto Star)

Turkey wants Syria to play a peace role in region. The Turkish government wants to see its neighbor Syria in the upcoming period as part of regional resolutions, not as part of regional problems, Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said on Monday in Jerusalem. (Ya Libnan)

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