Home > News > News in Brief: 26 October 2007

News in Brief: 26 October 2007

A brief list of news for the day:

Turkey and Iraq in crisis talks. With tensions running high, a high-powered Iraqi delegation is holding talks in Ankara in a fresh bid to avert any imminent Turkish strike. Besides Abdel Qader Mohammed Jassim, the defence minister, the 11-member team includes Iraq’s intelligence chief and senior officials from the interior and foreign ministries, according to an Iraqi diplomat. The delegation also includes representatives of the two major Iraqi Kurdish parties in northern Iraq and a US military officer about whom no other details were available. (Al Jazeera)

Turkish-Kurdish tension sparks sharp debate in Azerbaijan. As Turkey ponders cross-border military operations against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq, an emotional debate is unfolding in Azerbaijan over the extent to which Baku should assist Ankara. Politicians, media analysts and the general population in Azerbaijan unambiguously support Ankara’s position on dealing with the Kurdish militant threat — a reflection of the strong cultural ties between the two countries. The slogan “Turkish Brothers – We Are With You!” appears daily on the front page of Yeni Musavat newspaper, a mouthpiece for the opposition Musavat Party. (EurasiaNet)

Turkish Premier Faults Allies on Kurdish Issue. The Turkish military said it had continued attacks Thursday against Kurdish separatists in mountainous areas along the Turkish-Iraqi border, as officials of the two countries and the United States gathered to attempt to defuse the crisis. (Washington Post)

US congress delays Armenia vote. The authors of a US congress bill to formally label the World War One massacre of Armenians by Turks a genocide have agreed to delay the measure, which had sparked fury in Turkey. (Al Jazeera)

Olmert sounds alarm: Iran has crossed red line for developing a nuclear weapon. It’s too late for sanctions. This is the message prime minister Ehud Olmert is carrying urgently to French President Nicolas Sarkozy Monday and British premier Gordon Brown Tuesday. Olmert will be telling Sarkozy and Brown that the moment for diplomacy or even tough sanctions has passed. Iran can only be stopped now from going all the way to its goal by direct, military action. Friday, the incoming Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen said US forces are capable of operations against Iran’s nuclear facilities or other targets. (DEBKAfile)

US imposes new sanctions on Iran. The US has announced new sanctions against Iran, targeting the defence ministry, the Revolutionary Guard and a number of banks. The sanctions will cut off more than 20 Iranian entities, including individuals and companies owned or controlled by the Revolutionary Guards from the American financial system and is likely to effect the international banking community. (Al Jazeera)

Putin objects to sanctions against Iran. Russian President Vladimir Putin objected on Thursday to new sanctions against Iran, saying such action would put Iran in a corner over its nuclear program. (Turkish Weekly)

China to Sell J-10 Fighter to Iran, Syria. Iran has signed a contract with China for the delivery of two squadrons (24) of its J-10 fighter planes, which are powered by Russian engines and avionics. Representatives of the Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company said China would deliver the jets during the in 2008-2010 time frame. Novosti adds that “Experts, estimating one fighter at $40 million, put the contract’s value at $1 billion.” (Defense Industry Daily)

Syria air strike target ‘removed’. Newly-released satellite images of the presumed site of an Israeli air raid on Syria last month suggest that a large building has been completely removed. US research group, the Institute for Science and International Security, obtained and analysed the images. (BBC)

U.S. Military Ignored Evidence of Iraqi-Made EFPs. When the U.S. military command accused the Iranian Quds Force last January of providing the armour-piercing EFPs (explosively formed penetrators) that were killing U.S. troops, it knew that Iraqi machine shops had been producing their own EFPs for years, a review of the historical record of evidence on EFPs in Iraq shows. (IPS)

Attack Halts Oil Facility Off Nigeria. Gunmen kidnapped six workers from an Italian oil production facility off the coast of Nigeria on Friday, forcing Italy’s ENI to halt production of 50,000 barrels per day, authorities said. (New York Times)

Congo-Kinshasa: Preventing Backslide Into War. Joseph Kabila, the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, visits the White House today to discuss challenges to his country’s fragile democracy. With fertile land and abundant natural resources, Congo could be an economic powerhouse and a regional breadbasket. Instead, the country is a basket-case. A brutal regional war ripped Congo apart from 1998 to 2004, and more than four million Congolese died from a destructive cocktail of violence, disease, and malnutrition. (allAfrica)

Côte d’Ivoire: Government, Former Rebels Thwarting Arms Inspections, UN Says. Arms inspections in Côte d’Ivoire are being refused “with increasing frequency” by former rebels and the national army and illegal arms trafficking has become a “worrying phenomenon”, according to a recent report from the panel that monitors the country’s UN arms embargo. (allAfrica)

U.S. ignores angry reaction to secret poppy spraying test. In 2004, U.S.-contracted aircraft secretly sprayed harmless plastic granules over poppy fields in Afghanistan to gauge public reaction to using herbicides to kill the opium poppies that help fund the Taliban and al Qaida. The mysterious granules ignited a major outcry from poor farmers, tribal chiefs and government officials up to President Hamid Karzai, who demanded to know if the spraying was part of a poppy eradication program. At the time, U.S officials up to the level of Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad denied any knowledge of the program. (McClatchy)

Cement Industry Is at Center of Climate Change Debate. Cement plants account for 5 percent of global emissions of carbon dioxide, the main cause of global warming. Cement has no viable recycling potential; each new road, each new building needs new cement. (New York Times)

China visit a milestone in Sino-India ties: Sonia. Describing her ongoing visit to China as a “milestone” in Sino-Indian relations, Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Friday said she was “amazed and astounded” at the progress made by the neighbouring country. Meanwhile, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has said that China attaches “great importance” to the visit of Sonia and it will have an important role in the further development of Sino-Indian relations. (India Express)

Lebanon: Palestinian Refugees Face Systematic Discrimination. Denied access to social services, education, adequate housing and employment, Palestinian refugees in Lebanon continue to suffer discrimination and marginalisation. More than half of the 400,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon have been forced to live in segregated ghettos since they were forced to flee their lands and homes after the creation of Israel in 1948. (IPS)

With Argentine First Lady’s Projected Win, Expectations Rising for a `Cristina’ Presidency. Most polls project first lady Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner will crush 13 rivals Sunday to replace her husband as Argentina’s president. But no matter how easy her win, what follows will be tough: easing poverty, inflation and unemployment. (AP)

Ex-Philippine leader Estrada free. Ex-Philippine President Joseph Estrada is a free man for the first time in six and a half years, after being pardoned by his successor Gloria Arroyo. Estrada was convicted of corruption last month, and given a life sentence. (BBC)

Fresh fighting near scene of Pakistan suicide attack. A fierce clash broke out today between security forces and pro-Taliban supporters in north-west Pakistan, near the scene of a suicide attack that killed 20 people. Earlier this week, some 2,500 paramilitary troops were deployed in the surrounding district of Swat in a crackdown on militants. (Guardian)

Afghan president urges fewer US air strikes. Meanwhile, in an interview with American broadcaster CBS, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has urged the US to limit airstrikes against insurgents, saying they are killing too many civilians. (Deutche Welle)

AFRICOM to eye maritime security. A senior Pentagon official says a major focus of the military’s new U.S. Africa Command will be maritime and environmental security. (UPI)

Japanese prices still falling. Japan’s core consumer prices fell in September for the eighth month in a row, but a halt to price falls in Tokyo holds out the promise that deflation might stop nationwide as early as next month. (FT)

Egypt: Journalists Get Jail Sentences in New Crackdown. The government has stepped up its campaign against the independent and opposition press, with criminal courts delivering prison sentences to 11 prominent journalists within the last two months. While state prosecutors accuse the writers of “publishing false news”, spokesmen for the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate have described the latest crackdown as a “war” on press freedom. (IPS)

Hayden overhauls CIA detention. In the year since it was publicly acknowledged by President Bush, the CIA’s controversial program of detaining suspected terrorist leaders, and subjecting some of them to interrogation techniques critics say constitute torture, has been overhauled by the agency’s new director. Hayden insisted the CIA’s detention and interrogation program, even as it was run under his predecessors, had been “appropriate, lawful and effective” but said the legal territory on which it was run had shifted over the years since it was set up in March 2002. (UPI)

Arabic school causes stir in NYC. A coalition opposed to a new Arabic-language school in the city has filed a lawsuit against the New York City Department of Education. Stop the Madrassa Community Coalition is attempting to shut down the Khalil Gibran International Academy in Brooklyn, which opened this fall under intense scrutiny. In the past few months, the coalition has increased its efforts to close the middle school, a college preparatory program with an emphasis on Arabic language, culture and history. It claims the school indoctrinates students with a radical Islamist agenda. (Jerusalem Post)

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