Home > News > News in Brief: 27 October 2008

News in Brief: 27 October 2008

A brief list of news for the day:

US helicopter raid on Syria: the reaction. “Cold-blooded murder and war crime” is how Tishrin, the Syrian government newspaper, describes the death of eight civilians in a US helicopter attack on a Syrian farm. The paper says four children, three men and a woman were killed in the raid and the US “must bear full responsibility for this aggression”. Damascus was considering its response to the attack, Reem Haddad of the Syrian information ministry told al-Jazeera. “No doubt there will be a reaction [from Syria] of some kind,” Haddad said, telling the station’s website that the attack was a “flagrant violation” of the new security arrangement between Iraq and the US. (Guardian)

US raid in Syria spooks Iran. American military helicopters struck in Syrian territory bordering Iraq, killing eight people. The raid is said to have targeted a network of al-Qaeda-linked fighters using Syria to reach Iraq. The raid comes as Washington and Baghdad are negotiating a bilateral agreement that will set the terms for how US and coalition troops continue to occupy and fight in Iraq. (Asia Times)

Iran: Ahmadinejad Making Political Gambit to Enhance his Authority in Tehran. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is risking his political future by striving to decouple his neo-conservative faction from long-standing domestic allies — traditionalist clergy and small-scale merchants. If successful, Ahmadinejad would gain a greater degree of freedom of action in both the domestic and international arenas. (Eurasianet)

US-Iraq deal awash in ‘wiggle words’. President George W Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki face electoral pressure to posture as if they actually do want a pact for US troop withdrawal. As a result, negotiations have focused on finding language that disguises continued US occupation and extols Iraqi sovereignty. (Asia Times)

U.S. threatens to halt services to Iraq without troop accord. The U.S. military has warned Iraq that it will shut down military operations and other vital services throughout the country on Jan. 1 if the Iraqi government doesn’t agree to a new agreement on the status of U.S. forces or a renewed United Nations mandate for the American mission in Iraq. (McClatchy)

The US-Japan Status of Forces Agreement and Okinawan Anger. In her article “How to Stay in Iraq for 1,000 Years,” Frida Berrigan takes up the issue of status of forces agreements (SOFAs), those treaties that determine the standing of US troops based or operating in foreign countries. She mentions that the special privileges granted under the US-Japan SOFA have been a particular source of resentment in Okinawa, where GIs who had committed crimes against Okinawans were repeatedly spirited away by US military police and disappeared, apparently transferred back to the US, leaving it unclear whether they were ever charged in a military court. (Japan Focus)

Indian deploys thousands of troops to Kashmir. Thousands of Indian troops were deployed across Kashmir on Monday to help prevent planned demonstrations marking the 61st anniversary of India’s control of the region. (Gulfnews)

Taming the ISI: Implications for Pakistan’s Stability and the War on Terrorism. Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency. As such, it has found itself at the center of a dispute between Pakistan and the United States over the prosecution of the War on Terrorism, a dispute fuelled by the two nations’ varying strategic aims. (Jamestown Foundation)

Suspected US missile strike kills up to 20 in Pakistan. The reported strike occurred in the South Waziristan region, part of Pakistan’s wild border zone that is considered an Al Qaida haven. US military and CIA drones that patrol the frontier region are believed to have carried out at least a dozen strikes since August. The United States rarely confirms or denies involvement. (Gulfnews/AP)

Widespread fallout from India-US pact. While the issue of proliferation tops the list of concerns over the civilian nuclear deal between the United States and India, other political and security problems loom, especially for Japan. More profoundly, many European officials and defense specialists see the US-India deal as part of a broader effort to reshape the Asian balance of power. (Asia Times)

Abkhazia says EU ignores Georgian armed provocations along the border. Georgia’s breakaway Abkhazia region accused European Union monitors on Sunday of ignoring “armed provocations” by Georgia along its boundaries and warned Tbilisi its retaliation would be heavy-handed. (Today’s Zaman)

Russian Arms Exports Taking Another Jump in 2008. India and China remain Russia’s largest defense customers, though India is moving to diversify its defense imports by adding Western manufacturers to its mix. Konstantin Biryulin of the Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation of the Russian Federation (FSMTC) recently told RIA Novosti that arms export sales volume to Q3 2008 was 23% higher than the same period in 2007, which finished at $7.4 billion. Pravda. (Defense Industry Daily)

Asia, EU Leaders Moot Deep Global Reforms. A two-day meeting of European and Asian leaders in Beijing has produced a joint statement pledging a coordinated response to the global financial crisis, but concrete action is seen dependant on the entry of Asia’s emerging economies into global policy-setting institutions. (IPS)

G-7 concerned about yen as Nikkei plunges. The Group of Seven leading industrial nations has expressed concern about the sharp rise in the value of the Japanese yen and the possible effect on economic and financial stability. (Deutsche Welle)

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