Home > News > News in Brief: 29 October 2008

News in Brief: 29 October 2008

A brief list of news for the day:

America’s Military Attack in Syria—Possible Reasons and Likely Costs. Details are finally emerging of the American military operation inside Syria in Abu Kamal on Sunday afternoon. But even as the details are emerging many are still baffled as to why this raid took place, and especially why now. As ever when it comes to the Middle East, and especially where Syria is concerned, tantalizing and mischievous theories proliferate. Here is an attempt, then, to make sense of why this happened, and what the implications might be. (Daniel Levy, Prospects for Peace)

Why Syria? Why now? The questions started to swirl late on Sunday afternoon when US helicopters allegedly crossed eight kilometers over the desert border between Syria and Iraq. According to reports, eight US soldiers were deployed when a helicopter landed, attacking the al-Sukkari farm in the Syrian Abu Kamal border area. (Asia Times)

U.S. may close Damascus embassy in wake of Syria strike. The U.S. embassy in the Syrian capital may close following a raid on eastern Syria this week blamed by Damascus on Washington, an embassy statement said on Wednesday. (Haaretz)

Pakistan: Analyzing Civil-Military Relations in Islamabad. Even though Pakistan has restored a civilian government, the country’s military establishment will retain considerable influence, experts agreed during a recent panel discussion in Washington. Complicating efforts to define their new relationship, Pakistan’s civil and military leaders must also manage pressure from Washington to contain Islamic radicalism. (Eurasianet)

EGYPT: Ruling Party in Free Fall. A high-ranking member of Egypt’s ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) is facing trial on charges of arranging the murder of a Lebanese pop singer. The case, along with a host of other public grievances, has badly tarnished the NDP’s reputation ahead of an upcoming party conference. (IPS)

Flipping Peace Tracks Again? Over the past few weeks, Israeli leaders Ehud Barak and Shimon Peres and Saudi diplomats have been energetically promoting the Saudi / Arab peace initiative of 2002 as an alternative to the current Syrian and Palestinian peace negotiations tracks. The initiative has many merits, but it also contains a deal breaker for Israel. (Syria Comment)

Maliki’s Tribal Support Councils Appear To Be Paying Off. As reported earlier, since the security operation in Basra in March 2008 Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been organizing local tribes to back the security forces and his government. This has caused increasing tensions with the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC) who rules most of the south. The SIIC is afraid that Maliki will use these sheikhs to help his Dawa party gain seats in the upcoming provincial elections. (Musings on Iraq)

US hands back province to Iraqis. Iraqi forces have taken over security control of the central Shia province of Wasit from the US military, making it the 13th of the country’s 18 provinces to be returned to Baghdad. (Al Jazeera)

‘Engage the Taliban’ – Afghan-Pakistani meeting. Pakistani and Afghan officials and tribal leaders agreed Tuesday to make contact with Taliban militants in an attempt to end the raging insurgent violence along their porous border. (The Daily Star/AFP)

EU puts Africa ball in China’s court. The European Union (EU), traditionally suspicious of China’s business-first, pragmatic approach to Africa, has released a groundbreaking policy paper which proposes sharing the responsibility for the continent’s great challenges, marking a great step forward in Europe’s approach to Beijing’s many engagements in Africa. (Asia Times)

Pakistan summons US envoy over missile strikes. Pakistan summoned the US ambassador today to protest over missile strikes by pilotless US aircraft on the Pakistani side of its border with Afghanistan, a Pakistani government spokesman said. (The Independent/Reuters)

Iran Opens Naval Base Near Routes for Gulf Oil. Iran announced Tuesday that it had opened a naval base in the Gulf of Oman to counter any hostile forces, in what was clearly an allusion to American Navy vessels patrolling nearby. (New York Times)

Gates Gives Rationale for Expanded Deterrence. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Tuesday that the United States would hold “fully accountable” any country or group that helped terrorists to acquire or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. (New York Times)

EU, Russia Hold Icy Talks in St. Petersburg. The European Union will discuss resuming partnership talks with Moscow at a summit next month, EU President France said Tuesday after holding talks with Russia that what one diplomat described as “prickly.” (Moscow Times/Reuters)

Dersim on Turkey’s ‘genocide’ list. Another genocide claim has been added to a list of crimes allegedly committed against humanity by the Turkish Republic. Following accusations of genocides against Armenians, Assyrians and Pontus Greeks, Turkey is accused of committing genocide against its Kurdish-Alevi population in the first half of 20th century. (Today’s Zaman)

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