Home > News > News in Brief: 18 November 2008

News in Brief: 18 November 2008

A brief list of news for the day:

Israeli tanks, bulldozers invade southern Gaza; clashes reported in north. Israeli tanks and bulldozers invaded the southern end of the Gaza Strip, near the city of Rafah at 9am on Tuesday and began razing agricultural lands. (Ma’an)

Palestinian PM: Settlement building will destroy peace process. Palestinian Prime Minister and Finance Minister Salam Fayyad called on the international community to up the pressure on Israel to suspend all construction in the settlements and implied that the Palestinian Authority could apply to the International Court of Justice in this regard, adopting the example of the separation fence. (Haaretz)

Israel closes Gaza crossings. Israel has closed its crossings into the Gaza Strip, a day after it allowed trucks carrying aid into the besieged coastal territory.Humanitarian aid groups have warned that the Gaza Strip is dangerously short of essential supplies, despite the delivery of aid on Monday. (Al Jazeera)

Hamas government signals it is reconsidering Gaza truce. The Hamas-run government in Gaza signaled that it is losing patience with Israel and reconsidering a five-month-old truce agreement after two weeks of Israeli military action and an ongoing siege of Gaza. (Ma’an)

Iraq’s Sistani puts fate of US troops in lawmaker’s hands. Iraq’s most influential Shi’ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani, signalled on Tuesday he would leave it to lawmakers to decide the fate of a pact allowing US troops to stay in Iraq for three years. (Gulf News/Agencies)

Proposed Iraq security pact calms Iran’s concerns, too. Next door to Iraq, Iranians, who had opposed an agreement to withdraw American forces from Iraq by the end of 2011, now are assured that Iraq will not be used to attack them. Even though Iraq is not a Shiite theocracy like Iran, the Iraqi Cabinet’s decision was significantly affected when Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s most influential Shiite cleric, signed off on the deal. (SFGate)

Sadr fails to block US-Iraq pact in Parliament. Prominent Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s camp on Monday failed to halt the first reading in Parliament of a controversial Iraq-US military pact which has been passed by the Iraqi Cabinet. (The Daily Star/AFP)

Plus and minus: How to win in Afghanistan. Whether it is policymakers in the next United States administration or a renegade veteran of the Afghan war with horror stories to tell, Operation Enduring Freedom of 2001 has become an operation of enduring disaster. A military-plus solution to the conflict – centered on a “surge” – cannot work, while a military-minus solution, involving the mobilization of all the regional actors, might. This would represent a true break from present US policy. (Asia Times)

Taliban threaten France with attacks. A Taliban military leader threatened to carry out attacks in Paris unless French troops are pulled out of Afghanistan, in a video broadcast on Monday on Al-Arabiya television. (DAWN)

U.S.-Afghan rift builds around Karzai’s overture to Taliban. Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgents rejected an offer of talks from Kabul Monday and threatened for the first time to strike a target in the West, suggesting many years of violent conflict to come. (McClatchy)

Afghanistan: Taliban Reject Karzai Security Guarantee. Sensing weakness on the part of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government, representatives of the Taliban movement are talking tough. The radical Islamic group on November 17 brushed off a security guarantee offered by Karzai in order to enter into peace talks, saying that such negotiations can begin only after the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan. (EurasiaNet)

Georgian refugees ‘still trapped’. More than 20,000 Georgians are still unable to return home following August’s war in the area, Amnesty International says. (BBC)

Al-Qaeda ‘awakens’ in Iraq. The policy of al-Qaeda in Iraq in its fight against Awakening Councils in Sunni tribal areas has been to assassinate the movement’s leaders. Al-Qaeda has now set its sights on recruiting council youths disenchanted by the Iraqi government’s attempts to integrate them into the regular security forces. (Asia Times)

Iran appoints new interior minister. Critics argue that the president is using the post as support before 2009 elections. (Al Jazeera)

World grapples with Somali pirate puzzle. Operating skiffs with powerful outboard engines, GPS systems and satellite phones, the Somali pirates who seized a Saudi supertanker have left officials open-mouthed in astonishment at their audacity. (Guardian)

Meet the Lebanese Press: Strategic defense or strategic shift? Civil strife usually ends when there is truth and reconciliation. In Lebanon, it subsides when a truce poses as reconciliation. Top Lebanese leaders are doting over each other, calling for a new pact of political rivalry that is confined to the arena of democratic and peaceful confrontation. Meetings between top March 14 and March 8 officials have calmed fears of further clashes on the streets. With the notable exception of Christian leaders, all sectarian heads are trying to unite their ranks in the run up to next year’s parliamentary elections. (Electronic Intifada)

Uzbekistan: Moscow Giving Tashkent the Silent Treatment. Russian leaders publicly have downplayed the significance of Uzbekistan’s withdrawal from the Eurasian Economic Community. Yet, experts in Moscow say that Tashkent’s action delivered a considerable blow to the Kremlin’s strategic economic plans in Central Asia. (EurasiaNet)

Obama-Tied Think Tank Calls for “Dramatic” Shift. A think tank closely tied to U.S. President-Elect Barack Obama is calling for a “dramatic strategic shift” in Washington’s policy towards Pakistan. (IPS)

Terror plot: Yemen makes movie to fight jihad. Deep in Yemen’s restive desert, terrorists target a family of European tourists. While the country mourns the deadly attack, an elite government force storms the killers’ mountain hideout and brings them down in a hail of artillery. (McClatchy)

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