Home > News > News in Brief: 19 November 2008

News in Brief: 19 November 2008

A brief list of news for the day:

U.S.-Iraqi Agreement Is Getting Mixed Reviews in Iran. The government of Iran still had no official reaction to the security agreement, which sets a 2011 deadline for all American combat forces to leave. Iraq’s Parliament will vote on the agreement next Monday. (New York Times)

Palestinian Split Deepens. Palestinian resistance factions were roundly blamed in the mainstream media for their last-minute decision to boycott last week’s Egypt-sponsored “comprehensive dialogue” summit, ostensibly aimed at Palestinian national reconciliation. But some independent commentators say the move, led by Gaza-based resistance faction Hamas, was justified. (IPS)

Israel defence minister rejects UN call to open Gaza crossings. Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday rejected a United Nations call to humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip through crossings. The United Nations and humanitarian agencies have voiced concern that Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip could soon spiral into a humanitarian crisis. (Gulf News/Agencies)

Israel to boycott Durban II anti-racism conference. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni announced Wednesday that Israel has made a final decision to boycott the United Nations “Durban II” conference on human rights this spring, fearing it would be used once again as a forum for anti-Israeli sentiment. (Haaretz)

Britain re-establishes high-level intelligence links with Syria. Britain re-established high-level intelligence links with the Syrian authorities as David Miliband made his landmark visit to Damascus yesterday, according to senior Syrian officials. (Times)

Economic noose tightens around Iran. Iran’s economic failures since the revolution of 1979 are obvious to anyone who looks into the available statistics. The average Iranian is no better off today than in 1979. Public hospitals are overcrowded and ill-equipped; they don’t seem to be in the same century when compared with the expensive private clinics in the capital, Tehran. (Asia Times)

Iran kills several Kurdish separatists in border shootout. Iranian border guards have killed several Kurdish separatists in a shootout in the western part of the country, Iran’s official news agency IRNA reported Wednesday morning. (Jerusalem Post/AP)

Tribal role urged in Afghanistan. The senior commander of international forces in Afghanistan has said supporting local leaders could be the key to halting the growing violence across the country. (Al Jazeera)

Taliban, US wrestle for the upper hand. The Taliban have escalated their attacks on supply convoys passing through Pakistan on the way to Afghanistan, while United States-led coalition forces have stepped up activities in the Afghan province of Kunar in an attempt to contain the cross-border flow of militants. Both sides are fighting to gain an advantage ahead of bigger battles to come. (Asia Times)

Indian navy ‘sinks pirate ship’ amid hijackings. The Indian Navy says it has foiled an attack by pirates on one of its frigates off the Somali coast and sunk a suspected pirate vessel. Meanwhile, pirates have seized a third ship in as many days off the Horn of Africa. (Deutsche Welle)

Kyrgyzstan: Energy Crisis Threatens Country’s Stability. It is the main topic of conversation at every dinner table in the country. After nine months of erratic blackouts and broken government promises, the Kyrgyz are growing restless. Many are even saying the situation is worse than before the Tulip Revolution in 2005. (EurasiaNet)

Turkey should adapt to new equation in Iraq. A provision of the recently signed US-Iraq agreement known as the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) envisages that the US will hand over full control of Iraqi airspace to Iraqi forces in less than two months’ time. (Today’s Zaman)

On Rahm Emanuel. There’s been a lot of speculation about the foreign-policy implications of Rep. Rahm Emanuel serving as Barack Obama’s White House chief of staff, much of which, of course, is …speculation. Below are two of the less fevered and somewhat more reassuring analyses of Emanuel and his views on the Middle East — one by Jim Zogby, the president of the Arab American Institute (AAI), the other by Lara Friedman, the policy and government relations director of Americans for Peace Now (APN). Both groups, of course, worked with the Clinton administration on the Oslo process and are strongly committed to a two-state solution. (Jim Lobe)

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