Home > News > News in Brief: 24 November 2008

News in Brief: 24 November 2008

A brief list of news for the day:

Last-minute scramble over Iraq’s pact. Iraq’s controversial Status of Forces Agreement with the United States, which calls for withdrawal of all US troops by 2011 yet gives the US long-term privileges, has divided Iraqi politics like never before. If parliament fails to reach consensus on Wednesday, a delay may deepen divisions among Shi’ites, Kurds and Sunnis. There are still many deals to be cut before this unpopular pact goes through. (Asia Times)

US-Iraq Security Pact: What’s US ally Talabani up to? There are at least two different versions of the talks that led to postponing the Parliamentary vote until Wednesday. According to the Kuwaiti paper AlWatan. (Missing Links)

Fed Pledges Top $7.4 Trillion to Ease Frozen Credit. The unprecedented pledge of funds includes $2.8 trillion already tapped by financial institutions in the biggest response to an economic emergency since the New Deal of the 1930s. (Bloomberg)

Dying Saudi Crown Prince sparks royal succession battle. Only rarely does the Saudi royal house issue medical bulletins on its rulers. DEBKAfile’s Saudi experts say that the bare announcement Monday, Nov. 23, that Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz, 83 or 85, had left for the United Sates Sunday for “medical checkups” and treatment for cancer indicates that his condition is seen as terminal. (DEBKAfile)

Miliband makes diplomacy pledge to Iran in nuclear dispute. Britain is to assure Iran that it is “100% committed to diplomacy” to end the impasse over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions and is signalling that it expects Barack Obama’s administration to follow the same approach. The foreign secretary, David Miliband, explicitly states that the British-backed EU and UN sanctions “are not an attempt at regime change. And nor are they a precursor to military action. We are 100% committed to a diplomatic resolution of this dispute. We will work closely with the new US administration on this issue.” (Guardian)

JAPAN: Aiming For Middle Power Status? Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is nose-diving in the polls, its gaffe-prone prime minister Taro Aso has acquired a reputation as his party’s funeral director, and a pivotal election may transform the Japanese political landscape before September. (IPS)

INTERVIEW : Taliban not talking peace. Mullah Mohammad Hasan Rahmani The close adviser to Taliban leader Mullah Omar categorically rules out any notion that the Taliban are a part of – or even plan to be – any peace process over Afghanistan. It is all propaganda aimed to weaken the Taliban and their jihad, Hasan Rahmani tells Syed Saleem Shahzad. And the Taliban will continue their policy of attacking the supply lines of coalition forces. (Asia Times)

Israel to allow food into besieged Gaza Strip. Israel pledged to allow a shipment of food into the besieged Gaza Strip on Monday, officials in the de facto government in Gaza said. The Israeli blockade has caused widespread blackouts and shortages of food and medicine. The Strip’s only power plant has been shut down due to a lack of fuel. (Ma’an)

Who Will Stop The Settlers? The middle-of-the-night eviction last week of an elderly Palestinian couple from their home in East Jerusalem to make way for Jewish settlers is a demonstration of Israeli intent towards a future peace deal with the Palestinians. (Sabbah’s Blog)

Abbas admits no progress in peace talks with Israel. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas expressed frustration at US-backed Middle East peace talks on Sunday on the eve of a White House meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President George W. Bush, saying that not one issue has been resolved. He also pledged to call snap presidential and parliamentary elections if there is no agreement with the Islamist Hamas movement, which controls Gaza, to end the rift in Palestinian ranks. (The Daily Star/AFP)

Iran may use force against pirates: official. Tehran: Iran could use force against pirates hijacking ships, a government official said in comments published on Monday. Last week, the Iran-chartered Delight, with 25 crew and 36,000 tonnes of wheat, was hijacked off the coast of Yemen while on its way to Iran from Germany. (Gulf News/Agencies)

INDIA: Separatists Battle Moderates in Kashmir Polls. India’s Jammu and Kashmir state votes Sunday for the second round of staggered, seven-phase, provincial elections that have pitted separatists against mainstream political parties. (IPS)

Gazprom Says Kiev Must Sign Contract. The risk that Ukraine might see its gas supplies cut off next year re-emerged Saturday as Gazprom warned that time was running out for a bilateral gas contract to be signed. (Moscow Times)

Chavez allies sweep state elections. Allies of Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, have won a majority in state elections for governors and mayors. But the opposition has won two of the most populous states and the mayor’s post in Caracas. (Al Jazeera)

French Socialists Face Division and Derision After Vote for Leader. France’s Socialist Party found itself deeply divided on Sunday and, even worse, harshly mocked. A summer of embarrassing rivalries has culminated in an excruciatingly narrow and disputed vote for a new party leader that is likely to please chiefly the country’s center-right president, Nicolas Sarkozy. (New York Times)

Lebanese president arrives in Iran for talks: state TV. Lebanese President Michel Sleiman arrived in Tehran on a two-day visit on Monday for economic and political talks with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other senior officials. (Khaleej Times/AFP)

Iraqi Kurds receive arms shipments from Bulgaria. Iraqi Kurds have received three planeloads of small arms and ammunition imported from Bulgaria, a US report citing military officials said yesterday. (Today’s Zaman)

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