Home > News > News in Brief: 20 January 2009

News in Brief: 20 January 2009

A brief list of news clippings for the day:

Gaza War, Crackdown on Dissent in Israel Alienate Arab Citizens of Jewish State. Perhaps the most divisive blow came last week when a parliamentary elections committee banned two Arab-led political parties from competing in next month’s national vote, charging them with disloyalty under a 2002 law that permits the exclusion of factions supporting “armed struggle” by a terrorist organization or foreign country. Both were highly critical of Israel’s Gaza operation. (Washington Post)

U.N. Chief Visits Gaza as Forces Leave. As Israeli forces continued to pull out of Gaza on Tuesday, the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, became the highest-ranking international official to visit the war-battered coastal strip since Israel and Hamas declared separate cease-fires last weekend. In Kuwait City, meanwhile, the Arab world remained divided on Tuesday over its response to the Gaza war. After a two-day Arab League summit, the Iraqi foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, said Arab leaders had been unable to reach agreement on the wording of a unified declaration “because some are entrenched in their positions,” according to The Associated Press. The Arab division over Gaza pits conservative and pro-Western states against those demanding fiercer Arab action against Israel. In Gaza, decomposing bodies continued to be uncovered on Monday in the worst-hit areas, with the death toll for the 23-day conflict that ended on Sunday passing 1,300, according to health officials here. (New York Times)

The One State Solution. [Comment by Landis] Increasingly, educated Palestinians and some Arabs are calling for a one state solution to the Jewish-Palestinian problem. I have never given much thought to this because it strikes me as impractical. Jewish Israelis have no reason to want it and the vast majority of Palestinians are nationalists who want a Palestinian state and not one that would surely be dominated by Jews, who are better organized, educated, plugged in, and richer than Palestinians. All the same, Elie Elhadj articulates an important argument. (Syria Comment)

China vows ‘no first use’ of nukes, prods Obama on relations. China renewed its pledge Tuesday never to be the first to use nuclear weapons in a military conflict, and senior military leaders vowed greater openness about the strengthening of the world’s biggest armed forces even as they brushed aside questions on weapon systems and missiles aimed at Taiwan. (McClatchy)

Obama Era May See More Trade Friction. China is entering the Obama era on a defensive note. Angered by U.S. charges that its glut of savings was the root cause for the global credit bubble, Beijing has chided Washington for being ungrateful and hinted at reviewing its long-standing policy of buying U.S. debt. (IPS)

Afghanistan caught in friendly fire. The Barack Obama era is commencing on a combative note in Afghanistan. The Afghan bazaar is buzzing with rumors that the equations between Washington and Kabul have become uncertain. Senior Afghan figures have been quoted as concluding that “the new US administration and the current Afghan administration will not be speaking the same language”. This followed a controversial visit to the Afghan capital Kabul last week by United States vice president-elect Joseph Biden. As the chairman of the powerful US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden is not a novice to foreign affairs and diplomacy, or to Afghanistan. Yet, during his visit, Biden apparently pulled up Afghan President Hamid Karzai for not giving a good account of himself as a ruler. (Asia Times)

Baghdad hit by ‘sticky bomb’ terror. The latest weapon terrorizing Baghdad is the “sticky bomb” – a small, insidious device that gets its nickname from the adhesive tape or magnets used to attach it to vehicles. Placed near the fuel tank, it can be an effective assassination tool, creating an explosion large enough to destroy a vehicle. With security forces now wary, attacks on civilians are on the rise. (Asia Times)

Russia Restores Gas to Ukraine. Russia on Tuesday resumed pumping gas through Ukraine to Europe, after nearly two weeks of disruption in a dispute over prices. The shipments were expected to reach energy-starved homes to the west within three days. (New York Times)

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