Home > News > News in Brief: 2 February 2009

News in Brief: 2 February 2009

A brief list of news clippings for the day:

A withdrawal of sorts from Iraq. United States military leaders have compromised by accepting a 19-month draw-down plan for US troops in Iraq. But in return, President Barack Obama has given commanders a free hand to determine the size and composition of a residual force of up to 50,000 troops, apparently including the option of leaving behind one or more combat brigades, (Asia Times)

Why Syria Will Not Get the Golan Back. Damascus faces an impossible problem in negotiating with Washington because of its profound relative weakness. The US and Israel work hand and glove to keep Syria weak economically,militarily and diplomatically. The US has helped Israel to bomb Syrian military installations, assassinate HIzbullah and Hamas operatives in Syria, and by designating anti-israeli militias and states as terrorist organizations. A panoply of economic sanctions are also martialed to Israel’s advantage. Israel is incomparably stronger than Syria and getting more so all the time. (Syria Comment)

Power play behind Bangladesh’s mutiny. The failed uprising by the Bangladesh Rifles that left over 140 dead did not stem simply from concerns over salaries and command structures. There is every possibility that the Dhaka mutiny was backed by pro-Islam army officers whose grand religious and geopolitical causes are far more profound than simple money matters. (Asia Times)

Clinton dives into Palestinian-Israeli peacemaking. The United States is expected to pledge more than $900 million (Dh3.3 billion) at today’s one-day conference in the Egyptian resort of Sharm Al Shaikh. Washington also wants the money to bolster Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and has stipulated no US funds will go through the fighter group Hamas, which rules Gaza while Abbas’ Fatah movement runs the West Bank. (Gulf News / Reuters)

How to Aid Gaza and Not Hamas. “There’s no doubt there’s been a huge amount of damage done, including whole sectors of private sector buildings which have been razed to the ground and, in any event, given the numbers of people that have died, I find the conversation about proportionality not really a sensible conversation to have. What we’ve got to do is to find a way of ensuring this doesn’t happen again.” The pointed comment came from former British prime minister Tony Blair, special international envoy to the Middle East, during his first visit to Gaza after Israel’s offensive against Hamas. (IPS)

The Imperial Unconscious. Here, according to Bloomberg News, is part of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’s recent testimony on the Afghan War before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: “U.S. goals in Afghanistan must be ‘modest, realistic,’ and ‘above all, there must be an Afghan face on this war,’ Gates said. ‘The Afghan people must believe this is their war and we are there to help them. If they think we are there for our own purposes, then we will go the way of every other foreign army that has been in Afghanistan.'” In this case, it has to mean putting an Afghan mask over what we know to be the actual “face” of the Afghan War — ours — a foreign face that men like Gates recognize, quite correctly, is not the one most Afghans want to see. (TomDispatch)

Urged to Intervene to Protect Civilians. The fast deteriorating humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka – caused by the lingering armed conflict between the government and rebel forces – demands immediate action on the part of the U.N., a leading international human rights organisation said Friday. (IPS)

Russian intelligence behind Chechen killings. The killings of a number of Chechens in İstanbul over the past several months could be the work of Russian intelligence units, sources have said. (Today’s Zaman)

Afghan contender criticizes Karzai’s decision to bring forward poll date. An Afghan presidential contender has criticized President Hamid Karzai’s call for the election to be brought forward from August to April, saying the earlier date would not give other candidates time to campaign. (Today’s Zaman)

Ex-Haiti ruler Artistide re-emerging as political force. Five years after he fled into exile amid a bloody revolt, former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is continuing to cast a long shadow over Haiti’s political landscape. (McClatchy)

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