Home > News > News in Brief: 5 March 2009

News in Brief: 5 March 2009

A brief list of news clippings for the day:

New Iran report reeks of stale ideas. A recently released report from an influential Washington think-tank designed to aid President Barack Obama is thick on familiar accusations and rather thin on specifics of a much-needed new policy toward Iran. The report’s main value may be in revealing the hands of vested interests seeking to obviate Obama’s search for new ways to engage with Tehran. (Asia Times)

U.S. makes first move, invites Iran to Afghanistan summit. In a major United States shift, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Thursday the United States planned to invite Iran to attend an international conference on Afghanistan planned for later this month. Iran borders Afghanistan and worked closely with the United States after the U.S. military offensive there to topple the Taliban and fight al Qaeda following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington. (Haaretz)

Sudan’s False Dawn? The ICC’s decision to indict the country’s president for war crimes may force the ruling party to confront its strategy of violence, writes Nick Grono. The decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Wednesday to order the arrest of Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir for atrocity crimes in Darfur is a victory for the conflict’s countless victims and offers a rare opportunity to bring peace to Sudan. (ICG)

Taliban announce indefinite ceasefire in Swat. Taliban militants announced an indefinite ceasefire in the Swat valley in the northwest of the country on Tuesday, a day after the army said it was ceasing operations in the region. The militants announced a 10-day truce in Swat on Sunday before a radical cleric struck a deal with authorities on the enforcement of sharia law in the region in an effort to persuade the militants to shun violence. (Dawn)

Taliban force a China switch. China’s regional allies, especially Pakistan, that have traditionally policed Uyghur militants on its behalf, are in danger of being marginalized by a powerful and assertive Taliban movement apparently less willing to defer to Beijing. As a result, China is upgrading its direct contacts with non-Taliban sectors, including Islamist political parties and intelligence forces. (Asia Times)

US working on Pak-Afghan economic package. The United States besides involving the Pakistan and Afghanistan in the formulation of a new security strategy for their region, is also working on a major economic package for the two countries. (Dawn)

Is Pakistan becoming the next Somalia? India says yes. India’s ruling party reacted to the attacks on Sri Lanka’s cricket team by suggesting Pakistan was on its way to becoming “the Somalia of South Asia.” (McClatchy)

Gaza Reconstruction Has a Political Price-Tag. A conference held this week in Cairo devoted to the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip succeeded in raising more than 5 billion dollars from international donors. But some critics say the issue is being used as a means of isolating Gaza-based resistance faction Hamas. (IPS)

Several killed in Iraq bomb attack. At least 10 people have been killed and 40 injured in a car bomb blast in Iraq’s southern Babil province, officials say. (Al Jazeera)

Labor edges towards joining Netanyahu government. DEBKAfile’s political sources report that the Histadrut Trade Unions leader, Ofer Eini, who has emerged as supreme national fixer in the ongoing crises over business closures and layoffs, has thrown his support behind the outgoing defense minister Ehud Barak’s bid to join Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud-led government. (DEBKAfile)

UK ‘ready to talk to Hezbollah’. The British government has said it is open to talks with the political wing of Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shia Muslim organisation. (Al Jazeera)

Georgia accuses Russia of airspace incursion. Georgia has accused Russia’s military of sending combat helicopters into Georgian-controlled airspace near the rebel region of Abkhazia. (Deutsche Welle)

Turkish PM opens renewed border gate with Georgia. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan inaugurated on Thursday a renewed border gate with Turkey’s northeastern neighbor Georgia in the Black Sea town of Hope in Artvin province. (Hurriyet)

Russian Proposal for New European Security Pact Encounters Skepticism. Addressing a recent gathering of war veterans in Moscow, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the short conflict that pitted his country against Georgia last summer once again demonstrated the expediency of developing “new, truly reliable approaches to ensuring international security.” (EurasiaNet)

Kyrgyzstan open for talks on US base. Kyrgyzstan has said it may be willing to negotiate a new deal allowing US troops to operate at an air base in the country, after ordering it to be vacated within three months. The eviction order was handed down last month, after years of disputes over how much the US should pay to use the base, a key staging point for operations in Afghanistan. (Deutsche Welle)

Turkey Orders 30 F-16C Block 50s et. al. for $2.9B. On Sept 28/06, the US DSCA notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Turkey of 30 more F-16C Block 50 aircraft, as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $2.9 billion. This sale is in addition to Turkey’s $1.1 billion upgrade program for its existing F-16 fleet, which aims to bring all of its aircraft to a common configuration. More than 200 F-16 aircraft currently make up the backbone of Turkey’s current fighter fleet. (Defense Industry Daily)

RIGHTS-TURKEY: Freedom of Expression Under Attack. As it aspires for full European Union membership, Turkey is still struggling with freedom of expression, raising questions whether it can ever join the EU or will simply remain a suspended bridge between East and West. (IPS)

NATO Resumes Ties With Russia, Moscow Welcomes Move. NATO foreign ministers agreed Thursday to resume high-level formal ties with Russia, suspended last year after Moscow’s military thrust into Georgia. (New York Times)

RUSSIA: In a New Gas War with Ukraine. The Ukraine-Russia gas dispute has boosted plans for construction of the South Stream and North Stream gas pipelines that would eventually divert Russian gas supplies through the Black Sea and the Baltic seabed respectively to European consumers. (IPS)

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