Home > News > News in Brief: 10 March 2009

News in Brief: 10 March 2009

A brief list of news clippings for the day:

Pakistan Political Crisis Deepens. The Pakistani Taliban are not going to take over the Pakistani government. That worry doesn’t keep me up at night. They are small, and operate in a rugged, remote area of the country. They can set off bombs and be a destabilizing force. But a few thousand tribesmen can’t take over a country of 165 million with a large urban middle class that has a highly organized and professional army. In contrast, the increasingly rancorous conflict between the left of center, largely secular Pakistan People’s Party and the right of center, big-landlord Muslim League, has the potential to tear the country apart. (Informed Comment)

Trade-off season on Afghanistan begins. Given the interlocking cross-currents swirling around the US-Iran-Russia equation, it seems that a dizzying number of trade-offs are to be floated. One possibility is Russia returning to Afghanistan as a key partner of the United States in exchange for stalling the deployment of the US missile defense system. Meanwhile, Moscow maintains its excellent relations with Tehran by proceeding with Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant. (Asia Times)

Palestinians work on unity government. Rival Palestinian factions are holding talks in Cairo aimed at forming a national unity government. Senior delegations from Hamas and Fatah are building committees to resolve differences over how to form a new government, reform security agencies, and hold elections. (Deutche Welle)

In Iran, Khatami Loses a Key Backer. A former mayor of Tehran, a powerful politician who once backed Mohammad Khatami, the former president, has aligned himself with Mr. Khatami’s rival, in a move that could alter the political landscape ahead of June presidential elections. (New York Times)

Ahmadinejad really is the man in charge. Despite a widespread perception, it is not Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei pulling the strings in Tehran. That honor lies with President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, as he has shown in power struggles with the ayatollah. (Asia Times)

Iran’s Majles Strikes a Blow to Ahmadinejad’s Economic Plans. While most of the recent Iran news has focused on the prospect of an Iran-US rapprochement, the country’s domestic scene has been consumed with a major fight over economic policy. This week the fight came to a head as the whole Majles began deliberating on the country’s budget for the next fiscal year as well Ahmadinejad’s attempt to reform the country’s bloated subsidy system. (Informed Comment: Global Affairs)

Middle East Reality Check. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton grabbed headlines with an invitation to Iran to attend a conference on Afghanistan, but the significant Middle Eastern news last week came from Britain. It has “reconsidered” its position on Hezbollah and will open a direct channel to the militant group in Lebanon. (New York Times)

The Axis of Vaudeville: Images of North Korea in South Korean Pop Culture. This paper examines how South Korean understanding of what it means to be—or to have been—a citizen of the DPRK has evolved during the last decade. How does South Korean popular culture reflect that evolution and, in turn, shape ongoing transformations in that understanding? (Japan Focus)

Tensions high on Korean Peninsula. North Korea responds to the start of a major military drill by US and South Korean troops by putting its armed forces on combat alert, raising tension on the Korean Peninsula. Pyongyang also warns that any attempt to block its upcoming satellite launch could spark a war. (Hurriyet)

China says U.S. Navy ship violated law. China’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that a U.S. Navy ship involved in a confrontation with its fleet off the southern island of Hainan had violated international and Chinese law and condemned the incident. (Khaleej Times / Reuters)

Muddied look to Kyrgyz power deal. Russian money could mean salvation for the Kyrgyz hydropower industry and future income for Kyrgyzstan as an energy exporter. It could also lead to the country losing control over its own water resources. (Asia Times)

Afghan Court Upholds Journalism Student’s 20-year Blasphemy Sentence. The brother of a former Afghan journalism student, Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, says the country’s highest court has confirmed the young man’s 20-year jail sentence for blasphemy. (Turkish Weekly)

‘High-speed trains to span Turkey’. In 10 years, high-speed train tracks will crisscross the nation, Turkish State Railways (TCDD) Assistant General Manager Erol İnan has said. (Today’s Zaman)

Germany’s Bundesbank Posts Huge Profits for 2008. There’s a check in the mail for the German government. That’s after the Bundesbank — the country’s national bank — posted 6.3 billion euros in profits for last year. But falling interest rates could bring a downturn. (Deutsche Welle)

Japan Leads Rich Nations Downward. Plunging exports — down by a record 46.3 percent in January, as sales of cars, electronics and machinery all continued to sputter — pushed Japan’s current account deficit to a record monthly high, the government said Monday. Overall, the Japanese economy shrank last year by 12.7 percent… (Washington Post)

Home Demolitions Threaten Peace Talks. Eight months pregnant Shireen Abu Sbeh, 20, mother of a two-year-old, lives with eight other people in a two-bedroom apartment that is on a list of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem to be demolished by the Israeli authorities. (IPS)

Tajikistan: President Emomali Rahmon to visit Iran and Turkey. On March 10, the President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon will head to the capital of Islamic Republic of Iran in order to participate in X session of economic cooperation organization (ECO) member countries leaders, RIA Novosti reports. (Ferghana)

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