Home > News > News in Brief: 16 March 2009

News in Brief: 16 March 2009

A brief list of news clippings for the day:

A Continent Adrift. I’m concerned about Europe. Actually, I’m concerned about the whole world — there are no safe havens from the global economic storm. But the situation in Europe worries me even more than the situation in America. Europe has fallen short in terms of both fiscal and monetary policy: it’s facing at least as severe a slump as the United States, yet it’s doing far less to combat the downturn. The only thing working in Europe’s favor is the very thing for which it takes the most criticism — the size and generosity of its welfare states, which are cushioning the impact of the economic slump. (New York Times)

What is Nato for? Nicolas Sarkozy wanted his presidency to mark a break with the “French social model”, recently restored to its former glory by the collapse of American-style financial capitalism. So did he determine to do away with another old French tradition, national independence? Although he had never expressed such an intention in his electoral campaign and even though he later made any French reintegration in Nato’s joint military command structure conditional on strengthening European defence, Sarkozy effectively announced that General de Gaulle’s policy decision had had its day. (Le Monde Diplomatique)

A wary Arab world eyes Iran’s elections. In the past, nations in the Persian Gulf feared Iran, but nobody came out and said it – let alone cut off diplomatic relations with Tehran as Morocco did last week. Now the Arab world is watching as Iran prepares for presidential elections, keeping fingers crossed, and fearing what they think would be a worst-case scenario: another term for President Mahmud Ahmadinejad. (Asia Times)

Iran: Dealing with Ahmadinejad. Ignoring the hardline president is the wrong approach to Iran in an election year. Barack Obama’s foreign policy agenda promises engagement with Iran, but many are advising him to delay any moves until after the Iranian presidential elections in June. Their reasoning is that the new administration should not “reward” Iranian president Mahmood Ahmadinejad by allowing him to take credit for “delivering” dialogue with Washington, which may help his re-election chances. This, however, would be the wrong approach. (ICG)

Has Khatami quit Iran presidential race? There were conflicting reports on Monday over whether former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami had withdrawn from June’s presidential race. (Haaretz / AP)

Intifada: A third chapter. Israel’s attack on Gaza is still fresh in the minds of Palestinians, though rumors of a third uprising abound in the face of mass arrests, extrajudicial executions, house demolitions and – perhaps the most contentious of all – increased settlement construction in the Occupied Territories. (Asia Times)

Israel’s Netanyahu secures first coalition partner. Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu’s party secured its first coalition partner on Sunday, reaching an initial agreement with the ultra-right Yisrael Beiteinu party, an official said. The two parties would not have a majority in the 120-seat parliament and would need to secure agreements with other parties to achieve that, but it was the first step towards establishing a new Israeli government after a Feb. 10 election. (Khaleej Times / Reuters)

2 Israeli police officers killed in West Bank. Security and rescue officials say two Israeli police officers have been killed in an apparent shooting incident in the West Bank. (Gulf News / AP)

Wahhabism, Salafism and Islamism: Who Is The Enemy? This essay constructs and deconstructs three main discourses created by different and opposing trends in modern Islamic thought that are normally and mistakenly lumped together as Islamism, fundamentalism, salafism, neo-salafism, Wahhabism, jihadism, political Islam, Islamic radicalism and others. I will compare and contrast between them by developing a typology of major ideologies of active Islamic trends that centers specifically on Wahhabism and neo-Wahhabism, salafism and neo-salafism, and Islamism, both moderate and radical. (Conflicts Forum)

India tackles non-state actors. With traditional warfare almost a thing of the past, India’s battles with far less tangible enemies, from the Taliban to Pakistani militants, have escalated and require a radical new approach. In response, the army has taken the unprecedented step of forming a committee to address the issue, which may lead to a major overhaul of military operations. (Asia Times)

Pakistan appears poised to reinstate ousted chief justice. The Pakistani government was poised late Sunday night to give in to an opposition campaign to reinstate the nation’s former chief justice, just before a massive protest march was to reach the capital of Islamabad. (McClatchy)

Afghanistan: New U.S. Administration, New Directions. Seven years after the U.S.-led intervention in Afghanistan the country is still at war against extremists and has developed few resilient institutions. A policy review by the Obama administration has reopened debate about how to defeat the forces of violent global jihadism – al-Qaeda and its Taliban protectors – in Afghanistan and in neighbouring Pakistan. (ICG)

Eight policemen killed in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan suicide bombers have attacked two police stations, killing a total of eight policemen and two civilians, and wounding 26 others. Most of the casualties occurred in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, when a bomber dressed in police uniform exploded his device inside police headquarters. (Deutsche Welle)

EGYPT: Labour Strikes Point to Economic Pain. Egypt has seen a wave of labour strikes in recent weeks by workers in a range of professions from lawyers to truck drivers. Although strikers’ specific demands vary, commentators generally attribute the phenomenon to increasingly difficult economic circumstances. (IPS)

Turkey: As Local Elections Approach, Governing Party’s Popularity Appears to Be Slipping. When Turkey’s governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) won reelection in the 2007 parliamentary voting, promoting economic and cultural reforms in the country’s rural Kurdish southeast was a cornerstone of their platform. Seventy percent of Yatir’s voters cast ballots for the AKP, Altan says. But as the March 29 local elections approach, Kurds in this impoverished village — and elsewhere in the southeast — say support for Turkey’s ruling party is eroding with every power problem, washed out road, and shuttered school. An October 2008 survey of possible outcomes of spring voting indicated that while the AKP will retain its hold on power in western and central regions, it could lose ground in the south and east. (EurasiaNet)

World water forum opens in Turkey with riot police quelling protest. The World Water Forum, a seven-day arena aimed at addressing the deepening global freshwater crisis, was launched in Istanbul on Monday amid a violent protest broken up by riot police using tear gas. (Hurriyet)

M1 Abrams Tanks for Iraq. On July 31/08, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced Iraq’s formal request to buy M1 Abrams tanks, well as the associated vehicles, equipment and services required to keep them in the field. The tanks will apparently be new-build, not transferred from American stocks. With this purchase, Iraq would become the 4th M1 Abrams operator in the region, joining Egypt (M1A1s), Kuwait (M1A2), and Saudi Arabia (M1A2-SEP variant). Defense-related order requests from Iraq over the last 2 weeks of July totaled over $10.9 billion. (Defense Industry Daily)

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