Home > News > News in Brief: 17 March 2009

News in Brief: 17 March 2009

A brief list of news clippings for the day:

Unlikely bedfellows in Afghanistan. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, of which Russia and China are key members and Iran is an observer, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization are both to hold conferences on the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. These high-profile events set the stage for a breakthrough over SCO-NATO cooperation, beginning with the low- security issues of drug trafficking and arms smuggling. (Asia Times)

Pakistan reinstates chief justice. Pakistan exulted yesterday in a victory for democracy and people power after a popular protest movement forced the authorities to back down in a standoff with opposition forces and reinstate the country’s top judicial official. (Guardian)

U.S., Pakistani army chief crucial to resolving crisis? Pakistan’s government capitulated Monday to opposition demands to restore judicial independence after the country’s powerful army and the United States refused to give President Asif Ali Zardari full and unqualified backing, Pakistani and U.S. officials said. (McClatchy)

Russia to rearm military as NATO expands: Medvedev. President Dmitry Medvedev, who seeks to improve chilly ties with the United States, on Tuesday said Russia would rearm its military and boost nuclear forces because U.S.-led NATO is expanding towards Russia’s borders. (Hurriyet)

Arab Unity: Can Saudi Arabia Change with the Middle East? Saudi Arabia has been adrift since Obama won elections in the US. Having tailored its foreign policy over the last 8 years to President Bush’s, even if unhappily, Riyadh must tack with Washington’s new direction. (Syria Comment)

Mohammad Khatami withdraws from Iranian presidential race. The former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami, the country’s leading reformist politician, has confirmed speculation and dashed the hopes of his supporters by withdrawing from forthcoming presidential elections. (Guardian)

U.S. Forces Say They Shot Down Iranian Drone Over Iraq. The U.S. military has reported shooting down an unmanned Iranian aircraft over Iraq last month, some 100 kilometers north of Baghdad. But Major General Abdul Aziz Mohammed Jassim, head of military operations at the Iraqi Defense Ministry, told Reuters he thought the aircraft’s entry into Iraq was probably a mistake. Iranian officials had no immediate comment on the incident. (Turkish Weekly)

Iraq beefs up pipeline security. Bolstered by a decrease in violence across the country, the Iraqi government is refocusing its security efforts on the battered oil industry. The frequency of bombings on the oil sector has slowed, but the threat remains – and it could come from any of five different groups, including al-Qaeda and Kurdish rebels. (Asia Times)

Negotiations to Free Israeli Soldier Reach Standstill. Negotiations to free an Israeli soldier captured near the Gaza Strip nearly three years ago deadlocked in Cairo overnight, and the Israeli cabinet was scheduled to meet today to pass the issue off to the new government of incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Washington Post)

Turkish-Iraqi leaders discuss cooperation and security issues. Turkish President Abdullah Gul and his Iraqi counterpart Jalal Talabani discussed cooperation and security issues in their meeting in Istanbul on Tuesday. (Hurriyet)

Lebanon opens first embassy in Syria amid thaw in ties. Lebanon opened its first embassy in Syria on Monday, five months after the neighbors established diplomatic ties after decades of turbulent relations. (The Daily Star / AFP)

Tajikistan: Pentagon Looks to Become Engine for Economic Stabilization in Central Asian State. A Pentagon-funded aid program to Tajikistan will aim to promote economic development in some of the most neglected parts of the country over the next three years, in an attempt to “prevent the rise of another Afghanistan.” (EurasiaNet)

US Bases and Empire: Global Perspectives on the Asia Pacific. Officially, over 190,000 troops and 115,000 civilian employees are massed in 909 military facilities in 46 countries and territories.[1] There, the US military owns or rents 795,000 acres of land, and 26,000 buildings and structures valued at $146 billion. These official numbers are quite misleading as to the scale of US overseas military basing, however, excluding as they do the massive buildup of new bases and troop presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as secret or unacknowledged facilities in Israel, Kuwait, the Philippines and many other places. (Japan Focus)

Recession makes Swiss find safe haven in taxes. Most people are averse to paying their taxes during the best of times, but in the grip of a global recession some citizens in Switzerland are overpaying their dues — having found an unusual safe haven for their cash… taxpayers were using the canton’s treasury as a bank because it pays 2 percent interest on overpayments, much more than the 0.1-0.5 percent currently offered by Swiss banks. (Times of India)

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