Home > News > News in Brief: 23 March 2009

News in Brief: 23 March 2009

A brief list of news clippings for the day:

Indonesia: Deep Distrust in Aceh as Elections Approach. Tensions in Aceh are high as elections approach, although they have receded somewhat from a peak in mid-February. The murders of three former combatants of the Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka, GAM), other shootings and numerous grenade attacks over the last two months – all with unidentified per­petrators – have set the province on edge, and there remains a risk of sporadic, low-level violence before and after general elections on 9 April. (ICG)

On Khamenei’s Response to Obama. The move to the subject of US-Iran talks is abrupt and Khamenei makes clear that this is the only external issue with which he will deal, spending more than 20 minutes on it. It is a powerful speech, calmly delivered, and mostly devoid of usual jargon. He does talk about US policies that have harmed Iran and continue to harm it, including sanctions, freezing of assets, support for opposition and secessionist groups, and Baluchi insurgents – communications of whom with US operatives he says the Iranian government has intercepted. But he mentions these as reasons why mere conciliatory speeches cannot be considered real change in American policy. More significantly, he mentions them in order to explain why the continuation of these hostile policies has to make Iran wonder whether President Obama’s gestures are of any value. (Informed Comment Global Affairs)

US and Iranian Diplomats May Meet on Sidelines of SCO Meeting in Moscow. The US State Department has confirmed that a top American diplomat will be attending a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization being convened specifically to discuss the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan. A State Department spokesman did not rule out that the US diplomat would hold talks with Iranian officials on the sidelines of the meeting. (EurasiaNet)

Senior Palestinian official assassinated in Lebanon. A top Palestinian official and four bodyguards have been killed in a bombing at the Mieh Mieh refugee camp near the southern Lebanese coastal city of Sidon. Medhat was the deputy representative of the Palestine Liberation Organisation in Lebanon. He was also a former intelligence chief for the Fatah movement. (Deutsche Welle)

Rights group: IDF killed 16 medical workers during Gaza op. Israel Defense Forces soldiers did not consider medical teams as entitled to receive the special protection granted to them within the framework of their duties during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, according to a new report by Physicians for Human Rights due to be released on Monday. (Haaretz)

The Politics of Iraqi Oil. In the run-up to Parliamentary elections late this year – the results of which will determine the course of Iraq oil management for the foreseeable future – Iraq’s political leaders are jockeying for the direction of Iraq’s most important economic resource. (Iraq Oil Report)

EUROPE: Cold Breeze Sweeps the East. The region that liked to see itself as the engine of European economic growth and as immune to the global economic crisis is now being pointed to as the next to hit the slump. (IPS)

Abu Dhabi to become major Daimler shareholder. An Abu Dhabi based state investment fund has agreed to take a 9.1 percent stake in Germany’s Daimler auto group. The deal, to be approved at the annual shareholders meeting on April 9, will make Aabar Investments Daimler’s biggest shareholder, topping the 6.9 percent stake held by Kuwait. (Deutsche Welle)

Russia is Setting Up Military Bases in Abkhazia, South Ossetia. The commander of Russia’s ground forces, Gen. Vladimir Boldyrev, confirmed on March 20 that Russia is setting up military bases in the separatist territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. (EurasiaNet)

Ankara may allow US arms shipments via İncirlik base. There have been signals coming from Ankara that not only US troops but also their arms may be allowed to be transported via Turkish soil, i.e., via the İncirlik air base in the country’s south, Turkish government sources have said. (Today’s Zaman)

Pakistan: Balochistan seeks help against US drone attacks. Alarmed by the international media reports on expected US Drone attacks on Balochistan, the provincial assembly of the province yesterday passed a unanimous resolution and urged the federal government to help. (Gulf News)

Pakistan’s chief justice back at work after turmoil. Pakistan’s chief justice returned to his post yesterday after two years of protests over his ouster that aided the downfall of one government and pressured the current administration to yield to the opposition. (Hurriyet)

In Court, Mumbai Gunman Says He Is From Pakistan. The only gunman charged in last year’s terror attacks in Mumbai told an Indian court Monday, the first day of court proceedings, that he would agree to a government-provided lawyer and also repeated that he was a Pakistani national. (New York Times)

Iraq Seeks Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters. In July 2008, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced Iraq’s formal request to buy 24 helicopters. Based on the request, Iraq seems to be interested in Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters that act as scouts, perform light close air support, and escort other helicopters on dangerous missions. (Defense Industry Daily)

Lebanon’s election race intensifies as parties court allies. The race for seats in Lebanon’s June 7 parliamentary elections gained momentum over the weekend, as rival coalitions held electoral rallies and met for talks aimed at forming alliances ahead of the vote. (The Daily Star)

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