Home > News > News in Brief: 25 March 2009

News in Brief: 25 March 2009

A brief list of news clippings for the day:

Liquid war: Welcome to Pipelineistan. What happens on the immense battlefield for the control of Eurasia will provide the ultimate plot line in the tumultuous rush towards a new, polycentric world order, also known as the New Great Game. (Asia Times)

Gazprom Squeezed by Central Asian Contracts. What seemed like sweet deals with Central Asian energy producers just about a year ago is turning into albatross contracts for Gazprom, Russia’s suddenly embattled natural gas conglomerate. Political considerations seemed to play a role in state-controlled Gazprom’s decision to commit to paying top dollar for natural gas from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. (EurasiaNet)

War crimes charges mount against Israel. Allegations continue to mount that Israeli soldiers systematically committed war crimes during the 22-day military offensive in Gaza. Following leaked testimony from Israeli soldiers who said their comrades killed civilians in Gaza, the United Nations has issued a new report prepared by human rights investigators who said they unearthed scores of questionable incidents. (Checkpoint Jerusalem)

Israel’s Labour votes to work with Likud. Israel’s centre-left Labour party has voted to join a coalition government led by the right-wing Likud party. Ehud Barak is also to retain his position as defence minister. Netanyahu has already signed coalition deals with two far right Israeli parties. (Deutsche Welle)

Will Iraq become a super-charged Qatar? What kind of role Iraq might eventually play in Arab politics if its domestic politics continue along its current path (i.e. Shia-dominated, sort of democratic, no collapse into major violence) and if efforts such as Amr Moussa’s push to integrate Iraq into the Arab order succeed? I suggested that one plausible scenario is that it might become a kind of super-charged Qatar: an American ally which has good relations with Iran, a lot of oil money, some endemic problems with Saudi Arabia, and acts as a kind of swing vote in inter-Arab politics. (Marc Lynch)

Assad says Syria-Israel talks depend on clear U.S. position. A clear position by the United States on Israel-Syria peace negotiations is essential to progress in the talks, Syrian President Bashar Assad told a Lebanese daily in an interview published Wednesday. (Haaretz)

Caste politics come full circle. Though Brahmins sit at the top of India’s caste hierarchy, they make up only 5% of the population. After years on the sidelines, Brahmins are regaining their political relevance, widely courted by political parties to plot their way to victory in next month’s elections. (Asia Times)

Arab Unity? Yes on Kurds, No on Palestinians, Perhaps on Lebanon. Jordan’s King Abdullah and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad held talks in Amman on Friday, part of a flurry of diplomatic moves to close Arab ranks ahead of a summit later this month in Qatar, officials said. (Syria Comment)

The Iranian-Turkish Border: A Hazardous Haven for Smugglers. Smuggling along Turkey’s frontier with Iran is a low-reward, high-risk proposition, in which one of the occupational hazards is being shot at. But tough economic conditions in southeastern Turkey mean that there is no shortage of traffickers in illicit petrol. (EurasiaNet)

Pakistani police clash with protesters, 1 killed. Pakistani police fired assault rifles and tear gas to end a protest Wednesday by people displaced by a military operation against Taliban militants. (Gulf News / Agencies)

U.S. welcomes Turkey’s greenlight to help withdrawal from Iraq. Turkey’s signal this week that it would be willing to let U.S. troops transit the country as forces leave Iraq is a sign of improved relations, but it is not yet certain the route will be needed, a top U.S. Army commander said on Tuesday. (Hurriyet)

Iraq, Turkey gear up efforts to disarm PKK terrorist group. A landmark visit by President Abdullah Gül to neighboring Iraq has raised expectations for the eventual disarming of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), whose actions have cost tens of thousands of lives and poisoned bilateral relations between the two neighboring countries because of the organization’s presence in Iraqi territory. (Today’s Zaman)

KOSOVO: Parallel Serb Administration Challenged. An Albanian group has filed a lawsuit against parallel structures set up to administer ethnic Serbs within Kosovo. (IPS)

No-confidence vote brings down Czech government. The Czech Republic’s three-party coalition government must step down after losing a parliamentary no-confidence vote today over its handling of the economic crisis. (Guardian)

Chinese find opportunity in slumping U.S. real estate prices. Amid a U.S. real estate prices downturn, some wealthy Chinese are signing up for house-buying tours to the United States, and Chinese media tout the trend as another sign of the strength of the world’s third-largest economy. (McClatchy)

Bomb Kills 9 Civilians in Afghanistan. An explosive device ripped through a minibus on Wednesday, killing nine civilians and wounding seven others on a road frequently using by security forces and international troops in eastern Afghanistan, the police said. (New York Times)

Indian Navy docks three ships in Abu Dhabi. The Indian navy has docked three ships in Abu Dhabi to show case its capacity to train Indian and foreign naval personnel of friendly countries. (The Hindu)

The Problem of Idealism and Realism in Foreign Diplomacy. In post-revolution Iran, leaders and thinkers have introduced and sought realization of the ideals and mottos of the Islamic uprising, though in practice, they have inevitably turned towards realism. The thirty-year experience since 1979 in our foreign diplomacy signals conceptual chaos, fluctuating between ’ideals’ and ’realities’, without a clear positioning for them in either theory or practice. The present article intends to illustrate this chaos and propose a new model. (Iranian Diplomacy)

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