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News in Brief: 13 April 2009

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A brief list of news clippings for the day:

More German firms turn to cooperatives in tough economic times. While many companies face serious difficulties in the current economic slump, the number of cooperative foundations in Germany is increasing. The business model is seen to provide stability and security in tough times. (Deutsche Welle)

Turkey Detains Academics On Links To Plot Case. Turkish police detained the head of a university and two former heads on April 13 in connection with an alleged plot to overthrow the government, the state-run Anatolian news agency said. (RFE/RL)

Egypt anger over Iran likely led to Hezbollah spat. The open confrontation between Egypt and Hezbollah intensified a bit more on Sunday after the general prosecutor in Cairo said he is considering indicting Hassan Nasrallah for running terrorist cells in Egypt and inciting against the state. The idea is to try Nasrallah in absentia and turn him into a wanted terrorist whose extradition can be demanded if he is convicted. Or Egypt will be able to go after him itself. But it would be unusual for charges to be brought against Nasrallah; an Arab state would be indicting the head of an organization that is part of another Arab state’s leadership. (Haaretz)

Egypt hunts ‘Hezbollah agents’. Egyptian police are searching for 10 alleged Hezbollah agents who they believe are hiding out in the Sinai peninsula, a security official said. (Al Jazeera)

The Age of Nasrallah. There have been several articles in the mainstream press of late, dealing with the Hizb’s changing image in Lebanon and abroad. Mohanad Hage Ali, writing in The Guardian (”Hezbollah’s Political Evolution“) argues that “political engagement has seen Hezbollah change from a revolutionary party that once believed in establishing an Islamic state in Lebanon, into a political group involved in daily governmental politics, unions, and concerned with its supporters’ demands.” (Qifa Nabki)

Thailand: After ASEAN Summit Fiasco, Summer of Discontent Looms. The dramatic scenes that unfolded at a regional summit forcing its cancellation Apr. 11 point to a disturbing possibility that this kingdom is heading for a long period of turmoil – pitting the conservative political establishment against the rage of the urban and provincial poor. (IPS)

Turkmenistan: Gas Blast Ignites Turkmen-Russian Row. In a row with important implications for European Union energy issues, Turkmenistan has accused Russia’s energy behemoth of “egregious” behavior by allegedly engineering a pipeline explosion that disrupted exports from the Central Asian nation. Russian experts have attributed the incident to Turkmen negligence and worn-out infrastructure. Whatever the cause, the Caspian Basin’s key energy relationship has hit a rocky patch. (Eurasianet)

Taliban announces enforcement of Sharia in Bajaur Agency. The Taliban on April 10 announced the enforcement of Sharia (Islamic law) in the Bajaur Agency of FATA and stopped women from going outside without male relatives, banned shaving of beard and warned the people against availing assistance from the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP). (Afghan Citizen)

Militants torch trucks along Nato supply line. About 150 militants armed with rockets and automatic weapons attacked a transport terminal in northwestern Pakistan that lies along a key supply route used by US and Nato troops, wounding three guards and torching eight cement trucks on Sunday, police said. Militants in Pakistan frequently attack cargo terminals and other stops used by vehicles taking supplies to Western troops in Afghanistan through the legendary Khyber Pass. (Gulf News / AP)

Ray Close on the Golan. Current Israeli leadership Doesn’t Seriously Consider Returning Golan, Writes Ray Close in an email. I was the CIA Station Chief in Saudi Arabia from 1970 to 1977. During the height of intensive shuttle diplomacy following the Yom Kippur War, Henry Kissinger made one of his frequent visits to Riyadh to brief King Faisal… (Syria Comment)

Booby-trapped boat detonates near Israeli ship. A booby-trapped fishing boat exploded near an Israeli navy ship near the Gaza Strip coast on Monday, according to Israeli sources. (Ma’an)

Stephen Walt on Pressing Netanyahu. Harvard Professor and Realist thinker Stephen Walt looks at eight ways by which the Obama administration, if it wishes, could exert pressure on Israel for concessions on the Palestinian track and the many other “wedge” issues that are likely to separate it from Netanyahu and his new government. (Jim Lobe)

Foreign policy maze ahead of Obama. It’s no surprise that President Obama’s foreign policy challenges are unsavoury, diverse and numerous, but most worrisome is the degree to which they overlap in the worst ways possible. For Americans, our allies’ concerns, our enemies’ threats and victims’ pleas are inextricably tied to one another — by nature, or the hand of political leaders and institutions across the globe. Solving one problem seems impossible without solving the rest, or at least pretending to do so. (Le Monde Diplomatique)

Four Lebanese Soldiers Killed in Ambush. Gunmen ambushed Lebanese troops in the east of the country on Monday, spraying their military vehicle with gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades, a senior military official said. Four soldiers were killed and an officer was wounded in the attack. (New York Times)

Sri Lanka suspends offensive for two days. Sri Lanka’s army began two-day cease-fire Monday, halting offenses against the cornered Tamil Tiger rebels and advising thousands of trapped civilians to use the pause to escape the war zone, the military said. (The Independent / AP)

Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism: China’s May Fourth Movement. As an historian of modern China and as an engaged member of the lively, and often rancorous, intellectual community of thinkers and writers living in the People’s Republic, Xu Jilin is acutely aware of the clashing histories and legacies of the May Fourth Movement. In his new essay Xu powerfully contrasts the contending traditions of patriotism within China and, in effect, speaks to the new tide of globalised Chinese nationalism that reached a crescendo during the March-April 2008 worldwide protests during the Olympic Torch Relay. (Japan Focus)

Captain’s Rescue Revives Debate Over Arming Crews. A spate of attacks on ships off Somalia and the rescue Sunday of an American captain held hostage by pirates have reinvigorated a long-simmering debate over whether the crews of commercial vessels should be armed. (New York Times)

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