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News in Brief: 27 April 2009

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A brief list of news clippings for the day:

Iraqi government claims U.S. raid violated agreement. An early morning U.S. raid that left two Iraqis dead was launched without Iraq’s permission, a serious violation of the rules that are supposed to govern American military conduct here, the Iraqi government said Sunday. (McClatchy)

US promotes Iran in energy market. Washington, under a new energy czar, is leaving no option unexplored. This includes touting the benefits of Iranian involvement in a 3,300 kilometer-long pipeline from the Caspian via Turkey to Austria that would reduce the European Union’s growing dependence on Russian energy. Evidently, Iran anticipated the inevitability of such a shift in US thinking. (Asia Times)

Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan discuss trilateral cooperation. Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran are holding their first trilateral ministerial meeting in Kabul to discuss a number of regional issues, including strategies to counter terrorism, narcotics and enhance relations between the three countries. (Dawn)

Turkmenistan: The Bell Tolls for Gazprom’s Dominance of Caspian Energy Market. The outcome of a two-day energy security conference, which concluded April 24 in the Turkmen capital of Ashgabat, has to be considered a disaster for Russia’s energy policy. The Kremlin-controlled conglomerate Gazprom currently enjoys a near-monopoly of Turkmen natural gas exports. But as a dispute between Ashgabat and Moscow over responsibility for an early April pipeline explosion continues to fester, Turkmen leader Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov used the conference to proclaim Turkmenistan’s energy independence from Russia. (EurasiaNet)

Pakistan goes its own pace on militants. Despite violations – the most recent being in the Swat area this weekend – Pakistan is adamant it will stick to its counter-insurgency policy of making selected peace deals in the tribal areas, and it will not be drawn into any major United States-inspired grand campaigns. (Asia Times)

Pakistani Paramilitary Force Tries to Stem Advance of the Taliban. The operation killed 30 militants and one paramilitary soldier, Pakistan’s Interior Ministry said. (New York Times)

Brown in Afghanistan to push for new regional strategy. Officials travelling with Brown said the new strategy, to be published on Wednesday, will echo a plan unveiled by the new US administration of President Barack Obama in calling for a tight focus on fighting Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants. (Dawn)

Armenia: Many in Yerevan are Wary of the “Road Map” for Normalizing Ties with Turkey. The April 23 announcement of “tangible progress” in normalizing relations between Armenia and Turkey has sparked deep concern in Yerevan that the Armenian government has made “dangerous” compromises on the Nagorno-Karabakh peace talks and on efforts to secure international recognition of an Ottoman Turk massacre of ethnic Armenians as genocide. (EurasiaNet)

Armenian party quits ruling coalition over Turkey thaw. An influential Armenian nationalist party said on Monday that it had left the country’s ruling coalition over moves by Turkey and Armenia to mend ties, broadcaster NTV reported. (Hurriyet)

Is Clinton’s Visit to Lebanon a Challange to Syria or just a pep rally? Is Clinton’s Visit to Lebanon tantamount to throwing down the gauntlet? Is it a challenge to the Lebanese not to vote for March 8 and notice to Syria to help throw the elections in Hariri’s favor if it wants engagement, relief from sanctions, and help with Israel? (Syria Comment)

Clinton in Beirut, hints at post-June 7 US policy towards Lebanon? Yesterday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton paid a surprise visit to Lebanon following her visit to Iraq… the important question is what will be the status of US aid to Lebanon (over 1 billion US dollars since the 2006 war) should March 8 win a majority of seats in Parliament on June 7. (Ex Oriente Lux?)

Policy review in Israel. Israel’s new Prime Minister “Bibi” Netanyahu faces an interesting dilemma. As the visit of Hillary Clinton has illustrated, the Bush days of Israel-right-or-wrong may be ending. The U.S. is pushing for a two-state solution, which is anthema to Netanyahu and his government. (From the field)

Clinton: U.S. could deal with P.A. gov’t that includes Hamas. The Obama administration said it would deal with a Palestinian government that includes Hamas if the government were committed to peace. “We have made it clear we will only work with a Palestinian Authority government that unambiguously and explicitly accepts the Quartet’s principles — a commitment to nonviolence, recognition of Israel and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the road map,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham said Thursday in testimony before the foreign operations subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee. “In the event of any Hamas participation of any sort in this coalition, this would apply if the government, representing all of its agencies and instrumentalities, accepts these principles.” (JTA)

France ‘concerned’ at expansion of West Bank settlement. France expressed “great concern” at a proposed Israeli plan to expand Ma’ale Adumim, the 30,000-resident Israeli settlement in the heart of the occupied West Bank, AFP reported. (Ma’an)

Iran ‘ready to back Mideast peace deal’. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said it would be “fine with us” if the Palestinians reach a “two state” peace deal with Israel, despite his opposition to the “racist” Jewish nation. The firebrand leader, in an interview broadcast Sunday with US network ABC, appeared unhappy with President Barack Obama’s failure to return a message of greetings and said nuclear negotiations could only proceed with a clear agenda. (Khaleej Times / AFP)

Turkey and Syria conduct military drill. The Turkish military said it launched a joint drill with Syrian soldiers on their shared border on Monday in order to improve security. (Gulf News)

Ergenekon weapons discovery puts Turkish military in tough spot. Various supplies of munitions have been found hidden in shanty houses or buried underground since the start of the investigation into Ergenekon, a clandestine group charged with plotting to overthrow the government, which apparently have been taken out of the arms depots of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), but the military has been quiet on these discoveries for the most part, other than denying that it had anything to do with hiding the weapons. (Today’s Zaman)

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