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News in Brief: 30 April 2009

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A brief list of news clippings for the day:

Turkey’s Top Officer Denies Plot to Topple Government. Turkey’s military chief denied Wednesday that the military had been plotting to overthrow the government, mounting a public defense of the institution after months of a conspiracy trial whose key suspects include former army officers. In a rare news conference that lasted over two hours, the officer, Gen. Ilker Basbug, the chief of Turkey’s General Staff, said that the military supported Turkish democracy and that it had not been plotting to overthrow the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the central charge in the trial that began last year. (New York Times)

Insurgents defy Thai military surge. A new wave of deadly violence has swept through Thailand’s restive south, with arson attacks, roadside bombs and ambushes on military patrols killing some 12 soldiers and civilians. A coordinated offensive, the attacks seem timed to coincide with the fifth anniversary of an alleged mosque massacre by Thai soldiers, and come just as the army was claiming a troop surge had “dramatically improved” the situation. (Asia Times)

Iran expecting Pakistani moves on IPI. Iranian authorities are expecting a delegation from Pakistan to soon hammer out the final details of a 1,724-mile gas pipeline from the South Pars field. Iranian special envoy to the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline Hojjatollah Ghanimifard said he received a written letter from Islamabad accepting Iranian pricing terms on gas exports from Iran, the Petroenergy Information Network in Iran reports. (UPI)

Chinese to enter Indian car market. Two biggies Chery Automobile and Great Wall Motors are planning to enter India soon through joint ventures. Chinese carmakers are shifting focus from their main markets like US and Europe as volumes there are shrinking due to the global slowdown. At the same time, India’s rising status as one of the fastest-growing car markets in the world, spells opportunities. (Times of India)

Attacks Across Baghdad Leave At Least 48 Dead, Scores Injured. Five car bombs and a roadside bomb exploded in Baghdad on Wednesday, killing at least 48 people, the latest in a series of attacks that appear designed to discredit Iraq’s security forces as the U.S. military starts to withdraw from urban areas. (Washington Post)

April bloodiest month in Iraq in a year as security plummets. In Baghdad alone, more than 200 people have been killed in attacks so far this month, compared with 99 last month and 46 in February, according to a McClatchy count. (McClatchy)

Hamas Gaining International Legitimacy. Delegations from the rival Fatah and Hamas organisations have again failed in Cairo to bridge their differences meant to usher in a Palestinian unity government, but this has in no way slowed inroads which the Islamist movement has been making to increase its international legitimacy – much to Israel’s concern. (IPS)

Chaos fear after President Abdullahi Yusuf of Somalia resigns. President Yusuf of Somalia resigned after a power struggle. The move could cause further chaos in the near-lawless country as Islamists linked to al-Qaeda scramble for power. “Most of the country is not in our hands,” he said. Troops from neighbouring Ethiopia, which had propped up the Government, are to pull out this week. (Times / AP)

The Tribunal is Dead! Long Live the Tribunal! The supporters of March 14th are not loving life today, despite Saad al-Hariri’s efforts to spin the news of the four generals’ release as a confirmation of the tribunal’s transparency… it is looking increasingly unlikely that a finger will be pointed anywhere near the Syrian regime. Daniel Bellemare, whose deliberate manner and aversion to grandstanding endeared him to the opposition (even as it frustrated March 14th stalwarts), has apparently assembled a huge dossier of evidence on somebody or some group. There will be an answer at some point, but probably not the answer that March 14th is looking for. (Qifa Nabki)

So far, so good. India’s five-phase elections have entered the crucial third round, which covers 107 constituencies in 11 states and two territories. But the issues of who will form the next government and who will be the next prime minister are far from settled, as some very unusual turnout trends have emerged. (Asia Times)

US journalist could apply for amnesty: Iran. Iran’s attorney general suggested Wednesday that Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi could apply for amnesty, ISNA news agency reported. Ghorban-Ali Dorri-Najafabadi said that Saberi could apply for amnesty from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (Khaleej Times / DPA)

Central Asian Leaders Clash over Water at Aral Sea Summit. A summit on the future of the shrinking Aral Sea ended in Almaty without making any tangible progress on resuscitating the endangered sea. If anything, the meeting succeeded only in stoking acrimony among participants on the water-use issue. (EurasiaNet)

EGYPT: Market Crash Crushes the Poor. Egyptians facing economic hardship know how tough it can be to put food on their table. Now they have also learned the cold, hard reality of the capital market. (IPS)

Former IRGC chief’s presidential bid. Former commander of the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps Mohsen Rezaei officially announced his bid for Iran’s presidency Wednesday on the Principlist ticket. (UPI)

Pakistan’s Army, The Taliban, and Washington. Pakistan’s army continues to face challenges, not the least of which is the growing insurrection by Taliban and Taliban-supporting tribesmen in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) abutting Afghanistan. There has of late been much international criticism of the army for allegedly failing to take action against militants, and according to London’s Financial Times on April 26, Hillary Clinton “expressed bewilderment that one of the world’s largest armies appeared unable to confront dozens of militants.” First of all there are not “dozens” of militants : there are many thousands, most if not all encouraged into insurrection as a result of the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001-2002. Senior officers in Pakistan are extremely angry concerning the accusation that the army is “not doing enough” and it is a fact that since 2002 the army and the para-military Frontier Corps have suffered over 1800 killed and three times that number wounded in battles with insurgents, which is hardly an indication that there has not been action against them. (Informed Comment)

Clinton articulates policy regarding Hamas. SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as you’ve heard from us in the last nearly 100 days we will not deal with Hamas unless they renounce violence, recognize Israel, and agree to abide by prior Palestinian Authority agreements. We do not in any way support the kind of extremists that you see. What we are looking for is to separate out those who are, as we found in Iraq, part of an armed campaign for political reasons that can be reconcilable. (The Cable)

EUROPE: Uncovering the Veil Over ‘CIA Prison’. An official investigation shows that it is more and more likely that a CIA prison existed in Poland at the height of the “war on terror”. (IPS)

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