Home > News > News in Brief: 30 May 2009

News in Brief: 30 May 2009

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A brief list of news clippings for the day:

Legal advice from the Taliban. It is not news that swaths of Afghanistan — particularly rural Pashtun areas in the south — now fall under the influence of the Taliban’s “shadow government.” What has been overlooked is why. Force certainly plays a part as the Taliban conquers new territory. But it’s the insurgents’ management structure — one that supplements rather than supplants existing tribal structures — that explains the Taliban’s staying power. NATO and Kabul aren’t being outfought in Helmand; they’re being outgoverned. (The Argument)

The Hidden Finances of Insurgency. For a while, I’ve been openly skeptical of the claim that opium cultivation in an of itself is “driving” the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan. For one, it assumes a direction of causation that is merely stated and never argued; for another, it creates the impression that, if only there were no opium, neither would there be a Taliban… But even if they derive money from collaborating with the drug lords, the Taliban’s funding has almost never been even mostly come from the opium trade. Indeed, reaching back far into the 1990s, it was obvious even then that most of their money came either directly from certain national intelligence services (namely Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE), or from the donations of wealthy private individuals through a system called hawala. (Registan)

Kunduz governor wounded as Afghanistan violence kills 17. A roadside bomb in northern Afghanistan wounded the governor of Kunduz province on Saturday, while violence around the country killed 17 people, officials said. The bomb detonated on the main highway in Kunduz province, and shattered glass slightly wounded Gov. Mohammad Omar, said his spokesman, Ahmad Sami Yawar. (Dawn)

The sickly sweet smell of paradise in Gaza. The war is over, and finally the Samouni family can retrieve and bury twenty-nine relatives from the wreckage of their home. I am in the Zeitoun neighborhood on a sunny day, heading toward what’s left of their house… (Checkpoint Jerusalem)

Li Bin on Strategic Stability. Classic arms control theory predicts that when a nuclear country is going to lose a conventional war and does not worry about nuclear relation, the possibility saving the situation with a nuclear attack is great. But the Korean, Vietnam and Afghan wars all demonstrate that this prediction does not reflect actual conditions in international society. The theory of the nuclear taboo in constructivist theory postulates a norm in international society against the use of nuclear weapons, a norm known as the nuclear taboo. (Arms Control Wonk)

A Helping Chinese Hand: Trade and Aid with Southeast Asia. Long applying a carrot and stick approach to winning diplomatic allies in a sometimes ludicrous contest with Taiwan over diplomatic recognition, today China strives to establish itself as a “status quo” player in the international arena. “Softpower” replaces ideological approaches to the world, as in the sponsorship of scores of Confucius Institutes throughout the world, in hosting the Olympic Games, and even through the advent of mass Chinese tourism. “Resource diplomacy,” that is the quest to secure natural resources, is emblematic of the scale of China’s economic reach. At the same time, China is increasing participation in international peacekeeping missions, notably the dispatch of civilian police to such locations as East Timor, Haiti, and Lebanon. (Japan Focus)

Oil Moving Back Up. On my latest trip to Amsterdam this week I saw 19 oil tankers parked off the coast in the North Sea (ironically next to a Dutch offshore wind farm). These tankers are being used for floating storage due to the glut of oil in the market. Despite this, oil prices have been on a steady climb. Oil passed $66 today – despite a global recession and all of that oil parked offshore. The Wall Street Journal thinks we are headed back to $75. (R-Squared Energy Blog)

Iraq Oil: Between The Centre And The Region. No doubt many Iraqis have been following the recent declaration of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG’s) Minister of Natural Resources, Ashti Hawrami, published in the Iraq Oil Report of 14 May concerning the Iraqi government’s agreement to allow the export of oil produced by international oil companies (IOCs) under the sole jurisdiction of the KRG, based on contracts which the Iraqi central Ministry of Oil considers illegal and over which Mr Hawrami also chose to attack Iraq´s Minister of Oil, Husain al-Shahristani. Under normal circumstances such a significant decision might have become a cause for celebration, as it could have lead to serious dialogue to resolve the calamitous issue of the stalled petroleum law, which has become a main contributor to the stagnation of our oil industry in recent years. The issue is not a trivial one. It concerns the source of almost all the central government’s budget for now and a good many years to come. For this reason it is surprising that it has been given little attention by our governing institutions and decision-makers. (Middle East Economic Survey)

Barzani insists Kirkuk part of Kurdish region. Iraq’s disputed city of Kirkuk and its oil reserves belong to the Kurdish region, Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani said on Thursday when he met with Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht in Arbil, northern Iraq. (Today’s Zaman)

‘Fleeing’ ex-Iraq minister arrested. Abdel Falah al-Sudani, Iraq’s former trade minister who resigned last week amid a corruption scandal, has been arrested at Baghdad airport while trying to flee the country, a senior Iraqi official has said. (Al Jazeera)

Obama blocks publication of Abu Ghraib photos. After the US administration agreed to publish photos of Iraqi detainees’ torture in US prisons, US President Barack Obama reversed the decision and asked a federal appeals court to block the publication of images showing detainee abuse, citing concern it could incite violence in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Alsumaria)

Ahmadinejad nuclear policy has harmed Iran – think tank. An Iranian research centre has criticised hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s nuclear policy, saying it has harmed the country. The Centre for Strategic Research, a moderate group led by former top nuclear negotiator Hasan Rowhani, has accused the president of “distorting facts” to boost chances in upcoming elections. (Gulf News / AP)

Iran hangs 3 over Friday mosque bombing – report. Iran executed in public three men convicted of involvement in a deadly mosque bombing in the southeast of the country, the official IRNA news agency reported on Saturday. (Gulf News)

Gates calls for tough sanctions on North Korea, Iran. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Saturday compared North Korea’s nuclear program to Iran’s and called for tough sanctions against both countries that bring home real pain for their failure to adhere to international norms. (Haaretz)

Russia Joining, Joining… After years of negotiations on joining the WTO, Russia is still far from meeting the requirements set forth by the organisation. (IPS)

Turkish President Urges Kyrgyz Help In Afghanistan. Turkish President Abdullah Gul called on Kyrgyzstan to actively participate in helping stabilize Afghanistan. (RFE/RL)

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