Home > News > News in Brief: 8 September 2009

News in Brief: 8 September 2009

A brief list of news for the day:

Afghan war reaches a tipping point. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s air strikes in the northern province of Kunduz on Friday, which killed or injured more than 100 people, have left Afghan blood equally on the hands of all NATO countries. The incident shows this is no mere fight against terrorism; it is about NATO’s role as a global political organization and the “unfinished business” of the Cold War – as well as about defining the new world order. (Asia Times)

Escape from Dependency: An Agenda for Transforming the Structure of Japanese Security and the US-Japan Relationship. Anticipating the August 2009 electoral victory of the Democratic Party of Japan, which has promised to adopt a more assertive stance toward Washington, in July 2009 defense specialist Maeda Tetsuo presented concrete set of proposals for transforming the Japan-U.S. security relationship and paving the way for a more proactive Japanese role in Eastern Asia. These proposals have taken on more immediate relevance since the election, which swept the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party from office in a landslide. (Japan Focus)

Civilians killed in Somali clashes. Eight Somali civilians, including at least two children, have been killed and more than 25 others wounded, following clashes between government forces and fighters in the Somali capital. The fighting in Mogadishu began on Monday after anti-government groups launched a number of attacks on posts where government and African Union troops were stationed. (Al Jazeera)

Suicide attack on Kabul military airport: ISAF. A suicide bomber exploded a car outside Kabul’s military airport Tuesday, killing two Afghan civilians and wounding 10 people including four foreign soldiers, officials said. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the incident, the second suicide attack targeting the airbase in less than a month. (Dawn)

Charity says US troops stormed Afghan hospital. The U.S. military faced more criticism in Afghanistan on Monday as a charity accused American soldiers of storming through a provincial hospital, breaking down doors and tying up staff and visitors in a hunt for insurgents… The American military said it was investigating the allegation, which comes on the heels of a furor over disputed reports that up to 70 Afghan civilians died in a NATO airstrike in the country’s north last week. (AP)

Partial recount ordered in Afghanistan election. A partial recount was ordered today in Afghanistan’s troubled presidential elections after observers found “clear and convincing evidence of fraud” at a number of polling stations. Recounts would be conducted at polling stations recording 100% turnout or votes for any presidential candidate of more than 95%, it said. Widespread allegations of ballot-box stuffing and suspicious tallies are threatening the legitimacy of the 20 August vote. The commission comprises three international members appointed by the UN and two Afghans.

366 Israeli flats to rise in West Bank. Israel has officially approved construction of 366 new apartments in the West Bank. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Monday that he intends to approve about 84 more soon. This the first new construction that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has approved since taking office in March. (AP / Gulf News)

Israel’s illegal Palestinian workforce. Israel has handed out 21,600 work permits to Palestinians. But an estimated 40,000 risk their lives to enter the country and work illegally. (Reuters / Telegraph)

Armenia, Turkey Prepare to Open Border. After 16 years of severed ties, Armenia and Turkey appear to be on the cusp of re-opening their border and re-establishing diplomatic relations. (EurasiaNet)

Iraqi Party Demonstrates Against Syria as Regional Tensions remain High. Al-Zaman also says that Iraqi Vice President Adil Abdul Mahdi (of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq [ISCI]) opposes al-Maliki’s hard line tactics and public reprimands of Syria and thinks a more collegial approach would yield more results. The issue of positioning Syria is clearly becoming part of the electoral contest between the ISCI-led Iraqi National Alliance coalition and the rival Islamic Mission Party among Iraqi Shiites. (Informed Comment)

Gates: Arabs should strengthen armies to counter Iran threat. The United States’ allies in the Arab world should boost their military capabilities to deter Iran from seeking nuclear weapons, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday in an interview with Al-Jazeera… He was responding to a question on reported arms sales to Israel and Arab states that reportedly total dozens of billions of dollars. (Haaretz)

Iran: Is Commander Jafari Stupid? Tehran is buzzing about a speech by Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the commander of Islamic Revolution’s Guard Corps (IRGC) that was made public on September 2 by Fars News, a hard-line news agency. It was delivered in front of some of the early military leaders of the Iran-Iraq War and elicited immediate sharp responses. First and foremost was Jafari’s open acknowledgment that at least since February 2009, well before the June election, the IRGC was closely monitoring the reformists of all hue in order to keep in check their presumed efforts to weaken or undermine the office of the leader (rahbari) Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Jafari’s second admission – and this one quite explicit – was that in his mind, there is really no difference between a change in the policy direction of the country – change of behavior he called it – and regime change. (Informed Comment: Global Affairs)

Saad Hariri Takes the Plunge. Saad al-Hariri has finally put together a cabinet proposal and submitted it to President Suleiman for approval. The response from the Free Patriotic Movement has been predictably hostile, with General Aoun calling all FPM ministers-designate to boycott the new cabinet, which reportedly gives the party five seats including (sources say) the Industry, Social Affairs, Public Works, and Education portfolios. (Qifa Nabki)

Bush White House Sought to Soften Treaty on ‘Enforced Disappearances’. From 2003 to 2006, the Bush administration quietly tried to relax the draft language of a treaty meant to bar and punish “enforced disappearances” so that those overseeing the CIA’s secret prison system would not be criminally prosecuted under its provisions, according to former officials and hundreds of pages of documents recently declassified by the State Department. (Washington Post)

The Great Cop-Out. So there will be no reckoning. There will be no firm restraint, no punishment, no measure sufficient to prevent a repetition of the crash. The only people who will not be harmed by the banking crisis are the bankers who caused it. At the G20 meeting in London on Saturday finance ministers and central bankers put their great heads together and decided to do next to nothing. (Monbiot.com)

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