Home > News > News in Brief: 9 September 2009

News in Brief: 9 September 2009

A brief list of news for the day:

Partial recount order clouds Karzai victory. Afghan election returns released on Tuesday put incumbent Hamid Karzai on course for a single round victory, but a UN-backed watchdog said it had found ‘clear and convincing evidence of fraud’ and ordered a partial recount… With 91.6 per cent of polling stations counted, the Independent Election Commission reported Karzai ahead with 54.1 per cent of the vote to 28.3 per cent for his main challenger, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah. (Dawn)

Afghanistan: Northern Distribution Network Grapples With Growing Security Threat. The escalating insurgency in northern Afghanistan is threatening American and NATO efforts to develop the Northern Distribution Network (NDN). As the NDN gains greater strategic importance, observers warn it will increasingly become the focus of attacks. And such potential strikes could have consequences for Afghanistan’s northern neighbors in Central Asia. (EurasiaNet)

Chinese students take to the hills. In a wave similar to the rural exodus of the Cultural Revolution, thousands of Chinese students are leaving the cities to work in the countryside. This time, the program’s goals are very different, with a focus on spreading urban know-how and deflecting attention from the dire graduate employment situation. (Asia Times)

Maliki purge of top Iraqi security officials creates a storm. Government critics and independent legislators accused Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki on Tuesday of launching a purge of senior security officials in order to weaken political rivals ahead of winter elections. Maliki ordered the dismissals of at least three senior officials from the Interior Ministry over the weekend… (McClatchy)

After the Crackdown: The Iran Democracy Fund. The Iran Democracy Fund, launched by the Bush administration in 2006, has been controversial from the beginning, and has faced myriad crosscutting pressures that have nearly succeeded in shutting the program down. In a surprise move by the Bush administration, the fund was awarded $75 million through a supplemental budget request for Iraq and Afghanistan for the 2006 fiscal year… Despite its initial opposition, Congress ultimately appropriated $66 million for two separate programs. The majority of the funds, $36 million, was directly appropriated to the Broadcasting Board of Governors for international broadcasting to Iran. Since then, Congress has continued to give significant sums to expand Voice of America’s (VOA) Persian service and Radio Farda, but to limited effect. The more controversial program involved the remaining $30 million, which was distributed by the State Department as follows: $5 million to the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs for student and other exchanges, $5 million to International Information Programs to develop new State Department Farsi-language websites, and $20 million to the Bureau of Near East Affairs (NEA), working together with the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL), to support civil society and other related programs. (The Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

Dubai needs a long-term plan to tackle the debt mountain. A year since the bottom fell out of the credit markets, the legacy of boom-time borrowing continues to weigh heavily on Dubai… The emirate’s debt service burden rises still further in 2010 and 2011. Nevertheless, the gloom that descended over Dubai’s short-term prospects at the start of the year is lifting. The bond programme enjoys Abu Dhabi’s implicit support. Oil has been above $70 a barrel since the start of August and is likely to stay there. Confidence is rising that Dubai will meet its immediate financial obligations. People are now foucusing on the long term. On 22 August, EFG-Hermes reported that Dubai’s debts totaled $84bn… (MEED)

[Transcript of US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates interview with Al Jazeera on Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Iran]

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