Home > News > News in Brief: 14 October 2009

News in Brief: 14 October 2009

A brief list of news for the day;

Al-Qaeda’s guerrilla chief lays out strategy. The top field commander of al-Qaeda, in an exclusive interview with Asia Times Online, proves he is alive and well after repeated drone attacks and delineates in broad strokes al-Qaeda’s strategy. The Afghanistan trap, baited on September 11, 2001, has been sprung, says formidable guerrilla leader Ilyas Kashmiri, and events from Gaza to Mumbai should not be seen in isolation but as part of the master plan to bloody the United States and its proxies. (Asia Times)

Afghanistan: Central Asian States Now Allowing Military Cargo Bound for US, NATO Forces. Signaling a sense of strategic urgency to counter recent Taliban gains, the Northern Distribution Network is being adapted to handle the transit of weaponry and hardware destined for US and NATO troops fighting in Afghanistan. The Northern Distribution Network (NDN) started out as a conduit for non-military supplies, including humanitarian assistance and reconstruction materials. But with the strategic situation for US and NATO troops in Afghanistan becoming more challenging, the scope of NDN’s operations is expanding. The United States has secured “lethal transit” deals with Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, Tom Tanner, the US embassy spokesman in Astana told EurasiaNet on October 13. Both the Kyrgyz Ministry of Defense and the US Embassy in Bishkek confirmed earlier that the Manas Transit Center is facilitating the shipment of military freight going to Afghanistan. (EurasiaNet)

Syria to hold exercises with Turkey. Syria has said it will hold military exercises with Turkey, less than a week after Ankara cancelled an air exercise with Israel. The announcement came after officials from Ankara and Damascus held the first meeting of a new co-operation council in the Syrian city of Aleppo aimed at ending years of tension between the two neighbours… Israel, which has enjoyed close military co-operation with Turkey as well as bilateral trade worth nearly $3bn, has urged Ankara to consider cooling ties with Hamas and Iran, with Erdogan set to visit Tehran later this month. (Al Jazeera)

Russia rejects, for now, talk about sanctions against Iran. If Hillary Clinton was hoping to win Russian support for efforts to use a threat of sanctions to pressure Iran come clean about its nuclear ambitions, her first trip to Moscow as secretary of state got off to a rocky start Tuesday. Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said that economic sanctions or similar moves during the current standoff with Iran about its nuclear program would be “counterproductive.”Clinton’s response was measured — she said that America also wants to pursue dialogue with Iran — but her remarks made it clear that Tehran’s gestures have yet to convince the Obama administration that Iran is willing to negotiate. (McClatchy)

Japan and the United Arab Emirates – A Nuclear Family? Concerned about the sustainability of its oil and gas reserves, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been taking steps to diversify its economy and reduce its dependence on natural resource exports. The most eye-catching of these changes has been the rapid development of Dubai as a finance, services and travel hub in the last decade. A further plank in this strategy has recently been revealed: UAE plans to embark upon a nuclear power programme. Emphasising transparency and close cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it hopes to have the first of its reactors on line by 2017. (Japan Focus)

Karroubi is targeted by Tehran’s hardliners. Iranian authorities have opened an investigation into the former presidential candidate Mahdi Karroubi, a report said yesterday, in a possible first step toward unleashing the judiciary on opposition leaders. No formal charges have been filed, but the inquiry signals that Iran’s leadership could use the courts against the most senior dissenters, whose claims include widespread vote fraud in June’s disputed presidential elections and abuses by security forces against protesters in the violent aftermath. (The Independent)

Iraq neighbouring states Interior ministers convene today in Sharm el-Sheikh. The interior ministers of Iraq’s neighbouring states on Wednesday, October 14, 2009, in the Egyptian Sharm al-Sheikh City, will hold their 6th meeting. The meeting will discuss a security strategy to fight terrorism and take measures to prevent criminals from infiltrating into Iraq and exchange of information on the terrorist organizations, in addition to signing a security protocol among the eight countries for cooperation in the field of fighting terrorism and border control, as well as discuss the strengthening of cooperation and security coordination. (PUK Media)

Politicians upbeat on cabinet prospects. Lebanese political parties sounded an upbeat not on Tuesday regarding the prospects of a breakthrough in the cabinet formation. Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri is expected to meet leaders of the parliamentary majority in the upcoming days. Hariri on Tuesday night held discussions with representatives of Hizbullah and the Amal Movement after progress during talks with Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) leader MP Michel Aoun on Monday. (The Daily Star)

“To Protect Japan’s Peace We Need Guns and Rockets:” The Military Uses of Popular Culture in Current-day Japan. While popular culture across the political spectrum has dealt with the imperial armed forces and the Asia-Pacific War (Penney 2008, Gerow 2006), it has been hesitant to embrace the Self-Defense Forces, however, the Self-Defense Forces’ public relations apparatus has long acknowledged the power of popular culture. This essay is about how the Self-Defense Forces tap into Japan’s popular culture and try to fill a void of military representation by employing the techniques and strategies of popular cultural production in their public relations, image-making and self-presentation efforts. (Japan Focus)

MQ-9 Reaper: The First Operational UCAV? The MQ-9 Reaper, once called “Predator B,” is somewhat similar to the Predator. Until you look at the tail. Or its size. Or its weapons. It’s called “Reaper” for a reason – while it packs the same surveillance gear, it’s much more of a hunter-killer design. Its 6 pylons can carry GPS-guided JDAM family bombs, Paveway laser-guided bombs, Sidewinder missiles for air-air self defense, and other MIL STD 1760 compatible weapons, in addition to the Hellfire anti-armor missiles carried by the Predator. When loaded up with laser-guided Hydra rockets, the Reaper becomes the equivalent of a close air support fighter with less situational awareness, lower speed, and less survivability if seen – but much, much longer on-station time. Some have called it the first fielded Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV). (Defense Industry Daily)

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