Home > News > News in Brief: 15 October 2009

News in Brief: 15 October 2009

A brief list of news for the day:

Coordinated Attacks Strike Cultural Heart of Pakistan. Teams of militants dressed in police uniforms simultaneously attacked three law enforcement agencies in Lahore on Thursday morning, the fifth major attack in Pakistan in the last 10 days. (New York Times)

Amendments of Iraq elections law. While debate is ongoing on the elections law, the voting session was delayed till Monday… According to the amendments, the number of lawmakers would become 311. Elections would be carried out following the province considered as one electoral district. Seats would be proportionate to the number of inhabitants according to ratio cards’ statistics. (Alsumaria)

Bombings in Karbala, Mortars in Baghdad; Al-Maliki closes Mustansiriya U. and Bans on-Campus Politics. Mortars were fired in Baghdad, killing 7, and three bombs went off in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, killing 4 and wounding 48. The bombings were near to holy Shiite shrines, which is extremely dangerous. The bombing of the golden dome at Samarra in February of 2006 set off a vicious Sunni-Shiite civil war that killed thousands each month. The shrine of Imam Husayn, the Prophet’s martyred grandson, in Karbala is among the holiest sites of Shiite Islam. (Informed Comment)

Moscow to adopt first strike N-policy. Russia will revise its military doctrine to allow a “preventative” nuclear strike against would-be aggressors, a top Kremlin policy-maker was quoted as saying on Wednesday. Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of the powerful security council, said the conditions under which Russia could resort to atomic weapons are being reworked in the main strategy document and will be reviewed by President Dmitry Medvedev by the end of the year… Under its current military doctrine, Russia says it would only carry out a nuclear strike if it were attacked with weapons of mass destruction or if it were the victim of “large-scale aggression” using conventional arms. Russian and US negotiators are now working furiously to agree on new arms cuts of their nuclear arsenal before a key Cold War-era disarmament treaty expires on December 5. (The News)

GAZA: Farmers struggle with damaged agricultural land. Thousands of Gazan farmers may be unable to replant their crops during the region’s main planting season in October due to agricultural land still damaged by the Israeli offensive at the start of the year, and a lack of agricultural materials like seeds and fertilizers, according to officials. (IRIN)

Afghanistan: Rethinking the Af-Pak Strategy. It is true that Afghanistan and Pakistan are fighting a common enemy in the Taliban and al Qaeda. But the nature of insurgency and engagement is quite different in the two countries. The Pakistani military is fighting an insurgency mainly against its own people. It’s different in Afghanistan: government forces are fighting both local militants and terrorist mercenaries that primarily infiltrate from, and are trained and equipped by, elements from across the country’s southeastern border. (EurasiaNet)

NATO mulls Afghan troops, decision hinges on Obama. NATO’s top defense officials will examine proposals Saturday for a big troop surge to contain Afghanistan’s escalating insurgency but any such move hinges on a decision by the U.S. president, NATO military officials said. The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, has recommended sending at least 40,000 additional troops and trainers as part of a beefed-up counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan, something being considered by the administration of President Barack Obama. (Reuters)

The ‘other’ Kurdistan seethes with rage. While Iraqi Kurdistan elects its own parliament and forges oil contracts independent of Baghdad, other ethnic Kurdish insurgents from Iran, Syria and Turkey are flooding into remote redoubts in the fearsome Qandil Mountains to battle nation-states that have persecuted them for decades. With Turkish warplanes above and Iranian artillery firing over the border, Asia Times Online traced a torturous path to speak with Kurdish guerrillas. (Asia Times)

Will Syria Give up the Golan as it Gave up Alexandretta? Israel plan does seem to be to wear Syria down on the Golan issue. It may also be America’s default plan, as well. President Bush pursued this policy fairly openly. Although it was not Bush’s stated goal, his attempt to force Syria to give up support for Hizbullah and Hamas without linking such concessions to the Golan issue was tantamount to asking Syria to accept Israel’s ownership of the Golan. The Obama says he wants to stop Israel’s settlement to pursue internation law, but has been unable or unwilling to articulate the goal, not to mention act on it with conviction. (Syria Comment)

SCO meet’s focus on economics, terrorism. The 10-member countries and observers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Central Asian regional security grouping, pledged on Wednesday to work together on combating terror and improving financial co-operation among Asian nations to combat the financial crisis… But the real focus on Wednesday was on economics, and how Central Asian nations could work together to improve financial co-operation…. The SCO has six member countries — China, Russia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. (The Hindu)

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