Home > News > News in Brief: 16 October 2009

News in Brief: 16 October 2009

A brief list of news for the day:

The Dragon spews fire at the Elephant. Indian lobbyists – with an eye on profiting from arms sales with the United States worth billions of dollars – are whipping up war hysteria and xenophobia over China, and Delhi is playing along. Against this electrified diplomatic backdrop, the state-run People’s Daily tore into India this week. The relationship could nosedive further if the Dalai Lama’s visit to India’s disputed areas with China goes ahead. (Asia Times)

US-PAKISTAN: Obama Signs Controversial Aid Bill. After 10 days of raging controversy centred in Islamabad, U.S. President Barack Obama Thursday signed a major aid bill for Pakistan authorising some 7.5 billion dollars in non-military assistance for the increasingly beleaguered country over the next five years. The bill, which will more than triple the current level of non-military aid the U.S. provides to Pakistan, had been designed as a dramatic show of support for the country whose full cooperation is seen as crucial to U.S. hopes of defeating the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan and destroying al Qaeda, whose leadership is believed to be based in Pakistan’s rugged frontier region. (IPS)

Rights council adopts Gaza report. The UN human rights chief has endorsed the Goldstone report on Israel’s war on Gaza, which accused both Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas of war crimes, but was overall more critical of Israel than Hamas. The resolution calls on Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, to monitor whether Israel and Hamas conduct credible investigations into the conflict which took place last winter. Should the two sides fail to do so, it calls on the UN Security Council to refer the allegations to the International Criminal Court. (Al Jazeera)

U.S. Berated for Shielding Israel on Gaza Killings. A U.S. decision to stall Security Council action against Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas for war crimes during the 22-day conflict in Gaza last December has come under heavy fire both from inside and outside the United Nations. (IPS)

Afghanistan: Is Power-Sharing Deal in the Offing in Kabul? Widespread evidence of fraud marred Afghanistan’s August 20 presidential vote and subsequently raised disturbing questions about the future legitimacy of Afghanistan’s executive branch. It now seems that the country’s leading political actors are exploring a way to restore the election’s integrity. Ironically, it appears as though a back-room bargain, rather than continued reliance on the ballot box, may be the preferred way to solve the crisis of legitimacy. (EurasiaNet)

Karzai Aide Says Afghan Runoff Vote Is Likely. It was the first time the Afghan government has acknowledged the probability of a runoff. (New York Times)

Going ‘deep’, not ‘big’, in Afghanistan. An analysis making waves in Washington by a veteran United States officer calls for the withdrawal of the bulk of United States combat forces from Afghanistan over 18 months, warning against General Stanley McChrystal’s counter-insurgency strategy. Lieutenant Colonel Daniel L Davis says that it is already too late for US forces to defeat the insurgency. (Asia Times)

Israel reneges on pledge to Obama, steps up settlement building. Widespread building activity commenced three weeks ago in at least 12 West Bank settlements. (Haaretz)

Turkey, Iraq sign accords for regional integration. Turkey and Iraq yesterday took a giant step forward to boost ties, signing more than 40 agreements ranging from fighting Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorism to energy cooperation and sharing water. (today’s Zaman)

Egypt to Spend up to $3.2B Adding to F-16C/D Fleet. The Egyptian government wants to buy 24 F-16C/D Block 50/52 aircraft, associated parts, weapons, and equipment to modernize its air force. The request, made Oct 9/09 through the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) to Congress, could be worth as much as $3.2 billion to Lockheed Martin and the other contractors involved. The Egyptian Air Force is the 4th largest F-16 operator in the world, mustering about 195 aircraft of 220 ordered. (Defense Industry Daily)

Georgia: Will the Theories of Economic Deregulation Face Harsh Reality in Tbilisi? Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili insists that a package of constitutional reforms will transform Georgia into a global showcase for the benefits of economic deregulation. However, a sharp recent decline in foreign investment, coupled with a gaping trade deficit, is raising questions about whether Saakashvili’s deregulatory push will do more harm than good to the Georgian economy, analysts say. (EurasiaNet)

Lebanon elected to Security Council. President Michel Sleiman said on Thursday his country will defend Arab interests, after Lebanon was elected to the UN Security Council for the first time since 1954. “Lebanon, through its international relations and its presence at the heart of the highest body in the United Nations, represents a security net in the face of any Israeli [attempt at] destabilization,” he said in a speech. (The Daily Star)

Pakistan suicide bomb kills 12. Bomb targets police in Peshawar as country reels from string of attacks that have killed more than 160. (The Guardian)

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