Home > News > News in Brief: 19 October 2009

News in Brief: 19 October 2009

A brief list of news for the day:

A new battle begins in Pakistan. Pakistani troops are pouring into the South Waziristan tribal area for a conflict against militants that they have little chance of winning outright. The offensive does, though, emphatically shift the focus from Afghanistan, which is what the United States has wanted for some time. Iran, following Sunday’s attack on commanders of its Revolutionary Guards Corps, also has Pakistan on its mind. (Asia Times)

Pakistan: Talks over aid, militancy as Kerry meets Gilani, Kayani. Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Kayani says the military is not opposed to any assistance from the United States. However, he reiterated that there should be no conditionalities that can harm national security. General Kayani was talking to US Centcom Chief, General David Petreaus and US Senator John Kerry separately at the GHQ in Rawalpindi. (Dawn)

Pakistani Army Advances into Waziristan; Effect of Campaign on US in Afghanistan Doubted; Taliban threaten India. So what is in South Waziristan? Groups that are targeting Pakistan itself. These include the Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan [TTP] or Pakistani Taliban Movement and elements of anti-Shiite Sunni extremist groups from the Punjab, who have begun hitting Pakistani government targets. The campaign will thus have little effect on the fighting in Afghanistan, except to the extent that some militants may be displaced from Pakistan north to Afghanistan. (Informed Comment)

PAKISTAN: Thousands flee South Waziristan as army offensive begins. A curfew was imposed in parts of Waziristan and troops began moving in, preventing others from fleeing. Action against militants had been anticipated for months.A similar military campaign against militants in Swat District, North West Frontier Province (NWFP), ended in July, leading to the displacement of some 2.3 million people in the area. (IRIN)

Will Today’s U.S.-Armed Ally Be Tomorrow’s Enemy? Is it too early — or already too late — to begin drawing lessons from “the Long War”? That phrase, coined in 2002 and, by 2005, being championed by Centcom Commander General John Abizaid, was meant to be a catchier name for George W. Bush’s “Global War on Terror.” That was back in the days when inside-the-Beltway types were still dreaming about a global Pax Americana and its domestic partner, a Pax Republicana, and imagining that both, once firmly established, might last forever. (TomDispatch)

White House, key Democrat turn up heat on Karzai. As two commissions reviewing the allegations of fraud in Afghanistan’s August 20 presidential election haggled in Kabul Sunday, a top Obama administration official and a senior Senate Democrat publicly turned up the heat on Afghan President Hamid Karzai to find a credible end to the electoral dispute. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said on CNN that President Barack Obama wouldn’t make a decision on his military commanders’ request for as many as 80,000 additional American troops in Afghanistan until the administration is convinced that the country has a credible central government. (McClatchy)

Iraq Parliament to decide about election law. Iraqi Parliament is due to hold today an important session to finalize amendments on the electoral law and ratify it amidst deep rows among parliamentary parties on holding elections in Kirkuk and whether to adopt the open or the closed list. (Alsumaria)

Goldstone as a touchstone for Obama. Attempts by the United States and Israel to bury the Goldstone report on war crimes committed during the war in Gaza – which on Friday was approved by the United Nations Human Rights Council – could damage US President Barack Obama’s credibility among Arabs and Muslims as someone willing to stand up to Israel. (Asia Times)

Challenging the Dahiya Doctrine. In supporting the Goldstone Report, the UN Human Rights Council has acknowledged the premise that the responsibility for the most recent Lebanon and Gaza wars lies squarely with one unique factor: Israeli political goals. The UN-welcomed Report notes historical context by underscoring that the “specific means Israel has adopted to meet its military objectives in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and in Lebanon have repeatedly been censured by the United Nations Security Council, especially its attacks on houses. The military operations from 27 December to 18 January did not occur in a vacuum, either in terms of proximate causes in relation to the Hamas/Israeli dynamics or in relation to the development of Israeli military thinking about how best to describe the nature of its military objectives.” (Axis of Logic)

Hamas fighters v. Israel in Gaza: Fail. For months before Israel’s military offensive in Gaza last winter, Israeli papers were filled with ominous stories suggesting that Hamas militants in Gaza were developing into a formidable force, trained by Iran, armed with advanced weapons, and prepared for battle. When the showdown finally came, how did Hamas perform? In a word: Fail. A new report from the Washington Report for Near East Policy documents the obvious: “Hamas and its military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades (IDQB), accomplished little militarily.” (Checkpoint Jerusalem)

Russians deal Lieberman ‘slap’ by endorsing Goldstone report. Israel relayed a sharply worded protest to the Russian government following Russia’s vote in favor of adopting the Goldstone report at the Human Rights Council in Geneva Friday, according to senior Foreign Ministry officials in Jerusalem. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman suffered a personal blow by the Russian vote, which went against the promises he received from his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, days prior to the vote at the United Nations body. (Haaretz)

Obama: Stop Covert Activities Against Iran and Dump Bush’s Policy of Playing the Sunni-Shi’a “Card”. Sunday’s suicide bomb attack in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchistan province, in which five senior officers of the Revolutionary Guard and at least 30 other people were killed, marks a significant escalation in an ongoing Sunni Islamist terror campaign directed against the Islamic Republic. We do not believe that Sunday’s attack and the ongoing campaign of terrorist violence represents a fundamental threat to the Islamic Republic’s basic political stability. However, we do believe the attack will exacerbate Iranian threat perceptions about its regional neighbors and the United States at a delicate point in the diplomatic process launched at the October 1 Geneva meeting between senior Iranian officials and representatives of the P-5+1. (The Race for Iran)

Ahmadinejad urges Zardari to ‘confront’ Iran bombers. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday urged his President Zardari to confront a Sunni militant group which Tehran says is behind the bombing on the Revolutionary Guards that killed dozens. (Dawn)

US-IRAN: Congress Begins Pressing Sanctions Legislation. The United States Congress is pushing through long-pending legislation to impose new unilateral sanctions on Iran. Supporters of the sanctions claim they give President Barack Obama more leverage in upcoming talks with Tehran about its nuclear program, but critics say the bans may prove counter-productive to any possible diplomatic engagement. (IPS)

Iran joins key talks on nuclear future. Key meetings on the future of Iran’s nuclear program begin Monday as officials from Tehran huddle with the United States, Russia and France at the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency in Vienna. (CNN)

Tajikistan: Four militants of Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan are killed in Isfara. On October 18 four militants of Islam Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) were killed in Tajikistan while another one was detained, Interfax reports with the reference to Deputy Interior Minister Tohir Normatov. Big number of weapons and ammunitions were exempted during the operation in the area of Isfara city, located 440 kilometers to the north-east of Dushanbe at the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border. (Ferghana)

BAE Wins Big PBL Support Contracts for European & Saudi Eurofighters. BAE recently announced a pair of major contracts that leverage its growing expertise with “contracting for availability” performance-based support… Oct 12/09, BAE systems announced a detailed 3-year contract for “The Salam Support Solution.” This is a full availability-based service contract, which also includes Saudi pilot training in the UK and training for RSAF maintenance technicians. The deal’s value was not disclosed, but Saudi support contracts tend to be very large due to the range of contractor services they need. (Defense Industry Daily)

U.S. budget deficit trebles to $1.42 trillion. Washington: Fighting the worst financial turmoil in decades, the U.S. saw its federal budget deficit more than treble to $1.42 trillion for the financial year ended September 30. (The Hindu)

Three Israeli ‘spy devices’ blown up in Lebanon. It “seems the two detonations were triggered by Israel which exploded two spying devices it had planted in the sector a long while ago,” she [Lebanese military official] said. Israel “feared for one reason or another that they might be discovered and proceeded to destroy them by exploding them remotely,” the official said. Lebanese troops “located another device and exploded it on Sunday morning” after going to the area on Saturday night with UNIFIL peacekeepers, she added. (The Daily Star)

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