Home > News > News in Brief: 22 October 2009

News in Brief: 22 October 2009

A brief list of news clippings:

Where Pakistan’s militants go to ground. The Pakistani military is taking the fight to militants in the South Waziristan tribal area, even as the United States takes its Afghan fight to Pakistan. This draws Pakistan into an ever-deepening quagmire, one in which militants are carving havens. One of these is the Lyari area of Karachi, where an odd assortment of groups – including the Iranian Jundallah and anti-Shi’ite terror outfits – rub shoulders beyond the reach of the law. (Asia Times)

Pakistan: Countering Militancy in FATA. The military operation in South Waziristan is unlikely to succeed in curbing the spread of religious militancy in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), unless the Pakistan government implements political reforms in that part of the country. Crisis Group examines the Talibanisation in FATA, and argues that only reforms that encourage political diversity, enhance economic opportunity, and guarantee civil and political rights will address the problem. So far, short-sighted military policies have aggravated the conflict’s impact on inhabitants and fuelled Islamic militancy. The consequences are dramatic: over one million people – one third of FATA’s population – have been displaced, and the numbers are growing. (ICG)

Abu Mazen tries to regain the initiative. The political toll of his disastrous decision on the Goldstone report has led Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to roll the dice on an audacious bid to regain the political initiative. First he decided to sign the long-blocked Egyptian-brokered Palestinian reconciliation document and dare Hamas to do the same. Then he suggested that he would go ahead and call Palestinian elections for January 24, whether or not Hamas agreed. The moves have been backed by a blitz in the anti-Hamas Arab media attempting to blame Hamas for rejecting reconciliation and running away from elections. Will this help Abu Mazen and Fatah regain the initiative? To what end? At what cost? (Marc Lynch)

Obama’s Choice: Failed War President or the Prince of Peace? When the Nobel Committee awarded its annual peace prize to President Barack Obama, it afforded him a golden opportunity seldom offered to American war presidents: the possibility of success. Should he decide to go the peace-maker route, Obama stands a chance of really accomplishing something significant. On the other hand, history suggests that the path of war is a surefire loser. As president after president has discovered, especially since World War II, the U.S. military simply can’t seal the deal on winning a war. While the armed forces can do many things, the one thing that has generally escaped them is that ultimate endpoint: lasting victory. (TomDistpatch)

Afghanistan: Abdullah agrees to face Karzai in runoff. President Hamid Karzai’s chief political rival agreed Wednesday to take part in a November 7 runoff election, setting the stage for a high-stakes showdown in the face of Taliban threats and approaching winter snows. However, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah said he would not accept an election organized on the same terms as the August presidential vote and was preparing a list of conditions for election organizers. (The Daily Star / AP)

Iraq’s unity coalition comes to light. Iraq’s unity coalition was announced in Baghdad. The coalition joins around 31 political entities mainly the Constitutional Party, Iraq Sahwa gathering and the Republican Party. (Alsumaria)

Iraqis top list of refugees seeking asylum. For the fourth year in a row, Iraqis top a growing roster of people seeking asylum in an industrialized nation. They are just ahead of people fleeing wars in Afghanistan and Somalia, said a report published by the U.N. refugee agency Wednesday. (CNN)

Iraqi Parliament Gives up on Drafting Electoral Law; Cross-Sectarian Political Coalition Announced. Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that the Iraqi parliament has thrown up its hands in despair about crafting an election law. Many parliamentarians haven’t even been coming to the sessions, because there is such bad blood among the MPs over this and other issues. (Informed Comment)

Gates to Press NATO on Afghan Commitment. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said he would ask for increased contributions even before the American decision on whether to commit additional combat troops. (New York Times)

Somali Insurgents Attack Airport. The Islamist insurgent group Shabab attacked the main Somali airport here with mortars Thursday as the nation’s president prepared to board a plane to Uganda, setting off a series of artillery battles between government forces and insurgents that left at least 18 people dead, Somali officials said. (New York Times)

Azerbaijan and Turkey clash over energy. A public cry of “no more cheap gas to Turkey” by Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliev has exacerbated rising Azeri-Turkish energy tensions. Ankara’s efforts to play different suppliers against one other – and position itself as a regional energy hub – are not a fatal blow to the stalled Nabucco pipeline, but the rival White Stream may come more to the fore. (Asia Times)

Crowds of Kurds greet Kurd rebels in Turkey. Tens of thousands of Kurds in Diyarbakir greeted Wednesday a group of Kurdish rebels coming from Iraq who “surrendered” in a good-will gesture to Turkey. (Alsumaria)

Nero’s ghost in Istanbul. Is an IMF that could hardly manage itself in a position now to manage the global economy? Is an IMF that was blindsided and never saw the unfolding financial disaster in a position to recommend what its members should adopt to prevent future crises? Was the recent annual meeting in Istanbul sufficient to create a rejuvenated IMF that could play an even more demanding role than anything it had done in the past? First, some background. (Asia Times)

Turkmenistan: Ashgabat Energy-Reserve Controversy Continues to Flare. Are Turkmenistan’s energy reserve figures fudged or not? Just over a week after allegations first surfaced that the Turkmen government’s claims are grossly hyped, the controversy over Ashgabat’s export capacity is still flaring. Representatives of the firm that conducted the original audit are vigorously defending their reputation for thoroughness. Meanwhile, a whistleblower says he remains confident in the accuracy of his sources’ information. (EurasiaNet)

EU preparing end sanctions on Uzbekistan. The European Union is preparing to lift sanctions against Uzbekistan, introduced after Andijan killings, trying to improve ties with Central Asian states to help secure and diversify future energy supplies, Reuters report with the reference to anonymous EU diplomats. (Ferghana Information Agency)

King Abdullah II of Jordan: “Keeping the statu quo means sliding into darkness.” What worries His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan most? The Iranian nuclear threat or a possible Israeli intransigence? His Majesty’s line of reasoning is likely to dampen any expectation of a swift regional solution, according to the timeline and the methods formulated by US President Obama: During my visit to Washington, I heard many voices saying Iran, Iran, Iran. Instead I keep repeating Palestine, Palestine, Palestine. The failure to resolve the Palestinian Israeli conflict and achieve Arab Israeli peace is the most serious threat to peace and to stability in the region, including in the Mediterranean. That must be the priority. In the beginning there were great hopes. But now the horizon seems to moving farther away. (Syria Comment)

Japan: No base decision soon. The Japanese government said Thursday it would take its time in deciding whether to renege on a military realignment plan involving U.S. bases, despite warnings from the Obama administration that any reversal would spark serious consequences. (Washington Post)

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