Home > News > News in Brief: 17 November 2009

News in Brief: 17 November 2009

A brief list of news clippings for the day:

Despite Japan visit, wrestling over U.S. base continues. The wrestling match between the United States and Japan over the location of the U.S. Marine air station in Okinawa is far from over — despite President Obama’s chummy visit here with Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. (Washington Post)

‘Iranian who disappeared in Turkey jailed in Israel’. An Iranian former deputy defense minister who has been missing for nearly three years was abducted by Israeli agents and is now being held in Israel, several Iranian news Web sites reported on Sunday. Ali-Reza Asgari, a retired general who served in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, disappeared while on a private trip to Turkey in December 2006. In March of this year, a former German defense ministry official said Asgari had defected and was providing considerable information to the West on Iran’s nuclear program. Iranian officials and Asgari’s family have claimed that he was abducted. One of Sunday’s Web reports, on a site called Alef, said German and British intelligence services assisted Israeli agents in abducting Asgari and taking him to Israel. The site, http://www.alef.ir, is close to a conservative Iranian lawmaker. Israel’s Foreign Ministry refused to comment. (Today’s Zaman)

Army tells its soldiers to ‘bribe’ the Taleban. British forces should buy off potential Taleban recruits with “bags of gold”, according to a new army field manual published yesterday. Army commanders should also talk to insurgent leaders with “blood on their hands” in order to hasten the end of the conflict in Afghanistan. The edicts, which are contained in rewritten counter-insurgency guidelines, will be taught to all new army officers. They mark a strategic rethink after three years in which British and Nato forces have failed to defeat the Taleban. (The Times)

‘Northern Taliban’ threatens Central Asia. Taliban counter-moves against United States coalition efforts to forge a supply route from Central Asia to northern Afghanistan have ended the relative calm in that part of Afghanistan and could drag Central Asian states into the conflict. As more foreign fighters from groups like the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan join the ranks of the emerging “northern Taliban”, the issue is rapidly climbing up the coalition’s agenda. (Asia Times)

‘CIA providing millions of dollars to ISI’. The CIA provides hundreds of millions of dollars to Pakistan’s spy service, including payments for the capture or killing of wanted militants, a US newspaper reported, citing unnamed officials and former officials. The CIA’s financial support accounts for as much as one-third of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency’s budget, the Los Angeles Times reported on Sunday. (The News)

Militants change tack in Pakistan. After a month-long operation, Pakistan’s military is chasing shadows in the South Waziristan tribal area. The militants being sought so desperately by the army – and the United States – are scattered in remote surrounding areas, including in Afghanistan. Previously, the next step would have been to negotiate a ceasefire. Not this time. In a major switch, the militants want a long-term insurgency against the security apparatus across the country. (Asia Times)

US urges Pakistan to expand military offensive. US President Barack Obama is expected in the coming weeks to announce an overhauled strategy for Afghanistan that will include sending up to 40,000 more troops to fight in the eight-year-old war. Obama sent a letter to President Asif Ali Zardari, saying he expects the Pakistani leader to rally political and national security institutions in a united campaign against extremists, the Times reported, citing a US official, who was briefed on the letter’s contents. (The News)

MIDEAST: U.S. Takes Aim Over Jordan’s Shoulder. In the bleak and seemingly endless desert expanse that unfolds east of Jordan’s capital city, Amman, lies a crucial cog in the ambitious regional designs of the U.S. and its allies in the Middle East. Commonly known by its acronym JIPTC, the Jordan International Police Training Centre is ground-zero for the transformation of U.S.-allied security forces not only for the Kingdom of Jordan, but also for Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories. (IPS)

Kosovo: Three parties claim victory in key polls. Kosovo’s three largest parties on Monday all claimed victory in the first municipal elections held since the country declared independence from Serbia last year. Kosovo prime minister Hasim Thaci’s party was leading in nine municipalities, according to preliminary results released by the election commission. (AKI)

Sarkozy tried in vain to replace Turkey as peacemaker. It has emerged that French President Nicolas Sarkozy had planned to bring together the leaders of Israel and Syria in Paris in an attempt to revive a peace process between the two countries which collapsed early this year, but his efforts failed when Syrian President Bashar Assad, who insists on Turkish mediation to return to peace talks with Israel, opposed the idea. (Today’s Zaman)

India, Iran discuss energy, transit routes. India and Iran on Monday held talks on closer cooperation in energy, transit routes to central Asia and sharing of information on militant activity in the Pakistan-Afghanistan belt. In the first high-level talks after elections in both countries, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, in talks with visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, flagged New Delhi’s interest in the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline. (The Hindu)

20-Year-Old Letterhead points to Israeli Forgery in Francop Affair. The Israelis have been maintaining that a ship, the Francop, that their forces boarded near Cyprus originated in Iran and was bringing arms to Hizbullah and Hamas. Many US news outlets published the accompanying picture, which seemed to indicate that the arms were being supplied by the Ministry of the Sipah [i.e. of soldier]. The name of that ministry was changed 20 years ago, however, to the Ministry of Defense. One Iranian journalist opined, “So this begs the question of what the emblem of a nonexistent body was doing on the cargo?” (Informed Comment)

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