Home > News > News in Brief: 20 November 2009

News in Brief: 20 November 2009

A brief listing of news clippings for the day:

The Battle for Angola’s Oil. A new battle is underway between the United States and China over Angola’s oil resources. Resource-rich Angola was once known as the scene of Africa’s longest-running civil war. Today, life expectancy hovers around 44 years… Under Dos Santos’s watch, since 1993, Angola’s oil reserves have flowed into the coffers of the regime’s corrupt wabenzi elites as well as multinationals via opaquely structured oil-backed loans. The MPLA initially justified these loans as a means of securing arms and revenue to fight UNITA, an armed movement led by U.S.-backed warlord Jonas Savimbi, also aligned with Portugal’s secret police and apartheid South Africa. Today, the corrupt ruling party is devouring the nation’s resources and its future. (Foreign Policy in Focus)

Gates to head top brass at forum. Top brass from Europe and the Americas, including US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, gather this week in Canada to discuss the future of Nato, the war in Afghanistan and other pressing security matters. Gates will be joined by counterparts from Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, and the Netherlands as well as French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s military adviser at the meeting from Friday to Sunday in Halifax… Over three days, delegates will discuss Afghanistan, Iran, piracy and port security, Arctic security, nuclear proliferation, and the future of the 28-member North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Behind closed doors and at dinner meetings, they will also talk about Iraq and the Middle East, China and North Korea, pandemics, energy security, and the geopolitical consequences of the economic crisis. (The News)

The politics of sporting rivalry. The hooliganism and violence that have accompanied the football matches between Egypt and Algeria as they each seek to qualify for the 2010 World Cup have brought something new to Arab sports and political cultures. The vehemence, fanaticism, and recriminations that were blatantly expressed in the media and on the streets of Algeria, Egypt, and Sudan [the host country where the deciding final game is to be played] all point to a trend. This is the logical outcome of the narrow nationalism that has prevailed in Arab politics since the death of Gamal Abdel Nasser, the former Egyptian president. (Al Jazeera)

Awakening council ex-leader sentenced to death. Al Rasafa criminal court sentenced the former leader of Al Fadhil Awakening Council Adel Al Mashhadani to death for murder of a girl when the region was under Al Qaeda’s control. (Alsumaria)

Talabani:US pressured Parliament on poll law. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani revealed that US officials pressured Iraq’s Parliament and political powers to approve the election law. (Alsumaria)

Iraqi elections thrown off track. Vice President Tarek al-Hashemi, by using his veto to block an important election law, has thrown Iraq once again into political crisis. Parliament will have to try to sort out the mess the Sunni politician has made if elections are to go ahead in January. The scheduled draw-down of United States troops is also now in doubt. (Asia Times)

Kut Central Prison, Iraq. Kut Central Prison is attached to the main police station in the capital of Wasit province, southern Iraq. Designed to hold 100 people on a temporary, pre-trial basis, the prison now frequently houses up to 250 inmates —sometimes as many as 280 — including women. Convicted murderers on death row are held in the same overcrowded cells as petty thieves. (Le Monde Diplomatique)

Sri Lanka has released half of war detainees: govt. Sri Lanka has released more than half of the thousands of displaced civilians held in government camps after the end of the country’s ethnic conflict earlier this year, a minister said Friday. (Dawn)

Hizbullah in War and Peace. Four and a half years after Syrian troops were unexpectedly cajoled out of Lebanon, and more than three years after the end of a (nearly) “open” war with Israel, the Shi’ite movement Hizballah appears not only militarily stronger, as many of its enemies attest, but also politically and ideologically more secure, confident and, to a certain degree, coherent. Indeed, as far as Hizballah is concerned, the March 14 movement that helped kick the Syrians out and that managed to maintain a narrow parliamentary majority in last summer’s election (reportedly with the help of more than $750 million in Saudi financing) has effectively ceased to exist. (Qifa Nabki)

Naturalizing the Palestinians. There are few issues that provoke such a strong response among the Lebanese as the question of the Palestinian refugees’ future in Lebanon… There are over 400,000 registered Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. The actual number is unknown, and estimates vary between 250,000 to upwards of half a million. The living conditions of these refugees — most of whom were born in Lebanon — is dismal. They have few civil rights; they are banned from working in over seventy trades; they are dependent almost entirely on the welfare of UNRWA for basic social services like education, water, food, etc. Of all the Palestinian communities in the diaspora, the Lebanese one is surely the worst off. (Qifa Nabki)

Afghanistan is world’s most dangerous place to be born in: UN. Afghanistan has the highest infant mortality rate in the world — 257 deaths per 1,000 live births, and 70 percent of the population lacks access to clean water, the agency said. (Times of India)

Zardari in the Crosshairs. Pakistan’s leader is losing grip on his presidency and the opposition parties are waiting in the wings. As his popularity plummets, his political fate — as well as that of the Pakistan Peoples Party and the nation — hang in the balance. (FP)

The elephant in India and Iran’s room. Although India and Iran have met with some success in stemming the downward slide in their relations, their cooperation in the all-important energy sector seems to be stuck in a rut. And there is little to indicate that a breakthrough will be possible in the near future. (Asia Times)

U.N. Nuclear Chief Urges Iran to Agree to Deal by Year End. The head of the U.N’s atomic agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, described the offer made to Iran by the West to process its uranium abroad as a “unique but fleeting opportunity.” (New York Times)

Turkish FM to meet Ahmadinejad in Tabriz. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu will meet President Ahmadinejad to discuss the latest developments in Iran’s nuclear case… The talks will focus on efforts to solve tensions between Iran and the West over Tehran’s nuclear program, in which Turkey has recently taken an active part, the Anatolia news agency said. (PressTV)

A missed opportunity for Europe – EU’s decision sets an uncertain course. By choosing Herman Van Rompuy as the first standing president and Catherine Ashton as the foreign minister the EU has missed the opportunity to present a more effective face to the world, says DW’s Christoph Hasselbach. (Deutsche Welle)

Azerbaijan: Proposal to Cancel 2010 Parliamentary Elections Hits Road Block. A governing party politician’s proposal to postpone Azerbaijan’s 2010 parliamentary elections “until the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is resolved” has met with both support and censure from President Ilham Aliyev’s Yeni Azerbaijan Party. While senior party officials now dismiss the proposal as “a joke,” the idea suggests that some politicians are keen to test the outer limits of the ruling party’s 16-year hold on power. (EurasiaNet)

Move at UN to sanction Eritrea over Somalia links. A draft U.N. Security Council resolution calls for an arms embargo against Eritrea and travel bans and asset freezes for members of its government and military for aiding Islamist insurgents in Somalia. (Hiiraan)

Iraqi Shiite leader holds talks in Ankara, İstanbul. Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) Chairman Sayyed Ammar al-Hakim was in Ankara on Thursday to hold talks with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as part of a several-day visit to the country. (Today’s Zaman)

No mediation, says U.S. Ruling out any mediation in the India-Pakistan peace process, the United States said on Wednesday that it was for the two neighbours to decide on its “scope, content and pace.” (The Hindu)

Nukes: JASON LEP Study. Several of us have been eagerly awaiting the release of the JASON report on Life Extension Programs, which reportedly concluded that Life Extension was preferred to warhead replacement. It’s here. Arms Control Wonk.com has an early copy of the full text of the unclassified executive summary of Lifetime Extension Program (LEP), JSR-09-334E. (Arms Control Wonk)

UAE Orders PC-21 Turboprop Trainers. During the 2009 Dubai airshow, the United Arab Emirates signed a contract with Pilatus to buy 25 PC-21 intermediate trainer aircraft, in a package worth $511 million. (Defense Industry Daily)

The Mission Determines the Coalition. In this chapter of the edited volume Cooperating for Peace and Security, Stewart Patrick discusses the United States and multilateral cooperation after 9/11. (CFR)

CERN to restart big bang machine. The European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, has said it’s ready to restart the machine scientists hope will recreate the conditions that led to the big bang. (Deutsche Welle)

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