Home > News > News in Brief: 24 November 2009

News in Brief: 24 November 2009

A brief list of news clippings for the day:

Saudi Arabia goes to war. A crucially important conflict, woefully under-reported in the west, has now come to a head in the Middle East. In response to an ongoing fight that could spill out beyond the Arabian peninsula, Saudi Arabia has entered into direct war with the Houthi rebels in northern Yemen. Saudi military intervention marks the first time in the kingdom’s history that its army has crossed its borders without an ally. Previously, the kingdom engaged only in proxy wars. The Saudis used royalist Yemenis to fight Nasser’s Egypt in the 1960s, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein to fight Iran in the 1980s, and the US to fight Iraq in the 1990s. (Guardian: Comment is Free)

Global Arms Sales Decreased in 2008 compared to 2007 but was still high. The latest data covering global arms sales shows that sale of arms in 2008 decreased to around $55 billion, over 75% of which went to developing countries. This was down from a total of almost $60 billion the year before but was still the second highest amount in the 8 year period the data covers. While the global financial crisis has affected many countries, it seems like the decrease in arms purchases in 2008 occurred mostly in industrialized nations; developing nations saw a slight increase in purchases… The arms trade is big business. The 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council (US, Russia, France, United Kingdom and China), together with Germany and Italy, account for over 80% of the arms sold between 2001 and 2008. (Global Issues)

Do NGOs provide relief or development? Development agencies cannot hope to bring about lasting change in the communities in which they work. They can only provide short-term relief, argues Karen Treasure…. But the differences between relief and development become difficult in practice. The fact that most projects are now called development has an historical context. (Guardian)

Somali Piracy: Chickens come home to roost. The current Somali piracy is the result of Somalia’s long standing civil war and lack of central government ignored by the world bodies such as United Nations, United States, European Union, the Arab League, Islamic Nations, European Union. (Hiiraan)

Yemen army to join with Saudis for attack: rebels. Shia rebels on Tuesday accused Yemen’s army of cooperating with Saudi forces to launch attacks against them, and also said they had defeated a multi-pronged Saudi assault from across the border. ‘The people’s army charged with protecting the border is cooperating with the Saudi army in bombing and ground attacks… against the country and its sons,’ a statement from the Zaidi rebels, also known as Huthis, said. The Huthis have previously accused both mainly Sunni countries of cooperating against them, and allege that Saudi Arabia allows Yemeni forces to attack rebel positions from inside Saudi territory. (Khaleej Times)

US ‘discussing Iraq regime change’ two years before war. Elements of the new US administration of President George Bush were already discussing “regime change” in Iraq two years before the invasion of 2003, the official inquiry into the war was told today. (The Independent)

NATO Training of Army, Police to Consolidate Efforts. NATO took command of the training of the Afghan army and police on Saturday to consolidate efforts on building an effective security force, a vital precondition for the withdrawal of foreign troops. . . Deputy Commander of the new NATO mission Major General Michael Ward said he believed the move would encourage more NATO training personnel to be sent to Afghanistan, helping to speed the expansion of local forces. (Afghanistan Conflict Monitor / Reuters)

Somalia: Mass Exodus As Militia Takes Control of Southern Town. Somalia’s Islamist Al-Shabab militia group has taken control of the southern town of Afmadow, 620km south of the capital Mogadishu, causing hundreds of families to flee in fear of violence. The town fell on 21 November after another Islamist group, Hisbul-Islam, left a day earlier, allowing Al-Shabab to move in without much resistance. (allAfrica)

Pakistan’s military stays a march ahead. An ordinance that granted amnesty to a number of top Pakistani politicians, including President Asif Ali Zardari, expires in a few days. The military is preparing for the fallout, just as it is already in contact with leading players in the insurgency in Afghanistan to position itself ahead of anticipated developments there. (Asia Times)

India probe blames mosque attack on Hindu leaders. A government investigation released Tuesday reportedly implicated dozens of Hindu nationalist politicians – including a former prime minister – in the 1992 demolition of a mosque that sparked deadly communal riots. The attack by Hindu mobs on the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, 350 miles (550 kilometers) east of New Delhi, set off nationwide riots that killed 2,000 people in the largest explosion of Hindu-Muslim tension in the country in decades. (AP)

U.S.-India Innovation Cooperation. The Obama administration has identified cooperation on science, technology, and innovation as a major focus of its relationship with India. Analyst Manjeet Kripalani says implementation remains a challenge and recommends greater deregulation of scientific institutions in India. (CFR)

A Teachable Moment in U.S.-India Relations. India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrives in Washington this week for the first state visit of the Obama administration, prompting policy and media circles in the U.S. and India alike to buzz with the question: “What will be the big drop-dead announcement this time?” After all, when Prime Minister Singh was here for his last state visit in 2005, as guest of President Bush, the two leaders announced their historic civil nuclear energy deal. (FEER)

Iraq war inquiry begins on Tuesday. An independent inquiry into Britain’s role in Iraq war will begin public hearings on Tuesday that will culminate in the awaited testimony from former Prime Minister Tony Blair. Military chiefs, diplomats, ministers and senior officials will all be called before the five-member committee headed by retired civil servant Sir John Chilcot. (Alsumaria)

Netanyahu Says Prisoner Swap Is Not Certain. Israel’s prime minister sought to dampen speculation about a deal with Hamas to recover an Israeli soldier. (New York Times)

Ali Hattar – A Right of Return primer (Arabic and English). A referential drafting extracted from the Human Rights Covenants and human principles and the laws related to it based on the basis that Palestinian Arabs should have the same human rights as the rest of the peoples of the world. Also included in English are excerpts from relevant Covenants. (Palestine Think Tank)

Acting while avoiding action in Iran. With Iran rejecting a proposal from the “Iran Six” countries to ship its low-enriched uranium abroad for further enrichment, the group is now considering the next step: sanctions. The ultimate virtue of sanctions is that they provide a platform between acquiescence and war, though they don’t always work out as intended. (Asia Times)

Iran casts doubt on US offer of help over Caspian Sea. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has called into question a US offer to help Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan over their disputes in the Caspian Sea. Daniel Stain, senior adviser to special envoy of the US Department of State on Eurasian Energy, said at a press conference in Turkmenistan’s capital Ashgabat last week that Washington was ready to offer assistance to Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan over the division of the Caspian Sea… The maritime and seabed boundaries of the Caspian Sea have yet to be demarcated among Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan, the five countries bordering the Sea. Despite extensive negotiations, the legal status of the Caspian Sea has been unclear since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. (PressTV)

Iraq stands firm on swift MKO expulsion. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has urged Mujahedin-e Khalq organization to immediately leave the country, saying Baghdad had no place for the MKO… Some 3,500 MKO members are held in a camp under the control of the Iraqi security forces… The group masterminded a torrent of terrorist operations inside Iran, one of which was the 1981 bombing of the offices of the Islamic Republic Party, in which more than 72 Iranian officials were killed. (PressTV)

Russia: Gasprom to buy less gas from Turkmenistan and more from Uzbekistan. Up until now Gas was buying approximately 60 billion cubic meters of Asian gas per year. The major supplier of the concern in Central Asia was Turkmenistan (to 80%). Vedomosti reports that this spring there was a conflict between partners: the sales of Gasprom went down dramatically and it refused to pay Turkmenistan earlier offered price at $375.5 per 1000 cubic meters. The conflict was followed by the wreck at Turkmen gas pipeline; as the result, the supply of gas was stopped in April. The pipeline was repaired soon but Gasprom never resumed the purchase of gas. Since that time the partners have been discussing new contract and there is still no clarity on volumes and price. (Ferghana)

Iraq-Turkey oil pipeline halts pumping: source. Oil flow through the Kirkuk pipeline that takes crude from northern Iraq to Ceyhan in Turkey halted on Saturday, the second disruption in less than a month, a shipping source said on Tuesday. The latest interruption on the pipeline, which normally carries about a quarter of Iraq’s oil exports to world markets, followed a bomb attack in late October that halted oil flows until November 2. (PUK Media)

Afghanistan decision to come within days. President Obama will announce within days whether he will send more troops to Afghanistan, the White House said after he and the National Security Council met. (CNN)

Pakistan: ‘We apologise for neglecting Balochistan in the past’. Pakistan’s government on Tuesday unveiled a package of reforms in a bid to ease a separatist insurgency in Balochistan on the Afghan and Iranian borders, and maximise efforts on fighting the Taliban. (Dawn)

Pakistan’s P-3 Orion Maritime Aircraft – and their Harpoons. In late 2004, Portuguese aircraft refitter OGMA was chosen by Lockheed Martin in Marietta, GA to refit Pakistan’s 2 P-3C Update II.5 Orion maritime patrol and surveillance aircraft for service. In addition, Pakistan was preparing to buy 8 US Navy surplus P-3C aircraft through the Foreign Military Sales program. Subsequent orders have served to detail the modernization work for Pakistan’s fleet, as well as accompanying orders for AGM-84 Harpoon missiles that can attack naval or land targets… (Defense Industry Daily)

Sri Lankan president on brink of calling snap elections. The Sri Lankan president is preparing to call a snap election amid speculation that he will be challenged by the general who led the Government’s successful military assault against the rebel Tamil Tigers this year. (Times Online)

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