Home > News > News in Brief: 1 December 2009

News in Brief: 1 December 2009

A brief list of news clippings for the day:

Obama Partnering with Afghan Gov’t But is there any there? President Barack Obama’s commitment to “finish the job” in Afghanistan by sending 55,000 US troops to that country (counting the 21,000 he dispatched last winter shortly after being inaugurated) depends heavily on a hope of building up an Afghan government and army over to which the US can eventually turn control. But one of the questions we seldom hear any detail about concerns the country’s governmental capacity. Does the government function? Can it deliver services? (Informed Comment)

Hezbollah cuts Islamist rhetoric in new manifesto. Lebanon’s Hezbollah group announced a new political strategy on Monday that tones down Islamist rhetoric but maintains a tough line against Israel and the United States. The new manifesto drops reference to an Islamic republic in Lebanon, which has a substantial Christian population, confirming changes to Hezbollah thinking about the need to respect Lebanon’s diversity. (Reuters)

Britain open to contacts with Hizbullah. Britain is willing to step-up contact with Hizbullah as they begin to play a bigger role in Lebanon’s government, Foreign Secretary David Miliband told The Daily Star in an exclusive interview. Miliband told the paper this week he believed “carefully considered contact with Hizbullah’s politicians, including its MPs, will best advance our objective of the group rejecting violence to play a constructive role in Lebanese politics.” (Daily Star)

Pakistan and the Global War on Terror: An Interview with Tariq Ali. I think it would be wrong if the United States essentially handed Afghanistan over to the Pakistani military, like they did the last time, when they said “It’s your problem. Deal with it.” I think the Iranians, the Russians and the Chinese have to be involved. And if the Americans don’t involve them, Pakistan should, because it certainly is not capable of handling the situation on its own, economically or politically or militarily. So it needs to do that. (Pulse)

Afghans Detail Detention in ‘Black Jail’ at U.S. Base. An American military detention camp in Afghanistan is still holding inmates, sometimes for weeks at a time, without access to the International Committee of the Red Cross, according to human rights researchers and former detainees held at the site on the Bagram Air Base. The site, known to detainees as the black jail, consists of individual windowless concrete cells, each illuminated by a single light bulb glowing 24 hours a day. In interviews, former detainees said that their only human contact was at twice-daily interrogation sessions. (New York Times)

Iran ran vows firm action on UK sailors. Five British sailors seized in the Gulf after their yacht reportedly strayed into Iranian waters will be dealt with “seriously and firmly” if it is proved they had “evil intentions”, an Iranian presidential aide has said. (Al Jazeera)

Kahrizak doctor died of poisoning: Prosecutor. Tehran chief Prosecutor General says the doctor at the Kahrizak detention center has died of poisoning, and a probe into his death will continue… Jafari-Dolatabadi further stated that the investigation into his death would continue to determine if the doctor was murdered or had committed suicide. (PressTV)

New head of the IAEA takes office. The new head of the International Atomic Energy Agency took office on Tuesday, amidst “stormy” negotiations with Iran over its nuclear programme. Yukiya Amano, a 62-year-old Japanese diplomat, arrived for his first day as director general at the United Nations agency in Vienna. (BBC)

All eyes on Sri Lanka presidential poll. Even as all eyes in the island nation are on the January 26 presidential election, in which incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa is being confronted by the retired Army General Sarath Fonseka, the Sri Lanka Election Commission has set in motion the process for the parliamentary election scheduled to be held by April. (The Hindu)

President to give up powers within weeks. President Asif Zardari has finally made up his mind to become a titular head, or in common parlance a Rafiq Tarar, by also relinquishing even the most vital discretionary power to appoint services chiefs and the joint chiefs of staff committee chairman, his close aides say. (The News)

Tajikistan: Dushanbe May Stop Water Flow as Uzbekistan Pulls Plug on Power. For more than a decade Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have had a rocky relationship. But now, following an announcement by Tashkent that it is withdrawing from the Central Asian electricity grid, bilateral ties may take a dangerous nosedive. Uzbekistan’s decision hits Tajikistan hard, denying Dushanbe much-needed power imports at the onset of winter. Some in Dushanbe are signaling that the Tajik government is not going to be pushed around by Uzbek President Islam Karimov’s administration. If Uzbekistan does not quickly reverse its decision, some Tajiks suggest Dushanbe will retaliate by restricting water supplies that Tashkent desperately needs to keep the country’s cotton sector afloat during the spring and summer. (EurasiaNet)

Georgia: Media Tunes Out Mukhrovani Mutiny Trial. A trial of 41 high-ranking officers, soldiers and civilians for an alleged mutiny and attempted government overthrow might seem like a prime candidate for saturation television coverage. But so far Georgia’s Mukhrovani mutiny trial is generating little media interest. Some local journalists and analysts claim that the lack of coverage speaks volumes about the health of Georgian media. (EurasiaNet)

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