Home > News > News in Brief: 2 December 2009

News in Brief: 2 December 2009

A brief list of news clippings for the day:

Kosovo: Court considers independence issue. The International Court of Justice on Tuesday started hearing arguments in favour and against Kosovo independence declared by the majority ethnic Albanians last year. Serbia opposes Kosovo’s independence and claims it is contrary to international law. It backed a resolution in the United Nations general assembly last year, demanding the ICJ to rule on the legality of Kosovo’s self-proclaimed independence. (AKI)

Troops, Timetables, and Afghanistan. When President Barack Obama previewed his new Afghan strategy last week–details of which he will unveil at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point this evening–his message of urgency had a familiar ring. Obama lamented eight years of U.S. military engagement that he said lacked the proper “resources or the strategy to get the job done.” He added: “it is my intention to finish the job.” (CFR)

Obama’s surge: has the president been misled by the Iraq analogy? President Barack Obama’s just-announced plan for Afghanistan seems modeled less on Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam strategy than on George W. Bush’s Iraq exit strategy. Or, at least it is modeled on the Washington mythology that Iraq was turned from quagmire into a face-saving qualified success by sheer indomitable will and a last-minute troop “surge.” But Afghanistan is not very much like Iraq, and the Washington consensus about its supposed end-game success in Iraq is wrong in key respects. Are think tank fantasies about an Iraq “victory” now misleading Obama into a set of serious missteps in Afghanistan? (Salon)

Jordan and Turkey sign free trade agreement. Jordan and Turkey announced that they signed a free trade agreement as well as they agreed to scrap visa requirements for each other’s nationals, during talks between the Jordanian King Abdullah II and the Turkish President Abdullah Gul who is paying a visit to the Jordanian Kingdom. (Alsumaria)

Report: Iran releases British yachtsmen. The British Foreign Office confirmed the release of the five, who were detained by the Iranian navy on November 25 after going off course while traveling from Bahrain to Dubai. Iranian media also reported their release. (CNN)

Why Dubai? In her “corporate intervention,” entitled The Equity Is in the Circle, recently on display at the Istanbul Biennial, artist Oraib Toukan has designed a project for selling the 16 countries of the Middle East, from wealthy Abu Dhabi to conflict-prone Afghanistan. She created the holding company Nayruz and prepared all the materials for an auction in Dubai in 2012. Then she interviewed a set of experts — advertising executive, real estate agent, game theorist, diplomat — on how to execute her audacious scheme. Should the region go up as a whole or in pieces? Should the bidding be open or secret? How to deal with the potential backlash from pesky nationalists? … In the past, imperial powers carved up the Middle East, drew boundaries, extracted resources. The United States is vainly trying to build nations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Why not go auction off countries to the highest bidder rather than the superpower with the most fighter bombers? Maybe Warren Buffett can do a better job rebuilding Afghanistan than NATO has so far. (Foreign Policy in Focus)

Climate and Capitalism in Copenhagen. Beginning in the second week of December, representatives to the United Nations Climate Conference in Copenhagen will wrestle with the challenge of climate change. This week, influential actors in the World Trade Organization Seventh Ministerial Conference taking place in Geneva are trying to push for a conclusion to the nine-year-old Doha Round of trade negotiations. The two meetings are at cross-purposes and their juxtaposition highlights a profound reality: The world has to choose between free trade and effective climate management. (Foreign Policy in Focus)

The Kirkuk timebomb’s timeline. Highlights of the low points in the multi-generational fight over Kirkuk between Iraqi Arabs and Kurds, from genocide to legislative deadlock. (Iraq Oil Report)

India pledges to help rebuild Afghanistan. India on Wednesday warily backed President Barack Obama’s surge of 30,000 extra US soldiers for Afghanistan, and pledged to push ahead with aid for the reconstruction of the war-ravaged country. (Dawn)

India consulted by Obama on Afghanistan. India on Wednesday said it had been consulted by US President Barack Obama prior to his announcement of extra US troops for the war in Afghanistan, amid signs of closer co-operation between the White House and New Delhi. (FT)

In the Quicksands of Somalia. The U.S. government needs to change its Somalia policy — and fast. For the better part of two decades, instability and violence have confounded U.S. and international efforts to bring peace to Somalia. The international community’s repeated attempts to create a government have failed, even backfired. (Hiiraan / CFR)

KAZAKHSTAN: Kazakh Bank Lost Billions in Western Investments. In the last few years, big banks have found many surprising ways to lose billions of dollars by making loans that turned sour. But few can match the odd tale involving Kazakhstan and a little-known bank that many Western financiers wish had remained so to them. From 2003 to 2008, the likes of Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Scotland, ING and others funneled more than $10 billion in loans into Kazakhstan’s largest bank, Bank Turalem, as the large Central Asian country enjoyed a growth boom spurred by its rich deposits of oil and natural gas. (CorpWatch)

Baghdad’s oil deals a blow to Kurdish clout in northern talks. Iraqi Arab-Kurd expert Joost Hiltermann of the International Crisis Group explains how the oil is as relevant now as it has ever been. (Iraq Oil Report)

Pakistan: Supreme Court to look into NRO. After having failed to get parliamentary protection, the NRO beneficiaries are pinning their hopes on the Supreme Court which has fixed Dec 7 to begin hearing of petitions challenging the controversial law promulgated by former military ruler Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf to grant amnesty to politicians, bureaucrats and holders of public offices involved in corruption and criminal cases. (Dawn)

Tehran police warns against Student Day unrest. Tehran’s police chief has warned against any possible instigation of unrest as Iran is preparing to mark the national Student Day on December 7. (PressTV)

Saudi Arabia: Worries over sewage threat in Jeddah. Jeddah residents are worried about the future of their city, Saudi Arabia’s second-largest, as concerns grow that a giant sewage lake on its outskirts may be close to flooding the city, and which could pose a greater danger than last week’s floods that killed at least 105 people. The sewage lake – sarcastically referred to by city residents as “Musk Lake” – usually holds 9.5 million cubic metres of sewage water but recent heavy rains have dangerously raised water levels and yesterday civil defence department officials began evacuating an area near the lake, according to witnesses. (Shamel Azmeh)

Israel rejects E.U. draft recognizing future Palestinian capital. Israel on Tuesday criticized a proposed statement by the European Union recognizing East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state — part of the country’s growing resistance to efforts to pressure it into reaching a peace deal with the Palestinians in the absence of direct, U.S.-sponsored talks. (Washington Post)

Turkey: Coup diary generals called to testify. Prosecutors conducting an investigation into Ergenekon, a clandestine network charged with plotting to overthrow the government, have called three generals who are mentioned in an admiral’s journal detailing plans to stage a coup d’état against the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government to testify as part of the ongoing probe. (Today’s Zaman)

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