Home > News > News in Brief: 8 December 2009

News in Brief: 8 December 2009

A brief list of news clippings for the day:

EU to debate East Jerusalem status. European foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Tuesday are discussing a proposal to recognise East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. The initiative has reportedly been put forward by Sweden, which currently holds the presidency of the European Union. (Al Jazeera)

Another Netanyahu con… “a freeze on settlements”, according to Netanyahu’s scheme, does not include Jerusalem and its suburbs, and allows continued construction of 3,000 residential units in existing settlements across the West Bank. The “temporary freeze” also excludes infrastructure and services projects, such as building schools, synagogues, factories and tourism ventures. (Al Ahram)

Student Protests Erupt in Over a Dozen Iranian Cities. The protests against the regime in Iran on Monday were remarkable in several ways, I conclude on reading Borzou Daragahi’s account in LAT. One is the sheer number of cities where students came out for rallies: “Esfahan, Shiraz and Kerman, in the eastern city of Mashhad and in the western cities of Tabriz, Kermanshah, Hamedan and Ilam as well as in Rasht on the Caspian Sea.” Another is that Iranian Kurds joined in the protests in Sanandaj and other cities, throwing a scare into the regime, which is said to be sending armored vehicles to help restore order. (Informed Comment)

Iran warns of tough action against law-breakers. Iranian Prosecutor General Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei has warned of tough action against those who violate law and order in the country. (Press TV)

Delhi displays multi-vector diplomacy. Converging regional interests and expanding nuclear and defense ties have put India-Russia relations on a positive trajectory. India is adjusting to the new balance of global economic power and the Barack Obama administration’s shifting approach to South Asia, while both Moscow and New Delhi fear “collateral damage” to their national security should the Afghan situation worsen. (Asia Times)

Afghan army will need aid for 15-20 years: Karzai. President Hamid Karzai said Tuesday that Afghanistan lacked the resources to fund its security forces for the next 15 to 20 years, appealing for foreign aid to stand up the police and army. (Dawn)

Gates tells Afghans U.S. not leaving yet. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told Afghans on Tuesday Washington would not abandon them, describing a withdrawal that would begin in 2011 but be spread over several years to give Afghan troops time to train. (Reuters)

US troop surge in Afghanistan to begin next week. The Pentagon on Monday announced the first wave of a troop surge into Afghanistan as the top military officer told Marines they had a short window to seize back the initiative from the Taliban. (Dawn)

Iraq: Scores killed in Baghdad car bomb attacks. Several car bomb attacks killed scores of people and wounded over 100 others in the heart of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, on Tuesday. The blasts were the latest high-profile attacks apparently aimed at sensitive Iraqi government buildings, police said. Early reports suggested more than 100 people were killed but the number had not been confirmed by authorities. Two car bombs exploded near the labour and interior ministries, while two more struck in central Baghdad. (AKI)

Talabani congratulates Iraq on election law. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani congratulated Iraqis on passing elections law saying that Iraq has overcome a major way into resorting to consensus and adopting dialogue instead of violence. (Alsumaria)

Twin Attacks in Eastern Pakistan Kill at Least 66. Continuing a string of attacks against civilians and government offices, militants set off two bombs in one of the busiest markets of this eastern Pakistani city, killing at least 54 people and wounding at least 150 others, Pakistani authorities said on Tuesday. (New York Times)

Command & Control in South Asia. On November 28, 2009 the Pakistani media reported that President Asif Ali Zardari “divested himself” of his “powers” as Chairman of the National Command Authority, transferring them to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. Pakistan’s history has been marked by triangular jockeying among Pakistan’s Presidents, Prime Ministers, and Army Chiefs, as well as Constitutional gyrations facilitating Army, Parliamentary, and Presidential rule. Against this backdrop, does this change in the Chairmanship of the NCA have meaning? Are changes in the NCA and public releases of information about them helpful or harmful to nuclear stabilization on the subcontinent? (Arms Control Wonk)

Russia: Moscow Embraces New Initiative to Forge Post-Soviet Trade Bloc. Russia wants to turn a newly minted Customs Union with Belarus and Kazakhstan into its major vehicle for post-Soviet economic integration in Central Eurasia. Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus signed documents to establish a customs union during a summit meeting of the Eurasian Economic Community (EEC), held November 27 in the Belarussian capital Minsk. Under the agreements, a unified Customs Code and common customs tariffs will go into effect on July 1, 2010. (EurasiaNet)

Kuwait MPs seek to unseat PM. A group of Kuwaiti opposition members of parliament have filed a motion of “non-cooperation” against the country’s prime minister over corruption charges. If passed, the motion tabled on Tuesday after a marathon closed session of the parliament, could unseat Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah. (Al Jazeera)

INTERVIEW : Hezbollah ‘more than resistance’. Sheikh Maher Hammoud is one of few senior Sunni clerics in Lebanon who sides with Iranian-backed, Shi’ite-led Hezbollah, noting that the movement offers something far greater than any classification of Sunni and Shi’ite. He is also friends with the Muslim Brotherhood, “despite their dreadful mistakes”. (Asia Times)

Iran rejects offer of third-party mediation over nuclear dispute. Iran has rejected a US suggestion that Turkey don the hat of mediator in an effort to resolve the ongoing international dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program. (Deutsche Welle)

Africa and the Economic Crisis. As the world turns its attention to Afghanistan and President Obama sends additional troops to that volatile region, pivotal events happening in Africa are falling further below the radar. The global economic crisis has brought negative impacts to the continent, such as a dramatic fall in commodity prices, from cotton to iron ore. There has also been a steep decline in remittances, as Africans in the diaspora lose their jobs and homes. And meanwhile, international development funds have cut back on the amount of money they are disbursing… Decades of World Bank prescriptions have reduced the size and role of the state, in Africa and around the world. The current crisis, however, has dictated a more central role for African governments in regulating their economies, preventing capital flight, and creative taxation, so that Africa’s resources benefit her people. (Foreign Policy in Focus)

Georgia: Former TV Tycoon Plans New Channel to Challenge Government. Erosi Kitsmarishvili, the man who changed Georgian television and who helped spark the 2003 revolution that brought President Mikheil Saakashvili to power, now claims he can unseat Saakashvili with the help of a tiny Tbilisi television channel. (EurasiaNet)

Turkey PM: Israel can’t bomb Gaza then hold drill in Turkey. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday in an interview in the United States that Israel cannot fly over Gaza and then participate in an air force drill over Turkish land. (Haaretz)

US-SRI LANKA: Senate Report Urges Warmer Ties. Despite ongoing concern about the country’s human-rights situation, the United States should seek a more positive relationship with strife-torn Sri Lanka, primarily for geo-political reasons, according to a new report released here Monday by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. (IPS)

YEMEN: Somali refugees struggle in parched Aden slum. Public access to water in Basateen, a slum on the outskirts of Yemen’s southern port city of Aden and home to some 16,000 Somali refugees, has become extremely limited, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). (IRIN)

Japan Puts Forth $80.6 Billion Stimulus Package. Japan’s governing coalition has announced $80.6 billion in stimulus spending in a bid to buttress the country’s fragile economic recovery. (New York Times)

Iran says missing nuclear scientist in US custody. An Iranian scientist who went missing in Saudi Arabia in June has been handed over to officials in Washington, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday. (Press TV)

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