Home > News > News in Brief: 11 December 2009

News in Brief: 11 December 2009

A brief list of news clippings for the day:

10,000 new settlers within 10 months: Israel minister. An Israeli minister has predicted there will be 10,000 new settlers in the occupied West Bank over the next 10 months and insisted that a moratorium did not freeze but only limited construction, AFP reported. (Dawn)

Blackwater tied to clandestine CIA raids. Highly trained personnel employed with the private security firm formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide sometimes operated side by side with CIA field officers in Iraq and Afghanistan as the agency undertook missions to kill or capture members of insurgent groups in those countries, according to a former government official and a source familiar with the operations… Still, the involvement of Blackwater’s officers in raids is likely to raise new questions about the degree to which deadly actions in Iraq and Afghanistan were outsourced to contract personnel who operated without direct contractual authority or without the kind of oversight and accountability applied to CIA and military personnel. (Washington Post)

S Lanka army chief slams president. Sri Lanka’s former army chief has accused the president of corruption, nepotism and abuse of power ahead of next month’s election. (Al Jazeera)

Barack Obama does the world. It’s official. US President Barack Obama, long suspected of being the type of person who wanted to have his cake and eat it too, wine and dine with Wall Street while tossing rhetorical crumbs to the poor, dispossessed and hungry, all the while hobnobbing with the rich and famous and amassing draconic executive privilege, has, in his Nobel speech, just proved himself to be the world’s biggest phony. The two-faced master of the mellow sound-bite has just outdone himself in trying to convince a jaded world that war is peace, that imperialism is liberation, that down is up and two plus two equals five. (Frontier International)

YEMEN: Child soldiers used by both sides in northern conflict – NGOs. Rights groups estimate several thousand child soldiers have been involved in the war between government forces and Houthi rebels in northern Yemen since 2004. (IRIN)

Iran intel chief warns of extent of opposition. Iran’s top intelligence official denounced senior clerics who he said support the country’s opposition, an acknowledgment of the split in the leadership amid the postelection turmoil and a sign of growing pressure by hard-liners within the government to extend the crackdown. The comments, reported Thursday by the state news agency IRNA, came after this week’s widespread student protests, the biggest anti-government rallies in months. The unrest appears to have raised authorities’ frustration that a fierce crackdown since the June election has failed to crush the opposition. Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi spoke to a gathering of pro-government clerics in the holy city of Qom and warned that the opposition movement — which authorities label as a foreign-backed plot to overthrow clerical rule — extended into the country’s high ranks. (AP)

Western envoys hint at tougher Iran sanctions. The United States and other envoys at the United Nations slammed Iran on Thursday for transporting arms and ammunition to Syria, saying the clock is ticking for the Islamic republic — which could face tougher sanctions next year over its nuclear program. (CNN)

Speak Persian? The Shin Bet wants you. The Shin Bet security service published an unusual want ad in the newspapers this week, seeking “Persian-speaking field coordinators.” Training for the position, the ad said, was open to both men and women, and would begin in April. (Haaretz)

China poses a riddle in US backyard. The strengthening economic alliance between China and Brazil, the two giants of the developing world, is unnerving the powers in Washington. But the South American country has much to do, and ask of itself, if it wants to expand beyond commodities trade to become a true strategic partner. (Asia Times)

U.N. Afghan Mission Chief to Resign. The leader, Kai Eide, a 60-year-old Norwegian diplomat who was appointed head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan in March 2008, had widely been expected to step down early next year. In the tumultuous aftermath of the Aug. 20 Afghan presidential elections, Mr. Eide was sharply criticized by his deputy, the American diplomat Peter W. Galbraith, who accused him of concealing electoral fraud that benefited the campaign of the incumbent president, Hamid Karzai. Mr. Eide disputed the assertions. (New York Times)

Is Syria to Blame for the Bombings in Iraq? Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki has accused Syria of being behind the car bombs that have killed several hundred Iraqis. The Guardian reports, based on a dossier provided to them by Iraqi authorities, that a conspiracy involving leaders of Islamic militant organizations [al-Qaida], Iraqi Baathists and the Syrian government hatched a plan “to topple the [Iraqi] government,.” “They elected a leader and made a unified front.” This is explosive stuff. Oddly, reporters from the New York Times, Washington Post, and LA Times have not picked up on this plot or the Iraqi intelligence dossier. The US papers, although they report on Maliki’s blaming of Syria, concentrate on the confusion and back-biting taking place within Iraq, due to upcoming elections and the ongoing power struggle between parties and between sectarian groups. (Syria Comment)

Key Copenhagen group releases draft climate plan. In one of the most significant developments to date at the U.N.-sponsored climate talks, the ad-hoc group charged with charting a new path forward released a draft text Friday morning outlining the critical questions that need to be resolved before the talks end Dec. 18. (Washington Post)

A Missile Shield by Any Other Name. No one wants to sit on a sofa that’s uncomfortable for too long, so why would Eastern Europeans, let alone the world? The ‘SOFA’ in question (a Status of Forces Agreement, regulating military bases and personnel abroad) with the U.S. is as far from the Ikea-seating kind as possible, except metaphorically. Nevertheless, Poland was left standing in its regards until December 10, 2009 after the latest round of their military negotiations, the end of which was announced December 4. What will transpire is likely to be highly indicative of President Obama’s Eastern European and global military strategies to come. (Informed Comment)

Ukraine reaches $2.5B arms deal with Iraq. A senior Ukrainian lawmaker says Ukraine has reached an agreement to supply $2.5 billion worth of weapons to Iraq. Anatoly Grytsenko, the chairman of the Ukrainian’s parliament’s security and defense committe, said Wednesday the deal will see Ukraine provide Iraq with 420 armored personnel carriers, 6 AN-32B cargo planes and other military hardware. Grytsenko formerly served as Ukraine’s defense minister. (Forbes / AP)

F-35 Controversies and Counterclaims, December 2009. The $300 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program could well become the largest single weapon program in modern history. (Defense Industry Daily)

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