Home > News > News in Brief: 17 December 2009

News in Brief: 17 December 2009

A brief list of news clippings for the day:

Climate Structural Adjustment: We’ll Save Your Life On Our Terms. Unless every country here agrees to the U.S. terms, the Secretary [Clinton] explained, “there will not be that kind of a [financial] commitment, at least from the United States.” It was naked blackmail – forcing developing countries to choose between a strong fair deal that stands a chance of averting climate chaos and the funds they need to cope with the droughts and floods that have already arrived. I wanted to ask Clinton: Is this not climate structural adjustment, on a global scale? We’ll give you cash, but only with our draconian conditions? And who is the U.S. to call the shots when it carries the heaviest responsibility for emitting the gasses that are already wreaking havoc on the climates of the global south – what happened to the principle that the polluter pays? (The Nation)

Afghans fleeing Taliban are flooding Tajikistan. A growing number of refugees are fleeing escalating violence and lawlessness in Afghanistan for safety in Tajikistan, the most visible sign yet that the fallout from the Taliban insurgency is threatening to undermine Central Asia’s security, too. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees says that more than 3,600 Afghans have fled to Tajikistan since January 2008. (Washington Post)

Credit Suisse ‘broke curbs on Iran’. Credit Suisse has agreed to pay a record $536m and admit it violated US sanctions by hiding business it was doing with Iranian banks, settling an investigation by the US justice department. (Al Jazeera)

Habash: Iran-Syria relations regressing. Iranian-Syrian relations are regressing due to Turkish-Syrian closeness; Italian News Agency AKI quoted Former Syrian Minister Marwan Habash as saying. The regression is due to Syria’s dissatisfaction over Iran’s interference in Iraq’s internal affairs, Habash added. (Alsumaria)

Domestic conflict shifts into higher gear. The uproar over former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s public insistence on Iran’s need to respect popular demands and the government-staged outrage over the burning of a picture of the Islamic revolution’s founder point to an ever-deepening crisis at the heart of the establishment. (Asia Times)

Sri Lanka poll nominations close. Nominations to run in Sri Lanka’s presidential election have closed, with a record 22 candidates registering to run in next month’s elections… Despite the large number of candidates, the battle will be between Mahinda Rajapaksa, the incumbent president, and General Sarath Fonseka, the former army chief who led the army to victory over the Tigers in May this year. (Al Jazeera)

Iraq VP calls on PM to resign. Iraqi Vice President Tarek Al Hashemi called upon Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki to resign on account of Baghdad recent bombings (Alsumaria)

Taliban Offer. Some talk on a Taliban proposal that it would sever ties with al Qaeda in return for withdrawal of foreign troops. This seems to me like a very clever strategic move by the Taliban. If the US says no, the argument that they are there to safeguard against further 9/11 style attacks begins to disolve. If they say yes, then the Taliban get exactly what they want. The initial response seems to have been to query the credibility of the offer, that is the willingness and/or ability of the Afghan Taliban to separate from al Qaeda. Apparently Mullah Omar has interpreted this response as a rejection. (Registan)

U.S Policy in Afghanistan. Richard C. Holbrooke outlines U.S. policy toward Afghanistan following President Barack Obama’s address at the United States Military Academy at West Point. (CFR)

US: Up to 56,000 more contractors likely for Afghanistan. The surge of 30,000 U.S. troops into Afghanistan could be accompanied by a surge of up to 56,000 contractors, vastly expanding the presence of personnel from the U.S. private sector in a war zone, according to a study by the Congressional Research Service. CRS, which provides background information to members of Congress on a bipartisan basis, said it expects an additional 26,000 to 56,000 contractors to be sent to Afghanistan. That would bring the number of contractors in the country to anywhere from 130,000 to 160,000. (CorpWatch)

Saudi was top buyer of U.S. arms in 2005-08. Saudi Arabia was the biggest buyer of U.S. weapons during a four-year span with $11.2 billion in deals, followed by the United Arab Emirates with $10 billion, the U.S. Congressional Research Service said in a new report. (Shamel Azemeh)

Insurgents hack U.S. drones. Militants in Iraq have used $26 off-the-shelf software to intercept live video feeds from U.S. Predator drones, potentially providing them with information they need to evade or monitor U.S. military operations. (Wall Street Journal)

34 killed in Yemen terror raids. Security forces raided locations in two Yemeni provinces killing and arresting dozens of suspected terrorists, the state news agency SABA reported Thursday. The raids took place in Yemen’s capital Sanaa and the southern province of Abyan. Security forces killed 34 terrorists and and arrested 17 suspects that were linked to al Qaeda, the agency reported. (CNN)

Russian official: US-Russian arms deal not ready. Russia’s foreign minister urged U.S. officials on Thursday to accept deeper cuts and less intrusive verification measures in a nuclear weapons treaty the two countries are negotiating. Sergey Lavrov said disagreements over such issues during the past few days had slowed efforts to reach a deal, and he agreed with the White House’s assessment that President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev are not expected to sign a nuclear weapons treaty when they travel to Copenhagen this week. (AP)

China’s naval prowess overblown. A former United States military advisor’s take on the growing power of the Chinese navy and a decline in American naval strength, depicted in his fictitious account of the sinking of a US aircraft carrier by China, is overblown and ends the year for US-China relations on a controversial note. (Asia Times)

New details on Obama’s $7.5 billion aid package to Pakistan. The administration sent Congress its first mandated report on Pakistan strategy yesterday, part of the terms of the Kerry-Lugar Pakistan aid bill. The document isn’t public, but a copy was obtained by The Cable, and it shows in new detail how the Obama team is thinking about Pakistan and how it intends to distribute the $7.5 billion in the package. The report is notable in that it doesn’t just focus on problem areas, as some observers had feared, and actually tackles nationwide and longer-term problems beyond the extremists now operating in Pakistan’s northwest region. The message of the report is clear: The administration intends to show demonstrable results soon to justify and vindicate the program, while sewing the seeds for longer-term progress all the while. The biggest chunk of the funds, $3.5 billion spread over five years, will go to “high impact, high visibility infrastructure programs,” according to the report, focusing on the energy and agricultural sectors — “programs that Pakistani citizens can see.” (The Cable)

Pakistan: Supreme Court declares NRO null and void. In what has been billed as a verdict that may change the course of country’s political history, the Supreme Court on Wednesday declared the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) as never to have existed and against the Constitution by reviving all cases and reversing acquittals of its beneficiaries, thus putting the PPP parliamentarians and cabinet members and President Asif Zardari in a quandary. (Dawn)

NATO asked Russia to authorize ground military transit to Afghanistan. Russian President Medvedev promised to consider the request of Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO Secretary General on cooperation in Afghanistan, Interfax reports with the reference to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. (Ferghana)

Qatar ready to consider India’s fresh gas demand. Qatar has agreed to consider meeting India’s additional long-term demand for natural gas following talks between the visiting Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Murli Deora, and Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy and Industry Abullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah. India is seeking Liquefied Natural Gas for the Dahej and Kochi terminals. (The Hindu)

Pakistan: Country to face 1,000-1,400MW shortage from 27th. The country is once again going to face the scourge of power loadshedding from December 26, as it faces shortage of 1,000 to 1,400 MW of electricity. The reasons are canals’ closure and non-availability of natural gas, Managing Director of Pakistan Electric Power Company Tahir Basharat Cheema told The News. He said that the gas closure from Kohat to powerhouses had intensified the deficit. (The News)

Turkey: Another lieutenant sent to court on plot charges. A group of Naval Forces personnel testified to civilian prosecutors at the İstanbul Courthouse in Beşiktaş on Wednesday as part of an ongoing probe into an apparent plot to assassinate admirals at the Naval Forces Command. The number and names of the soldiers has not been made public. After their interrogation, a lieutenant was transferred to the İstanbul 11th High Criminal Court for arrest. However, it was not known whether the lieutenant had been arrested or released at the time Today’s Zaman went to print. In July seven naval lieutenants were arrested on charges of plotting to assassinate two admirals, Metin Ataç and Eşref Uğur Yiğit. (Today’s Zaman)

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