LEBANON : Saudi King Abdullah has denounced the 800,000 people strong protest against the US-backed government of Lebanon, calling the massive rally a "siege" and pledging the "full backing" of the Saudi kingdom to Prime Minister Fuad Siniora.
The pro-Syrian protestors are demanding that Siniora quit, claiming that he failed to confront the US over its backing of Israel's blood-soaked military strikes during the recent war concentrated in Southern Lebanon.
Across the Middle East, Sunni dominated governments and royalty are lining up against the spreading dominance of Shiite dominated governments, such as that of Iraq.
In Bahrain, long regarded as one of the most stable, and liberal, of all Middle East nations, Shiites are poised to gain greater control of the government in run-off elections, bringing a new Islamic conservatism to the US ally, and in turn deepening sectarian divides.
IRAQ : Black marketry surrounding the Iraqi oil industry forms the greater part of an estimated $4billion in annual corruption now referred to as "the second insurgency".
A US government report claims that some $US100 million from the black market oil trade has already found its way into the hands of various insurgency groups. Oil pipelines are bombed forcing the oil to be transported by road where it can more easily stolen.
The corruption is so rife that $US9 billion of Iraqi oil revenue cannot be accounted for. One-third of all the rebuilding contracts issued since 2003 are now under criminal investigation.
More than 1850 civilians were killed in Iraq in November, an estimated 40% rise on the civilian deaths of October. November also saw the deadliest terrorist strike in the entire war, with more than 200 killed when at least five car bombings hit a crowded market in Sadr City, Baghdad.
The Bush administration is now asking Congress to approve a further $100 billion in "emergency funds" to continue fighting the war, the largest demand for supplementary funding made so far. The US government's total defence bill for 2007 is set to reach $US500 billion.
More than $US2 billion worth of US Army and Marine Corpsy equipment and gear is either wearing out or being destroyed in Iraq or Afghanistan each month.
The United States has spent an estimated $350 billion fighting the Iraq War since 2003.
Car bombs killed more than 40 people in a Baghdad market today, leaving more than 80 wounded.
CHAD : Saudi Arabia has been accused by the Chad mission to the UN of supplying "Al Qaeda" mercenaries to fight in the eastern territories of the country. In the past few months, Chad has also accused Sudan of sending mercenaries into its region, and "exporting the ethnic fighting in Darfur".
The confrontations in Darfur see the Janjaweed (Arab militias) in pitched battles against African rebel groups, leading to the deaths of more than 300,000 civilians since 2003 and the flight of two million refugees.
IRAN : The Iranian president has announced that Iran and Iraq have reached a wide ranging '"security agreement", covering oil, the economy and industries of Iraq. The agreement was reached without consultation with the Bush administration. The Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeated his demands that the United States withdraw military forces from Iraq, based around a negotiated timetable.
The Iranian president said unnamed countries should stop sending militants to fight in Iraq.
"Supporting terrorists is the ugliest act that they can do," he said "...Enemies of Iraq are trying to create differences and extend hostility among the Iraqi people."The United States, the UK, Australia and Israel regularly accuse Iran of sending militants into Iraq, however the Iraqi prime minister and president recently announced there was no evidence to back up these accusations.
The United States is now signalling it may push ahead with sanctions against Iran, despite the lack of support from China and Russia in the United Nations Security Council.
AFGHANISTAN : Interesting background and fallout here from the truce agreement reached between Afghan fighters and NATO troops from the United Kingdom in the Helmud province last month.
The 'truce' has ended most of the fighting in the province that saw British troops virtually locked down in their operations base for almost three months, and has seen calm return to the streets of local villages and towns. The 'truce' agreement was brokered after Pakistan reached a similar peace with Taliban-aligned fighters on its border.
Some members of the Afghanistan government regard the 'truce' as a silent defeat for NATO against the Taliban.
Pakistani officials, meanwhile, have insisted that NATO must accept defeat by the Taliban, at least according to the UK Telegraph.
VENEZUELA : Russia has begun shipping the first of more than 24 jet fighters and 30 helicopters to Venezeula in a deal worth an estimated $US1 billion.
The Russian built jet fighters will replace American and French jets currently used by the Chavez government. The United States strongly opposed the deal, claiming the Chavez government could not be trusted, but they could not stop the shipments without triggering an international incident.
SOMALIA : The United States is pushing for a 1992-installed arms ban to be lifted, and peacekeeping teams to be deployed.
More than 8000 Ethiopian fighters are estimated to be inside Somalia, or on its borders, in support of the transitional government. Some 2000 soldiers from Eritrea are believed to be fighting in support of the Islamic courts now controlling the central and southern regions of the country.
Three car bombs exploded today in Mogadishu, outside the headquarters of the faltering government. A link to Al Qaeda is being pushed by government ministers.
The Islamic courts are claiming they have "peacefully" captured a second town in the Bay area of Somalia, where they intend to enforce Sharia law with "an iron fist".
On November 23, the Ethiopian prime ministe revealed his government was gearing up for all out war with Somalia's Union of Islamic Courts.