Wednesday, April 04, 2007

World News In Brief

Iran is now effectively surrounded by US bases and troop deployments totalling more than 300,000 military personnel.

Four British soldiers and their translator were killed yesterday in Basra, when their vehicle was destroyed by a massive roadside bomb. Five American soldiers were killed in bombings and attacks in Baghdad. At least 41 Iraqis were executed, found dead or killed in fighting. More than 40 Iraqis were mass-kidnapped in the past two days.

President Bush clearly acknowledged yesterday, for the first time, that most Americans had "grown weary of this war". 57% of Americans want the majority of US troops out of Iraq by September, 2008.

More than 60 people have been killed in heavy fighting between Pakistani soldiers and foreign militants linked to Al Qaeda in the south, close to the Afghan border. Southern tribes began fighting the foreigners on March 19. More than 50 of the dead from yesterday's fighting are believed to be Uzbeks. Last Monday, a council of tribal elders declared war on the foreign fighters hiding out in the region.

The Pakistan government said the death toll was proof that it was actively, and successfully, fighting the 'War on Terror', after months of international pressure to stop Islamists and militants crossing from Pakistan into Afghanistan, via the Waziristan region.

President Vladimir Putin is ramping up the rhetoric against the United States' plans to position bases for its 'missile defence shield' close to Russian borders. Poland and the Czech Republic are said to have informally agreed to allow the US to base some of its missiles within their borders.

Russia has warned the US again about the "consequences" of attacking Iran, and is growing nervous about increased US military activity close to Iranian border.

CHAD : 65 people were reported to have been killed, and more than 8000 driven from their homes in East Chad, after attacks by Sudanese Junjawid fighters. Chad military forces killed 25 of the attackers after the raids. The attacks are reported as "the latest spillover" from the war in Darfur, where more than 200,000 people have been killed in four years of fighting between Sudanese military and government-backed militias and local rebels.

IRAQ : US Senator John McCain, and presidential hopeful, along with other Republican lawmakers, made a much publicised visit to a Baghdad marketplace to show that it was safe to "walk the streets" in the war zone, and this was a sign that the security crackdown was working.
McCain was accompanied by 100 Iraqi and American soldiers, three Blackhawk helicopters and two gunships. Yesterday, 21 workers at the same market visited by McCain were abducted and executed.

The market stall owners, background extras to McCain's incredibly irresponsible publicity stunt, were furious that the senator went home and made claims about how "safe and secure" the Baghdad markets were, and how pleased stall owners were by the "increasing security". But stall owners in the market did not tell McCain this. They told the senator their situation was "bad" and "everybody complained (to McCain)". Now some of the very same stall market stall owners McCain visited are likely to be amongst the dead.

The United States is actively backing and supporting terrorist attacks inside Iran, conducted by an Al Qaeda-linked Pakistani tribal militant group. 'Jundullah' has claimed responsibility for killing dozens of Iranians, and executing military personnel on video. The group is said to be funded by the US via Iranian exiles.

The capture and detention of 15 British sailors and marines by Iran caused near panic on world oil markets, seeing prices rise to six month records. One estimate claims that Iran has made more than $US80 million off the rise in oil prices. Iran exports more than 2.5 million barrels of oil per day. 25% of the world's oil passes through the Persian Gulf.

SOMALIA : More than 400 people were killed in four days of fighting between the Islamist insurgency and the combined military forces of the Ethiopian and Somali governments, most of the dead were civilians. Another 600 people were wounded.

ETHIOPIA : Human Rights Watch claim that the US, via the CIA and FBI, is involved in running rendition programs and secret prisons in Ethiopia, where Somalis fleeing the fighting are being held. Another report claims that hundreds 'terrorist suspects' from 19 countries, including women and children, are being held in Ethiopian prisons and are denied access to lawyers.

ISRAEL : Intelligence sources are claiming that thousands of Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters are now undergoing military training in Iran, Yemen and Syria.

An influential Israeli military intelligence major claims that Iran, Syria and Hezbollah are preparing for war against the United States; war-drumming propaganda dismissed by most of the world's media.

The nuclear-armed nations of Pakistan and India are getting closer to a formal deal over the future of Kashmir. Pakistan's President Musharraf has all but given up on Pakistan's territorial claim to India Kashmir, allowing the deal to move forward. India and Pakistan are expected to share responsibility for the governing of all of the disputed territory, which has been a rallying propaganda tool for Islamists for decades.

Syria and Turkey are working together to round up key leaders of the Syrian Kurdistan independence group PKK.

American Democrat Nancy Pelosi visited the Syrian president yesterday, much to the annoyance of the Bush White House, and announced that Syria was ready to negotiate peace with Israel, and talks between Syria and Israel should begin soon.

PALESTINE : The Arab summit in Riyadh two weeks ago finished with an offer of 'land for peace' to Israel. The Saudis were blunt after leading the talks and Arab nation negotiations and said Israel had to accept the offer or face further violence. Israel welcomed most of the plan, but now wants to invite Arab leaders to Israel for further talks. The Palestinian foreign minister said Israel is now stalling, and wants to negotiate peace offering nothing in return.

The capture and detention of 15 British sailors and marines by Iran caused near panic on world oil markets, seeing prices rise to six month records. One estimate claims that Iran has made more than $US80 million off the rise in oil prices. Iran exports more than 2.5 million barrels of oil per day. 25% of the world's oil passes through the Persian Gulf.

INDONESIA : A joint mission by Indonesian and Australian anti-terror forces has uncovered a massive stash of explosives held by suspected terrorists. Indonesia and Australia are claiming they have disrupted a terrorist bombing plot that would have killed hundreds. The volume of explosives seized was said to be (via an Australian radio news report) four times the amount used in the Bali bombings of 2002, that killed more than 200 people.

THAILAND : 14 Muslim worshippers were wounded after a bomb was thrown into a mosque in the south of the country. More than 2000 people have been killed in three years of Islamist insurgency in the country's far south districts. The government is now considering recruiting women into its military to help fight the insurgency.

SRI LANKA : Fighting last night saw the Sri Lankan military kill 23 'rebels' and seizing four Tamil Tiger bases, according to claims made by the government.

The government also claims it has effectively destroyed the Tamil Tigers "sea base" during bombing raids. The 'Sea Tigers' have waged a damaging series of "spectacular" boat-based suicide attacks against the Sri Lankan Navy.

Recently a bus at a military checkpoint was bombed by Tamil Tigers, killing 16. This followed the Tamil Tigers first air strike against a Sri Lankan air force base.

Tamil Tigers have been fighting government forces for more than 24 years, trying to get an independent homeland. Some 65,000 people were killed during the insurgency before a cease fire was negotiated in 2002. More than 4000 have died since fighting reignited in late 2005.

AFGHANISTAN : The United States now has more than 40,000 soldiers in Afghanistan, and one unit is feelig a unique kind of dejavu. They spent years playing the role of Afghan insurgents and Taliban in war games, now they are fighting the people they once pretended to be. Pakistan is claiming that attacks In bad news for the United States and NATO, old friends and former foes of President Hamid Karzai have announced they are uniting to form a new political party to "improve democracy in our society", and look likely to successfully undermine Karzai's power and influence.

Pakistan is claiming that harsh measures it took to contain militant raids and attacks launched from inside its borders into Afghanistan have been a major success - "no reports of any cross border movement."