Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

British royalty steps into Central Asia energy diplomacy

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Britain’s Prince Andrew stepped into Central Asia energy diplomacy this week, touring the vast former Soviet region and holding top-level talks on gas supplies in remote Turkmenistan.

Western envoys have flocked to Central Asia over past years, hoping to grab a share of its abundant energy reserves – a worrisome trend for Russia which sees the mainly Muslim region as part of its traditional sphere of interest.

Turkmenistan, a long-isolated Caspian nation, has been of particular interest since its new president came to power in 2006 promising to open its doors to foreign investors.

Prince Andrew – who doubles as Britain’s special representative for international trade and investment – sat down for talks with President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov to discuss expanding energy supplies to Europe.

Euphoria at Saddam’s fall becomes a sigh

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I still remember what my father-in-law told me that fateful day in 2003, as we sat riveted by the sight of American soldiers on television pulling down the iconic statue of Saddam Hussein from its pedestal in a Baghdad square.

My father-in-law, whose brother had fled Iraq after being jailed for a few days after Baathists took the power in 1969 and who was never a Saddam supporter, was reflective.

Bailing out Russian oligarchs

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Posted by Guy Faulconbridge

Not all of Russia’s rich businessmen are queuing up for a loan under a government rescue package offering billions of dollars in state funds to bail out oligarchs who have been badly hit by the global financial crisis.

Russian billionaires Oleg Deripaska and Mikhail Fridman this week got a total of $6.5 billion in loans from a state-owned bank to help them cover foreign debts secured against stakes in major Russian companies, according to industry sources.

Russia talks to foreign investors – in private

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Posted by Gleb Bryanski

Foreign investors who filed into a Moscow hotel on Wednesday anxious to hear what Russia’s anti-crisis tsar First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov had to say about the future of the market were disappointed to find he had not shown up.

They had many questions: the stock market is down around 70 percent since May peak, gold and forex reserves are have fallen below $500 billion for the first time in eight months as Russia props up the rouble and the economic outlook is uncertain.

“Deja vu all over again” in struggling Hungary?

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Hungary has negotiated a $25 billion economic rescue package with the IMF, the EU and the World Bank. What else is new? As that non-Hungarian philosopher of gamesmanship Yogi Berra put it, it’s ”like déjà vu all over again”.  

 

Consider the words of historian Paul Lendvai who wrote: ”Its economy in tatters, Hungary accepts a loan of 250 million gold crowns.” “Fiscal stability was restored, a currency reform was introduced…and after a modest upswing the value of industrial production stood 12 percent higher…”

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Will the U.S. have to turn to Iran for help on Afghanistan?

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Will the United States have to turn to its old nemesis Iran for help in Afghanistan? A couple of articles out this month suggest it will.

In this article published by the MIT Center for International Studies, the authors argue that the hostility between Washington and Tehran has been bad for the United States, Iran and Afghanistan, and played into the hands of the Pakistan military, the Taliban and al Qaeda.

What really happened in the U.S. raid on Syria?

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   So much of what passes for news in the Middle East is enveloped in shadow, with even seasoned observers reduced to weighing claim and counter-claim with little hard evidence to go on. Yet another example is the U.S. raid across the Syrian border on Sunday.
   Syria says the attack by U.S. forces inside Syria was a “terrorist aggression” which targeted a farm and killed eight civilians.
    A U.S. official said the raid by U.S. forces is believed to have killed a major al Qaeda operative, known as Abu Ghadiya, who helped smuggle foreign fighters into Iraq.
    But do we really know what happened?
    We do know that following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of  Iraq, Syria, which feared it was next on Washington’s list of rogue states for regime change, permitted the transit of Jihadi volunteers for the Iraqi insurgency fighting the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
    We also know that there have been similar attacks by U.S. forces near the Iraqi border, and also in Afghanistan and across the Afghan-Pakistan border. In at least two instances these operations have mistakenly hit a wedding party and civilian houses despite claims they were al Qaeda hideouts.
    We also know that the U.S. military has at least twice in the past carried out attacks across the Syrian border but this was the first time the obsessively secretive Syrian regime has gone public with it and allowed camera crews to reach the area and film the aftermath.
    Damascus is resentful because, as part of its attempt to improve its image internationally, it has clamped down on al Qaeda-inspired Islamist militants. It feels its efforts are not being recognised by Washington and that the Jihadis  are seeking reprisals.
   “I can tell you and explain that the terrorist explosion in Damacus in September happened because we tightened our border with Iraq. They (Jihadis) wanted revenge for what we are doing. Unfortunately they are not the only revenging party. Of course the Americans tried to ‘reward’ us by carrying out this (attack) ,” said Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem.
    Given the credibility of all parties  in this affair it is going to be difficult to get to the the bottom of what happened.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

IMF bailout: the coming medicine for Pakistan?

Is the International Monetary Fund going to force Pakistan to swallow its classic bitter pill – which to some is worse than the disease – as a price of rescuing it from economic meltdown?

IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn has said loans to countries hit by the global financial turmoil would be faster, and with fewer conditions, than in the past. Conditions for lending should be defined by what is needed for the programme and should not be an “attempt to fix the world”, the IMF Survey magazine quotes him as telling staff.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

India, Japan in security pact; a new architecture for Asia?

While much of the media attention during Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Japan this week was focused on a free trade deal the two sides failed to agree on, another pact that could have even greater consequences for the region was quietly pushed through.

This was a security cooperation agreement under which India and  Japan, once on opposite sides of the Cold War, will hold military exercises, police the Indian Ocean and conduct military-to-military exchanges on fighting terrorism.

Was rightist Haider gay? Austria doesn’t care

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 Now that Austrian far-right leader Joerg Haider is dead, the German, British and U.S. press are eagerly spilling the beans on his “secret double life”, saying that he had a male lover.

 Just when you thought his story couldn’t get more dramatic — he died on Oct. 11 in a high-speed car crash while drunk — we now learn that Haider, who was married with two daughters, was not only a populist who polarised the public with remarks about Nazism and immigrants, but might have been gay too.

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