AP and the New York Times reported on July 15 that on the previous day the Afghan government approved a U.S.-backed plan to establish local defense forces that will enable villagers in remote areas of the country to defend themselves against attacks by Taliban insurgents.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recommended Marine Corps General James Mattis July 8 to head the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), the joint military command for the Middle East that includes supervision of the Iraq and Afghan wars. The U.S. Central Command combines theater command of the four service branches as well as special operations for the Middle East and Central Asia.
Octavia Nasr, a senior Middle East editor at CNN, has been fired from her position after writing in a post on Twitter that she "respected" Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah — a Lebanese Shia Muslim leader with links to the terrorist group Hezbollah who died on July 4. Nasr wrote: "Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah.... One of Hezbollah's giants I respect a lot."
“Airports in Britain, Germany, and the United Arab Emirates have refused to offer fuel to Iranian passenger jets after unilateral sanctions imposed by Washington,” according to a report in the UK Telegraph. “Kuwaiti airports have also declined to offer fuel to Iranian passenger planes.”
Trade representatives of mainland China and the Republic of China on Taiwan signed a trade deal called the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) in the Chinese city of Chonqquing on June 29, as negotiators on both sides spoke of a new era in ties across the Taiwan Strait.
What is the political ideology that governs the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea? Communism, its government proclaims. Communism, on paper, rejects dynastic rule. The party may govern the state and the state may be given almost unlimited power over the lives of its citizens (or, rather, subjects), but those who rise to high positions in government or party jobs earned that honor by slavish devotion to the Communist Party — or so the story goes.
On June 7 of this year, our ongoing war in Afghanistan surpassed the Vietnam War as the longest war in American history. In his December 1, 2009 speech at West Point, President Obama followed the pattern set by several predecessors and employed the deceptive tactic of presenting false alternatives. He deftly and swiftly discounted terminating U.S. efforts in what was then already an eight-year-old war. He dwelt instead on what were, to him, the only alternatives worthy of consideration. Should the United States send tens of thousands more troops to Afghanistan? Or should the current force level be maintained? Of course, we know he has opted for sending an additional 30,000 troops.
Who is Prisoner X? That is the question being asked in Israel following the brief publication of a story about a mysterious prisoner by Ynetnews, the news website published by Yedioth Ahronoth, the nation’s leading Hebrew-language newspaper.
Ethnic violence is rocking Kyrgyzstan. Uzbek citizens of the central Asian nation are alleging atrocities committed against them by Kyrgyz gangs roaming those parts of their nation in which ethnic Uzbeks form a significant part of the nation. The death toll so far stands at 117 killed with many more homes burned and Uzbeks injured. This is particularly curious because Uzbekistan has almost five times as many people as Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan has twice the land area as Kyrgyzstan.
The New York Times on June 14 quoted a statement from General David Petraeus, commander of the United States Central Command (USCENTCOM) that there could be as much as $1 trillion in mineral deposits in Afghanistan, including significant deposits of lithium, an alkaline metal with numerous industrial applications, including lithium batteries.
AP reported statements from NATO leaders on June 11 declaring that the alliance had “regained the initiative” in the Afghan war, along with promises that the gains could result in a handover of security responsibilities to Afghan authorities by the end of 2010.