Pakistani officials in Washington announced on October 23 that their government will supply arms to tribal militia in its northwestern tribal region, which lies along the border with Afghanistan. The region, known officially as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or FATA, has seen much violence in recent years as terrorist units affiliated with the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda have crossed the mountainous border fleeing from U.S. forces operating in Afghanistan.
Last June, in a national referendum, voters in Ireland rejected the European Union Lisbon Treaty, which was, said opponents, merely a rehashed version of the EU Constitution that had gone down to defeat in 2004. Now, the powers that be in Brussels, headquarters of the European Union, have announced a new effort aimed at "educating" Irish voters for another run at the treaty.
The U.S. military aind Iraqi authorites held a ceremony on October 23 marking the transfer of security responsibility for the province of Babil from the U.S. military to the Iraqi government. Babil is the 12th of 18 Iraqi provinces to be transferred to Iraqi control. The transfer-of-power ceremony was held in the provincial capital, Hilla, located near the ruins of the ancient city of Babylon.
Iraq's cabinet said on October 21 it would demand changes in the proposed security agreement between the United States and Iraq, raising doubts that the document would quickly be approved. The United Nations Security Council resolution that authorizes American troop operations in Iraq expires on December 31, and unless an agreement can be reached by then, or the Security Council votes to extend the existing resolution, American troops would be required to cease operations in Iraq on that date.
On October 16, the Swiss government — despite previous assurances that its banking system was largely immune from the worldwide banking crisis — issued a long-term loan of up to $54 billion to its largest bank, UBS AG. Agence France Presse reported that to secure its loan, the Swiss government will take a temporary stake of 9.3 percent in the bank.