Afghanistan is seen as the second most corrupt country in the world according to Transparency International, trailing behind only Somalia. Iraq did not fare much better in the rankings, coming in three spots behind Afghanistan at number five.
The London Times reported that official British documents have revealed that the new Anglo-American strategy in Afghanistan is to buy off insurgents with bribes of “bags of gold.”
Just prior to the November 15 Obama visit to China, a front-page article in the New York Times began with the following sobering assessment: “When President Obama visits China for the first time on Sunday, he will, in many ways, be assuming the role of profligate spender coming to pay his respects to his banker.”
U.S. government-controlled VOA news on November 18 cited President Obama's statement that Israel's recent decision to authorize the construction of new settlements in East Jerusalem does not make Israel safer, and could complicate peace efforts. In an interview the president had with Fox News in China, he said: "I think that additional settlement building does not contribute to Israel's security. I think it makes it harder for them to make peace with their neighbors. I think it embitters the Palestinians in a way that could end up being very dangerous."
The Times of London reported on November 17 that UN and Iranian officials have been engaged in secret negotiations toward an agreement to persuade world powers to lift sanctions against Iran that would and allow Tehran to continue with most of its nuclear program in return for cooperation with UN inspectors.
Communist China has executed nine men for crimes committed during violent, ethnically motivated riots that took place in China’s Xinjiang region in July. Eight of the men were from the Muslim Uighur minority, and the other was reported to be from the Han majority, although the official China News Service did not specify this.
British officials announced that five British soldiers were shot and killed on November 3 by an Afghan policeman in the Nad e-Ali district of Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. British military officials said the men were shot as they drank tea at a checkpoint in the village of Shin Kalay where they had been living. They had been advising Afghan policemen.
Delivering his acceptance speech at a November 3 press conference, the day after Afghanistan's Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) declared him the winner of the country's disputed election, President Hamid Karzai issued an appeal to “to bring peace to this soil” and said that Afghans should “ask our Taliban brothers and others to return and embrace their own land.”
In yet another sign of eroding international confidence in the U.S. dollar, India’s central bank has just purchased 200 tons of gold from the International Monetary Fund at $1,045.00 an ounce, in a transaction valued at close to $7 billion. Nor were Indian officials at all coy about their motives. As one senior official at the Indian central bank told the Wall Street Journal, “It makes sense to buy gold as it will appreciate more than the U.S. dollar.”
VOA News reported on November 2 that Afghanistan's Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) had declared President Hamid Karzai the winner of the country's disputed election, following the withdrawal from the race the previous day by Karzai's challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, the nation’s former Foreign Minister. The runoff election that had been scheduled for November 7 has been cancelled and Karzai will remain as president for a five-year term.