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FPI Overnight Brief -- November 6

FPI Overnight Brief
November 6, 2009

Honduran de facto leader Roberto Micheletti said on Thursday night he would install a national unity government without the participation of ousted President Manuel Zelaya. The rival leaders had agreed last week to end a four-month political crisis and form a so-called unity and reconciliation cabinet by Thursday, but they then disagreed who would lead the cabinet. Zelaya declined to name any members to the cabinet, but Micheletti said he was going ahead without them. .Reuters

An escalating quarrel between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and a powerful governor is stoking fears of bloodshed in one of the country's more peaceful and prosperous provinces. During this year's presidential election, Balkh Gov. Atta Mohammad Noor was alone among Afghanistan's 34 governors -- all of whom were appointed by Mr. Karzai -- to openly back challenger Abdullah Abdullah. Mr. Karzai's victory last week, declared by an election commission after months of controversy, has Mr. Atta steaming, and tensions rising over the prospect that Kabul will try to reassert central authority in this province of two million people. "Karzai is a thief of people 's votes. Democracy has been buried in Afghanistan. He's not a lawful president," Mr. Atta said in an interview in his vast rococo-styled office, as turbaned supplicants lined up to petition for his help in resolving court cases and disputes with local authorities. Wall Street Journal

Taliban fighters are fleeing into the mountains of South Waziristan to escape a military offensive and resistance is dwindling, Pakistan's army said. Terrorist supply lines have been cut and their ability to "strike as a cohesive force" reduced significantly, Major General Athar Abbas, the military spokesman, told local television yesterday, the official Associated Press of Pakistan reported. While most escape routes have been closed, guerrillas are fleeing across rugged terrain in the tribal region bordering Afghanistan, Abbas said. Intelligence reports indicate militant leaders remain in Waziristan and are in hiding, he added. Bloomberg

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is to defend his government's commitment to Afghanistan in a major speech Friday, saying the war is essential to his country's security, according to excerpts released in advance by his office. The speech comes after the deaths of seven British soldiers in the past week, including five who were shot and killed by an Afghan police officer they were training. Despite increasing doubt over the country's involvement in the war in Afghanistan, Brown links military action there to safety on Britain's streets. The AP

Officials say two gunmen attacked an army officer and soldier in the Pakistani capital, wounding both. It's the third such attack in less than three weeks and comes as the military wages an offensive against the Taliban along the Afghan border. No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which also killed another army officer. But they could signal that Islamist militants are increasingly turning to assassination tactics. The AP

Michael Mukasey writes: Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, who by his own account came to this country most recently in 2001 to help organize a second wave of attacks after the Sept. 11 atrocities, received a jail sentence on Oct. 29 that could free him within six years. This again prompts the question of whether it is wise for the administration to cancel the military trials of those held at Guantanamo Bay and charged with planning the Sept. 11 attacks and, instead, to bring them to the United States to be charged anew and tried in civilian courts. At the least, those moving this process forward should consider whether the main purpose here is to protect the citizens of this country or to showcase the country's criminal justice system, which has been done before and which failed to impress Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Marri or any of their associates. We should not wish for any future sentencing judge to deal with the specter of recidivism by telling us that that "remains to be seen," or for any future defendant's lawyer to describe, as did Marri's, his client's reaction to the process with what sounds like a wicked parody of the pronouncements that accompanied Marri's indictment, plea and sentence: "His faith in the American justice system and the Constitution were fulfilled." Washington Post

North Korea
The Obama administration reiterated Thursday that it was willing to hold bilateral discussions with North Korea only if it leads to the resumption of six-party talks to achieve the goal of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. "We are willing to have bilateral talks with the North Koreans if these talks are conducted in the context of the six-party talks and if they lead to the resumption of these talks," State Department spokesman, Ian Kelly, told reporters at his daily news conference. RTT News

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he won't run for re-election in January because of American "bias" toward Israel and disappointment over the lack of progress in the peace process. "I have told our brethren in the PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization] ... that I have no desire to run in the forthcoming election," the 74-year-old Palestinian leader said in a televised speech from his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah. If Mr. Abbas steps aside it could leave a leadership vacuum in the Palestinian Authority. His announcement deals a further setback to President Barack Obama's stuttering bid to revive peace talks. Mr. Abbas's political career has been built on the principle of peaceful negotiations with Israel to end the conflict. Wall Street Journal

Russia's foreign minister said Thursday he was surprised by Poland's call for more U.S. troops on Polish soil in response to Moscow's assertiveness, a news agency reported. RIA Novosti quoted minister Sergei Lavrov as saying that the request by his Polish counterpart, Radek Sikorski, contradicted Moscow's and Warsaw's understanding of security issues in Europe. "If he did say that, it makes me deeply astonished, " Lavrov said. Sikorski said Wednesday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington that "we need some strategic reassurance," and that the U.S. could provide it by sending more than the six American troops it now has based in Poland. The minister said that need became clear when Russia and Belarus conducted a military exercise with hundreds of tanks near Poland's border last month. The AP

Russian military intelligence believes Georgia might again attack South Ossetia, the pro-Moscow region over which the two countries fought a war last year, a powerful spy chief said. Aleksandr Shlyakhturov, who in April took over command of the military's Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), said the situation was strained and accused NATO countries of continuing to supply arms to Georgia. "The situation with Georgia remains tense because the current Georgian authorities do not just refuse to recognize the sovereignty of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but are trying in every way to return these their jurisdiction," he said in a rare interview with state news agency ITAR-TASS. Reuters

China's Ministry of Commerce said it would protect its industry's interests and accused Washington of double-standards in denouncing new U.S. anti-dumping duties imposed shortly before a visit by President Barack Obama. It also called for Washington's swift recognition of China as a market economy. The United States on Thursday slapped preliminary anti-dumping duties ranging up to 99 percent on $2.63 billion in Chinese-made pipes used in the oil and gas industry, in the biggest U.S. trade action against China. That comes on top of counter-vailing duties on the same product, announced in September. Forbes

The German foreign minister used his visit to Washington to demand that US auto giant General Motors take measures to protect German jobs at its troubled European subsidiary Opel. Following a meeting with Hillary Clinton, Foreign Minister Westerwelle said he was satisfied that the US government was not involved in General Motors' sudden decision this week to keep its European subsidiary Opel. Clinton had stressed that GM alone chose to abandon a deal to sell Opel to Canadian-Austrian parts-maker Magna, Westerwelle said after the meeting. Clinton had "strongly underlined the fact that the decision taken by General Motors was a decision taken without any political influence, " Westerwelle said. "It's very good news to receive." Deutsche Welle

An Iranian reporter for Agence France-Presse was detained by the Iranian authorities during coverage of events observing the 30th anniversary of the takeover of the United States Embassy, the news agency said Thursday The AP

For years, the world has mocked Germany for its love affair with David Hasselhoff. And, for years, Germans have been hoping that the world would forgive and forget. But now that MTV has invited "the Hoff" to perform in Berlin, just like he did 20 years ago when the Berlin Wall came down, their hopes have been dashed. Spiegel


Leading the Charge or Charging the Leader? China’s Engagement on Global Challenges
Center for American Progress
November 6

How Spiritual Renewal Helped Topple the Berlin Wall
American Enterprise Institute
November 9

The Surge: the Untold Story
Institute for the Study of War
November 9

The APEC Summit: A Future for Transpacific Regionalism?
American Enterprise Institute
November 10
15 Years and Counting: Inside Lukashenka's Belarus
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
November 12
Feed the Donkey First: Freedom of Religion and the Geopolitics of Human Rights
Hudson Institute
November 12

Security Policy Forum: Pakistan: Military and Political Challenges Ahead
The Elliott School, George Washington University
November 17

Is it Time to Lift the Ban on Travel to Cuba?

House Foreign Affairs Committee
November 18

International Iran Conference: Time to Act
Mideast Freedom Forum Berlin
November 28-29

The Changing Strategic Gravity of Al-Qaeda
Jamestown Foundation
December 9


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