Germany attacks UK ahead of the G20 meeting
This week, German finance minister Peer Steinbrueck launched an outspoken attack on the City of London, saying the financial lobby is ‘doing its best’ to block the introduction of stricter financial market regulations. ‘There is clearly a lobby in London that wants to defend its competitive advantage tooth and nail,’ Steinbrueck told Germany’s Stern magazine. He singled out Britain’s approach to hedge funds, claiming the UK is fighting tougher regulations because it is worried about suffering from an exodus of talent. He said the financial sector accounted for 15% of the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP) in contrast to just 6% in Germany. Steinbrueck last year poured scorn on Gordon Brown’s bank and business bailout plans. His attack came as the European Commission unveiled detailed proposals to create new pan-European authorities with the authority to oversee and intervene in national financial markets. There are concerns in the UK that these plans could give the Commission too much influence over Treasury interventions in the banking system.
Is Turkey part of Obama’s regional missile defense programme?
Less than two weeks before Turkey is likely to host new international talks about the Iranian nuclear programme, Ankara’s stated interest in buying four missile defence batteries has raised a big question: why does the country think it needs a missile shield? “We will procure four batteries,” Gen Metin Gurak, the spokesman of the general staff in Ankara, said during a regular media briefing on Friday. “The missiles are not directed against any country in particular. They are mobile and can be used on every front.” Gen Gurak said the system would cost around US$1billion (Dh3.67bn), much less than the sum of around $8bn that had been reported by the Turkish press earlier. The general said the higher number had been included in a notification sent by the US government to Congress and had referred to 13 batteries, not four. He said a decision on the tender for the system of four batteries would be made by October 13. Two US companies, including Raytheon, the maker of the Patriot system, as well as a company from China and one from Russia have put in bids. There is also speculation that Turkey, the only Nato country bordering Iran, could be playing a key role in a new US missile defence strategy after the cancellation of planned missile deployments in Eastern Europe. Turkey’s territory lies within range of Iranian short and medium-range missiles. “We have updated our intelligence assessment of Iran’s missile programmes, which emphasises the threat posed by Iran’s short and medium-range missiles, which are capable of reaching Europe,” the US President Barack Obama said last Thursday.
McChrystal paints a grim picture of America in Afghanistan
The Afghan war will be lost unless more troops are sent to pursue a radically revised strategy, the top U.S. and NATO commander said in a confidential assessment that offers stark choices for President Barack Obama. In the assessment, sent to Washington last month and leaked on Monday, Army General Stanley McChrystal said failure to reverse “insurgent momentum” in the near term risked an outcome where “defeating the insurgency is no longer possible.” A copy of the 66-page assessment was obtained by The Washington Post and published on its website with some parts removed at the request of the government for security reasons. “Resources will not win this war, but under-resourcing could lose it,” McChrystal wrote. “Failure to provide adequate resources also risks a longer conflict, greater casualties, higher overall costs and ultimately, a critical loss of political support. Any of these risks, in turn, are likely to result in mission failure.” McChrystal, who commands more than 100,000 Western troops, two-thirds of them American, has drafted a separate request spelling out how many more he needs but has not sent it to the Pentagon, which says it is considering how he should submit it. In his assessment, McChrystal painted a grim picture of the war so far, saying “the overall situation is deteriorating” and calling for a “revolutionary” shift putting more emphasis on protecting Afghans than on killing insurgents. “Our objective must be the population,” he wrote. “The objective is the will of the people, our conventional warfare culture is part of the problem. The Afghans must ultimately defeat the insurgency.”
Zardari’s empty begging bowl
President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday called upon the US to fast track reimbursement of outstanding Coalition Support Fund of $1.6billion and early realization of the Tokyo pledges to ensure economic stability of Pakistan. The President said this while talking to the US President Special Envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke, who called on him here Tuesday afternoon and discussed a wide range of issues concerning the two countries. The President also asked for the passage of the Biden-Lugar Bill, which is constantly being thrown in Pakistan’s face as reflecting the commitment of the US to Pakistan but which still remains to be passed by Congress. The case of the Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) Bill is suffering the same fate. But despite this humiliation, Zardari is pressing ahead with the first summit of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session. Like a true beggar, Zardari will plead for money with promises of spilling more Muslim blood. The event will be chaired jointly by President Asif Ali Zardari, and crusaders US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
China prepare to flex its military might
China on Wednesday promised military watchers a real show in the National Day parade on October 1, with a host of new equipment to be rolled out, most of which has never before been seen in public. “The equipment we will unveil is 100 percent China-made and close to 90 percent will be paraded for the first time,” Gao Jianguo, spokesman for the office of the National Day Military Parade Joint Command, told reporters. China will stage a huge military parade and pageant in Beijing on October 1 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the communist People’s Republic. Gao said new equipment unveiled to the public would include nuclear, conventional and cruise missiles, as well as fighter jets, radar systems and surface-to-air missiles — without offering any specifics. “We will unveil some new weapons during this parade and this is the concrete reflection of China’s economic and technological development and progress in the military field,” he said. China’s military spending rose 15.3 percent in 2009 to 69 billion dollars, according to a budget submitted to parliament in March, the latest in a string of double-digit increases. Earlier a defence ministry spokesman in Beijing rejected US Defence Secretary Robert Gates’ comments that US naval carriers and air bases in the Pacific faced new threats from China’s modernisation. The US National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair said that China’s military modernisation programme posed a threat and that China’s involvement in cyber technology had become aggressive.