Archive for September 13, 2010

NEWS: Afghanistan, Egypt and Mexico

AFGHANISTAN: Less safe than before

(CIA World Fact Book)

Despite the surge of U.S. troops into Afghanistan, things have gotten more dangerous in parts of the country that have seen little violence in the recent past, according to the New York Times. Quoting a United Nations assessment, the report found that the Taliban has had a surge of its own, greatly increasing its activities in northern and parts of eastern Afghanistan. International relief and humanitarian organizations say less and less of the country is safe for  aid workers to operate in.

The number of insurgent attacks has risen from 630 in August 2009 to well over 1,300 for the same month this year. Ten Western medical aid workers were killed last month in northern Afghanistan — one of the quietest parts of the country until recently.

EGYPT: Picking the next president

(Nina Aldin Thune photo)

If you want to know who is going to be the next president of Egypt,the best people to ask are leaders of the Egyptian military. The New York Times reports Egypt’s military — which prides itself as the least corrupt and most efficient state institution in Egypt — wields considerable influence. The current president, Hosni Mubarak, has been in power for 29 years but the 82-year-old leader is ill and not expected to seek re-election when his term expires next year.  But the Egyptian military — which has received nearly $40 billion in U.S. aid over the past three decades — has a vested interest in influencing the selection of the next president. Like China’s People’s Liberation Army, the Egyptian military is heavily involved in commercial ventures from road-building to manufacturing consumer goods — as well as military equipment. Very little of its budget is made public.

Many current and former military officers are said to oppose Mubarak’s son, Gamal, succeeding him as president. The elder Mubarak, like his two predecessors — Anwar El-Sadat and Gamal Abdel Nasser — was a top military officer before becoming president.

MEXICO: Large prison escape near Texas

(CIA World Factbook)

Mexican officials say 85 prisoners, most of them convicted of, or being tried on, weapons and drug charges, escaped from a prison close to the border with Texas, Reuters and other news outlets report. The prisoners used ladders to clear the Tamaulpilas prison’s walls.  Authorities are investigating 44 guards to determine if they helped the prisoners make their escape. The prison is located in Reynosa, across the U.S.-Mexico border from McAllen, Texas. The escape occurred a day after 25 people were killed in drug violence in another border city, Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, the Associated Press reports. President Barack Obama has dispatched more than 1,000 National Guard troops [See Sept. 9 4GWAR posting] to help the Department of Homeland Security man the border from California to Texas.

Meanwhile a reputed Mexican drug kingpin was arrested by Mexican marines over the weekend. But as Mexico nears its bicentennial celebration, President Felipe Calderon tells CNN that the narco violence plaguing his country is fueled in part by U.S. government policies on drugs, automatic weapons and immigration.

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September 13, 2010 at 8:16 am Leave a comment


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