Report: Pakistan ends US use of base for drone attacks
Ties between the two countries remain strained since the bin Laden raid
Pakistan has stopped the United States from using an air base in the southwest of the country to launch drone strikes against militant groups, the defense minister was quoted as saying, as ties remain strained between the two countries.
Pakistan has long publicly opposed the missile attacks as a violation of its sovereignty, but has in private given support including intelligence to help target members of al-Qaida and the Taliban in the northwest region along the Afghan border.
‘War on terror’ set to surpass cost of Second World War
By Rupert Cornwell in Washington Thursday, 30 June 2011
The total cost to America of its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, plus the related military operations in Pakistan, is set to exceed $4 trillion – more than three times the sum so far authorised by Congress in the decade since the 9/11 attacks.
This staggering sum emerges from a new study by academics at the Ivy-league Brown University that reveals the $1.3 trillion officially appropriated on Capitol Hill is the tip of a spending iceberg. If other Pentagon outlays, interest payments on money borrowed to finance the wars, and the $400bn estimated to have been spent on the domestic “war on terror”, the total cost is already somewhere between $2.3 and $2.7 trillion.
Greece crisis: Greek MPs face second austerity vote
Greece’s parliament is to hold a second vote on its austerity programme, which it needs to implement to secure the country further financial support.
The vote is about putting into practice the tax hikes, pay cuts, privatisations and public sector redundancies approved in principle on Wednesday.
The vote was a retreat from the “grave scenario of default”, the EU said.
Public reaction has been very hostile, and the debate has been accompanied by strikes and violent protest.
Clashes continued on Syntagma Square outside parliament overnight, as police fired tear gas at stone-throwing youths.
France confirms Libya arms drops
By arming civilians, France becomes first NATO country to admit supplying weapons to rebel-controlled areas in Libya.
Last Modified: 30 Jun 2011
The French military has confirmed that it airdropped weapons early this month to civilians fighting in rebel-held areas in the western part of Libya.
Colonel Thierry Burkhard, a spokesperson for the French general staff, told Al Jazeera on Wednesday that the military had dropped assault rifles, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers to groups of unarmed civilians it deemed to be at risk.
Earlier in the day, the Le Figaro newspaper and the AFP news agency reported that France had dropped several tonnes of arms, including Milan anti-tank rockets and light armoured vehicles.
The airdrops arrived somewhere in rebel-held towns in the Nafusa mountains, which run east-west from the Tunisian border around 100km south of the capital Tripoli.
The deal behind Thailand’s polls
By Shawn W Crispin
BANGKOK – High-level secret talks between Thailand’s royal palace, military and self-exiled former premier Thaksin Shinawatra point towards a stable outcome to this Sunday’s highly anticipated election. Contrary to widespread speculation of a post-poll coup and new rounds of street violence, the military is more likely to stay in the barracks if Thaksin’s Puea Thai party wins and forms a new government.
Puea Thai has surged ahead in pre-election polls, holding sway in its geographical strongholds and taking the lead in pivotal swing constituencies. The party has rallied around Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, a political novice whose campaign has focused on the need for national reconciliation. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has acknowledged his Democrats trail in opinion surveys, and party members seem increasingly resigned to a second-place finish.
Equatorial Guinea steadies itself for Africa’s big stage
DAVID LEWIS MALABO, EQUATORIAL GUINEA – Jun 30 2011
Equatorial Guinea is racing to prepare for this year’s African Union summit, starting on Thursday, which it hopes will mark its arrival on the continent’s big stage, but which critics complain has turned into an outlandish expense eating up funds that should have been spent on the country’s poor.
“This is about the projection of Equatorial Guinea,” said Alex Vines, head of the Africa Programme at the UK-based Chatham House think-tank.
As Africa’s sole former Spanish colony and one of its smallest states, nestling between Cameroun and Gabon with a population of 650 000, the country has often seemed isolated.