This summary briefing comes to us through the courtesy of Just Foreign Policy.
1) Japan’s Social Democratic Party, a junior partner in the governing coalition, will prioritize a plan to move U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture entirely out of the country, Kyodo News reports.
2) The UN General Assembly demanded credible Israeli and Palestinian investigations into U.N. allegations of war crimes in last year’s Gaza war, reflecting concerns that probes so far have fallen short, Reuters reports. There were 98 votes in favor, seven against and 31 abstentions. The US, Micronesia and Nauru joined Israel in voting no. No EU member voted against Friday’s resolution; some voted yes and some abstained. British Ambassador Grant said Israeli investigations so far were “not sufficient” and Palestinians also had not met their obligation to properly probe the allegations.
3) The Obama Administration has rejected proposals that the US declare it would never be the first to use nuclear weapons, the New York Times reports. Some leading Democrats, led by Senator Feinstein, have asked Obama to declare that the “sole purpose” of the country’s nuclear arsenal is to deter nuclear attack. “Any declaration that deterring a nuclear attack is a ‘primary purpose’ of our arsenal leaves open the possibility that there are other purposes, and it would not reflect any reduced reliance on nuclear weapons,” said Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association. [It also would fail to bring the U.S. into compliance with the NPT, which forbids the nuclear weapons states from threatening non-nuclear weapons states with nuclear weapons – JFP.]
4) Writing in Truthout, Ray McGovern suggests that the timing of Jundullah’s Oct. 18 terrorist attack in Iran helped derail US-Iran nuclear talks, raising the possibility that that outcome might have been a goal of the attack. McGovern notes longstanding allegations of U.S. ties to Jundullah, and the failure of the State Department to put Jundullah on its “terrorist list.”
5) At least two of the suspects sought by Dubai police for the killing of a Hamas leader appear to have entered the U.S. shortly after his death, the Wall Street Journal reports. The U.A.E. government would seek the extradition of any suspects found in the U.S., said an Emirati official. Dubai police have identified two U.S. financial companies they believe issued and distributed several credit cards used by 14 of the suspects.
6) In a press release, the Washington Office on Latin America expressed concern about the escalation of severe human rights violations in Honduras. WOLA called for a thorough investigation of the abuses and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
7) The US has begun planning for a big offensive in Kandahar later this year, for which the assault on Majra is a “prelude,” the Washington Post reports. Officials have said the Kandahar offensive probably will kick off in late spring or early summer.
8) Complaints by residents of Marjah about relatives killed and houses destroyed in the Marjah offensive highlight the challenge for NATO in making Marjah a model of counterinsurgency, AP reports.
9) Though he now endorses the exclusion of Sunni politician Saleh al-Mutlaq from Iraq’s upcoming election for alleged Baathist sympathies, last fall Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki tried to recruit Mutlaq for Maliki’s electoral alliance, the New York Times reports.
10) When she meets with Latin American presidents, Secretary of State Clinton is expected to to face growing disappointment with the administration’s lack of resolve and initiative on climate change, trade, relations with Cuba and last year’s coup in Honduras, the New York Times reports. Few expect Clinton to persuade President Lula to vote for stiffer sanctions on Iran at the UN, the Times says. There has been heated speculation about why Argentina was left off Clinton’s itinerary, although she will meet President Fernández in Uruguay. Argentina is embroiled in a dispute with Britain over the Falklands; Britain has angered Argentina by authorizing British companies to begin exploratory drilling in nearby waters [and by failing to discuss the issue under UN auspices, as the UN has called for – JFP.] To Argentina’s chagrin, the US has taken no position on the dispute, the Times says.
11) A Constitutional Court ruling blocked a referendum on whether President Uribe should be allowed to seek a third consecutive term, AP reports. Uribe pledged to respect the ruling, which is not subject to appeal.