World News Brief, Friday November 6

United Nations to pull half its staff out of Afghanistan (+ background); Australia's Christmas Island refugee detention centre compared to Guantanamo; International Court to investigate Kenyan violence; Israel and Syria dispute weapons ship; and more

Top of the Agenda: UN Staff in Afghanistan

The United Nations says it will pull (BBC) roughly half its international staff out of Afghanistan after a Taliban raid on a private guesthouse in Kabul left five UN workers dead last week. The United Nations said the relocation of six-hundred staff members would not affect its aid delivery work, which is done by local Afghan staff. The move came after the United Nations announced it would halt its long-term development work in northwestern Pakistan due to security concerns. The head of the UN's Afghanistan mission, Kai Eide, said the temporary staff relocation was not an indication of the United Nations pulling out of the country or evacuating.

Eide issued a strong warning (NYT) to Afghan President Hamid Karzai's government, saying it must reform its political system and election oversight procedures.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon says it expects to request more emergency funding (NYT) for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on top of the $130 billion U.S. Congress authorized for the wars last month.


The Wall Street Journal reports that the staff relocation shows the extent to which security has deteriorated and raises questions about the international body's future role in the region.


In a Financial Times op-ed, CFR's Charles Kupchan and Steven Simon say the US military's plan to pursue counterinsurgency in the Afghan countryside is "a bridge too far," and that Afghanistan policy should focus on establishing control in strategic locations.

In a CFR interview, US Major General Richard Formica says that as the Obama administration assesses US troop numbers in Afghanistan, the White House should also double the size of the Afghan army and police.


PACIFIC RIM: China Growth

According to a new Wall Street Journal poll, economists expect (WSJ) China's robust economic growth to slow as the effect of the country's massive economic stimulus efforts wear off. Economists polled estimate that China's gross domestic product growth will moderate to 8 to 9 percent into 2010 from its peak of roughly15 percent this mid-year.

Australia: Refugee advocates and Australia's human rights commission are comparing (NYT) Australia's $370 million refugee detention center on Christmas Island, roughly 1,000 one thousand miles from the Australian mainland, to Guantanamo Bay, because it is remote and jail-like. The government opened the barbed wire-enclosed facility this year to contain the influx of refugees from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.



Israel alleges Syria-Iran arms trade on seized ship.
International Criminal Court to investigate Kenya's post-election violence.
Carmaker GM's Opel to cut ten thousand jobs.


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