Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Helena Cobban
The Security Cooperation and Coordination Committee of Iraq's neighboring countries held its third meeting in Damascus Sunday. This 'Contact Group' brings together representatives of the UN, the US, Iraq's neighbors (including Iran), and other relevant international actors. It has been quietly working behind the scenes since April 2007 to help stabilize Iraq and expedite an orderly transition to the country's full independence. The two earlier meetings of the SCCC were also held in Damascus, in April and August 2007.

Who, consuming only the western MSM, would have known about Sunday's landmark meeting?"
The "MSM" would include Josh Marshall's organization.
Cobban links to Reuters
The United States stood alone at a conference on Sunday in accusing host Syria of sheltering militants attacking Iraq, while other countries adopted a more conciliatory tone, delegates said.
No other state present at the conference on security for Iraq joined Washington in its open criticism, weeks after a U.S. raid on Syria that targeted suspected militants linked to al Qaeda, they told Reuters.

U.S. Charge d'Affaires Maura Connelly... told a closed session that Syria must stop allowing what she called terrorist networks using its territory as a base for attacks in Iraq.

Washington's leading Western ally, Britain, has recently praised Syria for preventing foreign fighters from infiltrating into Iraq, and its foreign secretary, David Miliband, was in Damascus this week pursuing detente with Syria.

"The American diplomat's speech was blunt and short. The United States was the only country at the conference to criticise Syria openly," one of the delegates said.
McClatchy
The Bush administration has adopted a much looser interpretation than the Iraqi government of several key provisions of the pending U.S.-Iraq security agreement, U.S. officials said Tuesday — just hours before the Iraqi parliament was to hold its historic vote.

These include a provision that bans the launch of attacks on other countries from Iraq, a requirement to notify the Iraqis in advance of U.S. military operations and the question of Iraqi legal jurisdiction over American troops and military contractors.

Officials in Washington said the administration has withheld the official English translation of the agreement in an effort to suppress a public dispute with the Iraqis until after the Iraqi parliament votes.

"There are a number of areas in here where they have agreement on the same wording but different understandings about what the words mean," said a U.S. official who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Middle East Times
Half of Gaza's bakeries have closed down and the other half have resorted to animal feed to produce bread as Israel's complete blockade of the coastal territory enters its 19th day.
Jerusalem Post
General Assembly President Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann said the international community should consider sanctions against Israel including "boycott, divestment and sanctions" similar to those enacted against South Africa two decades ago.

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