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October 11, 2013

News Briefs October 11, 2013

U.S. cutting hundreds of millions in aid to Egypt

The United States Oct. 9 cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to its Mideast ally Egypt, responding to the military ouster last summer of the nation’s first democratically elected president and the crackdown on protesters that has sunk the country into violent turmoil.

While the State Department did not provide a dollar amount of what was being withheld, most of it is linked to military aid. In all, the U.S. provides $1.5 billion in aid each year to Egypt.

Officials said the aid being withheld included 10 Apache helicopters at a cost of about $500 million, F-16 fighter jets, M1A1 tank kits and Harpoon anti-ship missiles. The U.S. also is withholding $260 million in cash assistance to the government until ìcredible progressî is made toward an inclusive government set up through free and fair elections. The U.S. had already suspended the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets and canceled biennial U.S.-Egyptian military exercises.

In Cairo, military spokesman Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali declined immediate comment. Before the announcement, Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the Egyptian military leader, described his country’s relations with the United States as ìstrategicî and founded on mutual interests. But he told the Cairo daily, Al-Masry al-Youm, in an interview published Oct. 9 that Egypt would not tolerate pressure, “whether through actions or hints.”

Neighboring Israel also has indicated concern. The Israelis consider the U.S. aid to Egypt to be important support for the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel. AP

Turkey approves strikes against rebels in Iraq

Turkey’s parliament has extended for another year a mandate allowing the military to carry out operations against Kurdish rebels based in neighboring northern Iraq.

Legislators voted Oct. 10 for the measure at a time when talks aimed at ending nearly 30 years of fighting with the autonomy-seeking rebels appear increasingly fragile.

The rebels last month suspended their planned pullout of Turkish territory, accusing Turkey’s government of not keeping promises for greater rights for Kurds. Kurdish legislators have said that a package of reforms unveiled by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan falls short of expectations.

Turkey has frequently struck targets in northern Iraq, where rebels of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, have kept bases for attacks on Turkey. AP

North Korea replaces hard-line military chief

North Korean state media has confirmed that the nation’s hard-line military chief was replaced only a few months after his appointment.

The personnel change was believed to have been made in August and came as North Korea was pushing to ease animosity and resume lucrative cooperation projects with South Korea after threatening nuclear war this past spring.

The name of new military chief, Ri Yong Gil, came in a Korean Central News Agency dispatch listing top officials who accompanied leader Kim Jong Un to a Pyongyang mausoleum on Thursday. Little is known about Ri.

Ri’s predecessor, Kim Kyok Sik, is the former commander of battalions believed responsible for attacks on South Korea in 2010 that killed 50 South Koreans. State media dispatches first identified Kim as military chief in May. AP

Unclaimed ashes of veterans finally buried in Arizona

The remains of 36 veterans stored for decades at a Scottsdale mortuary have been laid to rest at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona in Phoenix.

Officials say the cremated remains had gone unclaimed for up to 50 years. One set of remains had been at the mortuary since 1963.

The men were veterans of World Wars I and II, Korea and Vietnam.

Though none had died in combat, all had been honorably discharged.

The Arizona Republic reports that the remains were buried Tuesday the cemetery after a ceremony. AP

Afghans take delivery of U.S. transport planes

Afghanistan took delivery Oct. 9 of two C-130 transport aircraft from the United States, part of an effort to give the country’s military the ability to better fight insurgents around the country.

Afghanistan will get another two of the airplanes, a mainstay of many militaries around the world, by the end of next year. The plane gives the nascent Afghan air force the ability to quickly ferry forces around the country along with their equipment and supplies.

The two planes were turned over during a ceremony at Kabul airport. They will replace 16 smaller Italian-made transport craft that were grounded because of maintenance problems.

Afghanistan’s air force is mainly made up of Russian-made transport helicopters and a handful of Russian attack helicopters.

The country’s army and police took over responsibility for security around the country from foreign forces earlier this summer, part of a plan that will see the full withdrawal of international combat troops by the end of 2014. The withdrawal has led to an escalation of violence as insurgents try to retake territory around the country. AP




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