Nine people were killed Sunday in new violence in Benghazi where pro-government forces have launched an offensive against Islamist militias, raising the toll to 75 dead in five days, medics said. In the latest violence a woman was killed in a bomb attack that targeted the vacant house of former general Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the offensive launched Wednesday, a military source said. Fierce fighting raged in several parts of Libya’s second city between pro-government forces led by Haftar and Islamist militias.
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Sudan’s government plans to increase military assistance to rebels in South Sudan, which could prolong the south’s civil war and return the region to a wider conflict, according to a leaked document. Sudan will provide tanks and artillery and share intelligence with rebels fighting South Sudan’s government, according to the minutes of a high-level meeting of security and military officials in Khartoum, that a top American expert on Sudan has concluded are real.
The partners in the Israeli Tamar gas field report this morning that they have signed a memorandum of understanding with Egyptian company Dolphinus Holdings for the export of up to 2.5 BCM of surplus natural gas from Israel to private Egyptian industrial customers, over a period of seven years. The gas will be transported via the Israel Natural Gas Lines system to Ashkelon, and from there to Egypt via the EMG (East Mediterranean Gas) pipeline.
Following a decade of “near-absence” in the Middle East, Russia is once again asserting itself as it looks to sell arms to former Soviet-era clients while breaking into the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) market. “Today, the Russian goal in the Middle East is to regain the influence that the USSR once had. While the USA is having uneasy relations with MENA [Middle East and North Africa] countries, Russia is making attempts to capitalize on this fact and fill the vacuum left when the United States leaves,” he said.
Assuring cooperation in all avenues while highlighting three key threats, terrorism, extremism and narcotics, the Chinese envoy emphasized: “China is also ready to extend cooperation in this regard to Afghanistan and Pakistan.” China was the biggest neighbour to both Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ambassador Weidong said. “China is devoted for the early settlement of Afghan issue. We have taken an active part.” He also talked about building Peshawar-Jalalabad and Chaman-Qandhar railways lines to bring both countries further closer.
Lower oil prices, reflected in falling petrol prices at the pump, have been a boon for Western consumers. Are they also a potent US weapon against Russia and Iran? That’s the conclusion drawn by New York Times columnist Thomas L Friedman, who says the US and Saudi Arabia, whether by accident or design, could be pumping Russia and Iran to brink of economic collapse. Despite turmoil in many of the world’s oil-producing countries – Libya, Iraq, Nigeria and Syria – prices are hitting lows not seen in years, Friedman writes.
Transnational organized crime likes opportunities and little resistance. Bolivia currently provides both and finds itself at the heart of a new criminal dynamic that threatens national and citizen security in this landlocked Andean nation. Basuco is like crack cocaine, a highly addictive form of the drug which is smoked. It is cheaper to produce than cocaine and has short-lived but intense highs, prompting addicts to engage in repeated and prolonged use, which ends up permanently damaging the user’s health.
Turkey decides who to arm within its own territories, Turkish Minister for EU Affairs Volkan Bozkır said in Brussels where he announced Turkey’s new EU strategy. His remarks came after Germany, on Thursday, said they can send arms to the outlawed PKK that is fighting the ISIS in Kobani. Turkey opposes Germany to arm the PKK to fight ISIS in the Syrian town of Kobani at the Turkish-Syria border. Bozkır said that both the PKK and ISIS were terrorist groups adding that the PKK was also on the terror lists of the U.S., NATO and Turkey.
Turkish Hurriyet Daily News reports that Turkish Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Volkan Bozkύr said during a visit to Berlin that if Turkey becomes a member of the European Union, the EU would be able to establish an army of 60,000 soldiers.“EU is in a superpower position but it has been unable to build its army, ” he said. “The EU is always in the “soft power” stance because it cannot establish a European army consisting of 60,000 soldiers.”
China enjoys a unique economic relationship with North Korea. Because North Korea is under heavy sanction, both bilateral and multilateral, China captures monopoly/monopsony rents as the only serious trading partner for the DPRK. That is, Chinese firms operating in North Korea, trading with it, banking with it, and so on, can demand cut-rate prices for North Korean goods because Pyongyang has few other buyers of its products, and charge high prices for its own goods.
In the midst of the war against ISIS now taking place in both Iraq and Syria, a possible shifting of alliances that could fundamentally alter the balance of power in the region is taking place, and no one seems to have noticed. Specifically, the burgeoning relationship between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of Northern Iraq has the potential to remake the political landscape of the Middle East. Naturally, such a development is part of a broader geopolitical gambit by Iran.
Two Egyptian officials claimed the country’s warplanes had begun bombing positions in Benghazi, the second-largest city in neighboring Libya, on Wednesday, in an attempt to wrest control of the city from the Ansar-al-Sharia Islamist militia. The mission, which will be led by Libyan pilots, marks the highest-profile collaboration between the two North African countries, both of which are beset by instability, since they experienced simultaneous Arab Spring revolutions in 2011. The Egyptian government has officially denied the news.
The United States would respond favorably to the military needs of the poorly equipped Lebanese Army in its fight against terrorism, Lebanese Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi has reportedly said. The local newspaper Al-Mustaqbal, quoting sources following up on Kahwagi’s visit to Washington, reported Thursday the Army chief has been assured by American officials that the United States was prepared to support the military and supply it with weapons to combat terrorism.
But what is happening in Turkey is uncannily similar to what happened in Pakistan. Turkey acted as a conduit to the FSA as much as Pakistan did to the Mujahedeen. The FSA gradually fragmented and spawned the vicious ISIS just like the Mujahedeen became the Taliban. Admittedly Taliban is not as virulent as the IS, but the ideology and modus operandi are the same. Pakistan came into being as a Muslim state with Mohammad Ali Jinnah as the strident advocate of a separate Muslim state in India.
Russia is scaring Azerbaijan, as well as Armenia with Karabakh. Moscow is showing that it can provoke both Azerbaijan and Armenia, thus keeping both beside it. In fact, Moscow’s possibilities in Karabakh are highly limited, and perhaps it has decided that it would be cheaper to devour Armenia and Azerbaijan (through the Eurasian Union) in both economic and military terms. Azerbaijan is Russia’s natural ally, unlike Armenia which is making friends with Russia under the threat of blackmail.
The Gulf states plan to launch a joint naval force, a top Kuwaiti defence official said on Wednesday, in a bid to protect waters shared with neighbouring Iran. The new force is expected to be formed in the “coming months”, Maj Gen Ahmad Yussef Al Mulla was quoted as saying by the official Kuna news agency. The Gulf Cooperation Council states – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE – formed the Peninsula Shield force in 1982 as a 5,000-strong army.
After months out of the spotlight, Greece was back at the center of Europe’s financial troubles on Wednesday, when concerns over the stability of the government and its bailout program triggered a massive sell-off in stocks and bonds. Greece’s main stock index closed 6.3 percent lower having traded down as much as 9.8 percent lower earlier in the day. Following a 5.7 percent loss on Tuesday, that brings the index to its worst level in 14 months.
Three fault segments running beneath Northern California and its roughly 15 million people are overdue for a major earthquake, including one that lies northeast of San Francisco and near the dams and canals that supply much of the state’s water, according to a geological study. They include the little-known Green Valley fault, which lies northeast of San Francisco and near the dams and canals that supply much of California’s water, underestimated by geologists until now.
Raytheon has completed a series of laboratory tests that demonstrated the ability of the US Army’s joint land-attack cruise-missile defence elevated sensor (JLENS) radar system to integrate into the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).”With JLENS providing data to NORAD, our military will have a more accurate picture of what is flying in the National Capital Region’s airspace, and be able to identify slow and low-flying threats such as cruise missiles and drones.”
On Oct. 9, we said the outlook for the world’s petrocrats looked bad. It just got worse: Saudi Arabia has been hoping that producers of American shale oil will be forced to begin cutting back given the plunge of oil prices, but the International Energy Agency (IEA) said today that prices can fall a good deal more. A combination of factors is driving down prices: Demand from the world’s biggest oil consumer—China—is soft; according to the IEA. Chinese crude oil imports plummeted by 63% over the last five months
Hundreds of students and teachers smashed windows and set fires inside a state capital building in southern Mexico on Monday, as fury erupted over the disappearance of 43 young people believed abducted by local police linked to a drug cartel. The protesters called for the 43 students from a rural teachers’ college in Guerrero state, missing since Sept. 26, to be returned alive, even though fears have grown that 10 newly discovered mass graves could contain their bodies.
Greeks and Albanians are the oldest nations in Europe. But in modern history, these two neighbours have more problems than good neighbourly relations and mark a unique case of seven decades of ‘war’ between two Nato members. Greece mapped the Albanian territorial waters as two of 20 Greek energy zones. The Albanian territorial waters hold four billion barrels of oil and 1.5 billion cubic metres of gas reserves. These could create 20 billion euros revenue over the next 20 years.
The tiny, oil-rich nation United Arab Emirates could be laying the foundation for an Arab peacekeeping force by seeking to buy more than 4,500 roadside-bomb protected trucks from the Pentagon, according to a U.S. government official. It follows a series of meetings in recent years between officials from the United States, UAE and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a regional group of six Middle Eastern nations to establish joint security forces in the region.
The Lithuanian Ministry of National Defense announced new legal and practical measures created to respond to unconventional war threats. “Nowadays, procedures activating the military forces don’t ensure a proper scope and timely response,” Juozas Olekas, Minister of National Defense, said in a statement. Olekas said that current global context requires more efficient processes of army activation and a wider mandate to use munitions.