Prime Minister Shinzō Abe is the first Japanese premier to visit all 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. In late November, Emperor Akihito will make the first visit by a Japanese monarch to India. Not on either dignitary’s itinerary—China. And that’s no accident. Abe, a foreign-policy hawk who’s clashed with the Chinese over the ownership of some Japanese-controlled islands, wants to shore up relations with the swath of nations forming a semicircle around China. Some have their own beefs, including India, which shares a disputed border with China.
The Royal Gibraltar Regiment is “strengthening Britain’s strong and longstanding diplomatic relationship with Morocco” through Exercise Jebel Sahara an MoD statement said yesterday. The joint training exercise with the Moroccan Deuxieme Brigade d’Infanterie Parachutiste (2BIP) is now in its thirteenth year and the month-long exercise based a few miles north of Marrakech involves 161 members of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment, including 49 augmented from the UK, and 200 soldiers from 2BIP.
In a meeting between Chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commisiion Alaeddin Boroujerdi and a visiting delegation of the Federal Parliament of Somalia, led by Cabdalle Boss Axmed, the pair stressed the need for further development of mutual cooperation between Tehran and Mogadishu. “Expansion of friendly relations in political, economic and cultural fields with Muslim countries is among the basic policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Boroujerdi said during the meeting.
Saudi Arabia’s declining power : The kingdom’s frustrations with President Obama are tied to its own weakness
This clash of interests has been brewing for some time. In 2011, during the early days of the Arab Spring, the Saudi royals expressed their alarm at Obama’s refusal to rescue Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak from his street-demanded ouster (as if any American president could, much less should, have saved Mubarak’s skin). This past summer, the Saudis were once again enraged by Obama’s less-than-full support for the Egyptian generals’ overthrow of the elected president, Mohammed Morsi—and even more flummoxed by his calls for them not to ban Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood party.
These days, when we talk about emerging market growth in wealth management the conversation tends to focus on Asia, or possibly the Middle East and Latin America. Africa, meanwhile, remains largely forgotten. But there is mounting evidence that global banks and asset managers are turning their attention towards Africa in a drive to harness investment opportunities, as well as the chance to connect with the region’s emerging wealthy. Bank of China (BoC) last month announced a strategic business partnership with South Africa’s fourth biggest lender, Nedbank, to increase business between China and Africa.
Israel, alarmed at the prospect of a U.S.-Iranian rapprochement, is reported to be discussing the possibility of an anti-Iran alliance with longtime Arab adversaries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, a project that could have immense ramifications in the Middle East.
If talks are under way, they’re in large part the result of many secret meetings between Israeli and Arab intelligence chiefs and other senior officials that have been held over several years, often in the Jordanian capital Amman.
If biofuels received no EU policy support, the price of food stuffs such as vegetable oil would be 50% lower in Europe by 2020 than at present – and 15% lower elsewhere in the world – according to new research by the EU’s Joint Research Centre (JRC). The “significantly lower” results are because global prices for vegetable oils – which are 60% palm and soy oil – are “strongly driven” by their use as food, says the paper by the JRC, the EU’s official scientific and technical research laboratory.
“The Burmese military not only maintains control over the civilian structures of Burma’s government, but has extended its hand as a perpetrator of human rights violations against the ethnic minorities that are sweeping the country.”
A number of Western nations are already moving ahead. Britain has invited 30 Myanmar officers to a prestigious defense conference. Australia is also pledging basic military engagement to support security sector reform.
Washington welcomes visits to its nuclear weapons facilities by Japan as a way to provide “firsthand knowledge” of the U.S. nuclear posture and reassurances of its nuclear deterrent, a former senior U.S. defense official says.
“The nuclear umbrella is a centerpiece of the U.S.-Japan security alliance,” Bradley Roberts, a former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear and missile defense policy, said in a written response to The Asahi Shimbun’s questions in early July.
Oil-rich Nigeria has an estimated 37.3 billion barrels of proven crude oil reserves as of 2011, according to the “Oil & Gas Journal,” something that makes it appealing to China. “It’s a long-standing policy of China to try to gain access to both energy and other natural resources around the world, but heavily in Africa,” Charles Ebinger, director of the Energy Security Initiative at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., said. China gave Nigeria a $1.1 billion low-interest loan, it was announced this week, and in return China can expect more Nigerian oil, going up from 20,000 barrels per day to 200,000 by 2015.
ndia is stepping up training ofAfghan National Army (ANA) in a major way, even as it also considers supply of military equipment to the fledgling force, in the backdrop of the US-led coalition preparing to withdraw from Afghanistan by 2014.
Defence ministry sources say “a major Indian effort has been launched for capability enhancement of the ANA” to ensure it can handle the internal security of Afghanistan after the progressive exit of the 100,000 foreign soldiers from there by end-2014.
China and the United States are also encountering a more confident and more unified Latin America. It is a region that has sought autonomy in its own affairs by way of rising blocs such as the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, MERCOSUR, and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), among others. Brazil, Latin America’s largest economy, also seeks a prominent role the region with large investments in research and development and the introduction of social programs to revamp the middle class.
India and South Korea share remarkable common interests – all the more remarkable considering how far apart they are geographically, in area, population, average income, living conditions and climate. And then consider how different are Indians and Koreans in ethnic and linguistic backgrounds, religious beliefs and influences. It’s hard to imagine two such important nations and societies with so little in common, yet so closely bound by security and economic considerations.
China, Japan and Korea are all exercising increased diplomatic and political thrusts into the Arctic countries, but in different manners. While the visits of Chinese and Korean officials target the Nordic countries to talk Arctic and environmental cooperation, China’s diplomatic representation is actually strongest in Russia. China has five consulates in Russia, the same number as it has in the U.S., perhaps pointing to at least a traditional equivalence in the weight that the U.S. and Russia hold in Chinese foreign policy.
First it was the Pacific Century, then the Asia Pacific Century, then the Asian Century with a recent nod towards the Chinese Century. Now we are hearing of the Indo-Pacific Century. Hollywood to Bollywood, as one US military officer put it recently. A great sweep of ocean from India to the eastern shores of California is the strategic big picture, we are told. But while Australian policymakers debate every chess move by China, India and the US a more urgent Indo-Pacific shift, this time Indonesia versus the Pacific, is happening in two areas not even named in the Australian defence white paper 2013: West Papua and Melanesia.
A number of recent developments have raised several important questions related to Romania’s position geostrategic game involved: Traian Basescu decided to thaw relations with Russia? If so, our initiative or movement suggested by the United States?If not, then what looked to Bucharest Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Russian Security Council? How will this visit extremely important main issues of contention: Moldova, missile shield, imported high gas prices? We change some parameters of our strategic partnership with the U.S.?
China has, for the first time, attempted to spell out its strategy and plans to secure its interests in the Indian Ocean in its first “blue book” on the region, released here on Saturday. The blue book makes a case for China to deepen its economic engagements with the Indian Ocean Region’s (IOR) littoral states, but stresses that Beijing’s interests will be driven by commercial rather than military objectives. However, it warns that the Indian Ocean could end up “as an ocean of conflict and trouble” if countries like India, the U.S. and China failed to engage with each other more constructively as their interests begin to overlap.
The emerging India-Japan relationship has been met with extreme reactions – from enthusiasm and protests in India and Japan, to concern in China. This new “strategic partnership,” and particularly the nuclear cooperation under negotiation, does not portend well for Asia. P K Sundaram, a strong advocate of better relations between the people of India and Japan, tells us why. Strong ties between India and Japan can be seen as a pre-requisite for the emergence of Asia and could, in the context of a broader Asian regionalism
The current political rapport between Riyadh and Ankara is an exciting development. If harmonized, it could completely result in the two countries achieving significant influence at regional and international levels.
The economies of the two countries stand at $ 5.1 trillion, with high growth rates. This will surely make their collective voice heard loud and clear.
In addition, the special status of Saudi Arabia in the Muslim world, together with its political and economic weight, when combined with the newly transformed modern Turkey, will give the two countries a powerful political role in the region.
The quicksands of the Arabian Desert are notorious for swallowing up anyone trying to control the area. Historically, that’s what happened to Turkey, Britain, France, Russia and the US. Sooner or later, all discovered that instead of dominating the Middle East, they ended up being dominated by the region’s never-ending problems. And that may also be the fate of China, the latest power to be lured by the idea that it has to engage in Middle-Eastern diplomacy.
Ahead of its President’s visit here from May 20, Afghanistan on Thursday said it was looking for enhanced defence cooperation with India, from where it was expecting supply of lethal and non-lethal military equipment.
The two sides will discuss a range of issues of mutual concern and interest and will discuss cooperation at a “critical time” for Afghanistan, which is witnessing the withdrawal of NATO combat troops, the envoy said.
The Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari voiced Iran’s enthusiasm for stronger naval cooperation with Sudan and announced that his forces are prepared to train Sudanese naval forces.
Sudanese naval officials wave as the Iranian Navy helicopter-carrier Kharg docks at Port Sudan in October 2012 (photo Press TV)
The Iranian military official made these statements on Thursday after a meeting with the commander of Sudanese Navy, General Dalil al-Daw Mohamed Fadal-Allah who is on a visit to Teheran.
In a strategically significant move to counter China’s presence in the region, India has announced that it will upgrade Iran’s crucial Chabahar port that gives a transit route to land-locked Afghanistan.
India’s decision was conveyed by Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid in Tehran today during his meeting with his counterpart. An expert team from India will visit Iran to assess investment needed for the upgradation of the port on the Iran-Pakistan border facing the Arabian Sea.
A bid by Qatar to relocate the United Nations’ civil aviation agency from Montreal to the tiny emirate has angered Canada, where politicians from all sides vowed Friday to band together to fight the proposed move.
The International Civil Aviation Organization, which sets international civil aviation standards, has been in Montreal since its founding in 1946. Qatar presented ICAO with an unsolicited offer last month to serve as the new permanent seat of the organization beginning in 2016.
It is not a secret that in recent years, Beijing increased its political activities across several hot spots in the region. China is now one of the largest GCC countries trade partner, the largest exporter to the Middle East, the biggest importer of Iranian oil, and the largest player in the Iraqi oil game. Meanwhile, the GCC countries are eager to diversify their economy and foreign policy; subsequently they welcome the Chinese involvement and investments, but also view such presence as vital toward the creation of balance in international relations and energy markets. From the Arab perspective, there is little concern that China’s increasing status as a world power will constitute a security threat.
A panel of experts at the recent SISO CEO Summit did a great job describing where they’d put their money now—and in five years. Interestingly, they are looking at, and investing in, MIST: Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea and Turkey. Some say the “S” should stand for South Africa.
In spite of the over-hyped press, Mexico is safe and on the rise. Between rising wages and transportation costs in Asia, the maquiladora business in Mexico is booming. Mexico has more free trade agreements in place than any other country in the world. There are good (privately owned) venues in the major cities and great suppliers, hotels and services.
“It is our hope that the Gulf Cooperation Council, the GCC, can play an important role in the future providing security for this region,” he told an audience at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies Research. Across the board, he said, Washington is urging allies to build local capacity. “That’s what we’re doing for the UAE and that’s what we’re doing with other countries. Yes, we give them the help they need, we give them assistance, but the fact is that they have to help provide for their security.” For months, many commentators from Riyadh to Doha to Manama have sensed and relayed this shift in US policy.
A new shift in the maritime industry is taking place from north to south, with Sri Lanka emerging as the Indian Ocean’s new maritime hub, according to the organizer of the Sri Lanka Ports, Trade & Logistics Conference and Exhibition this year.
Seatrade Communications Ltd. announcing the event said the Government of Sri Lanka is rapidly positioning itself as a dynamic part of a ‘Southern Maritime zone’ following the rise of Singapore and Dubai.
Only too aware of the threat of east Mediterranean supply if Europe is able to diversify away from Russian gas dependency, Moscow has been steadily feting Israel to buy into a piece of the action.Moscow has already advanced a $3.5 billion loan and attempted to gain more leverage over Cyprus’ economic and energy assets during the recent bitter negotiations in the banking crisis.
The Kremlin is playing a much bigger game. Gazprom is already eyeing a role in the development of Israel’s gigantic Leviathan gas field. With its estimated 25 tcf of gas Leviathan is due to come on-stream by 2016. And the eastern Mediterranean bonanza is potentially huge. The US Geological Survey estimates the eastern Mediterranean Levant Basin contains around 123 tcf of gas and 1.7 billion barrels of oil.
Japan is ready to open a contested tract of the East China Sea to fishing boats from Taiwan, officials in Taipei say, a rare concession in a bitter territorial dispute that involves heavyweight China and has the United States on guard.
Taiwan has sought such a deal since 1996 as it vies with Japan and China for control of eight uninhabited islets that anchor a massive, strategic swathe of the sea rich in fish and believed to hold reserves of oil and natural gas. If the deal goes through it could mean that Japan – which has not conceded any territory since the end of World War II – wants Taiwan on its side in the struggle against China over the disputed ocean.
The relations between two regional allies, Turkey and Azerbaijan, are in a state of crisis once again. The Azerbaijani authorities are indignant over Turkey’s initiative to establish an air route with Armenia.
According to media, the Turkish air company Bora Jet is going to start flights to the Armenian capital, Yerevan. Azerbaijan believes that the Turkish government has something to do with the idea. The fact that Turkish President Abdullah Gul immediately congratulated Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarsgyan on his victory at the presidential elections was also a very unpleasant surprise for Azerbaijan.
Japan plans to strengthen its maritime security alliance with Sri Lanka to curb China’s growing influence on countries with Indian Ocean coastlines. A joint statement on maritime security cooperation will be issued after a meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on March 14, sources said.
China, which replaced Japan as the largest aid provider to Sri Lanka in 2009, has been helping with construction of a number of port facilities in countries around India in a strategy known as the “String of Pearls.” A government source said tightening ties with Sri Lanka is “a step toward driving a wedge into the String of Pearls.”
Tensions between the United States and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai have peaked as the Afghan leader accused Washington of conspiring with Taliban to spread fears that the radically militant Islamic movement will regain control after foreign troops withdraw by the end of 2014.
Karzai’s fiery remarks on Sunday came a day after double bombings blamed on Taliban killed at least 17 Afghan people.
“Those bombs that went off in Kabul and Khost were not a show of force to America. They were in service of America. It was in the service of the 2014 slogan to warn us if they (Americans) are not here then Taliban will come,”
India and China are fuelling mutual suspicion by their ongoing military build-up, even though neither of them currently appear to seek to overturn the strategic balance on their borders, US spy chief said today.
“Neither India nor China currently seeks to overturn the strategic balance on the border or commit provocations that would destabilise the relationship. However, India and China are each increasing their military abilities to respond to a border crisis,” James R Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, said during a US Congressional hearing on global threats.
Taipei was slowly realizing — too slowly, perhaps — that President Ma’s “goodwill” notwithstanding, Beijing has continued to threaten the island with more than 1,600 short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, and refuses to take the military option off the table as a means of bringing about “reunification.” Despite the diplomatic truce, Beijing has relentlessly prevented Taiwan from playing the role that a modern, democratic country of 23 million people should be entitled to play within the international community.
“Globalisation is out, regionalism is in! One could argue that we might need to thank the lasting economic crisis for at least a few sweeping developments on the global level: Amongst them, the awareness that the world is in no way as ‘flat’ as some contemporary thinkers made many believe.
Because resolution of crises may primarily originate from bi-and multilateral, often region-to-region forms of cooperation and free trade conditions that governments (and corporations) hope will stimulate economies.
WITHIN two decades the United States will be forced out of the western Pacific, says a senior Chinese military officer, amid concerns that increasingly militarised great-power rivalry could lead to war.
Senior Colonel Liu Mingfu, at the People’s Liberation Army’s National Defence University, told Fairfax Media this week that American strategic influence would be confined ”east of the Pacific midline” as it is displaced by Chinese power throughout east Asia, including Australia. Colonel Liu’s interpretation of one facet of what the new Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, calls ”a new type of great-power relationship” adds to the uncertainty and anxiety surrounding China’s strategic ambitions.
In Egypt, Libya and Syria, where Qatar tried to play a role post-Arab Spring, it finds itself blamed for much that has gone wrong on a local level. Close ties to Egypt’s new leaders, the Muslim Brotherhood, have alarmed countries like the United Arab Emirates, where the group is banned and which in January said it had foiled a Brotherhood-linked coup plot. Senior officials in the UAE have long believed Qatar has long-term strategy to use the Brotherhood to redraw the region. “There is both greater apprehension and appreciation for Qatar two years after the Arab awakening in the region,”
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on the first visit to Cairo by an Iranian leader in more than three decades, called for a strategic alliance with Egypt and said he had offered the cash-strapped Arab state a loan.
In a step by Iran to advance ties that were broken in 1979, the Iranian foreign minister said Egyptian tourists and merchants would no longer require visas to visit, Egypt’s state news agency reported. The effort drew a cool response, however. Shi’ite Islamist Iran is still looked on with suspicion by many in Egypt, a predominantly Sunni Muslim nation.
In the past, the military’s war talk contrasted with soothing words from senior civilian leaders. Now, with Xi, the aggressive comments from flag officers are consistent with what he, as top leader, is saying. Worse, as the Financial Times notes, Xi’s words of war are now “being bundled” with his rhetoric, which seems calculated to “fan nationalism.”
In this environment, Chinese military officers can get away with advocating “short, sharp wars” and talking about the need to “strike first.” Their boldness suggests, as some privately say, that General Secretary Xi is associating with generals and admirals who think war with the U.S. might be a good idea.
The Bank of England is prepared in principle to become the first G7 central bank to enter into a foreign exchange swap agreement with China, opening the door to another substantial step in moves to liberalize the yuan currency.
The bank’s executive director for banking services, Chris Salmon, told a meeting of senior bankers in London that the move was aimed at underpinning a developing offshore market in yuan trade out of London that Britain is keen to encourage.
Oil from the Middle East and natural gas could be flowing through pipelines from Myanmar to China by the end of May “if everything goes as planned”, China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) said yesterday, after Deputy Foreign Minister Fu Ying’s trip to Myanmar on Saturday.
The main parts of the pipelines in Myanmar were finished and those in Yunnan would be completed this month, the head of the CNPC project, Gao Jianguo , told Xinhua. The 1,100-kilometre pipelines, from the port of Kyaukpyu in Myanmar to Ruili city in Yunnan, could transport 22 million tonnes of oil and 12 billion cubic metres of natural gas a year.
Since assuming office at the end of 2012, Japan’s new prime minister has started conducting a diplomatic offensive to counteract China’s influence in the Asia-Pacific Region. This diplomatic offensive is an indication of the new Japanese administration’s growing economic and strategic interests in Southeast Asia. Abe wants to curb China’s growing military and commercial clout in the region. He wants to expand Japan’s maritime competence and combine it with the country’s economic strengths. Japan’s new administration wants to strengthen ties with ASEAN
Afghan officials are meeting with Taliban rebels and envoys from another Islamist militant group near Paris, looking beyond Afghanistan’s ongoing insurgency to a future long after international forces have returned home.
French hosts say the secretive, rare meeting among rival Afghans in Chantilly — known partly for its equine training grounds — Thursday and Friday isn’t expected to involve any horse-trading toward a possible peace and reconciliation deal.
Since the “Orange revolution” in 2004, Ukraine has been seeking a proper balance between its relations with East and West. Ex-President Viktor Yushchenko, who swept to power in the “Orange Revolution,” put Ukraine on a pro-Western path, including formal bid of membership in both NATO and the EU. However, despite the initial enthusiasm for full NATO membership, Ukraine has curbed its pro-Western aspirations, as over the half of its citizens oppose their country’s admission to the alliance.
Seeking a “long-term security relationship” with India, a top US military commander has said his country will support New Delhi’s “leadership role” in the Indian Ocean and South Asia.
The US Pacific Command (PACOM) “will increase its efforts to nurture the strategic partnership and expand engagement with India as well as support her leadership role in the Indian Ocean and South Asia,” PACOM Commander, Admiral Sameul J Locklear III, said in an address to the Asia Society here.
The United States should focus increasingly on courting Brazil, India, Indonesia and Turkey, four “global swing states” critical to the preservation of the Western-dominated international order, according to a new report released here Tuesday by two major U.S. think tanks.
“These four nations each possess a large and growing economy, a strategic location in their region and a commitment to democratic institutions. And critically, each nation’s precise international role is now in flux,” they noted.
The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) bloc has begun planning its own development bank and a new bailout fund which would be created by pooling together an estimated $240 billion in foreign exchange reserves, according to diplomatic sources. To get a sense of how significant the proposed fund would be, the fund would be larger than the combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of about 150 countries, according to Russia and India Report.
Suggesting that the US relationship with India has the potential to alter the power dynamics in Asia and the world, a leading US think tank has proposed a deeper military engagement between two countries.
This “can have a range of strategic benefits, including the enhancement of military capabilities, building long−term professional relationships, as well as strategic signalling to allies, partners, and potential adversaries,” says a new report by the Wadhwani Chair in US−India Policy Studies at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
China’s natural enemies are mainly regional rivals with competing resource claims, for instance over water, territory, fishing rights and the treatment of Chinese immigrants. The good news for the West is that these problems are concentrated geographically around China. The bad news is that the West will naturally be dragged in as a counterweight to Chinese power. This, of course, is happening already: for the last 20 years or so, the West has sided with the Japanese, South Korean, and Indian militaries in disputes against China.
Some 400 SNC members voted from 29 lists of groups opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ranging from liberals to the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as ethnic minorities and tribes.
Islamists, including at least five Muslim Brotherhood members, account for around a third of the new secretariat, with the Kurdish and Assyrian minorities also represented but no women.
Armenia’s interest needs large-scale and deep relations with NATO with new proposals because they contain new prospects of new quality and modernization of strategic and economic security of Armenia.
This is the fundamental issue for Armenia because even with the optimal demographic pattern Armenia will hardly be able to compete with its neighbors over the next several decades, particularly Azerbaijan and Turkey. Besides, the Kurdish issue rises in the context of demography.
“In the face of major global political and economic changes taking place in the world, India is attaching even greater attention to its relations with China. India now considers its relationship with China as an important part of its overall modernisation strategy, and one that is of great significance to global peace and stability,” it said apparently addressing the hardliners in Chinese defence establishment.
The agenda for high-ranking Washington officials’ visits to the South Caucasus seldom varies, and this is not simply because Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia face largely similar problems, but also for ethical reasons. Washington wants to convince them that they are all equal partners. Therefore, if Rubin talked about Iran in Georgia, he did or will do the same in the other two South Caucasus states.
Iraq urges the Kurdish autonomy to approve the deployment of troops on the border with Turkey to prevent the Turkish troops’ entering Iraq, as well as to stop air strikes on the country against the militants of Kurdistan Workers’ Party, head of the Iraqi parliamentary security committee Iskander Witwit told Trend on Wednesday.
“We urge the Kurdish autonomy to provide the central government with all rights to deploy the troops on the border with Turkey to prevent Turkish troops’ entering Iraq,” he added.
Chinese and Japanese media voiced unease over the extension to South Korea’s missile range following talks with the U.S. that ended Sunday. China’s state-run Xinhua News reported that the extension of their maximum range from 300 km to 800 km “runs counter to a global arms control agreement known as the Missile Technology Control Regime.”
Xinhua said South Korea, which is a signatory to the regime, took advantage of a loophole in the guidelines [for non-proliferation of unmanned aerial vehicles for all weapons of mass destruction] by opting for “slower, surface-skimming cruise missiles with a range of up to 1, 500 km, which are not subject to the MTCR.”
Few countries are in better position to shape US foreign policy than Armenia.Armenia borders Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Iran. As a part of the former Soviet Union, it relies on nearby Russia extensively for trade and military backing. The US has a significant stake in all five countries, and Armenia is now coming into view as a potentially potent lever to advance American aims.That is, if the Armenians can be won over.As the US tries to woo Armenia to become a stronger ally in the region, the term “geostrategic” has never been more apt.
The image of an Ottoman sultan glowered at the gridlock from a highway billboard in the Egyptian capital, hands clasped, his feathered headgear and gold-hewn epaulettes in elegant contrast to the grind of traffic below. The poster for a Turkish-made movie about the 1453 fall of Constantinople recalled the early feats of an empire that eventually ruled the Middle East and beyond.
Egypt, like Turkey, has its own grand history – evident in the pyramids and other monuments that its ancients left behind, and in a national pride that’s distinctive in the Arab world.
The descendants of yesterday’s sultans and pharaohs, so to speak, also have ambitions of an outsized role for their respective countries. Each wants to speak for the Middle East.
Obama is sending a group of military engineers to Georgia in September for this purpose.
The bolstering of Georgia’s air defenses comes as a result of six-point plan between the American and Georgian presidents early in 2012, intended help Georgia boost its military capabilities.
Georgian defense minister Dimitry Shashkin says the military experts are coming to study the country’s air defenses. Afterwards, the implementation of the the six-point plan will go into its second stage. Specifically, US experts will write a report about how Georgia’s air defenses should be strenghened, considering current threats.
This is the new reality: in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, the United States must expect that its diplomats will not enjoy protection in societies wracked by political instability and the birth pangs of transition into new forms of government. This problem is by no means exclusive to these areas of conflict. Even Mexican drug cartels have no fear of shooting at diplomatic cars. As Trombly pointed out, the ability of the State Department to advocate for US interests will be compromised if effective measures are not taken.
Iran is in talks to sell crude oil to Egypt, Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi was quoted as saying by the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) on Monday.
Iran has been looking for new buyers for its oil as western sanctions over its disputed nuclear program squeeze sales to long-time customers, Reuters reported.
China and North Korea say their relationship is as close as “lips and teeth.” The analogy is discomfiting in Seoul given current trends in bilateral trade, with some concerned that Beijing will simply swallow up its neighbor.
The dependence doesn’t sit well in Pyongyang, analysts say. They predict that the situation will push the North to engage the next South Korean administration and other regional players.
“From an economic and strategic logic standpoint, North Korea would not want this situation to go on forever,” said John Delury, assistant professor of International Studies at Yonsei University. “It wants to have a serious economic relationship with at least South Korea, Russia and China.”
The US is beefing up its presence along the Syrian border with Turkey.
US officials say they are sending more intelligence agents and diplomats to advise the rebel forces in their mismatched fight against the better-armed Syrian regime, and watching for al-Qaida’s infiltration of rebel ranks.
The officials say intelligence officers are gathering information from refugees and defectors, while State Department workers are helping the rebels organize politically. The officials spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to discuss the plans publicly.
As in Iraq, we are going to divide the country: Libya useful and secure the rest of the country delivered to instability. It is spectacular to see how the Western powers want to print a situation of permanent war in Libya. For a year, information from the installation of a military base in the country western North Africa, is broadcast repeatedly and knowingly.
The U.S. strategy long has been geared against the rise of any hegemonic power in Asia and for a stable balance of power.
Yet, as its 2006 national security strategy report acknowledges, the United States also remains committed to accommodate “the emergence of a China that is peaceful and prosperous and that cooperates with us to address common challenges and mutual interests.”
Can U.S. policy reconcile these two seemingly conflicting objectives? The short answer is yes.
India’s quest for a futuristic stealth fifth-generation fighter, which will see the country spend around $35 billion over the next 20 years in its biggest-ever defence project, has zoomed into the decisive phase now.
India and Russia are getting all set to ink the full and final design or R&D phase contract for the 5th Gen fighter by this year-end or early-2013, say sources. It will again underline India’s firm rejection of the US offer of its Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) or the F-35 ‘Lightning-II’.
Ahead of the R&D contract, under which India wants to induct over 200 stealth fighters from 2022 onwards..
China has outmaneuvered everybody else in the strategic calculations with respect to cultivating relationships with Africa. In the recently concluded, fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) on China-Africa strategic partnership, the President Hu Jintao pledged $20 billion of credit line for African countries in next three years — double the amount what China promised to lend Africa at the last joint forum three years ago.
Addressing the delegates at FOCAC, the Chinese president Hu Jintao stated that “Chinese and African people have always treated each other as equals with sincerity and friendship”. Hu also condemned any kind of external interference, a direct criticism on western policies and interferences in Arica and elsewhere.
The reason I include the Central Asian region in my analysis is that because the region constitutes the heart of Asia, coupled with providing the main route to the New Silk Route, a future venture that may lead to a faceoff between Washington and Moscow. The formation of the region’s states makes it interesting to monitor for a neutral observer. Although the US national foreign policy would never keep the region at its top priority, implicit indications from the word go provided a fair picture of what the US was after. The former US National Security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski once referred to Central Asia as a hotbed of conflict and one of the most strategically important parts of the world, as the ‘Eurasian Balkans’.
Pakistan and India are mulling a proposal for a meeting of the chiefs of their intelligence agencies as part of a series of confidence-building measures to build goodwill, according to a media report on Monday.
The proposal is among “numerous mechanisms” being explored to reduce the trust deficit between the two neighbours, The Express Tribune quoted official sources as saying.
It quoted a source as claiming that the US was instrumental in persuading the two countries to discuss the possibility of a meeting between the heads of the Research and Analysis Wing and Inter-Services Intelligence.
A Pakistani official was quoted as saying that several proposals, including regular interactions between the security agencies of the two countries, were on the table.
The United States and its Arab allies are knitting together a regional missile defense system across the Persian Gulf to protect cities, oil refineries, pipelines and military bases from an Iranian attack, according to government officials and public documents.
It is an enterprise that is meant to send a pointed message to Tehran, and that becomes more urgent as tensions with Iran rise. But it will require partner nations in the gulf to put aside rivalries, share information and coordinate their individual arsenals of interceptor missiles to create a defensive shield encompassing all the regional allies.
Strictly speaking, extending a formal U.S. security umbrella over the Gulf would require guarantees in the form of defense pacts with GCC states, or with the GCC as a whole. These security guarantees would have mutual or collective self-defense provisions, promising that an attack on any one member state would require a military response from them all. When a nuclear weapons state like the U.S. extends such guarantees, it implies a willingness to use its own nuclear weapons on behalf of its allies if that becomes necessary.
Regular exchanges between the armed forces of Pakistan and China would deepen the existing strategic ties and give further push to the all-weather and time-tested friendship between the two countries. Ambassador Masood Khan expressed these views while speaking at an impressive graduation ceremony of the 2nd Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC)-Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Officer Development Programme (APOD) held in Beijing Saturday. The Pakistan Envoy in China expressed deepest appreciation to AVIC, China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC), and the AVIC University for organizing an advanced and sophisticated programme with rich contents for the participants from the PAF.
The Pentagon said yesterday it plans to send a U.S. air force detachment to Poland to support fighter jets and transport planes, marking the first time that U.S. soldiers have been stationed there. The announcement was made at the end of talks between US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and his Polish counterpart Tomasz Siemoniak. The detachment “will arrive this fall to support quarterly F-16 and C-130 deployments beginning in 2013 and will be the first U.S. forces stationed on Polish soil,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said in a statement.
The European Union’s response to the Arab awakening again highlighted its inability to react swiftly and decisively to extraordinary events unfolding in its neighborhood, Hrant Kostanyan and Magdalena Nasieniak write in a report for the Brussels-based Centre for European Policy Studies. But the new European Endowment for Democracy has the potential to make the EU a committed, pro-active and effective leader of democracy assistance, free of nationally-driven decisions, European ‘turf wars’ and cumbersome bureaucracy.
The chairman of the Turkish party Saadat, Mustafa Kamalak, stated that it is necessary to establish an Islamic NATO and Islamic Peacekeeping Forces as soon as possible, SalamNews reports, citing the Turkish mass media.
The chairman of the party arrived in Morocco to participate in a session of the Justice and Development party. There he met the prime minister of Morocco, Abdelilyah bin Kiran, and the foreign minister, Saadeddin Al Osmani. At the session he proposed establishing an Islamic NATO.
Chancellor Angela Merkel gave no ground on Germany’s demands for more central control over euro member states in return for joint burden-sharing as the region struggles to contain the debt crisis.
The German leader said yesterday she hadn’t softened her stance at last month’s summit in Brussels and that a so-called banking union involving a bloc-wide financial overseer will have to include joint oversight on a “new level.”
Russia’s plan to use regional organizations as levers in Central Asia has some flaws, argues Richard Weitz.
Uzbekistan’s withdrawal from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) highlights the growing influence of this often overlooked Moscow-led military alliance in Eurasia. But it also underscores the limited ability of Russia to dominate the former Soviet republics of Central Asia. Even more, it indicates how the typical “great game competition” framework for analyzing great power competition in the region is misleading.
President Vladimir Putin has urged Russian diplomats to look ahead and be ready for any, even unfavorable, turn of events in the international situation.
“We should influence more actively the situation where Russia’s interests are directly involved, looking ahead and acting accordingly, being ready for any, even the most unfavorable, turn of events,” Putin said, meeting with Russia’s foreign ambassadors in Moscow on Monday.
First of all, the U.S. uses military exercise diplomacy to accelerate its eastward shift of strategic focus, and enhance its influence in the Asia-Pacific region. Since Obama took office, the U.S. has proposed a new approach to shift its strategic focus eastward, attempting to consolidate its dominance in the Asia-Pacific region and maintain its global dominance. Economically, the U.S. has set up an economic body outside the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) by actively promoting the establishment of the Trans-Pacific Economic Partnership Agreement (TPP).
Negotiations between Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus are advancing over the creation of a Eurasian Union, which would abolish customs duties and unify economic policies amongst participating countries.
In February a Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) was established, with the fully ratified economic union expected to enter into force by 2015. The lengthy process of legal codification and harmonisation is under way.
The recent bilateral cooperation agreement between Japan and the Philippines is part of the United States’ (US) strategy of rebalancing its forces in Asia, a militant group claimed Monday.
“The US wants a seamless interface with all its treaty partners in the region. This is [why] Japan is enhancing defense ties with the Philippines,” Renato Reyes Jr., Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Secretary General, said in a statement.
Iran’s issues, the operation in Afghanistan, the establishment of military bases in Uzbekistan will be discussed at the upcoming meeting with U.S military and diplomatic leadership in Tashkent.
The U.S. has sought military cooperation for a long time with Uzbekistan because of the strategic and geopolitical positions of the country. Uzbekistan’s obligations as a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) were one of the main factors that can prevent it and the creation of U.S bases in the Republic.
The United States is spending $92 million to build Afghanistan a new “Pentagon,” a massive five-story military headquarters with domed roofs and a high-tech basement command in the capital of Kabul.
“Once it’s finished, it will be a permanent and a very significant illustration of the United State’s support for Afghanistan,” Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak said in an interview, the Washington Post reported.
The Philippines may ask the United States to deploy spy planes over the South China Sea to help monitor the disputed waters, President Benigno Aquino told Reuters on Monday, a move that could worsen tensions with its giant neighbor China.
The two countries only recently stepped back from a months-long standoff at the Scarborough Shoal, a horseshoe shaped reef near the Philippines in waters they both claim – the latest round of naval brinkmanship over the resource-rich sea.
Perhaps the only real practical argument that can be made for Western intervention in Syria is that civil wars have a nasty habit of jumping borders and simply becoming wars. As Syria’s vicious crackdown on an armed insurgency continues, and violence spreads to the capital of Damascus, its neighbours are becoming increasingly wary. This is especially true given last week’s shoot-down of a Turkish reconnaissance plane near Syrian airspace (Syria claims in its airspace) and a reported ineffective attack on another Turkish plane that was searching for its downed comrade.
“We are in preparations for the possibility of war and in the midst of deployment with the situation in Syria in mind,” a top IDF officer said Thursday, in a tour of the northern border with journalists.
The greatest challenge facing Division 36, which is placed in the Golan, is the possibility of facing a surprise attack, said the officer, Brig. Gen. Tamir Heiman, Commander of Division 36. “The biggest concern is a combined terror attack and we are preparing for this in the Golan area.”
Gen. Peng, a well-known PLA strategist, has a hawkish reputation and a large following in China. The speech was given in December at an event hosted byXinhua news agency in Beijing. An abbreviated transcript was published June 21 on the Chinese military website Leiting, or Thunder.
“The United States has been exhausting all its resources to establish a strategic containment system specifically targeting China,” Gen. Peng said.”The contradictions between China and the United States are structural, not to be changed by any individual, whether it is G.H.W. Bush, G.W. Bush or Barack Obama, it will not make a difference to these contradictions.”
EU member states agreed to create a European endowment for democracy.
The fund should become operational by next year and will primarily target EU neighbouring countries such as Belarus, where people are routinely jailed for showing opposition against President Alexander Lukashenko.
The fund was the brainchild of the Polish EU presidency in June 2011 and will function primarily as a grant-awarding institution.
Pro-democracy and social movements, young leaders, civil society, independent media, foundations and educational institutions among others are its intended target beneficiaries.
Russia has launched a secret plan to rescue the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, writes June 24 The Sunday Times. Is a plan to conduct the country’s early elections.
As told an unnamed Russian diplomat publication close to the negotiations between Moscow and Damascus, Assad offered to hold early elections, as controlled by the rebels was at least a third of Syria, and the Russian leadership feared that staying in power, the incumbent will be increasingly difficult. In this election in the foreseeable future will be seen as a step towards the opposition and make it impossible to intervene in Western countries.
With its growing political influence, Turkey is seeking a stronger role in world politics. However, its domestic political problems, as well as regional crises, pose major challenges to its foreign policy ambitions.
“Turkey has become one of the five or six most important countries in the world,” former US National Security Adviser Stephan J. Hadley told an international audience recently at the Council on Foreign Relations think-tank. “It’s ironic… if you look at economic performance, you wonder whether Turkey ought to join the EU or the EU ought to join Turkey,” he said.
Pro-bailout party New Democracy may have come first in Sunday’s Greek election but the radical left anti-austerity SYRIZA bloc was celebrating like the real winner well into the warm Athens night.
The election exposed a struggling nation deeply divided over whether to implement a harsh austerity package, the price for receiving a total of 240 billion euros in bailout money from the European Union and IMF to save its near-bankrupt economy.
“My biggest fear is of a social explosion,” said a senior adviser to the country’s likely next prime minister, New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras.
“If there is no change in the policy mix, we’re going to have a social explosion even if you bring Jesus Christ to govern this country.”
Helicopter gunships aren’t the only things Russia is giving Syria; now the Kremlin is printing money for the cash-strapped Damascus regime. But whereas the former aid makes Assad’s regime stronger militarily, the latter may exacerbate an inflation rate that is now more than 30 percent.
Reuters reports that the Syria regime, desperate to finance its fiscal deficit, has released new cash, printed in Russia, into circulation in trial amounts in the capital and Aleppo.
“(The Russians) sent sample new banknotes that were approved and the first order has been delivered. I understand some new banknotes have been injected into the market,” Reuters reported, citing an anonymous banker in Damascus.
Actually, Putin aspires to construct, the sooner, the better, a geostrategic axis: Russia (Union States – members of the CU, CES, CSTO) – Germany and France (as the most powerful EU players) – China (as the main player in Asia). The Russian President understands that now the EU is weakened as the geopolitical player, and to be as much productive as possible it is necessary to build direct relations with Berlin, Paris and other European capitals. The strategy with China is also clear, as this country extends its geopolitical influence through economic expansion and a strategy to tap in the world’s reserve stocks.
All Central Asian countries suffer from pervasive corruption, acute income inequalities, political succession problems, and transnational criminal groups that cooperate more effectively than the region’s frequently feuding governments do. Deteriorating public services contributed to the overthrow of Kyrgyzstan’s government, and could lead alienated citizens to support extremists.
All five countries have yet to fully recover from the disintegration of Soviet infrastructure networks, and require urgent domestic and region-wide measures to strengthen their education, transportation, energy provision, health care, and other public services. And their myriad interdependencies increase the risks of transnational threats, such as disease outbreaks, and resource-related confrontations.
In his turn, Omurbek Babanov, the first deputy prime-minister from Kyrgyzstan, has suggested that the proposed SCO Development bank could be helpful for implementation of major regional scale infrastructure projects, such as high-voltage power lines or the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan rail road construction. Whereas the Tajikistan’s prime-minister Akil Akilov believes that such a bank should provide support and incentives for weaker regional economies.
Wen Jiabao, the chairman of Chinese State Council, has urged to provide for free transit of goods, capital and services through the SCO territories, along with faster development of the regional infrastructure networks for transportation, energy and communication. In turn, China has committed itself to offer soft loans in support of infrastructure projects in the SCO states.
An escalation in the long-running dispute between Britain and Spain over ownership of Gibraltar shows “disturbing” Falklands-style tendencies, one of the Rock’s MEPs has warned.
After a stand-off between Gibraltese and Spanish police patrol boats over fishing rights, Conservative Julie Girling warned: “What we don’t want in Gibraltar is a situation like the Falklands: there seem to be disturbing parallels in attempts to damage the livelihoods of Gibraltar’s fishermen.
“The Spanish are not being reasonable in their actions.”
Military intervention to end the crisis in Syria cannot be ruled out if it is backed by the United Nations Security Council, French President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday.
“It is not possible to allow Bashar al-Assad’s regime to massacre its own people,” Hollande told France 2 television. “Military intervention is not excluded provided it is carried out under the auspices of international law, namely via a (U.N.) Security Council resolution.”
The civil unrest consuming Quebec is also seizing media attention abroad — with more than 3,000 news reports from 77 different countries in recent weeks.
That’s according to an analysis released Monday by Montreal-based company Influence Communication, which is monitoring Canadian and foreign media coverage of the conflict.
Influence analyst Caroline Roy said the student crisis generated 66-times more foreign news coverage in two months than Canada’s entire mission in Afghanistan — this country’s most extensive international undertaking since the Korean War.
Policymakers and firms across Europe are making preparations to cope with a break-up of the single currency as the president of the Swiss central bank became the latest senior figure to admit to contingency plans for a “collapse” of the eurozone.
“We must be prepared just in case the currency union collapses, although I don’t expect that to happen,” said Swiss National Bank boss Thomas Jordan.
Mr Jordan added that his objective if it did come to the worst would be to prevent funds flooding into the safe haven of the Swiss franc, which could damage his country’s export sector.
It had discussed “not just the possibility of a military confrontation but what role, if any, Britain might play and whether any involvement would be legal”, the report said.
Government lawyers have been examining the legality of any British involvement, “ranging from British diplomatic support for Israel through to the possible involvement of the Royal Navy in the region”, the BBC reported.
Senior ministers on the council were told that if talks with Iran fail and Israel attacks its nuclear facilities, this might trigger a wider war in the Middle East, the report said, without citing sources.