The conflicts raging today in Gaza, Iraq and Ukraine share some common features. Irregular belligerents — Hamas, ISIL/ISIS and Ukrainian separatists — are each aggressively shaping these conflicts in skillful ways to outmaneuver their more conventional adversaries. These irregular warriors seek creative and often indirect ways to accomplish their wartime ends, often without fighting in conventional fashion. Their tactics and equipment reflect a new and ever-varying combination of conventional high-tech weaponry.
Militants from ISIS now control or threaten key facilities on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, generating fears that the Al-Qaeda splinter group could turn off the taps to the Shiite south of Iraq, sparking a massive humanitarian crisis.Last month’s ISIS-led offensive across Iraq saw it overrun cities and battle for oil refineries as the national army melted away, but it has also been waging a war for water, trying to wrest control over rivers, dams and desalination plants in a bid to solidify its territorial gains.
The report speaks of the fear circulating in diplomatic circles that despite the extraordinary efforts of the security forces and the support of international actors who would prefer to see Lebanon stabilized, the country is in danger of falling prey to the bad intentions of certain regional and international parties. These fundamentalist groups receive political support and cover from known regional powers and they are planning a new wave of bombings and assassinations that have a purely political goal, it claims.
Plenty of materials for a potential dirty bomb are likely scattered throughout the area of Iraq controlled by ISIS, and pulling off an attack that spreads even a minor amount of radiation could be a huge PR coup for the terror group, experts say. Last week, the Iraqi government in Baghdad warned the UN that ISIS operatives had stolen 88 pounds of uranium compounds from Mosul University. Even though many experts said the research materials were not enough to cause widespread harm, spreading fear is even more important.
The military strongman cut his teeth in the 1969 coup that brought Gaddafi to power.What came to be called The Toyota War, because Chadian troops used pick-up trucks mounted with French guided anti-tank missiles to neutralize Gaddafi’s armor, shattered Hiftar’s close relationship with the Libyan dictator. After Hiftar was captured in 1987, Gaddafi disowned him. Abandoned and angry, Hiftar struck a deal with the CIA, fled to the United States and lived in exile in Northern Virginia until 2011.
Little noticed among the disturbing tableau of images coming out of Iraq in recent weeks is a changing of the guard evident at the Baghdad International Airport (BIAP). As the crisis has deepened, U.S. contractors, U.S. Embassy personnel and most of the U.S. service members have abandoned the threatened capital. The exodus has coincided with Russian contractors and support personnel pouring into BIAP to help launch the 25 Russian SU-25 warplanes that Moscow is rushing to Iraq in its hour of need.
The Gulf governments seem worried these days. None of them had imagined, a few months ago, that individuals entrusted with security, people’s lives, oil fields and weapons would eventually pose the main threat to all these valuables. ISIS leaders, the likes of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, are well aware of al-Qaeda’s past experience and they do realize that the Islamic caliphate will never be truly fulfilled without controlling the region’s most important treasures, i.e. oil and gas resources.
Japan on Tuesday loosened the bonds on its powerful military, proclaiming the right to go into battle in defence of allies, in a highly controversial shift in the nation’s pacifist stance. Under the new definition, Japanese troops will be able to come to the aid of allies — primarily the US — if they come under attack from a common enemy, even if Japan is not the object of the attack. Examples pushed by the Abe camp have included a missile attack by North Korea on US forces in Guam.
“The representatives of the EU Member States in the Council adopted a decision on the so-called ‘solidarity clause’. Were a disaster or a loosely defined crisis to occur, the organs of the European Union would be obliged to assist using all the instruments at their disposal. This includes military resources”, warned Member of the Bundestag Andrej Hunko. The use of the “European Gendarmerie Force” (EUROGENDFOR) is made possible by the “solidarity clause”.
Border Patrol agents in Arizona were reportedly fired upon by a Mexican military helicopter that traveled across the border. KVOA-TV reports that Mexican authorities were conducting a drug interdiction operation when the incident happened early Thursday morning on the Tohono O’odham Indian Nation. The Mexican chopper fired at the agents and then flew back into Mexico. Art del Cueto, Border Patrol Tucson Sector union president, tells KVOA that they called and apologized for the incident.
The world’s newest country, South Sudan, has topped the list of fragile states in this year’s index released by a leading US-based research institute. Chronic instability, fractured leadership and growing ethnic conflict made it the most fragile state, The Fund for Peace said. The top six countries on the index are all in sub-Saharan Africa. Afghanistan was listed as the seventh most fragile state followed by Yemen, Haiti and Pakistan. Syria is 15th.
Iran reportedly has sent military advisers into Iraq and dispatched the head of its infamous Quds Force to help Baghdad strategize in its fight against Sunni militants, as the United States takes similar steps despite concern about Tehran’s involvement. While not in lockstep, Tehran and Washington are now taking a similar approach in helping the beleaguered government in Baghdad. Fox News confirms that Iran is flying surveillance drones over Iraq, something the U.S. also is doing.
Iraq is emblematic of how a security-conscious CIA is finding it difficult to spy aggressively in dangerous environments without military protection, Maguire and other current and former U.S. officials say. Intelligence blind spots have left the U.S. behind on fast-moving world events, they say, whether it’s disintegration in Iraq, Russia’s move into Crimea or the collapse of several governments during the Arab Spring. “This is a glaring example of the erosion of our street craft and our tradecraft and our capability to operate in a hard place.”
Intensified bombing in Sudan’s war-torn South Kordofan may be part of an attempt to starve the population, Amnesty International said on Wednesday. The air raids in recent weeks are “unprecedented in their scale and impact,” the London-based watchdog said, citing human rights monitors.Intensified bombing in Sudan’s war-torn South Kordofan may be part of an attempt to starve the population, Amnesty International said on Wednesday. The air raids in recent weeks are “unprecedented in their scale and impact”.
Militants have reportedly taken control of Iraq’s primary oil refinery in Baiji, north of Baghdad, after 10 days of fierce battles over the station in Salah al-Din province which supplies a third of Iraq’s refined oil. The ongoing battle for the site had already led to rationing of petrol in Iraq and street protests, reports the BBC. According to a spokesperson for the militants, control of the complex will now be handed over to local tribespeople. However, news of the refinery’s capture late on Monday has been slow to trickle out in official media outlets.
Fighting between government forces and troops form the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) took place nearly every day last week in the Manwing area of southern Kachin state. The fighting began shortly after a military column entered into an area controlled by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the KIO’s armed wing. Clashes between the Burma army’s Light Infantry Division No. 88 and resistance forces from KIA battalion 27 took place at Gaw Ngu Yang near Nam Hka village.
Israeli warplanes bombed a series of targets inside Syria early Monday, the Israeli military said, in response to a cross-border attack that killed an Israeli teenager the previous day. In all, Israel said it struck nine military targets inside Syria, and “direct hits were confirmed.” The targets were located near the site of Sunday’s violence in the Golan Heights and included a regional military command center and unspecified “launching positions.” There was no immediate response from Syria.
India is expanding a covert uranium enrichment plant that could potentially support the development of thermonuclear weapons, a defence research group said on Friday, raising the stakes in an arms race with China and Pakistan.The revelation highlights a lack of nuclear safeguards on India, while sanctions-bound Iran faces minute scrutiny in talks with world powers over its own nuclear programme. Unlike Iran, India is not a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
As President Barack Obama weighs options for potential U.S. intervention in Iraq, the Pentagon has a broad range of ground, air and sea troops and assets in the region. They include: —Six warships in the Persian Gulf, including the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, a cruiser, three destroyers and the amphibious transport ship the USS Mesa Verde, which is carrying about 550 Marines and five V-22 Osprey hybrid aircraft. About 5,000 U.S. soldiers across the border in Kuwait, as part of a routine rotational presence.
The key drivers of the region’s galloping militarization are, firstly, the various protracted Caucasian conflicts – Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia, Nagorno-Karabakh, whose status is disputed between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and the North Caucasus, which has experienced near continuous conflict since the mid-1990s; and secondly, the rising geopolitical competition over the Caspian Sea and its enormous hydrocarbon resources.
Turkey’s Air Force has sent F-16 fighter jets on reconnaissance flights near the Iraqi city of Mosul. Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated on that Iraq has not taken the necessary security measures to combat ongoing violence affecting the country. “The ongoing violence in Iraq is quickly spreading and has started to enter neighboring countries,” said by Turkey’s Foreign Ministry. Iraq has seen a marked increase in sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia Muslims in recent months
A former Qatari ambassador to the United States offered up a warning to the Obama administration that any military intervention on behalf of the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki would be seen as an act of “war” on the entire community of Sunni Arabs. Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad al Khalifa also warned against the United States working with Iran to repulse the advance by the radical Sunni group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
The Kurdish Peshmerga said that a security belt they have created on the southern edges of Tuz Khurmatu has prevented the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) from bringing their fight to the Kurdish areas. A Peshmerga officer in the area also told Rudaw that the ISIS have contacted them by courier, saying, “If you don’t attack us, we would not attack you.” The last Peshmerga checkpoint is on the lower Zab River that stretches to the town of Dubis near the city of Kirkuk in the north.
Yemeni troops were surrounding a mosque controlled by ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh Sunday amid fears he is plotting a coup, days after the ex-strongman’s media outlets were silenced. A source close to the presidency told that weapons had been stored in the mosque and were being guarded by gunmen loyal to Saleh. A tunnel connecting the site to the presidential palace had also been discovered. Hadi suspects his predecessor is “plotting a coup”, the source said, without elaborating further.
While German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned on Sunday that the bloody conflict in Iraq could quickly spin into a regional “proxy war”, former spokesperson for the US defence department J.D. Gordon said that the renewed violence is actually a “proxy war between Saudi Arabia and the Iranians which is now spilled over into Iraq and there will be a lot more violence in the months, years to come.” “We have to prevent a proxy war of the regional powers breaking out on Iraqi soil,” he said.
US quietly sending in elite military units to train former Soviet bloc states amid annexation of Crimea
As the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) refocuses on its eastern borders after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the US is quietly deploying more troops to train special forces in former Soviet bloc states anxious about Moscow’s intentions. Highly trained and equipped with advanced communications equipment and weapons, special forces are often used in counterterrorism or reconnaissance operations. They can infiltrate enemy lines to tie down much larger numbers of opposition troops.
The Iraqi city of Tikrit has been seized by fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, security sources have said, the second city to fall to the group in two days. Sources told Al Jazeera on Wednesday that gunmen had set up checkpoints around Tikrit, which lies between the capital Baghdad and Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city which was captured by ISIL on Tuesday. Meanwhile, sources said the nearby city of Kirkuk, home to Iraq’s biggest oil refinery, was also being attacked by ISIL.
Militants seized control of the airport, TV stations and the governor’s offices in Iraq’s second-largest city as police and soldiers ran away from their posts Tuesday, a stunning collapse of the security forces that has raised questions about Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s ability to hold the country together. Thousands of people — some carrying plastic bags, others pushing carts — have fled the fighting in Mosul, creating a humanitarian crisis that has caught the government off guard.
China is swapping its reserved diplomacy for a hands-on approach to help resolve a five-month rebellion in South Sudan that threatens Beijing’s oil investments. Diplomats say the permanent Chinese presence at the Addis Ababa talks and their frequent lobby chats and closed-door consultations with diplomats from the United States, Britain and Norway – the main Western backers of newly independent South Sudan – show China’s more proactive approach.
At least 18 people have been killed and dozens injured during sporadic fighting in the Iraqi city of Samarra after armed men took control of several districts, military sources have said. Government forces in the city told Al Jazeera that they believed the men were members of t he Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL) and that the army was sending in reinforcements to face them. They said the fighting was ongoing and that government warplanes were attacking rebel positions in the city, which lies 125 km north of the capital Baghdad.
Troops clashed at the Burma-Bangladesh border oas tensions boiled over while Burmese soldiers were returning the body of a Bangladeshi killed in a skirmish two days before, AFP has reported. Citing Devdash Bhattacharya, the Bangladeshi police chief in the district of Bandarban, the report said that gunfire broke out on Friday afternoon when the Burmese border police failed to return the dead soldier’s body on time.
Local officials of eastern Kunar province reported that Pakistani military forces had fired more than 97 rockets into Dangam and Shegal districts of the province. The assault marks just the most recent of a series of violent Pakistani territorial infringmenets that have caused death and destruction in a number of eastern provinces over the past week. “Clashes between the Pakistani Taliban and Pakistani military forces have spread into the border areas of Afghanistan,” he explained.
“We are a failed state,” said a student at the Autonomous University of Tamaulipas. “There is no law. It’s the rule of the gun.” The fight for supremacy intensified between the Gulf cartel and its former mercenaries, the Zetas, the federal government has stepped in. Earlier this month, Mexico’s interior minister, Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, flew to the border city of Reynosa to announce a new security strategy for the state, appointing four senior military officers to rule, in effect, with martial law.
France will strengthen its military presence in Africa and Djibouti will play a major role in this strategy by hosting the next French base. It is a detachment of the Special Operations Command (SOC). According to an expert from the French army, with this new detachment, and France will graph the Sahelian zone with a response of less than 3 hours capacity for the entire region. Originally, this base was to be established in Mali which eventually declined the offer.
While the Reds may for now be cramped by martial law, observers say they are likely to regroup in coming months. They foresee protests, road blocks and moves to cripple provincial governments. Attacks by armed militant cells and a crescendo of calls for a parallel government — a direct challenge to the army’s writ over the country — could also be on the cards. “The chance of violence is very strong,” said Kan Yuenyong, executive director of the Siam Intelligence Unit think-tank.
Thailand’s new military leader said Monday that the junta would hold power “indefinitely,” and warned citizens not to instigate chaos or criticize his rule. Since the coup, there have been daily protests of several hundred — a violation of martial law that prohibits gatherings of more than five. “The danger is if somebody wants to be the provocateur, you could have a chain reaction,” said Gothom Arya, a lecturer at the Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies at Mahidol University. “One small incident can degenerate the whole situation.”
Thailand, one of Asia’s most prosperous countries, seems determined to render itself a basket case. A military coup, imposed following the Thai constitutional court’s ouster of an elected government on spurious legal grounds, can lead only to an artificial peace. To Thailand’s east, Vietnam is the latest Asian country to feel pinched by China’s policy of creating facts on the ground, or in this case at sea, to enhance its sovereignty claims on disputed territory.
Indeed, in recent weeks, Sanaa has seen a sharp rise in violence. On May 9, five soldiers were killed in an unprecedented assault blamed on al-Qaeda against the Presidential Palace. The same day, a bomb killed 11 police officers near the British and Qatari embassies. Four days earlier, a Frenchman in charge of the security of an European Union delegation was slain in the diplomatic district Hada. On April 21, two Yemeni officers were shot down by commandos on motocycles.
Forces loyal to a rogue Libyan general attacked the country’s parliament Sunday, forcing lawmakers to flee an assault his spokesman said targeted Islamists there who protect the extremist militias now plaguing the nation. The attack was met with resistance from other troops, Mohammed al-Hegazi, a spokesman for Gen. Khalifa Hifter, told Libya’s al-Ahrar television station. Gunfire near parliament could be heard for kilometers (miles) around.
The army has threatened to declare martial law if widespread violence breaks out in Thailand. The comment followed yesterday’s statement by the Royal Thai Army, which expressed a willingness to deploy troops and take “extreme measures of suppression” if shadowy militants continue to stage attacks on demonstrators. Anti-government protest campsites have been the target of numerous attacks from unidentified assailants in recent weeks. The latest incident killed three demonstrators and injured at least 20.
Vietnam has accused Chinese vessels of deliberately and dangerously ramming its ships. TV footage recorded last week from a Vietnamese ship showed a Chinese vessel smashing into the stern of the Vietnamese ship then backing up and ramming it again, damaging its side. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday released three photographs purportedly showing a Vietnamese vessel ramming a Chinese maritime ship. The media onboard this week did not witness any ramming.
The United States called Wednesday for an immediate deployment of African troops to safeguard a fragile peace deal reached last week by warring sides in Sudan. “We have to work closely with the leaders of the region to make sure that we get IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development in Eastern Africa) troops on the ground, who will be put in the position so that they can monitor the agreement and ensure that anyone who is involved in breaking that agreement will be held responsible,” she said.
After less than three years of nationhood, South Sudan stands on the precipice of civil war. The crisis represents a clear test of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine, and Australia has a key role to play in making the case for humanitarian intervention. The crisis in South Sudan started when President Salva Kiir dismissed Vice-President Riek Machar in July 2013 after a dispute over control of the country’s major political party and patronage vehicle, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).
Moldova has confiscated a petition of names of people from the breakaway Transdniester region which call on Russia to annex the territory. The boxes containing the lists were taken away by officials from a Russian jet in the Transdniester capital Chisinau after Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin’s visit of Victory Day celebrations. Rogozin had been in the pro-Russian breakaway region, which despite declaring its independence in the early 1990s is not recognized by a single county.
A Chinese expert said North Korea is not likely to heed China’s warning against conducting its fourth nuclear test, arguing that Beijing’s role in taming Pyongyang has been “overestimated”. China has grown increasingly frustrated with the North’s wayward behaviour, but many analysts believe Beijing would not take tougher actions, including suspending or restricting supplies of food and energy as it could lead to a regime collapse in North Korea.
The U.S. has established an operational plan to deploy 20 marine brigades to the Korean Peninsula in case of a North Korean invasion into the South, U.S. House Armed Services Chairman Howard McKeon. During a forum in Washington, McKeon said that U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos told him that most of the U.S. marines are to be dispatched to defend South Korea under the plan, according to Yonhap. Under the allies’ joint war plan, the U.S. is to send its 690,000 troops to the peninsula in case of an all-out war.
Initial reports of high turnout and relative security during Iraq’s parliamentary elections have buoyed optimism that things might not be so bad there after all. Unfortunately, a smooth election and even the formation of a new government are not likely to reverse the negative security trends that are bringing Iraq ever closer to full-scale sectarian war. The Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) has established havens in Anbar, Diyala, and southern Baghdad.
Contingency planners from China’s People’s Liberation Army have formulated a set of emergency measures to cope with the ramifications of a collapse of North Korea’s regime for the border area, including a possible massive influx of refugees, according to internal PLA documents. The documents — which Chinese military sources say were compiled in the summer of last year, or several months after North Korea carried out its third nuclear test — call for boosting China’s monitoring capacity along the two countries’ 1,416-kilometer-long border.
The civil war in Syria has proved a fertile breeding ground attracting thousands of foreign fighters who have joined the fight against President Bashar Al Assad. They seized advantage of the chaos and lack of governance as well as a flow of money from the Gulf for Sunni terror groups, particularly those operating in Syria. This has fuelled growing “concern about the creation of a new generation of globally-committed terrorists, similar to what resulted from the influx of violent extremists to Afghanistan in the 1980s.”
Pakistan and Afghanistan may resume their proxy war after the Americans leave the region, a US newspaper warned while another said that the Pakistani government was holding talks with the Taliban against the army’s wishes. The Los Angeles Times noted that Pakistan’s civilian government was “pushing back” against the country’s powerful military as politicians expanded their influence and since he returned to office in June, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had taken several steps to make this point.
Heavy military spending in India and Pakistan has been detrimental to the citizens of both countries, a US think-tank has said urging the two neighbours to reinvest in trade and confidence building. The Washington-based Atlantic Council warns that “Kashmir remains a potential global flashpoint that could escalate into a nuclear war very quickly.” Although many in the two countries now favour rapprochement, the report argues that “unless both sides begin a dialogue on economic and military relations, these issues will only worsen.”
Failed, collapsed or weakened states pose a regional security problem and even a national security threat for the U.S. and its Army, Kaplan said, defining a weak or failed state as one where travel outside the capital can be dangerous — places like Syria, Iraq, South Sudan and Yemen. Social media is not the only factor that will increasingly destabilize the world in the next 20 years, he said.Ethnic and religious sectarian problems will continue to fester and create failed states in places like Africa and the Middle East.
A hail of gunfire rings out as a group of soldiers leap from a helicopter, do a combat roll, crouch and open fire. Running through a haze of smoke, clambering up and down ropes and engaging in hand-to-hand combat: Ukraine’s newly-formed National Guard is hard at work learning to defend the crisis-hit country. At a military base in Novi Petrivtsi the recruits are showing off their new skills, many of them drawn from the protesters whose uprising led to the fall of the previous government.
The former princely state of India and Pakistan (once part of the British Empire, now part of India, Pakistan, and China) has been disputed since the British relinquished control of the subcontinent in the 1940s. A heavily militarized, 450-mile-long (724-kilometer-long) Line of Control has long pitted Indian and Pakistani forces against each other in this contested Himalayan region.
Bosnia and Herzegovina has experienced its largest social unrests in the post-Dayton period. Thousands of Bosnians, mainly Bosniaks, have come to the streets protesting and asking for complete resignation of all political elites at all levels of government. High rate of unemployment, poverty, corruption and nepotism are only few among main factors that have deteriorated lives of Bosnians.
The Kremlin has justified the use of force in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine with a vow to protect ethnic Russians, an excuse that’s easily applied in other places. In Kazakhstan, there’s a significant minority of ethnic Russians in the north of the country, Hill points out – some 24 percent of the country is said to be ethnically Russian, and the language is widely spoken. While Belarus has fewer ethnic Russians (8.3 percent), it has largely become a Russophone state and there are a lot of murky questions about who might succeed Alexandr Lukashenko.
Russia is the only serious rival of Turkey in the Black Sea region. Turkey has certain advantages over Russia because it controls the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits, Turkish studies expert Gevorg Petrosyan told reporters while commenting on the geopolitical importance of Crimea. According to him, Ankara may use the factor of the Crimean Tatars who have pro-Turkish views. “Many thousands of Tatars living in Turkey held protests against Russia, expressing their support for the Crimean Tatars,” he said. He noted that the “Georgian scenario” is likely to be implemented out in Crimea.
Russia’s upper house parliament has approved the request of Russian President Vladimir Putin after he asked to send armed forces to Ukraine’s Crimea region. “In connection with the extraordinary situation in Ukraine, the threat to the lives of citizens of the Russian Federation, our compatriots, and the personnel of the armed forces of the Russian Federation on Ukrainian territory (in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea) … I submit a proposal on using the armed forces of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine until the normalisation of the socio-political situation in the that country,” Putin’s statement said.
It’s perhaps not surprising that Tajikistan, which shares a poorly guarded, 750-mile border with opium-rich Afghanistan, has become a major global drug-trafficking hub—in fact, more than 80 percent of Afghanistan’s heroin exports to Russia and Europe now pass through Tajik territory. Over the past decade, the United States, worried that the drug trade would soon be accompanied by all the other security problems that plague Afghanistan, has cooperated closely with Tajikistan’s government to help it stem the narcotics trade. Seems reasonable, right? Unfortunately, that government is such a dubious partner that hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid have done little to stop the drug business—while helping to shore up its apparatus of repression.
Some time ago, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences released a piece of research entitled “A Report on Developments in the Asia Pacific Area.” This report leveled a great deal of criticism at North Korea. In the report, Chinese experts said that North Korean authorities believe that China will never abandon their country, but they argued that China could very well abandon North Korea if the country continues its brinkmanship-based policies, including nuclear weapons tests. They also said that China could accept a South Korean-led reunification of the Korean Peninsula. The contents of this report are unprecedented.
Tensions also mounted in Crimea, in the southeast of Ukraine, where pro-Russian politicians are organizing rallies and forming protest units, demanding autonomy from Kyiv. The region is now seen as a potential flashpoint because of its deep strategic significance to Moscow. Ukraine is deeply divided between its eastern regions, which are largely pro-Russian, and western areas that widely detest Yanukovych. The Crimean port of Sevastopol may be part of Ukraine, but it is the Russian tricolour that flutters proudly above the port’s barrack blocks and warships.
China said it was “extremely concerned” by a report that Japan has resisted returning to the United States more than 300kg of mostly weapons-grade plutonium, the latest dispute between the two Asian neighbours. Japan’s Kyodo news agency said that Washington had pressed Japan to give back the nuclear material which could be used to make up to 50 nuclear bombs. Japan had resisted, but finally given in to US demands, it added. China is involved in a bitter territorial dispute with Japan and has warned Japan is trying to re-arm.
United States secretary of state John Kerry has announced that China is willing to exert more pressure to get North Korea to give up its nuclear programme. He told reporters in Beijing he was pleased China “could not have more forcefully reiterated its commitment” to the goal of denuclearising North Korea. The reclusive Asian state has defied international warnings not to build atomic bombs and long-range missiles. North Korea is believed to have enough fissile material to build up to ten nuclear bombs, but most intelligence analysts say the country has yet to master the technology to deploy such weapons.
Intelligence officials and issue analysts report signs that Saudi Arabia wants to develop a capacity to enrich uranium, despite proliferation concerns. Riyadh is understood to be worried that world powers will agree to allow Iran to maintain some limited uranium-enrichment capability in a potential lasting deal on its nuclear program. Saudi Arabia has an established interest in developing an atomic-energy program, but its concerns about Iran could be causing the Persian Gulf kingdom to consider a more expansive domestic nuclear capability, the Daily Beast reported on Friday.
The Central African Republic’s northern neighbor, Chad, is a military heavyweight in the region. Under the leadership of President Idriss Deby Itno, it is a driving force behind key decisions in the current crisis. For example, on the question of the president: CAR’s interim president Michel Djotodia was invited to attend a summit of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) in the Chadian capital N’Djamena in January 2014. He then resigned following pressure put on him by President Deby. This was not the first time Chad had decided on the rise and fall of a Central African president.
The National Security Advisory Committee (NSAC) wants the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to summon officials from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to give information over what it terms as “plans to topple the government using activists.” According to NSAC Chairman Francis Kimemia, the committee has credible information detailing how the US donor agency has consistently funded demonstrations by activists. Kimemia said that the organisation has used individuals including a defrocked pastor to slander parliamentarians.
The six agreed regions include four in the north, comprising Azal, Saba, Janad and Tahama, and two in the south, Aden and Hadramawt. A presidential panel has agreed to transform Yemen into a six-region federation as part of its political transition, state news agency Saba announced on Monday. “The final approval” on creating a “federal state of six regions” came at a meeting of the committee, headed by President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi and including representatives of Yemen’s main parties, Saba said.
Andaman & Nicobar islands could be India’s next Kargil, warned former Indian Navy chief Admiral Arun Prakash. He said the Andaman & Nicobar islands numbering 537 are geographically more closer to SE Asia than India. He said the real threat comes from poachers, drug smugglers, or terrorist groups who could occupy some of the uninhabited islands and India would find itself in a Kargil-like situation, Adm. Arun Prakash said this at a two-day workshop on ‘India’s coastline and its islands’ security’ organized by the NGO Federation of Integrated National Security.
Houthi groups seized control over large swaths in the northern directorate of Huth, Amran province, on Sunday after tribesman withdrew following two days of deadly clashes, a tribal source said. “The Houthis were able to control at least five districts in Huth after tribesmen retreated following disagreements with their leader,” the source, who asked to remain anonymous, told Anadolu Agency. Violence broke out in Huth on Friday and continued to rage into Saturday, leaving at least 63 Houthis and 15 tribesmen dead and 163 others injured, including 110 Houthis.
Shocking before-and-after photos show how Syrian government ‘wiped entire neighbourhoods off the map’
The Syrian government used controlled explosives and bulldozers to raze thousands of residential buildings, in some cases entire neighbourhoods, in a campaign that appeared designed to punish civilians sympathetic to the opposition or to cause disproportionate harm to them, an international human rights group said Thursday. The demolitions took place between July 2012 and July 2013 in seven pro-opposition districts in and around the capital, Damascus, and the central city of Hama, according to a 38-page report by Human Rights Watch.
Pakistan has been included in the list of 40 countries having risks of coup in 2014 and residing on the 14th position released by Jay Ulfelder, a famous political scientist who also blogs. A famous political scientist, Jay Ulfelder’s mathematical model which forecasted about expected ‘coups’ across the World in 2014, while the Max Fisher has posted the list in Washington Posts on January 28. Pakistan has been placed on the 14th position in the list while its neighbouring country Afghanistan is on 12th.
Syrian troops mostly withdrew from majority Kurdish areas in summer 2012, focusing their attention on rebel fighters and enabling the Kurds to develop semi-autonomy. Kurdish fighters, especially those affiliated with the PYD, have since fought fierce battles against extremist opposition groups. Two months ago, three Kurdish-majority regions declared self-rule, and one of them named a municipal council on Tuesday. The Syrian Kurdish Supreme Council has forged an alliance with representatives of the Syriacs, one of the oldest branches of Christianity.
Untenable debt burdens, snowballing youth unemployment and water crises rank as leading concerns for global experts. The World Economic Forum released its ‘Global Risks 2014’ report after surveying 700 people, including top business leaders. It assessed 31 risks, but the following risks emerge as urgent threats for many people across the world in 2014: Advanced economies remain in danger of fiscal crises, sparked by extremely high debt burdens, rising interest rates and inflationary pressures.
From strategic point of view, the Russian diplomacy concerned the Balkans and the South-East Europe as essential for the Russian state security and above all for the stability of the Russian state frontiers. It was the Russian intention to obtain favourable frontier in Bessarabia (today independent Moldova) and to have a control over the Bosporus and the Dardanelles, which became very important to the Russian commercial and economic development in particular for the shipment of surplus grain (from present-day Ukraine) to the world markets. The Bosporus and the Dardanelles became a part of Russia’s “security zone” (in both economic and political terms).
The Chinese government is considering reorganizing the Chinese People’s Armed Police Force (PAP) and placing it under the direct control of the Central Military Commission of the Communist Party as part of the country’s military realignment plan, according to senior Chinese military officials.
At present, the PAP is commanded by both the commission, which controls the military, and the Public Security Ministry, which is in charge of police affairs. By placing public security units under a single command, the Chinese government hopes to respond to large-scale riots and other incidents more rapidly.
This time next year, the country known as the United Kingdom may be about to disappear. If Scotland’s separatist government gets its way in a referendum planned for September, the 300-year-old union of Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland — the United States’ oldest and closest ally — will be on the road to disintegration. That is a dramatic, though accurate, way of describing the possible secession of Scotland from one of the world’s most successful political, social and economic unions.
The violent arrest in Iraq of leading Sunni Member of Parliament Ahmed al-Alwani marks yet another step in that country’s rapid descent into sectarian anarchy and civil war. Alwani is chairman of the Iraqi Parliament’s important Economics Committee. More significantly, he is a leading critic of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and an arch opponent of the spread of Iranian influence in Iraq. This is becoming routine for the Iraqi prime minister. Almost exactly a year ago, Iraq’s Sunni Finance Minister Rafie al-Issawi had his home and offices raided by security forces.
“Saudi Arabia is playing a dangerous double game—turning a blind eye to the jihadists flocking from Riyadh to Syria while assuring the West of its commitment to fighting terror.” This is the famous “blowback” theory: Saudi Arabia itself will become a target when the Saudis fighting in Syria come home. There was serious “blowback,” we’re told, after a generation of Saudis, most famously a tall guy named Osama, went off to do jihad in Afghanistan, and it could happen again.
The recent purge of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s once-powerful uncle could herald a period of radical upheaval comparable to China’s Cultural Revolution, Japanese defence minister Itsunori Onodera said on Thursday. Pyongyang confirmed Monday that Jang Song-Thaek, once seen as the power behind the throne, had dramatically fallen from grace, with state TV airing humiliating images of him being dragged away by uniformed officers. “After seeing the footage of Mr Jang Song-Thaek being arrested, it reminded me of scenes one might have seen during the era of China’s Cultural Revolution,” Onodera said in a speech given at a private think tank in Tokyo.
President Vladimir Putin ordered the Defense Ministry to take every step necessary to protect Russia’s security and national interests in the Arctic region. “In the next year we need to complete the creation of the armed forces’ new units. Special attention must be paid to the deployment of infrastructure and military units in the Arctic,” Putin said at an expanded meeting of the Defense Ministry Board. The president highlighted the recent restoration of an airbase on the Novosibirsk Islands off northern Siberia as “a key factor for control over the situation in the Arctic region.”
Saudi Arabia is calling on the Gulf monarchies to unite for their own self-defence. But in a speech at the Manama Dialogue security forum in Bahrain, Saudi Assistant Foreign Minister Nizar Madani said “Gulf countries should no longer depend on others to ensure their safety.” The oil-rich monarchies “must unite under one political entity in order to face internal and external challenges,” said the minister. “All countries have realised that blind dependence on a foreign power is no longer acceptable. GCC countries must decide their own futures,” said Madani.
South Korea on Sunday announced an expansion of its air defense identification zone following China’s move to establish a similar zone that has been criticized by Beijing’s neighbors.The new South Korean zone covers a submerged reef that South Korea controls but that China also claims, and it also will include parts of airspace in the zone that China has drawn. The new South Korean zone also overlaps with parts of the Japanese air identification zone.
The EU is supporting Libyan border security troops near Ghadames, but local members of the military complain of unclear structures and insufficient equipment. They put the blame on the government in Tripoli. The Libyan army is still growing into its tasks more than two years after the revolution against Gadhafi, and it has had only limited success in integrating former rebels. Effectively controlling the country’s borders remains beyond the army’s capabilities. “Large segments of the 1,000-kilometer long border to Algeria are nearly inaccessible.
Nasrallah rarely mentions Saudi Arabia by name, only referring to the monarchy in vague terms in order to maintain plausible deniability. But that all changed on Tuesday, when he accused Saudi agents of being behind the suicide bomb attack on the Iranian Embassy in Beirut last month that claimed 23 lives. In doing so he has openly declared a war that has long been fought in the shadows, first in Lebanon where Hizballah-allied parties are at a political impasse with the Saudi-backed Future Movement of Saad Hariri, and now in Syria.
It’s a familiar scenario: a man, usually a political, security or military figure, emerges from a location he regularly frequents—home, mosque, work, supermarket—and is promptly shot down by gunmen, or turns on his car’s ignition only for it to explode. Said gunmen will then promptly escape, most likely on a motorcycle—or, in the case of a car bomb, watch, satisfied, from afar. Yemen is now at a stage where some assassinations, especially of low-ranking security or military figures, are barely news any more.
China’s increased belligerence in the region is part of its plan to control the Yellow Sea, the South China Sea and the larger East China Sea. Its military doctrine refers to dominance over the “first island chain,” which encompasses the East China Sea. The next step is dominance over what Beijing calls the second island chain extending from Japan to Indonesia. Some analysts have even speculated about plans for a third island chain strategy extending as far as Hawaii. China’s defense ministry warned in a statement that all aircraft that fail to comply with its new rules for transit through the zone could be shot down.
It is perhaps no coincidence that the two kamikaze attack on November 19 against the Iranian embassy in Beirut took place on the eve of the resumption of nuclear talks between the 5 +1 ( United States , Russia , China, France, Britain and Germany) and Iran in Geneva on November 20. If last summer, two attacks had hit the southern suburbs of Beirut , a stronghold of Hezbollah, the Shiite party backed by Iran, this is the first time that Iranian interests were directly affected by a terrorist act (25 dead, including the Iranian cultural advisor and four guards, and 146 injured).
The Armed Forces of the Philippines plan to build a pier and harbor at a naval base in Palawan, the island province closest to the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, according to officials and a defense document. Military officials confirmed Wednesday to reporters the plan to build “pier, harbor and support facilities” in Oyster Bay — the navy’s shipyard directly facing the South China Sea. The project will cost around 313 million pesos (around $7.29 million), according to the document.
Unprecedented plans by an international oil consortium to drill in waters off the disputed Western Sahara are making waves, with activists warning the move could scupper chances of resolving the conflict. The region remains bitterly contested, nearly 40 years after its annexation by Morocco, a move never recognised by the international community. A surge of interest in its potential subsea riches, coupled with Morocco’s unaffordable energy bills, has pushed oil exploration up the agenda, threatening to enflame tensions if any discoveries are made.
MADRID is in danger of sparking a military conflict with Britain over Gibraltar if it does not tone down its actions, a senior MP warned today as the Royal Navy was involved in a new stand-off with a Spanish ship. However, referring to the armed standoff on November 1, Mr Dobbin told MPs: “Reports state that guns were pointed and thankfully no shots were fired. “This diary of events highlights the serious nature the British government of Gibraltar is dealing with.”
Espionage, especially spying on friends, has always involved a cost-benefit calculation – weighing the benefits of eavesdropping against the costs of being found out. But the expansion in sheer information gathering and storage capabilities since the 9/11 terrorist attacks has swamped any efforts to set limits and the proclivity to weigh the pros and cons, analysts say. And the downsides of that, they add, could be many and even lead to a damaging of the counterterrorism efforts that lie at the core of international intelligence cooperation.
The Navy of Russia will place a maintenance base in the Vietnamese port of Camran, in accordance with the stipulated agreements during President Vladimir Putin”s recent visit to that Asian country, reported the local press today. In addition to the approved contracts on military collaboration with Vietnamese leaders, the head of the Kremlin reached a tentative agreement to install those facilities in Camran in 2014, informed Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper. The maintenance center in this deep-water port will occupy part of the space of what used to be the naval air station built by the United States in Camran during its attack to Viet Nam.
A deadly assault by Shi’ite Houthi rebels on a Salafi Islamic school planted in their mountain heartland could ignite wider sectarian conflict in Yemen, where instability has already helped al Qaeda militants to take root. The Houthis, who belong to the Zaydi branch of Shi’ite Islam, have bombarded the sprawling Dar al-Hadith seminary in Dammaj village for two weeks, killing at least 100 people. Political rivalries may have helped to start the violence, but the struggle over a Salafi outpost deep in Houthi territory is also part of a regional contest between Shi’ite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia.
The ruling Chinese Communist Party said it would establish an agency to “manage” growing social unrest, as part of a set of reforms largely focusing on the economy. The new “state security committee” will tackle social instability and unify other agencies in charge of increasing security challenges, both foreign and domestic, the party’s Central Committee said in a statement after a four-day plenary meeting in the nation’s capital ended Tuesday. The committee would “improve the system of national security and the country’s national security strategy”.
As the latest militant-Kurdish military showdown eases in northeast Syria, Baghdad is keeping a close watch on a battle which threatens even greater instability in Iraq. Kurdish forces and al Qaeda-linked groups have for weeks fought over territory, with the Kurds taking over a key border point late last month. But with the likelihood of more fighting to follow, Baghdad is worried of militants securing a wider corridor between eastern Syria and western Iraq.
Saudi Arabia has invested in Pakistani nuclear weapons projects, and believes it could obtain atomic bombs at will, a variety of sources have told BBC Newsnight. While the kingdom’s quest has often been set in the context of countering Iran’s atomic programme, it is now possible that the Saudis might be able to deploy such devices more quickly than the Islamic republic. Earlier this year, a senior Nato decision maker told me that he had seen intelligence reporting that nuclear weapons made in Pakistan on behalf of Saudi Arabia are now sitting ready for delivery.
South Korea’s spy agency said Monday that North Korea was using Russian technology to develop electromagnetic pulse weapons aimed at paralysing military electronic equipment south of the border. The National Intelligence Service (NIS) said in a report to parliament that the North had purchased Russian electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weaponry to develop its own versions. EMP weapons are used to damage to electronic equipment. At higher energy levels, an EMP event can cause more widespread damage including to aircraft structures and other objects.
CONCERNS are growing in Iran about the health of Ali Khamenei, the country’s Supreme Leader, amid fears of a power vacuum at a critical moment for the Islamic Republic. Ayatollah Khamenei, 74, Iran’s most powerful man, has not been seen in public for three weeks. Reports suggest he has had a relapse of a chronic illness. He has no appointed heir. His death could prompt a power struggle as negotiations with the West over Iran’s nuclear program reach a crucial stage.
Japan plans to deploy a surface-to-ship missile unit on Miyako Island in the country’s southern-most Okinawa prefecture for the first time next month. Units equipped with Type 88 surface-to-ship missiles will be deployed on Miyako Island and in the southern part of Okinawa’s main island as part of an 18-day military drill starting on November 1 with about 34,000 personnel taking part, Japan’s Self-Defense Forces (SDF)
This would put all waters between the islands within range of the guided anti-ship missiles, reports the NHK broadcaster.
Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief has said the kingdom will make a “major shift” in relations with the US in protest at its perceived inaction over the Syria war and its overtures to Iran, a source close to Saudi policy said. Prince Bandar bin Sultan told European diplomats that Washington had failed to act effectively on the Syria crisis and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was growing closer to Tehran, and had failed to back Saudi support for Bahrain when it crushed an anti-government revolt in 2011, the source said. “Saudi doesn’t want to find itself any longer in a situation where it is dependent.”