An effective European security and defence policy would allow the EU to ‘project influence globally’, argues Maria Eleni Koppa. European security and defence is a topic that has been attracting a lot of attention after the decision of the European council to hold a special discussion dedicated on security and defence – for the first time since 2008 – at the forthcoming December summit. In this context, on 21 November, the European parliament adopted the report on the implementation of European security and defence policy, concerning the positions of the parliament for the future of the common security and defence policy (CSDP).
Gulf oil producers expect the resurgence in Iraqi exports to cause fierce competition to sell to Asian markets, which may put pressure on prices in the coming months especially with oil production rising in the U.S. and possibly more Iranian crude on the world markets if sanctions are eased, OPEC officials said Tuesday. “Everyone is looking at Asia at the moment to secure deals because demand for our crude in the U.S. will drop sooner or later and Asian markets are our safe haven. Iraq is already trying to undercut Gulf producers there,” said a Gulf delegate at the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
As the political crisis in Ukraine continues, its severely depleted central bank reserves are putting it at serious risk of a balance-of-payments crunch, its metrics looking worse than almost every big emerging economy. With demonstrators blockading government buildings in protest at President Viktor Yanukovich’s rejection of closer ties with the European Union, the creaking economy is coming under growing pressure. Based on a comparison of monthly import needs and maturing short-term debt, Ukraine’s reserves compare poorly with most of its peers, according to data released by Bank of America Merrill Lynch
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.
An uncomfortable prospect for global exporters of liquefied natural gas (LNG) will unfold in India this week — buyers from countries that import 70 percent of the world’s LNG will meet to discuss how to get a better deal. …The meetings may herald the early stages of an Asian buyers’ club for natural gas in supercooled form transported on ships. Should such a grouping gain traction, a historical precedent would be the formation of the International Energy Agency, which was set up by western economies to counter OPEC after the first oil shock in the 1970s.
Ukrainians taking to the streets to protest their government’s refusal to strike a trade deal with the European Union may be the first of several post-Soviet states facing the choice between Russia and Europe as Georgia and Moldova gear up for their place on the bargaining table.
Decades have passed since they each gained their sovereignty, but post-Soviet states west of the Eurasian divide continue to struggle between their European identities and the influence and benefits that can come from allying with Russia.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s uncle, seen as the hardline regime’s political regent, has apparently been purged and two associates executed, South Korea’s spy agency said on Tuesday nearly two years after the young supremo came to power. The National Intelligence Service (NIS) told a parliamentary committee that it believed Jang Song-Thaek had been removed from all posts, including vice chairman of the communist country’s top military body, the National Defence Commission.
Last October the Mexico City Public Security Secretariat – its police authority – began testing little cuadricopters intended to supervise street demonstrations. In June, O Globo, a Brazilian daily, used the contraptions to do some overhead “reporting” of protests in Sao Paulo. In February the Tigre municipality in Argentina outside Buenos Aires began using the devices to track and film criminal acts and natural disasters. Indeed, the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Police is developing its own drone,the Metrocopter!
Ground Self-Defense Force spies have secretly gathered intelligence abroad since the Cold War era without informing the prime minister or defense minister, a practice considered deviating from civilian control, former senior defense officials said. A special unit of the Ground Staff Office has set up bases in Russia, China, South Korea and Poland, if not elsewhere, and several dozen GSDF members of the team have engaged in intelligence activities overseas without a legal basis and by assuming false identities, according to the officials.
It has been pointed out that the real purpose of China’s recent declaration of the air defense identification zone (ADIZ) is the “First Island Chain” linking Okinawa, Taiwan, and the South China Sea, which is highly important for China’s marine strategy, rather than the Diaoyudao Islands or oil fields in the East China Sea. Hong Kong-based weekly magazine Yazhou Zhoukan reported on November 30 that China’s declaration of the ADIZ in the East China Sea was made after very careful considerations on the part of the Chinese government, and is a significant strategic breakthrough.
The Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) operates Boeing E-767s, 160-foot airplanes stuffed with radar and electronics that enable them to detect aircraft from 200 miles away. They confirm that the Chinese drone is wheeling above the Senkakus, and Japan dispatches F-15Js to intercept it—and shoot it down—obviously ignoring China’s Air Defense ID Zone. Chinese long-range, back-scatter radar spots the F-15Js in the air, and China dispatches quad-prop Y-8X maritime patrol for a better-resolution look. They also alert their best fighters—Sukhoi Flankers (Su 30) and Chengdu J-10s—to prepare to take off.
A US panel raised the specter of sanctions against China, warning Congress that Beijing has not contained its rampant spying on American interests, a major national security concern. The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission in its annual report also flagged China’s massive increase in military spending as a worry, citing naval expansion as a threat to America’s role in Asia, AFP reports. The report accused China of “directing and executing a large-scale cyber espionage campaign,” penetrating the US government and private industry.
Egypt’s army chief and Defense Minister Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi has reportedly said that Egypt’s state institutions have collapsed following the January 25 revolution, which ousted autocrat president Hosni Mubarak in 2011. “People keep asking about the state,” al-Sisi purportedly said in a leaked audio recording aired by the Jazeera Mubasher Misr late Friday. “The state institutions have collapsed. The presidency has been undermined, the constitution suspended, the parliament dissolved, the Interior Ministry dealt a heavy blow and the Judiciary has been questioned,” he allegedly said.
With triple tax exemption (federal, state, and local), combined with higher-than-average yields, Puerto Rican bonds became so popular in recent years that it was able to rack up $70 billion of debt now held by institutional investors and mutual funds alike. The debt-to-GDP ratio is now nearly 70% and growing, not including pension obligations, which raises the ratio to over 90%. With a per capita debt load of $19,000 and growing, Puerto Ricans shoulder almost 4 times the burden of U.S. leader Massachusetts which carries a deficit of $5,077 per citizen.
“They told us, ‘You are Bengalis – there is no such thing as the Rohingya,’” the imam recalled. “They said, ‘If you claim that you are Rohingya, you will be thrown into the sea.’” We were speaking in one of the internally displaced person (IDP) camps reserved for the Rohingya – Burma’s persecuted Muslim minority – near the city of Sittwe in Burma’s troubled Rakhine state. Last year, mob violence in the area left hundreds dead and well over 100,000 homeless, the vast majority of them Rohingya.
India is now the world’s third-largest grain producer after China and the United States. The adoption of higher-yielding crop varieties and the spread of irrigation have led to this remarkable tripling of output since the early 1960s. Unfortunately, a growing share of the water that irrigates three-fifths of India’s grain harvest is coming from wells that are starting to go dry. This sets the stage for a major disruption in food supplies for India’s growing population. In recent years about 27 million wells have been drilled, chasing water tables downward in every Indian state.
About 100 police were injured on Sunday in clashes that broke out as 100,000 outraged Ukrainians swarmed Kiev in a call for early elections meant to punish authorities for rejecting a historic EU pact. The crowd chanted “Revolution!” and “Down with the gang” as it took control of Kiev’s iconic Independence Square, while protesters steered a bulldozer within striking distance of police barricades protecting the nearby presidential adminstration office.
The proposed corridor will cover 1.65 million square kilometres, encompassing an estimated 440 million people in China’s Yunnan Province, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Bihar in Northern India through the combination of road, rail, water and air linkages in the region. This interconnectedness would facilitate the cross-border flow of people and goods, minimise overland trade obstacles, ensure greater market access and increase multilateral trade. Leaders hope the economic corridor will bring back to the days of the ancient Silk Road and its south-western trade route.
Is Thailand poised to become the Germany of Asia — a rich, export-driven manufacturing powerhouse and regional logistics hub? The prime factors underpinning Germany’s economic success are its strong manufacturing base (particularly automotive), industrious workforce and fortunate geography enabled by first-rate infrastructure. Thailand already has most of these characteristics, albeit at a different stage of development. The Thai government is now moving in a very deliberate, some might say strategic, way to fill in a missing piece of the equation — infrastructure.
There are different views in Russia. Some people believe that we have to block any improvements in US – Iranian relationship. For example, they say, the current “special” relationship is based largely on Tehran’s being burdened by the sanctions and having nowhere else to turn but to Russia. But as soon as Iran has other opportunities, it will immediately reorient itself toward more influential Western countries. Of course, there is always the risk that the country that was eager to be “friendly” in times of trouble will turn away as soon as the grip of isolation loosens.
November has been a torrid month for France, rapped by the European Commission for failing to reform its economy and hit by a new sovereign debt downgrade. Nationwide anger at rising taxes has sparked often violent protests, notably by Breton livestock workers up in arms over a planned road freight levy. Yet abroad, it has exuded self-confidence and strength: it played hard ball in major-power nuclear talks with Iran that brought a landmark deal on Sunday; it is gearing up for a risky new peace intervention in ex-colony Central African Republic.
According to the ‘Great Men’ theory of history advanced by Thomas Carlyle, global events are shaped in significant part by the decisions and personalities of individual leaders. If this account has even marginal merit, then we might survey with optimism the personalities of the most powerful global leaders who preside over the current turbulent times in the Middle East. They have exhibited remarkable restraint and wisdom, in the face of compelling pressures to fuel further insoluble violent conflicts.
Ukraine had dodged a “death spiral” by protecting its eastern trade flows. Putin has been tightening the screws for months, blocking shipments of goods and targeting heavy industry in the eastern region that depends on the Russian market. A freeze on imports of railway carriages has hit 80 per cent of Ukraine’s carriage output. Another victim is Roshen chocolate, owned by Petro Poroshenko, a champion of the EU cause in Ukraine’s parliament. Roshen sales in Russia have been banned for “toxic impurities”. The guerrilla warfare tactics have pushed Ukraine to the brink of financial collapse.
Thousands of opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro took to the streets on Saturday to express outrage over the country’s deepening economic crisis, seeking to rebuild momentum sapped after a string of electoral defeats.
The nationwide day of protests was the first called by opposition leader Henrique Capriles since he lost by a thin margin to Maduro in April’s snap election following the death of Hugo Chavez and came just two weeks before key mayoral elections.
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 Minister of Defence yesterday morning at the Elysee Palace, in a small board, the military options of French intervention in Central Africa. According to the scenarios, the reinforcements would be about 350 to about a thousand men, for the most part already prépostionnés Africa. They would be added to the 400 French soldiers currently in Bangui during Operation Boali. The timing of the intervention is conditional on passing a resolution by the Security Council of the UN, to provide a legal framework which will be under Chapter VII – that is to say in a robust manner. It is a Franco-African operation, also involving countries of Central Africa.
The priority task of Indonesia and China today related to their defense cooperation concerns identifying the pattern of complementary interests. First, it covers the security of SLOC/SLOT (sea lanes of communications/sea lanes of trade), which should be promptly supported by more strategic and comprehensive direction and defense cooperation programs. If any limited war breaks out in the South China Sea, part of the waters will be a war zone in which Indonesia’s international sea lane and the Java Sea will serve as an alternative route for international shipping besides possible use of Indonesia’s sea territory as a forward base, zone of re-provisioning and protection.
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).
Completely unnoticed by the public, the Bundeswehr was rehearsing in a large maneuver the invasion of a foreign state and the use of a popular uprising against the Special Forces “Crowd Riot Control” (CRC). In large-scale maneuvers , the Bundeswehr rehearsed the invasion of a foreign country and use against a popular uprising. A total of 3,500 soldiers and 700 land and air vehicles participated in the so-called “training exercise information” part. An Air Force officer praised the exercise because of their practicality in the words: “You develop a better understanding if you feel the matter, when you see them, you have to smell the gunpowder and hear the noise.”
Germany’s domestic intelligence agency is planning to expand its counterintelligence operations to include friendly countries following revelations about the United States’ extensive spying programme. Germany’s domestic intelligence agency has until now only systematically observed countries of concern, while allies in the European Union and NATO were observed only if there was a concrete suspicion, such as that they were spying on Germany or recruiting spies in the country, the official said. But given the NSA revelations, the agency will in future need to have a 360-degree view which will include friendly countries.
Just how difficult it seems to be for Europeans to literally join forces in terms of defence and security is demonstrated by the EU’s battle group. Since 2007, the European Union has two battle groups with 1,500 soldiers each at the ready. Soldiers are sent by member states on a half-year rotation. Usually made up of multinational troops, the battle groups are intended to be the EU’s quick intervention team and able to prepare the ground for long-term missions. But the battle groups have never been deployed.
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.
Although the term “energy security” is now ubiquitous in political speeches and the media, international relations scholars have only just begun to rediscover the topic after a 30-year hiatus. The 1970s oil shocks prompted a wave of research in the 1970s and 1980s but did not produce systematic theories about oil and war. Emerging scholarship assesses the potential threats to energy-importing countries and examines how energy security issues shape importers’ foreign policies, including their decisions to use military force.
On the frontline in Libya and Mali, hawkish on Syria, uncompromising on Iran: France, long critical of the United States’ role as the world’s policeman, is emerging as the most interventionist of Western states. France’s uncharacteristically aggressive stance on the international scene comes at a time of apparently diminished influence, with its army squeezed by budget cuts, its economic clout dwindling and the emergence of new players such as Qatar, India or Brazil.
In a statement certain to be ignored, Greece has urged Turkey to comply with international law and to withdraw its occupying forces from Cyprus, where they have had a presence since seizing the territory in 1974. “The international community, with the exception of Turkey, respects the sovereignty, the independence and the territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus and confirms with every opportunity that the proclamation of the breakaway state is legally invalid,” the statement said.
Cairo emerged this weekend from a nighttime curfew imposed three months ago, after security forces brutally cleared two protest camps filled with supporters of President Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted by the army in July. More than 1,000 people were killed in the clearing and the days of bloody street violence that followed. Still, with the curfew and state of emergency over, the cabinet is working on a set of restrictive new laws that have been widely panned by human rights groups.
The European Union’s (EU’s) relationship with Eastern Europe and the Caucasus is at a turning point. Russia’s increasingly assertive tactics have chipped away at the ties that bind the six Eastern Partnership countries to the EU, and the entire Eastern Partnership is on the verge of unraveling. To rescue its association with its Eastern partners, the EU must deliver more tangible results. Europe can be both geopolitical and committed to reform—but to strike the right balance, the EU must be more strategic.
Turkey rejected a unilateral declaration of autonomy over Syria’s Kurdish lands by the country’s dominant Kurdish group, while the larger opposition representing the Kurds said the move was an “anti-revolution and supportive of” the Damascus regime. The leaders of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) announced an interim government over Syria’s Kurdish areas in the northeast. It said Kurdish, Arab and Christian leaders had agreed to turn Syrian Kurdistan – or Rojava – into three semi-independent provincial areas, within a larger Kurdish autonomy in the northeast.
China’s decision to set up a powerful national security committee has spurred deep fears in the country of society slipping further into a police state. “This worry is not unfounded, since China’s rulers have always managed to blur the line between ‘national security’ and the security for them to govern,” wrote Jin Manlou, a Shanghai-based writer on weibo. “Often in China, the army is used in domestic situations instead of in international conflicts.” Others speculated about the high status granted to the new agency, comparing it with that of the KGB.
A secret document leaked to Le Figaro newspaper explains why President François Hollande caves in to the slightest sign of street protest. “Throughout [French] territory . . . society is in the grip of tension, exasperation and anger,” says the ministry of the interior’s monthly summary of reports from 101 prefects, dated October 25th. The monthly reports are usually couched in careful, and sanitised language, which makes the blatant warning to the interior minister and president all the more alarming. “The legitimacy of tax” is now widely questioned, it notes.
The European Union on Thursday promised “appropriate measures” if the Maldives once again scuttled presidential elections due this weekend and warned the honeymoon destination not to become “autocratic”.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the bloc would regard any bid to further delay or influence the outcome of the run-off election scheduled for Saturday as intended to prevent the people of the Maldives from exercising their democratic right to choose a leader.
After years of tweaking and sidestepping articles that were inconvenient to Sandinista rule, such as the ban on presidential reelection, the ruling party is now embarking on an aggressive campaign to overhaul the legal document in what critics say is a bid to accommodate the party’s needs. Proposed changes to 39 articles would pave the way for President Daniel Ortega’s indefinite reelection and replace Nicaragua’s representative democracy with a version of “direct democracy,” as envisaged by Mr. Ortega’s politically active wife, Rosario Murillo.
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”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was in South Korea on Wednesday to push a pet project for a new major trading route linking Asia and Europe by rail that requires prying open North Korea. Putin hopes his brief visit will include the signing of a memorandum of understanding on the ambitious project, which envisages an ‘Iron Silk Road’ uniting the rail networks of South and North Korea and connecting them to Europe via the Trans-Siberian Railway. Russia took a first step in September, when it completed a 54-kilometre track from its southeast border town of Khasan to the North Korean port of Rajin.
GUE/NGL MEPs have reiterated their support for a United Ireland today at a special ‘Reuniting Ireland’ conference in the European Parliament that brings together academics, economists, trade unionists and political activists, as well as speakers from other countries which experienced partition. GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer said: “The GUE/NGL has always supported the peace process in Ireland. From the German experience unification did not benefit everybody. To be successful the Irish process of unification must be better – it must benefit all people.”
In the past, every time North Korea sets off a nuclear bomb or launches a missile into orbit, the event is preceded by a number of things occurring in North Korea, in the region, and in the international community. What are those things? Is it possible to somehow register them and then look at present day activity to see if the same or similar things are occurring? And if they are, would that not be a pretty good indication that North Korea will, soon, once again light the fuse on one of its nuclear playthings?
The 50-member committee tasked with amending the suspended 2012 constitution has begun to discuss the charter’s “system of governance” chapter, which will decide Egypt’s new political system. On Monday, committee spokesperson Mohamed Salmawy told parliamentary correspondents that the committee had voted on 16 articles concerning system of governance, including article 121 which “builds the new shape of Egypt’s political system.” According to Salmawy, the article adopts a French-style political system in which the president and prime minister share powers.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour said on Saturday that the port city of Aqaba is Jordan’s sole sea gateway that had been an economic and naval “beacon” connecting the Levant and the Arab Maghreb. In remarks at the opening of a meeting of the 47th session of the Arab Sea Ports Federation board in Aqaba, Ensour said: “We meet in the city of Aqaba, which is evolving in different economic, tourism, service and investment fields and sectors.”
Russia has been seeking to upgrade its military ties with Egypt in an effort to augment its limited access to the Mediterranean and bolster its navy’s presence in the region, the London Times reported.
According to the report, Moscow has been shopping for alternatives to the Tartus port in Syria, where it maintains a limited naval facility, due to fears that President Bashar Assad’s regime will eventually be toppled by rebel forces.
America’s NSA and Britain’s GCHQ are both spying on the OPEC oil cartel, documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden reveal. The security of the global energy supply is one of the most important issues for the intelligence agencies. Documents disclosed by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveal that both America’s National Security Agency (NSA) and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) have infiltrated the computer network of the the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
A former officer said: “The primary goal the authorities will have had is to present Bouteflika as strong and in control of the state—including the security apparatus. On the other hand, the big changes taking place in the region, the security deterioration along Algeria’s borders, and the corruption scandals that have come to light have forced these actions and changes in military and government officials. But to say that there is a struggle between the intelligence service and the presidency—this is just to distract public opinion. There is no struggle whatsoever; they are in perfect harmony.”
On the list of U.S. military priorities, Africa has always ranked right smack at the bottom. Now that appears to be changing. As Eric Schmitt recently reported in the New York Times, “thousands of soldiers once bound for Iraq or Afghanistan are now gearing up for missions in Africa.” Before the gearing up proceeds much further, Americans might want to ask a few questions. Chief among them are these: Why the sudden shift in priorities? What’s the aim? Who stands to benefit? What risks does the militarization of U.S. policy in Africa entail?
FORGET mock outrage about Aussie spies in South-East Asia: if our spooks werent spying on Indonesia, China, Papua New Guinea or East Timor, then we’d really have something to worry about. Of course the Australian Government’s network of spooks and its large stocks of hi-tech eavesdropping equipment are used against our neighbours and friends around the globe. These shadowy government bodies have a combined workforce in excess of 6,000 people with annual budgets exceeding $5 billion or $217 for every man, woman and child in the land.
Did the Obama Administration ever spy on Mitt Romney during the recent presidential contest? Alex Tabarrok, who raised the question at the popular economics blog Marginal Revolution, acknowledges that it is provocative. Until recently, he would’ve regarded it as a “loony” question, he writes, and he doesn’t think that President Obama ordered the NSA to spy on Romney for political gain. Let’s be clear: I don’t think so either. In every way, I regard Obama as our legitimate head of state, full stop. But I agree with Tabarrok that today, “the only loonies are those who think the question unreasonable.”
Afghan parliamentarians and analysts are concerned about the Iranian regime’s machinations in Afghanistan. “Iran is quite busy inventing crisis in Afghanistan,” Abdul Ghafoor Liwal, a writer and director of the Regional Study Centre in Kabul, said. “Iran has two goals,” he told Central Asia Online. “First, it wants to create barriers to Western countries, and second, it wants to build up its own influence by establishing pro-Iran universities, religious seminaries and media outlets.” Nazir Ahmadzai accused Tehran of supporting insurgents in order to destabilise Afghanistan before its April elections.
Russia is launching the construction of new-generation nuclear-powered icebreakers. The icebreaker of the LK-60Ya model, named Arktika as a tribute to the prominent Soviet nuclear-powered icebreaker of the same name, is due to begin sea trials in 2017. The ship will prove effective for the deep-water areas of the Northern Sea Route and the shallow waters of Russia’s Arctic shelf. Russia is due to build three such icebreakers in the next decade. Russia has been actively using the Northern Sea Route for almost 80 years now, with ice-breakers ensuring naval and civilian ship traffic across thick ice along the route.
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.
Iran will lead a club of the world’s biggest natural gas exporters as its own shipments abroad are hampered by U.S. and European Union sanctions that force the country to burn off billions of dollars worth of the fuel. Mohammad Hossein Adeli, the country’s former deputy foreign minister, was elected secretary-general of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, whose 13 member countries hold 60 percent of the world’s reserves, the group said in a statement. Adeli, vowed to turn the Persian nation into a “major player among the gas exporting countries,” he told reporters after a group meeting in Tehran.
Following an accident at the Alcântara satellite launch pad in 2003, in the state of Maranhão, Brazilian intelligence services investigated the possibility that the incident may have occurred as the result of sabotage by French secret service agents. The accident killed 21 people, including engineers and technicians from the General Command of Aerospace Technology, a division of the Brazilian Air Force. According to documents obtained by Folha from the Brazilian Intelligence Agency (ABIN, in its Portuguese acronym), there were at least three counter-espionage operations aimed at French agents and their contacts in Brazil.
In the rocky, mountainous area of western Libya, the Amazigh people – a large and substanital minority – are staging protests for self-rule. Their calls for autonomy follow the heels of the declaration of self-government made by ethnic groups in east Libya. The symbolic move is likely to anger the central government in Tripoli, which is trying to reopen ports blockaded by eastern rebel groups and tribes angered that they aren’t receiving what they deem to be a fair share of profits from oil extracted from the resource-rich east.
The recent endorsement by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of a multibillion dollar construction corridor encompassing Bangladesh, China, India and Burma—if it materializes—could redraw the economic and geopolitical map of Asia. Termed “an international gateway to South Asia,” the BMIC corridor, as it is known, was the highlight of Li’s recent visit to India. The Chinese premier’s office commented that the link “will surely release enormous growth energy and provide new vitality for the Asian economic integration and global growth.”
Ukraine is leaving Russia for Europe. That’s what many observers see as the likely consequence of the Association Agreement that Ukraine and the European Union are expected to sign at a summit meeting in Vilnius at the end of this month. But those who expect Ukraine to embark on a fast transformation should not be complacent. Bitter disputes persist within the Ukraine-E.U.-Russia triangle, complicated conflicts that are about selfish interests, not universal values.
It’s an election in name only: even the challengers to Tajikistan’s autocratic president have praised him and the only real opposition candidate has been barred from the race in the ex-Soviet Central Asian nation. Emomali Rakhmon, 61, who has led the mountainous, Sunni Muslim nation neighboring Afghanistan and China for more than two decades, is all but certain to win a fourth presidential term in Wednesday’s vote. He polled 79 percent in the previous election seven years ago. Western monitors criticized it as lacking any genuine competition.
On 28 October, work started at the former airbase at Deveselu in southern Romania on installing elements of the US missile defence system, specifically an Aegis system with SM-3 interceptors. This means that the missile defence project is being implemented on schedule. The move confirms the close, fast-growing military cooperation between Romania and the United States, and means Bucharest is now one of Washington’s main security partners, not just in the region, but increasingly on the European scale.
Concerns were raised tonight that Britain operates a top-secret listening post from its Berlin embassy to eavesdrop on the seat of German power. Documents leaked by the US National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden show that GCHQ is, together with the US and other key partners, operating a network of electronic spy posts from diplomatic buildings around the world, which intercept data in host nations. An American intercept “nest” on top of its embassy in Berlin – less than 150 metres from Britain’s own diplomatic mission – is believed to have been shut down last week.
EU justice commissionner Viviane Reding has said the Union should create its own intelligence service by 2020. Speaking on Monday (4 November) to Greek daily Naftemporiki on the US snooping scandal, she said: “What we need is to strengthen Europe in this field, so we can level the playing field with our US partners.” She added: “I would therefore wish to use this occasion to negotiate an agreement on stronger secret service co-operation among the EU member states – so that we can speak with a strong common voice to the US.
France receives almost 80% of its energy from nuclear power, more than any other country in the world. The state-owned energy giant, Areva, which mines for uranium and builds and operates nuclear plants, gets a third of its uranium (French) from two mines in Niger, where it is the second largest employer after the state. Later this year, Areva is expected to begin extracting uranium from a site called Imouraren, which is thought to contain the second largest uranium deposit in the world.
Brazil and China can’t seem to agree on what either country is getting out of their economic ties. Take this most recent example: China Construction Bank, a huge state-owned lender, just sunk around $716 million into a 72% stake in Brazil’s Banco Industrial e Comercial, a nearly 19% premium (paywall) on BicBanco’s current share price. Some might argue that the move positions CCB to profit from Chinese investment in Brazil. But to hear the head of another Chinese bank tell it, that might be a naive move.
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.
Many times I have been asked to assess whether one nation or another is “increasing influence,” usually to categorize as “good” or “bad” developing events for someone with little time or understanding of the situation. Frequently, the right answer – “It depends…” – has to be discarded due an enforced sense of urgency that limits the ability to explain or discuss fully the individual’s thoughts or concerns. The next best answer is to highlight the particular situational gain or loss in specific terms, such as economic, diplomatic, or security..
The U-S.-led shale boom will have a lasting impact on global energy prices and push crude oil prices down to $80 a barrel, according to an analysis by Germany’s BND intelligence agency obtained by Reuters on Thursday. The BND said the U.S. shale boom would have a greater impact on global markets than it predicted in a previous analysis earlier this year. The effects from the unconventional production of oil and natural gas in the United States will be pronounced over the next 10 to 20 years,” the report said.
By fate, Poland has always found itself in a geopolitical quagmire forcing the Polish nation to struggle to maintain its own sovereign state, and at the worst of times fight to keep its own nation alive. It comes as no surprise that prominent historian Norman Davies decided to title his book regarding Polish history God’s Playground. The pivotal location of Poland on the map of Europe has made it yet another point of interest for another recent geopolitical play: missile defence.
Security in Sana’a has deteriorated since popular unrest pushed President Ali Abdullah Saleh from office in 2011. Dozens of intelligence and security officials have been assassinated, al-Qaeda continues to attack government targets and Shiite-Muslim Houthi rebels, who are fighting Sunni Islamists in the north, are encamped in the city. “Yemen is slipping into chaos,” Theodore Karasik, director of research at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis in Dubai, said by phone. “Assassinations of intelligence figures and threats to foreigners are rising.”
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.
A paper on German foreign and security policy prepared by two leading think tanks calls for a consolidation of national defense industries to ensure that Europe’s defense industry stays competitive in the long term. The paper, “New Power New Responsibility: Elements of a German Foreign and Security Policy for a Changing World,” was presented here Oct. 30 by the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) and the German Marshall Fund of the United States. It drew on expertise from working groups made up of government officials, parliament officials, think tanks and nongovernmental organizations.
A veteran spy watcher claims Australia is playing a role in America’s intelligence networks by monitoring vast swathes of the Asia Pacific region and feeding information to the US. Spy expert Des Ball says Australia has been monitoring the Asia Pacific region for the US. He says Australia has four key facilities that are part of the NSA’s XKeyscore program. Senator Nick Xenophon says the Government must ensure Australians are not under US surveillance. Meanwhile, former NSA executive Thomas Drake has lifted the lid on spy practices.
Chinese police clashed with villagers when they arrived to make arrests for the flag dumping. The same sources said Chinese soldiers immediately took control of the village. A letter from Tibet said about five to seven soldiers guarded each house and that Tibetans in the village were not allowed to even “go outside to use the toilet.” Some reports said soldiers raised the Chinese flags on Tibetan houses. That evening, as many as 1,000 Tibetans gathered outside the local government building and began a 24-hour hunger strike while lying on a road to block military vehicles.
The United States could lose access to an important law enforcement tool used to track terrorist money flows, German officials said Monday, as Europe weighed a response to allegations that the Americans spied on their closest European allies. In Washington, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein called for a “total review” of all U.S. intelligence programs in response to the allegations — activity the California Democrat said she wasn’t told about.
The possibility of a new “gas war” between Russia and Ukraine inched closer on Tuesday, as the Russian state energy giant Gazprom complained that Kiev had outstanding debts of over half a billion pounds and demanded swift payment. Gazprom’s concern comes a month before Ukraine is due to sign up for closer ties with the European Union, a deal that has infuriated the Kremlin. The complaint brought back memories of crises in 2006 and 2009 in which Russia turned off the gas to Ukraine, leaving many European nations that rely on pipelines passing through the country without energy in the middle of winter.
From his office deep inside the Pentagon, Yoda has outlasted the Cold War, countless military conflicts and 10 presidential elections. But can he survive the sequester? Yoda is the reverential nickname for Andrew Marshall, a legendary if mysterious figure in national security circles. A bald, enigmatic 92-year-old strategic guru, he resembles the Jedi master of “Star Wars” fame in more ways than one. Another defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said Hagel thinks that the Office of Net Assessment should be reorganized and that it “can be strengthened potentially by realigning it so that it remains close to him and his senior team.”
The United States is tapping telephones and monitoring communications networks from electronic surveillance facilities in US embassies and consulates across east and south-east Asia, according to information disclosed by intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden. A top secret map lists 90 surveillance facilities worldwide, including communications intelligence facilities at embassies in Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Phnom Penh and Yangon. Dated August 13, 2010, the map shows no such facilities are located in Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Japan and Singapore – the US’s closest allies.
Iceland wants to turn itself into a hub for business in the Arctic and strike more trade accords on its own after scrapping talks to join the European Union, its foreign minister said. “The focus of Iceland’s foreign policy is on the Arctic,” Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson said in an Oct. 25 interview in Reykjavik. The island will work for deeper cooperation within the Arctic Council and seek to provide a base in the region to help support trade with China, Singapore and South Korea, among others, he said.
A Lower House special committee started deliberations on a bill to create the Japanese version of the U.S. National Security Council to serve as a foreign and security policy nerve center. Working with similar organizations of the United States and other nations, the Japanese NSC will engage in policy coordination among ministries and agencies to support the prime minister, who chairs the council. The Japanese NSC would deal with a broad array of diplomatic and security challenges facing Japan, such as its strained relations with China, North Korea’s nuclear arms and missile programs and territorial disputes.
The tax inspectors swept into this picturesque village in Crete during the middle of a saint’s day celebration recently, moving from restaurant to restaurant demanding receipts and financial records. Soon, customers annoyed by the holiday disruption confronted them. Pushing, shoving and angry words followed, and eventually the frightened inspectors were forced to flee.”People are so angry and so poor,” said Nikolis Geniatakis, who has run his restaurant here on the main square for the last 34 years and who watched the confrontation from across the street.
Pakistani soldier-turned-academic Feroz Khan’s book Eating Grass is an insider account tracing the history of Pakistan’s nuclear programme — and its survival despite hurdles. Khan, who was involved in formulating Pakistan’s nuclear arms control policy, spoke with Sameer Arshad about how Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal grew, implications of its nuclear race with India — and how restraints are possible. Bhutto is undoubtedly the Pakistani nuclear bomb’s father — even before the 1965 war, he envisioned the only way to offset the strategic imbalance was through nukes.
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.
Along the lines of the intensifying regional rivalries between Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Iran, the Lebanese arena continues to play the role of a “mailbox” for sending messages between the concerned states – an issue that was apparent in the continuing clashes in Tripoli between Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen. There is talk of a Saudi-Syrian struggle in the poorer districts of Tripoli, manifested in rumors of massive amounts of money being transferred to the different groups and their fighters.
China’s interest in a peaceful Middle East is enormous, by contrast. Beijing is not only the biggest customer of precisely those oil powers who presently are fanning the flames of conflict in Syria; as a VIP customer, Beijing has growing political influence, which it should use openly. The word of the Chinese foreign minister has just as much weight in Tehran and Riyadh as that of his American counterpart. China’s situation, Zand continues, is rather like Germany’s after reunification: a state whose economic power is growing will eventually be asked what it puts on the table politically.
The GCC countries spent about $130 billion in 2012 to bolster their defences, according to ‘Jane’s Defence Weekly’. While most of their requirements are currently sourced from Western manufacturers, there is change in the offing. Unconfirmed reports suggest that Saudi Arabia made a $15-billion weapons contracts proposal to Russia in July 2013. And, if the possibility of Turkey choosing a $4 billion Chinese missile defence system materialises, at the cost of Western firms, it will create big openings for the Asian giant in the Gulf.
By virtue of our unique geography”, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote in a 2011 Foreign Policy article, “the United States is both an Atlantic and a Pacific power.” Russia, meanwhile, has seen itself as a Euro-Asian country, as Vladimir Putin has argued from the start of his first term in the Kremlin. The American attitude, which in Secretary Clinton’s locution is about as uncontroversial a statement as an American Secretary of State can make, reflects the country’s historic “maritime” vocation. The Russian one reflects the longstanding fascination with the country’s continental scale and reflects its traditional terrestrial focus.
ABDUL MEJID I, the Ottoman’s 31st sultan, had a dream. the determinedly Western-leaning sultan envisaged the construction of a submerged tunnel under the Bosphorus Straits connecting Asia to Europe. A French architect duly came up with a blueprint. But a dearth of technology and cash stood in the way. The sultan’s dream is now coming true, 150 years later. The world’s first sea tunnel linking two continents will be inaugurated on October 29th. Stretching over 76km (47 miles), and with 1.4km of it laid at the bottom of the sea, the $3 billion “Marmaray” rail system will “eventually link London to Beijing, creating unimagined global connections” .
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.
With its growing global weight, the regime in China wants to influence also the coverage of his country. A new report shows how foreign media organizations are used by Beijing under pressure to refrain from critical reporting. The report speaks of “subtle” methods to cause self-censorship or to interact with advertising partners, owners of media organizations or international actors. It is called “systematic efforts” to signal commercial partners that their media operation in China was at risk, if they cooperated with «unpleasant voices» or it would out to censor them.
The Philippines hasn’t operated jet fighters for nearly a decade, an uncomfortable state of affairs for a nation that’s increasingly butting heads with Beijing over the South China Sea. Now Manila has begun buying up fighter jets from South Korea. A collaboration between Korean Aerospace Industries and Lockheed Martin, the FA-50 is designed to be both a training plane for student fighter pilots and to function as a light multi-role fighter. It’s a single-engine plane like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, but weighs less than half as much. It also lacks stealth features, internal weapons bays and the advanced networking capabilities of the F-35.
Beijing considers Central Asia as a region of its own, if not a testing ground for China’s foreign policy, while publicly stating that the region remains under Russia’s sphere of influence. The post-Cold War Chinese approach to Central Asia is based on the concept of Zhoubian, or peripheral strategy, meaning that security has to be reached in the bordering Chinese territories through the development of a belt of stable neighbors based on peaceful coexistence. Thus, Central Asia represents a continental bridge between China and Europe: regional stability is paramount for Beijing because turbulences on the bridge could endanger the whole sub-system.
All along Libya’s two thousand miles of coastline one encounters barriers and skirmishes between various forces. It appears that the armed Jihadist militants hold the most sway here, though the lack of a capable, centralized state is not a problem unique to Libya, with its neighbors in Tunisia, Algeria, and Egypt also experiencing similar problems. However, here the problem is particularly acute. The country once ruled by Gaddafi—under whom Libya wallowed without a systematized political process for 42 years—is balancing on a tightrope that continues to fray and break strand by strand.
A security strategy paper by EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton says EU countries should use military-grade drones for border surveillance. The EU chief is set to debate security ideas with MEPs in the plenary chamber in Strasbourg. Her plan, which outlines priorities in the lead up to an EU summit on defence in December, notes that there is “an urgent need to prepare a programme for the next generation” of so-called Medium Altitude Long Endurance (Male) drones. It adds that: “The objective is to promote a European approach for developing this key future capability.”
Nato will have to focus more on issues in the Arabian Gulf to ensure its stability, security experts say. Counter-terrorism, cyber defence, energy security and weapons of mass destruction are among crucial areas the alliance will have to tackle to improve its relationship with GCC states, the audience at the Nato ICI 2013 conference heard yesterday. “What’s going on in Iraq and Syria poses serious security threats to the Middle East and the region,” Vural Altay, Turkey’s ambassador to the UAE, said at the meeting, which presented Nato’s approach to the Gulf.