The G20′s frustration centres on US failure to ratify the IMF quota and governance reforms agreed by the G20 in 2010. While countries representing nearly 80% of IMF votes have approved the reforms, the required threshold is 85%. The US has a veto with its 16.75% shareholding and the US Congress continues to block the reforms. Joe Hockey said the 2010 IMF reforms are a top priority because they would ‘double the IMF’s permanent resources and lead to a major realignment of voting shares’.
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.
Turkey’s active support for the rebels in the war ongoing right next to it in Syria is increasing concerns that the country might end up like Pakistan, which actively participated in the Afghan-Russian war and the ensuing civil war. The first person to ever express such a concern was President Abdullah Gül, who said in an interview with the Guardian in November that Syria is turning into an “Afghanistan on the shores of the Mediterranean,” a statement which has led experts to this question: If Syria is Afghanistan, who is Pakistan?
Ukraine’s government said on Sunday it was sending security forces into the eastern city of Slaviansk where pro-Russian militants have seized control in what Kiev describes as an act of aggression by the Kremlin. Any operation to dislodge the armed militants risks tipping the stand-off into a new, dangerous phase because Moscow has warned it will act to protect eastern Ukraine’s Russian-speakers if they come under attack.
Britain’s economy could grow by 1.3 billion pounds if it left the European Union due to less regulation and more trade with emerging economies, acccording to a British diplomat who dreamt up a blueprint for the country’s EU exit. Britain’s free market Institute of Economic Affairs on Tuesday awarded a 100,000-euro prize to Iain Mansfield, a British diplomat based in the Philippines, who it decided had come up with the best proposal for a ‘Brexit,’ a British departure from the EU.
The UK is looking into options to establish a “more permanent” military facility in the Gulf region, according to Secretary of State for Defence Philip Hammond, it was reported. At a press briefing in Doha, Hammond was quoted as saying that as the UK withdraws troops from combat in Afghanistan, where deployments provided them with training, “we have to think through how we will train our forces in desert warfare, in hot-conditions’ combat in the future”.
The UK, Poland, and Sweden have proposed sending an EU police mission to Ukraine to build up its law enforcement bodies in the wake of February’s revolution. “Re-establishing confidence in the rule of law in Ukraine will be vital for future stability. We thus propose a capacity-building mission focused on supporting the police and judicial system,” they said in an informal paper circulated in Brussels this week.
Parliament is set to begin deliberations today about a bill expanding the powers of Turkey’s spy agency with additional missions both inside and outside the country, formally turning it into an intelligence coordination body that will work directly under the prime minister. Known as the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Law, the proposal was withdrawn in February after President Abdullah Gül demanded major changes to the proposed text.
The plan to revive the ISI’s Political Cell had been under consideration since last November, prior to the conduct of the LG elections in Balochistan in December, while it was given a go-ahead by the security establishment, on the reported directives of some “powerful ruling functionaries” during the start of this year, the insiders said. Reportedly, funds for conducting the operations of the Political Cell have been specified from the secret funds of the defence budget.
The draft pact centers on Chabahar Port, which would allow India and Afghanistan to conduct trade and access Central Asia’s vast energy resources, has been reviewed and approved by Afghanistan and is now awaiting Indian approval, FreshPlaza reported. India considers the pact pivotal, as analysts believe the sea route is the only viable alternative to land trade given the instability of Afghanistan and the reluctance of Pakistan to grant land access to India, which has no direct land connection to Central Asia.
Speaking to the expanded collegium of FSB in Moscow on Monday, Vladimir Putin outlined the designated priorities for the future work. FSB is in charge of guarding Russia’s external borders, including the land-border to neighboring Norway and Finland in the northwest as well as coastline borders to the Arctic Ocean. “As a priority, we must continue the development of border infrastructure in the Arctic region, as well as on the southern strategic direction,” Vladimir Putin told the audience of FSB officers.
Turkey hopes to take a first step this year towards long-held ambitions to be a supplier of fresh water across the Middle East. The first phase of a project to pump fresh water from the Anamur River in southern Turkey to the drought-stricken northern part of Cyprus is slated to be completed this year, according to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the Turkish government in Ankara.
USTR also said that national-only electronic networks could end up effectively excluding or discriminating against foreign service suppliers that offer network services. It even said that proposals like the one presented by Germany’s state backed Deutsche Telekom were “draconian” and possibly crafted to give European companies advantage over their U.S. based counterparts.
The Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court announced that it has finalized the 16,600-page summary of the Ergenekon coup attempt case, which investigated an alleged network of hardline nationalists formed to topple Turkey’s incumbent government. The report claims that Ergenekon was the name given to the Turkish Gladio. Gladio cells were established throughout Europe and Turkey by the CIA as a precaution against the spread of communism during the Soviet era but soon developed a will of their own after the Soviet Union collapsed.
USAID and OTI in particular have engaged in various efforts to undermine the democratically-elected governments of Venezuela, Bolivia, and Haiti, among others, and such “open societies” could be more likely to be impacted by such activities than Cuba. Declassified U.S. government documents show that USAID’s OTI in Venezuela played a central role in funding and working with groups and individuals following the short-lived 2002 coup d’etat against Hugo Chávez. A key contractor for USAID/OTI in that effort has been Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI).
The generations born in Cuba in the last two or three decades, permeated by the influences of societies that differ radically from the one their government is trying to build, are in the eye of the ideological storm that feeds the conflict between Havana and Washington. On Thursday Apr. 3 the White House acknowledged that from 2009 to 2012, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was behind the ZunZuneo social network – the “Cuban Twitter” that targeted young people and reached a peak of 40,000 subscribers.
Italian special operations units on Wednesday arrested 24 secessionists who were allegedly planning a violent campaign aimed at gaining independence for the wealthy northeastern Veneto region. Police said in a statement that the group had built an armored vehicle that they intended to deploy in St. Mark’s Square in Venice. TV footage showed the so-called tank was a tractor that had been armed in some fashion.
The Pentagon said on Wednesday it was bolstering the size of its Europe-based African crisis response force to 675 Marines, sending 175 new troops to a Romanian base near the Black Sea at a time of tensions over Russia’s annexation of part of Ukraine. But it came on the heels of news on Tuesday that General Philip Breedlove, the top U.S. officer in Europe, is considering moving a U.S. warship into the Black Sea in the coming days to reassure NATO allies and exercise with partners.
Russia will make Crimea a special economic zone offering tax breaks and reduced bureaucracy to attract investors, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Monday. “Our aim is to make the peninsula as attractive as possible to investors, so that it can generate sufficient income for its own development,” Medvedev told a Russian government meeting on the Black Sea peninsula, whichMoscow has annexed from Ukraine.
The criminalisation of the jihadis is designed in part to persuade the Americans that Saudi Arabia is not encouraging Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis), both al-Qa’ida-type groups, to take over northern Syria and western Iraq. On the contrary, the Saudis say they want to fund and supply a third military force in Syria that will fight both President Assad and the anti-Assad jihadi forces.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Saturday the European Union should form an energy union to bolster its energy security and lessen its dependence on key gas supplier Russia whose annexation of Crimea has caused a tense stand-off with the West. Russia, which provides around one third of the EU’s oil and gas, sent shockwaves through the international community with its military intervention and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula two weeks ago.
The emir of energy-rich Qatar, a key backer of Sudan’s Islamist regime, visits cash-strapped Khartoum next week for talks on bolstering ties, official media said on Saturday. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani’s one-day trip Wednesday will come as tensions reached unprecedented levels between Doha and other Gulf states over its perceived support for the widely-banned Muslim Brotherhood.
Saudi Arabia Clamps Down on Little Qatar (Or, How Not To Waste Billions Trying To Be Something You’re Not)
Papa Emir was in a delicate situation. He wanted to make his own mark on things, but could not go too far as to upset the Americans, who were key to him staying in power. In the 2000s, the Muslim Brotherhood was still relatively unknown outside the Arab world and, while not ideal to support, also not a redline that would trigger a U.S. response.
He also sought to turn Doha into a Middle Eastern Geneva.
UK’s Intelligence Watchdog ‘Group’ Only Has One Full-Time Member, Oversight Efforts Compared To British Sitcom
Britain’s intelligence services had a system of oversight no better than that seen in the TV comedy Yes, Prime Minister, an MP said on Tuesday during a meeting of a Commons committee. Julian Huppert, a Liberal Democrat, said the sitcom depicting ineffectual government was an appropriate comparison after it emerged that the intelligence services commissioner appearing before MPs worked only part-time, and operated with only one other staff member.
Endowed with particularly fertile steppes of rich black soil, Ukraine became known as the “Breadbasket of Europe” during centuries of foreign occupation. According to the CIA World Factbook, the country produced more than 25% of total agricultural output – grains, meat, milk, and vegetables – for the Soviet Union. Today, roughly one out of four workers in Ukraine subsist on cultivating the land, consistently generating net food surpluses.
The authorities in Georgia have threatened to issue an arrest warrant for ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili if he fails to return for questioning. The pro-Western politician left Georgia after his term as president ended in November, when an opposition candidate was elected to replace him. Prosecutors want to question him about the suspicious death of ex-Prime Minister Zurab Zvania and other cases.
Egypt is considering opening a Russian industrial zone for the manufacture of agriculture equipment, a partnership that would help Egypt meet its domestic demands and allow for surplus machinery to be exported. The industrial zone would also build grain silos, a benefit for both countries, which rely heavily on farming, said the website of the Egyptian ministry of industry, foreign trade and investment. The free trade zone would exempt the countries from customary tariffs.
In the wake of the Ukrainian crisis, considered a wake-up call for both the EU and the United States, meeting in Brussels for a EU-US summit today (26 March), the leaders of both blocs decided to accelerate processes to reduce Europe’s dependency on Russian gas, and deliver a sound basis for a transatlantic trade deal.Forging strong economic ties across the Atlantic is a powerful political sign.
The European Central Bank could buy loans and other assets from banks to help support the eurozone economy, Germany’s Bundesbank said Tuesday, marking a radical softening of its stance on the contested policy. The ECB has cut interest rates to a record low, and promised to keep them low for some time, having also flooded the banking system with cheap crisis loans. But the eurozone economy is still weak, and inflation remains stuck well below the central bank’s target.
Russia does seem to have an outsized decision power and influence over the EAU. Russia does seem to have an outsized decision power and influence over the EAU. For instance, Russia receives nearly 90% of all collected custom duties. And in the union’s regulatory agency, the EEU, Russia has one vote weighted at 57%, while Belarus and Kazakhstan both have a vote weighted at 21.5%.
A member of the defence team representing the 529 defendants handed a mass death penalty on Monday has said that his team will appeal the verdict, the largest of its kind in the history of Egypt’s criminal courts. Ahmed Shabib, a Muslim Brotherhood lawyer, said on Monday that defence lawyers would bring the appeal after receiving the reasoning behind the court’s ruling. Shabib added that he and his fellow lawyers would request a retrial for the defendants sentenced in absentia.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has said that three air force generals have been arrested for plotting an uprising against his government. Mr Maduro said that the authorities had been tipped off by “young officers”. The three generals, who have not been named, had links with the opposition, said Mr Maduro. The arrests are the latest development in nearly two months of political unrest, which have cost the lives of at least 32 people.
Israel-China Alliance Moves Forward With $2 Billion ‘Red-Med’ Freight Rail Link Alternative to Suez Canal
The growing economic alliance between Israel and China is moving forward with a $2 billion, 300 kilometer freight rail link connecting Eilat, on the Red Sea, with Ashdod Port, on the Mediterranean, Germany’sDeutsche Welle news magazine reported on Monday.The project, nicknamed the ‘Red-Med,’ was greenlit by Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet, and construction, which is expected to take five years, will begin within the year.
Opposition groups have now agreed to boycott the upcoming polls and take their concerns to the streets, with the Barakat! (Enough!) Movement now working with political parties to support protests by student groups and non-governmental organizations. This is the first time that some many groups from so many backgrounds, including liberalists, socialists and religious groups. Their growing boycott calls suggest that the April 17 elections will have a turnout much lower than expected.
Veteran investor Jim Sinclair argues that Russia has a much scarier financial attack which it can use against the U.S.
Specifically, Sinclair says that if Russia accepts payment for oil and gas in any currency other than the dollar – whether it’s gold, the Euro, the Ruble, the Rupee, or anything else – then the U.S. petrodollar system will collapse: Indeed, one of the main pillars for U.S. power is the petrodollar, and the U.S. is desperate for the dollar to maintain reserve status.
Relations between Egypt and Ethiopia have soured since Ethiopia began construction on the 4.2 billion dollar Grand Renaissance Dam in 2011. Egypt fears the new dam, slated to begin operation in 2017, will reduce the downstream flow of the Nile, which 85 million Egyptians rely on for almost all of their water needs. Officials in the Ministry of Irrigation claim Egypt will lose 20 to 30 percent of its share of Nile water and nearly a third of the electricity generated by its Aswan High Dam
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.
According to diplomatic sources, Turkey has threatened Russia with a blockade of the Bosphorus Strait. The threat to close the Bosphorus to Russia comes from a report by Hvylya, citing a Turkish diplomatic source. According to the source, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan yesterday spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the phone and warned of the consequences for conflict with Ukraine. The Hvylya source was also reported on by UNIAN.
There is a growing consensus the Harper government’s hard line over events in Ukraine is going to require a radical new defence doctrine, prepared for the contingency of an expansionist Russia. The recent Strategic Outlook by the CDA Institute made three specific recommendations in this regard — Canadian participation in a continental ballistic missile defence shield; creation of a maritime NORAD, integrating Canada’s navy and coast guard with that of the U.S.
Now, experts say, the Egyptian economy is increasingly shaped by the opaque desires of the ruling generals. And the military’s business activities appear to be expanding – from the manufacture of basic items such as bottled water and furniture into mega-infrastructure, energy and technology projects, analysts say. “We’re dealing with a brand new economy that’s now run by ‘Military Inc’,” said Joshua Stacher, an Egypt expert at Kent State University who has studied the military economy.
US Navy Seals boarded and took control of an oil tanker on Monday that had loaded crude at a rebel-held port in eastern Libya and escaped to sea, the Pentagon said. The weak Tripoli government’s failure to halt the tanker had plunged the country into one of its biggest crises since Muammar Qaddafi was toppled by a Nato-backed uprising in 2011, with parliament removing prime minister Ali Zeidan, who fled the country.
High on the agenda at Friday’s meeting of European Union foreign affairs ministers in Dublin, Ireland — current holder of the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union — is the future of the European External Action Service, which is set for a midterm review this year and an impending change in leadership. Among the topics expected to be put on the table is a German “nonpaper” proposal, seen by Devex, calling for the “strengthening” of the EEAS.
As political violence in Venezuela rolls on, Cubans say they are hearing reports that Havana is making energy or military preparations for a possible disruption of its tight alliance with the South American nation. Cuba’s stagnant economy depends overwhelmingly on Venezuelan subsidies estimated at well over $6 billion a year — even more than the former Soviet Union once provided to the Caribbean island.
Voting has begin in Venice and the surrounding region on whether to break away from Italy. Recent opinion polls suggest that two-thirds of the four million electorate favour splitting from Rome, but the vote will not be legally binding. The poll was organised by local activists and parties, who want a future state called Republic of Veneto. This would be reminiscent of the sovereign Venetian republic that existed for more than 1,000 years.
The United States is equally concerned about the integrity of Chinese telecommunications technology. Chinese telco giants Huawei and ZTE have been barred from the United States over concerns that the Chinese government would use these companies as a ‘Trojan horse’. Snowden’s revelation highlights the importance of protecting critical telecommunication infrastructure from cyber intrusion not only from terrorists but also state actors. These restrictions have big implications for international trade and investment.
Qatar is preparing contingencies to ward off economic pressure threatened by its Gulf neighbours amid a continued diplomatic stand-off over the role of political Islam in the region. Executives in Doha say official planning is under way to deal with any potential sanctions. The dispute erupted at a stormy meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council this month as Saudi officials threatened to close air space or its land border to Qatar unless Doha reins in support for the pan-Arab Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.
Ukraine must be ready for a full-scale Russian invasion “at any moment”, the country’s Acting President warned yesterday, as officials announced the emergency call-up of a 60,000-strong national guard force. Only clear international pressure could halt the momentum of the Kremlin, he said. “All of civilised humanity supports our country,” said Turchynov. “I am sure that this united effort in the international arena, bringing together all democratic countries, can still allow us to halt this aggression.”
Spying on social networks is the latest in a string of EU-funded projects to develop automated counter-terrorism and criminal surveillance systems that have sparked new fears of government snooping. “It seems as though the Commission is financing total surveillance in European states – apparently the INDECT project is meant to enable spying on people at all times and in all places”, Alexander Alvaro, then internal affairs spokesman for Germany’s FDP group in the European Parliament, explained in 2010.
The EU has drawn up a list of 120-130 names of Russians who could be hit with travel bans and asset freezes, European officials said on Friday, and a German newspaper said the CEOs of Russia’s two biggest companies -Alexei Miller of Gazprom and Igor Sechin of Rosneft – would be on it. Reuters was not immediately able to confirm the report in the Bild newspaper, which included energy bosses Miller and Sechin in a list with cabinet ministers, security officials and Kremlin aides.
Many have played a balancing act between Russia and the West, and almost all have significant Russian-speaking populations. “Officials in Tashkent are worried about the domino effect of an unbound Russia. In the minds of Uzbek officials, the fall of Ukraine will inevitably lead to the fall of Uzbekistan,” said Alisher Khamidov, a researcher on central Asian affairs. “After Ukraine, Uzbekistan will move to beef up its military and build closer military partnerships with China and the West.”
China’s default risk has risen beyond that of Ireland, having been on par with France and Japan a year ago, as Premier Li Keqiang said financial leverage is making the economy’s outlook more complex. Five-year contracts protecting against non-payment on government debt climbed to 99 from 63 a year earlier, almost double the 49 for Japan and 51 for France, CMA credit-default swap data show. That compares with 88 for lower-rated Ireland, which exited a bailout in December.
On 7 March, Shiv Shankar Menon, India’s National Security Advisor, announced that the Indian Ocean island states of Seychelles and Mauritius had joined India’s naval arrangement with Sri Lanka and the Maldives in a new Indian Ocean security grouping that some have called the ‘IO-5′. The new arrangement signals a significant consolidation of India’s leading security role among the Indian Ocean islands. For decades India has been the de facto security guarantor of these island states.
Russian government officials and businessmen are readying for sanctions resembling those applied to Iran after what they see as the inevitable annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region, according to four people with knowledge of the preparations. Iran-style retaliation from the West, which would include freezing Russia’s foreign reserves, banking assets and halting lending to companies, is being treated as an unlikely worst-case scenario, according to the people who asked not to be identified as the talks are under way.
China has announced a certified training course for its “50-cent army” of Internet propagandists who are paid to manipulate public opinion by posting and retweeting comments favorable to the ruling Chinese Communist Party. State-run news agency Xinhua’s online news service Xinhuanet said it would run the first part of its course on the “management of online public opinion” on March 27, in a bid to train large numbers of people to write comments supportive of the government and its policies.
Parliament adopted an appeal to the guarantor states security of Ukraine, which, inter alia, requested military assistance. For the corresponding resolution number 4390 voted 263 deputies. It deputies ask the guarantor countries of Ukraine’s security under the Budapest Memorandum (signers of the document – the U.S., Russia, UK and Ukraine) on practical measures to preserve the territorial integrity of the country. Including requests to provide military assistance.
UK surveillance agency GCHQ is reportedly using telecom companies to gain access to sub-sea data cables in Europe.
The Belgian morning newspaper De Standard claims five of the cables, which resurface at the Belgian coast, are affected, and the data GCHQ gleans from them is then shared with the US National Security Agency. The information comes from Comité I, according to De Standaard — a committee that monitors the intelligence services in Belgium.
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.
Russian military ally Belarus will ask Moscow to deploy 12 to 15 warplanes on its territory in response to increased NATO activity near its borders due to tension over Ukraine, President Alexander Lukashenko said on Wednesday. The United States and Poland, Belarus’s western neighbour, began war games on Tuesday that are expected to involve at least 12 U.S. F-16 fighter jets. A joint naval exercise of U.S., Bulgarian and Romanian naval forces in the Black Sea started on Wednesday.
If the French defense industry was not alone in crossing the strategic Rubicon, it did so with a splash by starting negotiations in the aftermath of the 2008 Georgia war. The move by the EU peace-broker shocked its Western partners, but no objections were raised (at least officially) by NATO which regarded the defense contract as a “sovereign matter between France and Russia.” As Russian forces tighten their grip on the energy-rich and strategically important Crimean peninsula, the Western alliance faces another awkward French moment.
There are “serious concerns” among some North Korean officials that North Korea could turn into a vassal state of China amid growing economic dependence on its sole ally, a defector said Monday. “Without Chinese capital and goods, it would be impossible for the North Korean government to operate, and ordinary people would not be able to carry on with their daily lives,” Kim said. “North Korea grew so dependent on China in the 20 years of Kim Jong-il’s rule that it’s now impossible to construct buildings, grow farm produce, or sustain the regime without imports of Chinese materials.
Could the republics of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan see some unofficial territory move from Afghanistan into their respective domains? It could be considered a lot less imaginary than it looks at first sight. Now, with the departure of the Americans and their allies, that wall is due to crumble. With Tajik, Kyrgyz, Uzbek, Turkmen and even Kazakh communities dominating the northern regions and no Pashtun, the Taliban’s ethnic basis, to speak of in sight, the scenario looks quite possible.
Germany’s Angela Merkel delivered a rebuke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday, telling him that a planned Moscow-backed referendum on whether Crimea should join Russia was illegal and violated Ukraine’s constitution. Putin defended breakaway moves by pro-Russian leaders in Crimea, where Russian forces tightened their grip on the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula by seizing another border post and a military airfield.
Libya’s Defence Ministry has authorized the military to use force to stop a North Korean-flagged tanker from loading crude oil at a rebel-held port, bypassing the Tripoli government, it said on Sunday. The tanker docked on Saturday at the eastern terminal of Es Sider, one of three ports seized by rebels since August to press demands for autonomy and a bigger share of oil revenue. Local daily al-Wasat said the ship had loaded $36 million of crude.
While such incomplete transformations are a common phase in democratisation processes, the range of Egyptian interests in Libya must be protected despite the partial, unfinished democratic change. Egypt is bound to economic, political and border security interests in Libya. Economically, there are Libyan investments in Egypt that are close to $1 billion ($864 million in 2008). What’s more crucial than the Libyan investments in Egypt is the enormous Egyptian workforce in Libya.
Imagine a railroad linking the great industries of South Korea with Europe. The dream might some day come true as the South drafts elaborate plans for shipping goods through North Korea’s Rason special economic zone adjacent to the North’s 10-mile-long Tumen River border with Russia. The South Koreans have the enthusiastic support of the Russians, who have long dreamed of shipping goods by rail from South Korean factories, through North Korea and then onto the trans-Siberian railway.
“Taking the Gulf Cooperation Council to a political abyss serves nobody’s interests. The peoples and leaders of the GCC member states should have a clear awareness of just how lethal a threat the abyss politics pose to everyone,” said Dr Yousuf Al Hassan, a leading Emirati political analyst. “Qatar could face sanctions clamped by the Gulf countries, including the closing of borders with Qatar, and airspace to it if Doha doesn’t stop supporting the Muslim Brotherhood,”.
Saudi Arabia wants to have Egypt included in the Gulf Cooperation Council, a regional grouping of Arab countries overlooking the Arab Gulf, according to an Arab diplomatic source. The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Anadolu Agency that a Saudi official had notified Egyptian government officials of the Saudi tendency during an Arab League meeting in Cairo. The Saudi official said his country would make the proposal during the upcoming Arab Summit.
At a time when India’s “look east” policy has come of age, expanding into the wider Indo-Pacific region, the absence of seamless connectivity with its neighbourhood has become a glaring lacuna. For India, cooperation in the Bay of Bengal region has the potential to bring the northeastern region of India centrestage by strengthening connectivity, as the easier access would aid in its the development.
Mauritius and Seychelles will soon join the Indian Ocean trilateral group on maritime security. After the third meeting of the trilateral -which includes India, Sri Lanka and Maldives – NSA Shivshankar Menon said the informal grouping now has a system to monitor activities in the Indian Ocean, conduct search and rescue operations and counter piracy among other things. The grouping is an avenue to enhance India’s power in the region at a time when China is stepping up its naval activities.
The European Union Delegation and East African Community (EAC) on inked a financial agreement worth 4.45 million Euros to enhance regional integration processes. Coordination efforts between the three regional organisations – the EAC, SADC and COMESA – will also be supported, with the ultimate goal of the reaching a Tripartite Free Trade Area. The EU and the EAC want to jointly promote social and economic development.
Italy and France were the major euro area countries put on the European Commission’s economic “watch-list” over fears about persistently high debt and deficit levels. The two countries were among 14 nations deemed to have “macro-economic imbalances” in their economy by the EU executive in a series of reports on 17 countries published on Wednesday. Italy “must address its very high level of public debt and weak external competitiveness,” the commission said,
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar on Wednesday in an unprecedented public split between Gulf Arab allies who have fallen out over the role of Islamists in a region in turmoil. The Saudi-led trio said they had acted because Qatar failed to honour a GCC agreement not to back “anyone threatening the security and stability of the GCC whether as groups or individuals – via direct security work..
The defence forces of the 10 members states of the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) plan to undertake a joint maritime security exercise in the Malacca Straits in 2015. The initiative would be a first for the bloc, and the announcement comes at a sensitive time as a territorial dispute between China and five member states – Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei – absorbed much of the ASEAN Defence Forces Informal Meeting on 5 March in Naypyidaw.
Two Russian warships on their way to the Black Sea have passed through Istanbul’s Bosphorus staits. Russia’s ‘Saratov’ and ‘Yamal’ ships sailed unaccompanied through the Marmara Sea before entering the Bosphorus straits at 07:30 local time (05:30 GMT). The two ships, which were usually based in the eastern Mediterranean to monitor developments in Syria, are now on their way to Crimea due to the latest situation there. At the same time a Ukrainian ship called ‘Hetman Sahaidachny’ entered the straits at Canakkale (Gallipoli) on its way to the Marmara Sea.
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.
A Kremlin aide was quoted on Tuesday as saying that if the United States were to impose sanctions on Russia over Ukraine, Moscow might be forced to drop the dollar as a reserve currency and refuse to pay off any loans to U.S. banks. Sergei Glazyev, who is often used by the authorities to stake out a hardline stance but does not make policy, was cited by RIA news agency as saying Moscow could recommend that all holders of U.S. treasuries sell them if Washington freezes the U.S.. accounts of Russian businesses and individuals.
A document detailing the UK’s position on the Ukraine crisis has been seen being taken into Downing Street. It was photographed as an official went into Downing Street for a meeting of the National Security Council as the crisis deepened. It makes clear the Government is not considering curbing trade with Russia – or closing London’s financial centre to Moscow as part of any possible package of sanctions against the country. The papers also suggest the UK will lobby to exclude any talk of a military response to the deepening crisis. “It does give away some of Britain’s position towards Russia.”
The Government of UAE will help Somali government to rebuild its army, which has endured more than 20 years of chaos and war.”My trip is aimed at strengthening the already close relationship between Somalia and the UAE. The UAE is a great friend and supporter of Somalia, taking an active part in rebuilding our government institutions and infrastructure and aiding social and youth development,” he said in a Press statement. It funded the training program of the Puntland Maritime Police force which was conducted by Saracen International and South Africa-linked private military operator Sterling Corporate Services.
Taken by surprise by the reaction of the Ukrainian people to their president’s rejection of the EU treaty in November, Europeans and Americans have, once again, been caught off-guard these last days — this time by the decision of the Russian president to intervene in Crimea. This move is however not without precedent. The question is which prior moment of history will it resemble the most: the 1968 model, when Soviet troops invaded Czechoslovakia to put an end to the Prague Spring; or the 2008 scenario, when the same Vladimir Putin intervened in Georgia.
Speaking at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva later, Mr Lavrov said Russian troops were necessary in Ukraine “until the normalisation of the political situation” and dismissed threats of sanctions and boycotts. He added: “We call for a responsible approach, to put aside geopolitical calculations, and above all to put the interests of the Ukrainian people first.” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said: “China has always upheld the principles of diplomacy and the fundamental norms of international relations. “At the same time we also take into consideration the history and the current complexities of the Ukrainian issue.”
Large-scale tactical exercises have started in the Kaliningrad region. The coast guard troops of the Baltic Sea Fleet are involved in the maneuvres. According to Russian media, the exercises began following a snap check of the armed forces ordered by Vladimir Putin. More than 3,500 servicemen of mechanised infantry regiments and the guards naval infantry brigade take part in the drills. Representatives of Lithuania and Poland say the exercises pose a direct threat to third countries amid the intervention of Russian troops in Ukraine.
India is contemplating energy pipelines from the Gulf again — this time running under the sea, rather than traversing Pakistan. With international sanctions on Iran fading as a result of a nuclear agreement, an energy pipeline may be the most positive regional consequence. The new plan proposes to transport oil and natural gas through deep sea pipelines via Oman in a process where Iran, and even Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan energy can feed the pipeline for an ever-growing Indian market. Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Oman’s foreign minister, raised the possibility with Salman Khurshid during their meeting on Friday.
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.
America may dream of abandoning the entanglements of the Middle East but, for now, as Hagel put it, these ties with America’s Persian Gulf allies are “important, and probably more so than they’ve ever been.” Awkwardly, the U.S. Treasury Department just one week later designated Abd al-Rahman bin ’Umayr Nu’aymi, a Qatari national with links to the emirate’s elites, a “terrorist financier and facilitator who has provided money and material support and conveyed communications to al Qaeda and its affiliates in Syria, Iraq, Somalia and Yemen.”
Crimea approved the creation of a special forces unit which obey “exclusively” to the regional government
The Supreme Council of Crimea has established a unit of police special forces, known as ‘Berkut’, in the region, located in the southeast of Ukraine, and that has announced this Saturday the Deputy Prime Minister of Crimea, Rustam Temirgaliev, respond “exclusively” at the orders of the regional authorities.Temirgaliev has confirmed that the Supreme Council of Crimea has approved the regional unit of special forces and that “they have already taken the appropriate actions” to begin its operation.
Ukraine’s interior minister accused Moscow’s military of blockading an airport near a Russian naval base on Friday and armed men took control of another airport in Ukraine’s Crimean capital of Simferopol. In a Facebook post, Arsen Avakov called the seizure of the Belbek international airport in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol a “military invasion and occupation.” He added: “It is a breach of all international agreements and norms.” The Interfax news agency quoted Russian military sources in the region as saying the incident at Belbek airport was intended to stop “fighters” flying in.
Since January, tensions have flared between the West African country’s authoritarian government and the impoverished masses yearning for democratic reforms. Depending on how developments unfold, the protests in Burkina Faso could serve as a catalyst for further uprisings in the region. On January 18, over 10,000 Burkinabe citizens rallied in the nation’s capital, Ouagadougou (WAH-gah-DOO-goo), and other cities to protest the concentration of political power in one man — President Blaise Compaore, who has ruled Burkina Faso since 1987.
Interim President Oleksandr Turchynov held an emergency meeting of the Council of National Security and Defence. “Alexander Turchinov has to split, performing the duties of President and the Speaker. And now, when we see a very dangerous processes in the same Sevastopol, he called a meeting of the National Security Council. We knew it would. The Ambassador of Russia was removed, the Russian Foreign Ministry statement made are all signs of a very dangerous manifestations. Separatist sentiment in Sevastopol is specifically fueled by Russia.
South Korea adopted a quasi- quantitative easing (QE) under the three-year economic innovation plan to stabilize mortgage loan market, whose fast growth was feared to dent private consumption. The Finance Ministry, Bank of Korea (BOK) and Financial Services Commission (FSC) on Thursday unveiled a joint plan to speed up the restructuring of household debts, which topped the psychologically dangerous level of 1,000 trillion won (about 940 billion U.S. dollars) last year. The plan came as part of follow-up actions to the three-year economic innovation plan, announced by President Park Geun-hye
Under the partnership, Djibouti has offered military facilities such as a home port to the Chinese navy, Houffaneh told Sabahi. “In exchange, we have asked for our military co-operation to be expanded to enable us to build the operational capacities of the Djiboutian armed forces in order to safeguard security in the country and help to consolidate peace and security in the sub-region,” Houffaneh said. “In this deal, we laid emphasis on building the capacities of Djibouti’s navy, which lacks patrol boats, and building the capacities of the air force, which will soon acquire Chinese aircraft.”
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.
Russia says it plans to expand its worldwide military presence by seeking permission for navy ships to use ports in Latin America, Asia and elsewhere.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Wednesday in remarks carried by Russian news agencies the military was conducting talks with Algeria, Cyprus, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Cuba, Seychelles, Vietnam and Singapore. He said that it was essential for the Russian navy to be able to call at their ports to service its ships. Shoigu said Russia was also talking to some of those countries asking them to allow long-range bombers to use their air bases for refueling.
Russia is believed to be deploying military ships carrying troops in the disputed autonomous Crimea region of Ukraine, as Moscow continues to refuse to recognise the interim administration which has taken control of Kiev. Reports suggest the movement of Russia’s large landing ship Nikolai Filchenkov, with at least 200 soldiers onboard, at the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s base at Sevastopol. The ship is said to be accompanied by at least four other vessels with an unknown number of Special Forces Troops onboard, sailing from the Russian port of Anapa to the Crimean/Ukrainian Sevastopol.
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.
Recent news Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank were planning to sell off their raw uranium supplies has put a spotlight on Russian nuclear deals that went relatively unnoticed in the West. An investment strategist observed recent Russian nuclear deals including a pact with Sri Lanka are part of a greater geopolitical game to lockup the market for nuclear fuel, which may increase global uranium prices. Marin Katusa, Chief Investment Strategist at Casey Research says Russian nuclear pacts with Sri Lanka, Hungary, Belarus and the Middle East go beyond nuclear fuel sales.
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.
British newspaper The Sunday Express claimed yesterday that “British military chiefs were last night (Saturday) ‘carefully monitoring’ developments after Argentina announced a 3 billion pounds sterling (39.2 billion peso) revamp of its armed forces.” The notion that Argentina would threaten Britain’s established military prowess with the former assigning, proportionally, the budget for the armed forces in all of South America is not infrequent in British media and certain politicians’ rhetoric. Argentina spent about 0.8 percent of GDP on the military last year, according to the Centro de Estudios Nueva Mayoría consultancy.
China’s foreign minister meets Iraq PM and counterpart to discuss a range of issues, from trade to arms. Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi has held talks in Baghdad on issues ranging from trade to arming Iraq’s hard-pressed security forces. It is the first such visit in over a decade. Mr Wang met with prime minister Nuri al-Maliki, during which the Iraqi premier called for “cooperation in the field of fighting terrorism,” a statement from his office said.
Chinese companies PetroChina and CNPC have substantial investments in Iraqi oil production, which accounts for the lion’s share of government revenue.
The US Pacific Fleet commander arrived in Manila as momentum gathered to finalise an agreement that would see an expanded US military presence in the Philippines. With the US pressing ahead with its “pivot” to Asia, Admiral Harry Harris is expected to use his first official trip to the Philippines to discuss a deal which would allow United States troops to be rotated around the country in bigger numbers and in more areas. Harris will meet senior embassy and military officials during his visit. President Benigno Aquino hinted last week that Manila and Washington were “very, very close” to signing an agreement.
The bottom line is – and this is particularly pertinent to Germany – if the EU is to be serious it has to put up some money. It’s very easy to talk about democracy and long-term cooperation, but the fact is that money is also needed right now to stabilize Ukraine. But let me emphasize my key point. If we want a solution that’s constructive it has to be based on compromise. And I can envisage Ukraine evolving in the context of a constructive compromise into a country whose domestic and foreign policies will be somewhat similar to that of Finland.