United Front is engaged in a concerted campaign to thwart any move toward greater independence by Taiwan and ultimately swallow up the self-ruled island of 23 million. The United Front hasn’t confined itself to the mainland. It is targeting academics, students, war veterans, doctors and local leaders in Taiwan in an attempt to soften opposition to the Communist Party and ultimately build support for unification. The 2013 work report, reviewed by Reuters, includes details of a program to bring Taiwanese students and military veterans on visits to the mainland.
Egypt’s cabinet approved on Wednesday a draft anti-terrorism law that would give the government blanket power to ban groups on charges ranging from harming national unity to disrupting public order. Authorities have cracked down hard on Islamist, secular and liberal opposition alike since the army toppled elected Islamist president Mohamed Mursi last year after mass unrest against his rule, dashing hopes for a more robust democracy stirred by the fall of longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
The political situation in Algeria has taken a dangerous turn. In conjunction with a visit by an EU delegation to the country, opposition parties have called for early presidential elections that would put an end to incumbent President’s term. The visit by the EU delegation to Algeria and the meetings it held with a number of political figures has stirred a number of reactions that reveal some of the mysteries of the power struggle between opposition and pro-government forces.
The Georgian foreign ministry has said Russia took a “step toward the de-facto annexation” of Georgia’s breakaway territory after Moscow has signed a deal with Abkhazia, giving greater military control over Black Sea region. Under the treaty signed on Monday by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Abkhazia’s leader Raul Khadzhimba, Russian and Abkhazian forces in the territory will turn into a joint force led by a Russian commander.
Lithuania will provide Ukraine with military aid to help in its fight against pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says. It was not clear, however, if Lithuania was following fellow NATO member the United States in providing non-lethal military equipment, or supplying weaponry. NATO countries are reluctant to risk being drawn into conflict with Russia by arming a non-member. We have agreed on supplies of concrete elements of concrete armaments for the Ukrainian armed forces.
Those living in the self-declared Federal State of Novorossiya in eastern Ukraine might find it rewarding to visit Transnistria. Both are Russian-speaking enclaves that aligned themselves with Moscow when their central governments began looking west. In both cases, the Russian military played a part when the secessionist movement turned violent. And both countries do not officially exist. Despite being capitalist, the parliament is called the Supreme Soviet, the flag, emblem and currency all bear the hammer and sickle.
The United States plans to buy arms for Sunni tribesmen in Iraq including AK-47s, rocket-propelled grenades and mortar rounds to help bolster the battle against ISIL militants in Anbar province, according to a Pentagon document prepared for Congress. The plan to spend $24.1 million represents a small fraction of the larger, $1.6 billion spending request to Congress focusing on training and arming Iraqi and Kurdish forces.
Officers suspected to be loyalists of ousted President Saleh are leading a mutiny inside the headquarters of an elite paramilitary unit, seeking to oust their commander. The officials say gunfire was heard Thursday afternoon inside the Special Forces headquarters, located in the heart of the capital near the presidential palace. The mutineers chanted “leave leave” and tried to storm the office of Mohammed Mansour al-Ghadraa, their new commander.
“The danger for Pakistan is… the Indian influence in Afghanistan,” he said. “That is another danger for the whole region and for Pakistan because Indian involvement there has an anti-Pakistan connotation. They (India) want to create an anti-Pakistan Afghanistan.” India and Pakistan both have long accused each other of using proxy forces to try to gain influence in Afghanistan. “If Indians are using some elements of the ethnic entities in Afghanistan, then Pakistan will use its own support for ethnic elements.”
With the Middle East in an unprecedented state of turmoil, the need for smooth and orderly transfers of power in Saudi Arabia – ruled by a 90-year-old infirm monarch – has become more crucial than ever – but who will inherit the kingdom in the coming years is a thorny issue yet to be resolved. Saudi Arabia is a large and influential country. Guardian of the two most holy sites in Islam, it regards itself as leader of the Sunni community worldwide.
While the rest of Iraq has remained mired in violence, stability has allowed oil wealth to drive growth here. Representatives of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) note that no Westerners were killed in the region during the U.S. occupation. If Kurds controlled their own oil — 45 billion barrels of which they say lie under their soil — they believe they could do even more. Over the past decade the KRG has made a series of escalating gambles to develop their oil, with Baghdad opposing every move.
The European government ratified its association agreement with Moldova. European Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn said from Brussels the Moldavan people long for the same freedom and stability enjoyed by other members of the European Union. “Focus on the Republic of Moldova is important,” he said. “The Republic of Moldova is showing determination to bring its European agenda forward.” The European Union has brought several former Soviet republics into its sphere.
A bill filed with the State Duma late last month would legalize private military and security companies (PMSCs) in Russia. Enthusiasts say it is high time that Russia, with its strong military traditions, get a toehold on the global PMSC market, estimated at up to $350 billion last year, according to the bill. And even the potential PR gains from using PMSCs instead of army troops in sensitive situations — like in Ukraine — are less than can be expected if those companies can be traced back to the Kremlin.
Belt-tightening by big energy majors faced with plunging oil prices is battering the finances and share prices of their suppliers, as investors reassess the sector’s ability to keep gushing cash. A growing list of delayed or canceled projects, seen by some investors as a healthy move by majors to rein in capital spend after a poor history of returns is working its way through corporate earnings; it has already pummelled the share price of some European suppliers seen as financially fragile.
“Vetting is a word we throw a lot around a lot, but actually very few people know what it really means,” said the former CIA operative, who had several postings in the Middle East for a decade after the 9/11 attacks. “It’s not like you’ve got a booth set up at a camp somewhere. What normally happens is that a case officer will identify a source who is a leader in one of the Free Syrian Army groups. And he’ll say, ‘Hey… can you come up with 200 [guys] you can trust?’ And of course they say yes—they always say yes.
Firstly, Greece’s role in the international chessboard of pipelines becomes critical. The selection of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) as the avenue for EU’s Southern Energy Corridor, as well as the pending project for the Greece-Italy Poseidon (IGI) pipeline with the participation of DEPA, is decisive; not only will it support local economies during the construction phase, but also ‘locks’ this particular route through Greece as the main entrance hub of Azeri gas to Europe.
Beijing $40 billion offer to revive the historic Silk Road, starts Central-Asia geostrategic competition
The “Silk Road Economic Belt” initiative, announced by Xi Jinping in 2013, is designed to allow capabilities of Chinese state-controlled construction companies to further expand its already booming trade with central Asia and Europe by diversification of Chinese trade routes, lowering transportation costs, opening up new markets, and an expansion of the Chinese sphere of influence beyond Asia. It will also secure the supply of Uranium and rare metals from Central Asia.
Tens of thousands of Belgians gathered for a huge march through the capital Brussels on Thursday in the first mass protest against the new centre-right government’s austerity policies. The march is the first in a series of rallies and strikes against economic and social reforms announced by Prime Minister Charles Michel. Protesters waved flares and held banners as they massed for the start of the march, while there was disruption to subway trains, trams and buses throughout the capital, where the European Union is based.
Finland’s president has reportedly warned that Europe is on the brink of “a new kind of cold war” in the wake of apparent military aggression from Russia. Sauli Niinisto said the US and EU were failing to take Vladimir Putin’s actions seriously, even after he annexed Crimea and after repeated reports of Russian involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Advisers to the Russian President have previously warned that Putin wants to “regain Finland”, and said his country would be “very decisive” in response.
The post-Arab revolution Middle East is apparently divided into three major blocs competing for regional leadership role. The Saudi-led bloc of ossified dictatorships, Iran-led bloc of sectarian leaders, and the Turkey-led revolutionary pro-people bloc are at odds over how to respond to the geopolitical changes taking place in the region. The oil power Saudi Arabia and the curiously ambitious United Arab Emirates along with post-coup Egyptian warlords are determined to reverse the revolutionary changes in the Middle East.
In an unprecedented measure in Morocco, army and police personnel were deployed to streets and squares in the kingdom’s main cities, and outside vital sites and tourist facilities. The heavy presence of military and other security forces came as part of the “Hadar” counter-terrorism plan announced last week. We have never seen such a security alert in Morocco since the Years of Lead,” Ahmed Filali, a real estate agent, told Magharebia. “Even following the terrorist bombings in 2003 and 2007, things didn’t go that far,” he said.
The army officer who has seized power in Burkina Faso amid popular protests in the West African country was twice selected to attend counterterrorism training programs sponsored by the U.S. government, U.S. military officials said. Lt. Col. Isaac Zida, the former deputy commander of the presidential guard, emerged Saturday as the country’s ruler — at least on an interim basis — after angry demonstrators attacked government buildings and forced Burkina Faso’s longtime strongman to flee the country.
“No chance, with the Houthis, I want to separate,” said the management student, holding the flag of the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, as independent South Yemen was formerly known. “After the unification in 1990 it was good, but 1994 onwards, the education, working rights, and freedom in the south, it all went downhill.” Mr Al Huribi’s anguish anger resonated in the voices of thousands of men, women and children chanting “Revolution, Revolution South”.
U.S. Arab allies Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait are discussing the creation of a military pact to take on Islamic militants, with the possibility of a joint force to intervene around the Middle East, The Associated Press has learned. The alliance would also serve as a show of strength to counterbalance their traditional rival, Shiite-dominated, Iran. Two countries are seen as potential theatres for the alliance to act, senior Egyptian military officials said.
David Cameron has been warned by German chancellor Angela Merkel that she would rather see the UK leave the European Union than change freedom of movement rules, according to reports. Downing Street on Sunday did not deny that the conversation had taken place, after Der Spiegel said Merkel had rejected Cameron’s demands for a cap on unskilled migrants. Sources told the newspaper that the chancellor said demands for any changes to freedom of movement rules represented a “point of no return”.
In the last decade, at least a dozen African leaders – among them, the rulers of Algeria, Cameroon, Chad, Djibouti, Uganda and Zimbabwe – have amended their national constitutions to allow them to extend their time in office. The men who lead those six countries have been in power collectively for just shy of 150 years. The latest attempt to prolong power came from Burkina Faso’s leader of 27 years, Blaise Compaore. His recent attempts to extend his rule through constitutional amendment were met with fierce resistance in the capital.
The U.S. will consider arming tribes in Iraq’s al-Anbar province with the precondition that the move is approved by the Iraqi government, Anadolu Agency reoprted reffering to the statement by the chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff. Gen. Martin Dempsey said Iraqi security forces in the province are in defensive positions and would be unlikely be able to respond to a request for assistance from the Albu Nimr tribe, stranded by IS.
The head of Burkina Faso’s armed forces has announced the dissolution of the national assembly and the creation of a national transitional government to last a maximum of 12 months. “A transitional body will be put in place in consultation with all parties,” General Honore Traore told a news conference after a day of violent protests in the capital. He did not say who would lead the transitional body. Earlier, President Blaise Compaore declared a state of emergency in Burkina Faso following the wave of violence.
Protesters angry at plans to allow Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaore to extend his 27-year-rule have set fire to parliament. Correspondents say the city hall and ruling party headquarters are also in flames in the capital, Ouagadougou. A huge crowd is surging towards the presidential palace and the main airport has been shut. MPs have suspended a vote on changing the constitution to allow Mr Compaore to stand for re-election next year.
More than 50 years after granting its colonial empire independence, it seems Paris cannot keep its nose out of Africa. French military engagement there is much more wide-ranging than just battling Islamist insurgents in Mali. French forces are active in at least 10 African countries. Along with the 2,000 troops France has sent to help restore order in the chaotic Central African Republic, more than 5,500 are tasked with fighting armed terrorist groups, intelligence gathering, training the local military and providing rapid reaction forces.
“Currently, the prospect of increased competition is preserved, and it occurs on the background of high geopolitical risks that make the TAPI project practically impossible,” he said. The expert also reminded that a significant part of the gas pipeline will pass through unstable regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan, cross the border between India and Pakistan. This will create serious problems that will make it impossible to rely on the successful implementation of the project, said Nuriyev.
Behlul Ozkan, a political scientist at Istanbul’s Marmara University, says the Erdogan government has supported Islamist movements in the Middle East to establish a sphere of influence and play a leadership role. “They are obsessed with destroying the Assad regime. They see IS as an opportunity for Turkey since it is fighting its enemies on three fronts: against Baghdad’s Shiite-dominated leadership, against Assad, and the PYD, which is an affiliate of the PKK.”
Stone throwing youths clashed with security forces in Burkina Faso Tuesday before tens of thousands took to the streets in a mass demonstration against a move to let the country’s long- erving president extend his rule beyond 30 years. The pre dawn violence kicked off a day of action called by the opposition against what they say is a constitutional coup by supporters of President Blaise Compaore. Gendarmes in the capital Ouagadougou charged to disperse several dozen youths barricading the country’s main highway.
More Swedes are now in favour of their country joining Nato than are against the idea, according to a new survey by pollsters Novus. 37 percent of Swedes questioned said they supported joining Nato compared with 36 percent who were against the idea. It is the first time a survey has suggested that a larger proportion of Swedes back joining Nato as opposed to keeping out of the organisation. In May 2014, just 28 percent of Swedes polled wanted to join Nato, compared with 56 percent of people who rejected the idea of signing up.
France expressed full support to Georgia’s aspiration to join NATO, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said, according to Georgian Defense Ministry. He made the remarks during a meeting with Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Alasania in Paris. The sides discussed the strengthening of cooperation between France and Georgia in the military sphere. The ministers also focused on the prospects for Georgia’s accession to NATO and the results of the alliance’s summit in Wales.
War-weary Ukrainians vote on Sunday for a powerful new parliament in which a likely alliance of pro-Western and nationalist forces will confirm the ex-Soviet country’s historic but bloody break from Russia’s domain. But the trauma of the nearly bankrupt state’s loss to Russia of Crimea and the subsequent deaths of 3,700 people in six months of warfare in the east has set a grim backdrop to a vote meant to celebrate last winter’s pro-democracy street revolt.
Not only have Rio de Janeiro’s violent militia groups dramatically expanded — growing from just six communities in 2004 to 148 today — they have also made their presence felt in the lead-up to this Sunday’s election. The most well-known militia group in Rio, the “Justice League,” even managed to get its leaders — the brothers João Guimarães Filho and Natalino Jose Guimarães — elected to city council and the state legislature in 2008, respectively, although they were subsequently arrested on murder charges.
Burmese military leaders, who still hold the destiny of the nation in their hands, are opposed to any amendment to the Constitution – proposed in recent months – to deny them power of veto on changes and amendments to the Charter . This is , according to a parliamentary panel of “wise men” tasked with reviewing the country’s military-written constitution. The most controversial points, include Article 59 of the Constitution which prevents Aung San Suu Kyi, to run for the presidency of Myanmar.
Pakistan will get full-member status of SCO next year, said Sherali. S Jononov, Ambassador of Tajikistan while briefing mediamen on Thursday on the outcome of SCO Summit held on September 11 and 12 in Dushanbe. He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could not attend the Summit due to political situation at home. However, Sartaj Aziz, Advisor to Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs attended it.
Two Tunisian National Guard members have been killed in clashes with militants in Tunisia, as a shoot-out continues around a house in an outlying suburb of the capital Tunis. The first death happened early on Thursday morning, as security services clashed with “terrorists” in Wadi al-Layl in western Tunisia, Interior Ministry spokesman Mohamed Aroui told reporters on Thursday. The confrontation began after security services stormed a house which they suspected was being used to shelter militants.
A US treasury official has warned Turkish and Kurdish middlemen against trading in Islamic State (ISIS) oil by threatening to slap US sanctions on those caught dealing with the extremist group. US officials have discreetly criticised the illicit Turkish and Kurdish trade in oil from ISIS, which is also known as IS and ISIL, but comments from US Treasury Undersecretary David Cohen in Washington on Thursday, were the clearest warning so far. “Last month, ISIL was selling oil at substantially discounted prices to a variety of middlemen, including some from Turkey,” Cohen said.
Ever since Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán sat to the negotiating table with Gazprom’s CEO Alexei Miller, the number of Hungarian steps putting the Russian gas giant in an advantageous position and supporting Russian interests have oddly increased. First Hungary shut down reverse gas flow to Ukraine, then allowed Gazprom to stash its gas in local gas storage units. The latest measure is a law amendment proposal that would give Hungary the green-light to start building the South Stream pipeline.
The Turkish government got a big slap in the face last week when the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly voted to turn down its application for a Security Council seat. In effect, the international community was rejecting Turkey’s hostile policies both at home and abroad. Why did Turkey lose in 2014 more than half the 151 votes it received in its successful bid for a Security Council seat in 2008? The vigorous campaign by a large number of countries against Turkey’s membership: Armenia, Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Syria, and Saudi Arabia, among others.
Qatar is the world’s largest exporter of liquified natural gas (LNG). North Field, the biggest known conventional gas field in the world, is just off its shores. Consequently, an attack on its LNG production and export infrastructure could produce great shocks in the LNG, oil, and coal markets, and eventually could seriously damage the world economy. Qatar’s outward looking foreign policy is almost entirely based on projecting power through its oil and gas wealth
American support for Ukrainian democracy means providing military support for the country, director of the US non-profit organization National Endowment for Democracy (NED) Carl Gershman said Monday. “I think that we really need to be looking not just in providing NED democracy assistance in Ukraine, they need to be able to deter a foreign aggression,” Gershman said. “We have to be able to help them, and if we don’t, we’re not helping democracy,” he added.
Tensions flared Sunday between Algeria and Morocco after Rabat accused an Algerian soldier of firing on Moroccan civilians across their shared border and seriously wounding one of them. Algeria charged on Sunday that Rabat was twisting the facts and summoned its envoy to express its “exasperation” a day after Morocco had summoned the Algerian ambassador to “vigorously protest” against the shooting.
Following a decade of “near-absence” in the Middle East, Russia is once again asserting itself as it looks to sell arms to former Soviet-era clients while breaking into the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) market. “Today, the Russian goal in the Middle East is to regain the influence that the USSR once had. While the USA is having uneasy relations with MENA [Middle East and North Africa] countries, Russia is making attempts to capitalize on this fact and fill the vacuum left when the United States leaves,” he said.
Assuring cooperation in all avenues while highlighting three key threats, terrorism, extremism and narcotics, the Chinese envoy emphasized: “China is also ready to extend cooperation in this regard to Afghanistan and Pakistan.” China was the biggest neighbour to both Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ambassador Weidong said. “China is devoted for the early settlement of Afghan issue. We have taken an active part.” He also talked about building Peshawar-Jalalabad and Chaman-Qandhar railways lines to bring both countries further closer.
Transnational organized crime likes opportunities and little resistance. Bolivia currently provides both and finds itself at the heart of a new criminal dynamic that threatens national and citizen security in this landlocked Andean nation. Basuco is like crack cocaine, a highly addictive form of the drug which is smoked. It is cheaper to produce than cocaine and has short-lived but intense highs, prompting addicts to engage in repeated and prolonged use, which ends up permanently damaging the user’s health.
Turkey decides who to arm within its own territories, Turkish Minister for EU Affairs Volkan Bozkır said in Brussels where he announced Turkey’s new EU strategy. His remarks came after Germany, on Thursday, said they can send arms to the outlawed PKK that is fighting the ISIS in Kobani. Turkey opposes Germany to arm the PKK to fight ISIS in the Syrian town of Kobani at the Turkish-Syria border. Bozkır said that both the PKK and ISIS were terrorist groups adding that the PKK was also on the terror lists of the U.S., NATO and Turkey.
Turkish Hurriyet Daily News reports that Turkish Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Volkan Bozkύr said during a visit to Berlin that if Turkey becomes a member of the European Union, the EU would be able to establish an army of 60,000 soldiers.“EU is in a superpower position but it has been unable to build its army, ” he said. “The EU is always in the “soft power” stance because it cannot establish a European army consisting of 60,000 soldiers.”
China enjoys a unique economic relationship with North Korea. Because North Korea is under heavy sanction, both bilateral and multilateral, China captures monopoly/monopsony rents as the only serious trading partner for the DPRK. That is, Chinese firms operating in North Korea, trading with it, banking with it, and so on, can demand cut-rate prices for North Korean goods because Pyongyang has few other buyers of its products, and charge high prices for its own goods.
In the midst of the war against ISIS now taking place in both Iraq and Syria, a possible shifting of alliances that could fundamentally alter the balance of power in the region is taking place, and no one seems to have noticed. Specifically, the burgeoning relationship between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of Northern Iraq has the potential to remake the political landscape of the Middle East. Naturally, such a development is part of a broader geopolitical gambit by Iran.
On Oct. 9, we said the outlook for the world’s petrocrats looked bad. It just got worse: Saudi Arabia has been hoping that producers of American shale oil will be forced to begin cutting back given the plunge of oil prices, but the International Energy Agency (IEA) said today that prices can fall a good deal more. A combination of factors is driving down prices: Demand from the world’s biggest oil consumer—China—is soft; according to the IEA. Chinese crude oil imports plummeted by 63% over the last five months
Hundreds of students and teachers smashed windows and set fires inside a state capital building in southern Mexico on Monday, as fury erupted over the disappearance of 43 young people believed abducted by local police linked to a drug cartel. The protesters called for the 43 students from a rural teachers’ college in Guerrero state, missing since Sept. 26, to be returned alive, even though fears have grown that 10 newly discovered mass graves could contain their bodies.
Greeks and Albanians are the oldest nations in Europe. But in modern history, these two neighbours have more problems than good neighbourly relations and mark a unique case of seven decades of ‘war’ between two Nato members. Greece mapped the Albanian territorial waters as two of 20 Greek energy zones. The Albanian territorial waters hold four billion barrels of oil and 1.5 billion cubic metres of gas reserves. These could create 20 billion euros revenue over the next 20 years.
On September 23, the drill ship SAIPEM 10000 built in South Korea at the cost of $250 million and flying the flag of the Bahamas arrived in the EEZ of Cyprus to begin exploring for gas under a license awarded to an Italian-South Korean consortium, ENI-KOGAS. The Turkish authorities declared that the drill ship violated Turkey’s area of maritime jurisdiction and sent the Corvette Bafra to monitor operations. The Cyprus foreign minister, Ioannis Kasoulides, said that exploration would continue despite Turkey’s “potential harassment.”
NATO must force Turkey to stop its undeclared support of the Islamic State (ISIS) and shift its policy toward the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the deputy speaker of the German parliament said. Claudia Roth said in an interview with Rudaw that Turkish President’s government is pursuing a “murky” policy in Syria because it wants the Kurds weakened and their fighters “annihilated.” “What we have learned is that Mr Erdogan wouldn’t mind if Kurds were weakened and then annihilated,” said Roth, deputy speaker of the Bundestag and a Green Party MP.
Military training for students was introduced in 1955, but it was given greater emphasis after the army crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators at Tiananmen Square in 1989. Students at universities that authorities regarded as hotbeds of counterrevolutionary protest. Training became compulsory for all high school and university students in 2001. But Chinese society and social values have radically changed since then, as reflected in the pushback from students and parents.
One faction, centered around Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, is concerned about Russia’s increasing alienation from the global financial system, the officials say. The other group—which includes Putin’s chief of staff, Sergei Ivanov, veterans of the security services, and heads of state companies such as Igor Sechin of oil giant Rosneft favors greater state control over the economy. “The long-running conflict between rival pro-Putin camps has elevated to war,” says Stanislav Belkovsky, a Kremlin adviser.
DGSE (General Directorate for External Security), French external intelligence service, is currently negotiating with Tunisia installing a listening station in the south of the country. Objective:. Better monitor the Sahel, where the jihadist threat is high According to the French daily, discussions stalled over an important point: the great French ears refuse to share data collected by this new technology base with their Tunisian counterparts, as ceux- will require before giving the green light.
Syrian rebels have seized a joint Russian-Syrian spy base which was used to gather intelligence on the movements of rebel groups and Israel. Located in southern Syria close to the Israel border, the base on the Tel Al Hara mountain known as ‘Centre C’ by Russian intelligence was taken over by the Free Syrian Army – the largely moderate, Western-backed rebel group. The capture of the base, which was abandoned prior to the rebels’ arrival, came after weeks of fierce fighting involving Syrian government troops as well as Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch.
From lockdowns to an absent dictator, seven reasons North Korea could be going through a regime change
Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, has been reportedly locked down since Sept. 27. This lockdown is a general travel ban preventing anyone from entering or leaving the capital, although it also applies to citizens of the city. In a coup scenario, the lockdown could either be an attempt to prevent possible defectors or coup plotters from fleeing the city after an unsuccessful attempt, or it could be a move by the putschists to impose order after successfully seizing control.
The focus of international politics often tends to revolve around energy security within the context of a global scramble for resources to keep individual countries’ economic growth engines humming. In view of the possibilities of the Arctic as a future abundant natural resources supply base for various pivotal countries, especially in Asia, non-Arctic states such as South Korea, Japan, and China join actual Arctic nations in taking a more active part in contemplating Arctic development and theregion’s future.
Countries that share the Nile waters on Monday warned that the region could go to war unless a new treaty on the use of the Nile waters is drawn up. Nile Basin countries have increased pressure on Egypt to get back to the negotiating table for discussions on how the waters of the world’s longest river can be used. About 25 dams are either under construction or have been planned by riparian states along the Nile.
A sudden slump in the price of crude has exposed deep divisions within OPEC ahead of its final scheduled meeting of the year next month to decide on how much oil to pump. Some members, led by Iran, have called for immediate action to stem the drop in oil prices, while the Arab sheikhdoms of the Gulf have so far argued that it could be another three months before it becomes clear whether the group should cut production. Whatever they decide, oil remains the lifeblood of the global economic system due to its direct impact on inflation and input prices.
Nine Bahrainis have been jailed for life and stripped of their nationality for smuggling arms to be used in “terrorist acts”, the Gulf kingdom’s prosecutor general announced on Monday. A Manama court also found all nine guilty of having contacted an agent of an unnamed foreign country “to carry out acts hostile to Bahrain”, he said in a statement. The case dates back to February 2013 when authorities in the country announced they had dismantled a “terrorist cell” with links to Iran.
The Bundeswehr is preparing for a mission to monitor the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine. Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen advised the Stewards of the Bundestag about the planned German involvement in a mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). “Our common goal is that the situation stabilized in eastern Ukraine and in a peace process ends,” she said. However, a final decision on the application shall be made after completion of talks with the OSCE and France.
Washington is releasing some US$26 million to Yemen in military aid and boosting funds to armies in five other nations, waiving sanctions imposed for recruiting child soldiers. U.S. President Barack Obama fully waived sanctions and lifted bans on international military, education and training assistance to Yemen, Rwanda and Somalia applied under the Child Soldier Prevention Act, said deputy assistant secretary Michael Kozak. Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan were also given partial waivers for specific military purposes.
The UAE has been waging its propaganda war on multiple levels. In July, the UAE backed the establishment of the Muslim Council of Elders (MCE) in a bid to counter Sheikh Qaradawi’s International Union of Muslim Scholars as well as Qatar’s support for political change in the Middle East and North Africa as long as it does not include the Gulf. The MCE promotes a Sunni Muslim tradition of obedience to the ruler rather than activist elements of the Salafis who propagate a return to 7th century life as it was at the time of the Prophet Mohammed and his immediate successors.
Russia appeared to expand its retaliation against Western sanctions on Thursday by cutting in half its natural gas flows to European Union member state Slovakia. Prime Minister Robert Fico told a news conference in Bratislava his country had been caught up in a “political war where gas is being used as a weapon.” After an emergency government session, Fico said the national gas company SSP had concluded a five year deal with Germany’s E.on to receive up to two million cubic meters of gas per day via Austria to compensate for the drop in Russian supplies.
A few hours before the UK’s first air strikes on Islamic State targets in Iraq, the home secretary, Theresa May, warned the Tory party conference that IS could become the “world’s first truly terrorist state”. If you look back at recent conflicts, and those in the Middle East in particular, the same arguments are made. There is essentially a five-point plan that can be used to justify foreign intervention of most kinds. If you are to claim the moral high ground, the first thing to do is show that your adversary is despotic and deranged.
“The Yemeni situation is so complex that I’m not sure who the friends are who we could work with. Yemen’s other main political players include a southern separatist movement, which Riyadh distrusts, and the Islah party, which as an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood is regarded as anathema by Saudi rulers. That might mean Riyadh has little option but to accept the Houthi ascendancy and work with the group. But the dearth of options has led some Saudis to regard the relative stability of his reign almost with nostalgia.
Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced Monday that he plans to ask the country’s Constitutional Court to ban a new law that would allow the semi-autonomous Catalonia region to vote on its independence. Rajoy said the new Catalan law is “anti-democratic” and that the vote is “not compatible with the Spanish constitution.” His statement comes after Catalonia’s President Artur Mas signed a decree on Saturday that called for a referendum on independence, which would be held on Nov. 9.
Authorities in Hong Kong, at least for the moment, have lost control of spiraling protests in the city. Although the government said Monday it had pulled back riot police, Chinese state media reported that Beijing is prepared to send the People’s Armed Police, essentially a branch of the military, to Hong Kong to restore order, and some observers say martial law could soon be imposed. Others worry that police might resort to deadly force against protesters. The deteriorating situation must make the Communist Party in China nervous.
New Democracy MP Adonis Georgiadis recently announced that, should the current coalition government fall and SYRIZA rise to power, he will immediately withdraw all his money from the bank. At any other time, a statement of that sort would sound merely colorful. But given the fragile, fragmented nature of Greece’s banking system, Georgiadis’s words border on the incendiary. His threat also sounds uncannily similar to those old slogans the Greek right used to feed to their electorate: “If the Communists take power, they will take your homes.”
Senior U.S. officials with knowledge of the initiative said Washington wants to support Vietnam by strengthening its ability to monitor and defend its coastline, and said unarmed P-3 surveillance planes could be one of the first sales. Such aircraft would also allow Vietnam to keep track of China’s increasingly assertive activities in the South China Sea, a potential flash point because of interlocking claims from many countries to its islands and reefs. Two senior Obama administration officials said discussions on easing the embargo are taking place in Washington and could result in a decision later this year.
Bangladesh has seen a huge leap in gold smuggling to neighboring India, the customs intelligence chief said. Mainul Hossain Khan said his team was catching gold smugglers red-handed every day at the country’s two international airports, with bullion brought in mainly from the Middle East and believed destined for India. They had seized 623 kilograms of gold since July 2013, up from just 15 kilograms over the whole of the previous five years, he said. “Gold seizures in the airports have become a daily affair,” Khan told AFP, saying that only that day his team had found 27 gold bars hidden in a microwave oven.
Despite Sunday’s peace agreement in Yemen, the Houthi group still refuses to withdraw from sites they had previously controlled. Militants affiliated to the Houthis have stormed the home of activist and Nobel Peace prize winner Tawakkol Karman, as well as two homes owned by an advisor to the Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi in the capital Sanaa. Eyewitnesses confirmed that the militants looted the contents of the homes. Houthis broke into the headquarters of the Suhail satellite channel in Sanaa, owned by tribal leader Hameed Al-Ahmar.
Islamic fighters led by ISIL have established an oil trading network within Syria which includes other opposition groups and the Assad regime, Turkish Anadolu Agency reports today quoting experts on Syria as saying. Having taken major oil fields in the north of Syria, ISIL is rumored to have created a local market in which they produce oil and sell it within the country to other opposition-held areas, as well as Assad regime, either directly or indirectly. ISIL militants have taken the Raqqa, Dair az Zor and al Omar oil fields in the north of Syria since last November.
Despite cold political climate, the U.S. and Russia cooperated on a secret September voyage with Highly-enriched uranium from Poland to Murmansk. Norwegian radiation authorities not informed before the vessel sailed into its economical zone. Head of Vardø Vessel Traffic Service, Ståle Sveinungsen, confirms to BarentsObserver that the vessel “Mikhail Dudin” was carrying a load of highly radioactive material when it sailed along the coast of Norway two weeks ago. Last position of the vessel, was just outside Atomflot in the Kola Bay.
One year since taking office, Iran President Hassan Rouhani and his government are confronted with an extremely unstable geopolitical situation across the Middle East. The military successes of the Islamist radical group ISIS took Iran by surprise. The declaration of a “caliphate” in northern Iraq and eastern Syria, territories mostly occupied by Sunnis, was more bad news. With the threat from this terrorist Sunni organization, very much anti-Shia, Tehran is faced with both security risks within its borders and the fate of Iraq.
Russia is making plans to ensure state control over the country’s internet traffic in a national emergency, Russian media report. War or an Arab Spring-style uprising would class as such an emergency.When asked about the special meeting a Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said US and European actions recently “have been marked by a fair degree of unpredictability, and we have to be ready for anything”. The Russian authorities are also considering bundling the country’s internet connections into big nodes which can be monitored more easily.
The fact that the occupation of the Taiwan legislature by student activists earlier this spring was woefully under-reported. Primarily, the world missed an opportunity to see the changes in social and political identities sweeping across the island nation. These generational changes that are taking place in Taiwan, along with external factors such as China’s treatment of Hong Kong and its increasing bellicosity in its littoral areas, are going to reshape local politics, there is going to be a powerful new impetus for independence in Taiwan.
Yemeni government officials and Shiite rebels signed a peace agreement following days of violence that left more than 140 people dead and sent thousands fleeing their homes, state media said, although major rebel advances earlier in the day deepened a sense of uncertainty in the country. The agreement calls for an immediate cease-fire and the formation of a technocratic government within a month after consultations with all political parties, a U.N. envoy said later at a joint news conference with President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in the capital, Sanaa.
The SCO’s boosters, however, insist it is not an alliance, like NATO, but a “partnership”, with no adversary in mind. That is not entirely true. It has always been explicitly directed against three enemies, even if they are only abstract nouns: the “three evil forces” of terrorism, separatism and extremism. China, in Xinjiang; Russia, in Chechnya; the Central Asian members, in the Ferghana Valley and on their borders with Afghanistan. All SCO members face a threat from Islamist extremism.
Baluch separatist leaders today called on Pakistan to follow in Britain’s footsteps by holding a referendum similar toScotland’s on granting independence to the insurgency-wracked province. The Baluch have been struggling against the excesses and tyranny of Punjab-dominated establishment of Pakistan for decades. Resource-rich Baluchistan is the largest of Pakistan’s four provinces, but its roughly seven million inhabitants have long complained they do not receive a fair share of its gas and mineral wealth.
Libya’s struggling elected government and representatives of 15 neighbouring nations today unanimously rejected the idea of military intervention as a way to restore stability in the oil-rich nation, which some say is on the brink of civil war. Meeting in Madrid, officials from countries surrounding Libya and to its north across the Mediterranean concluded “there is no military solution to the current crisis.” But Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo warned that the status quo puts Libya in a position where it could slide into a Syria-style civil war.
The Fidesz government in European Union member Hungary again falls under international scrutiny with a series of crackdowns against civic organisations funded by non-EU Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein. Last week, police raided the headquarters of the Ökotárs Foundation distributing grants for projects in less-developed economies. Budapest accuses the foundation of using funds illegally, and of being ‘problematic because of political ties with the left’. The crackdowns sharpen concern that core democratic values are under threat in Hungary.
Russia and Egypt have reached a preliminary deal for Cairo to buy arms worth $3.5 billion from Moscow, Interfax news agency quoted the head of a Russian state arms agency as saying on Wednesday. Speaking during an arms trade exhibition in South Africa, the head of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, Alexander Fomin, did not give further details. Russia, the world’s second-largest arms exporter, has sought to boost its military ties with Egypt after relations between Cairo and its long-standing ally Washington soured.
Turkey would welcome exiled leaders of Egypt’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood who have come under pressure to leave Qatar, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said. A Brotherhood official said on Saturday that several members of the group were relocating after Qatar came under enormous pressure from other Gulf Arab states to cut support for the Islamist group. “If they make any request to come to Turkey, we will review their request,” Erdogan was quoted as telling reporters on his plane back from an official trip to Qatar late on Monday.
Russian FSB officers have surrounded the Crimean Tatar Mejlis (Parliament) building, the representative-executive body of Crimean Tatars in Simferopol announced on September 16. Masked, armed FSB officers and policemen who have encircled the Mejlis building in Simferopol have as yet refused to comment on the situation, claiming that they are not authorized to comment.”They are not letting anyone in or out, they are assisted by regular police and the FSB (Federal Security Service) is carrying out searches inside,” he said from Crimea’s provincial capital Simferopol.
According to this, they are hoping that if Scots vote to break away from Britain “it would set a precedent that could boost their own chances of proclaiming a separate state.” President of the Serb entity, Serb Republic (Republika Srpska, RS) Milorad Dodik “has not hesitated to evoke the spectre of separation,” in the wake of Crimea split from Ukraine and joined Russia following a disputed referendum in March, said the agency, and quoted him as saying: “We are following what is going on in Italy (South Tyrol), in Scotland and even in Catalonia.
Retired Libyan general Khalifa Haftar on Sunday threatened to order his troops to shoot ships entering the Port of Benghazi if port officials did not heed orders to close it down. Haftar had earlier accused rival militias of getting arms supplies through the northeastern Libya port. He sent a letter to port officials, telling them that his troops would shoot any ships entering the port if it was not closed down, according to Libyan activists. He said in his letter that port officials should direct incoming ships to the eastern Port of Tobruk instead.
An Egyptian diplomatic source has cited Saudi and American pressures for a recent Qatari move to expel seven Muslim Brotherhood figures from the country. “Saudi and U.S. pressures were behind the Qatari decision,” the high-level source told Anadolu Agency. The source said that diplomats from Saudi Arabia and some Gulf states had held talks with their Qatari counterparts to urge them to take “serious” stances against some Brotherhood leaders. MB sources said that Qatar has asked seven group leaders to leave the country within one week.
Malaysia’s reported invitation to the United States to fly spy planes out of East Malaysia on the southern rim of the South China Sea seems likely to intensify China’s anger at US surveillance of the strategic waterway and its disputed islands, analysts say. The United States’ chief of naval operations, Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert, told a forum in Washington last week that the recent offer by Malaysia for P-8 Poseidon aircraft to fly out of the country’s most eastern area would give the United States greater proximity to the South China Sea.
Currently, the population of the SCO member states nears one and a half billion people and as a result of expansion of the organization, this figure will almost double. The Chinese economy alone ranks second in the world for the GDP volume after the U.S. The total size of the armies of SCO members even exceeds the size of the NATO member states’ armies. So, it will be impossible to ignore such a large scale organization. The message of the summit clearly reflected the organization’s intention to increase its role and influence in the international arena.
The UK economy could be on the verge of a crisis if Scotland votes for independence in a referendum on September 18, with a London-based consultancy already reporting that almost £17 billion has been pulled out Britain in the last month. Described as the worst economic crisis to hit the country since the credit crunch of 2008, the information released by CrossBorder Capital comes after major banks, oil companies and supermarkets began voicing concern about Scottish secession amid uncertainty over the currency and a central bank.
Water management in Central Asia has long been a controversial issue. It is a region where major rivers cross international borders and water and energy production are closely intertwined. In 2012, a dispute over water resources risked provoking military conflict among the former Soviet republics, due to plans by Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to dam rivers for hydropower projects. Previous water sharing agreements, largely modeled on the Soviet-era arrangements, are not working. Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have different priorities for water.
Around 1.8 million Catalans took to the streets of Barcelona on Thursday (12 September) calling for the right to vote on independence. The demonstration marks the beginning of a critical period in Barcelona-Madrid relations. Dressed in red and yellow – the national colours – people shouted “in-inde-indepedencia!” and “volem votar!” (we want to vote) while waving the Catalan independence flag. Almost a quarter of the 7.5 million Catalans celebrated Catalan National Day – La Diada – in the streets of Barcelona, according to the local police forces.