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Spain’s prime minister will ask for a court ban on Catalonia’s independence vote

Spain's prime minister will ask for a court ban on Catalonia's independence vote

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.

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Hong Kong Protesters Fear Martial Law Is Coming

Hong Kong Protesters Fear Martial Law Is Coming

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.

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Is Samaras Resorting to ‘Bank Run’ Threats?

Is Samaras Resorting to ‘Bank Run’ Threats

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.”

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Courting Vietnam, US Prepares to Ease Arms Embargo

Courting Vietnam, US Prepares to Ease Arms Embargo

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.

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Bangladesh becoming gold smuggling hub for Mideast gold: officials

Bangladesh becoming gold smuggling hub for Mideast gold

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.

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Unrest continues in Yemen day after the peace agreement

Unrest continues in Yemen day after the peace agreement

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.

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ISIL has formed oil trading network in Syria

ISIL has formed oil trading network in Syria

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.

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Secret nuclear cargo along coast of Norway

Secret nuclear cargo along coast of Norway

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.

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A Shifting Middle East Chessboard, With Iran At The Center

A Shifting Middle East Chessboard, With Iran At The Center

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.

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Russia plans Internet kill-switch in case of war or revolt

Russia plans state controls in case of internet crisis

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.

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The Coming Taiwan Independence Surge

The Coming Taiwan Independence Surge

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.

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Yemen government signs peace deal with Shiites

Yemen: Deal to end political crisis signed

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.

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China is trying to build a new world order, starting in Asia

China is trying to build a new world order, starting in Asia

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.

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Pakistan’s Baluchistan separatists demand Scotland-style vote

Pakistan's Baluchistan separatists demand Scotland-style vote

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.

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Libya, neighbour nations snub military intervention

Libya, neighbour nations snub military intervention

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.

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Hungarian police swoop on foreign NGOs

Hungarian police swoop on foreign NGOs

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.

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Russia, Egypt seal preliminary arms deal worth $3.5 billion

Russia's President Putin and his Egyptian counterpart Sisi attend a welcoming ceremony onboard guided missile cruiser Moskva at Sochi

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.

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Exiled Muslim Brotherhood leaders would be welcome in Turkey: Erdogan

Exiled Muslim Brotherhood leaders would be welcome in Turkey: Erdogan

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.

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Russian FSB surrounds Crimean Tatar parliament

Russian FSB surrounds Crimean Tatar parliament

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.

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Serbs in Bosnia “closely watching” Scottish referendum

Serbs in Bosnia closely watching Scottish referendum

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.

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Haftar orders closure of Benghazi port, threatens to shell ships entering Libya

Haftar orders closure of Benghazi port, threatens to shell ships entering Libya

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.

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Saudi, US pressures behind Qatari move on Muslim Brotherhood

Saudi, US pressures behind Qatari move on Brotherhood

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.

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Malaysia Risks China’s Wrath By Inviting US Spy Flights

Malaysia’s offer to host US spy planes likely to upset China

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.

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Shanghai Cooperation Organization – new regional and global power

Shanghai Cooperation Organization - new regional and global power

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.

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Scottish independence could leave UK economy in crisis

Scottish independence could leave UK economy in crisis

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.

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Central Asia’s intensifying water dispute

Central Asia's intensifying water dispute

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.

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Catalans turn out en masse to ask for independence vote

Catalans turn out en masse to ask for independence vote

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.

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China, Russia to build one of the largest seaports in northeastern Asia

China, Russia to build one of the largest seaports in northeastern Asia

China and Russia will build one of the largest ports in northeast Asia on Russia’s Sea of Japan coast, reports said, in a further sign of the powerhouses’ growing alliance. The seaport is expected to be able to handle about 60 million tonnes of cargo a year. That’s comparable to Britain’s busiest port Immingham or Le Havre in France, according to European Commission statistics. The facility will be located in far eastern Russia, just 18km from the Chinese border. The region is also close to North Korea.

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China Is Mass-Producing Islands To Extend Its Strategic Borders

China Is Mass-Producing Islands To Extend Its Strategic Borders

In 1823, US President James Monroe outlined what was later to become known as the “Monroe Doctrine.” It identified the Western hemisphere as America’s backyard, and nowhere more so than the Caribbean Sea. Today China is doing something very similar in the East and South China seas. Everything inside the so-called “first island chain”— which stretches north in a curving line from the coast of Borneo, past Taiwan to southern Japan— is, in Beijing’s opinion, China’s backyard.

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CIA ‘cooperating’ with Turkey to extradite Gulen

fethullah gülen

Turkish Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdag has confirmed that the CIA is cooperationg with Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MIT) to extradite the Pennsylvania-based Turkish congregation leader Fethullah Gulen. Gulen, who has been living in self-imposed exile in the U.S. since leaving Turkey in 1999 with a fake passport, faces questions over his alleged role in leading a ‘parallel state’ to undermine the Turkish government via infiltrators in the judiciary and police force.

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Reintervention: Algeria considering US, France request to ‘facilitate’ Libya military strikes

Algeria considering US, France request to 'facilitate' Libya military strikes

Algeria is reportedly studying requests by the US and France to “facilitate” military operations against militant groups in neighbouring Libya. The US and France have both asked Algeria to open its airspace to surveillance planes and other military planes transferring commando units for a reconnaissance mission in parts of Libya,” the source, requesting anonymity, told Anadolu Agency. He added that the US and France have made the same request of “other states near Libya.”

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SCO Seeks Transport Hub in Mongolia, Eyes to Boost Market in India

SCO Seeks Transport Hub in Mongolia, Eyes to Boost Market in India

The Shanghai Group is expected to consider Mongolia as the next member of the organization, which is set to become a transport hub, the director of the Russia department of the SCO International Relations Institute said Wednesday. “We hope that the SCO will consider the issue of accepting new member states, including Mongolia. New members will receive aid to develop security,” Feng Noyzun said at the International Information Agency Rossiya Segodnya press conference.

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CIA stepping up cooperation with Jordan’s King Abdullah in the face of internal extremism threats

Jordan King Abdullah II readies to speak

Worried that Jordan could be vulnerable to the Islamic State militant group, the U.S. is stepping up its intelligence cooperation with one of its most stalwart Middle East allies. The CIA has approached a retired former agency official with close ties to King Abdullah II about setting up a special task force to help Jordan deal with the threat from the Islamic State group, according to two former agency officials who would not be quoted by name discussing a secret mission.

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Spain prepares for an autumn of discontent by buying €1bn of riot gear

Spain prepares for an autumn of discontent by buying €1bn of riot gear

The Spanish government is readying itself for an autumn of discontent, spending nearly €1bn on riot gear for police units as disparate protest groups prepare a string of demonstrations. Since June, the interior ministry has tendered four contracts to purchase riot equipment ranging from shields to stab vests. The ministry also finalised its purchase of a new truck-mounted water cannon, an anti-riot measure used during Spain’s dictatorship and the transition to democracy but little seen in recent years.

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The US spy planes frequent China’s coastline

The US spy planes frequent China's coastline

The EP-3 Aires is the electronic intelligence-gathering version of the P-3 Orion. It uses electronic snooping devices to ‘fingerprint’ foreign vessels, enabling intelligence staff to keep track of naval and commercial ship movements. While prowling the oceans, the EP-3 can monitor electronic communications over a large area; it is also capable of intercepting radar and radio signals from as far as 740 kilometers away. The US spying activities covered the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea and the South China Sea.

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Nagorno-Karabakh: A mountainous conflict

Nagorno-Karabakh

Nagorno-Karabakh is run by ethnic Armenians but is legally part of Azerbaijan. Secession in 1988 led to a war that killed some 30,000 people. A shaky ceasefire ensued in 1994, with Azerbaijan losing 14% of its territory. Exchanges of fire along the front have long been common, but the clashes this year have been the worst since 1994. Azerbaijan feels vulnerable. Russia provides a security guarantee for Armenia, where it has a military base and 4,000-5,000 troops.

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Egyptian army forced families from homes to make way for new canal

Egyptians forced from homes to make way for new canal

Two entire villages along Egypt’s Suez canal have been emptied to make way for a parallel canal that has been planned, leaving around 1,500 homes destroyed and a further 3,500 under threat. Authorities are forcing villagers in Abtal and Qantara from their homes without giving them any compensation, despite promises that the ‘New Suez Canal’ project will bring prosperity to the region. 25-year-old farmer Ibrahim el-Sayed told The Guardian that the army evicted him and his three small children from their home. They are now sheltering in a makeshift hut.

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Fighting breaks out between Pa-O and Shan armies

Fighting breaks out between Pa-O and Shan armies

An armed clash erupted on Wednesday morning in southern Shan State between troops of the Shan State Army-South (SSA-S) and the Pa-O National Liberation Army (PNLA). According to Khun Myint Tun, the chairman of the PNLA’s political wing, the Pa-O National Liberation Organization, the fighting broke out at dawn around the village of NongTon Ki in Mauk Mae Township. “Fighting broke out at around 6am and has continued all morning,” he told DVB at 10:30am.

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Independent Scotland could not join EU without central bank, expert says

Independent Scotland could not join EU without central bank, expert says

The former EU commissioner for monetary union said it would not be possible for an independent Scotland to join the EU if it used the pound without a formal currency deal or its own central bank. Olli Rehn, who stood down in July as the European commissioner for monetary union and the euro, wrote to Danny Alexander, the chief secretary of the Treasury, this week to say having a central bank was an essential requirement of EU membership. With the vote due in just over two weeks, it showed support for independence at 47%.

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‘Bangladesh model coup in the works in Pakistan’

'Bangladesh model coup in the works in Pakistan'

Current political crisis in Pakistan is a scripted one that would result in a ‘Bangladesh model’ coup, according to a report published by Pakistani newspaper Dawn. “The ‘Bangladesh Model’, a soft coup, is based on the idea that the political system must be cleansed of corrupt elements for the welfare of the public, which perhaps has been left incapacitated to elect honest leaders,” the report read. According to the Dawn report the model works on the premise that the military and judiciary must intervene to help differentiate the ‘right’ from the ‘wrong’ before it is too late.

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EU must develop ‘best supporting actor’ role in war zones

EU must develop ‘best supporting actor’ role in war zones

The new European Commission needs to shift its focus from humanitarian aid in conflict zones to conflict prevention and intervene more as a ‘best supporting actor to the UN’, says a paper by the European Think Tanks Group published today. Its theme is that “the new EU leadership must step up and realise that to ensure stability and economic growth at home, global issues must be tackled head on. Europe will prosper if the world is prospering,” according to Kevin Watkins, ODI’s executive director.

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Building NATO’s “Weimar Triangle”

Building NATO’s “Weimar Triangle”

The upcoming NATO summit offers an opportunity to demonstrate Europe’s commitment to collective defense, to a stronger European defense posture, and to the transatlantic alliance. The countries of the so-called Weimar Triangle – France, Germany, and Poland – are well suited to lead such an effort. The three big countries in the middle of Europe should thus staff a regional headquarters, which would serve as the basis for defense planning and exercises and support the rotating US troops.

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Phantom Voters in Bulgaria ‘Surpass 1.2 M’

Phantom Voters in Bulgaria 'Surpass 1.2 M'

About 1 200 000 “phantom voters” can be found in Bulgarian elections lists, Mihail Konstantinov, formerly a high-profile official in charge of elections told the Bulgarian National Television that phantom voters carried a high risk of abuses. He also argued their presence within the lists undermine public trusts, and this “is something far more dangerous”. Konstantinov called for the introduction of an “active registration” method that in his view would properly address the issue.

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Mongolia’s ‘rebalance’ towards Russia and China

Mongolia's 'rebalance' towards Russia and China

Seeking to transform bilateral ties into a comprehensive strategic partnership, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to pay a state visit to Mongolia on September 3. Topping his agenda will be trade and infrastructure. Like neighboring China, Russia is seeking to benefit from Mongolia’s globally significant mineral resources, and it is likely to back this by extending financial support for the development of Mongolia’s infrastructure which, according to analysts, is Ulan Bator’s overriding strategic domestic priority.

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Germans are taking over the control in Balkans

Germans are taking over the control in Balkans

On the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the World War I, the Balkan conference which was held in Berlin is completely a product of a perfect German strategic vision. The Balkan conference is significant in determining what the role of the Eastern Europe is, especially the Balkans and what strategic vision will give its shape. Under the Western Balkans title, while it excludes the countries under the American influence, it also pushes Turkey outside the equation which is impossible not to be taken into consideration all across the Balkans.

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Conceptualizing Chinese Continentalism

Conceptualizing Chinese Continentalism

People have used a variety of phrases to describe the emerging phenomenon of Chinese relations with Eurasia and the Middle East. The most prominent to emerge from China itself was Peking University professor Wang Jisi’s “March West” (xijin) strategy. Is Chinese Continentalism the beginning of the end of world politics based on regions developed under the U.S. postwar imperium? While this form of U.S.-imposed regionalism appears persistent in Asia Pacific, the Eurasian continent appears ripe for change and China looks to be the agent.

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China moves to suppress Hong Kong election could stir protests

China moves to limit Hong Kong election could stir protests

China moved on Wednesday to limit 2017 elections for Hong Kong’s leader to a handful of candidates loyal to Beijing, local media reported, a move likely to escalate plans by pro-democracy activists to blockade the city’s Central business district. Hong Kong, which returned to Chinese rule from British colonial administration in 1997, has been deeply polarized and hit by protests over how its next leader is chosen in 2017 – by universal suffrage, as the democrats would like, or from a list of pro-Beijing candidates.

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Egypt to train Libyan police and army forces

Egypt to train Libyan police and army forces

Egypt has decided to open its doors to train the Libyan police, army and all their subsidiary bodies, and will collaborate with neighbouring countries to collect illegal arms. Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdel Aziz , head of the Libyan Parliament Saleh Okeila, and Military head Abdel Razek Al-Nazouri announced the collaborations following a meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, reported state-owned Al-Ahram. Okeila said that Libya will remain united, while Al-Nazouri said the Libyan army is capable of “crushing extremists and terrorists”.

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Sea-based nukes: A marginal effect on stability

Sea-based nukes: A marginal effect on stability

The deployment of nuclear-armed submarines (SSBNs) is unlikely to contribute greatly to stability, but neither is it likely to create instability where none existed or to magnify existing sources of instability. Beijing is undertaking a large-scale modernisation of its military, including its nuclear force. According to Department of Defense and press sources, China is fielding the mobile DF-31A intercontinental ballistic missile and is developing the mobile DF-41 with multiple independently-targetable re-entry vehicles.

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Western sanctions push Russia, China closer; hurt dollar

Western sanctions push Russia, China closer; hurt dollar

By forcing Russia to conduct more business in the yuan and other Asian currencies, the U.S. may be speeding up the end of the petrodollar and giving China more prominence on the world stage. As the West tightens financial sanctions against Russia, Russian businesses are reducing their exposure to the dollar to minimize the damage from still tougher punishments. Many of these businesses have turned to the Hong Kong dollar as an alternative to the greenback.

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Strategic alliance with Bangladesh, India and Myanmar to exploit sea resources

Strategic alliance with India, Myanmar to exploit sea resources

C Raja Mohan, who is the head of strategic studies and distinguished fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, recently at a lecture in Dhaka had mooted the idea to form a trilateral group. On Tuesday at a roundtable on ‘blue economy’, the idea also came up from the private sector who believed Bangladesh should have a “strategic partnership alliance” with India and Myanmar to exploit sea resources. It gave hope of extracting “plenty of resources” beneath the Bay of Bengal that Bangladesh considers its “third neighbour”.

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Breakup of the GCC a greater threat to oil security than Islamic State

Fractures in Arab Gulf alliance a greater threat to oil security than Islamic State

Tensions between Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar were understood to have again come to head this weekend with an emergency meeting of foreign ministers in the Red Sea city of Jeddah. Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have accused authorities in Doha of supporting terror related groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and meddling in the internal affairs of other GCC states. The meetings could eventually lead to Qatar – the world’s biggest shipper of liquified natural gas – being ejected from the GCC.

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Romania seeks permanent Nato military presence

Romania seeks permanent Nato military presence

A permanent Nato military base on Romanian territory was a strategic objective that Romania will discuss at next week’s military bloc’s summit in Wales, Romanian prime minister Victor Ponta has said. The objective is unanimously supported by all the state institutions, Ponta pointed out. “This is one of Romania’s fundamental objectives and it is a position which has been established by all the state institutions, namely Romania’s desire to have a Nato permanent military presence on its territory,” the head of government said.

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Hungary seeks EU alliance to push closer ties with Russia

Hungary seeks EU alliance to push closer ties with Russia

Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Monday said he would seek to form a political alliance to stop the European Union pulling away from Russia over the crisis in Ukraine. “The EU gets further away from Russia every day. That’s not only bad for Hungary, but for the entire EU,” Orban told Hungarian ambassadors in Budapest. “We will have to seek the company of those EU member states who are interested in slowing and stopping this separation process,” he added, without naming any specific countries.

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Egypt, UAE behind ‘mystery’ strikes at Libya Islamists:US

Egypt, UAE behind 'mystery' strikes at Libya Islamists:US

Senior US officials on Monday said the United Arab Emirates and Egypt have ‘secretly’ launched airstrikes against Islamist militias battling over Tripoli, the New York Times reported on Monday. A number of unidentified aircraft roared over Libya’s capital as loud explosions were heard in the last few days, as the clashes between militias prompted hundreds of people to flee. Egypt has previously denied its involvement, and various warring factions in Libya tried to claim responsibility for the attacks.

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Israel turns to new arms suppliers amid US doubt

Israel turns to new arms suppliers amid US doubt

With the recent US announcement of that the Pentagon put on hold a shipment of ‘Hellfire’ missiles to Israel as a warning to Jerusalem, the country is turning to other arms and munition sources to acquire new weapons. Israel purchased hundreds of Russian-made shoulder-fire missiles in recent years, Israeli daily Haaretz reported Monday, although most weapons the army uses are produced locally. A significant portion of the IDF’s weapons is acquired with the use of American funds, totaling over $3 billion per year.

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India, Pakistan intensify cross-border firing as ties sour

India, Pakistan intensify cross-border firing as ties sour

Indian and Pakistani troops intensified firing across the border over the weekend killing at least four, an Indian official said on Sunday, straining ties between the arch rivals who recently called off top-level diplomatic talks. Last week India said its foreign secretary would not meet with her Pakistani counterpart as scheduled on Monday because of plans by Pakistan to consult separatists from the border state of Jammu and Kashmir ahead of the meeting. The cancellation dashed any hopes of near-term peace deliberations.

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Stabilization force in preparation for Libya, Morocco considered to be part of it

Stabilization force in preparation for Libya, Morocco considered to be part of it

Realizing that the country is slidng into chaos and falling in the grip of fierce religious extremists, who, some of which, were responible for the attack of its embassy and the death of its diplomats, the United States encouraged the retired General Khalifa Haftar to take on the Islamists. With the help of the airforce, he launched a battle, to regain control of the country. However, his entreprise hurriedly-designed and badly-coached turned into a miltary disaster, and the Islamists emboldened by their success took control of Tripoli and Benghazi .

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West poised to join forces with President Assad in face of Islamic State

West poised to join forces with President Assad in face of Islamic State

Islamist forces are fighting their way into western Syria from bases further east, bringing forward the prospect of US military intervention to stop their advance. If Isis, which styles itself Islamic State, threatens to take all or part of Aleppo, establishing complete dominance over the anti-government rebels, the US may be compelled to act publicly or secretly in concert with President Bashar al-Assad, whom it has been trying to displace. The US has already covertly assisted the Assad government by passing on intelligence through the BND.

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Venezuelan President Announces Mandatory Fingerprinting at Grocery Stores

People stand at the checkout line at a supermarket in Caracas

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced Wednesday that the country will introduce a mandatory fingerprinting system in supermarkets. He asserted that the plan will keep people from buying too much of any single item. The president did not say when the measure would go into effect, the Associated Press reports. The Socialist Venezuelan government has struggled with food shortages for over a year. Basic cooking items like oil and flour are scarce.

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Denmark will join the NATO missile shield

Denmark will join the NATO MISSILE defence system

Denmark must provide one or more frigates for NATO’s missile defense shield. Defense Minister Nikolai Wammen (S) emphasizes that the decision to equip Danish frigates with advanced radar equipment is taken to protect the Danes from organizations that wish us harm. Decide Nobody has nothing to do with the current conflict in Ukraine, he maintains. This despite the fact that NATO’s missile defense system will be primarily located in Eastern European cities.

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Yemen on high alert as rebels push to overthrow government

Yemen on high alert as rebels push to overthrow government

Led by heavily armed Shiite rebels, thousands of demonstrators are demanding the government step down by the end of the week. Rebel commander Abdulmalik al-Huthi said the authorities must meet protesters’ grievances by the end of the week, or additional forms of “legitimate action” would take place. According to reports, rebel militias were deploying on rooftops in parts of the capital and armed rebel convoys were entering the capital and setting up checkpoints. Military officials said forces were on standby in case of an attack.

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France urges Iran, other countries to join fight against IS

France urges Iran, other countries to join fight against IS

France’s foreign minister yesterday pressed “all countries in the region” as well as Iran to join Western nations in the fight against Islamic State fighters rampaging through Iraq and Syria. “We would like all the countries of the region to join in this action (that includes the Arab countries and Iran), but we would also like the P5 to join in with this action,” Laurent Fabius told a parliamentary committee, referring to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

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Iraq Crisis: German Aid Minister Claims Qatar Financing Islamic State Jihadists

Iraq Crisis: German Aid Minister Claims Qatar Financing Islamic State Jihadists

Germany’s development aid minister, Gerd Mueller, has accused Qatar of financing the Islamic State terror group. There are also links between Qatar’s winning the 2022 World Cup bid and the Islamic State group. The country’s rich Aspire sports academy collaborated on a series of religious lectures in Doha during Ramadan this year which included the Saudi cleric Mohammad al-Arefe. Arefe has been banned from the United Kingdom by the Home Office for appearing at a Cardiff mosque where three teens were allegedly radicalised.

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N.Korea Moves Tanks, Armored Vehicles to Chinese Border

N.Korea Moves Tanks, Armored Vehicles to Chinese Border

North Korea has moved scores of tanks and armored vehicles to an Army corps near the border with China in Ryanggang Province. The 12th Corps, which was established in 2010, is tasked with responding to movements of Chinese troops in an emergency. 80 tanks have been deployed in Ryanggang Province, where there had not been a single one before. The corps has been “turned into an attack force after it has been reinforced” with an armored infantry unit, a unit of multiple rocket launchers, and a special warfare and sharpshooter brigade.

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South Stream ‘Plan B’ opts for route through Greece and Turkey

South Stream ‘Plan B’ opts for route through Greece and Turkey

Russian business newspaper Vzglyad published an article claiming that Gazprom has a “plan B” in case Bulgaria continues to obstruct the construction of the South Stream pipeline. The article quotes Turkish energy Minister Taner Yıldız as saying that Ankara would allow South Stream to reach Turkey under the Black Sea instead of Bulgaria, as originally planned. However, Russian sources are quoted as saying that the Turkish route is not Moscow’s preferred one, as it is longer, and because of the lost possibility of reaching Serbia and Hungary.

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Egypt’s power crisis worsens as outages approach five hours per day

Mideast Egypt Energy

The electricity deficit reached approximately 6,180MW on Monday, resulting in power outages for periods exceeding five hours daily, said an official at the Ministry of Electricity. A 1900MW portion of the deficit resulted from a shortage of 8m cubic metres of gas and equivalent while another 2500MW was attributed to poor technical conditions at power stations, partially a result of failure to carry out the necessary maintenance and repair operations.

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Merkel pledges military support to Baltic states

Merkel pledges military support to Baltic states

Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania – former Soviet republics with their own Russian-speaking minorities – are increasingly anxious that the conflict in Ukraine and Russia’s annexation of Crimea could herald destabilisation in their own region by Moscow. The Baltic states have asked for an increased NATO presence to reinforce Article 5 of the alliance’s constitution, which states that an attack on one of its members is an act of aggression against all, obliging them to react.

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Baghdad Warns against Foreign Supply of Arms to ‘Certain Faction’

Baghdad Warns against Foreign Supply of Arms to 'Certain Faction'

Iraq’s armed forces command warned on Sunday against foreign planes breaching Iraq’s airspace and arming “a certain Iraqi faction,” Iraq’s armed forces that are still officially under former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, said in a public statement, “We have noticed that in recent days foreign fighter jets have breached Iraq’s airspace and delivered arms to a certain faction inside Iraq without Baghdad’s permission,” Maliki was forced by President Fuad Masum last week to step down as prime minister after almost eight years in office.

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USA to build a military airport in Kurdistan Region

U.S. recommends Iraqi Kurdistan to establish military airport

The Ministry of Peshmerga forces in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq announced that the ministry in coordination with the United States is about to start a project of establishing a military airport in Erbil (Hewler), capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. Brigadier Halkurd Hikmet said that the U.S. military team in the Region to monitor the situation in Sinjar Mount, and they provided the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) with a report recommending establishment of a military airport in Erbil in cooperation with the U.S. and the Iraqi Central Government.

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The UAE’s shadowy dealings in Serbia

Dahlan Nikolic

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan has been accused of acting as a proxy for the US and Israel in Eastern Europe while also attempting to exploit a loosely regulated Serbian arms market to distribute weapons across the Middle East. “The UAE may be using its close ties and investment strategies in Serbia to thwart its rival Turkey from establishing a firm foothold and spreading its economic and geopolitical influence in the Balkans,” the source told MEE.

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Canada’s Controversial Engagement in Honduras

Canada’s Controversial Engagement in Honduras

Canadian mining corporations have a deep-rooted interest in keeping Honduran regulatory mining laws weak. These interests were threatened, however, when left-of-center candidate Manuel Zelaya was elected in 2006. Shortly after taking office, Zelaya announced his plans to reform the mining sector by restricting foreign mining companies in Honduras, distinguishing himself as a leader of an anti-foreign mining viewpoint. In May 2009, only a month before the armed forces ousted Zelaya, the Honduran Congress drafted a new mining bill.

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Spanish public debt tops one trillion euros

Spanish public debt tops one trillion euros

Spain’s public debt has topped one trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) for the first time, despite years of government-imposed austerity. The nation’s accumulated public debt mushroomed to 1.007 trillion euros at the end of June from 996 billion euros a month earlier, the Bank of Spain said in a report. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government has struggled to contain annual deficits by raising taxes, freezing public salaries and curbing spending on services such as education and health care despite angry street protests.

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Saudi Arabia donates $100 mn for a UN counter-terrorism centre

Saudi Arabia donates $100 mn for a UN counter-terrorism centre

Saudi Arabia has donated $100 million for the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCTC) at a special event staged in the office of the UN Secretary-General at the organisation’s headquarters in New York on Wednesday. “The goal is to help provide the tools, technologies and methods to confront and eliminate the threat of terrorism,” Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, said in presenting a check to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

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Why is Turkey supporting Islamic State fighters in Iraq?

Why is Turkey supporting Islamic State fighters in Iraq

During my visit recent to Turkey, members of Turkey’s parliament and prominent personalities described connections between Turkey, Turks and militant Sunni organizations, such as the ISIS. They allege a prominent role for Turkey’s Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH), an Islamic charity with a history of assisting extremist groups. Bilal Erdogan, President-elect Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son, has ties to the IHH board, and allegedly uses his father’s political network to raise funds for the organization.

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Backchannel efforts on to defuse political tension in Pakistan

Imran Khan, Pakistani cricketer turned politician, gestures after arriving to lead the Pakistan Tehreek-e- Insaf (PTI) rally in Lahore

Bracing for Thursday’s massive rallies by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and a Canada-based cleric, the Nawaz Sharif government has launched backchannel efforts to avoid a confrontation even as it warned that Pakistan will not be allowed to “become Somalia, Iraq or Libya”. Khan has given a call for a mammoth ‘Freedom March’ on Pakistan’s Independence Day in Islamabad to protest against alleged rigging of last year elections which brought Sharif to power.

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China Restores 1,344km Copper Rail Line for Angola to Atlantic port of Lobito

China Restores 1,344km Copper Rail Line for Angola

The 1,344-km Benguela railway is the second-longest railroad built by Chinese overseas, shorter only than the 1,860-km Tanzania-Zambia Railway built in the 1970s. It will be the longest and fastest track in the southwestern African country of Angola, said Liu Feng, head of China Railway Construction’s Angola railway project. It connects Angola’s Atlantic port of Lobito to the eastern border town of Luau, and further to the rail network of southeastern Africa’s Democratic Republic of Congo.

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Blackwater: A poor example for Chinese security companies going global

Blackwater poor example for Chinese security companies going global

We could explore the huge potential of retired military officers, offering professional training and technical expertise to local security enterprises in developing and underdeveloped countries, which are often crowded with Chinese enterprises. We could also bring into play the low-cost advantage, equipping overseas Chinese enterprises with low-cost but high-quality homemade security installations. After three decades of development, China now has 3,997 security companies with over 4.5 million security guards.

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Pentagon Ordered to Better Track Threats to Taiwan

Pentagon Ordered to Better Track Threats to Taiwan

The language, incorporated into the House Armed Services Committee’s passed version of the defense bill, asks the Defense Department to better assess anti-access/area-denial threats in the Asia-Pacific region, submit a report on the cross-strait balance of forces between China and Taiwan, and better estimate China’s fast-growing Naval military power. They (China) are preparing for potential conflict in the Taiwan strait, which includes deterring or defeating third party intervention.

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France Looking at Supplying Iraqi Kurds With Arms

France Looking at Supplying Iraqi Kurds With Arms

France, in consultation with its EU partners, is looking at supplying arms to Iraq’s Kurds to fight against Islamic State jihadists, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Sunday. “One way or another, they must receive, in a sure way, equipment that will allow them to defend themselves and to counterattack,” Fabius told France 2 television from Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq. “We will look into that over the coming days but in liaison with the Europeans.”

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Poland plans new canal to by-pass Russia

Poland plans new canal to by-pass Russia

Poland plans to construct a new canal to bypass a stretch of coastline controlled by Russia, as the country tries to rid itself of dependence on its neighbour. Costing an estimated £167 million, the planned canal will link the Vistula Lagoon in the north east of Poland with the Baltic Sea. Currently, all sea traffic from the lagoon and the flourishing port of Elblag has to travel through Russian waters to get to the Baltic. The canal will cut through a narrow strip of land separating the lagoon from the sea.

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Beijing wants to hire 100k volunteers as ‘anti-terror informants’

Beijing wants to hire 100,000 volunteers as 'anti-terror informants'

Beijing’s plan to recruit up to 100,000 volunteers as “anti-terror informants” has been met with doubt by some members of the public. They fear efforts to collect information could lead to dangerous confrontations with strangers, and point to concerns about living in a community where suspicion of one’s neighbours is rife. The chief of the municipal Public Security Bureau, Fu Zhenghua, announced late last month that the capital aimed to enlist people from across society.

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Iran seeks alternative to Maliki to hold Iraq together

Iran seeks alternative to Maliki to hold Iraq together

Iran believes Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is no longer able to hold his country together and is looking for an alternative leader to combat a Sunni Islamist insurgency, senior Iranian officials said. Political deadlock since an inconclusive general election in April has paralyzed efforts to fight back against ISIS rebels who have captured swaths of northern and western Iraq and Syria and have threatened to march on Baghdad. One Iranian official, said Tehran was working with Iraqi factions to seek a replacement for Maliki.

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Japan: Immigration Bureau’s new ‘intelligence center’ to gather data on foreigners

New ‘intelligence center’ to gather data on foreigners

The Justice Ministry will establish an “intelligence center” in the Immigration Bureau to comprehensively manage information on foreign persons, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned. The new center was conceived as a measure for maintaining security in consideration of an expected rapid increase in the number of foreign travelers to Japan due to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic Games. Its aim is to prevent illegal immigration and terrorism.

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Germany’s Spy Agency Is Ready To Shake Off Its Second Tier Reputation

File picture shows the main entrance of Germany's intelligence agency Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) headquarters in Pullach

Espionage is, of course, by definition a business of false identities, and nobody is ever fully friend or foe. Friendly though relations may have been in past years, the CIA never considered the BND an equal, a fact the German official readily acknowledges. “[In the 1990s] the CIA even told us, ‘you’re not in our league’,” he explains. “When they wanted something about Central Europe, they asked us, but if we asked them about, say, Indonesia, they said, ‘what concern is that of yours?’”

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Report: Egypt and Algeria considering military operation in Libya

Report: Egypt and Algeria considering military operation in Libya

Egypt and Algeria are considering a joint military operation in Libya to prevent the rise of Islamic State (ISIS) fighters in their increasingly unstable neighbour Libya, an Algerian newspaper reported. According to Sunday’s editorial in the Algerian Al-Watan newspaper, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is “worried” about the threats from its eastern borders. It pointed out that Bouteflika is “prepared to wage a war against Jihadists in the region”.

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Crisis in Ukraine may convince NATO on regional HQs

Crisis in Ukraine may convince NATO on regional HQs

NATO’s top commander has begun entertaining the idea of a regional headquarters specifically focusing on Article 5 violations – which requires members to come to the aid of another member if it is attacked – ahead of an alliance gathering in Wales. Retired Adm. James Stavridis(SACEUR) said in an op-ed in June that NATO members needed to prepare more special forces for threats coming from the southern border of the alliance, especially Iraq and Syria, and to deter Russia.

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LAPSSET: Kenya signs massive $478 million Lamu ports deal with Chinese firm

Kenya signs $478 million Lamu ports deal with Chinese firm

It is part of a bigger project known as LAPSSET (short for the Lamu Port South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor) that includes not only a giant seaport to relieve Kenya’s overstretched port at Mombasa, but also roads, a 1,500km railway, an airport and a refinery. The $24bn scheme, due to be finished by 2030, is intended to give much of landlocked east Africa access to the Indian Ocean, with oil pipelines to South Sudan and railways to Ethiopia and Uganda.

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Tony Blair will advise on controversial gas pipeline from Azerbaijan to Italy

Tony Blair will advise on controversial gas pipeline from Azerbaijan to Italy

On one side are Tony Blair, a powerful consortium of energy interests, including BP, and the autocratic ruler of a former Soviet bloc country. On the other are the olive growers of Puglia and a comedian turned political maverick. News that Britain’s former prime minister is to advise the consortium behind the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), the final leg of a 2,000-mile gas pipeline that will run from Azerbaijan across much of central eastern Europe, has sparked uproar among people living close to its ultimate destination in the heel of southern Italy.

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US to train, arm Ukraine national guard in 2015

Ukraine troops Slavyansk

The Obama administration has notified Congress of its plans to train and arm the Ukrainian national guard next year, the Pentagon said, as Washington continues to intensify its response to Moscow’s support for rebels in eastern Ukraine. “The Defense Department and State Department have notified Congress of our intent to use $19 million in global security contingency fund authority to train and equip four companies and one tactical headquarters of the Ukrainian national guard as part of their efforts to build their capacity for internal defense.”

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SCO to admit new members: India, Pakistan, Iran and Mongolia

SCO to admit new members

The adoption of these documents at the next SCO summit will give the green light for admitting the four observer-states, India, Pakistan, Iran and Mongolia, to the six-member organization. Documents will be submitted to the SCO summit for the adoption. The summit will be held in Dushanbe in September.The quartet has expressed their desire to join the SCO in the past few years. The four countries have taken part in economic and cultural projects of the organization as observer-states.

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Ireland: Banking glitch leaves thousands of civil servants unpaid

Banking glitch leaves civil servants unpaid

An investigation is underway after teachers, nurses, garda workers and civil servants did not receive their pay into their bank accounts prompting a flood of complaints. It is understood that there is an issue processing the payments at the Bank of Ireland who said they are currently attempting to rectify the situation. The Financial Shared Service which handles pay for almost all public servants, distributes all pay through Bank Of Ireland, hence the issue.

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US military buildup in Africa could be ‘pretext’ for further containment of China, says Chinese think-tank

US military buildup in Africa could be 'pretext' for further containment of China, says Chinese think-tank

“Nations such as the US have been strengthening military ties with Africa in recent years under the pretext of security and anti-terrorism,” said one of the report’s authors, Zhang Hongming , a senior research fellow at the academy’s Institute of West Asian and African Studies. “The military presence of the US can be used to deter China if the two nations mistrust each other and see themselves as strategic rivals.” The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences has warned.

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Thai Junta Appoints Army-Dominated Legislature

Thai Junta Appoints Army-Dominated Legislature

Thailand’s junta on Thursday appointed a military-dominated interim legislature in another step in the slow return of promised electoral democracy. The interim legislature, formally known as the National Legislative Assembly, includes 105 people holding military ranks and 11 from the police. The 84 civilian members include academics, businesspeople, technocrats and former senators. Critics say the military is seeking to weaken the power of political parties.

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China, Japan and Russia zero in on Latin America

China, Japan and Russia zero in on Latin America

The leaders of China, Russia and Japan all descended on Latin America in recent weeks, jostling with the United States to increase their influence, invest and tap into resource-rich markets. The latest arrival was Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who on Monday was in Trinidad and Tobago, the second stop on a five-country tour that began on Friday in Mexico. China is in the market for Chilean copper and timber, Peruvian gold and zinc, Argentine beef and wheat, Brazilian sugar and soybeans and Venezuelan oil, among other commodities.

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America is buying disputed Iraqi Kurdish Crude Oil

America is buying disputed Iraqi Kurdish Crude Oil

A Marshall Islands-flagged tanker ‘United Kalavrvta’ carrying crude oil from Iraqi Kurdistan is hours away from arriving at a U.S. port in Texas, according to ship tracking satellites, despite Washington’s long-standing concern over independent oil sales from the autonomous region. It would be at least the second time a U.S. company has taken delivery of oil that the Baghdad government says was smuggled from the country. Analysts have said that if there is a buyer for the oil, and no one stops the sale, it would represent a major step toward independence for Kurdistan.

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EU May Target Putin Spy Chiefs as Ukraine Heads for Vote

EU May Target Putin Spy Chiefs as Ukraine Heads for Vote

The European Union is preparing to sanction Russia’s most senior spies and security officials as it seeks to step up its response to the conflict in Ukraine, where the premier quit after the ruling coalition broke apart. Alexander Bortnikov, director of the Federal Security Service which replaced the Soviet-era KGB, and Mikhail Fradkov, the head of the Foreign Intelligence Service, are on the provisional list of sanctioned Russian officials, according to a draft document obtained by Bloomberg News.

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Rise of Islamic State tests Syrian army strategy

Rise of Islamic State tests Syrian army strategy

The growing power of the ultra-hardline Islamic State means the Syrian army is now having to confront a group it has until now been reluctant to attack for political reasons. The emergence of the al Qaeda offshoot, formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has so far allowed President Bashar al-Assad to present himself to the world as a bulwark against Sunni Islamist radicals. Now that Islamic State’s fighters have gained momentum in Syria, boosted by equipment seized in a rapid offensive next door in Iraq.

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21st-century energy wars

21st-century energy wars

Global conflicts are increasingly fuelled by the desire for oil and natural gas and the funds they generate. Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, South Sudan, Ukraine, the East and South China Seas: wherever you look, the world is aflame with new or intensifying conflicts. At first glance, these upheavals appear to be independent events, driven by their own unique and idiosyncratic circumstances. But look more closely, and they share several key characteristics, notably, a witch’s brew of ethnic, religious, and national antagonisms that has been stirred to the boiling point by a fixation on energy.

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Boeing Reaches Aircraft Parts Deal With Iran

IRAN US AIRCRAFT

Boeing has disclosed an agreement with Iran to provide aircraft parts, relaxing a three-decade freeze in ties as part of a broader package of sanctions relief. US industry analysts say the sale of spare aircraft parts is seen as a diplomatic carrot for Iran, which for decades has relied on parts obtained on the black market or copied locally. Iran agreed in November to curtail nuclear activities for six months from January 20 in exchange for sanctions relief from Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.

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