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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 .
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?’”
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Norway’s colossal sovereign wealth fund is considering reducing its $7.6 billion portfolio of Russian investments as Russia stares down the barrel of tougher EU sanctions. EU ambassadors met to discuss sanctions drawn up by the European Commission, chief among which were proposals to ban European investors from buying new debt or shares in banks majority-owned by the state. Not being an EU member, Norway has no obligation to comply with EU sanctions, but the country’s sovereign wealth fund is nonetheless reviewing its Russian investments.
The United States and its European allies have made a number of recent moves to bolster military cooperation with Georgia as tension continues to fester between Russia and the West. But Georgia’s ability to accommodate more U.S. military traffic has been hampered by delays to a new rail line that it, Azerbaijan and Turkey are building, known as the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway. Officials from Azerbaijan and Turkey have blamed Georgia for the delays, which have pushed back the projected date of inaugurating the railroad to the end of 2015.
“South Korea is sandwiched between China and the US. It has been playing a double dipping game of seeking security interests with the US, while pursuing economic interests with China… Seoul must pursue a policy of separating politics from economy. But it won’t be easy, as evidenced by the US opposition to South Korea’s efforts to cooperate with China on the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The only way to get away from the dilemma is to improve inter-Korean relations, which would reduce Seoul’s military dependence on the alliance with the US.”
Recent shifts in the political landscape of the Middle East mean that Iraq’s Kurds will gain independence “sooner rather than later”, according to Steven Cook, an analyst for the US think tank the Council on Foreign Relations. “They are not committed to a unified Iraq, which they call a fiction. They are going through the political process in Baghdad to prove to everybody that they are not to be blamed for the breakup of Iraq. When this political process comes to an end – without anybody’s satisfaction – the Kurds will ultimately make moves to go their own way.”
The new Estonian state defence law that was sent for a round approvals to different state institutions will make the prime minister the highest military head in Estonia, reports LETA reffering to Postimees. The aim of the bill is to make Estonian state defence modern and guarantee leadership of the state with clear command lines. The current state defence basics are considered very outdated and compared to the pre-WWII era. According to the current Estonian laws, the president is the highest head of Estonian state defence.
Catalunya Bank, a victim of Spain’s economic crisis, has been sold to BBVA, the country’s second-largest bank. But Spain’s sale of Catalunya Bank — in which it owns a 66 percent share — for just €1.2 billion means the country lost €11.8 billion by propping up by the bank which teetered when thousands of borrowers defaulted on their loans. That is close to the €13.8 billion in cuts to education and healthcare imposed by the Spanish government in its austerity drive, Spain’s El País newspaper noted. Spain will now turn its attention to selling off another failed bank in Bankia.
In this politically charged climate, German and EU leaders may find a new political lightning rod for rising frustration toward the U.S. in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), an ambitious trade deal between the United States and the European Union slated to add $280 billion and 13 million jobs to the transatlantic economy. Germany is the EU’s economic center of gravity, making it the United States’ most important bilateral partner in the TTIP negotiations. German and EU politicians will have to sell TTIP to their people for it to pass.
The UAE knew in advance of Israel’s plans for an offensive in Gaza and even offered to fund the operation provided the militant Palestinian outfit Hamas was eliminated in the process, Israel’s Channel 2 claimed in a recent report, according to local Arabic daily Al Sharq. The daily says in a report published today that Israel’s leading national TV station (Channel 2 in Hebrew) disclosed details of secret parleys between the UAE’s foreign minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman, in Paris at the end of last month.
With the decision by Bulgaria to suspend construction of the South Stream natural gas pipeline, there is more pressure on Serbia, which is balancing its longstanding ties with Russia against its desire to join the European Union. “The Serbian situation is the most difficult because it ‘paid ‘ the entrance to the pipeline by giving to Gazprom low prices for NIS (Naftna Industrija Serbia – Oil Company of Serbia) and Banatski Dvor (and underground gas storage in Vojvodina),” Jelena Milic, director of the Centre for Euro-Atlantic Studies for Belgrade, told SETimes.
By any measure, this is a serious undertaking. It will involve 3,000 troops, headquartered in the Chadian capital N’Djamena, but spread out across Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. They will be supported by helicopters, fighter jets and, ominously, drones. France’s Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian described it as a “counter-terrorism” offensive, designed to ensure that there is no upsurge in terrorist activities from jihadist groups operating in the area. “The aim is to prevent what I call the highway of all forms of traffics to become a place of permanent passage.
Why the push to build railways criss-crossing South America? Part of the answer—besides the fact that China knows a thing or two about constructing long railways at high altitudes—lies in the region’s burgeoning trade with China, which needs raw materials to fuel its economy and new markets for its exports. Currently, the bulk of Chinese imports from South America have to travel through the Panama Canal, where the cost of transporting a ship through it has tripled over the last five years.
France has secured its first major military contract in Egypt in about 20 years with a 1 billion euros ($1.35 billion) deal to sell four naval frigates, a French diplomatic source said on Saturday. Paris and Cairo have enjoyed close economic ties in the past but turmoil in the north African state since former president Hosni Mubarak was ousted has left Western governments wary of signing contracts, especially in the defence sector. The DCNS company, in which the French state has a majority stake, won the contract to provide four corvette frigates to the Egyptian navy.
China’s EXIM has announced its support to the development of the US$11bn Bagamoyo Port in Tanzania. According to reports, Phase 1 of the deep-water port could begin in 2017. Located 75km south of Dar es Salaam, the port is expected to be bigger than Kenya’s Mombasa Port and the biggest in Africa. Bagamoyo Port will have a capacity of 20mn containers per year, as opposed to Dar es Salaam’s 500,000 and Mombasa’s 600,000. China has agreed to support the construction of road and rail networks to connect the rest of Tanzania to port area, added reports.
Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova to obtain non-NATO ally status, increase in transfer of military assets
The U.S. Congress passed in two readings a Russian aggression prevention bill that provides major non-NATO ally status for Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova (during the period in which each of such countries meets specified criteria) for purposes of the transfer or possible transfer of defense articles or defense services. The bill was submitted to the competent commission for being prepared for the final reading, APA reports, quoting the official website of the U.S. Congress.
Over 300 military servicemen of Russian intelligence units started field trainings at the training center of “Kakhmud” Russian military base in Armenia.The trainings will especially focus on studying modern radio engineering, unmanned aerial vehicles “Navodchik-2”, “Zastava” and “Strelets” communication complexes with GLONASS navigation system during the investigative actions in the valley, mountains and while taking actions toward repelling subversive groups of the conventional rival and their silent extermination at various times of the day.
In early 2012, Saudi authorities arrested Sayeed Zabiudeen Ansari, a (LeT) operative accused of playing a central role in planning and executing the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, India. Ansari was deported to India, where he was publicly re-arrested and interrogated extensively. Ansari had traveled to Saudi Arabia on a Pakistani passport and his interrogation was almost certain to implicate the ISI—and by extension, provide strong evidence on the question of the Pakistani state’s support to terrorists.
Every spy-flap reminds us that the Cold War-based espionage culture is not always a reasonable or effective basis for pursuing intelligence objectives. As a general rule, liaison cooperation simply makes more sense, in the light of current threat realities. For this reason, strange bedfellows—new partnerships between old adversaries—have emerged in responding to threats of joint concern. Old categories of “allies” and “enemies” in the intelligence world are no longer useful in pursuing liaison cooperation.
The EGF was originally planned around the turn of the millennium by Italy and France as EU force. Several Member States, including Germany, but had objections to such a paramilitary unit. The governments in Rome and Paris stuck to the plan and eventually founded the EGF as a multilateral, independent of EU unity. According to its statutes, the capabilities of NATO, the OSCE, the UN and the EU can be borrowed. In the foreground, however, are inserts of the European Union.
In essence, Smirnov said that Western intelligence agencies use the blogosphere to overthrow political regimes and the FSB was going to “cleanse” the Internet of their influence.In other words, the FSB was still at a loss as to how to cope with social networks. Critics of the law argue that its enforcement will make it impossible for Russians to buy air tickets online, reserve hotel rooms in foreign countries, or order consumer items from abroad because some foreign companies with little Russian business will choose not to relocate their servers.
Rampages by Buddhist right-wingers against minority Muslims – and the recent interrogation and detention of journalists – have soured hopes for Myanmar’s transition and reforms. In the past two years, organised anti-Muslim violence stoked by the Buddhist right-wing 969 Movement has left many dead, mostly Muslims. It has driven nearly 140,000 Rohingyas in Rakhine state from their homes and communities into squalid refugee camps. Critics say the government is in effect complicit, in part because it shares wide cultural prejudice against Muslims.
Ottawa-based CSEC monitors foreign communications of intelligence interest to Canada, and exchanges a large amount of information with similar agencies in the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand. Leaks from Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the U.S. National Security Agency — CSEC’s American counterpart — have raised questions about operations of the so-called Five Eyes intelligence network.
Crete could serve as a regional node for the support, maintenance and repair of the Chinese Navy and the possibility exists for joint naval operations between Greece and China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy. “On Crete there is all the appropriate infrastructure for refuelling, maintenance and repairs for all your country’s navy units. There is a possibility of cooperation, for example, in joint patrols of war ships. And another example, in the area of fighting piracy, where the interests of our two peoples coincide”.
The military strongman cut his teeth in the 1969 coup that brought Gaddafi to power.What came to be called The Toyota War, because Chadian troops used pick-up trucks mounted with French guided anti-tank missiles to neutralize Gaddafi’s armor, shattered Hiftar’s close relationship with the Libyan dictator. After Hiftar was captured in 1987, Gaddafi disowned him. Abandoned and angry, Hiftar struck a deal with the CIA, fled to the United States and lived in exile in Northern Virginia until 2011.
Ethiopia hopes to become an African lion. “We have finished with the syndrome of dependence,” says Zadig Abraha, deputy-head of Gerd coordination. “We want to recover our past glory,” he adds. Some neighbouring countries are less upbeat about the project. Citing two treaties, dating from 1929 and 1959, Egypt claims a historic right over the Nile. It fears that the dam will restrict the flow of water. The treaties, signed with the UK and Sudan, allocate two-thirds of the Nile’s water resources to Egypt.
Norway is spending $250 million on a new spy boat to track Russian activities in the Arctic, while Canada’s efforts to safeguard its northern sovereignty appear to be moving in slow motion. The hull of the new ship, to be operated by the Norwegian military intelligence service and enter service in 2016, was delivered recently to a military base in Alesund, a coastal town northwest of Oslo in the Scandinavian kingdom of 5 million people. Norwegian military intelligence is currently working to install ultra-sensitive spying equipment.
Spain is the only European country with a part of its territory located in Africa, being a vital security interest. This geographical position of Spain gives a vital role in maintaining security in the area, “he said. “We are also not hidden we have many economic interests in Africa. ” Morenés mentioned energy dependence, over 60% of our gas imports are from Africa (51% in Algeria, 10% in Nigeria), plus the purchase of oil Gulf of Guinea. And also other interests, “maintain heavy investment in infrastructure in certain countries.”
A supposedly secret but locally well-known CIA station on the outskirts of Irbil’s airport is undergoing rapid expansion as the United States considers whether to engage in a war against Islamist militants who’ve seized control of half of Iraq in the past month. Western contractors hired to expand the facility and a local intelligence official confirmed the construction project, which is visible from the main highway linking Irbil to Mosul, the city whose fall June 9 triggered the Islamic State’s sweep through northern and central Iraq.
The EU’s bailout fund has moved closer to being able to directly pump money into troubled banks after the German government introduced a bill allowing direct bank recapitalisation. The German government has introduced a bill allowing the EU’s bailout fund to directly fund struggling banks. The draft law will now require approval in the Bundestag, but is planned to enter into force in November. “This is an important step to stabilise our financial sector … and to increase further the trust in our common European currency,”
Russia will suggest setting up an energy association and a reserve fuel bank during the BRICS summit that takes place in Brazil July 15-16, Yury Uskakov, a Russian presidential aide, told reporters. “Russia intends to suggest several specific subjects for consideration, namely the formation of a BRICS energy association to ensure the energy security of BRICS members,” Ushakov said ahead of President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Brazil. “A reserve bank of fuel and BRICS energy policy institute would also be set up in the framework of this association,” he said.
Africa is a major target for Chinese investment to secure resources, and Prince’s new company — Hong Kong headquartered Frontier Services Group (FSG) — provides risk management, logistics, and aviation services to companies that want to set up in Africa. The words, “high risk, high return” apply to doing business in Africa, Prince said, but he encourages his Chinese customers to focus on another slogan: “happy locals, happy project.”
Shipping companies in China and Japan said they would start a regular service to carry Siberian natural gas across the Arctic Ocean to East Asia, showing how Asian demand for the fuel is reshaping global shipping routes. Wednesday’s announcement by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. and China Shipping Development Co. offered new details of how liquefied natural gas will get from one of the remotest locations on earth—the $27 billion Yamal LNG facility being developed in western Siberia—to the megalopolises of China and Japan.
German authorities have carried out a raid on the residence of a defense ministry official suspected of passing secrets to the US, just one week after the arrest of a German intelligence officer who worked as a double agent. Officials from the Federal Prosecutor’s Office said Wednesday that residential and office premises of the staff of the Federal Ministry of Defense in Berlin were searched on “initial suspicion of activity for an intelligence agency.” According to Die Welt, a soldier of the Bundeswehr is suspected of committing espionage
Little noticed among the disturbing tableau of images coming out of Iraq in recent weeks is a changing of the guard evident at the Baghdad International Airport (BIAP). As the crisis has deepened, U.S. contractors, U.S. Embassy personnel and most of the U.S. service members have abandoned the threatened capital. The exodus has coincided with Russian contractors and support personnel pouring into BIAP to help launch the 25 Russian SU-25 warplanes that Moscow is rushing to Iraq in its hour of need.
Banco Espirito Santo SA bonds plunged to record lows after a parent company delayed payments on short-term notes, reawakening concern that banks remain vulnerable as the euro region emerges from the sovereign debt crisis. Portugal government bonds also fell, sending the 10-year yield up the most in two months, leading declines among securities from Europe’s most indebted nations. A gauge of Portuguese stocks fell to a seven-month low, Portugal government bonds also fell.
Germany debated retaliatory measures against the United States on Tuesday after the discovery of an alleged double agent stoked still smouldering public anger over the NSA scandal. The case of a German intelligence operative suspected of spying for Washington drew a fierce response from Berlin, where indignation against one of its closest allies has run high since reports last year that the US National Security Agency (NSA) tapped Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone.
We live in an energy-centric world where control over oil and gas resources (and their means of delivery) translates into geopolitical clout for some and economic vulnerability for others. Because so many countries are dependent on energy imports, nations with surpluses to export — including Iraq, Nigeria, Russia, and South Sudan — often exercise disproportionate influence on the world stage. What happens in these countries sometimes matters as much to the rest of us as to the people living in them, and so the risk of external involvement in their conflicts.
The Gulf governments seem worried these days. None of them had imagined, a few months ago, that individuals entrusted with security, people’s lives, oil fields and weapons would eventually pose the main threat to all these valuables. ISIS leaders, the likes of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, are well aware of al-Qaeda’s past experience and they do realize that the Islamic caliphate will never be truly fulfilled without controlling the region’s most important treasures, i.e. oil and gas resources.
A Nicaraguan committee approved a proposed route on Monday for a $40 billion shipping channel across the Central American country that would compete with the Panama Canal. The committee of government officials, businessmen and academics approved a 172 mile (278 km) route from the mouth of the Brito river on the Pacific side to the Punto Gorda river on the Caribbean that was proposed by executives from the HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co Ltd (HKND Group).
Analysts have also been talking about a pincer movement by Egyptian and Algerian forces on either side of Libya’s desert regions, with Chadian and French forces cutting off Libya’s southern frontiers thus entrapping “terrorist” groups within Libya’s Sahara. Algeria’s El Khabar newspaper, which is close to Algeria’s military, said on 11 June that Algeria was coming under increasing pressure from western countries to intervene in Libya to destroy the “jihadist Salafist” groups.
China’s new territorial law could mean disaster if it is implemented in the encompassed territories in the nation’s nine-dash line. Defense analyst Rommel Banlaoi said that if China chooses to implement their new law in their claimed areas inside the dotted lines, which covers 80 percent of the South China Sea, the nation could use its military in enforcing the law. “It’s problematic since there are so many claimants in the disputed areas that the nine-dash line has surrounded,” Banlaoi said Monday at Camp Aguinaldo.